Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Joining the Conversation

So why am I doing this blog and what is it all about? I am attempting to follow the council of Elder M. Russell Ballard (a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles) when he admonished members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to put our beliefs 'out there.' Start a blog about it. Let people know where we stand and be open to answering questions. We are not a 'secret society' and by no means are we a 'cult.' I want people to truly know what I know and understand the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the son of the living God.

Here are several snippets from Elder Ballard's talk (given at BYU-Hawaii commencement):

"While you studied here at BYU-Hawaii, you no doubt came to understand the power of words. Words create conversations, and conversations create understanding. There is truth in the old adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” In many cases, it is with words that you will accomplish the great things that you will now set out to do. And it’s principally about ways to share those words that I want to talk to you today. Regardless of your vocation, you will need to know how to express yourself to demonstrate that your services are very important to your clients and to your customers.

The challenge is that there are too many people participating in conversation about the Church for our Church personnel to converse with and respond to individually. We cannot answer every question, satisfy every inquiry, and respond to every inaccuracy that exists. As I said at General Conference in October, we need to remember that there is a difference between interest and curiosity. Sometimes people just want to know what the Church is. And some who seek answers want them to come directly from a member of the Church, like each one of you. They appreciate one-on-one conversations.

Now, to you who are graduating today and all other faithful members of the Church, as you graduate from this wonderful university, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple, clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from Church and other appropriate sites, including Newsroom at LDS.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the Church, and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you, all members of the Church, understand the basic, fundamental principles of the gospel.

Every disciple of Christ will be most effective, and do the most good by adopting a demeanor worthy of a follower of the Savior of the world. Discussions focused on questioning, debating and doubting gospel principles do little to build the kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul has admonished us to not be "ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto Salvation" (Romans 1:16). Let us all stand firmly and speak with faith in sharing our message with the world. Many of you are returned missionaries and can carry on meaningful conversation in the language you learned on your mission. Your outreach can be international.

As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of New Media, remember who you are—you are Latter-day Saints. Remember as the Proverb states that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). And remember that “contention is of the devil.” There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs. There is no need to become defensive or belligerent. Our position is solid; the Church is true. We simply need to have a conversation, as friends in the same room would have, always guided by the promptings of the Spirit and constantly remembering the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ which reminds us of how precious are the children of our Father in Heaven."

~M. Russell Ballard

I greatly look forward to the conversations I will get to have through this blog!

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