Basketball Phenom Jabari Parker – The First 18 Years

Basketball Phenom Jabari Parker – The First 18 Years

The name Jabari Parker is well-known in the sports arena. The Chicago-born, 6’8”, 235 pound, all-star athlete will long be remembered for his basketball prowess at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy. While attending Simeon, he quickly gained the favor of several recruiters, and in fact was a top recruit in the class of 2013, when he became the second player in the history of Illinois high school basketball to start on four state championship teams. After incisive deliberation, he made the decision to play for the Duke University Blue Devils. In an interview with DukeBluePlanet in July 2013, Parker was asked why he chose Duke University to which he responded,

I chose Duke because I thought it was the perfect fit for me.  The student population is very tight.  It’s a family-oriented community.  It’s very nice and diverse and a community that will prepare me for the real-world someday.

The Key Players Who Have Influenced His Basketball Career

Jabari Parker Duke University Blue Devils

During the interview Parker was also asked who his greatest basketball influence is and said,

My greatest influence basketball-wise is probably my father because he played in the NBA and I’m trying to get to where he has been.  He played in college at Texas A&M.  Just seeing what he did in college, I think that he made a real big impact and I’m trying to live up to his expectations and what he did.

He also made several comments about his coach whom he deeply admires and respects:

Being around Coach K, I just want to pick his brain as much as possible.  He has a lot of knowledge, a lot on his resume.  I’m trying to get to where he has been and accomplish at least 25% of what he has done.  His knowledge and love of the game at his age is real rare.  Hopefully I can do half as much for him as he will do for me because that’s going to be a lot.  He’s going to do more than I expect because, you know, he’s Coach K.

What impressed me most about Coach were his experiences and relationships with his players and how he wants them to be a part of the program forever.  He wants them to come back.  That’s real big on my end because it’s a family.

A Humble Giant among Men

Jabari Parker Mormon Duke UniversityAlthough Parker is a basketball phenom, he has not allowed the stardom and recognition to discredit his true character. To understand who the real Jabari Parker is, a person would need understand the things that matter the most to him, namely his family and his faith.

He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attests that it is his faith that has helped him to remain level headed and well grounded, thus keeping his head in the “real” game. Because of his strong faith and unfailing support from his family, he has been able to accept all of the recognition that he receives with great humility. In the May 21, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated which had a feature article on Parker, he was quoted as saying, “Basketball is what I do, it’s not who I am.” During the interview with DukeBluePlanet he was asked to elaborate on his comment:

At the end of the day, being a good person is more important than basketball because you are only going to be remembered by what you do and how you carry yourself.  You can be the most amazing athlete in the world, but if you’re not there for people and you’re not there for your community, your family, then what is your worth?  That’s what separates the greatest from the average people.  That little bit of selflessness, that character.  I want to live my life not as Jabari Parker the basketball player, but as Jabari Parker the good guy, the helpful guy.

Staying True to the Home Team

Jabari Parker MormonAlthough Parker has achieved status as an outstanding basketball player and has been afforded many opportunities, he has not forgotten his real roots. He still considers Chicago to always be his home base, as it is there where it all began. He realizes, especially growing up on the South Side of Chicago, that the city is incessantly represented in the news media in a negative light. He has stated that he wants to be that person who helps to shed more light on the positive and help to eliminate the focus on the negativity.

Oh Chicago is the best.  That’s the reason that I am the person that I am now.  The hard-nosed style of basketball that we play around the city is from the community that I represent.  Being from the South Side, I want to make a positive impact as much as possible.  You see on CNN, they talk about the crime rate, there is a lot of negativity.  I want to be as positive an influence as possible and be that guy who helps the city be looked at in the right way.

When he is off the court, Parker describes himself as a “relaxed cool guy.” He says that he enjoys being around different types of people and getting to know more about them, as they learn more about him. He also loves music. One of his future goals is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, his immediate goal and purpose in life is to have a positive impact both on and off the court. There is no doubt that Jabari Parker is a name that people will be hearing for some time to come. The video below highlights the first 18 years of his remarkable life and career.

Healing Streams of Mercy and Love

Healing Streams of Mercy and Love

Scriptures teach us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). And we are further admonished, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:2). Therefore, when a brother or sister has been found guilty of any transgression – from the smallest to the most serious – we must do all that we can to help them return to the fold in good standing.

Whom the Lord Loves, He Chastens

As young children, whenever we misbehaved it often became necessary for our father to discipline us. At times the discipline may have seemed a bit severe or unfair, but our father always reassured us that it was because he loved us that it was necessary at times to discipline us in order to correct our behavior. In the same way, our loving Heavenly Father disciplines us whenever we commit a transgression. The scriptures teach us in Hebrews 12:6-11,

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Church Discipline and Repentance

Meeting with a Mormon BishopIn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whenever a member has committed a transgression, he is able to talk with his bishop, branch president, or stake president who can help him overcome the transgressions in his life through a process called repentance. Those who are serving missions may speak with their mission president who is there to help them overcome their transgressions.

For more serious transgressions such as serious violations of civil law, spouse abuse, child abuse, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, and apostasy, formal Church discipline is often required. This formal discipline is begun when a presiding priesthood leader determines through prayer and revelation that it is necessary to hold a disciplinary council. It should be noted that the “purposes of disciplinary councils are to save the souls of transgressors, protect the innocent, and safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.”

Such formal Church discipline may include restriction of Church membership privileges or a loss of Church membership, also known as excommunication. Excommunication is rare and is considered as a final means of resolution. Before a pronouncement of excommunication, all things are carefully and prayerfully taken into consideration in order to help a member who has transgressed to remain a faithful, active member of the Church.

During the proceedings of a disciplinary council, prayerful counsel is offered to the member for whom the council is being held. It becomes the responsibility of the member who has transgressed to act upon the counsel that is given to help him work through the repentance process and to regain his good standing in the Church. Excommunication is usually sought after counsel has been given and the transgressor willingly refuses to accept and follow the counsel which had previously been given.

The Church of Jesus Christ Responds to Questions Regarding Discipline

In response to the many questions received recently from the news media regarding Church discipline, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued the following statement:

The Church is a family made up of millions of individuals with diverse backgrounds and opinions. There is room for questions and we welcome sincere conversations. We hope those seeking answers will find them and happiness through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes members’ actions contradict Church doctrine and lead others astray. While uncommon, some members in effect choose to take themselves out of the Church by actively teaching and publicly attempting to change doctrine to comply with their personal beliefs. This saddens leaders and fellow members. In these rare cases, local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled. Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters.

Actions to address a person’s membership and standing in their congregation are convened after lengthy periods of counseling and encouragement to reconsider behavior. Ultimately, the door is always open for people to return to the Church.

Excommunication is not necessarily an End

There is Always a Way BackCareful note should be taken of the final line in the statement, “Ultimately, the door is always open for people to return to the Church.” The statement made by The Church of Jesus Christ should help to shed a light of hope and understanding on the often misunderstood subject of excommunication. Excommunication from the Church does not have to signify an end to all things even though Church privileges are taken away. As stated, the door is always open and people who have been previously excommunicated can return to the Church.

One person wrote the following in the comments of Jana Riess’ article Are we looking at a Mormon purge?, which helps to clarify the definition of excommunication as it applies to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Excommunication is not irretrievably permanent, and it’s actually meant to be a beginning and not an end. Although there are serious consequences that go along with it (related to ordinances and gifts thereof, names on records of church, holding callings, etc), people who are excommunicated are not disposed of nor are they out of the community. People for whom that action is invoked can (and often do) attend church weekly and church activities, receive home and visiting teachers, associate with members, and meet intensively and regularly with their bishop. (In this way, excommunication may differ quite dramatically from the way the same word is used in other traditions.) They are by no means thrown away or spiritually dead, and we are to remain without judgment of them and welcome them in our community just as we would anyone else.

Elder M. Russell Ballard remarked:

Church disciplinary action is not intended to be the end of the process—rather, it is designed to be the beginning of an opportunity to return to full fellowship and to the full blessings of the Church. Priesthood leaders try hard to be sensitive to the disciplined person’s needs for understanding, encouragement, counsel, and assistance. They work to see that he or she has regular visits with his or her bishop; that the person has mature, caring home teachers or other specially assigned individuals; and that his or her family receive the attention, counsel, and fellowship they need during this difficult time.

The desired result is that the person will make whatever changes are necessary to return fully and completely to be able to receive the marvelous blessings of the Church. When the person has progressed to that point, his or her current bishop or stake president has the authority to convene a new disciplinary council to consider what action needs to be taken—even if the person is now living in a new ward or stake or if a new bishopric or stake presidency is now serving.

After the rebaptism of a person who has not been endowed in the temple, his or her membership record shows the original baptism date, with no reference to the excommunication. A man who previously held the priesthood but was not endowed should generally be ordained to his former priesthood office. Again, his membership record will show his original ordination date, with no reference to excommunication.

The Healing Streams of Mercy and Love

LDS Church Disciplinary CouncilAs a former Stake High Council member, and a former member of two Bishoprics as both Second and then First Counselor, I have had the opportunity to be a part of disciplinary councils. It was my experience then, and is my sincere belief now, that disciplinary councils are not held merely to discipline a person for the transgression which he or she has committed, but rather that person is viewed and treated as a special soul of worth, a son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.

The council is begun with prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance and direction in attending the affairs of the council, and no decision is made as to the outcome of the hearing until the presiding priesthood leader and his counsellors have sought the Lord for guidance and inspiration.

Furthermore, it has been my experience as I have been called upon to participate in such councils, that the overarching message that is conveyed to the transgressor is that they are loved by their Heavenly Father and by the members of the Church, even on the rare occasion that a person is excommunicated. In all instances, regardless of the outcome of the council, the healing streams of mercy and love continue to flow.

3 Mormon Moms Test Bible Knowledge on Game Show

3 Mormon Moms Test Bible Knowledge on Game Show

Well-known comedian Jeff Foxworthy is the host of the Game Show Network’s game show “The American Bible Challenge” – a program where people of different Christian faiths compete in a test of their knowledge of the Bible. In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Foxworthy commented,

Well, most of our contestants are pretty knowledgeable and I have a lot of friends that can quote a lot more Scripture than me. But as a whole I think that previous generations were probably more knowledgeable than ours. We have way too many distractions these days.

To make the challenge of the game a little more interesting, instead of ordinary prizes, Foxworthy decided to give the winners a financial reward that they could use to better their communities. The third season of the show, which premiered on 22 May 2014, is a little different in that the viewers will have an opportunity to learn more about the contestants – where they are coming from, and why they are competing.

Three Mormon Moms Take On the Challenge

3 Mormon moms compete on "The American Bible Challenge" game show.Among those who will be competing this season is a team of 3 moms. What is so special about these moms? Jill Davidson Mason, Deborah Dushku Gardner, and Heidi Glyn Barker are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) – a faith which many people do not consider to be Christian.  They will be playing for the charity which Gardner and Barker co-founded, One Heart Bulgaria.

There are many people who debate that Mormons are Christian because they use other volumes of scripture in addition to the Holy Bible. One volume of scripture in particular is the Book of Mormon which they testify is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Because of this, there are many people who believe that Latter-day Saints (as they are properly called) consider the Book of Mormon to be more important than the Bible, and for the most part, do not use the Bible in their personal study and teaching. However, the Bible is always mentioned first when referring to the “Standard Works” of The Church of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Mormons believe:

The Holy Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing Spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.

The Holy Bible is well named. It is holy because it teaches truth, holy because it warms us with its spirit, holy because it teaches us to know God and understand His dealings with men, and holy because it testifies throughout its pages of the Lord Jesus Christ.

An Amazing Experience

3 Mormon moms compete on the game show "The American Bible Challenge"In an interview with Utah Public Radio, one of the moms, Deborah Dushku Gardner, commented:

“It’s a little bit crazy. It’s kind of a mix between ‘The Price is Right’ and ‘Jeopardy,’ “Gardner told UPR. “There’s a lot of jumping around. You would think that a Bible trivia show would have some reverence to it, but it’s not. It was just an amazing experience.”

Gardner and Barker had previously served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bulgaria and were mission companions. After returning home from their missions, they wanted to continue to help the country that they had come to love, and so they co-founded One Heart Bulgaria, an organization that coordinates services to 28 orphanages in Bulgaria. Gardner shares some of her story in an “I’m a Mormon” video which was publish in May 2011, and on her Mormon.org profile.

Why Mormon Women are Choosing a Mission over College

Why Mormon Women are Choosing a Mission over College

As another school year is winding to a close (I know it’s more than a month away, but according to my kids, the school year is almost over because they are done learning new things), high school seniors are planning their next move. For many young men in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon” Church), this means deciding between going on a proselytizing mission for the Church first or taking a semester of college classes before their missionary sabbatical. Since The Church of Jesus Christ lowered the age requirement for missionary service for young men and young women (from 19 to 18 for males and from 21 to 19 for females), thousands more young adults are opting for missionary service.

This is especially true for young women. Before the age change, 15% of Latter-day Saint missionaries were young women. Now that has increased to 28%. And Utah colleges and universities are feeling the effects. Enrollment at Utah’s colleges and universities has dipped over the past 3 semesters since the October 2012 announcement lowering the missionary age. And enrollment of young women has dropped more than young men—4.2% of females compared to 3.8% of males. Utah higher education officials are concerned that this means fewer females will graduate from college, a valid concern given that the state ranks last in the nation for degrees earned compared to their male counterparts.

Young women in Utah start college at about the same rate as others around the country, but fewer finish four-year degrees, according to Susan Madsen, founder of the Utah Women and Education Initiative. She said that many Utah women drop out to get married and have a family, opting instead for two-year associate degrees. Madsen said:

Many women aspire to go to college but not necessarily to graduate. They’re thinking they’re going to get married and it’ll be great, and hopefully it will for them, but statistics show it doesn’t always happen that way.

But the discussion doesn’t need to be whether women should choose going on a mission over finishing college. Both prepare young adults for the rigors of life—which is what gaining an education is all about. Each of us has a different life path. I am the third oldest of eight kids—and the third oldest girl—in my family. I was the first of my siblings to graduate with my bachelor’s, and I’m very proud of that (maybe too much so, but when you’re the 3rd child, not much of what you do is the first in the family). Of my sisters, 3 went on missions and 4 have finished college. The one sister who served a mission and graduated from college also went on to earn her master’s. All of us have attended college, and the two who haven’t graduated are close (one is really close!). But the measure of our success isn’t in our college degrees or mission experiences, it’s in how we have applied what we learned from our experiences to our lives—and how we’ve passed it on to our children.

The Importance of an Education

Service Involves LearningMy parents always told us that we needed to go to college. Underscored in this discussion were my grandmothers—both of whom were college graduates and elementary school teachers. One grandpa wasn’t able to finish his education as a young man, but he earned his bachelor’s at the age of 81. On the other side, my grandmother quit school and went to work so my grandfather could finish his education. When he had earned his degree in engineering, he turned to my grandmother and said, “Now that I’m done, it’s your turn. You need to finish school.” Decades later, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 55 and my grandmother supported their family—thanks to the education my grandfather insisted she obtain. As Susan Madsen pointed out, life doesn’t always work out the way we think it will, so we need to be prepared for whatever comes our way. In speaking to women, President Thomas S. Monson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ, said:

We do live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. Statistics reveal that at some time, for a variety of reasons, you may find yourself in the role of financial provider. I urge you to pursue your education and learn marketable skills so that, should such a situation arise, you are prepared to provide.

But for members of The Church of Jesus Christ, our education doesn’t begin and end at the doors of a school. President Henry B. Eyring, First counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ, taught:

Our education must never stop. If it ends at the door of the classroom on graduation day, we will fail. And we will need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn. We cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark.

Education is important not only in this life but in our eternal progression. We take not only what we learn with us when we die, we take what we have become through our learning. President Eyring said:

The purpose of God’s creations and of His giving us life is to allow us to have the learning experience necessary to come back to live with Him in eternal life. That is only possible if we have our natures changed through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, true repentance, and making and keeping the covenants He offers all of His Father’s children through His Church. True learning must have a powerful spiritual component. That spiritual element, when it is effective, refines and uplifts the aims of our total education.

Thus our education never stops. We are always learning, growing and trying to improve ourselves. Life is our classroom, and experiences our teacher. In this respect, a mission is another educational opportunity.

A Mission is a School All its Own

A mission is a unique opportunity of learning and growth for young adults. There are few other times in a person’s life when all of his or her energies is centrally focused on one goal. Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ), said:

We know that great things happen in the lives of those who faithfully serve full-time missions. Missionary service is not easy, but it is infinitely worth it. Those who serve and return home with honor have established a pattern of living and serving that will bless their own lives and the lives of generations to follow. They return better prepared to be strong leaders and teachers in the organizations of the Church. They return better prepared to be righteous fathers and mothers and able to teach their children the gospel. Full-time missionary service is a blessing for those whom the missionaries find and teach as well as for the missionaries themselves.

A mission is a learning experience like no other. Missionaries willingly give 18 months (for women) to 2 years (for men) of their lives in the service of a cause greater than themselves—in service to the Lord. They learn how to manage their time, budget their finances and discipline themselves. They learn interpersonal skills—and how to deal with rejection. They learn to be nice even when those around them aren’t. They learn grace under pressure as well as faith in God in times of trial. They learn to love others as the Savior does. They return home with an increased faith in God as well as an increased willingness to learn. Speaking of this drive to learn, President Eyring said:

When the Saints in Utah were still struggling to produce enough food, they started schools. They felt driven to lift their children toward light and to greater usefulness by education. That drive is more than a cultural tradition. It is the natural fruit of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see it today across the world as missionaries return home from their brief service in the field. Those who have planted the good word of God and have served faithfully invariably have awakened in them a great desire for self-improvement. And with that comes a desire to learn more and to gain greater skills.

As Elder Russell M. Nelson, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come. A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation.

And this desire to serve others and to improve oneself stays with the missionary throughout his or her life.

‘Class’ Begins with the Preparation

The blessings of missionary service begin as a young man or woman prepares. Elder Russell M. Nelson, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

Preparation for a mission is important. A mission is a voluntary act of service to God and humankind. Missionaries support that privilege with their personal savings. Parents, families, friends, and donors to the General Missionary Fund may also assist. All missionaries, younger and older, serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people.

Where it would appear that the world is lowering its expectations of young people, The Church of Jesus Christ is raising them—including in terms of morality and accountability. Elder L. Tom Perry, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

Raise the bar higher in your intellectual preparation. Take your schooling seriously. It is important to be able to read, speak, and write with intelligence. Expand your knowledge of the world around you by reading good books. Learn how to study. Then apply your improved study habits to learning the gospel of Jesus Christ. Consistently and regularly read from the Book of Mormon.

Young adults must also be prepared for the emotional and spiritual demands of a mission as well. Elder Perry said:

You must recognize that missionary service is emotionally demanding. Your support system is going to be withdrawn from you as you leave home and go out into the world. Many of the ways you use now to cope with emotional stress—like hanging out with friends, going off by yourself, playing video games, or listening to music—are not allowed by the rules of missionary conduct. There will be days of rejection and disappointment. Learn now about your emotional limits, and learn how to control your emotions under the circumstances you will face as a missionary. By doing this, you raise the bar to greater heights and, in effect, fortify yourself against emotional challenges during your missionary service.

… Prospective missionaries also must be prepared with the social skills needed to serve a mission. More and more, young people are isolating themselves from others by playing video games; wearing headphones; and interacting through cell phones, e-mail, text messaging, and so on instead of in person. Much of missionary work involves relating face-to-face with people, and unless you set the bar higher in the development of your social skills, you will find yourself underprepared. Let me offer a simple suggestion: get a job that involves interacting with people. As an increased motivation, set a goal to earn enough money from your part- or full-time work to pay for at least a significant part of your mission. I promise great blessings—social, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blessings—to every young man who pays for a significant part of his mission.

Sister Missionaries Perform a Unique Work

Sister missionaries perform a unique work as representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ. Worthy young men are commanded to serve missions because it is part of their duty as bearers of the priesthood of God—which is the power that God gives to man to act in all things for the salvation of His children. The late President Gordon B. Hinckley, until his death, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ, taught:

All young men who are worthy and who are physically and emotionally able should prepare to serve in this most important work. … There has been some misunderstanding of earlier counsel regarding single sisters serving as missionaries. We need some young women. They perform a remarkable work. They can get in homes where the elders cannot. But it should be kept in mind that young sisters are not under obligation to go on missions. They should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men, but some will wish to go (“To the Bishops of the Church,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, June 19, 2004, 27).

Women are a powerful force for good in the world. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures. …

My plea to women and girls today is to protect and cultivate the moral force that is within you. Preserve that innate virtue and the unique gifts you bring with you into the world. Your intuition is to do good and to be good, and as you follow the Holy Spirit, your moral authority and influence will grow. To the young women I say, don’t lose that moral force even before you have it in full measure. Take particular care that your language is clean, not coarse; that your dress reflects modesty, not vanity; and that your conduct manifests purity, not promiscuity. You cannot lift others to virtue on the one hand if you are entertaining vice on the other.

These are the unique gifts and talents that young sister missionaries bring in the service of God. Young men and young women each bring different qualities to the table of life—and to missionary service—and both are needed in the work of the Lord.

Our Education Prepares Us to Serve

Whether we receive our education in the missionary service or the halls of higher institutional learning—or both—our education prepares us to help and serve others. This is one of the reasons that we are here on earth. President Eyring said:

The thirst for education can be a blessing or a curse, depending on our motives. If we continue to seek learning to serve God and His children better, it is a blessing of great worth. If we seek learning to exalt ourselves alone, it leads to selfishness and pride. …

The Lord and His Church have always encouraged education to increase our ability to serve Him and our Heavenly Father’s children. For each of us, whatever our talents, He has service for us to give. And to do it well always involves learning, not once or for a limited time, but continually.

I am a firm believer that the Lord will guide us—and our learning— throughout our lives as we seek to follow His will. And He will place us where He needs us. My oldest two sisters served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ. They came home more mature emotionally and spiritually. They were humble and had strong faith in the Lord and in His plan for each one of us. They had a deeper love and concern for others around them. And they were excited to apply the lessons they learned on their missions to their own lives. They served as powerful examples to us, their younger siblings, of how a mission can change you. (Not that they were bad before— they just came home better.) The beautiful thing about a mission is that as you strive to help other people change their lives for the better, the Lord also helps you to change your life for the better.

Latter-day Saints – A “Peculiar” and Sacrificial People

Latter-day Saints – A “Peculiar” and Sacrificial People

Some people may consider members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a rather “peculiar” or strange people, not only because of some of their beliefs and practices, but because of their devotion to their faith. Devout Mormons, as they are often called, believe that their religion is more than just a Sunday religion. It is something that they uphold and practice every day of their life – at home, at school, in the market place, in the work place, or even in the public square. Wherever they may be, the doctrines and principles that they are taught are a guiding force in their personal life, as well as in their dealings with others.

Living the Life of a Latter-day Saint

Mormon family gardeningMembers of The Church of Jesus Christ live normal, busy lives like most other people. They go to work each day, go to school, attend college classes, do grocery shopping, and take care of their homes and families, as well as any other tasks that may be required. As such, each member of the Church gives of their time differently. Depending on life situations, some may be able to sacrifice more time than others. Nevertheless, by comparison there are few Christians who give of their time like Latter-day Saints.

Joseph Smith, the first Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) in Lectures on Faith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” Although members of the Church do not sacrifice everything that they have, most willingly give of their time each week to attend Church meetings, perform their Church callings, and participate in activities and service projects.

An Approximate Breakdown of Time Sacrificed

Exactly how much time an average Latter-day Saint sacrifices in performing church, family, and community service can only be approximated.

On a daily basis, the average Mormon may spend only a few minutes reading and studying the scriptures. A full-time missionary, however, spends up to 2 hours per day studying the scriptures.

During the week, some LDS youth attend early morning Seminary classes for one hour prior to the start of the regular school day. Other LDS youth, depending on their location, may have Seminary included as part of their school curriculum.

Sundays are divided into three one hour blocks of instruction to include Sacrament meeting, Sunday school, Relief Society for women, Priesthood for men, and Primary for the younger children. There are also other church meetings to attend depending on a person’s calling. It is not uncommon for Stake Presidents, Bishops, and auxiliary presidents to spend up to 20 hours or more in their church callings, whereas someone else in a different calling may spend less than an hour. The time that is spent in a particular calling includes, but is not limited to: leadership meetings and training, presidency meetings, interviews, lesson preparations, planning and attending activities.

A Sacrificial People Info graphA breakdown of time during the week may look something similar to the following:

• Young Women/Young Men activities: 1-2 hours at activities; more spent individually on Personal Progress and Duty to God requirements.

• Scouts: 1 hour per week at activities; more spent individually fulfilling requirements.

• Primary Activity Days: 1 hour

• Family Home Evening: 1-2 hours

• Date Night: 1-4 hours; many local church leaders have encouraged a weekly date night for married couples.

A report by Utah Valley 360 also outlines how Latter-day Saints may spend their time on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis:

Monthly/Quarterly

• Home Teaching/Visiting Teaching: 1-2 hours (depending on the number of families a person has been assigned)

• Weekday Relief Society Meetings: 1 hour

• Child of Record Baptisms: 2 hours

• Scout camp outs: 2 days

• Parent/Children interviews: 5 minutes to 2 hours

Twice Yearly/Yearly

• General Conference: 10 hours (four 2-hour General Sessions, one 2-hour Priesthood Session and one 2-hour Women’s Session) held in April and October of each year.

• Youth Conference: 1-2 days

• Girls Camp: 3-5 days

• Scout Camp: 3-6 days

• Pioneer Trek: 3-5 days

• Stake Conference: 2-6 hours (2-hour general session, 1-2 hour adult session, and other leadership training sessions.

Mormon missionariesLatter-day Saints also give of their time to attend the temple which could constitute two to three hours per endowment session. The amount of time spent in the temple during each subsequent visit will depend on such factors as travel times, wait times, and what ordinances a person is planning to perform during their visit. Temple ordinance workers serve approximately 6 hours per week for several months or maybe even years.

Latter-day Saints are also service minded people, and could spend anywhere from an hour to 20 hours or more in providing meals for those in need, helping families to move, cleaning church buildings, and assisting in humanitarian efforts.

They also spend a considerable amount of time doing genealogy work. Some may spend only a few minutes each week doing family history research, and others may spend several hours per week depending on their schedules.

As there are no paid ministers in the Church, members are called on from time to time to give a talk/message to the congregation during Sacrament meeting, or other church meetings such as ward and stake conferences. Some members are also called upon to teach various classes. And so, preparation time must also be calculated into the equation.

Missionary service is another major part of the Church with males starting at the age of 18 serving full-time for two years, and females starting at age 19 serving for 18 months. A retired couple may serve a mission for a period as short as 6 months or as long as 2 years. Missionary Presidents and their wives serve for 3 years, and Church-service missionaries usually serve approximately 8 hours per week for 6 months to 2 years.

Latter-day Saints are Willing Servants

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ sacrifice their time in many ways, not out of obligation, but because they believe that when they are in the service of their fellowman, they are in the service of God. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “Our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen.”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Announces Atlantic Coast Tour

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Announces Atlantic Coast Tour

Leopold Anthony Stokowski, one of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th Century who is best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra, said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” And the famous German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven, stated, “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra

These acute statements without question could be used to accurately describe the delightful music that people the world over experience whenever they hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform. Through their melodious sound, a listener is transformed into a virtual Picasso as he is able to paint beautiful pictures on the canvas of his mind which gives vitality to what he hears.

Those who love this music will be pleased to know that the world-renowned, 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir has announced their summer 2015 concert tour. Accompanying the choir on the tour will be 68 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square. Their repertoire will include everything from Bach and Broadway to American folk hymns and spirituals. Ron Jarrett, president of the choir, has commented, “There is nothing quite like hearing the choir live in concert. We love going on the road to connect with our audiences on the Eastern seaboard who will experience the pure joy music can bring to the hearts and minds of its listeners.”

The tour begins on 24 June 2015 and concludes on 7 July 2015 with stops in Bethesda, Maryland; New York City, Saratoga Springs, Bethel Woods, New York and Boston, Massachusetts. Tickets are now on sale for the concert to be held in Bethesda. More information about specific dates, venues, and ticket prices can be found by visiting the choir’s website.

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