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Hi I'm Russell.

I'm an academic staff member at a major university. More importantly, I'm a husband, a father, and a Mormon.

About Me

I work for a major university, where I help researchers prepare and analyze their data. I'm basically a troubleshooter--people come to me with programs that don't work or problems they don't know how to program, and I help them find a solution. What I love most about my job is that people come to my office frustrated and come out happy, and ready to move forward with their research. My wife and I have two boys, who keep us pretty busy. I've always had a love for music. I sing in my church's choir, and solo when I find time to practice. 

Why I am a Mormon

I grew up in a Mormon family, but I also grew up in a University town where religion in general was frowned upon. Thus my faith was challenged on a regular basis. I'm glad these challenges forced me to find out for myself whether what I had been taught was really true. I had to ask the most basic questions Is there really a God? Does he care about us? Was Jesus Christ divine? Was he resurrected, and is there life after death? Did Jesus really restore the fullness of his Gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith? To get the answers I had to learn to recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost, because that's how God communicates with us. I had to learn to recognize the warm, peaceful, loving feeling that means "Yes, that is true." I learned to notice when the Holy Ghost put ideas in my mind, along with a feeling of clarity and rightness. Often those ideas would come when I was discussing the Gospel with others--I'd learn from what I said! As a young man, these experiences were the foundation of my faith. Over time, however, I've gradually come to recognize that the real proof of the restored Gospel is the effect it has had on me. I now know who I am, why I'm here, and what I need to do. I understand God's plan for me, it makes sense, and I know it's true. I didn't come to that understanding by my own efforts--it was given to me. The Gospel has made me a better person more gentle, more loving, more selfless. I'm not perfect by any means, but I know my fundamental nature has been changed and will continue to change as long as I am faithful. Most of all, the Gospel gives me peace and joy, a joy that doesn't depend on my worldly circumstances and transcends the challenges of this life. The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives. It has changed mine, and it can change yours too.

How I live my faith

At work, I volunteer on a committee that advises the administration on budgeting issues and how they affect academic staff. Given the state of the economy there's been far more bad news to share than good, but we make the best of it. At church I've done a lot of teaching over the years, most recently teaching very young children. It's hard work keeping up with them, but very rewarding. However, I've now been asked to help with our Boy Scout troop, probably because my older son has just reach scouting age. I have to confess I've never seen myself as the scouting type, but I can see the need and I'm grateful for opportunities to stretch myself while serving others.

Are Mormons Christians?

I certainly consider myself a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and that he died for the sins of the world--including mine. Some outside our Church claim that Mormons are not Christians because we do not use various traditional creeds, especially the Nicene creed. It's true that we do not consider the Nicene creed authoritative, given that it was written by scholars centuries after the time of Christ. So if people want to say we're not "Creedal Christians" or even "Mainstream Christians" then I have no objection. But to most people "Christian" does not mean "someone who believes in the Nicene creed." It means "someone who believes in Jesus Christ." Mormons firmly believe in Jesus Christ, thus we are Christians.   Show more Show less

Who wrote the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon is the record of a people who left Jerusalem in 600 B.C., just before it was conquered by Babylon, and eventually traveled to the Americas. Their leader, Lehi, was a prophet of God, and God continued to call prophets among them. Many of these prophets wrote down their teachings. About a thousand years later, a prophet named Mormon collected the writings of these prophets and wrote a spiritual history of his people. They were about to be destroyed, but the Lord had promised Mormon that the teachings of his people would play an important role in our day. The primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to testify, along with the Bible, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that he came to Earth to atone for the sins of the world. Book of Mormon prophets teach about Christ's mission with clarity and power. The Book of Mormon also records that Christ appeared to his people in America shortly after his resurrection, teaching his Gospel and organizing his Church among them. The proof of the Book of Mormon is found within its own covers. It's a powerful book, it changes lives. Mormon's son Moroni added a promise at the very end: If you will read the Book of Mormon, then pray to God and ask sincerely if it is true, God will send the Holy Ghost to tell you that it is. You will feel it in your mind and in your heart. You'll have greater faith in Jesus Christ, and a greater ability to live his Gospel. Such is the power of the Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

What is faith?

Faith is believing something for which you have evidence, but not proof. We may only call it "faith" in a religious context, but most of us believe all sorts of things that we have not personally proven, for example that the world is round or that matter is made up of atoms. We also believe--and act on--things that no one can know for sure, like that our employer will pay us if we show up for work. God wants us to have faith in him, so he's made plenty of evidence available. The first evidence most of us receive comes from other people telling us about their experience with God. Sometimes the Holy Ghost will reinforce their testimony by giving us a feeling of peace or clarity as we listen. The next step is up to us--if we want more evidence we must act on the evidence we have. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma invited his listeners to "experiment upon [his] words" even if they could muster up just "a particle of faith." He invited them to try live the Gospel, read the scriptures, pray, keep the commandments, show love for their fellow men, and see what happened. He promised that "ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be...that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me." I know that this is true from my own experience. You now have a bit of evidence, from my testimony. If you choose to exercise faith and act on it, God will give you more--and your faith will grow. Show more Show less