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Devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, like Kronk from the Emperor’s New Groove. Should I leave him or mend this marriage? Now separated, Vince’s addictions interfered with their relationship and everyone had an opinion. As LDS, many men feel great pressure to do more, become better. Vince struggled with guilt.



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God answers Ashley’s concerns—of all places—in the Celestial room of an LDS temple. At the time, her husband was all-in LDS. But as a Christian, she felt convicted: You know the truth.



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In addition to the requirements of performance-based religion and not being able to sing the LDS hymn, Praise to the Man, Ashley, a born again Christian, encountered other things that bothered her about the LDS church after she joined. For her LDS baptism, she had chosen a beloved Christian hymn. That hymn had to be approved by her bishop and he denied her. A year after being active LDS, Ashley desired to earn the right to have a forever family. She and Vince now had 2 daughters ages five and one. She needed to make herself worthy to enter an LDS temple by passing two temple recommend interviews (bishop and stake president). The last question in that interview bothered her.



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Ashley grew up in a home without faith but her parents got saved when she was in her 20s and now suggested she marry the guy she was living with—the marriage lasted 7 months. After the divorce, she met the nicest guy. Vince was inactive LDS which made no difference to her at the time. Although he’d served an LDS mission, he struggled on and off with alcohol. Ashley began to attend her parents’ Baptist church. One day she encountered the Holy Spirit and was all in with the Jesus of the Bible. She saw things with brand new eyes. Ashley got baptized; Vince did not come and when she got home, he was intoxicated. One day, she convinced him to attend a Bible class but the topic happened to be false religions and Mormonism was included. Vince was not interested in a faith that trashed his faith. Eventually they had a daughter and, as tends to happen, religion became important to both. 



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This week we invited Matt Wilder to put together some excerpts from a presentation he frequently performs at churches called Teachings of Jesus. Grab a drink, maybe your Bible, and settle in to commune with God through music and Scripture.



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Matt called upon the name of the Lord and received His peace and the rest that passes understanding. At the time, he was a piano performance major entering his senior year at Brigham Young University, but anyone who disaffiliates with the LDS church cannot stay at BYU. Having been dramatically changed, he began sharing the gospel of grace to friends/family (his now wife Nicole), left BYU, and became a founding member of the Adam’s Road Ministry in Florida in 2006. Having unusual giftings in piano performance, music composition, and memorizing Scripture, in 2017, Matt says God laid on his heart to expand the reach of Adam’s Road to include the Adam’s Road Piano Ministry. In addition to traveling to give his testimony at churches with Adam’s Road, Matt memorizes Scripture, puts original music he composes behind the Scripture, and bears his testimony of Jesus to church audiences in his own unique gospel presentation. He describes the details of salvations from Idaho to Nevada to Indiana, Utah, and Arizona. God is using the Adam’s Road Piano presentation as well as the Adam’s Road Podcast—which he does weekly—to change hearts toward the gospel of grace.



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Why is salvation by God’s grace so extraordinary a gift for one who has felt the burden of guilt within a rigid, works-based religious system? What is it like to be a Mormon missionary? Matt Wilder of Adam’s Road Piano discusses the weight of the LDS performance-based system as a Mormon missionary in Chapter 3 of the book Responding to the Mormon Missionary Message. When LDS, he felt constantly guilted. Had he sufficiently repented of his sins? Life as an LDS missionary was regimented—rules-based. Missionaries report numbers regularly to mission leaders. With an emphasis on goals and numbers, measured success led to rewards. Matt likens the efficiency of accountability similar to that of a business. For him, the weight of these continual expectations manifested themselves internally—emotionally and physically as he strove to prove himself worthy.



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Is truth what we feel to be true? What do you do when what you know to be true clashes with what you are feeling is true?
Pastor and researcher Jon Benzinger is our guest again for a fast-paced, fact-filled discussion on the top 5 reasons we can trust the Bible to be our reliable guide for life and relationship with God and others. We also talk about the importance of feelings and we explore how performance-based religion often gets it wrong when it comes to our feelings and how we know truth. Lynn and Jon also talk candidly about how God used the Bible to personally change their lives and the hope and healing that is there for anyone who is seeking transformation.



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Our guest is Jon Benzinger, Lead Pastor at Redeemer Bible in Gilbert, AZ. He's done extensive study on the multiple lines of evidence for the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible. Jon is an excellent communicator and engaged with us with authenticity and clarity. He has an incredible heart for people, especially the predominant demographics in Gilbert -- Hispanics, retirees, and Mormons.



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As Richard studied the Bible and attended a small church, he felt infused by the Holy Spirit. He was drawn to read the Bible, and returned to prayer. He says, after 10 years, his heart turned back to Jesus. That’s where love was, that’s where peace was. He felt home and prayed for God to show him what he wanted him to do. Please pound me on the head, he prayed, so I can make sure to hear it. Every week at church, his friend Danny said “Hey, I just saw this 17-minute video testimony of an LDS missionary that came to faith in the Jesus of the Bible. You might want to make a movie about this. Promise me you’ll watch it.” Richard had no intention of watching it and avoided doing so for weeks. The last thing he wanted to do was make another movie about Mormonism! One Saturday night he knew Danny would ask him about it again at church in the morning, so he found the video on YouTube and watched it. He was powerfully moved, overcome with emotion. “Really [God]?! You want me to make a movie about a Mormon missionary who becomes a Christian?!” Soon after, Richard boarded a plane to Winter Garden, FL, to meet that young man with the 17-minute testimony. His first night there, sitting by the fountain in downtown Winter Garden, he just KNEW this was what he was supposed to do; the Lord had been preparing him his whole life. He moved to Florida, researched those involved in the story, and wrote a movie script titled Jesus is Enough. Richard is currently seeking funding to produce the movie. His heart is to help others know why Jesus is Enough.



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Richard says if he could talk to himself at the time of his LDS faith crisis, he would have said “Get to a Christian church!” He grieved the loss of his faith in the LDS church, the loss of his wife and children, the LDS filmmaking, for a very long time. He never lost faith in God but stopped talking with him and lived through 10 years of discouragement and defeat. Now a famous apostate, he stayed in Utah to be near his kids. Richard describes sitting on his front porch in Provo with a huge Christos statue from one of his movies in his front yard drinking wine and smoking cigars as LDS families walked by to go to church. In his misery, drinking too much, he made a comedy and a horror film but his faith was dead. Films and faith had separated. He wanted nothing to do with church ever again doubting he could ever discern between what was real and what wasn’t. Yet, amid these trials, the Lord brought him back to life through a pastor in line behind him at a hamburger joint. He attended Bible study, finding Christians authentic about their struggles, not pressuring him in any way but teaching him salvation came through God’s righteousness not his own. Richard dove hungrily into the “New Testament with Mormonism distant.” He began to love the Word knowing he could never put faith in men again. And hope emerged that God had something better for his life.



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Hailed as the father of Mormon Cinema, Richard Dutcher released his independent film God’s Army in 2000. It was a critical success heralded by Larry King Live, loved by the New York Times, so his second LDS film, Brigham City, was easy to fund. For the first time, these movies showed the words of the LDS Sacrament prayer, blessing for the sick, and other LDS practices right on screen depicting Richard’s own experiences as a Latter-day Saint. Next, he intended to write/produce a film about the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, so he commenced a serious study of Joseph’s life and early church history. Larry Miller, a wealthy LDS businessman who owned the Utah Jazz, committed to partially back the film. Richard’s success in LDS films begot other LDS film makers. One day after months of exhaustive study of all things Joseph Smith—finding things that bothered him but not yet questioning his faith—Richard went to his knees beside his bed to pray. Arising to sit on his bed in a meditative state, he says God spoke to him so clearly from the deepest, truest part of him; he knew it was God. He heard, “Of course it isn’t true.” Richard’s feelings changed in seconds from peaceful to terrifying. Everything he believed wasn’t true. A final LDS movie, God’s Army 2: States of Grace, became his farewell to Mormonism. The theme was sin, forgiveness, and God’s amazing grace. Many LDS were not ready to accept the Christian view of grace nor the Christian cross seen in the movie. It was a financial failure. Soon after, Richard went public with the news that he was leaving the LDS church. All his LDS investors disappeared. His marriage dissolved; they have 7 children. Richard says knowing what he now knew, he just couldn’t stay. He didn’t have a choice.



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At age 7, Richard went to his first movie in a theatre, the 1920s art deco Granada Theatre in Mt. Vernon, IL. He immediately knew he wanted to be involved with filmmaking. After high school, he attended one year at Brigham Young University. During a Star Wars movie, seeing the battle between good and evil, Richard chose to serve an LDS mission and delay his film career. He went to Mexico where he was thrown in jail for proselytizing. At the end of his LDS mission, his mission president advised him to go home and “build your own kingdom.” In an effort to begin his own kingdom, Richard married an LDS wife headed to Hollywood where he decided to create independent films. His first film caused him to re-evaluated his life and re-dedicate himself to his LDS faith. Grilling burgers for his family, he suddenly got the idea to blend his independent filmmaking with his Mormon religion. As he became the father of Mormon cinema, God worked on his heart.



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A devout member of the LDS church, he had known from childhood that his passion was to make films. When he got the idea to meld his cinema training with his LDS faith, he thought he had found his purpose in life. Check out his early movies God’s Army and Brigham City. Yet, in the midst of his initial success, he had a spiritual experience that rocked his world. He tells us what happened and how everything changed in that moment. 



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We discuss the very complicated LDS plan of salvation. Pre-existent spirits in heaven with Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, literal parents of spirits. Then the second estate or earth life. After earth, LDS go to paradise; everyone else to spirit prison to be taught the LDS gospel. If one accepts the LDS gospel in the next life, they can be released from spirit prison and advance to paradise to await the judgment. Dr. Eklund explains what the LDS missionaries teach about this LDS plan of salvation and gives a biblical response. See this information in the fifth chapter of the book Responding to the Mormon Missionary Message.



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How and when did Dr. Eklund become born again? Blue pill or red pill? Matt asks himself, “When I die, do I want Joseph Smith on my side or the Bible on my side?” Can one be born again and remain in the LDS church? These are questions we explore in this episode. When Matt decided he could no longer remain LDS, his LDS fiancé left him. But, he knew a peace he had never experienced before.



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Dr. Eklund describes the truths that broke his LDS shelf as he read the Bible and explored church history. He mentions Ephesians 2:8-9, Matthew 22:31, John 6, and the book of Romans as being impactful. He discovers fundamental biblical ideas are incompatible with essential teachings in Mormonism; some are: (1) the nature of the Trinitarian God, (2) there is only One God and He is unchangeable, (3) Salvation comes by grace through faith and not by our works, (4) justification – one is made right before God by Christ’s righteousness, like putting on a cloak, again, not by our works, and (5) LDS priesthood functions like a mediator between one and Jesus – there is no mediator but Jesus. As a scientist, he likens Bible truths and LDS gospel essentials to immiscible fluids. They are incompatible.



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Matt discusses how isolating and difficult an LDS mission can be for a missionary who endures rejection many times a day. We encourage Christians to befriend missionaries and engage in respectful and critical conversation. He alludes to some odd happenings in his LDS mission before his time there (the same mission Mitt Romney served in) when several missionaries eventually followed a counselor to the French Mission president into the LeBaron polygamy group in Mexico. 



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The Wilders interview Dr. Matthew Eklund, raised LDS in northern Utah. He was baptized at age 10, active on and off during his teen years, Matt eventually desired to receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He decided that if he received one, he would serve an LDS mission. The LDS prophet challenged all church members to read the Book of Mormon in 2005. Matt took the challenge, felt a kind of peace, believing this to mean the Book of Mormon was true, so Joseph Smith must have been a prophet of God, and the LDS Church must be the one true church. He served an LDS mission in Belgium, never really questioning his LDS faith. Listen to the next episodes to find out how and why Matt left Mormonism and found Jesus. Dr. Eklund holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Science.



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Anna continues to share her story of validating and highlighting the concerns she began to have about the Mormon faith. She compared verses from the Bible and Mormon scripture, did internet research,  and dug into apologetics. Struggling with what to believe, where true faith was, and holding on to the romantic relationship that she longed for, she continued to study. Rejoice with Anna as she shares answers to prayer and the peace and joy she has finally found in Jesus!


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