FEBRUARY 2021 THE CROSS

JUSTICE OR MERCY

While reading through the Bible this year, I was impressed by the many times God was described as “just” or “merciful”. There are several definitions of the word justice. Most seem to describe justice as the assignment of merited rewards or punishments or as being impartial or fair. Mercy seems to be forbearance – compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it. I began to wonder how you could be both just and merciful. Psalm 89:14 says that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne and that love and faithfulness go before Him. Of course, we understand that because He is just, God demands punishment for sins. Because he is compassionate and merciful, He provided full punishment for our sins through the death of His only Son, Jesus. However, the fundamentalist Mormons believed that there were some sins that Jesus blood could not atone for. They believed that a person would have to spill their own blood to be forgiven. Sometimes they even arranged for a person’s death so that the person could be forgiven. Search for the words “blood atonement” to read some quotes from Mormon literature. However, praise to our God that He is both just and merciful, because as Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If we are to have the mind of Christ, then how should we balance justice and mercy in our own lives when dealing with others. This is a question I have been pondering for several weeks. Micah 6:8 says, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” How can you do both? James 2:13 says, “…judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I recently asked some friends how they would balance mercy and judgment in their lives. I got very different but interesting responses. Now I ask you – how do you balance judgment and mercy? Please email me your responses and tell us if we have permission to publish your response in this newsletter. Please – no politics! Keep it personal. Our email is gary@concernedchristians.com.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sandi Keating

LOVE PERSONIFIED

By Gary Keating

We are in the popular ‘Week of Love’. So, I thought it would be appropriate to share a Love Story with you. It all began in Texas. That, alone, should tell you it is a BIG love story.

You have heard many real stories of World War Two (WW-II). There are many more untold stories, but the families know them very well. This is one of those stories which only the family knows.

The beautiful and charming young lady involved was from the far northern area of the Texas hill country. Her name was Novella. She and her family were from the town of Rising Star. The whole family were very faithful members in the local Church of Christ. This supplied her with an extraordinarily strong moral direction for life. The family was also extremely poor. The children all worked in the cotton fields after school to provide extra family income. She graduated from high school in 1942 and immediately enrolled in a trade school in Cisco, TX.  

Meanwhile, in northern Texas near Wichita Falls, a handsome young man, Neil, was growing up with his older brother Harold. The two boys grew up hunting, fishing, and swimming. Their family was also extremely poor. They lived on a north Texas oil lease which provided housing.

(When the war began in early 1942 Harold was already with a north Texas group, the 131st Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, Texas National Guard. When war was declared on Japan his unit was moved to Java, Indonesia, where the Army lost track of them. They became known as the lost battalion. They were captured by the Japanese who controlled that area. They were moved into Burma with other British captives. These captives became the physical manpower for building the bridge over the River Kwai. Conditions were terrible for the captives. Their captors were brutal. Their food supply was minimal. Harold died 18 months into his captivity. This was known because of records kept clandestinely by an American officer. This was chronicled in a later book, Prisoner of War, by Captain Clyde Fillmore, Assistant District Attorney, Wichita Falls, TX in 1950.)

Neil went from high school to the same trade school where Novella was enrolled. They fell in love, married, and had a child on the way before Neil joined the service. He probably had no knowledge or Harold’s situation before his training in the U.S. Army. His experience on the oil lease home paid off while in the service. He learned typing in high school. His hunting and fishing with his older brother and pal taught him skills which benefited him in the Army. He was promoted to train soldiers in marksmanship and swimming/river-crossing. His typing skills were used in filling out reports. This moved him up quickly from Private to 1st Sergeant.

After the war ended, he was released from service and went home to his new family. He was able to see his new two-year-old daughter for the first time. The Faulkners, Neil and Novella, were leading, giving, serving couple who lived to help others. They established dance clubs in Texas and Arizona. They were always there when their church congregations needed help. They would always help others who were in need. Even in the care facility where they lived they would visit others. That attitude has been passed down in the family.

Last year when the major virus infected the world, Novella at age 95 passed, a victim of dementia. Their love was so strong, and Neil missed her so much, he passed seven weeks later.

Their love for each other provided me with the love of my life, my wife of 57 years and counting. Most of us who live this earthly life are anonymous like Neil and Novella. Our parents taught us to serve the Lord Jesus with our lives. Neil and Novella also demonstrated how we should do that.

In Galatians 5:22-23 the Apostle Paul said, “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”. Neil and Novella exhibited these Godly characteristics from start to finish. They were both born in 1925. That would be 77 years together.

Thank you for indulging my story of LOVE!!

P.S. The article by Sandie Keating, that is Neil and Novella’s daughter.

When Mormon missionary Micah Wilder set his sights on bringing a Baptist pastor and his congregation into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he couldn’t have imagined that the entire trajectory of his life was about to be changed—forever.Micah’s passionate effort to convert these Christians was met by a surprising challenge: to read the Bible through the eyes of a child, letting the Word speak for itself. He learned of a God whose love didn’t have to be earned, and he wrestled with the radical idea of God’s mercy for the remaining 18 months of his mission. As he struggled to reconcile the teachings of his Church with the truths revealed in the Bible, he encountered the true character of Jesus for the first time—and awakened to his need for His grace.Passport to Heaven is a gripping account of Micah’s journey from living as a devoted member of a religion based on human works to embracing the divine mercy and freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ.Pre-order now at:https://amzn.to/3ogdx5w 
 

SALT LAKE COUNTY CONTINUES TO LOSE LATTER-day SAINTS 

I recently ordered merchandise from Utah Lighthouse Ministry (Sandra Tanner) and they most always throw in a few extra goodies.  These are my gleanings from the Salt Lake Tribune article on January 14, 2021 by Mr. Lee H. Davidson.
Salt Lake County is Utah’s most populated county.  In a three year period  it has gained approximately 36,000 residents.  In that same three year period church membership has dropped significantly; it is down by 17,174.  Latter-day Saints now account for 46.89% of the population. It’s the seventh year in a row the numbers dropped.  The new folks moving in are not Latter-day Saints, the old guard is dying, and the birth rate has dropped. Fewer new babies are being added to the rolls.  The head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, Patrick Mason, says there has continued to be an exodus from the church.  “This has been one of the main stories of the church in the 21st century and may be accelerating over the next decade. I personally found this bit of information interesting.  This data reflects only the LDS with a known address.  It is possible the church has a higher number of members, but they are  not active enough to let local lay leaders request their records and attach a current address to them.

Mason says the number one issue in the last couple of years is disagreement in church policy around LGBTQ and related gender issues.  The other issue is women’s role and place in the church.

I see all of these issues as an encouragement to those witnessing and praying for their LDS family, friends and general membership. God is on the move.
Paulette Carpenito

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During our Monday night prayer time we have seen many answered prayers, many of those have been answered after many years of prayer. We have always prayed that people would leave the LDS organization, but the real crux of that prayer is that these poor souls walk into the arm of Jesus. As most of us who attend the prayer meeting are closer to this side of retirement than not, our pray has been asking for younger folks to take up the mantle. That prayer has been answered too. We will share how in next months issue. It was truly an answer to prayer when our old building was sold. God has never let us down, and we know he never will. Paulette

Witness Tips by Jason BornAgain 
 
In a recent conversation I had with a staunch LDS person, I was asked, ‘Are you saying my Church in false?’, to which I replied, (using I statements) Of paramount importance to me, is THE PERSON of Jesus Christ.  And He said “I am Truth” – He also said “come to me”, he NEVER SAID find the right Church.  It is important when we are in conversation with LDS people, to shift the reasoning of ‘this church that Church”, to Jesus. The assumption in Mormonism is that their Church is the only true church on the planet. In Christianity, Jesus being the TRUTH is King and key. Gently, yet persuasively move the conversation to look at Jesus.  Happy fishing, see you next time.
NO COMPARISON
 
 by Judy Robertson
 
 The difference between Mormonism & Christianity
 


Mormonism/God is: 
  
 8.   MAN CAN BECOME LIKE HIM, A GOD HIMSELF. 
  
       “Here then, is eternal life – – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another , and from a small capacity to a great one, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting  burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”
     (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph F. Smith, pp. 346-347)

See also: Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, p. 321, Doctrine and Convenants  132:20-21, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph by Joseph F. Smith, p.347, 374, The Articles of Faith by James Talmage, p. 530.
 
  
Christianity/ God is:
 
 
 8.     MAN CAN NEVER BECOME LIKE HIM AND IS CONDEMNED FOR TRYING. 
  
      “And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
     (Genesis 3:4-5)

     “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
     (Isaiah 14:14-15)

     “…  Thus says the Lord God, Because your heart is lifted up and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods’…yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God…Therefore, thus says the Lord God…I will bring strangers upon you…they will bring you down to the pit…will you still say,  ‘I am a god”, although you are a man and not God, in the hands of those who wound you?”
     (Ezekiel 28:2, 5-9)

     See also:Psalms 50:21, Isaiah 44:6)
 
We at Concerned would like to encourage you to read your Bible        every Day.  There are so many ways and they are all good.  If you are really new or really pressed for time read a Proverb a day. 
The Lord conveniently gave us thirty-one.  
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ORDER The POTHOLES book PLEASE go to this website:   Pearls-cover-display-Print-SM.png  http://www.judyrobertson.com/  
 

We at Concerned Christians meet every   Monday evening for an hour of prayer at 6:30 p.m. If you are not local, please set that time aside to  voice your concerns from your prayer space.  If you are local and would like to attend, we ask you to call 480-833-2537 for directions. We truly look forward to meeting and praying with you in the War Room.  We ask that you add  Concerned Christians to your prayer list along with any other Mormon witnessing group you are familiar.  The importance of intercessory prayer cannot be stressed enough. We have seen God grant many blessings to us over the years.  If you have a ministry related request please send us a short email.  info@concernedchristians.com“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.”      
 I Thessalonians 1:2  

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