"But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." - Acts 8:20
Few things can impress an investigator more quickly than a solid fast and testimony meeting at church.
Few things can turn off an investigator more quickly than a bad fast and testimony meeting at church.
We all want our fast and testimony meetings to be solid, of course, but being a missionary and having an investigator there sort of puts you into double jeopardy.
Thankfully, this past Sunday went just fine. The Newton-Conover ward excels at having short, powerful testimonies so that 20+ people can participate. Though we did have a sweet older brother go off on evolution this past Sunday.
"Atheists say that horses evolved from grasshoppers!" this defender of the faith boldly proclaimed from the pulpit. "That can't possibly be true! For one thing, their knees bend the opposite way!"
Last week Elder Arnold and I both ate a Hmong pepper at a member home. This gallant feat of daring led us to be rewarded with a Hmong name by the family. Elder Arnold's Hmong name is "Vaj Vwj," which translates to "Elder King Leader." I, on the other hand, was given the name "Choj Vwj," which translates to "Elder Bridge."
I'm not sure quite what to think about all this. Apparently, when Hmong people are asked to determine what name would best define Elder Arnold, they see "King Leader." When they see me, they think "bridge." I guess I just radiate a lot of bridge-like qualities, I suppose.
There is a man we are teaching who missed an appointment last week. When we asked why, he responded that he is an ordained minister and was off performing a marriage. This was highly surprising, since as he is an auto mechanic he didn't seem like the type of man who would have gone through a seminary to become a pastor.
It turns out that our friend had been on the Internet one day and had seen an ad that said "Become an ordained minister!" Following the link, he saw a button that said "Ordain me now!" and one credit card number and eight bucks later, he's an ordained minister, able to legally perform marriages and baptisms. Our investigator friend's line of authority is probably the only one in the world that boasts an "https://" in front of it.
Some people may balk at this modern method of ordination but it is clearly in perfect harmony with scriptural accounts of biblical priesthood practices, and anyone who says otherwise is clearly an ignorant and close-minded simpleton.
Poor Simon Magus. If only you'd waited 2,000 more years, my friend, your money would've been worth something.
Back a few weeks ago, when Elder Dedrick and I talked to the preacher, he asked us what we, as Mormons, believed about grace. He shared an analogy to explain his view of it, and I shared President David O. McKay's analogy to explain our view of it, and since both of them are similar, I'll share both of them to you.
Pastor: Grace is like a drowning man. Jesus is the lifeguard. He swims out to you in the water and rescues you. You just have to go limp in His arms and let Him get you to shore safely.
President McKay: Grace is like a drowning man. Jesus is the lifeguard. He throws out a line for you to grab. You just have to hold on and let Him pull you to shore safely.
Note the difference?
Suffice it to say that the pastor flatly rejected President McKay's analogy. However, thinking back on these two parables, there is one question I want to bring up that perhaps my friend the pastor had not considered: why was the man drowning in the first place?
The point is, we are indeed saved by grace; it is the gift of God. However, if you keep jumping into the water after Jesus has saved you, you won't be saved! Ultimately, there also has to be repentance -- an acknowledgement that the water can hurt you and that you shouldn't go swimming in it. We can only be saved through grace, but we cannot be saved without repentance, either. Jesus will indeed get you to heaven through His grace, whether you want Him to or not, but only repentance, made possible by the restored Gospel and its ordinances, will cause you to stay there.
I am excited for another great week of missionary work with my wonderful companionElder Arnold. The Church is true, and the priesthood of God cannot actually be transmitted via the Internet, despite what modern-day apostasy would have us think.
Love you all. Hurrah for Israel!