I apologize for the misleading title. This is not about Denver Snuffer. This is about my progress in reading and digesting what Denver Snuffer has written. If you’ll recall, about a month ago I ordered, received and wrote about Denver’s latest publications. I just finished reading volume one of Remembering the Covenant and want to share a few things I learned from that volume.
Remembering the Covenant is a reprint of Denver’s blog. Volume one covered approximately the first five months, from 1 February 2010 to 7 June 2010. It is about 435 printed pages. I took my time reading it because I had several other reading projects going on at the same time. I read each entry twice, highlighting with a different colored marker on each pass, pondering as I read.
This is still a solo project. Carol is not interested in what I am reading, although I do share a few quotes with her on occasion. She usually likes to point out that if the Lord wanted me to know what Denver had to say, the Brethren would have told us to read his books. Sigh. Carol’s not big on doctrine. The social aspects of the church are more important to her. We balance each other.
Careful, Ponderous and Solemn Thought
Many of the entries were familiar to me, having read them at one time or another on his blog. I was also impressed that a lot of content was shared here the first time in this volume and found full expression in his book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. It’s obvious the ideas found in PtHG were developed a long time before they were put together so powerfully in that controversial book.
My objective in the methodical and deep reading of Remembering the Covenant is obviously tied to my desire to obtain what Denver has written about in his first book, The Second Comforter. No, I have not yet obtained an audience with the Lord, but then, I’ve only been asking seriously for the last year or so. I started asking in earnest after my first reading of The Second Comforter.
Maybe my approach is all wrong, but what I’m trying to accomplish here is prove one way or another that a regular member of the church can have the same experience Denver Snuffer says we all can and should have – to receive a promise from the Lord of Eternal Life. And yes, that means a personal visit from the resurrected Lord, and to receive that promise from his own lips.
Why I Haven’t Received the Promise Yet
I found many helpful entries to explain why I haven’t had that sacred experience yet. One of them is found on page 261. You can read the entry on his blog dated 27 April 2010 – God is No Respecter of Persons. About halfway through the post he discusses what alienates us from the Lord. He makes an interesting point that it is not our sins per se, but the way we offend Christ.
Specifically he says, “He is offended when we are forgiven by Him, and then return to the same sin. This shows a lack of gratitude for His forgiveness.” Denver acknowledges that some struggle with addictions, compulsions and weaknesses for years, even decades. That’s me. He then offers what I found to be a sad commentary. It made me think that I must still have a long ways to go.
He writes, “When at last, because of age or infirmity, a troubling weakness is at last overcome, He will readily accept your repentance and let you move forward, clean, whole and forgiven.” This makes me sad because it causes me to feel that those who struggle with addiction will not be accepted by the Lord until the biological temptations of the body go away due to old age.”
I Sin Differently Than You
Perhaps you can help me out in my thinking here. Maybe some of you know what I am talking about. I’m going to be frank. They say confession is good for the soul. I’ve written about this before on my blog and got a lot of positive feedback from folks who said it helped them to be so open and honest about such a sensitive subject. You may think less of me after reading this.
Mental illness runs in my family. So does addiction. I’ll bet they go hand-in-hand. I recall a line used by President Uchtdorf in a recent General Conference address (April 2012). I believe he said it came from a bumper sticker. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.” In my previous blog post on the subject I wrote I was exposed to Internet pornography in 1995.
However, that wasn’t my first exposure to pornography. It seems the adversary knew what my weakness was before I ever understood. I struggled with pornography from the time I was eight years old, long before the Internet. I find it interesting that this temptation came into my life right after I was baptized. It has been a constant battle with many ups and downs for nearly fifty years.
A Common but Serious Weakness
I have never confessed this in a public forum before. I am pleased to say that I am a recovered addict and have been clean for many years, but like an alcoholic, it can come back in a second. My state of mind is something about which I have to be constantly wary. I must always be careful about what I look at, what ads I see, what TV shows I watch, what web pages I visit.
This is not a secret from Carol. We have worked on this together over the years. I am amazed at how kind, patient, loving and accepting she has always been. This is an intimate part of our lives but human sexuality is a big part of the mortal experience so it has eternal ramifications. For me, the biggest part of this struggle has always been feelings of guilt and of disappointing the Lord.
The last time I tried to confess this sin to a bishop, I also tried to turn in my temple recommend. This was many years ago, early in my married life. He pushed the temple recommend back at me and said, “I want you to go to the temple more frequently and I want you to stop confessing this. This weakness is between you, your wife and the Lord. You work it out among yourselves.”
Broken Souls Are Loved by the Lord
I came away from reading Denver’s entry that God is No Respecter of Persons thinking that I will not be worthy or qualified for a visit from the Lord to obtain the promise of Eternal Life for many more years, probably just before I am ready to leave this life. Perhaps someone who struggles with an addiction is a special case, who can’t be trusted until they’re almost dead.
I found some consolation in reading his entry on Broken Souls on page 387 which can be found on his blog dated 25 May 2010. In it Denver describes his work with and love for those who find it difficult to associate with other members of the church because they struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression caused by addictions. I could immediately relate this to my life-long hurt.
He writes that he has close friends who struggle with addictions so haunting and so terrible a force in their lives that rising each day to face the coming fight takes greater courage than he could imagine. “They are acting in faith at every waking breath, as they fight against a foe that I do not comprehend and could not face.” Yep, that pretty much describes my daily walk in life.
Forgiveness for a Former Addict
Hope came as I read there, “I marveled at how very much these broken souls, these discouraged people … are the very ones with whom I feel the Lord’s presence and love as I have the honor of meeting and talking with them about the gospel. These are the ones He loves the most. These are the ones with whom he associated during His ministry. He associates there, still.” I like that.
I made a decision a long time ago to continue to follow the gospel path, to attend my meetings each week, to accept and faithfully serve in callings when asked, to attend the temple and to do all within my power to prove to the Lord that I loved Him and wanted His forgiveness. But I also accepted the fact that I would never really feel that I belonged, that I was not worthy of the Lord.
All this, because as a former addict, I did not feel I could be trusted. I could and would do all that we are supposed to do, including prayer and gospel study, but deep down, I knew my weakness and it terrified me that I was capable of such betrayal. I had known the Lord’s forgiveness early in my life, but my constant struggle over the years caused me to feel I had offended the Lord.
You Deserve Your Insecurities
On page 408, in the post entitled Developing Your Faith dated 30 May 2010, Denver writes, “Insecurities are a result of a lack of faith. You deserve them. You have not acquired knowledge yet. You have them as a gift, as a warning that you have not yet received what you need. Nor have you developed faith yet.” He then admonishes us to go and re-read Lectures on Faith Six.
Of course, that lecture is about offering sacrifice to obtain sufficient faith to be saved. In this lecture is found the famous quote that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” I have thought and pondered about this for at least twenty years. I have yet to figure out what more I can sacrifice.
According to Denver, it is my fears and insecurities that I must sacrifice. It is my lack of trust in myself that comes from years of being a former addict that I must sacrifice. I know the Lord has forgiven me. That’s a given. I have asked and know that He has forgiven me. There has never been a hesitation when I have asked for forgiveness. But does he trust me enough to visit me?
Timing for the Visit From the Lord
I suppose the real question is, “Do I trust myself enough to let the Lord visit me?” Of course, we do not set the timing of the Lord’s visit. So the mechanics of how this works puzzles me. Let’s say I finally figure out in my mind at last a way to give up that lack of trust that I put there so long ago as I began my recovery from my addiction. I give up the fear that I can’t be trusted.
Well, that’s nice. That is, it’s nice to be able to say to myself that the Lord trusts me, but unless I hear the Lord say it to me personally, perhaps it’s just self-deception. The Lord has commanded us to drop doubts and fears from our hearts. I am willing to do so. For non-addicts I assume it’s a simple thing. You simply say to yourself, “I trust myself that I will not participate in sin again.”
I’m sure I’m over-analyzing this and making it way more complicated than the Lord intended. The gospel is supposed to be so simple that even a child can understand it. We are supposed to become child-like in our trust and faith in the Lord. I know I can trust the Lord, but I am not certain I can trust myself, even after all these years. There simply are no guarantees, are there?
Invitation to Dialog
For any other Snuffer readers out there, what do you think? Am I going about this wrong? Denver reports on page 421 in “Be Still and Know That I Am God” (2 June 2010), “Study what I’ve written carefully and anyone will find it is all there. Several people have done so, and have received the promised results.” That’s nice to know. I believe Denver and am happy for them.
I’m still pondering the approach I need to take to accomplish this work that only I can do for myself. One approach is to hang onto the belief that because I am a former addict who has offended Christ by returning to my sins after having been forgiven, that I must wait patiently until my life is nearly over before the Lord will visit me to proclaim I have Eternal Life.
The other approach is to give up all doubts and fears left over from years of sin, trust the Lord implicitly that He is willing to come to me now and ask all the more sincerely for that blessing. Perhaps I have missed something in The Second Comforter and need to go back and re-read it yet one more time, asking the Lord to show me what steps I missed the first few times I read it.
I have mentioned this book in several of my posts over the past year or two but only recently did I give it a thorough reading. It’s an old book so this is certainly not the first review. Oh, and by the way, this is not about the episode of the same name from Doctor Who, the British Science-Fiction television series. I think the title of the book was a good choice. It gets your attention.
It was published in 1987 and is Dr. Fiore’s second book. I reviewed her first, You Have Been Here Before in a previous post. Most Amazon and Goodreads reviewers gave it four or five stars. If you are not familiar with the work of Dr. Fiore, this YouTube video is a good introduction. It brings home the point that many LDS find objectionable right up front – where dead people go.
Some Spirits Hang Around
We have been taught in the LDS Church that there are two places for the spirit to go when it dies – either to the light of paradise or to the darkness of spirit prison. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Fiore has helped thousands of people deal with spirit attachments or possessions. You can learn more in this additional video excerpt from Dr. Fiore discussing how spirits can hang around.
My point is that there are some spirits who do not go to the light or to spirit prison when they die. Yes, we’re talking about ghosts here. Yes, I’m saying that I believe in ghosts. And yes, I have some personal experience in this area. I have shared that experience previously in private email for those who ask. I don’t mind if you don’t believe. I’m OK with that. I barely believe it myself.
Multiple Mortal Probations
In my review of Dr. Fiore’s first book which deals with Multiple Mortal Probations, I mentioned an alternative explanation for the evidence of reincarnation she presented. Of course the evidence was in transcribed recorded sessions of her patients under hypnosis. They were able to describe specific activities, sights, sounds and smells from someone living in a different place and time.
In other words, her patients related that they had lived before and provided incredible detailed descriptions of what happened to them in that previous life, which affected them in their current life. My alternative explanation is that the past lives being described were not from the patients but from spirits who had attached themselves to these patients. Her second book bears this out.
Man is More than a Body
The whole idea of spirit attachments or possession is freaky to most people. They simply don’t want to deal with it. Because this concept explains so much, it receives a lot of opposition. Our culture mocks those who believe in ghosts. That’s OK. It’s wonderful to find someone like Dr. Fiore who has shared professional clinical cases documenting the truth of this very radical idea.
I say it’s radical, but only to our modern, enlightened way of thinking. The influence of beings from the unseen world is an idea that has been around since the beginning of recorded history. The argument of just what comprises the soul of man continues unabated to this day. I found that most philosophers in my college philosophy classes could not agree on man as more than a body.
Different Kinds of Possession
The Unquiet Dead presents clinical case studies of these spirits communicating with Dr. Fiore while their hosts, her patients, were under hypnotic trance. The patients came to her seeking help with some problem that defied customary medical or psychological treatment. Dr. Fiore is a professional hypnotherapist who has found tremendous success in treating spirit possession.
Dr. Fiore is very clear that she doesn’t deal with demonic or satanic possession. That’s a whole different area best left to those who have studied, prepared for and specialize in treating disorders of this kind. If you are not sure of the difference, I’ll refer you the definitive handbook on the subject from my friend Doug Mendenhall. I previously reviewed his book Conquering Spiritual Evil.
The Effects of Possession
The Unquiet Dead is kind of a self-help book in that it guides the reader to a better understanding of recognizing spiritual possession by their effects on the body. In chapter six she discusses some of the physical symptoms, mental problems, emotional problems, drug and alcohol addiction, smoking addiction, weight and obesity problems, relationship problems and sexual problems.
The degree of possession can range from nearly total, in which case the original inhabitant is almost completely replaced, to a very minor influence. She also addresses the very important factor of age when possessed and the effect of possession by spirits of the opposite sex. Now I know this gets into a very politically sensitive area right now so I’ll try to tread upon it lightly.
Dealing With Same-Sex Attraction
I’d like to share a couple of fascinating quotes in Dr. Fiore’s book on this subject. The first is found on page 36. “Entities of the opposite sex are the cause of a great deal of confusion about sexual identity. Homosexuality, transsexuality and transvestism are the extreme results of this kind of possession.” This will be welcome news to some people but I know it will anger others.
She offers this on page 43: “One of the causes of homosexuality is possession by spirits of the opposite sex. If the possession began before puberty, heterosexual development often was disrupted and the afflicted grew up believing they desired sexual partners of the same sex, when it was the entities who were determining their choices.” This idea makes perfect sense to me.
Results of Opposite Sex Attachments
“Sexual hang-ups are part of the repertory many entities bring with them. Their own problems or proclivities manifest themselves when the possessed engage in sex. At one extreme, their host may even be prevented from approaching their partners.” A spirit attachment of the opposite sex can explain diminished sex drive or a reversal in typical male-female relationships.
She continues, “Every homosexual patient I have done a depossession on has had at least one exceedingly dominating entity of the opposite sex who was determining the sexual preference. Often these patients told of feeling they were ‘trapped’ in bodies of the wrong sex.” I know this is not something the gay community wants to hear, but is helpful for those who are questioning.
Wait to Have That Sex Change
“Some of these people were considering irreversible transsexual operations because of the spirit’s desperate attempt to make the possessee’s body as much like the deceased one as possible.” Can you imagine the devastating effect it would be on someone who went to the trouble and expense of a sex-change operation to later discover they had a spirit attachment?
The effect of being possessed by a spirit of the opposite sex can explain why some men feel a desire to dress up as women. “I have treated a number of transvestites, all with possessing spirits of the opposite sex. It was they who bought the clothes and dressed up to suit their fancy, much to the confusion and embarrassment of their victims.” Again, this makes perfect sense to me.
More Than One Witness
Dr. Modi, on page 270 of her 1997 book, Remarkable Healings, confirms the findings of Dr. Fiore: “In some of my patients, possession by an entity of the opposite sex has caused confusion in their sexual identity, especially when the possession occurred before puberty.” There are so many young people who could benefit from knowing this information. It would be so helpful.
Dr. Modi continues, “A female spirit in a man may desire sex with a man, and this desire and attraction may in turn become the desire of the male host toward another male. The host may think he is a homosexual, when in fact he is only acting on the spirit’s desire.” The gay community has tried to debunk these quotes but they’re helpful for those who don’t want same-sex attraction.
And Yet Another Witness
In Conquering Spiritual Evil, Doug Mendenhall, whose daughter is spiritually sighted, meaning she has lost her veil and can see spirit of all kinds, including those who are attached to others, shares additional evidence that spirit attachments are the real cause of same-sex attraction. You can read more about Denise from books published by her father on his site, Publishing Hope.
“When I meet people who claim to be gay, I ask my daughter what she sees in them. There has never been an occasion where she did not see one or more earthbound female spirits attached to a gay man and has always seen earthbound male spirits attached to a gay woman.” I have always thought this to be the case and have wondered why so many fight against the truth of this idea.
A Final Witness of This Truth
My friend Mel Fish in his book, Healing the Inner Self addresses this subject on pages 191 to 194. He provides specific examples of individuals who came to him for help after dramatic and undesired changes in their attitudes toward sex. He made it clear that he was only able to help people who wanted help. If they did not want to change, there was nothing he could do for them.
He wrote that he had no desire to force people into a heterosexual lifestyle if they did not want one. His only desire was to help those were experiencing unwanted same-sex preferences to come to an understanding of the source of the problem and remove it if they wanted to. If the person believed they were gay and had no desire to change then he could not help them.
Sexual Preference can be Tested
Mel uses muscle testing to determine sexual preference. He uses a scale that places a person who is completely heterosexual at a zero. Such a person could not be sexually aroused by anyone of the same sex. A person who is completely the opposite and cannot be aroused by anyone of the opposite sex is a six. He has never found a person who measured either a zero or a complete six.
He says most people test out at a one or two. Every one of the people who tested at a five had with them spirits who were of the opposite sex. After sending those spirits away, every one of these people changed from a five to a one or two. The whole point here is that there is a way to be “cured” for those who don’t want to experience same-sex attraction. Removing spirit attachments helps.
An Important but Controversial Subject
Now I know this is a controversial subject. I wrote about this once before and received all kinds of negative comments and denials that unwanted same-sex attraction could be removed. One regular reader commented that he was “pretty sure this will be in the running for this week’s least politically correct Bloggernacle post.” It’s been five years. I wonder if things have changed.
We live in a day of testing in our church. Those who are pushing the homosexual tolerance and equality agenda will not be pleased with this essay. As I noted on my previous essay, I did not write it for them. I wrote this because the Lord asked me to. He wants those who have unwanted same sex attraction to know that there is an explanation and a way to remove those feelings.
An Invitation to Dialogue
Comments are welcome. I love and appreciate opposing viewpoints. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I know this is a sensitive matter in the church right now, one that is separating many families and members of all age groups. Please don’t attack each other personally. If you want to email me privately, I can be reached at email@example.com. Thanks for reading.
Some of my regular readers are going to be mad at me. I’m going to argue in this essay the exact opposite position I presented a few weeks ago on Eternal Lives, Past Lives and Reincarnation. In that paper I stated what I would consider to be the orthodox position of most church members. I focused on the idea that we pass through this life but once. That essay opposed reincarnation.
Since I wrote that essay I read two older books from Dr. Edith Fiore. She has published three but I just could not bring myself to read Encounters, which presents fourteen case studies of people who, while under hypnosis, have recalled being abducted by a UFO. I read the reviews and will probably purchase and read the book someday, but come on now. Abducted by aliens, really?
One of the two books is The Unquiet Dead: A Psychologist Treats Spirit Possession. I read this one first although it was written after her original work, also based on clinical case studies, entitled You Have Been Here Before: A Psychologist Looks at Past Lives. The Unquiet Dead is the more popular of her books and benefits from better editing, a glossary and a bibliography.
Church Opposed to Reincarnation
But it’s her first book I want to focus on in this essay. At 185 pages, I read it in less than two days. I was so fascinated I could have completed it in one day but I was already stealing time from work to read it. Balance is a good thing to pursue in this life. You’re going to need balance if you read this book and have never considered the idea of reincarnation or past-life regression.
Like I wrote previously, I’m fairly certain the church’s official position is that there is no such thing as reincarnation. Yes, it’s official. I just found it in Preach My Gospel and you can read a nice argument against it by Spencer Palmer in the I Have a Question section of the August 1989 Ensign. If I remember correctly, Bruce R. McConkie wrote that it was a doctrine of the devil.
Just to state my position clearly, I do not believe in the type of reincarnation that advocates a return to this life in another state, either as a plant or an animal or as an inanimate object. However, I’m going to entertain the theory in the next few paragraphs that perhaps there is something to the idea that we may possibly experience Multiple Mortal Probations. Just maybe.
Convincing Clinical Case Studies
Notice the weasel words I used – perhaps, possibly and maybe. I am not convinced there is such a thing as Multiple Mortal Probations, but after reading the amazing case studies, I am scratching my head looking for explanations to fit this into what I already know and believe. I don’t read many suspense or horror stories, but the best is in this book – “I know what’s behind that door!”
How can you argue with recorded clinical case studies? Some of the individuals who participated with Dr. Fiore in these past-life regressions said they didn’t believe in reincarnation but could not deny what had happened to them. I have an explanation I’ll offer in a minute but it’s unorthodox. It combines what I have read in The Unquiet Dead with Mel Fish’s From Darkness Into Light.
You Have Been Here Before is a reprint of an earlier edition of Dr. Fiore’s groundbreaking work. It contains all the original typos, grammatical errors and formatting issues. It also contains the enthusiasm, excitement and amazement that Dr. Fiore experienced with her patients as together they discovered and documented the new breakthrough modality of past life regression therapy.
My Theory Explaining Past Lives
Here’s my explanation of how this works. It’s all theory and it’s all mine, so you can criticize it all you want. I throw it out there as a way of making sense of something that goes against all I have ever been taught and believed about the purpose of life – a one-shot, single pass-through experience. It has to do with spirit attachments, another controversial area that draws criticism.
As I read these case studies of past life regression, I kept thinking to myself, “whose past life are they now entering?” Dr. Fiore contends they are past lives of the individual patients themselves. I propose that the past lives being explored belong to spirit attachments that have been with the patients for a long time, perhaps their entire life. You can read more of this in The Unquiet Dead.
Dr. Fiore herself intimates in The Unquiet Dead that maybe hypnosis and past life regression is really a conversation with an attached spirit, not with the subconscious of the patient presenting itself in a previous mortal probation. She first wondered if they were multiple personalities but later came to recognize they were in fact, separate individuals embodied within her patients.
We Come Here to Learn
Now here comes the argument in favor of Multiple Mortal Probations. Note that I don’t call it reincarnation. I don’t want to confuse MMP with what some people believe that we can come back as a rock or tree. That just doesn’t fly for me. But as I read the case studies in Dr. Fiore’s first book, I found myself getting excited about the idea that maybe this does makes sense.
What about an individual who came to earth in the middle ages, had no education or prospects for advancement but simply lived day to day, hand to mouth, with little thought of anything else? What if this individual made a mistake, chose a foolish course of action that got her killed and did not accomplish anything with her life? Could she be given another chance another time?
This exact scenario is presented in Dr. Fiore’s book through one of her patients who had suffered from terrible headaches for the past seven years. A past-life regression through hypnosis revealed that the headaches were the result of being clubbed to death in a past life. You’ll have to read the story to understand why it made sense that her current headaches were related to her past-life.
Neither Heaven nor Hell
In any event, it made sense when I considered The Doctrine of Eternal Lives, which is presented in a book of the same name. I had rejected the idea the first time I read the book. I continued to reject the idea when I visited the topic again earlier this year and got such a tremendous amount of helpful feedback from so many of you. Now, with Dr. Fiore’s books, I’m considering it more.
Now before you come unglued and accuse me of blaspheme, remember I have offered a theory that explains how these patients and Dr. Fiore may have made a mistaken assumption in the research she was doing. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. The past lives that the patients found in hypnosis were not their own, but the past lives of other spirits that had lived and died.
I estimate that less than ten percent of members of the LDS church believe that spirits can hang around after they have died. We are taught to believe that we either go to the light of paradise or are sucked down into spirit prison by the chains of darkness which bind us in this life. But I have had too many witnesses to disbelieve there are some who die who go to neither place right away.
Spirit World Still Holds Secrets
The bottom line for me is that I have my alternative explanation to explain past-life regression therapy and now I think I have a clearer picture of the possibility that Multiple Mortal Probation may in fact be something that might be part of God’s plan. I know that’s a bold statement. I don’t believe that one can come back to experience an additional mortal probation after resurrection.
If you read the case studies closely, you’ll note that the patients reported in their hypnotic state after viewing their death in a past life, they were met by escorts who helped them understand what they had learned. Some were ready to begin the next mortal experience immediately, others needed a few years to adjust and decide if they wanted to try it again and do better this time.
Some of her patients had many past lives, some just a few, some only one and some none. It seemed that it all depended on what they had learned and if they were ready for the next step in their eternal progression – to go to the light and prepare for resurrection. There is so much we don’t know about how the spirit world works. Some of these things are only revealed by angels.
An Invitation to Dialog
Has anyone else read Dr. Fiore’s books? If you would like to meet her, you can watch excerpts of two videos on Thinking Allowed. I’m fairly certain I’ll be purchasing the full DVDs. In the end, acceptance or disbelief in the possibility of Multiple Mortal Probation is not central to the purpose of this life. What’s important is how we live here and now and how we bless others.
As Denver Snuffer wrote on his blog, “…whether true or not, it does not change a single thing about your life now. You have a challenge before you which can only be met by keeping every requirement established by the Lord for your redemption now. I fear those who are most enamored by this teaching are only distracted by it.
“They speculate about their own past history (or histories), and don’t realize their present life is slipping into history without adequate attention being given to the moment-to-moment responsibilities we are called upon to meet every second of this life. … even if you decide there is truth in it, nothing should change. … you have a challenge to live your life well NOW.”
I’ve been meaning to review this wonderful book for the last few weeks since I first read it. But I’m glad I waited because I’ve been able to ponder it and reflect on just how important the book really is. Have you ever been puzzled by the references in the scriptures to the wedding feast, the marriage covenant, the significance of the marriage ceremony or the parable of the ten virgins?
You’re not alone. Even though I have been a student of the scriptures all my life, I always said to myself, “Someday I’ll understand why the Lord would have one of his prophets marry a harlot. But for the life of me, it seems an awful mean trick to play on a man, knowing that she would leave him and go after her former lovers.” Well, that day has come. I now understand Hosea.
The Bride Waits Faithfully
The Lord desires to have a sacred and deeply spiritual bond with us, similar to the bond that exists between two very close people such as a husband and wife. He does not desire to be an unknown or distant God. He wants our relationship to be based on experiences that are closely shared, building a personal and intimate association. We are the bride. He is the bridegroom.
Like Hosea’s bride, we have played the harlot. We have all gone astray seeking after the ways of the world, when we should have been faithful as we promised when we entered into the wedding contract through baptism. In ancient Israel, after entering into the marriage contract, it was now time for the bridegroom to go and build a home for his bride. She waits for his sudden return.
Bride Price Paid with Blood
Understanding ancient Jewish marriage and family customs will help us understand the Savior. The people he taught were Jews. They understood the significance of why the bridegroom had to go away after negotiating for the bride, paying the bride price and entering into the contract. The bridesmaids, light, outer darkness, the father’s house and the closed door were all clear to them.
For us, it’s not so clear. That’s why Donna Nielsen’s book, Beloved Bridegroom is so essential to really understand the events that will take place when the Savior returns. He came and paid for us in the meridian of time with the price of His blood. He loves us and is beloved by those who know and understood what He did for us. It is now time for the Bridegroom to claim his bride.
The Father Determines the Time
While the bridegroom was away building the wedding chamber or “little mansion” for their honeymoon, if he had to communicate with the bride, he did so through the “friend of the bridegroom.” That’s interesting to ponder today. Who is the friend of the bridegroom that the Lord is using to carry messages to his bride? It seems to me that prophets fulfill this role.
The new home was built under the direct personal supervision of the groom’s father. The father wanted everything regarding the bride’s new home to be as beautiful and perfect as it could be. The father was the sole judge of when the preparations were complete. Only when the father determined everything was ready did he gave permission for the son to claim his bride.
Preparation for the Wedding
There is much work to be done before the bridegroom returns. Although she doesn’t know the exact date and time, the bride knows she must be prepared for the exciting day. One of those areas of preparation was the ritual immersion at a mikvah, a bath drawn from natural or living waters. It had to be large enough to immerse oneself completely in preparation for holiness.
From the time of the bridegroom’s departure until he returned for her a year or so later, the bride placed a lamp in her window and kept it continually burning every night. It was a token of her faithfulness, and she lived for the day when her beloved would return for her. The focus of her life during this time revolved around the thoughts of her future happiness with her new husband.
The Double Invitation
When the “wedding house” was finished, the father finally gave the long-awaited permission. The groom called and gathered his friends and the Father sent servants with a second wedding announcement. The first invitation or calling had been sent when the betrothal began. The initial acceptance implied a firm commitment. The second invitation went to those who had committed.
In Jerusalem, if you planned to accept an invitation to attend a banquet, you made it known to others. No citizen of Jerusalem would attend a banquet without changing his buckle from the right to the left shoulder. This was so that another person should not extend to him an invitation that would be wasted. The guests who accepted the invitation were then duty-bound to appear.
The Bridegroom Cometh
It was now time for the wedding procession, a very noisy and joyful group consisting of the bridegroom, his servants, companions, and closest friends. They wound their way through the streets. The people of the city would gather and watch the wedding processions enter and depart through the special Gate of the Bridegroom. There was much singing, dancing and merriment.
The procession would usually come late at night. The Jewish people thought it romantic that the bridegroom would come suddenly, with an element of surprise. They knew the general week of his arrival, but never the exact day. When the procession nears the brides home, a messenger was sent ahead to give the shout, “The bridegroom cometh!” He would then arrive within a half hour.
The Bringing of the Lamp
The bride had only enough time to make a few final preparations. She gathered her already-packed honeymoon clothes and quickly dressed in her bridal gown. She had her traditional gift for the groom ready, a carefully prepared tallit or prayer shawl. Now came the final call, “The bridegroom cometh!” Immediately the group and the groom rushed in to find the bride.
After the father of the bride made sure he was the man with the contract, the father would stand aside and let the groom take the bride. The procession reversed course, lifting the bride up into a special chair and carrying her home. Four strong men were given the honor of carrying the bride, accompanied by torch-bearers. This was called “the bringing of the lamp,” meaning the bride.
Entering the New Home
The most important period of the marriage festivities was when the bride entered her new home. The bride and groom were sometimes crowned with real crowns or with garlands of roses, myrtle, or olive leaves. The parents uttered a traditional blessing upon the bride and groom and the guests repeated the expression of a wish for happiness and fruitfulness in their marriage.
After these blessings were recited, the bride and groom and all of the invited guests who carried their lights went in. The door was then shut and bolted because there was not enough room for all who would seek to enter. Even the invited guests who came late were left outside. To be late was unthinkable at such an important occasion and was considered a gross insult to the host.
Light is Our Contribution
There was great disappointment for those not prepared or on time for the marriage and wedding feast. This is why the parable of the ten virgins, or bridesmaids was so easily understood by the Jewish people. It was considered a religious duty to bring light when attending a wedding. Light was associated with marriage as a special metaphor for joy, lighting the father’s house for days.
To bring a lamp to the festivities was the responsibility of every guest and was considered his personal contribution to the joy of the event. The expression “outer darkness” takes on a new meaning when we realize those not admitted to the feast would suffer agony of being alone when everyone else was rejoicing together. How sad for the foolish virgins who were not prepared.
Conclusion and Recommendation
I could go on and on with things I have learned from this book. If you note the reviews on Amazon, you’ll see they are almost all rated five-star. Yes, it’s that good. At about 180 pages, I was able to read it in one day, basically an afternoon and evening. I simply could not put it down because I was filled with so many “ah-ha” moments as phrases took on new and real meaning.
My little review here only covered two chapters – four and five. There is so much more. I’ll include the table of contents below. I highly recommend this book. I give it five stars. It is more than just a good book. I believe it is imperative that we understand these things in order to be fully prepared for the events of the last days which are now upon us. The bridegroom cometh!
Table of Contents
Chapter One – Family Life in Israel
- Roles of men and women, religious training of children, and family loyalty
Chapter Two – The Marriage Proposal
- Finding a mate, fire, desirable personal qualities, negotiating the bride price
Chapter Three – The Bride’s Acceptance
- Ketubah, gift, ratify covenants, cup of wine, veil
Chapter Four – Preparing a Place
- Father’s supervision, bride’s preparations, double invitation, procession
Chapter Five – The Ten Bridesmaids
- Light, outer darkness, the father’s house, closing the door
Chapter Six – The Wedding Canopy
- Wedding garments, crown of glory, seven bridal blessings
Chapter Seven – Gardens and Fountains
- The sanctity of sexuality, scriptural euphemisms, spiritual views, wedding chamber
Chapter Eight – Food for Feasting
- Seven species, wedding song, party manners, etiquette
Chapter Nine – Song for the Bridegroom
- Prophetic principles, celebrating life stages, biblical prosperity, peace in the home
Chapter Ten – Spiritual Betrothal
- Christ paid the bride price, gift of the Sabbath, honoring his name
Chapter Eleven – Spiritual Preparation and Marriage
- The Comforter, Sabbath bride, cup of joy, knowing God, rending the veil
Chapter Twelve – The Imperative of Fruitfulness
- Bringing forth fruit, vessels, glory, holy places, brides in scripture
I love to sing in the choir, especially our stake choir. Our ward choir is pretty good, but it’s small. As with most ward choirs, there are never enough men. With only three tenors and four basses I never quite feel the majesty of a full choir. That’s why I enjoy the Stake choir. There is just something special that happens when you get that many faithful Saints singing to the Lord.
We’ve got maybe fifteen or twenty brethren and twice that many sisters. I’ve got six or seven other tenors with whom I can blend my voice. I sing better when we have that many voices. For those of you who sing in a stake choir, I think you know what I mean. We enjoy our practices but when it comes time to perform, oh the sacred and holy sound that comes out of those choir seats.
This next Stake Conference will be a little sad for us as we say goodbye to our Stake President before he leaves to preside over the Taiwan Taichung mission. I already know it’s going to be an emotional day. As the Stake Financial clerk, I meet with the Stake President every month. I have enjoyed working with him and appreciate his dedication and ability as a church administrator.
Administering and Ministering
I don’t like to focus on the mundane aspects of managing the church. Someone has to do it. I’m grateful to be able to contribute. I’m glad I can take some of the administrative burden from the Stake President. But administering as compared to ministering in the church is simply not one of my favorite things to do. I would much rather sing or teach a class or preach to the congregation.
We don’t use that phrase much in the church anymore. We are not professional preachers. We are all equal in our opportunity to stand before our brothers and sisters to share what we know. It’s nice when someone actually takes the time to prepare and deliver a talk designed to uplift as well as enlighten. I come away from such a meeting much more enthused about life’s challenges.
I believe that the Lord is pleased when we sing or preach in such a way that we bring a sense of holiness into our lives and the lives of those who hear us. It’s that feeling of holiness I’d like to focus on in this little essay. I don’t think we have enough holiness in our lives. I know I don’t. Even with daily prayer and gospel study it’s so easy for the world to take away that holiness.
Service in the Temple
On each temple we read the words, “Holiness to the Lord – The House of the Lord.” I went to the temple last Friday and will go again next Friday. We always have Stake temple night just before our Stake Conferences. Being instructed by a member of the Temple Presidency in our chapel sessions is a highlight of our time there. I feel a little bit more of that holiness that I so desire.
I’ve been going to the temple for all my life. I mean that literally. I was six years old the first time I entered into the Los Angeles temple to be sealed to my family. I enjoyed baptisms in that same temple every six months as a youth. I was endowed there before my mission and married there after my mission. I have been back almost every month for the last thirty-seven years.
There has never been a time I have gone to the temple and not come away feeling a little closer to heaven, a little more connected to the Lord. I look forward to getting older because I know I’m going to be one of those little old men you see in the temple every time you go. There’s just something special about serving in the house of the Lord that can help us to feel more holy.
Commanded to Be Holy
Holiness is a frame of mind as well as a feeling that we cultivate. It’s not a false piety but a genuine feeling of closeness to the Lord in spite of being far away. It is a way of thinking and acting that causes us to remember the Lord many times during the day. It is noticing His hand in our lives, in the daily interactions with others and His help in dealing with troublesome things.
Holiness is sensing the sacred and the divine in nature around us but also in the flow of our lives. Holiness comes when we accept that the Lord is trying to mold us into something that may be different from what we had in mind. We become holy when we accept the Lord’s chastening hand in our lives without becoming bitter or questioning why such trying things happen to us.
It is the desire for holiness that prompts us to overlook faults in others and ourselves. It is that need, that intense passion to be all that the Lord wants us to be that burns holiness into our hearts. “Be thou Holy,” the Lord said. He didn’t say to be holy only when you are in church or only when you read the scriptures or pray. We are commanded to be holy, to do things with holiness.
Worship Brings Holiness
When I cultivate a feeling of holiness, I am able to overcome the world, even if it’s just for a moment. If we let them, the fears that permeate our society will suck out the feeling of peace that we need to be holy. Holiness is next to reverence and a part of worship. It’s a time to reflect, to ponder and to meditate. Surrounding ourselves with light and beauty will engender holiness.
Holiness is something that we give to the Lord. That’s the significance of that phrase, Holiness to the Lord. We ascribe Him to be a Man of Holiness. We can be filled with that holiness when we praise Him, when we worship Him, when we sing unto Him and when we pray unto the father in His name. He hears us. He knows our efforts to please Him and to will return holiness unto us.
That’s the beauty of true worship. When we praise Him or sing unto Him, we become one with Him. We begin to feel about things as He does. He is filled with holiness and peace. Majesty and glory are His because He earned them, but He is willing to share them with us, here and now, in this world, when we reach out to Him in our hearts in the spirit of worship. He makes us holy.
Holiness is a gift from God
If we sing in a choir with the intent to be united and to praise God, we are magnified. I have felt this many times. My soul expands and I begin to feel the expanse of eternity. It seems that God cannot resist touching our hearts and our minds when we worship Him. I have felt the same thing when I teach under the influence of the spirit. That connection with God engenders my holiness.
Holiness is a gift from God, yet it is something that we can claim. Indeed, we have a right to claim it according to our worthiness and our efforts to repent. God loves to bless his children with feelings that help us understand His true nature. Man of Holiness is His name. Think about that. Perhaps there is no better phrase to describe the God whom we worship – a Holy Man.
I also want to be a man of holiness, but so often feel like Nephi, “Oh wretched man that I am. My heart sorroweth because of my flesh. My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about because of the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins. Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.”
Become Holy to receive Him
Holiness is a step on the rung of the ladder to come unto Christ and to be received into His presence. He who embodies all that is holy is ever so willing to teach us how to become holy. Jacob exclaimed, “Oh how great is the holiness of our God!” He offers it to us as a tool for us to come back into His presence. He has abundance and enough to spare for all who desire it.
If our eyes become single to His glory then holiness descends upon our spirits. Holiness brings us to a unity of the faith. There are times when singing in the stake choir that the unity of voice is converted to unity of faith. It is a wonderful feeling, this bestowal of holiness through worship. Receiving the spirit of holiness through worship and praise, we can endure His consuming fire.
We must cultivate this sense of holiness and let nothing detract us from achieving it. No devil, no evil being, mortal or not, can dissuade us in our quest if we are committed to obeying this great commandment to become holy. We must become holy so that He can share with us all that He has. We can achieve that state in this life and receive some of those blessings now if we desire.
We can be Holy
To the western man or natural man way of thinking, we want something to “do” to become holy. It has been my experience that I can be doing all that the Lord asks of me and yet still not feel holy. If you are confident you are already doing all that you can to be holy and still don’t feel so, then it’s time to change your thinking. We must literally decide to obey the command to be holy.
Achieving a state of holiness is a gift you accept. We are commanded to receive it, just as we have been commanded to receive the Holy Ghost. Being holy takes faith. It requires that we cast out fear. We are commanded to do so. It also requires us to resist the urge to self-criticize. There is no way to accept this gift of holiness and find fault with ourselves for thinking we are holy.
The best way I have found to sustain this sense of holiness is to focus on the phrase, Holiness to the Lord. As I worship him, I raise myself to a higher plane, a different state of consciousness. I praise Him, ascribe holiness to Him and in turn he beings me into that state of holiness through His grace and mercy. It’s a reciprocal feeling. He loves me and loves to bless me. We are holy.
I received my copies of Denver Snuffer’s Remembering the Covenant, Volumes 1, 4 and 5 the other day. Why would I invest $55 to purchase printed versions of something that is available for free online? I’ve already purchased and read Denver’s previously published eight volumes. And for the most part, I read the majority of what’s in the books on Denver’s blog over the past year.
Two reasons: I’m an old guy. I like physical books. I enjoy turning the pages, marking them up and seeing them stored in my library. Second, I found it interesting Denver hinted at something I have been thinking about for a long time. We take the availability of the Internet, Blogger and hey, even electricity for granted. The day may come when these things are no longer guaranteed.
I like the formatting of the books, the new chapter organizations and the footnotes. The blog comments are not included. That’s understandable. If you’re read some of them, they get way off the subject and frankly, there are some weird things in there that are distracting from the content. I’m not saying comments aren’t valuable, just that they can take things in unintended directions.
Commentary on The Second Comforter
I feel like a late-comer to the Denver party. Now, he wouldn’t like that characterization. He has always said the important thing is the message, not the messenger. And of course, Denver is not the only one focusing on the idea that we can and should receive the Savior in this mortal life. By that I mean a personal visit from the Lord in which he ministers to and teaches you sacred things.
As Denver noted on his blog, volumes two and three in the series were published previously as the single volume Removing the Condemnation. The advantage of purchasing them in this new format is that they are in a larger font and split into two volumes. I chose to save a few bucks by just getting the ones I didn’t already have. Amazon already has the three other volumes bundled.
So for me, having the luxury of the printed volumes allows me to study Denver’s commentary on his original book at my leisure, which is usually at night before retiring for the day. I learned recently that if I work on the computer right up until I retire, it makes it difficult to get to sleep. There’s something more relaxing about reading a book instead of reading on a computer screen.
Two Areas of Disagreement
In the year or so since I was introduced to Denver’s writings, I’ve made it a point to share with Carol some of the things I have been learning. She’s not all that interested, especially since the first book I
read from Denver was his last one, Passing the Heavenly Gift. We basically disagree on two points – the desirability of meeting Christ in this life and just what priesthood power is.
Carol was taught all her life and believes that there is no need to receive the Savior in this life in a literal way, meaning you don’t need a personal visit to be saved or exalted. She says that will come after this life. When I show her the scriptures and the teachings from Joseph she responds, “Well, the majority of the members of the church aren’t going to see Christ in this life, so there.”
We read chapter one of Passing the Heavenly Gift together. I wrote about her response in my first essay about Denver early in 2012. We’ve had an ongoing discussion about power in the priesthood ever since. Every time a baby is blessed, a baptism is performed or someone is confirmed or ordained, she leans over to me and whispers, “not valid – no power, right?”
Difficult Ideas to Accept
She’s trying to point out that, in her mind, Denver’s argument that power of some kind was lost, does not make sense to her because of the special feelings we each feel when we witness an ordinance of the priesthood, partake of the sacrament or attend the temple. While in the Celestial room, we’ve discussed what he has written. Gratefully, we’ve been able to keep it quiet and civil.
Carol’s viewpoint is that receiving a personal visit from Christ in this life is not necessary, at least according to all we’ve been taught growing up in this church. The focus has always been, receive the ordinances, including marriage in the temple, then endure faithfully to the end. That means as long as you attend church, accept callings, pay tithing and pray often, you’ll be exalted.
Thus, she says the focus of Denver’s first book is unnecessary, at least according to what we’ve been taught. What she got out of Denver’s last book is that he was very clearly saying that the church lost something with the death of Joseph, perhaps even sooner. She took great exception to this idea. What exactly was lost has been a matter of discussion between us over the past year.
Focus on the Book of Mormon
I’m glad I read his last book first. I had long been feeling that there was something missing in our modern church compared to the early church, meaning in the days of Joseph Smith. If you have been following my blog for any length of time, I hope I’ve made it clear that I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is scripture and is intended to guide our lives.
I also believe that Joseph received the sealing power from God, just like Nephi did, but that there was so much more he wanted to share with us that he received from the Lord before his life was cut short. He did not live to see the completion of the Nauvoo temple. There were things he knew that he tried to teach in the last few months of his life, that we just didn’t quite understand.
I’m looking forward to reading and studying these three volumes, Remembering the Covenant. I note that he positions them as a commentary on the Book of Mormon. I like that. There is so much of this marvelous book that even after a lifetime of studying I still don’t understand. I know Denver taught much of this stuff in his Gospel Doctrine classes over some twenty years.
Remain True and Faithful
In case you were wondering, I see no incompatibility between studying the works of Denver Snuffer and remaining a faithful member of the church. In fact, as many others have stated, I don’t think I have ever studied the gospel more intently in the past year since I first encountered his works. Denver has repeatedly encouraged us to remain faithful and serve in the church.
Yes, his first book is somewhat unconventional in that the doctrine of seeking an audience with Christ in this life is no longer taught in our church. And yes, his last book is controversial in that he put in one place all the arguments we have been reading on the Internet for years that there is something amiss in the direction of the church compared to what Joseph restored so long ago.
Can one believe that something is missing or not quite right in the church today and still answer the temple interview questions honorably? Absolutely. I sustain the Brethren as authorized to lead this church. I see nothing in what Denver writes to be contrary to or opposing the teachings and practices of the Church. Denver has encouraged us to be faithful and serve in the church.
Future posts on Denver Snuffer
Although this blog is not devoted to discussing the writings of Denver Snuffer, I intend to bring up a number of things I have read in his books that I find interesting and worthy of discussion. I have had a paradigm shift in the way I view the priesthood that answers so many questions for me. I am also delighted to see the idea of meeting Christ in this life being taught and promoted.
Surely the Brethren cannot find fault with anyone who encourages us to seek an audience with Christ for the specific purpose of receiving instruction pertaining to our salvation. And surely they can’t fault him for informing us in one place, in a very favorable way I might add, about the things we have read in many places on the Internet regarding a different view of our history.
Don’t call me a Snufferite. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’m just a regular member of this church. I merely want to know what I must do to have an audience with my Redeemer in this life. I can’t imagine anybody labeling this as an undesirable thing. I’m simply grateful that Denver says it can be done and that he has done so. Thank God for his testimony and witness.
For More Information
In case you are interested, I’ve written several previous entries about Denver Snuffer:
01. March 24, 2013 – Overview of The Second Comforter
02. March 9, 2013 – A New Star Will Shine Forth
03. March 3, 2013 – All Are Invited to the Feast
04. December 25, 2012 – The Four Phases of Mormonism
05. December 11, 2012 – What Denver Snuffer Teaches
06. July 7, 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
07. May 12, 2012 – Orthodox Mormonism
08. May 5, 2012 – Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer
09. April 8, 2012 – Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil
10. February 26, 2012 – Loss of the Sealing Power
My friend Eric has e-published another free book on Lulu. This one is entitled, “The Doctrine of Meeting Christ in This Life: Jacob’s Ladder, the LDS Temple and Greater Things.” It is 144 pages. His first one (110 pages) was about the Plan of Salvation symbolized as One Eternal Round. He also published a short booklet (68 pages) about the Sacrament. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/eternalround
Eric was my Bishop a few years back. I also served as one of his counselors in the Bishopric. We now serve together in the Stake Presidency. Well, sort of. He’s the Executive Secretary and I’m the Stake Financial Clerk. But positions in the Church certainly don’t matter a hill of beans, do they? I only mention this to let you know that Eric’s a good guy and can be trusted. He’s a physician here in our local area.
The booklet is mainly a compilation of quotes and scriptures. A few words from his introduction might give you a feel for the content and Eric’s focus. He also included a Step 0, which is to Study Christ, to learn about Christ, and expressed a hope that our time spent on this lower level is short. In other words, we all should be a little further up the ladder by now in following Christ, seeking to meet Him.
Spiritual Progress on Jacob’s Ladder
So pick up the little booklet from Lulu. It’s free and is a thoughtful and well-organized compilation. Quoting the introduction, “Jacob’s ladder, symbolically applied to our own personal spiritual progression, has 3 principal steps:
Step 1: Telestial Level – Follow Christ
Step 2: Terrestrial Level – Meet Christ
Step 3: Celestial Level – Know Christ
“For us, Step 1 occurs in this mortal life. Step 3 occurs after this mortal life. This book would like to suggest that Step 2 can occur in this mortal life (Hence the title). On this salvational ladder, knowledge makes up the steps. Faith, hope, and charity make us attempt to climb the steps. Grace, provided through the Atonement of Christ, is the power that actually moves us up the steps.
“Nothing is worth more than the spiritual climb up this ladder. Nothing should be allowed to distract us from the path to knowing Christ. Mortal life is too precious and short to waste on the relatively less important things. I do not place my faith in the Church, which is an organization of imperfect humans. I place my faith in Jesus Christ. I have membership in the Church because I feel it helps me progress along this path.”
The Ladder Leads to Christ
Eric has gone to great lengths to compile these quotes and scriptures in a logical and comprehensive manner. He leads you step by step or rather rung by rung up Jacob’s ladder, providing evidence that meeting Christ is not only a doctrine of the Church but is the central theme of the gospel – something we all MUST do. I like the format of an e-book. You can keep it handy for reference in electronic format.
The chapter on Jacob’s ladder is enlightening. I had the pleasure of being taught by Bishop Chun on a regular basis in the combined third hour instruction that took place once a quarter. He was continually reminding us to wake up, like Jacob needed to do in order to begin his ascent up the ladder. Of course, Bishop Chun was also a fan of the Matrix so maybe “wake up” meant even a little more to him.
The Temple is a Map
He writes about the temple being a map: “How is the temple endowment a map? Our spiritual understanding of the symbols shows us where we are, how close we are to God’s presence. The hidden treasures of gospel understanding will remain hidden to the spiritually unenlightened mind. The mysteries are ingeniously concealed within the symbolism of the temple ordinances.
“How much we are able to see, discern, and understand is a measurement of our spirituality. Understanding the symbols is what endows us, because personal revelation is required to understand the symbols. Continuing to receive until we are at such a spiritual level that we can pierce through the veil and enter the presence of the Lord—that is being endowed with spiritual power from on high.”
I have been re-reading Denver Snuffer’s first book (second edition, 2008), The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil. I’m in Chapter Four – Nephi’s walk. The focus of Denver’s message, or actually Nephi’s, is that we must act upon what we believe in order to have sufficient faith to come unto Christ and save our souls. A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge.
But the kind of knowledge we’re talking about here is the kind that comes from obedience. When you learn a principle and then live it, you obtain your own personal witness of its validity. You then have knowledge. That’s another step up the ladder. The trick is to know what knowledge is most important to obtain and then to let nothing stand in your way of obtaining that knowledge experience.
Seek the Face of the Lord
We are to seek the Lord’s face. We start with a desire to believe. Nephi heard his father tell of his visions and dreams. At first he was skeptical. He decided to ask God to help him believe. He says the Lord visited him and softened his heart. We know the response of his brothers. Sam believed Nephi’s words but Laman and Lemuel hardened their hearts. Nephi’s first visit was to simply soften his heart.
Have we had that first visit from the Lord? I have. But it only comes if we ask. I have had my heart softened towards the things of God. I have asked Him to help me accept difficult doctrines and to have the courage to act upon them. Like Nephi, there was no rushing wind, no parting veil, nothing material happened. But I had a desire to receive, I asked for it, and I received. Skepticism and doubt vanished.
Hear the Voice of the Lord
Nephi teaches us the next step in the path when he reports back to the Lord on his efforts to share his testimony with his brothers. He then hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Blessed art thou Nephi, because of thy faith…” I think we just left a large number of church members behind. I would say the majority have experienced step one in that they had a softening of the heart, else why would they come to church?
But this hearing the voice of the Lord thing, that’s where we lose a lot of people. Of course it was not an audible voice. The voice of the Lord came into his mind. I can’t tell you how many conversations and private dialogs I have had with people who said, “How can I tell the difference between my own thoughts and the voice of the Lord?” This sacred subject has received a lot of attention over the years.
Visions or Dreams
The ability to hear, just like the ability to accept what is heard, is directly related to keeping the commandments. The more faithful you are in obeying the word of the Lord to his prophets, the more prepared you are to receive his voice individually. The cleaner your personal life is the better you can hear his voice. When the Lord speaks to you, you will know it. It is accompanied by a quiet peace in your heart.
Sometimes the Lord chooses to speak to us in a vision, also called a dream. I know few people who have open visions, but know many who have communicated with the Lord through dreams. Don’t discount dreams as a legitimate method of the Lord to answers the prayers of his children. I have received some sacred visions in this manner. I know when a dream is from the Lord. I record them in my journal.
Daily Walk With the Lord
The next step or rung on the ladder is to understand the process of the daily walk with the Lord. God is not some distant being who cares nothing for you. He is someone who cares enough about us that He will help us accomplish whatever it is He asks us to do. Just like Nephi had the faith to say, “I will go and do,” we too must walk each day with the assurance that the Lord will help us step by step.
Start each day with prayer. Tell God what it is you need to accomplish that day. Tell him why you are trying to do what you must do. Ask him to help you and to walk with you as you step through the process of each task. Talk to Him as you encounter difficulties during the day. Listen for His calm reassuring voice telling you that you can do it or suggesting alternative ways to accomplish your task.
A Pause on the Ladder
And that’s about as far as I’ve come in my third re-read of Denver’s book. I have my pen and highlighter out and am marking each step and each part of the process so I can say I understand and evaluate where I am. I am pleased to say I am at least up to this point. I desire to see His face, I have heard his voice in my mind many, many times. I can also tell you that this daily walk with the Lord is a real thing.
I know we can meet Christ in this life. I have not seen His face yet, but I know where I’m at on the path. He has asked some difficult things of me. I have failed some tests and passed others. Tests that used to come at me over and over again now seem to have served their purpose and no longer appear on the path. I am so very grateful for a living and loving God who lets me know where I am in life.
Invitation to Dialog
Where are you? I invite comments. I love the dialog. Thanks for reading my story.