Hi I'm Fred Zirkle
At age 65, I still advise businesses engaged in mergers and acquisitions in North America and China. My wife and I enjoy lots of family activities even though our we're spread around the globe. We've both experienced our challenges but go to bed grateful for so many blessings. Drafted by NFL football NY Jets long ago these knees only allow low-impact activities such as hiking and biking and white-water rafting. After bouncing in and out of various protestant churches I joined the Mormon Church at age 33. What a change! Finally, I learned my purpose on earth and resulting eternal possibilities. This knowledge brought better behavior plus more peace and happiness. Watching our children and grandchildren grow up embracing eternal truths makes everything worthwhile.
Why I am a Mormon
I’m a Mormon because here I found answers to long-held questions about our pre-mortal existence, the purpose of earthly life and our opportunities in the next life. The Bible now holds few mysteries and my testimony of Jesus Christ continues to grow as I study scriptures and try to live accordingly. My family and I are strengthened by fellow church members. None of our local parishioners receive monetary pay. But we all learn, grow and support one another as we strive to become better individuals and families. Every step I take by faith is rewarded by more knowledge and new insights. I love the security we receive by knowing the plan of salvation and accepting the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?
I grew up in a different church where talking to God meant reciting prayers received from church teachers and publications. After reciting the same, short prayer each night I'd visualize myself as a 90 year-old man. I'd seek counsel from that imaginary man so that, when I actually reached age 90 and looked back over my life, I'd not be ashamed or disappointed in my choices. When faced with important situations I'd always receive direction and confirmation of decisions from that old man. I came to rely on him. Upon being baptized into the Mormon Church I learned to pray with a sincere heart. Soon thereafter I realized that God had communicated with me through the imaginary old man. God is always knocking at our door ready to comfort and guide us. He's there with me all day if I just think of Him and listen to his promptings. Now I get excited at night when quiet time allows me to converse with our loving Heavenly Father. What an honor… you and I can actually converse with the Creator of worlds!
How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?
God wants His children to be joyful. So when catching myself acting disappointed, angry or anxious I know my priorities are out of balance. Pride, selfishness and preoccupation with worldly concerns weigh us down. Yet when we take time to realize our blessings, serve another, or exercise faith in God then our burdens diminish and peace increases. God has given us the freedom to choose happiness or sadness. We can squander our joy by blaming others or wishing away our lives. Or we can partner with God by accepting His gift of agency the freedom to choose and make correct choices that strengthen and build peace and happiness. We learn about the Plan of Happiness through scripture provided by biblical and modern-day prophets.
How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
One evening as we sat by our river rafts a teenage girl told me she had just completed a 3-day solo wilderness canoe trip. Her purpose was to "get away and find God". She sought to know His will but had received no answer. I asked “Do you party?” She quietly replied “Yes, I do.” I continued “Do you think God wants you to party?” She thought then replied “No”. To that I asked “Why would God give you more instructions when you are not following the instructions you now have?” That short conversation inspired by the Holy Ghost put her on a spiritual fast track. After acts of obedience and/or sincere repentance the Holy Ghost offers more instructions as well as the necessary strength to overcome the world.
Why do Mormons go on missions?
Because we love our Savior and our fellow man we go on missions to share the precious gift of the restored gospel. Every church offers some truth but we proclaim that the prophesied apostasy and restoration of the true church Isa. 29 10, 13 has occurred. God expects us to learn by serving others and helping build His kingdom. Going on missions and representing the Savior provides a powerful discipleship experience.
Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?
The following scriptures are a few that guide me. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 1415 "And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?" 2 Nephi 427 "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Mathew 2237-39 "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other." 2 Nephi 216
What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?
We all want successful families and I am so grateful for the support our church provides. Through worship services, Sunday School, parenting classes, seminary for teenagers, activities for fun and service, Scouts and home visits our family becomes stronger. The greatest contribution to the family I can make is the example I set. By striving to live the teachings of Christ all family members benefit. Each family member takes at turn planning our weekly family home evening which includes a spiritual thought and discussion or other fun activity. We schedule periodic one-on-one dinners at a restaurant with kids to build relationships. Our family also holds morning and evening prayer and daily reading of scriptures.
How has attending Church services helped you?
Some say "I feel closer to God when out in nature than in some organized church!" I too love the out-of-doors but the experience may not serve my fellow man nor God’s cause. The purpose of God and His Church is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. We want to be productive servants in His vineyard. Thus we need to meet, teach and learn with one another and organize our efforts to serve each other and “warn our neighbor”. The paramount purpose of our church service is partaking of the sacrament and renewing our commitment to strive to follow our Savior and accept His atonement. This is a time of reverent reflection. We also show our love for God by worshipping Him through hymns, prayers, discussions and service. The experience boosts the spiritual strength of all in attendance.
How can your talents and gifts bless others?
All talents and good gifts come from God. His purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. God’s, and thus our path, is helping our brothers and sisters return to Him. We only grow and progress as we help others do the same. We all have received talents from Heavenly Father and he expects us to use those talents to further His work. In fact, the most efficient way to identify and obtain new talents is to ask “What can I do to be more productive in the kingdom of Jesus Christ?”
How I live my faith
My life after baptism at age 33 is less self-centered, less superficial and more meaningful and rewarding. I recognize, firmly stand for and defend correct principles. Yes, prayerful requests for wisdom and strength along the way are a must! Every evening, when I report back to Heavenly Father, I see where He has prompted me. He accepts my day even when my actions or thoughts fall short. He urges me to focus on my Savior, accept His grace and act more like Him. In addition to work and family events my time is spent in church activities. I also participate in community and professional organizations. God does not ask me to change my schedule he simply says “Take Me with you.”