It all began when I was walking home from a hard day's work. I started thinking about where was my life heading. Then I began to feel much sorrow, realizing I had nothing good to say about myself. It seemed as if I was completely blind to my whole entire life. I said to myself: "What am I doing? Is this it? Is this what life is all about?"
I was an alcoholic, but that wasn't the worst of it. Prior to that; I was selling and using methamphetamines. Also known as speed/crank. I call it the "devil's drug". I was going in and out of jail - something I am not too proud of.
Going back to the day I was walking home, I felt the need to pray to God. At this moment of time, I was in a desperate need for help. It's funny how that works - people remember God when they need something, but when things seem to be going okay, God is forgotten.
I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. I said: "God, I am tired of living this way. What do I need to do to change my life?" I was astonished how quickly He answered my prayer. He said: "You need to leave." My first thought was: "Leave? Why would He tell me that?" At this point, I was confused because I couldn't understand why He wanted me to leave my family. I couldn't bear to think to leave my two little girls behind, but without thinking any further, I made the decision, and left. Yes, this was very painful - especially because there were kids involved. My relationship with my girlfriend was very bad and this wasn't healthy for the children. Violence in a home is never good. You're probably thinking, why would God say that? Why couldn't He ask you to change, Marco? Well, I can only think of a few things. First, I was not the only one violent. Perhaps I could have changed, but my companion probably wouldn't have. Second, we were living in sin. 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 reads as follows: "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
Elder Boyd K. Packer once said: "... if you now live with another without marriage, leave! Withdraw from it! Do not continue it!..." (Ensign, May 1981, 13).
Where did I go, you may ask? I moved back to my mother's house. Considering, I wasn't a very good son; she was still willing to welcome me back home with open arms. I noticed a big change in my mom. I was wondering why she was so different, so forgiving. She also seemed so happy. I knew she was going to church, but I didn't know much about it. As a matter of fact, I had never heard of the church before. The name of the church was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka The Mormon Church).
The following Sunday, I decided to give it a try and see for myself what this church was all about. I was truly amazed how organized it was. I had never seen anything like it. I felt as if I was back in school, once again, but this time, I was learning. For once in my life, I felt free. I felt joy. I felt complete peace. The teachings were wonderful. There were many questions I always wondered about like, "Why am I here? What's going to happen when I die?" Amazingly, a lot of my questions were answered there. Everything taught there made sense to me. For the first time in my life, I felt the love of God. Therefore, this church began "to be delicious to me".
"Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves - it must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me." (Alma 32:28)
"O then, is this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good, and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good." (Alma 32:35-36)
The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr., on one occasion said of a doctrine and teaching, "This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you... You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given to me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more." (Deposition of a Disciple, p. 65) Alma and Joseph preached the same thing as a result of their trying successfully the experiment of the gospel's goodness. Therefore, I was inspired to do the same.
I decided to receive lessons from the missionaries. Our first lesson was The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It teaches about an apostasy that has occurred in the world. This apostasy resulted in the formation of many churches with confliction teachings. During this time, many men and women sought the truth, but they were unable to find it. Many good people believed in God and Jesus Christ and tried to understand and teach truth, but they did not have the full gospel or priesthood authority. As a result, each generation inherited a state of apostasy as people were influenced by what previous generations passed on, including changes to Christ's gospel.
As I continued the lessons - the Spirit was revealing to me that this was good fruit. The only problem I had was if I was being deceived. How will I know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God? Paul warned us against those who "lie in wait to deceive ... by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness" (Eph. 4:14) The Savior said that there would be imposters who would attempt to pass themselves off as his authorized representatives. He warned of false prophets who would come in sheep's clothing but who would have their own selfish motives to fulfill. He said:
"Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruits; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:15-20)
I strongly believe - for me to be strong and to withstand all the forces pulling me in the wrong direction - I must have my own testimony. I would have to read the Book of Mormon and find out for myself, if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. President Monson promises, having a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon builds testimony in other areas of the gospel. For example, When we know the Book of Mormon is true, then it follows that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet and that he saw God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
A Prophet by the name of Moroni promised, if we pray in faith we will receive a confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true.
"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts."
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye should ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:3-5)
I am pleased to tell you - I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be. The more I tried to find mistakes, the more I was aware of truth. This is a self-testing book. Don't take my word for it. Read it, ask God in faith and He will tell you by the power of the Holy Ghost what you need to know. Bless you in your search.
I say these things in His sacred name, our Lord, and Savior, Even Jesus Christ, Amen
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