I was pleased to be asked to substitute teach Gospel Doctrine class this week. It is about the closing of the Kirtland period, the first missions of the early Saints to Canada and later to England, then the exodus from Kirtland. Of course that exodus was not as dramatic as leaving Nauvoo, but it was nevertheless undertaken under duress, especially by the prophet Joseph.
Preparing to Teach
I enjoy teaching the gospel whenever I’m asked, just as I enjoy speaking in church whenever I’m asked. I have found over the years that I tend to over-prepare. I probably spent twenty hours this week reading various sources of church history, but mainly in The Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney. I was amazed to read again the way the Lord prepared groups of people for the missionaries.
Both Heber C. Kimball and later Wilford Woodruff, converted and baptized entire congregations of hundreds, including most of their ministers. At one point in time, it was estimated that a full 80% of the church membership had descended from one of these early English converts. I know that’s true in my wife’s family. I, on the other hand, still consider myself to be a first generation Mormon.
A True Believing Mormon
While my wife’s family is from Utah – and wow there are a lot of them – I’m a California boy. I only bring that up because I tend to think of myself as not your typical Mormon. Although I have described myself as orthodox and conservative everywhere I write, I like to think that I’m more open-minded about some things. Let’s take Denver Snuffer for an example. Uh-oh, I know what you’re thinking.
Books from Denver Snuffer
When I first encountered the writings of Denver Snuffer, I knew right away that the Lord had either asked him or inspired him to write his books, or both. There’s just something about his style, his tone, the authority with which he writes, the depth and the importance of his subjects that causes him to stand out in my mind as someone who has something special and something very different.
A Divisive Individual
So I began to mention him on my blog, write a few reviews of his books and generally bring him to the attention of my readers. I was amazed and shocked by the response of some who found that my suggestion of even considering his legitimacy could have any merit. “How could you be such a fool, Tim? How could you be duped by someone who is an obvious charlatan and one who will lead you astray?”
Read the Material First
They didn’t use those exact words, at least not in the public comments, but in essence, that is what they were saying. Invariably, when I asked if they had read his material, almost all those who were opposed to his ideas, had not gone directly to the source. They were only responding to what they had read from others. Occasionally I’d have an intelligent private dialog with a few who had taken the time to read.
Beware of False Prophets
I have found that when people comment on Denver Snuffer on my blog, they tend to fall into one of two groups. The first believe he is another Warren Jeffs, Jim Harmston (died June 2013) or some other recent wanna-be prophet claiming that the LDS Church is apostate so they start their own. Most have no idea what Denver Snuffer has written. The second group has taken the time to seriously read his writings, consider them, pray about them and attempt to improve their lives by following his suggestions.
Stay Active in LDS Church
I guess I tend more towards the second group. I have read most everything he has written, or at least enough to know that the man is not inspired from the wrong source. There is some real substance to what he has written. Some of it is above me – way above me – but most of what he writes makes sense, especially the part about staying active in the LDS Church. I like that because I have lots of friends at church that I love dearly.
Private Discussion Groups
There are a number of online groups that discuss Denver’s writings, some public, but most private. I confess I belong to a few of them. I don’t contribute much there. I prefer to write on my own blog. This has always been my own spiritual journal so to speak. I have a separate journal that I have kept all my life, but I use my blog to “push the envelope” on spiritual areas I’m pondering so I can get feedback.
A Year-Long Lecture Tour
If you know anything about Denver or follow his blog, you know he has announced a series of lectures beginning on September 10th in Boise, running in various Intermountain West cities and ending in Phoenix a year later on September 9th, 2014. I’m glad they are being recorded because I would very much like to attend one of them but it doesn’t look like he will be making a visit to California on this road trip.
More and More Missionaries
One of the things Denver has pointed out is that the gathering of the elect in the very last days is a two-fold project – one conducted by the institutional LDS church – and one conducted by the angels of God. I am convinced the missionary changes announced last year by President Monson and which are already bearing fruit, at least in the number of missionaries we send out, is not the final gathering prophesied in the scriptures.
Hastening the Work
I believe it is simply a hastening of the work. The Lord is using the LDS Church to gather the elect. There is no doubt about that. But the Lord is also causing something wonderful to happening to various members of the church that puts them in another group – a group that is being prepared to be taught by angels and to eventually receive an audience with the resurrected Lord in this mortal life.
A Movement in the Church
I am being contacted by more and more individuals who want to talk privately about Denver and what they sense is happening in the church today. Some dialogs are via email, some on the phone, but all focus on the fact that we each want to receive a personal visitation from the Lord. Do you remember the terrible controversy this created when George Pace was rebuked by Elder McConkie for even suggesting such a thing?
An Audience With Christ
Maybe you’re too young but I remember it well. It put a real chill and damper on the church for a long time of anybody bringing that subject up again in Gospel Doctrine or a priesthood quorum. It’s almost as if we now give lip service to the idea of knowing the Lord, but we dare not say that we can indeed “know” Him, as in, have an audience with Him while in mortality. Why is that idea so bothersome to some people in our church?
Teach by the Spirit
I’m rambling and I know it. It’s late and I’ve got to get to bed to be ready to teach the gospel tomorrow. Although our block meets at 1pm, I still want to review the material I have prepared and petition the Lord for strength to teach by the spirit. I never want to be so married to the order or the exact content of my prepared material that I miss when the Lord whispers that I teach something a little differently that I had planned.
To my Regular Readers
Let me end by throwing this out there for discussion. Now I know I don’t have as many readers as I used to since I was dropped by ldsblogs.org, but the numbers show a couple hundred visitors a day – most who get here through a Google search on Denver Snuffer – in addition to a couple hundred subscribers who get my posts in an email or on their reader. I would like to know what you think about this.
A Risk of Missing Out
Specifically, what if the Lord really did appear to Denver Snuffer as he claimed? What if the Lord really did ask him to write his books? What if he is now asking him to take the message more directly to the LDS people via this series of lectures he is conducting over the next year starting in September? What if the Lord really does intend to see how we will respond to the message of this man some call an apostate?
Gathering the Elect
Did Jesus come from within the established ranks of the Jewish hierarchy when he came in the Meridian of Time to teach His gospel and establish his church? What if, just what if, the Lord really is sending Denver Snuffer out on these lectures to seek out and find those from within the church that are ready to be taught by angels and to receive an audience with the Lord? What if the Lord wants you to know something more?