Evangelical-LDS Conversation(s) in Idaho Falls

I appreciate the elders of Christ Community Church connecting with both Dr. Brad Wilcox and Dr. Steve Crane to set up a community meeting last night in the Civic Auditorium for conversation about God, gospel, and grace.  It was titled an Evangelical – Mormon Conversation. The event was reminiscent of when Dr. Robert Millet and Pastor Greg Johnson got together for mutual discussion five years ago about their respective faiths.

Pastor Jeff Kennedy of Christ Community Church and Jay Hildebrandt, anchor newsman of Local 8 News, introduced the conversationalists.

Here is what I have learned about the speakers by looking on the web.

The Civic Auditorium filled up with people.  I imagine 2000+ showed up to listen in on the conversation.

Pastor Steve asked most of the questions while Professor Brad provided most of the answers for what he believed in his LDS faith.  Pastor Steve would follow by sharing some Scripture and his evangelical conviction.

Here are six highlights of what Dr. Brad Wilcox shared with us.  To my LDS friends, please feel free to post any questions or clarifications.  From this conversation, I have not included any of Pastor Steve’s reciting Biblical Scripture or his evangelical convictions.

  1. Nature of God – God and Jesus are separate beings. The Father has a body of flesh and bones and is the father of spirit children. He is literally the father of our spirits. The Father is a physical father to Jesus.  God is very personal and tangible.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three Gods but one in spirit.  The Holy Spirit will someday take a body.  There is not much to know of the Gods before the Heavenly Father of this world. There is the acknowledgment of many Gods but the worship of only one God.
  2. Jesus – Jesus was a part of the Godhead before he came to the earth and took on a body. Jesus atoned for sins by providing immortality for all.  This atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, and climaxed in his resurrection.  Dr. Brad Wilcox urged evangelicals to agree that LDS have a different view of Jesus but it is still the same Jesus.
  3. Humans – All humans preexisted with God and Jesus. And all were at different levels of progression before they were born on this earth.  LDS will progress to the delight of their Heavenly Father but they will never become equal to Him.
  4. The Fall in the Garden of Genesis – LDS do not consider it strictly a punishment alone for Adam and Eve being sent from the Garden. Look at the consequence for Adam and Eve as more like being sent to school. God did not give them plan B.  It was all planned.  Think of how men and women fall, get back up, and get even better in their lives because of their falls.
  5. Salvation – It is not just a get-out-jail-free card. Neither is it just slipping St. Peter a $20 bill at the pearly gates and asking to get in.  Salvation is not Jesus merely supplementing all the works that LDS do.  It is the joy of reading one book after another given by the Heavenly Father.  Consider the maintaining LDS covenants as inviting more and more grace into one’s life.  Salvation is not being a spiritual couch potato but life transformation in being more like Christ. After death, audiences in spirit prison are invited to hear the LDS gospel.  They have the opportunity after death to learn and to love Jesus.  In accordance to their responses, the levels of heaven will be according to what they feel most comfortable with.   Hell is very small.  Heaven is very big.  Brad Wilcox is big on grace.
  6. The Bible – LDS love and respect the Bible. It is rich in history that speaks of living prophets, that is why they follow living prophets for today.  Amid the 90,000 Christian sects, denominations, or groups, the LDS prophet today provides God’s voice of unity.  If today’s LDS prophet and apostles were directed to discontinue a practice in the Bible, they would follow their prophet.

Dr. Brad Wilcox urged evangelicals to open their thinking to a “much bigger picture” of God and progression of salvation in this life and life after death.   Again, I did not share Steve’s part of the conversation.  But Pastor Jeff of Christ Community Church mentioned they will seek to put the video coverage on their church website and provide video links by email to all who registered by email. Hopefully, that will spike your interest.

I love living among LDS neighbors and friends in Idaho Falls.  I am convinced more than ever that God has me as his missionary in this city.

I love King Jesus.  Send me an email, give me a call, or come by my office if you would like to talk about Him.

Grace to you all,

Todd Wood

Pastor Michael Wedman and India

Charles Barnes writes:

Sent from Idaho Falls

Michael Wedman, pastor of Discovery Fellowship in Idaho Falls, is planning to go to New Delhi, India to help train local pastors how to preach God’s Word more effectively.  He will be part of a team from CrossTalk Global, whose mission is to provide quality training in the context, language and culture of local pastors.  Michael will depart on April 14 for two weeks and return to India annually for the next six years to continue this training.  He is seeking both financial and prayer support for his trip.  Donations can be made using the following link: https://crosstalkglobal.cloverdonations.com/india-mike. If you would like to support Michael with prayer, please email him atwedmanfamily@gmail.com. To learn more about the ministry of CrossTalk Global, see http://www.crosstalkglobal.org/.

Eric Strom’s recent trip to Liberia

Trip to Liberia 2/7 – 2/17/17

I just returned from my second visit to Liberia, Africa working with Joshua Milton Blahyi, the former warlord, General Butt Naked. The trip was mainly relational, restorative and reconciliatory. The focus of the mission, Journey Against Violence, is recovering ex-child combatants from the civil wars. I am currently working with two such young men, Abraham Fahnbulleh and William Wilson. Abraham was previously a Muslim, a fighter and heroin addict. He recently graduated from high school in June 2016 at 31 years of age. He currently is operating a business in the Mount Barclay township outside of Monrovia. He services and charges cell phones, takes passport photos, copies and produces documents, conducts mobile money business, rents sound equipment for celebrations and sells various electronic items. He was recently broken into and had his computer, camera and printer stolen. I was able to provide replacements with the money donated from my church family and friends. He is now working at full strength as a respected businessman in his community to the glory of the Father.

Wilson had tried working on his own for the past nine months. He was able to purchase a motorcycle for a taxi business. Through infrequent maintenance, the motorcycle broke down. He has construction skills and was working with some men building a structure. When he went to ask for his pay, they beat him, leaving him with two broken arms. After healing, he was unable to use the motorcycle because of the injuries to his arms. He asked if I could help him in a business. The Father instructed me to set up a gas and fuel business for him. We purchased all the necessary equipment and put him to work the very next day. He sold ten gallons of gas the first day. He was ecstatic. Since the first day, he has purchased two more 70 gallon barrels for fuel (diesel) and is selling close to his capacity daily which is above two hundred gallons combined. He is so thankful to the Father for providing him with a means of living and resources for his family. Again, finances were provided by my church family and friends.

Abraham took me to the ghetto where he used to live as an addict and gang member. We entered a house and found a small room with four men sitting around a table smoking heroin. These were his brothers. Once they got over the shock of seeing a white man enter their world, they invited me in and received me. I hope I was able to convey some hope to them that facilities were being built to receive them and get them out of this bondage. They begged me to take them now. My heart was so broken for “the least of these”. Their country ignores them. Their society is afraid of them. I assured them that the Father has not forgotten them.

Journey Against Violence is currently building facilities in the bush to house 480 men upon completion. Once the first dormitory is finished, men will be able to enter the program. I am able to provide consultation for education and drug and alcohol treatment. I will return upon direction from my Father. My current schedule of Refirement fits this very well. Your prayers are coveted and needed.

Dewey Wilmot and the Christian Home Fellowship

Written by Charles Barnes:

The Post Register of June 17, 1977 contained an article entitled “Poll shows US in early stage of profound religious revival.”  Various evidence and expressions of this revival can be found in the history of Idaho Falls.  The following is a brief story of one man God brought to Idaho Falls who was affected by the revival and then greatly used by the Lord to affect the lives of others.

Dewey Wilmot grew up on a farm near Boise.  He was a high school student when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941.  Dewey was so angry with the Japanese that he joined the Navy, and was given the job of fireman on the USS Wasp aircraft carrier.  About the time the ship reached Japan, atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought about their surrender.

Shortly after coming home to Idaho, Dewey married Virginia McCullough, a girl he had known in high school. A few years later the couple moved to Idaho Falls where Dewey began a long career working for local television stations, including Channel 8 and Channel 3 in Idaho Falls and Channel 3 in Pocatello.  And in Idaho Falls, Dewey and his wife raised their three children.

The Wilmots were involved at First Christian Church in Idaho Falls, and were faithful members there for many years.  In the early 1970’s Dewey started attending a Friday night Bible study in the home of Ben Lunis, an INL project engineer and program manager.  One reason Dewey was attracted to the group was the diversity of people attending, people of all ages and from walks of life, from church goers to former drug addicts.  Ben had started the group as a chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, and it was here that Dewey became exposed to the teaching of the charismatic renewal movement of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  It wasn’t long after he started attending this FGBMF Bible study that Dewey was sharing in teaching the group.  He says that after he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, his teaching improved.

The Friday night group grew too large for Lunis’s house, and so they moved it to the Wilmot’ house, at 227 11th Street.  This house had a very large combined dining and living room, and it wasn’t long before they were consistently seeing over 70 people come each week.   At this point, Dewey and four other men in the group felt led to look for larger facilities and transition from a Bible Study to a church, which was named Christian Home Fellowship.  Over the years they met in several buildings, and at their peak grew to about 275 people.

Dewey is still amazed at the number of people the Lord brought to him to minister to in the 1970’s.  With faith that Jesus could help each person, Dewey sought the Lord’s direction, whether to counsel, lead to Christ, pray for healing or deliverance or whatever.  Because of his job, most of this ministry took place in the evening, and Dewey shared with me that no matter how late into the night his counseling sessions went, he never got tired.  Seeing how God could use him, Dewey trained a dozen other men to do what he was doing.  Also, he also became responsible for starting FGBM groups in Wyoming, Utah and other towns in Idaho.

One of the men Dewey helped was Jim Spencer.  In Jim’s Through the Maze Newsletter of November 2000, he reflects, “I consider Dewey Wilmot to be a ‘Father in the Lord.'” Just after Jim was born again, he learned about the Bible study in Dewey’s house.  Referring to Dewey and other leaders, Jim writes, “They saw me struggle, just hoping my wife would be saved.  When she was saved, they saw us struggle to hold our marriage together.  During those early years Dewy and Virginia Wilmot counseled us into the wee hours.”

While the Christian Home Fellowship disbanded in the mid-1980’s (the last reinstatement of its incorporation was in 1985), Dewey’s local ministry continued, as have those of people he influenced.  Turning 90 this year, he leads a weekly Bible study at Cornerstone Assembly of God, currently studying the atonement of Christ.  His final comment to me was, “Anyone can do what I do, but you have to do what He (Jesus) wants.”

Be Thou My Vision

Steve Morreale of Mount Royal Ministry (MRM) in Idaho Falls recently wrote this in his February newsletter:

Visions are important, especially in the middle of cold and difficult seasons, such as an Idaho winter or worse, times of despair. The worship time at MorningStar Christian Fellowship recently included a great old hymn, Be Thou My Vision. It is actually an adaptation of an Irish hymn from the 8th century. The words, while classic King James vernacular, are timeless. Read them, and extend grace to me as I integrate an attempt to be encouraging.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart – Naught be all else to me save that Thou art; Thou my best thought by day or by night – Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Let God be the Vision of our hearts, our innermost being, and let nothing else get in the way. He can be our best thought any time of day (such thoughts chase away fears and doubts). Indeed, He is our true light in the dark seasons of life.

Be Thou my wisdom, be Thou my true word – I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father and I Thy true son – Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Let God be our source of wisdom and not the temporal and ever-changing ideas of men. Let God’s word be the word we live by because it is the truth that sets us free! Let God the Father be our eternal Father and let’s choose to be His eternal children. Our decision to believe (and it is a decision to be made) in Jesus as God the Son, makes us children of the Father and together we are one.

Be Thou my shield and my sword for the fight; be Thou my dignity, be Thou my might; Thou my soul’s shelter and Thou my high tow’r, Raise Thou me heav’ward, O pow’r of my pow’r.

Remember the only One who can truly protect us is God – He is our shield and our sword. He is the source of our dignity and our might, not our accomplishments or our position.  He shelters our soul: our thoughts, desires and feelings. He is our fortress and He raises us to heavenly ways and all of our power, all of our ability, is rooted in His omnipotence.

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise – Thou mine inheritance now and always; Thou and Thou only be first in my heart – High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

Forego the riches of the world and the approval of men. Instead, let’s earnestly pursue real treasure. Let God be first in our hearts because He alone is the eternal treasure we were created to desire.

Colombia report from Rachel Barnes

Her husband, Charles Barnes, notes:

Here are a few excerpts from Rachel’s report of her trip to Columbia.  If you would like her 3-page report that contains more specific answers to prayer, let me know.

Your prayers really created a thick protective covering over me the entire trip to Colombia and back.  There was evidence of the Lord’s help at every turn, not just for me, but for the bigger picture as well.  So thank you from the bottom and top of my heart.

The thing I see as most important is that my missionary friend Terry was able to complete the checking of Luke 2:41-chapter 10, combing through remarks and questions brought up from a consultant check.  That portion is now about ready for publication.  This was a big accomplishment.  They finished this the day I was to leave to come home.  Terry felt a very definite sense of the Lord’s enabling in their work sessions so that they were able to dive right in and make progress as well as they did.  It is a tedious process since the language helpers are still learning to read their own language.  The sessions not only involve figuring out what the Scripture is saying and how to say it in their language in a way that will not be confusing, but also working with reading skills, so it goes slowly.  But the goal is not only to leave them with a book, but to leave the people with skills as well.  This takes a lot of commitment, patience, diligence and love.

Along with me being able to do little odd jobs, learn the system for filtering water and sterilizing dishes and fruits, sweep up dust every day, keeping on top of laundry, opening up and closing windows and doors for airflow, getting meals on the table when the hired cook was not there, etc., probably my most important contribution was to take the morning session each day to pray for the work in progress, and all the things I was aware of that were connected to our presence there.  Also, it was very helpful to Terry to have someone to pray with about anything and everything as it came up.

Water

Water!  Life for a community!
Except for the name “Eagle Rock,” water is implied in all of names of Idaho Falls. In the early days of the community, the water brought by canals gave life to the town as the barren land was transformed to one of farms, homes, trees and lawns.  The name “Idaho Falls” was chosen purposely to change its image from a bleak, dry, barren place to one of life and abundance.  And water was critical in creating the opportunities to do that.  The name “Idaho Falls” was selected to indicate abundant water which in turn meant hope for life and community. The sandy area along rocky banks of a river that was once called uninhabitable developed into a community.
Barrenness transformed to life and community through water – that’s one way Idaho Falls can be characterized from a historical perspective.  There are other ways.  Most everyone who lives here has their own opinion and perspective of what Idaho Falls means, why they came and why they stay.  They may live here because of their occupation, family connections, recreational pursuits, or many other reasons.  Or it might have something to do with their religion.  Anyone moving to Idaho Falls sooner or later discovers the dominant role religion plays in this community.  Another name for this part of Eastern Idaho is the “Mormon Corridor.”
Idaho Falls, as every community, is constantly changing.  Families move here and people move away from here.  Babies are born and residents die.  Businesses start and grow and others close.  New churches start, some churches grow; others decline and close.
In the flux of history and people, what can we say about Idaho Falls, and its immediate surroundings?