3 reasons to see Meet the Mormons (and learning about Mormons isn’t one of them)

I’m trying to think of the last time I took my family to a movie and came out

1) with everyone saying they liked it,

2) feeling inspired to be better, and

3) knowing that the money I shelled out for six tickets was going to be donated to charity.

That’s what happened Monday night when we took the family to see Meet the Mormons for Family Night. Now before you think I’m writing this to say you should go see the movie so you can understand my faith better, hear me out. …Because I’m not going to say that, nor am I certain this movie would even do that for you.

Look at those attentive faces! This may have been just after I said "No, I'm not buying you popcorn."

Look at those attentive faces! This may have been just after I said “No, I’m not buying you popcorn.”

First, everyone liked it. With four boys ranging in age from four to 14, finding something for everyone is no easy task. True, I think they were excited to see the word “Mormon” on the big screen, but probably not as much as if we were seeing a superhero action flick. A young woman in Time Square in NYC introduces the film as, yes, about Mormons, and light-heartedly shows how the faith is sometimes misunderstood and frequently graces punchlines in mainstream entertainment (they boys perked up when the clips from The Simpsons and South Park came on screen). All in good fun, and it gave us all a chance to laugh at ourselves. The intro simply positions some of those common misconceptions, but it’s over very quickly.

Second, I left feeling inspired to be a better person (employee, neighbor, husband, dad, son, community member). I think the last time that may have happened is when I went to see, um, I can’t remember. I just said I don’t even think this movie is intended to help people understand our faith better. The reason I say that is that after watching all 118 minutes, I realized this movie could just as easily be called “Meet the Methodists” or “Meet the Rotarians.” Point is, every group, be they faith-based, community-based, or service-based, has members who are UNextraordinary by societal standards but do incredible good in the world. The movie features six individuals from around the globe who happen to be Mormon, but lead lives focused on doing good. After each vignette, I thought “Ok, this one is my favorite” only to find myself saying the same about the next story. I am so blessed to know people in my every day life from all backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs who inspire me to try a little bit harder to be a little bit better. If you like movies like that, I guarantee you’ll come away feeling the same and, almost as an after-thought, remembering “Oh yea, they were Mormon.”

Tertiary (ok, that’s a fancy word I recently learned for “third”), net proceeds go to charity. That’s right, net proceeds (box office proceeds less distribution expenses) from the theatrical release of the movie go to the American Red Cross. Read more about that here in the Red Cross’ own announcement, and on the movie’s website here.

No fancy summary, just please consider going to see Meet the Mormons. If you do, I’d love to hear what you think so please come back and leave a comment for me.

#MeetTheMormons #AmericanRedCross #ShareGoodness

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Because of Him

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Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer. Because of Him, death is not the end, and life takes on new meaning. We can change, we can start over—and we can live again with God. This Easter, celebrate His life and discover all that’s possible because of Him.

Visit EASTER.MORMON.ORG to find out why Christ is the greatest gift God has given us.

#becauseofHim

Does Christ’s church exist upon the earth today?

From The Living Christ“We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Learn more about how Christ has organized His Church in this brief video.

The Parable of the Expired Coupon

I’m sure anyone with a loyalty card can relate. You spend, spend, spend so you can qualify for a discount or a coupon or a special offer thanking you for your loyal patronage. I do that at my local hardware store. This store doesn’t require me to buy much until I get a $5 or $10 off coupon in the mail. These are especially great when the seasons are changing because I can buy ice melt or landscaping materials. And I like to brag about getting a bargain.

Can you guess what happens? I get the coupon, put it away for safe keeping so I can use it when I’m ready, and then pull it out to use just in time to realize… it expired a week ago. Every. Single. Time. I hate that feeling. A deal was within reach. Plans were made. Ice was melted and flower beds were beautified. In my mind. In actuality, I still need those things, but now I have to shell out more of my OWN money instead of taking advantage of what had been offered me on behalf of the store.

The Lord Jesus Christ offered us a way to overcome our sins. His Atonement provides a way for us to repent of our wrongdoings, seek forgiveness from God and those we’ve hurt or offended, and be made spiritually whole again. Jesus Christ has already suffered, taking upon Him all our sins. He assumed the burden and paid the price of our sins. “For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; … yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement” (Alma 34:9). But for the atonement to have effect, we must exercise faith in Him. We must be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and obey His commandments. And we must be faithful disciples. And, the Lord has taught that we must not procrastinate the day of our repentance (Alma 34:33).

So back to the expired coupon. It’s not hard to imagine how I feel when I take full advantage of the deal that the hardware store has made available to me and the disappointment I experience when I realize I have missed my chance. Christ has made it possible to gain forgiveness and eternal life. Unlike the store coupon, available to only certain customers, His offer is available to every one of God’s children. And unlike the store’s policy of not accepting expired coupons, God is merciful. He knows we’re not perfect and will continue to sin. He wants us to repent and let the atonement take effect in our lives. I believe in His “policy.” I need His mercy always. 

Enduring: it’s easier with Christ

We love living in Kansas. Despite the humidity and chiggers, summer here is beautiful. Bright orange sunrises, which I rarely see, and beautiful pink, blue and purple sunsets are guaranteed almost daily. Last evening, we had time for a short drive to the countryside to see a field of sunflowers in full bloom. It’s an iconic view and one not many get to witness. As the story goes, sunflowers move their heads throughout the day to follow the path of the sun. I’m not entirely convinced that’s true, as last night they were all facing away from the setting sun. Either way, it’s an incredible sight.

Life is full of incredible sights, natural witnesses of the Creator. Life is also incredibly hard at times, and for many, enduring it is almost unbearable. I’m grateful to know that because of Jesus Christ, life IS bearable. Not easy, but bearable. An apostle of Jesus Christ in our day said,Enduring to the end is a process filling every minute of our life, …from sunrise to sunrise. It is accomplished through personal discipline following the commandments of God.” You can read the full text here. He’s right. Enduring, and enduring well, DOES require effort from sunrise to sunrise (although I find it easier to be disciplined when I’m sleeping, so maybe sunrise to sunset would be appropriate). As well, when we follow God’s laws, He strengthens us and somehow, we are able to bear what challenges are placed before us. Again, they’re not always easy, but the Lord said “[His] yolk is easy, and [His] burden is light” (Matt. 11:30).

Serious Discipleship

One of the greatest blessings of life and eternity is to be counted as one of the devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. – James E. Faust

I attended a church conference this weekend at which several members of the church spoke on a variety of assigned topics. One of the women who spoke made reference to discipleship, and what caught my attention was how she phrased it: serious discipleship.

service-allredSo, what is serious discipleship? I think that at the heart of serious discipleship is loving and serving others. Additionally, obedience to the Lord’s commandments is a principle that serious disciples of Jesus Christ strive to adhere to daily. There are times where I’ve been prompted or impressed to do something for someone else, or go and visit someone, or share my testimony of Christ with another. If I’m serious in my discipleship, I would “go and do as the Lord commands” (1 Nephi 3:7) every time. I wish I could say I always “go and do,” but I don’t. It’s something I have to recommit to daily. However, I know that with obedience comes blessings greater than what’s required, and that inspires me to be more serious in my discipleship.

Discipleship has brought purpose to my life. Knowing my relationship with God is a father-son relationship, and that the Savior Jesus Christ is my older brother, is a daily motivation to do better, be kinder, and serve more selflessly. Discipleship and obedience have brought spiritual strength to me that has helped me through challenges and trials.

How has serious discipleship affected your life?

We needed a lesson about compassion

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This past Monday was my turn to prepare a lesson for our Family Home Evening. I’ll admit, some weeks I don’t give it much thought, but this week I knew we needed a particular reminder about a principle Christ taught. Our boys have lacked a bit when it comes to natural compassion lately.

Admittedly, this lesson wasn’t just for them, but I needed a stiff reminder about compassion myself. How often do we as adults see other struggling (mothers in the store with their hands full and can’t open the door, motorists trying to change a flat, or a co-worker who seems sad)? How often do we stop what we’re doing and offer to help? Probably not often enough.

Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan is a beautiful lesson on compassion, so we watched this video at the start of our lesson. I hope you’ll take five minutes (ok, five minutes, 12 seconds) to watch. It changed my attitude, helped me teach my children the importance of putting others’ needs first, and helped me to be a little more observant the past couple of days.

It’s amazing how many opportunities to help, as Christ would, if we slow down and look for ways to lift another.

Link

When most people think of “Mormon” and “Music,” they might think of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Osmonds, David Archuleta, and the like. It’s true, they’re all Mormon, they sing, and they’re great! But there are other musical Mormons, and one group you should definitely hear is the BYU Men’s Chorus.

They offer their newest album, “Set Apart,” as a free download. You can get it here: Free Album Download

Hope you enjoy it, and more importantly, it helps you feel closer to Christ.

Back to school

ImageThe kids go back to school next week. As a parent, I worry about them making good friends, making good choices, being safe, and having confidence in themselves.

I’m certain our Heavenly Father has those same concerns for us, His children here on Earth. I’m thankful that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that He knows us and is always near.

I take comfort in this scripture: “Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world.” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:40-41)

God and Jesus Christ know there are things we cannot handle at some points in our lives without divine help. In fact, our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan called for us to come to this earth, gain a body, and go through life’s challenges and trials. If we have that perspective, we should learn things that strengthen us. As we grow in our faith, and learn from experiences both good and bad, our ability to handle things increases.

As a father, there are times where it would be easier for me to step in, take control of situations, and do things for my boys. But learning from the Savior, I know that they will be stronger men someday if I let them figure some things out themselves. I’m willing and ready to help if needed. But I think if my kids know it’s ok to do hard things, they’ll benefit from facing what life puts in front of them.

And I’m glad our Heavenly Father does the same for us.

Happiness! 100% off.

written by guest blogger April M.

sale-iconThere are many emotions I’ve been privileged to experience in my 44 years.  Among these are desperate sorrow, crushing fear, overpowering joy, and indescribable peace!  Through this I have learned one truth: sorrow and fear can be erased and replaced with joy and peace!  This miracle is accomplished through the Atonement of Jesus Christ!

A friend once taught me about the beauty of this miracle, using an analogy.  She compared our access to the blessings of the Atonement to something each of us does – grocery shopping!  The blessings, or “goods,” we desire are available for us at a figurative “store”, as follows:

Our Elder Brother has paid the FULL price for every item in the store we desire! Everything we want is 100% off!  He spent His money for our goods and they are now free for us to enjoy!  But – we must make an effort to get them. We must grab our keys and get in the car.  We must drive to the store. We must push the shopping cart. We must remove the items from the shelves. We must fearlessly tell the cashier the items have already been paid for. Then, we go home, supplied with all we need!

Let’s take a look at what this truly means:

Jesus Christ already atoned for our sins, paying the price for every sin that every one of us will make! He knew that we would never be able to fully pay the debt required to purchase salvation so He paid it for us! But we must do OUR PART to access His wonderful gift. It requires effort.

We must “grab our keys and get in the car.” – Get on our knees and offer a heartfelt prayer!

We must “drive to the store.” – Plead to our Father in Heaven that the Holy Atonement may be applied in our behalf!

We must “push the shopping cart” – Promise to change!  We must push through the temptation with our eyes focused on Christ and trust in Him to pull us through it!

We must “remove the items from the shelves” – Forgive ourselves! Have courage!  Commit!  

We must “fearlessly tell the cashier the items have already been purchased” – BELIEVE that the Savior has the power to cleanse us!  We must HAVE FAITH!

Then, we “go home, supplied with all we need.” – We let go of fear and sorrow, knowing that Jesus Christ has made us whole!

 “Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying:  Depart from me?  Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.” (2 Nephi 26: 25, 27)

I know that the healing blessings of Christ’s Holy Atonement are real. I have experienced them. I could not survive without them. I know that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to not only live again, but to live – HAPPILY!