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Hi I'm Heber

My first name is pronounced 'Hee - Burr'. It's kind of a Mormon name.

About Me

I am a Professor of Finance. I have been married for 25 years and have 5 beautiful children. My hobbies include backpacking and watching movies.

Why I am a Mormon

Reason 1: The Book of Mormon I was raised in the church. My parents were devout members of the church and taught me the gospel from an early age. Then when I was a young teenager my father told me that I should find out for myself whether the Book of Mormon was true. He told me to read it cover to cover and pray to ask the Lord to tell me whether the book was true. I took that advice. As I read and prayed a love for the book grew in my heart. I found that reading the Book of Mormon made my day better. I was happier and became more like the person I wanted to be. I still read the Book of Mormon regularly, almost daily in fact. I never get tired of it. When I have troubles in my life and I pray for help I often find that the solution is in the Book of Mormon. Little things will jump out at me that apply to my life. And it continues to be the thing that helps me be who I want to be. It calms me when I'm worried or angry and lifts me up when I'm down. I think the two things that have been most important in my life in terms of spiritual growth and happiness are prayer and reading the Book of Mormon. Reason 2: Church Meetings There are no paid ministers or pastors in the church. We each take part of the responsibility for making the organization run. You might say that the church is run by amateurs. So when you attend a meeting the sermons are not polished and professional. We all take turns giving sermons (we call them "talks"). Some people are natural speakers and some aren't. Because the speakers are our friends we don't care about eloquence. When it's our turn each of us tries our best to express the feelings of our hearts and what we have learned recently about how the Lord's gospel works in our lives. But I think the most important part of the church meeting is at the beginning when the teenage boys bless bread and water and we each eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus Christ. We call this the sacrament. It's a simple ceremony but I have found it really makes a difference in my life. If I miss it one week I notice it in the way I feel all week. The sacrament seems to renew me each week in some way. Reason 3: Mormons I like associating with fellow members of the church. In general mormons are pretty cool people. They aren't all the same but we all share a bond. So moving to a new location isn't as intimidating for me as it is for someone who isn't a member of the church I think. No matter where I go in the world I know I can find new friends at the local mormon church. Because we all work together to make the organization run we get to know each other pretty well. There are plenty of opportunities for disagreements and hurt feelings of course. But mormons learn to take this in stride and "get along". It's really a great group of people to be a part of.

How I live my faith

My family and I are active in our local congregation. I've had lots of assignments in the church over the years. So I've seen the church from lots of different perspectives. I was a missionary in Europe as a young man. My wife and I served as Temple Ordinance Workers together (those are the people that assist in the temples). I've also had various teaching and administrative assignments. A few years back I was the bishop of a wonderful congregation in Central Pennsylvania. So I feel like I know the church pretty well and how it works. I've enjoyed all the assignments I've had in the church.

What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?

Heber
There is a common misconception about this point. Many people think that it is against the church's teaching to "be" homosexual. In fact there is no commandment about what you should "be" relative to sexuality. Only about what you do with your sexuality. (By sexuality I mean what you find attractive in a sexual way). The Lord has asked us all to keep the "law of chastity" which states that sexuality is only to be expressed within the bonds of marriage. Either homosexual or heterosexual sex (with someone besides your marriage partner) is a violation of this commandment and are considered equally serious. I'm a married man. Is my wife the only person I find attractive in a sexual way? Of course not. I have to exercise self control to keep the law of chastity. Now I happen to be heterosexual. But I have homosexual friends who are good members of the church. I have one friend in particular who left the church for many years to live in a homosexual relationship. But at one point he decided that the Lord's gospel was more important to him and so he came back to the church and refrained from sex. His sexuality didn't change, his behavior changed. He died some years back from AIDS, still firm in the faith. So why is same-sex marriage not acceptable? Well to understand that you need to understand what the church teaches about the eternal nature of marriage. To the Lord marriage is about more than this life. A marriage partner should be for eternity. And the Lord has told us that such an eternal marriage involves a member of each gender. The Lord made the two genders different but each brings something important to such an eternal relationship. Show more Show less

What is the priesthood?

Heber
When Jesus was on the earth people often came to Him for help. He had the power to cure physical, emotional, and spiritual pain for those who had faith. But after He left the earth these blessings didn't stop. He had given His apostles the power to do what He had done. And so they blessed people "in the name of Jesus". That's basically what the priesthood is. A person who has the priesthood is empowered by God to act in the name of Jesus to do for believers what Jesus would do for them if He were here on earth. I have the priesthood, as do virtually all men in the church. A man is given the priesthood shortly after joining the church. With the priesthood we can baptize, bestow the Holy Ghost, heal the sick, and help those who have emotional or spiritual pain. Why has the Lord given us this privilege? Well I think the reason is to help us learn to be more like Him. He is our example and we grow to be more like him when we are doing what he did. Show more Show less

How can I find someone to talk with, in person, about the Mormon religion?

Heber
One easy thing to do would be to ask a mormon that you know! You'll find that mormons are happy to share their beliefs although they are reluctant to shove them down people's throats. If you don't know any mormons you can simply walk into a mormon church on almost any given Sunday (check the mormon.org website for local meeting times). Just tell someone you are a visitor who came to check things out. You can stay for a meeting and see for yourself how it works. Pretty much anyone you talk to will be happy to answer any question you might have. No question is off-limits really. We don't get offended by questions so feel free to ask what is on your mind. A guy did exactly this in our congregation a while back. I invited him to sit with me and I leaned over from time to time to explain what was going on. Afterward we had a good conversation about the church and he asked many questions that I did my best to answer. The other thing you will find is that in any congregation there will be some missionaries (usually two young men about 20 years old) who specialize in answering questions. They can also come to your house and tell you more if you like. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about “eternal life?”

Heber
Interestingly "eternal life" means more than to live for ever. We believe that every person has an immortal soul and will "live for ever". Eternal life is more than this. In the New Testament Jesus prayed that his followers would have eternal life. Then he added "and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." So to us eternal life means to live forever with God and Jesus Christ, knowing them as intimate friends. This is what we strive for: to become friends with God so that we will be prepared to spend all eternity with Him. Show more Show less

Why are Mormons asked to donate 10% of their income to their Church?

Heber
We call this "tithing". This is actually a practice that has been around since ancient times. The bible records that Abraham paid tithes. Jacob (who's name later became Israel) also promised the Lord he would give 10% of all he had to the Lord. The second to the last chapter of the Old Testament (Malachi 3) is all about tithing. We aren't the only church who teaches tithing. Other Christians also teach tithing. But mormons tend to practice it more than other churches which is why people normally associate it with mormons. If you know a mormon who attends church regularly then the odds are very good that he or she pays tithing. Since all local church officers are volunteer none of the tithing money stays in the local congregation. It's all sent to church headquarters. Church headquarters uses the money to pay the bills of the local congregations (electricity, phone, building construction and maintenance) and also gives each congregation a budget to spend for activities which is based on the number of people who attend that congregation. So congregations in wealthy areas and poor areas have exactly the same resources to spend and the same quality of facilities to meet in. It's kind of cool actually. I feel like it's a real privilege to pay tithing. Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

Heber
That's a big question. The answer is not short so I won't try to answer it completely here! Mormons believe the scriptures that God has given in the past as recorded in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We also believe that God continues to give revelation to prophets today just as He did in ancient times. The sum total of all this revelation we might call "Mormonism". Show more Show less

Why is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Mormons or Mormonism?

Heber
The term "mormon" is really a slang term originally applied by people outside the church to members of the church. The word derives from our belief in the Book of Mormon. Even though it is a slang term we don't mind it because the history behind the name "Mormon" is actually pretty cool. The Book of Mormon is a collection of scripture like the Bible. Similar to the Bible it describes the history of a people who lived anciently. The man who compiled this history into one volume was named Mormon and he lived during the great civil war that destroyed that ancient civilization. He was a great prophet and leader of his people. After his death his son finished the book and named it in honor of his father, the Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

What is faith?

Heber
Oftentimes you hear confusing and complicated definitions of faith. In fact it is a very easy thing to understand once it's explained to you. Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, gave the clearest explanation I am aware of. He taught that faith is the ability that people have to take actions before they know for sure what the outcome of these actions will be. If they "believe" that the outcome will be good then they are willing to try even though the aren't sure. For instance you may begin taking a prescription medication to help a heart condition. You probably don't even understand the chemistry behind the medication but you trust your doctor so you give it a chance. When your health begins to improve your faith has been verified by actual experience. Faith and science are not enemies. The scientific method requires faith. A scientist who begins a tedious experiment does not know the outcome in advance. He or she may have a working hypothesis but that is not knowledge. He or she is willing to try the experiment because they believe the hypothesis may, in fact, be the truth. In religious matters we may hear the experiences of others who have had their prayers answered. We may not know for ourselves that there is a God but hearing about other people's experiences may lead us to try the experiment of prayer. When we see that our prayers are answered the experiment is complete and we know for ourselves that there really is a God who hears and answers prayers. Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

Heber
Yes and no. All young men are asked to prepare to serve a mission when they turn 18. We see it as a duty. To be prepared means to understand the gospel and live up to the gospel standards. Some young men do not prepare and so cannot serve a mission. Young women are invited to serve a mission if they so desire but it is not expected of them as it is of the young men. But all young women are welcome to serve, provided they are prepared. Retired couples often serve missions as well. Show more Show less

Who was Joseph Smith?

Heber
Joseph Smith is the founder of the church. As a young farm boy he was confused about religion. He decided to pray to know the truth. God answered his prayers and began to guide him through visions and revelations to know how to organize the church. That's why we call him a prophet. Among the most important things he did was to translate the book we call the Book of Mormon. If that was all he had done we would still owe him a huge debt of gratitude because the Book of Mormon is amazing. But he did lots more. You will find that mormons have a great deal of affection for the prophet Joseph Smith. You can't read very much about him without coming to really like the guy. Here's just one story (of many I could tell) that illustrates the kind of man he was. At one point the mormons had been driven from the area they had been living in by mobs and had to settle elsewhere. Joseph was imprisoned but eventually freed because there were no charges against him. He went to visit some of the members of the church in the new location. During one such visit it was reported that a member of the church had had his barn burned down. Everyone present expressed their sympathy. But Joseph reached in his pocket and took out all the money he had and said "I feel sorry for this man to the extent of five dollars; how much do you feel sorry?" We all love Joseph Smith and wish we were more like him. Show more Show less

Do Mormons only help Mormons?

Heber
No. In fact if you are in an area where there has been a natural disaster like a hurricane, fire, flood, or tsunami you will soon see teams of mormons who have been gathered from the nearby area and organized into crews to help those who have been affected. In places where there are few mormons, like in Indonesia where they had that big tsunami, we still send emergency aid. Members of the church make regular donations to stockpile food, medicine, and other goods so they can be shipped immediately. The church has a reputation for being among the first on the scene in any part of the world. There are cases where only mormons are helped. These are the minor tragedies that happen to individuals such as a death in the family, loss of a job, severe illness, etc. If you are a mormon and something like this happens to you then you can count on your fellow mormons to come running to help. In principle we would be willing to do this for everyone but usually that would be an intrusion if the people in question don't know us. One thing that we do that was originally intended just to help mormons but has become an important resource for non-mormons in the recent recession is our employment centers. When a mormon loses his or her job or needs to change jobs they can go to the employment center where trained volunteers help them with job hunting skills like resume writing and practice interviews. They also keep a database of jobs that have been posted so that the person can search for a job that fits their background and needs. Non-mormons are welcome to come in as well. In fact in some areas there are more non-mormons who use the center than mormons. The service is free and the help people get is really top notch. I've been involved in helping our local employment center and I'm really impressed with what gets done there. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the Bible? Do they regard it as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

Heber
Yes! In fact you will find that mormons know the Bible pretty well because we study it regularly. We are of course aware that over the centuries there have been mistakes in transcription and translation (although these are not numerous considering the size of the book) and not every translation available today is equally good. However we believe absolutely that the words as written by the original authors were inspired of God and constitute Holy Scripture. We also believe that the Book of Mormon was inspired by God and is also Holy Scripture. And we are open to the possibility that yet more scripture could be given by God. In fact we expect this to be the case. One could say that we live by the statement that Jesus made "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Show more Show less

Why are only some Mormons allowed into temples? Is there something secret going on in Mormon Temples? What goes on in Mormon Temples?

Heber
I used to work in the temple so I pretty much know everything that goes on there. The short answer is that there isn't anything secret going on in the temple. The temple is "sacred" not "secret". We don't want to keep anyone from experiencing the temple. Quite the opposite. We want everyone to come. We just want them to be spiritually prepared first. Consider the following situation. Suppose a man comes to the symphony where a sublime concert is about to be presented. He has a ticket but he has not showered or changed clothes in several weeks and reeks of body odor. If you were the usher then you would like to ask the man to go clean up and then return, prepared for the concert. Similarly if we are not spiritually clean we are not prepared to experience the sacred atmosphere of the temple. The right thing to do is to go get ready. If one is not baptized then one must be baptized to get ready. After baptism if we are not living up to what the Lords asks of baptized members then we are also not ready. We should shape up and present ourself at the temple fully prepared to serve the Lord. People are often surprised to find that there is no big meeting room in the temple for sermons and such. That is not the purpose of a temple. And it's not really a place to meditate or study. We do that at home. Going to the temple is all about helping people. The first time we go to the temple it is to receive special ordinances such as the sealing of our family together for all eternity. Every other time we come we are coming to help someone else do the same for their family. Often these are people who died without having these ordinances performed. To understand this better you should learn about the church's teachings about family history work. Show more Show less

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Heber
A ward is a congregation. It is defined by a geographic boundary. A branch is a small ward. In areas where there are few mormons the local congregation will be a branch. The difference is that a branch may not have all the organizations and programs up and running that a ward would have. A stake is composed of several wards or branches (between 4 and 12 typically) in a particular geographic area. All the mormons in a stake only gather together on a few occasions each year. The stake doesn't have regular services as such. The purpose of a stake is to have a group of experienced leaders (called stake leaders) to whom local ward and branch leaders can turn for help and advice. If a ward gets very large then the stake leaders may decide to divide it into two wards. Similarly if a stake gets very large then church headquarters in Salt Lake City may direct that it be divided into two stakes. Show more Show less

Why was a Restoration of the Gospel needed? Haven't we always had the Bible?

Heber
Think about the Bible as a description of a house. Christ's church is the house. Reading the description isn't the same as living in the house. Reading about how the ancient church worked and the wonderful things that they did is fine and good. But it doesn't give you those same benefits as though you were there at that time. Can you build a house from a description? Well it depends. If you were a carpenter you might make a go of it. It might have the same shape and number of rooms. But will it be wired with electricity and running water? That requires an electrician and a plumber and, more importantly, a source of electricity and water you can tap into. Our view is that until the restoration there were churches that were like houses with no electricity or running water. The restoration means that the benefits of the original house are back, not just the shape of the house, but all the functionality. This includes revelation to apostles and prophets and elders who really do have God's power to work miracles. That's what the restoration gives us. Show more Show less

What does Mormonism teach regarding baptism?

Heber
We believe that all people who are old enough to understand right from wrong should be baptized. Baptism represents a commitment to the Lord to keep His commandments and live the way He would want us to. Through baptism we receive forgiveness of sins. The Lord promises that following our baptism He will guide us with His spirit to help us make good choices in life. Little children (under 8 years old) are not required to be baptized. We believe that little children are considered as innocent by God and are eligible for all His blessings that the rest of us can only receive through baptism. Show more Show less

What are some things that tell to you there is a God?

Heber
This is kind of a funny question for a mormon. We don't really worry about whether there is evidence out there indicating that there is a God. Other Christians can't understand why we don't get upset about things like evolution, the age of the universe, or archeological evidence about whether the stories in the bible are true. The simple reason is that every mormon has had direct, personal experience with God. So we don't just think that God may exist. We know He does. More importantly we think that everyone can learn this fact in the same way we learned it. In fact one could say that the central tenet of mormonism is that there is a God who is willing to make Himself known to anyone who really wants to know Him. No special qualifications are necessary. In the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants (one of our books of scripture) we read the following: "Verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh; For I am no respecter of persons..." So if you would really like to know if there is a God then begin to learn about Him and His message. Then pray and ask Him to help you know if the message is true. The simplest way to go about this is to invite the missionaries to visit you. They will give you a copy of the Book of Mormon. Begin to read it and pray about it (the missionaries can teach you to do this). Soon you will notice that your life will begin to change. You will feel a happiness that you haven't felt before. This is God answering your prayer. Then you will know that He is real and that He hears and answers prayers. Show more Show less

Where did Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begin?

Heber
Upstate New York, in the fingerlakes region. The Book of Mormon was printed in a town along the Erie Canal called Palmyra which lies due east from Rochester. Soon after the publication missionary work started in that area and the church was officially organized in the little town of Fayette, New York in April 1830. Show more Show less