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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 19 February 2010 - 10:09pm. | | | | |

Opposition In All Things
Steven G. O'Dell © 2010

The Lord will not be confounded, neither shall He allow his faithful servants to be confounded.

While in high school, I began to have an interest in doing the right thing, becoming the right kind of person; therefore, it was natural that I should want to associate with those I felt were of that caliber themselves. Over time, I became involved with a group of kids from the local Church of Christ, close to where I lived. I was even baptized by the minister, called simply Mr. Taylor by the kids. I recall we went on a few road trips together and it was fun. But for some reason, I always felt there should be more than just socializing. It all felt empty to me; hollow spiritually, although I didn't recognize it as such at the time. Because there was little but socializing to keep me, I fell away and in with the wrong influences. None of these so-called friends questioned my disappearance...until much later and under questionable circumstances.

I became caught up in the spirit of the times, the Sixties. It was sex, drugs and rock and roll. As I became more and more a part of this debauchery and immorality, there was still one thing I would not take part in and that was taking the Lord's name in vain. I used almost every other swear word you could think of, used almost every available drug and took part in all the pleasures of the flesh that a heterosexual male could partake of. And yet it did not bring me satisfaction. My story of my conversion is not what I want to speak of, however. What puzzled me was the reaction of these acquaintances who had previously abandoned me to the wiles of the Adversary. Once it was discovered that I was studying with the 'Mormons”, ministers came out of the woodwork to save my immortal soul from errors they perceived in the doctrines of Joseph Smith.

Two particular events stand out to me from that time period, although there were many along the way. The approaches of the two parties to the teaching were polar opposites of one another. One group was saying I needed to just trust and believe them that Joseph Smith was wrong and was deceived by the Devil and that only their interpretation of the Bible was accurate. The others, the missionaries of the Latter-day Saints, told me to pray for the answer and God would be faithful and answer with a witness that was unmistakable. The first said that only the Bible was the word of God and it was complete. The second said that God was not limited to speaking or causing to be written only one record. The first claimed the heavens were sealed and God no longer spoke to prophets and Apostles. The second bore witness that modern revelation was indeed fact and that the individual could know for himself the truth.

The first minister to come see me to save my soul from the Mormons was Mr. Taylor. I had not seen him or heard from him since I had fallen off the map, so to speak. Now he wanted to set me straight and reclaim his lost sheep. We had an interesting discussion, I must say.

I was young and still spiritually green in many ways, but I was excited to think that God would still speak to mankind and guide us toward truth. I found it difficult to think that God would have abandoned us to our own devices if He was the same yesterday, today and forever, as I had read.

I recall mentioning to Mr. Taylor that I thought the true church, if on the earth today, would have all the same earmarks of the ancient church – Apostles, Prophets, priesthood authority, gifts of the Spirit, such as raising the dead and healing the sick by the laying on of hands. His response was surprising, to be sure.

He opened his Bible to the New Testament and read off a list of the authorities of the Apostles and, with an air of authority and a smug smile himself, declared that since the Apostles were dead, the powers they had held were no longer in existence. It was evident from his attitude that he thought the matter closed and that there would be no questioning it on my part. How wrong he was. He had just hung himself from his own argument.

Mentioned in that list of authorities of the Apostles that he had so casually pronounced as being dead and gone was the authority to baptize. It may have gone unnoticed to him, but it had stood out like a neon light to me and I wasted no time in questioning him on the issue.

“Then if the authority to baptize is gone, did you have authority to baptize me?”

He looked as if I had hit him between the eyes with a brick. He stammered and stuttered and tried to change the subject, but by now I was adamant and held on like the proverbial bulldog.

“Now, wait a minute. This is my eternal salvation we are talking about. Did you have authority to baptize me or not?” I looked straight into his eyes with an intensity he couldn't ignore. I wanted an answer and I wanted it to be clear, concise and honest. Again he stuttered and danced around the issue. He had no answer and it was more than adequately apparent. He left soon after and that was the last I heard of him or ever saw him again. I am not sure if he ever was able to answer the question to his own satisfaction or not, but he had answered it to mine. He had no authority he could trust in. He had a diploma, a license, a document or whatever you wanted to call it, that said he had satisfactorily attended a theological institute. God has no need of such things and has never handed such trifles to assert His authority. Paper is paper, no matter what is printed on it. Priesthood power and authority is far more and unmeasurable. It cannot be handed out in portions like so many ribbons, buttons or rewards for good grades and attendance. And now Mr. Taylor knew that, too, I assume.

The other episode was when two men came from another branch of the same church, The Church of Christ. One was the pastor and the other worked with my father. Both were concerned about the deception of the Mormon doctrines again. So far, the same story. Here is where it begins to get more interesting.

While claiming that the Book of Mormon was not reliable because it had been changed, I picked up a copy and asked sincerely if they would show me where the changes had taken place. I assumed that it they were ready to make the claims, they must have some evidence of such. Perhaps they had brought with them an earlier version that we could compare. Not only did they not take the copy I had and point out anything from it, they actually leaned backward and away from it as I offered it. I thought this odd, but let it go until the claim was again made regarding changes to the text. Again I offered to have them point out to me, in my own copy, where these changes had taken place. Again, the same leaning backward and away from the book, but this time with the words, “I wouldn't touch that perverted book.”

My father, who had been a silent observer to this point, suddenly came off the couch at the other end of the room. I don't recall ever seeing him move so fast in all my life. He stopped short of them, as if he had caught himself before grabbing their collars, and he stated clearly and with some degree of controlled anger, “I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you gentlemen to leave.”

And leave they did, immediately. I don't think more than a few more words were spoken as they left. I don't even recall what they were, but it wasn't from me or my father that they came. My father told me later that the man he worked with didn't speak to him for some time after that. I would assume it was too awkward to do so after such treatment. But the thing that was most impressive to me was this – after they left, my father paced the floor several times, shaking his head silently and cooling off. When he stopped pacing, he said simply and profoundly, “There must be something to it or they wouldn't fight it so hard.” The words struck a chord in me that night. From then on, my father was more a part of the missionary discussion, too.

Over the years, I have reflected on how a personal testimony must grow to remain strong. A testimony never tried is a testimony that will die on its own. Some die as a result of trials they are not ready to handle, or so it would seem, but I know that God is faithful and provides a way out and upward for His children, if they will not lose faith in Him. I know, because God put into the hands and mouth of a still spiritually green young man the means to counter the supposed wisdom of the wise, the enslavement of erroneous beliefs and the wiles of the Devil. No truer words were ever spoken that these – “There must needs be opposition in all things.” After the test of faith comes the reward.

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