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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Testimony

I have to take a minute to tell you what God has did for us recently!

We first moved to South Africa in 2008.  Many who have moved know that, despite your greatest intentions to pack and move in a dignified, organized and structured manner, you reach that certain point where you're just throwing things in boxes.  When you're moving to another continent, not knowing exactly what you'll need, that tends to exacerbate the difficulty.

LDS Authorized KJV Bible
Well, here we are, over 6 years and 4 moves later, and we're still trying to recover.  It's not that we haven't gone through some of those boxes, but since our arrival in 2008 things have been so busy that when we did "reorganize" there was a greater emphasis on the "re" and less so on the "organize."  Our goal, as time has permitted over the last several weeks is to determine what, if anything that we own is really unnecessary at this stage of our life.  We've found lots of things, most notably baby, infant and toddler items.  While we've desired to have more children God hasn't chosen to increase our family in 5 years so we decided that it is past time to make sure someone else gets to use the things He so graciously blessed us with when Meredith and Drake were small.  But I digress.  The point is, we've streamlined.

Amber with some of the team.  Utah is B-E-Autiful!
But here's where it gets good.  I was going through a box of old photos and found several items of interest.  In 2003, less than a year after getting married, Amber and I took a trip to Utah (photos from that trip throughout this post).  While there we served with Chip and Jamie Thompson at a local outreach.  Part of that included training on the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  In this box I found the study guide, visual aids and an LDS authorized KJV Bible.  I thought to myself "What a weird place for us to pack these things.  Good thing I haven't needed them in the last 6 years.  I should put them with my study materials."  So I did.

If it looks like we're fighting, it's because we are.  She beats me. 
That was last Friday.  On Sunday, Gladston Jonas from our church (whom you may remember from this post), told me that he had bumped into some American missionaries here.  He was excited to meet some other Americans so he arranged with them to come over to his house sometime.  He didn't know right away that they were LDS missionaries.  When he told me about it I offered to come along, if he would have me.  He agreed and so the next day we had a meeting scheduled at his place.

We had the opportunity to meet Elder Holman from Reno, NV and Elder Ngundu from Zambia.  God gave us the privilege to speak together for about 2 hours, sharing the grace of God that draws mankind to Himself.  It was really cool because Gladston was able share his testimony, which if you remember, was somewhat humorous in the way he had been challenged in regard to his own righteousness.  We were able to discuss the same passage, along with lots of others from the Bible, with both young men.  Using the visual aids that I had found or more accurate, that God had led me to, we also discussed some of the LDS requirements for salvation from the Book of Mormon, Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, etc...

Young Amber & Louis at The Great Salt Lake
The main point that stands out is that there is Nothing that we can do to earn God's love, favor or eternal life.  Think about it for a moment.  When I only do something for someone based on what I want to receive in return, or worse yet, because then they'll owe me something in return the word used to describe that isn't Love.  The word to describe that kind of relationship is Manipulation.  So, if I serve God hoping to earn His love, or so that He'll karmically owe me blessings like eternal life, then I'm trying to manipulate God.  And if God can be manipulated by me He's no longer God...I am.

Yet so many religions in this world are based in a mistaken belief that we can and must earn God's favor.  The point of the Law is not that I can do well enough to satisfy God.  The point is that I can't, never will!  How can my sins be paid for, if one sin against the laws or character of an infinite God is worthy of infinite punishment?  I need an infinite payment, right?  Guess what?  Nothing about me is infinite.  Jesus is.  By living a sinless life, yet paying the penalty reserved for those who have sinned, His infinite righteousness is available to me.  God, as a righteous Judge, can accept His infinite payment for my infinite violation, transferring His righteousness to me as my sin was transferred to Him.  This divine transaction is called Justification.  Through this I now have peace with God, not because I have worked hard enough to earn His favor, but because Jesus - HIS OWN SON - is eternally worthy of God's favor.  The words we use to describe this are Freedom, Grace, Mercy, Peace, Joy, LOVE!
Young Louis finds a buried knife wrapped in a
photo at old Indian cliff drawings.  Probably
an ancient murder weapon.

During our conversation there was some back and forth, some good questions asked.  It was clear that Elder Holman and Elder Ngundu were thoughtfully engaged with us.  At the end Elder Holman bore his testimony to us.  But it was clear that he understood a vast difference between the gift of salvation that we discussed from God's Word vs. the merit-based salvation taught by the LDS church and most major religions worldwide.

The LDS Temple in Manti, UT.
We're hoping to have a couple more opportunities to meet with these guys, as it was such a privilege to sit down together and open God's Word.  Really, anytime we can open Scripture together is a blessing not to be missed!  In fact, after Elders Holman and Ngundu departed, the four of us left at Gladston's house were able to share another 45 minutes of Bible Study, looking at 2 Tim. 2:25 and John's warning in his second epistle.  Earlier in the day I had a moment of repentance as I realized that going into the meeting I was more concerned with having the right answers than for the salvation of souls.  And during this time one of the other guys prayed for forgiveness as well, recognizing that his attitude was to be proven correct rather than meekly instructing those whose beliefs are in opposition to their own eternal souls.  Again, such a privilege to be unified with true believers and share in God's work like this!

Continue to pray for Elders Ngundu and Holman!  Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life!


For good LDS resources go to: Tri-Grace Ministries website  -- Special Thanks to Chip & Jamie Thompson for their faithful work!