Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (2)
Utah Partnerships For Christ (www.upfc.org) owned the house we stayed in. The Blue House was a relic of past construction philosophies, a labyrinth of rooms and floors. Every evening and morning, the entire team would gather in “The Commons”–the one room of the house not designated as sleeping quarters. We always began and ended every day with prayer and testimonies of how the Lord had directed conversations. It was a blessing to share our successes and failures, our fears and triumphs.
The Commons was more than just a serious meetingplace. It was refreshing to wake up, meander up the stairs with breakfast in hand beginning a difficult day, and chat with friends sharing the same goal and purpose before. You really get to know people in the wee hours of the morning doing homework together, or watching one team member fail in his psychoanalysis of the entire group. Humor and sobriety, laughter and tears were all witnessed in The Commons. This perhaps is missed by more members of the team then anything else, a place to relax and let your guard down, where nobody cares if you bypassed a shower to secure another half hour of sleep. But also a place of great encouragement and joy between brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here is my journal from Sunday, March 11th, when we went to church, visited the Mormon wards (churches), and hosted a pizza party.
Working around LDS causes a great number of conflicting emotions. It is frustrating to talk in doctrinal circles for hours, yet at the same time joyful to share the gospel with people who do not understand. It makes me angry to see how Satan has blinded their eyes, yet causes me to rejoice all the more in my own salvation.
Upon waking up at 10:00 AM, our team went to the best church in the area. Unfortunately, it came across as a really feel-good church which preaches the gospel, but a gospel which leaves out the hard parts of the gospel. I want to be careful, because they are brothers and sisters in Christ who love Jesus with all their hearts, but it was disheartening. Everything the pastor said was right, but it could have been so much more. Drama and movie clips have their place, but it seemed to cheapen the punch of his sermon rather than grow people in understanding. I know this hit close to home, as I feel called to be a pastor and have a passion for the Word of God in preaching.
After church, the team split up and went to two different singles wards. I got separated from my group, and went to a different section than the rest of the team. I think I received some bogus information regarding the (lack of a) next service, and wound up sitting outside for the next hour and a half while everybody else was in the ward. Bummer. I was able to pray and take a walk, but I would have much rather been in there listening to the services. After the wards got out, we all attended a fellowship dinner, themed for St. Patrick’s Day. Cameron, Keenan, and I were able to talk with a phleobotomist who volunteered in the Ogden temple. He knew his LDS doctrine well. It was very beneficial to talk with him, as he answered a number of questions we had regarding LDS beliefs. It was grieving to see how scripture after scripture was taken out of context or twisted to support so many of the doctrines clung to by the LDS church. It never ceases to amaze me how they take scripture out of context in order to support their doctrine and do not even realize they are doing so. It truly is a case of Satan blinding the hearts of men through inaccurate interpretation of the Word of God. How tragic that something so holy as the Bible is twisted into a tool of Satan to keep so many from the Truth.
After the wards, we hosted an open house at The Blue House, and seven LDS came (a relatively high number). An ex-LDS couple shared their testamony of why and how they came to know the truth. It was encouraging for us all to hear how people canbe saved from death, even from such an oppressive system as the LDS church. After the couple finished, we broke UNO Spin and played for a while. It was hilarious to see the dynamic of the game, which quickly fizzled and died. Everybody knew why the event was happening and indeed wanted to talk of the differences between Christianity and the LDS church, but everyone was a little gun-shy. At some length, one LDS made a comment about polygamy, which touched off a two hour conversation about works salvation. An odd way to start, but it broke the ice. We grilled them and they grilled us and we both loved it!
I was honestly amazed at the clarity with which I was able to defend every doctrine of Scripture which came under fire. I can think of no reason for this other than the Holy Spirit guiding the conversation and bringing to mind relevant Scriptures. I do not know the minutiae of the LDS faith, and so many topics which we talked about were entirely new to me. But the theme of everything was the grace of God. And how that grace, through Jesus Christ alone, saves the souls of men. Some of them are thinking about what we said, which is encouraging. I know not how long the truth may fester before budding into life, but it is the Spirit who prompts and convicts, not the smooth speech of men.
After the discussions had winded down, several of us trooped on over to Weber State University adn fed the ducks cold leftover pizza. If a bunch of ducks turn up dead in three days, we’ll know what did it. Tomorrow a bunch of people are going to watch 24 with them and talk again. Rod and I are going to play basketball at Family Home Evening in the wards. The toilet overflowed in The Cave, and that was nasty. Life in an old frat house is never boring.
Half Classy, Half Redneck.
The entire female section of our team posing for the camera before church.
Don’t ask me what Knox is doing with his hands. Maybe speaking in tongues, sign-language style.
Cameron had more fun with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-mobile more than the little kid did!
Playing UNO Spin in The Commons with Kat and Bronson
Ben’s hands are twice as large as mine.