Crochet Pattern: CTR Shield

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been learning to crochet and thoroughly enjoy it. And as with most of the things I love to do, I always end up finding a gospel application for it. When I discovered, however, that LDS/Mormon crochet patterns don't exist in great abundance, I decided to do something about it.

One of the first crochet patterns I knew I needed to develop was the CTR shield. As a newly called CTR 4-5 teacher in Primary, I knew it would be useful to me in reinforcing one of the central messages I'm meant to teach to my class. It also gave me pause as I remembered that Choose the Right was the first hymn I ever sang, as the opening hymn to the first youth activity I ever attended. As one of the simplest messages of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it's also appropriate that this pattern is very easy to follow.

Crochet Pattern: CTR Shield

Special Stitches Required: Single Crochet, Half Double Crochet, Double Crochet, Treble Crochet, and Double Treble Crochet. All stitch names and conventions are given in US terminology. 

Yarn: Green shown is Big Twist Value yarn in Lime, available at Jo-Ann Fabrics. White is a skein I picked up at a thrift store with no product information on it. It's about a size smaller than the green yarn, which is classified at a 4. It's thin and shiny, which gives a nice contrast to the stiffer texture of the green yarn. It's a combination I recommend.

Hook: Size H is recommended for the green yarn, but I think I used a G. Using a smaller yarn and hook will create a smaller final product.

CTR Shield Crochet pattern
Round 1: Chain 2. Single Crochet 2 in the second chain from the hook. Chain 1 and turn.

Round 2: Single Crochet in each stitch, (Total of 2 stitches) Chain 1 and turn.

Round 3: Increase (two Single Crochet in a single stitch) in the first stitch. Single Crochet in the next stitch. (Total of 3 stitches) Chain 1 and turn.

Round 4: Increase 1. Single Crochet 2 (Total of 4 stitches) Chain 1 and turn

Round 5: Increase 1. Single Crochet 2. Increase 1. (Total of 6 stitches) Chain 1 and turn.

Round 6: Single Crochet 6. Chain 1 and Turn.

Round 7: Increase 1. Single Crochet 4. Increase 1. (Total of 8 stitches) Chain 1 and turn.

Round 8: Increase 1. Single Crochet 6. Increase 1. (Total of 10 stitches) Chain 1 and turn.

Round 9: Single Crochet 10. Chain 1 and turn.

Round 10: Increase 1. Single Crochet in the remaining 9 stitches of the row. Chain 1 and turn.

Round 11: Single Crochet in the first and second stitches. Half Double Crochet in the third stitch. Double Crochet in the fourth stitch. Treble Crochet in the fifth stitch. Double Treble Crochet in the sixth stitch. Repeat in descending order: Treble 1, Double Crochet 1, Half Double Crochet 1, and Single Crochet 2.

Fasten Off

Embroider letters according to desired style in white, silver/gray, or gold/yellow yarn. Using the image of the CTR shield as a guide, I found it helpful to start with the T in order to properly center the rest of the letters. I did the R second and the C last.

Borders can be sewn by hand with a yarn needle using a whip stitch, or with Single Crochet around the edges. I tried both and found the Single Crochet borer produced a thicker, more even result. It also helps the insignia to keep its shape.

Great for attaching to a scripture case, making into a key chain or hanging decor on a tote bag, or attaching to a pin. Give as a handout or present in your Primary classes, or at a baptism. While green is traditional, use whatever color you might have hanging around, or even a Primary child's favorite color.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and the children that we teach. As we help them to understand the importance of the commandments in simple ways, they will learn to follow Jesus Christ and his gospel. I know Jesus loves and knows how to reach each Primary child. He will teach us as we strive to reach them. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Accepting Callings

I recently learned to crochet, and I've been having a blast taking up my newest hobby. Like many new experiences, tangled messes of good intentions finally begin to take shape into what we envisioned at the outset. Fortunately, the time it took to transcend the awkward phase where I had no control over my yarn was a brief one. I'm learning quickly, and building skills I never imagined would bring me this much satisfaction.

The timing for finding something I enjoy this much could not be better, because I also was released from my calling. Now, instead of teaching Sunday School to 14-15 year old youth, I will be serving in the Primary as a CTR 4-5 teacher. And unlike the last time I was called into Primary, I can't just move 2,000 miles across the country to avoid it.

Accepting this calling was not easy for me. Because my husband and I are still anxiously waiting for the day we'll have our first child, being around children can be a painful reminder for me. I lamented over the decision of what to do, but I also decided long ago to always accept a calling. I had a great experience as I counseled honestly with the bishopric and the Primary presidency, and they've been incredibly supportive. I feel comfortable moving forward, even knowing the emotional challenges I will face as a result.

Like learning to crochet, serving in the Primary will look and feel like a jumbled, knotted mess for me. And I don't know how long that will last. But over time, I will find my way. Things will begin to make sense, and I'll understand what to do. The same way I learned to love crocheting, I can learn to appreciate serving in Primary. In all the ways I won't be strong enough, the Lord will provide for my needs.

I decided to begin by using something I love to build a positive emotional connection to this assignment. So I began looking for LDS and Primary-inspired crochet patterns. In the Mormon crafting culture, I thought I would find some great projects to get me started. To my surprise, I didn't find anything. So, I've decided to develop my own LDS/Mormon crochet patterns, and to point out patterns I find that could be useful or applicable for members of the Church. So if you love to crochet as much as I do, stay tuned for what I have in store!

I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. They are so very aware of our challenges and limitations. Our weaknesses are like clay in their hands. They have the power to make blessings out of all that is tragic and unfair in our lives. I know that when we are willing to press forwards in faith and patience, all things will work together for our good. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What's it like having Infertility in the LDS Church

The high councilman's talk about the sacrifice of having and adopting a total of nine children was too much for me today. So I walked out.

The foyer was full of people with babies, which didn't help at all. I went to the bathroom to stifle my tears, only to hear his voice piping in through a speaker.

I figured out how to turn the speaker off and was in the midst of shaking my fist at heaven from within a stall when I was interrupted by a mother coming into the bathroom with her young son. She was unreasonably scolding him for not being perfectly reverent. They exit.

I was then asked to substitute in Nursery. I said yes before I could think of an excuse to say no.

Somehow, infertility didn't seem like a good enough reason.

When the Youth Bail on a Lesson

My Sunday School class sat in the foyer today to communicate how done they are with the Come Follow Me topics for August. 

They have told me outright they dislike the new curriculum. And they really dislike talking about Marriage and Family.

The ones who stayed talked over me the entire class. 

I was warned about this group when I took this calling. But in my experience, they are great kids. Their history suggests they only do this when their real needs aren't being met.

I might need to close the manual for a while.

The Doctrine of Deliverance

Talk given at the Pleasant Valley Branch at the South Boise Women's Correctional Center
May 10th, 2015

The Process of Change

When we think of God, we think of someone with incredible power. We think of how he helped Moses free the Israelites from Egypt, parting the Red Sea so his people could escape. We think of Jesus Christ feeding the five thousand from only a handful of loaves and fishes. We recognize that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have incredible power. It only seems natural that if they really love us, they should use those powers to help us here on earth.

“God could fix my life in five minutes if he wanted to,” we say in exasperation. And when God disagrees to make fire rain down from the sky onto our enemies, we get angry with him. We tell ourselves that if God doesn’t want to help us with our problems, then it’s his fault when we suffer because of them.

In reality, we know God didn’t inflict our problems on us. The problems in our lives are the products of choices—whether our own choices, or someone else’s. In order to teach us the consequences of those actions, the Lord does not interfere. He will, however, teach us and enable us to make better choices, to overcome our circumstances.
This is the topic I want to address with you today, by starting with a scripture.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
2 Nephi 28: 30

In this scripture, the Lord outlines four essential characteristics of real and lasting change.
  1. Line Upon Line
  2. Precept Upon Precept 
  3. Here a little, and There a Little
  4. Hearken to Learn Wisdom
Whether we’re overcoming an addiction, healing from abuse in our past, or simply trying to become a kind and compassionate person, our transformation will depend on us receiving these four aspects of change into our lives.

1. “Line upon Line”

To go through something line upon line means to start at the beginning, and to go in order through all of the necessary steps until you reach the end. It means taking the time to finish each step in a process, and to do it right. We don’t expect there to be a shortcut, a faster way to get what we want. We are willing to pay full price, walk the entire distance, or wait the full duration of time it takes to achieve the desired result.

Imagine if you wanted to read a book, and kept skipping every other line because you wanted to get to the end faster. You’d miss so much information, the book wouldn’t even make any sense. But that’s how some of us try to live our lives. We want to skip over the unpleasant, boring, difficult, or tedious parts and get straight to the good stuff. People who live this way long enough believe that life should never have to be inconvenient.

Many of Satan’s deceptions I’ve encountered all deal in this one desire—a promise of easier results with less work or time required. He’s always offering dishonest, yet easy ways to avoid a problem, while trying to minimize or conceal the consequences. Feel better now the easy way. Make money the faster way. Get respect without earning it. Get the results you want without confronting your problems, gaining skills, or becoming a better person. 

Jesus Christ never gave into this temptation to find an easier way. In Luke 4: 1-12, Jesus was tempted three different times to accomplish his mission the easier way. All of Christ’s life, he lived in poverty. He went hungry most of the time. In verse 3, the Devil tempts him by saying “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” 

Listen to Jesus’ response: “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

Jesus knows that if he uses his powers to give himself food, he may solve the problem of his hunger. But he will have done so by an abuse of his power and authority. He knows that it was a commandment to Adam that by the sweat of his brow, he should earn his bread all the days of his life. Jesus would never take that which he had not earned. To use his power in this way would be cheating and stealing. It was a sin for him to do so, and Jesus Christ intended to keep ALL of the commandments. He would not reduce his divine purpose to the mere exercise of obtaining bread. He would live for more than his own hunger, by every word and commandment from the mouth of his Father in Heaven.

If we intend to become the people Jesus has taught us to be, we must not be afraid to learn, to work, and to heal “line upon line.” We must do it his way, and be submissive to the will of the Lord every time he makes it known to us—from start to finish.

2. “Precept upon Precept”

A precept is a statement of pure truth. Sometimes we refer to these a doctrines or principles. A precept is a principle of power. It’s anything we learn that transforms, heals, or saves us. Because the Holy Ghost testifies of precepts, he gives us the power to change as we ponder and embrace them. 

Jesus Christ suffered for my sins, weaknesses, and my mortal imperfections in the Garden of Gethsemane. Because he was resurrected, I will live again after I die. He loves me and wants me to live with him forever. These are all precepts. The moment we understand a precept, receive it, and base our beliefs and actions upon it, it changes us. We see ourselves and everything around us differently. We have a greater desire to repent and come unto Christ. 

Just as no one is ever too old to learn if they will apply themselves, no one is ever so lost that they cannot repent. No matter where you are, or how far you have to go, there is still hope for you to change. I know this is true because of the transformation I’ve seen in my own life.

I am a convert to the Church. My parents were not religious people. They made choices that brought much suffering into their lives, and into the lives of those around them. My father was an alcoholic and an addict, and my mother struggled to raise two children without any help from him. I can’t tell you how many times we didn’t have enough to eat, but there was always a case of beer in the refrigerator. My mom scraped the food off of her plate to feed her children more times than I care to remember. My greatest fear was that my future would never be any different, that I couldn’t escape the poverty and the violence that had always been my life. 
 When I learned the message of the restored gospel, I realized that I had a choice in who I would become. I came to feel for myself what Jesus was talking about when he promised “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 31-32)

I had never felt free, because I had never known the truth. I didn’t know that I was a daughter of God, with great worth and value. I didn’t know that God could answer my prayers. I didn’t know that Jesus Christ atoned for my sins so he could forgive me for my mistakes. I didn’t know that he was resurrected so that I would live again after I died. I didn’t know that Jesus had called Joseph Smith to be a prophet, to bring an end to the spiritual famine in which my family had always lived their lives. I didn’t know that I needed to be baptized in order to be saved. And I didn’t know that Jesus had the power to heal the years of abuse I had endured from people in my life who should have known better. 

As I learned the truth “precept upon precept,” I felt myself begin to change. I came to love my Savior in a deeply personal way as he healed me, week after week, of pain that ran deep within my soul. I had felt so broken for so long, I struggled to imagine how my life could ever be any different. And because the Lord wanted me to know that he loved me, he didn’t start by fixing all of my problems, or my circumstances, or the people in my life who were making a royal mess of everything around me. He started by fixing me.

In time, I learned the wisdom of the Lord in why he focused on fixing me, instead of my circumstances. President Ezra Taft Benson explained it best when he said:

The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.

I realized that God wasn’t going to fix my problems for me. He gave me complete access to his Atonement, and allowed me to use it to fix my own life. In time, I would take myself away from the poverty, abuse, and neglect that had been my experience in life. 

Line upon line, precept upon precept, I rejected every excuse that kept me from escaping poverty. I purged from my heart every weakness that compelled me to hurt others because I was hurting. I severed relationships with friends and family—sometimes temporarily, sometimes for good—because I refused to be a victim anymore. Everything that was selfish, hateful, unforgiving, proud, vengeful, carnal, sensual, and devilish had to go. I was in battle against my natural woman, in a way I had no language to describe until I read these words by Bryant S. Hinckley:

When a man makes war on his own weaknesses he engages in the holiest war that mortals ever wage. The reward that comes from victory in this struggle is the most enduring, most satisfying, and the most exquisite that man ever experiences. In no other conflict is there so much at stake. In no other struggle are the values so precious and the results so compensating and so comforting.
Bryant S. Hinckley, That Ye Might Have Joy

Purging myself of the natural woman will take a lifetime. But I could tell I had made real progress when instead of asking myself, “What do I want, and what is the easiest way to get it?” I had learned to ask, “What does the Lord want me to do, and how can I do it in a way that will please him?” 

I began remaking my life in the Lord’s image, until there was no resemblance to the life I lived before. You may question if that will ever be possible for you. I testify that it is! Your victory over sin and death is guaranteed. The only question you have to ask is how badly do you want it? How much are you willing to give for that newness of life? Because your problems won’t end. The life of discipleship is way more difficult than anything I ever faced living in a trailer park. But the difference now is I have help, hope, and a future!

“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” the Lord said. “I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.” (John 16: 33, D&C 64: 2)

Jesus Christ is mighty to save. He has truly descended below all things, from the destitute and the hopeless, to the darkest abyss of hell and back. There is no suffering you have felt that he has not borne with you. And he didn’t do it just so you would have some company in your misery! He intends to rescue you! He did it because that it what it means to leave the ninety-and-nine, and go in search of the one. He will provide for your deliverance, one step at a time. It may be slow going at first, but “line upon line, precept upon precept,” step by step, he is leading you to the kingdom of God.

3. “Here a Little, There a Little”

In order for the truth to have this kind of impact on us, we must be in constant search of God. Searching for the Lord’s hand in our lives is a lot like the Israelites gathering manna in the desert. While many people know of the miracle in which the Lord caused bread to appear each morning on the ground, a lesser known detail is how they could only keep enough to last themselves for the day. If they tried or expected to gather more, the manna would rot and be of no use to them.

The Lord intended to teach them that, in the same way they needed to eat every day, they needed to look to the Lord for their sustenance. Every time they went out in search of food, they had to acknowledge from whose hand it had come.

The same idea applies to us when we are searching for the Lord's influence in our circumstances. He never gives us so much of his help that we will never need his help again. He gives us "here a little, and there a little" according to our daily needs. He interacts with us in this way because he knows it will help us to build a continuing relationship of trust with him. 

To search for the Lord's influence in our lives means turning to him diligently each day, not just when we're in the middle of a crisis. It means trusting that his allotment to us is sufficient for our needs, and we resist the temptation to demand more. We embrace that gathering answers to our prayers requires effort and practice. We accept whatever the Lord gives to us, without resistance.

The Israelites, like us, were human. They needed to learn the same lessons over and over again, the same ways we do today. Several hundred years after the Israelites settled in the promised land, they became slow to remember the Lord. The broke his commandments, and spurned every effort the Lord made to correct them. Their punishment was to spend 70 years in exile in Babylon. But even in the same day the Lord declared their exile, he was already providing a way for their deliverance. In Jeremiah 29: 11-13, we read:

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

The Lord would come to deliver his people from exile when they were ready to invest their whole hearts into searching for him. No punishment lasts forever when we search for the Lord, and choose to repent. For each of us, the promise is the same.

As a topic for your own personal scripture study, I would invite you to study deliverance, and the many accounts of the Lord delivering his people from bondage. What role did the people play in their own deliverance?

It's true in every case that they never would have succeeded without the Lord. But had the people never acted, using their faith and agency, the Lord never would have intervened on their behalf.

Searching for inspiration from the Lord for many of the problems in our lives will come over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even many years. But as those conversations with the Lord unfold, we do not need to wait that long to receive his blessings. The moment we reach out to him, we are instantly blessed with a better relationship with him.

Trust that searching “here a little, and there a little” is not a waste of time. When we are diligently doing everything we can, our lives are improving—even if we do not see it. Have the faith and hope to believe in the progress you cannot see.

4. “He that Hearkeneth… shall learn wisdom”

Everything I have described to you today is impossible without listening. In a very real way, everything I have taught you today has been about listening: how to listen to the Lord better, and what the blessings are to those who listen to the Lord.

When I was young, a wise person in my life once said, “You have two ears and one mouth because God wanted you to listen twice as much as you talk.” 

Then I served a mission and had to learn a foreign language. I had no choice but to listen to everyone I met, because I couldn’t talk. I spent so much of my energy struggling to talk. I was reminded of the value of listening by a phrase written on a calendar: “The reward for always listening when you'd rather be talking is wisdom.”

Wisdom is the ability to use the knowledge we’ve obtained, to judge between right and wrong for ourselves. Wisdom requires responsibility, the willingness to live with the consequences of our choices. Developing that ability reason we came to earth. Wisdom is the one thing we could never have had if we’d stayed in Heavenly Father’s presence. We understood the risk of coming here, of confronting evil, of making choices—and we had absolute confidence in the Lord’s ability to help us. This entire learning experience does not work if we do not ask for help, and listen for the Lord’s response.

 Job in the Old Testament learned about the value of gaining wisdom, even in suffering. As he became a target for Satan’s temptations and interference, his children were killed, he lost all of his herds, and his house was destroyed. His friends abandoned him, and his conversations with them all center around one question: Is suffering and misfortune a punishment for sin?

Job’s experience provides an answer to this question. Job was not suffering because he had sinned. He was suffering because he was learning lessons about himself and the Lord he could not have learned in any other way. How else could Job have developed the faith to say about the Lord, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”? (Job 13: 15) How else would he have come to say about himself, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”? (Job 23: 10)

By the time Job reached the end of that experience, of proving himself before the Lord AND the Devil, Job had learned one of the most precious lessons God has to teach.

12 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?
28 And unto man [the Lord] said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
Job 28: 12, 28

Sisters, I know the Lord is aware of each one of you. He knows your circumstances, you fears, your questions, and the plan he has for your lives. He knows what you need. By allowing him to teach you line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, you will learn wisdom.

I know that God is our loving Father in Heaven. He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us all from the Fall. I know that Joseph Smith is the prophet who restored the true Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. This one verse we’ve discussed today is only one example of thousands of ways the Book of Mormon can teach and uplift you.

I leave you my testimony and my prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Everything you Ever Wanted to Know--or Googled--about John the Baptist

I was asked to speak back in February at the baptism of two girls whose family is returning to Church. We've had them and the missionaries over to our home for many of their discussions, and it was exciting to help them make that step towards a brighter future. This post has been sitting in my drafts since then, I rediscovered it there today.

Baptisms always give me saudades for the mission, and I've reflected often on memories from that season of my life. It brought to my remembrance something I heard one of my companions teach about John the Baptist many times.

Was he the only person at that time with the authority to baptize? Was that part of the reason Jesus went to seek him out specifically? I realized today I didn't know if it was true or not.

So I Googled it... and realized that I wasn't the only one who has questions about John the Baptist.

I think a lot of these are really good questions. So I'm going to answer them, according the principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm going to rearrange them a bit to give them continuity and to avoid repeating myself. All Biblical references come from the King James Version.

Was John the Baptist ever baptized? Who baptized John the Baptist? Did Jesus baptize John the Baptist?

We have no record in the New Testament that John the Baptist was ever baptized. The only mention we have on the subject is from John himself, as recorded in Matthew 3: 13-14. When he sees Jesus we know that he instantly recognizes him as the Son of God. When Jesus requests to be baptized, John says "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?"

There are two potential meanings behind John's statement. One possibility is he was never baptized, and is somehow in possession of authority for an ordinance he has never received. This is a plausible scenario, given that John the Baptist was the only person left on earth in possession of legitimate divine authority to baptize. While in Latter-day Saint scripture we can point to the baptism of Joseph Smith and a Book of Mormon prophet, who were able to baptize themselves--we don't know that John the Baptist ever did this. (See Mosiah 18: 12-15 and Joseph Smith--History 1: 70-71)

Another possibility is John the Baptist is questioning the merit of his baptism, perhaps at the hand of his father Zacharias, now that the Son of God is standing before him. Whether he desires to be re-baptized under Christ's authority, or simply questioning how he can cleanse a sinless man when he himself is a sinner, his question and Christ's response to him do not give us any real indication as to whether John the Baptist was baptized or not. 

Why did John the Baptist baptize people?

John the Baptist was preparing people spiritually to receive Jesus Christ, as prophesied in the Book of Isaiah. John was to be "a voice in the wilderness," calling people to repent of their sins and to prepare for the kingdom to come. (Isaiah 40: 3)

Jesus Christ is the kingdom of God, and there is no better way to prepare to meet Christ than to be washed of our sins through baptism. (Matthew 3: 2, Mark 1: 2-4, Luke 3: 3-6, John 1: 23-27)

Where is John the Baptist's baptismal site?

The most specific description we have of where John the Baptist performed baptism is given in John 1: 28, "These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing." 

Who was the first person to be baptized?

Because we know baptism is essential to achieving salvation (see John 3: 5), it stands to reason that baptism is one of the oldest ordinances in the world. As Latter-day Saints, we believe Adam and Eve were baptized--the record of which was given to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the Pearl of Great Price, we have Joseph Smith's translation of Genesis, in which he replaces many details which were lost or taken from the Bible. The baptism of Adam and Eve is found in Moses 6: 52-53, 64-65.

Was John the Baptist the first to baptize people?

No. While we can't point to earlier instances of baptism in the Bible, we can infer that the Jews of the day were familiar with the practice. When Christ is teaching the Pharisees and Sadducees, we don't see them questioning him about baptism as a practice. What we do have in three of the Gospels are accounts of them asking Christ from whence he gets his authority to do "these things." By "these things" we can also infer they mean baptism, because that is how Jesus responds to them. Seeing as their main concern is by what authority he baptizes, and not the validity of baptism as a practice, we observe their issue is more one of envy than ignorance. (See Matthew 21: 23-27, Mark 11: 28-31, Luke 20: 1-8)

I will point out that because the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi and his family leave Jerusalem for the Americas around 600 B.C., some of the earliest documented instances of baptism (apart from Adam and Eve) are in the Book of Mormon. 

Lehi sees Jesus Christ being baptized in Bethabara, and recognizes it as a baptism. His vision is recorded in 1 Nephi 10: 9, which dates between 600-592 B.C. His son, Nephi, also sees the baptism of Christ around the same time, detailed in the next chapter (See 1 Nephi 11: 27)

Nephi later on refers to his people as "come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism," as stated in 1 Nephi 20: 1, between 588-570 B.C. Near the end of his ministry, he writes a doctrinal discourse on the baptism of Christ between 559-545 B.C. (See 2 Nephi 31)

But the earliest record we have of a person baptizing before the time of Christ is the prophet Alma at the Waters of Mormon in Mosiah 18: 12-15, dated 147-145 B.C.

How many people did John the Baptist baptize?

There is no record of the number of people who were baptized by John the Baptist. 

How did John the Baptist baptize people? What was John the Baptist's baptism like?

All four Gospels make mention of the baptism of Christ. Matthew and Mark labor the point that Jesus was in the water, and describe how he physically came up out of the water. They do this to emphasize the fact that Jesus was baptized by immersion, being completely submerged in the water. (See Matthew 3: 16-17, Mark 1: 9-11, Luke 3: 21-22)

The gospel of John (written by John the Revelator) labors another significant point about John the Baptist's authority. In John 1: 29-34, John the Baptist's testimony about the baptism of Christ has been recorded. In verse 33 specifically, he talks about how he was sent by the Lord to baptize with water, and that he would recognize the Son of God by the Spirit descending upon him. 

John the Baptist Conferring the Aaronic Priesthood 
(The Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood)
Del Parson
John the Baptist possessed authority--the power and permission of God--to baptize. Without divine authority given through priesthood ordination, the power to perform a binding saving ordinance does not exist. This authority does not come through study, prayer, acts of service, election, appointment, or personal desire. Divine ordination must be given through the "laying on of hands" by one who possesses that authority. (Numbers 27: 18, 22-33, Mark 3: 14Acts 6: 1-6, Doctrine and Covenants 42: 11Doctrine and Covenants 84: 6-16)

We know that John the Baptist was ordained by an angel at eight days old. (See Doctrine & Covenants 84: 28) We also know for certain that Jesus recognized his authority is extended through that ordination. No greater endorsement could ever be given by anyone else on earth. Therefore, anyone who claims to have authority to baptize should be able to demonstrate how they received authority from John the Baptist. The only church I know of that can do this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See Doctrine and Covenants 13, Joseph Smith--History 1: 68-72)

Finally, it needs to be emphasized that Jesus was of sufficient age to where he was accountable to God for his own actions. He was not baptized as an infant. In none of the New Testament accounts of baptism do we see the apostles baptizing infants, nor do they ever teach or encourage such a practice. There is no scriptural mandate of any kind to baptize infants and young children--not from any Biblical prophet or apostle, and not from Jesus himself.

If anything, it should be noted that Jesus taught in no uncertain terms that children (and those who become like them) will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only time Jesus pointed to an individual as an example of who would enter heaven without question, he pointed to a child. (Matthew 18: 2-4)

As Latter-day Saints, we do not believe in original sin. We believe people are punished for their own sins, not for Adam's transgression. We believe a child must grow to be accountable--mentally competent and responsible for their own choices and actions--in order to sin and require baptism. We believe that the age at which this happens is at age 8. Anyone who dies before reaching that age, or who was never mentally capable of making their own choices, is saved through the grace of Christ without exception. (D&C 18: 42, D&C 20: 70-71, D&C 68: 25-27, Articles of Faith 1: 2, Moroni 8: 10)

Was John the Baptist the only one in his day with the authority to baptize? Was John the Baptist the only one who could baptize Jesus Christ?

Joseph Smith publicly commented on Luke 7: 28, which is where we gain much insight into John the Baptist's unique position in Christ's day. The verse reads as follows:
For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Joseph Smith commented on the first part of this verse by defining John the Baptist's greatness in three points:
  1. It was his responsibility alone to prepare the way before the Son of God
  2. He was required to baptize the Savior of the world
  3. "John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 6)

Because John the Baptist was the only one with priesthood keys, he was the only one in the time of Jesus Christ with the authority to baptize. The Savior sought him out specifically "to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3: 15, JST Matthew 3: 43)

What is the meaning or significance of the baptism John the Baptist performed?

The best explanation for the significance of baptism is the one given by Jesus Christ to Nicodemus in John 3: 3-5. The purpose of the baptism performed by John the Baptist is to open the door for us, so we can enter into God's presence. Without being born of the water (baptism by immersion) and the Spirit (receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost) we cannot enter the kingdom of God. 

Just as the Holy Ghost descended upon Christ after his baptism, we also need to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost in order for our baptism to be complete. This point was so important that Paul begins re-baptizing people who were baptized without receiving the Holy Ghost. (See Acts 19: 2-6Doctrine and Covenants 22) He also labors the point that the whole point of John's baptism was to point them to him that would follow, namely Jesus Christ. And an essential part of Christ's baptism was receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Notice how Paul confers the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. This ordinance is performed after baptism, and is part of the Confirmation for Latter-day Saints today. This ordinance can only be performed by those who can trace their authority back to the New Testament apostles. The only church I know of that can present a documented line of ordination back to the Peter, James and John for every man it ordains is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See Matthew 28: 18-20Doctrine and Covenants 18: 37-42Doctrine and Covenants 27: 12-13

The significance of John the Baptist's baptism was different for Jesus Christ because Jesus lived a sinless life. Seeing as one of the primary purposes of baptism is to wash away our sins, it really doesn't follow that Christ should need baptism. But our Savior asks nothing of us he is not willing to do himself. So to "fulfill all righteousness," Jesus submitted himself to the will of the Father and was baptized. Nephi's analysis of the baptism of Christ explains this idea, and even poses the question, "if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water... how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized"? (Matthew 3: 15, 2 Nephi 31: 5-7)

What other questions do you have about John the Baptist? Leave them in comments!

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