The Power of Wise Communication

Small Christ teachingThe opportunity to communicate has increased a thousand fold in recent years. The power of the internet has made it possible to reach one individual at a time or thousands at one time. We live in a magnificent age.

Whether we communicate face to face or online, apparently the ability to communicate effectively has diminished. In a recent poll by Dan Jones & Associates, it was found that Utah based companies complained that people coming into the present workforce are lacking some serious skills, one being communication.

A common complaint was that companies are having to spend a lot of time and money training people in “sensitivities and cultures and how to do business.” My son, an attorney, has difficulty hiring front desk personnel that know how to communicate effectively. “Sometimes they are abrupt, blunt and discourteous without even recognizing it,” he said. It does not speak well of our education or culture.

Online communication has made it much easier to get away with “blunt and discourteous” communication. Perhaps online “bullying” has contributed to the face to face intimidation we are witnessing in our schools today.

No matter the mode used, ineffective communication stunts the opportunity to be heard or be considered a credible terminal for information.

Point of View

Beliefs are determined by our education and our experience. Beliefs form our point of view. Our views change as we learn and experience new things. Our view of life is “Our Truth” and may or may not be in line with anyone else, let alone eternal truths. We hold them dear.

We, spend a lot of time defending our point of view and trying to get others to change theirs. Various tactics of persuasion are used to give authority to our “Truths” such as polls, research, higher degree of education, the priesthood, the scriptures, the Ensign and “The Lord told me”. There is nothing wrong with this, however, some methods of communicating our message is more effective than others. The question is, does my method of communication “Work” to persuade or do I set myself up to be rejected and even persecuted?

Sound Relationships

Years ago I found this helpful model which helped me to understand how relationships work. It’s called the ARC triangle. The bottom corners of the pyramid are “Affinity” and “Reality.” The top of the pyramid is “Communication”. A break in any side of the triangle is a break in the relationship. If not handled, the relationship will suffer and may not last.arc

Affinity: closeness, harmony, bond, in accord. Do you like the person? Do you want to be near them, have a bond with them?  Do they have affinity toward you?

Reality: actuality, truth, realism, real life. Do you see eye to eye?  Are your beliefs and values the same? Is your view point on how to execute those values alike, compatible or at least workable?

Most relationship breaks comes within the “Reality” arena. Points of view have changed and are no longer compatible. The further apart your “Reality” is, the less “Affinity” you will feel for each other. You no longer want to be in the other persons presence because you don’t have anything in common.

Communication: When effective communication occurs, you have the opportunity come to understand the other person’s reality, or “point of view” and it make it a lot easier to be around each other. This does not mean you have to agree on everything. When the relationship allows for some differences and has mutual respect for variation of reality, the relationship has a better chance of lasting.

However, when we stand firmly in our ”Point of View”, with intent of making the other party “Wrong”, walls go up and we become the offensive party which forces defensive tactics by the other party and “War” begins. It seems that nothing brings out strong positions like politics and religion do. Look at the death and destruction that both of these topics have caused within the human family. Under certain circumstances, it may be wise to use caution and constraint when addressing these two issues.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is “Wise” communication. It is knowing who your audience is and staying within a framework that does not “Shoot” others down by our actions, words, or tone before we have a change to persuade them to consider a new way of thinking about any subject.

Sometimes “Wise” communication is “No” communication. There are some people and organizations that will never see another view point. Often, it is because they have so much time and energy invested in it to concede.To even entertain different ideas would be too embarrassing, hurtful or literally cause their death.

Christ was the ultimate “Wise” person when it came to communication. He understood his audience and acted accordingly.

  1. In some groups, he spoke in parables. Those who had ears and hearts to hear would get the message. Those who were not ready or in tune would leave, perhaps a little confused, but no worse for wear.

  2. With his enemies, he was discreet and answered questions with questions rather than cause open contention. His followers were always watching to see how He would handle sensitive subjects.

  3. He gave credit where credit was due… giving recognition to Ceasar that which was Ceasar’s and that which was God’s to God. In other words, he acknowledged authority.

  4. There were times when Christ did not speak or respond to his accusers. He knew their intent was to “Make Wrong” or entrap.This was especially true after his arrest. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.” When confronted by Pilate, he did not speak. “And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.” He knew when it was futile to try and change hearts and minds.

  5. However, in other groups, those who were like minded, such as his apostles and His people on the American continent, he was more direct and open, yet sensitive.

He was “The Master” in the way he taught and communicated. He was effective in each situation he was in, careful not to openly cause contention. He was a wise teacher. He understood the power of “Wise” communication.

We Have a Little Problem

This blog, as well as many others online, have a “Point of View” on the restoration of the gospel, how the gospel is taught, how scriptures are interpreted, and how the LDS church is managed, which often runs contrary to traditional thinking. These blogs have attracted many like minded people who desire to discuss gospel issues in light of new information and a new understanding of gospel matters.

Even though we seem to have much in common, there is often much contention when issues are discussed. The “I Am Right” attitude often disrupts meaningful dialogue. That is not to say that opposing points of view should not be discussed. It is more often the manner in which issues are discussed, not the subject matter.

So often, the “I Am Right” heels are firmly dug in and the war begins. In the end, everyone goes back to their corner, with no change of thought. This happens when persuasive methods, as taught in D&C 121 (persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness, without hypocrisy), have not been applied. There often is a tendency to jump to verse 43: “Reproving betimes with sharpness…” assuming the Holy Ghost will uphold this strategy before all else has been tried.

There are times when the wise response is “No” response. It is best to let them have their way, especially when you know they want to contend or entrap.

Above all, we are guests of the blog owner and that should be respected. A sour tone may repel readers, and that is not fair.

Caution To Be Considered

Another caution should be considered. It is not appropriate to be combative in private territory, whether it is in a home, an LDS meeting house, temple, or privately owned grounds. They are not a place to openly oppose their beliefs, interpretation and standards, whether we believe their understanding is correct or not. By the nature of the LDS organization, we are not their advisers and they can run things any way they please. Like it or not, those who serve as officers in that organization have the duty to abide and defend the traditional standards whether we concur with the model or not. If they disagree, they should not be holding such positions because they represent the organization.

There may be unintended consequences in digging in our heals to defend our point of view. If we choose that course, one must be willing to risk rejection. The Corporate Church has a right to cut loose anyone they feel have views which are contrary or threaten their system. That is the nature of a corporation. Unfortunately, we have recently seen much fallout for those who have openly not seen eye to eye with the traditional thinking.

An Example

For example, whether one agrees with the “Ordain Women” cause or not, marching on Church property and appearing at the door of a traditionally held “Men Only” meeting was not the way to persuade, influence, or convince the Brethren of the validity of their mission.Their forceful approach did not work and their tactics turned against them. Now they spend much time “kicking against the pricks” still loudly defending their point of view. Are many still listening or care?

On the other hand, my personal opinion is, the Brethren did not handle the situation very well either. It may have been much more productive to have given Kate Kelly an audience with one of the Apostles rather than having their position related to her through a PR department. After all, the impetus for asking them to “Ask God” if women could received the priesthood came from a review of the Joseph Smith papers. Their public response to her appeared rude and disrespectful in light of her request.

Simply put, both sides dug in their “Point of View” heels and neither side faired very well in the end.

When comments or instructions are given in a class, one must examine intent. Is it to “Make Wrong” or to teach and inform? “Make Wrong” never works and care must be given when teaching others concepts which are contrary to traditional beliefs. Like Christ’s example, understanding your audience is paramount in knowing what technique of persuasion should be used and when to be quiet. Communication can be powerful if conducted wisely.

A Communication Blunder

About six months ago, I got caught using unsuccessful communication methods when I was “Defending my Point of View” on the subject of “Follow The Prophet.” My attempt to persuade a sister that we should “Follow Christ First” was anything but successful. It caused contention. Even though we are still friends, there is an element of discomfort when we see each other. My tactic simply did not “Work”.

whats-wrong-with-this-pictureSome time later, I found this photo on Facebook and sent it to a group of friends via e-mail.The title of the e-mail was, “What Is Wrong With This Picture.” There was no more dialog concerning the photo. Several did not respond at all, while four others did. “Sorry, I can’t see anything wrong”.

This was my reply: “Where is Christ? I have a concern that through this bulletin board, children may not understand that we “Follow Christ.” We listen to the wise counsel of our leaders as they point us to Christ, but we follow Christ first. Having Christ acknowledge first on the bulletin would have be more correct.

The response was positive and met with no resistance. “Oh my, you are right. I see it now.” Seeds were planted to think differently about the subject. When the issue comes up again, perhaps they will remember our dialog. My approach was much more successful the second time around.

This is certainly a subject I would not bring up in a class. By the very nature of the subject, it would cause contention and the chances of effectively changing any point of view would be practically nil. For this subject, a one on one conversation is probably more appropriate, but not in the Church building.

May We Do Likewise

Whether we are dealing with friends, co-workers, family or members of the LDS church, how we communicate is as important or more important than the message we are trying to deliver. Broken relationships are much harder to repair than to prevent a break by using good communication skills that “Work”.

When communicating, ask yourself… “What is the fruit of my “Point of View?”  “Do I cause repeated contention?”  Also, “Do I want it to “Work” or would I rather be “Right”.

Christ is our example for using all of the qualities of influence as described in D&C 121: 40-46 and in other scriptures.

May we do likewise.

Of One Heart and One Mind

OneHeartOneMindI will present three cases for your consideration. I know each of these men, although one only through correspondence. I’ll include a few facts, then a few observations and perhaps draw a conclusion or two. There is a theme I’m hoping you’ll see. There is also a unifying factor in each of these cases which I believe can bond each of us even though we are mostly connected online.

Doug Mendenhall and the Jedi Workshops

First, consider the case of Doug Mendenhall. I met Doug about five years ago at a symposium he was hosting for my friend Anthony Larsen, the author of the Prophecy Trilogy of books on the last days. Doug wrote Conquering Spiritual Evil. He is the father of Denise Yale, a wonderful young lady and mother who lives without a veil, a very difficult thing to do in this dark world.

Doug conducts a series of lectures which he calls Jedi workshops. I think it’s funny, because as you’re probably aware, there are some in this world who have declared their religion to be Jedi. They take it very seriously. Doug’s material has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or even Yoda. Well, maybe a little bit of Yoda. It’s all about the spirit world around us.

When I heard Doug was coming to California to present a weekend workshop I knew I had to be there. A dozen open-minded people gathered in the home of one of our group in Oceanside and for twelve hours over two days we were introduced to ideas about how things work on the other side of the veil that, frankly, would blow your mind if you haven’t read some of Doug’s books.

Insights Into the Spirit World

Much of what Doug knows about the spirit world comes from Denise and Katherine or Kitten as she is called. Kitten is also sighted or lives without a veil. Life is very painful for Kitten. She has paid a terrible price in physical pain and near death, meaning she has been to the spirit world on many occasions, as has Denise. If you can open your mind and your heart, I recommend Denise’s book.

I enjoyed myself immensely during the weekend instruction. Could Doug prove all the things he was sharing? No. Did I accept everything he was sharing? Yes and no. I did not disbelieve. I had no reason to do so as I had limited experience with some of the things he was sharing. If you are interested in knowing details, email me privately and I’ll share some of the things that he shared.

Update: So many people have emailed to ask for a copy of the notes I have created a new post here:

My observation: Doug has been called a whacko and worse by neighbors who should have been more loving and accepting of the difficult life through which his family has passed over the last dozen years. I love Doug. I appreciate how hard it must have been to write that book. I learned a lot from the book. He helped me through a difficult situation. His book was an answer to prayer.

When an Appeal is not an Appeal

Second, consider the case of Keith Henderson, the man who sealed Denver’s Phoenix / Mesa lecture. Keith was recently excommunicated, as one might expect. I shared his original letter to his local priesthood leaders here on my blog. It was an eye-opener. Some saw accusations in his letter. I didn’t. I saw statements of facts, observations and perhaps a few challenges to do right.

Keith and I have kept in touch. I have found him to be man of integrity and honesty. His words are thoughtful, cut deeply to the heart of the matter and caused me to ponder things of eternal significance in my own life as I had recently passed through a similar experience of having to decide how I felt about the influence the LDS Church wielded in my life. It was disconcerting.

Keith shared his letter of appeal with me this evening and gave me permission to share it on the blog. I am more than happy to do so because it illustrates a point of disorder in the church – that of announcing excommunications from the pulpit. I thought that practice stopped years ago. How does that fit into the appeal process? It doesn’t. It’s wrong and should not be done. Here you go:

Keith’s Letter of Appeal

November 3, 2014 – Appeal of Disciplinary Council Decision
The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In care of *** * ******, President of the Clinton Utah Stake
[Emailed and post mailed November 4, 2014]

Dear Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf:

I have been excommunicated from the Church on the vague charge of apostasy. I did not attend the Stake Disciplinary Council because I asked President ****** what definition of apostasy I would be tried under, to which he took out the Church Handbook of Instructions. I said that I was already familiar with the definition contained therein. He said there would be no use in wasting my time or his by re-reading it. I then stated to him that I desired, and felt to have the right to be tried as pertaining to the instructions in the scriptures, and not by the instructions of men mingled with scripture as contained in the semi-secret Church Handbook of Instructions, and if this cannot be, then I refuse to attend such a farcical hearing.

I therefore appeal to the First Presidency to overturn the decision to excommunicate me from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immediately reinstate me to full fellowship for the following reasons, and under the following premises:

D&C 102: 27 says, “should the parties or either of them be dissatisfied with the decision of said council, they may appeal to the high council of the seat of the First Presidency of the Church, and have a re-hearing, which case shall there be conducted, according to the former pattern written, as though no such decision had been made.”

2. D&C 20: 80 states with no equivocation, “Any member of the church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.

• The Church Handbook of Instructions neither purports to being part of the canon of  scripture, nor does it come up to any definition of such. For instance we have in the Bible Dictionary the following definition; “[Canon] is used to denote the authoritative collection of sacred books used by the true believers in Christ. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the canonical books are called standard works.” The Church Handbook of Instructions is not part of this collection, neither has it [unlike the others] been voted upon by the common consent of the members as being binding as scripture upon them.

• If I had been tried according to the requirements of the scriptures I would have been tried in a court of two or more Elders, the court having been initiated by at least two accusers who were worthy members of the church and eye witnesses of my crime. The scriptural requirement is that they be of my peers (not leaders), whom I would have been able to question; and then, whereupon having been found guilty, the verdict would have then been presented to my congregation. They would have then voted by the raising of the arm to sustain or not. This scriptural requirement for dealing with transgressors or those at fault was not followed, nor even suggested, except by me.

3. Current church practice in church courts creates conflict of interest.

The witnesses who present evidence or who make accusations and bear testimony are, and should be biased, but the High Council and particularly the Stake Presidency take the role of judge, and consequently are supposed to be unbiased and impartial. This requires that neither of these two sitting councils can act as witnesses or make accusations. Any church court that has any of the councilors or any of the stake presidency acting as witnesses or making accusations, in any degree of bias, cannot be called impartial, and thus should recuse themselves from voting on the guilt or innocence of the accused. This then should make such a court null and void as there could never be a fully impartial council under these circumstances. Otherwise it is nothing but a farce.

4. Evidence is not enough.

There is a scriptural process called the Law of witnesses and it is in place for a reason. Evidence or hearsay of wrongdoing without an eyewitness testifying, is insufficient. The witnesses are the saints, and it takes a saint to condemn anyone. Also, every word must be established by two or three witnesses. So if someone in the church, for example, publishes his ideas in a paper, but none of the saints are offended by it, or bring up accusations against the author, the Stake Presidency has no jurisdiction to lay charges against the author, nor does the High Council, nor does the Bishopric. Charges and accusations can only come from a saint’s testimony and it requires two saints for any of these councils to obtain jurisdiction to bring a judgment against a member. The Lord made it this way because it is the jurisdiction of His saints to have the first, and the final word, judging both the nations of the earth and also Zion.

So let the scriptures themselves reiterate: “But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42: 81.)

I submit that not even a modicum of proper evidence has been established against me as perpetrating even a hint of the crime of apostasy and that judgment of me as committing such was done with prejudice and partiality on the part of both my bishop and stake president, because they acted as both accusers and judge. I do not say that I have not written papers concerning my beliefs and understanding of the scriptures. But I do say that if they caused any offense which might have warranted excommunication, it was not handled in any sort of a proper manner by any of those charged as my leaders who have the responsibility of following the scriptures, which delineate the proper procedures to be used.

I therefore repeat my request, and appeal before you, that you take all these objections to that which has been done so far, and overturn the horrendous mistake which has been made by those concerned, and reinstate me immediately to full fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sincerely, Keith M. Henderson

Observation: What will happen if the First Presidency decides the appeal has merit and reinstates Keith into full fellowship? What will the bishop do in view of the fact he has stood in front of the priesthood, the relief society and in fact, the whole ward in Sacrament meeting specifically to announce that Keith has been excommunicated for apostasy? Is there a procedure to retract?

A Wild Man Has Come Among Us

Third and final case: I know the majority of LDS Church members have not heard of Denver Snuffer. They are not aware of or read his publications, nor have they considered the message he delivered up and down the Mormon Corridor over the past year (Sep 2013 to Sep 2014) at his own expense in a series of ten lectures. He claims to have done this at the direction of the Lord.

I have considered the message he has delivered. I have read his books, listened to the lectures, studied, fasted and prayed about the message I heard and the claims made. I suppose this is the heart of the matter I want to consider tonight and why I’m sharing this with you. Denver has had a tremendous influence upon thousands of Mormons, both in and out of the LDS Church.

Now that the message has been delivered, he is busily engaged in revising, editing and preparing the message for publication in a book form. It is all about the restoration, what was originally revealed and what the Lord tried to accomplish through Joseph Smith – preparing a people for Zion. With Denver spending every free moment on the book, a sort of vacuum has developed.

Looking for a Strongman

People are attracted to confident leadership. We seem to gravitate to those who speak with authority and sound a clarion call to action. It is actually a rare commodity in today’s world. Business leaders tend to get action through force, threats, fear and coercing. It is rare to find a leader who wields power and influence through love unfeigned, long-suffering and persuasion.

I know many people, especially those in my son’s generation, have said, “now what?” They have said it directly and they have implied it in what they are writing and sharing on the blogs and in the forums. They are looking for leadership – someone to tell them what to do. They are looking for a strongman to take charge, to make things happen and to lead them to the Promised Land.

In steps Bret Corbridge, who has called a conference to be held on May 15th on the Grand Mesa in Colorado, a sacred land and a land of promise. Bret is the author of 77 Truths but don’t call him a strongman. Bret has said his role in this conference is to organize, not necessarily to teach. Some are wondering about this conference, it’s significance and if it is the start of something such as the building of Zion.

Surely Zion Shall Dwell in Safety Forever

What do each of these men have in common? It is a love of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a desire to help others come unto Christ and to experience the joy that comes from knowing him. Each has expressed and demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice and to obey the promptings of the Lord. Except for Doug, they have each been cast out of the LDS church on vague charges of apostasy.

Consider the phrase the Lord uses in Moses 7:18 – “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” I know many who are contributing their tithing to various groups with the specific intent of helping to care for the poor among them. But I’d like to consider the idea of one heart and mind.

I’d also like you to think about how we interact with one another on this blog. It is my belief that almost everyone who comes to this blog loves the Lord, wants to know Him, to please Him, to serve Him and to help others to come unto Him. Each is blessed with different talents and many different ways of seeing life, current events, interpreting scripture and exercising spiritual gifts.

The Holy Ghost Fell on Many

My friend Log has been trying to make a point about the Golden Rule. Some of his observations are astute and astounding. They have helped me as I have had to deal with a difficult situation in my business dealings over the past few days. Log has a need, a desire to express himself under the cover of anonymity. He has his reasons. He is not anonymous to me. I love Log as a friend.

Lynne has shared an excellent post about Having Skin in the Game. I loved and appreciated her forthright comments. I found them inspiring else I would not have posted them under her name with her permission. Nate – Minority of One – has posted some of the most read and commented posts about the Savior and Mother in Heaven that I have found both enjoyable and enlightening.

Accept Imperfections in Each Other

I have in my email archives thousands of private emails from the past seven years. Readers come and go but they all seem to have one thing in common. They are searching for something. We want community. We want to share. We want to express ourselves and to be understood. But the most basic thing I see is we are all of one heart and one mind – we love and want to please God.

I have invited a few other regular readers to share posts, which they will be doing in the near future. I invite each of you who come here to read and share to make the effort to remove any kind of judgment from your heart. I know its human nature. I don’t like receiving emails or texts or phone calls discussing other readers or writers. We love the Lord. Let’s be united in that love.

Skin in the Game

Skin-in-the-GameDear Tim,

There’s something about your new blog format that doesn’t quite sparkle for me anymore. Sure, I got used to, and miss the old uncluttered visual layout with that main topic so short, sweet and to the point in the center. But what I really miss is you: a real man standing there under his own name. You plowed the ground and showed us what vulnerable, honest, transparent and striving looks like: our brother in Christ, swimming upstream, trying to make it home to the headwaters.

Now, in kindness and generosity you hand over your hard won readership to others. Anonymous authors may truly be wonderful people with a lot of good stuff to share, but essentially they’re cowards hiding behind anonymous blog names, benefitting from your credibility by association and inclusion.

Nowadays a writer doesn’t have to actually publish with a Deseret Book imprint to set himself up with a following.  He can be “paid” by loyal blog readers who go to him for advice about what scriptures mean, instead of going to the Lord directly themselves to find out what scriptures mean. This is priestcraft.

I think it’s important for your readers to be able to see clearly who is behind which written word. Tim, you have street cred as a writer, as do all the others who put their name on their opinions at great personal cost and risk to their reputation. So who are your anonymous authors? Where have they been? What have they been doing? How have they suffered with us on the journey home? What has it cost them? What is it costing them now?

Tim, I think I understand what you’re trying to do by opening up your blog as a forum so that all can have a voice. It’s noble and generous, and I don’t doubt for one second that you’ve been impressed by the Lord to do so. But as you fine-tune that impression, in your willingness to act and obey, I have a question for you.

Wouldn’t we all be more edified and uplifted by your handing over page space only to those writers who, like you, have laid it all on the altar by taking off the blogger name masks and standing in the light under their own real name and true identity?

Tim, people can find you, call you, email you, look you in the eye and shake your hand. You’re real to us. You’re one of us. We know your name, your face, and your history as you’ve shared it. Therefore we readers can discern your motives from your past posts: Tim the man, the brother, is authentic and agenda-free.

The angst, the course corrections and comebacks, these parts of your real human journey give us confidence about where you’re heading in any particular post, because we know where you’ve been. I believe that most of us read your blog because we trust your motives and value your perspectives borne of past experience.

It’s entirely understandable that some timid readers who only venture out to comment in your blog occasionally may still be weak in their faith, terrified of peer censure, and feel the need to hide behind an anonymous name to buck up their courage to post. I get that.

But for those prolific posters who author frequent, lengthy, heavily scripture laden articles expounding, exhorting, and imparting from their own wisdom speaking to hundreds of your hard-won readers, it should cost them something: their true identity.

Whenever anyone directly or indirectly excuses their anonymity by implying that they have a significant visual leadership position in the church, or access to high-level intel which could be compromised if unveiled, or is concerned that if he “uncloaked” and people knew who he actually was they might be unduly impressed and want to follow him so it is therefore “better” to stay hidden in order to more effectively impart knowledge, understanding and wisdom, then I call it out.

Some of us have finally reached the priestcraft pain threshold. We’ve had enough of anonymous committees interpreting God’s word for us, speaking down to us, writing our lesson manuals and our history – telling us what we should do, can do, must do. The condescending tone of anonymous imparters of further light and knowledge is becoming spiritually nauseating to those sensitive Zion hearts trying to break out of the entropy cycle and move up the food chain towards the light.

At this point in the last days timeline I don’t care to hear from “anonymous” writers here on your blog, or anywhere else. I think it’s high time now, as Rock Waterman says, to put some skin in the game.

Very sincerely,
Lynne McKinley, Orem

A Multitude of Voices United as One

LargeChoirSome of you know I dedicated this blog to the Lord earlier this year. Prior to that time it was just another Mormon-themed blog. After that sacred moment in prayer, it became, at least for me, a consecrated effort to help fulfill the purposes of the Lord. I pray about every post and ask the Lord for inspiration in what I write, that it may be uplifting, helpful and encouraging to others.

Latter-day Commentary Now a Group Blog

Last month, Latter-day Commentary celebrated seven years as a solo blog by adding its first guest editor. Thus, it was reborn as a group blog. I imagine you’ve heard the expression, “the spirit pressed upon my soul.” That’s what’s been happening to me over the past little while. I have felt a constant impression to improve the blog by adding the voices of other contributors.

Competing with the Mormon Group Blogs

I have long resisted the idea, feeling no desire to compete with By Common Consent, Times & Seasons, Mormon Matters, Millennial Star, Mormon Mentality, FMH, Mormon StoriesWheat & Tares, Segullah and so many others. This doesn’t even include all the LDS Facebook Groups, especially The Hub, or the large religious themed blogs with Mormon contributors.

A few Boring Technical Details

One of the things I disliked about the free hosting service on was the inability to add any plugins. If you’re a WordPress blogger, you know how important plugins are. It requires a plugin to give readers the ability to edit their own comments, which I have now done. The only alternative is to make someone an editor. So I moved the blog off the free site and onto Bluehost.

Content AND Discussion Both Required

Yet even after I moved the blog, I could not shake the impression that maybe, just maybe, there are others out there who might want to join me in creating and sharing posts. Perhaps they have their own solo blog but would like a larger readership. Besides interesting content, a good blog needs SEO, design through themes and widgets, and time to read and comment on other blogs.

There are no Guarantees of Permanence

Because I believe the day will come when society breaks down and Babylonian commerce is no longer the driving force of this world, a blog is a temporary tabernacle. The threat of losing the Internet and electricity seems foreign here in America. Yet, the possibility of such loss is real. Thus the repository of my thoughts and your comments will always be of a temporary nature.

Blogging as a Personal Growth Process

Of course I hope such a catastrophic event will not happen in my lifetime, especially since I feel so unprepared both temporally and spiritually. In the meantime, my focus on writing and sharing in this blog as a vehicle for growth and change, has been a major blessing in my life, one which I desire to increase. In other words, I would like to have more people participate in blogging here.

An Open Invitation for Authors

In connection with this transition to a more robust version of the WordPress platform and the migration to a new hosting company, I hope some of the regular readers here will be desirous of sharing their own writings from time to time. Latter-day Commentary has a solid base of several thousand regular readers, many of whom consistently contribute with amazing, engaging dialog.

Non-exclusive Content is Welcome

Maybe you already have your own solo blogs. You don’t have to abandon that. I simply want to invite you to join with me in building a site where readers can feel safe and can connect with like thinkers in several key areas along some common themes. There is no commitment to how often you share something – one a month or several each week. It’s the dialog that makes a blog work.

A Blog is Not a Forum – It’s a Platform

Themes include the writings and lectures of Denver Snuffer, Current Events in the LDS Church, and discussion of deep gospel doctrine subjects such as Born of the Spirit, Calling and Election, Second Comforter, Visions, Dreams, Spiritual Gifts, Visits from Angels, Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon, Mormon History, ancient scripture, Last Days, the Building up of Zion and more.

United in Becoming a Zion Community

Maybe this is all a dream. To me, it’s a vision I have long held in my heart. I have seen the day when thousands upon thousands of consistent daily visitors come to Latter-day Commentary to learn about and discuss gospel principles that have one goal – to lead them to that meeting with the Savior in this life. I make no bones about it. That has become the focus of my life these days.

An Open, Self-Governed Community

Teach correct principles and they will govern themselves. I’m aware there are several other online communities, mostly forums, where like-minded people hang out. Many of them are private because the contributors are concerned their participation would not be understood by their family members, ward members or their priesthood leaders. I prefer open participation.

You are my Zion Community

In other words, I want to get to know you, to share with you in your spiritual growth. I don’t have a community. I attend Sacrament meeting with my wife each week, then go home and have my own sacrament, accompanied with gospel study and prayer. It is the highlight of my week. I won’t say I have entertained angels, but the worship service has been sacred and powerful to me.

And Their Numbers Were Few

I know communities have been organized and are doing well in the Utah, Idaho and Arizona centers of Mormonism. I’m aware of some in Colorado, Washington and a few back East. For some reason, there simply aren’t many here in Southern California who are close enough to meet on a regular basis. I’ll be traveling to Oceanside in a few weeks to meet with a community there.

Passing the Angels that Stand There

I’m looking for readers and authors who are not afraid to share their spiritual journeys. I want to read your stories of discovery, how you learned what the Lord required of you and how you met that intense commitment. Even though it is deeply personal and private, there are common steps we must go through to advance on Jacob’s ladder. I help you, you help me. We advance as one.

Coming into the Presence of the Lord

I know many of you are serious about coming into the presence of the Lord. I know some of you have already done so. I am aware of nearly a dozen now. This was unheard of just a few years ago. Maybe this has always been happening but individuals were forbidden to share. The saying is that by sharing, it cheapens the experience and breaks the trust between you and the Lord.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

Why do I feel different about that? I always have. If I come into the presence of the Lord, I want you to be the first to know. I want to share with you how it worked for me, the steps I had to take and what I had to do in order to qualify for this supernal gift. I’ve shared it before and I’ll share it again. One thing that changed for me in a big way since my baptism is hearing the Lord’s voice.

Sharing Spiritual Experiences

I’m a little naïve in how I share my experience, as evidenced by Daymon’s cute little response to my last post. That’s alright. I don’t mind. I know it sounds a little hokey. People just don’t talk about hearing the voice of the Lord. The common response is, “you’re crazy,” or “you’re hearing your own thoughts or the voice of devils.” I have received dozens of private emails like that.

Walking With the Lord Each Day

Yet the more I study and the more I pray, the more I ask to know, the more I hear His voice. I can tell you it is real. He is real. I feel like I am walking with the Lord every day. I feel He is patiently waiting for me. He is guiding me along, helping me see where I need to do better in this area or that, mainly in being more loving and kind to others. Long-suffering is real for both of us.

Openness is Enabling and Powerful

Such openness and desire to share seems foreign to so many in the LDS Church. The constant focus is, “keep it to yourself.” My friend Log observed how happy I have been since my baptism. He said I was clearly acting oppressed before I resigned. I had not noticed it. I thought I was trying to fit in, to conform, to be just like everyone else and stick to the correlated material.

Opposing Views are Welcome

I have dozens or regular readers who have been with me since my early TBM days where I was defending the orthodox interpretations of scripture and history. I know Zion consists of those who are of one heart and mind but we’re not there yet. I know I have a long ways to go. I have always appreciated opposing viewpoints. If you’re not a fan of Denver I invite you to join in.

Persuasion is a Tool of the Lord

We all know contention is of the devil, but there is nothing wrong with reading a good argument and using persuasion to help others see the benefits and blessings of a certain point of view. I’ve read thousands of posts and essays on hundreds of blogs and forums over the past twenty years since my early days in participating in online Mormon mailing lists originating on BYU servers.

Come Join With Me on the Journey

What say ye? Will you join me? WordPress supports multiple levels of participation: Contributor, Author, Editor and Administrator. I’ll retain the Admin role for now. The editor role is very powerful. I hope to add more trusted editors who can contribute their own posts and moderate the dialog. Sometimes it can get a little out of hand in the space of a few minutes of discussion.

Communities Can Be Online

I invite us each to focus on coming onto Christ. Mighty prayer, offered in faith, will get the attention of heaven. Many prophets worked alone by necessity – Abinidi, Moroni, Ezekiel – but we live in a day and time when we can connect via the Internet even though we may be far apart. Will you join my community and help me build it up with the purpose of preparing for Zion?

Unite our Voices on Common Ground

Come and join. Even if you are totally opposed to all things Denver Snuffer has written, that’s okay. We have the common ground of coming unto Christ. We have the common ground of the Book of Mormon, of the revelations and prophecies of Joseph Smith and the common ground of prayer, worship of a loving and kind Father in Heaven and of a hope for salvation from our sins.

How to Get Started

If you’ve never commented here before, I’ll set you up as a contributor where I review and then release your posts. If you’re a regular reader / commenter I know, I can add you as an author. You can then post whenever you want. I only ask that you write in such a way as to invite dialog. Eventually I hope you’ll have so much fun with the community that you should be an editor.

Friends to Encourage and Help You

Salvation is an individual thing. We pass through the veil only one person at a time, usually in the privacy of our own home. It is a sacred experience. The road can be long and hard. The Lord requires obedience, sacrifice and consecration. Disciples of Christ place Him first in their lives. Once you enter into His presence, your ability to bless and lift others is magnified and sanctified.

An Assignment From the Lord

This is my assignment. I have received it from the Lord. He has asked me to do this. He has prepared me for this. A lifetime of working with and supporting technology is no coincidence. This is my offering to the Lord, which He already accepted. I invite you to share this ministry with me. I take great delight in sharing my journey and reading of your successes in return.

The Time Feels Short to Many

God bless us all. We do not know how much time is left to take advantage of technology to work together in building Zion. Many of you have told me of dreams and visions where you know, as do I, that the time is short. We feel pressed in the spirit that something is on its way. The Lord has sent His messenger to prepare the way. There is work to do in preparing for Zion among us.

One of the Definitions of Zion

And there were no poor among them. I like to think that means not just those who are no longer poor as to the necessary things of this world, but also no poor in spirit. Each of us is at different levels. But ones thing in common is our covenant to help and lift each other. Don’t come to the blog to fight and argue or prove a point. Come here to help others understand the truths of God.

The Blog Will Go On

I’ve said enough. I’ll just throw this out there and see how you respond. If nobody cares to be a guest blogger for a day or two, that’s okay. I’ll keep pressing forward. I find great joy in the experience. My every day is spent pondering on what the Lord would have me focus next. I learn best by sharing. If I can’t teach a principle then I haven’t learned it. Thanks for helping me learn.

The Facebook Group Goes On

If you prefer the dialog that takes place in private on the Facebook group, that’s fine too. If you’re not a member, just ask to join. Wonderful conversations take place there each day. There are about 225 participants there. The most readers I’ve ever had in one day here is about 6,000. The majority do not comment. That’s okay. I appreciate the visits. I hope they learn something.

Tim Malone, Camarillo CA – tmalonemcse at, 818-257-0513 (text first)

Apologies to Tim’s Readers

This is a guest post by Log.


I wish to apologize to Tim’s readers for my post entitled “What Manner of Men?”. While I believe wholeheartedly in the principles advanced, my capacity to observe those principles is limited, and I failed to observe them in the comment section to the post. I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize to those whom I offended. I have asked Tim to take down that post.

Note from Tim: I loved the post. It is doctrinally sound. I have pondered it for several days. I have Log’s permission to repost. This is a great opportunity for us to show love to one another – online – using the principles Log outlined in the post. As I noted in one of the earlier comments, I consider Log a dear friend. I have prayed about this and feel the post should be made available.

Looking Beyond the Mark

HebrewTav1It the LDS Church today, we often hear the phrase, “Looking Beyond the Mark.” Those who read the scriptures know this comes from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. This is a uniquely LDS phrase, not found in the Bible. Jacob was teaching the people about Christ, who, of course, is the mark in question. Keep that in mind. Christ is the mark, not the LDS Church.

Anything that causes you to look past Christ for salvation is looking beyond the mark. Anything that takes you away from coming unto Christ is looking beyond the mark. Anyone who stands in between you and your Savior can cause you to look beyond the mark. Anything, any system, any person or any church that purports to be able to save you is deflecting your view from the mark.

From this verse, sermons have been preached, lessons have been written, actions have been justified and individuals have been condemned. Ironically, when someone focuses on coming unto Christ, and doing all within their power to respond to the promptings of the spirit, others may perceive them as engaging in a gospel hobby, accusing them of looking beyond the mark.

Here is the verse in question:

“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)

Elder Cook spoke about this subject. He said, “Today there is a tendency among some of us to ‘look beyond the mark’ rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths, engage in gospel extremism, seek heroic gestures at the expense of daily consecration, or elevate rules over doctrine. Avoiding these behaviors will help us avoid the theological blindness and stumbling that Jacob described.”

Most Apostles Understand the Doctrine

Elder Cook got it … sort of. I like the phrase “maintain a testimony of gospel basics,” but I’m fairly certain he would not discount these words from Joseph when he said, “I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.” (TPJS, p 299)

Roy Doxy, when he was dean emeritus of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University taught this important doctrine in the July 1976 Ensign. This one article alone answered so many questions for me back when I preparing for my mission. I have treasured it and wondered why we have not had more articles, talks or lessons like this in our correlated instructional material.

The reason I think Elder Cook understands this doctrine is because he clearly points out the mark is Christ. It is only the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of Christ that saves. Elder Cook concluded, “One of the great challenges of this life is to accept Christ for who He is: the resurrected Savior of the world, our Redeemer, our Lord and Master, our Advocate with the Father.

“When He is the foundation for all that we do and are, we avoid the theological blindness that results from looking beyond the mark, and we reap the glorious blessings He has promised us. ‘Come unto me, ye blessed,’ He tells those who follow Him; ‘there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father’ (Enos 1:27).”


The Doctrine Has Been Watered Down

Elder Dean Larson spoke on the same subject back in 1987. He used a sports analogy to describe the importance of staying within the circle, which he called the mark. Although He noted the importance of faith in the redeeming role of the Messiah, he said the mark was wisdom and prudence, equating it to a circle of fundamental gospel truths, providing a basis for that faith. I wish he had been as plain as Elder Cook in stating Christ is the mark to whom we should look.


For a good, although lengthy analysis of the phrase, Paul Y. Hoskisson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, published an essay in 2007 that includes the classic symbolic themes and metaphors of gospel hobbies, sin, pride, wealth, and strengths that become weakness (see Elder Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU, June 1992). In other words, anything that distracts from the target, or the mark of Christ, is to be avoided.


From Matthew Faulconer’s blog, “Feast Upon the Word,” we read:

“…looking beyond Christ could mean a number of things. It could imply that one is looking to be saved by actions, ordinances, or even associations with other people, rather than looking to the atonement of Jesus Christ for salvation. One reason it may be easy to look beyond the mark in this sense is that it is easier to gain an assurance of our salvation through a tangible feeling or action rather than a quiet voice or a small feeling that takes time to understand.”


Some Doctrines Take More Study and Thought

Elder Oaks offered the following in a BYU Idaho devotional 7 Nov 2006:

“My second subject of wisdom concerns looking beyond the mark. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Jacob described a people who ‘despised the words of plainness, . . . and sought for things . . . they could not understand’ (Jacob 4:14).  He said this caused them to fall because when persons are ‘looking beyond the mark,’ God takes away plainness and gives them what they sought–things they cannot understand.

“We see this today. For example, some persons write General Authorities asking when we will be returning to Missouri or how we should plan to build up the New Jerusalem.  Others want to know details about the Celestial Kingdom, such as the position of a person who lives a good life but never ever marries.

“I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. What I do know is that persons worrying about such things are probably neglecting to seek a firmer understanding and a better practice of the basic principles of the gospel that have been given to them with words of plainness by the scriptures and by the servants of the Lord

“If we neglect the words of plainness and look beyond the mark, we are starting down a path that often leads to a loss of commitment and sometimes to a loss of faith. There is enough difficulty in following the words of plainness, without reaching out for things we have not been given and probably cannot understand.”


Seeking the Second Comforter IS the Mark

I think that’s enough detail from words of prophets, apostles, general authorities and scriptural commentary to make a point. I won’t get into the other common definition of the mark, as found in Ezekiel 9:4-6. It is the mark or anointing placed in the forehead of suffering saints who sigh and cry for the sins of those in their cities. The mark is placed there by their attending angels.

The point is this: Seeking to enter into the presence of the Lord in this mortal life is NOT looking beyond the mark. It is NOT a gospel hobby. It is NOT gospel extremism. Seeking to receive the Second Comforter is NOT something of which we need to repent. It is something we need to do. It is not spiritual blindness. It is having one’s eyes opened. The Lord is not saddened by our efforts in this area, even when they are misunderstood and result in being disciplined by others.

I suspect when scriptures or doctrines are understood differently by individuals, the tendency is to say the other person is suffering from “blindness [that] came from looking beyond the mark.” It’s a polite way of throwing one’s hands up in the air, saying, “You don’t get it, do you? Why can’t you see it the same way I do? Oh, I get it. You’re blinded. You refuse to see the truth.” With such thinking, they go on their way, feeling secure and justified in their own conclusions.

Discussion versus Contention

That’s a sad way of relating to others. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to understand the other’s point of view? I confess I have been guilty of impatience in relating to others, both in person and here on my blog. For that I apologize. I love discussion, but abhor contention. I am a witness that contention causes the spirit to withdraw. So does taking offense. I’m preaching to myself here.

Most of my readers know I have withdrawn my membership from the LDS Church. I’ve tried to share my reasons why. I’ve had my share of public and private dialogs and conversations about my decision. Most have tried to be understanding and kind. I appreciate that. I don’t endorse my path for anyone unless God tells you. I received that confirmation as the best for my situation.

If I come to regret my decision, feel I’ve made a mistake and desire to be readmitted by baptism to the LDS Church, I must receive approval of a representative of the First Presidency, this even though I was not placed under formal probation before I resigned. This is understandable. In my blog, I have been clear I felt the Lord sent a servant with a message from outside the hierarchy.

Concluding Thoughts Going Forward

I seek to come unto Christ. I made a decision to be baptized in a manner that is slightly different from the way it is done in the LDS Church today. I also decided to participate in the sacrament in a slightly different manner from the way it is administered in the LDS Church today. Finally, I practice an order of prayer learned in a sacred place that I feel brings more power into my life.

I like to think I have kept all the good things I had in the LDS Church. I have disagreements with the manner in which the church is trying to control those who blog as a way of learning things. I am certain of the path I have chosen. Much like Brigham Young, I studied it for years before I acted. I take that back. I acted the first night I read the message. I prayed and asked God about it.

I recognize what I have done is unusual, different, unorthodox and certainly not the path that is accepted by the LDS Church. Thus, I resigned, knowing I would eventually be excommunicated. Why? Because I will not, I cannot deny what I have learned through study and prayer. Many claim I have been deceived. Perhaps. We shall see. I thank you for your prayers in my behalf.


We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet

ProphetJosephSmithI attended our ward Sacrament meeting today. Because of General Conference next week, we held our monthly Fast and Testimony meeting. A majority of the testimonies were from the sisters sharing their thoughts about the Women’s meeting last night. The number of testimonies of a loving God and Savior were about equal to those of a living prophet. I appreciated that.

I’ve become more attuned lately to the expressions of gratitude for a living prophet in our testimony meetings as well as in the material we teach each Sunday. I’m obviously going through some adjustments in my thinking about prophets. Yes, I fully accept Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet and acted as such. But yes, I also feel something was lost after Joseph.

Was Brigham inspired? Yes. Was he a prophet? I never knew the man. The people sustained him as such. The first prophet I knew was David O. McKay, but I don’t think I paid attention until the days of Spencer W. Kimball. Yes, I felt he was a prophet, else I wouldn’t have responded to his call to serve a mission. Did he speak for the Lord? I believed so. In fact, I still believe he did so.

Prophets Who Don’t Get in the Way

What about Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf? Our opening song this morning was “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” I always think of Joseph Smith when we sing that song. Do I think these men are prophets? We sustain them as such, or at least members of the LDS Church do so. I am no longer a member of the LDS Church. It makes me think of President Hinckley.

When he was asked the question, “Are you a prophet?” he responded, “The people sustain me as such.” I have always wondered why he didn’t just come right out and say, “Yes, I am a Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course that invites the follow-up question, “Does he talk to you?” and the inevitable answer, “I believe he inspires me today,” or some words to that general effect.

At least President Hinckley went out and spoke to the media. President Monson is getting a bit old and has short-term memory loss. I hope we will see him in good spirits and good health next week. He was at the Woman’s Conference last night. I hope we will hear from him. I still pray for the leaders of the LDS Church. I desire the Lord’s blessings upon them as well as local leaders.

Deny the Sacrament for Asking Questions

I’ve tried to make it clear I hold no animosity toward my Bishop and Stake President for placing disciplinary restrictions upon me as I was going through my faith crisis. I know they were just following the handbook. But I do feel it is wrong to withhold the sacrament from someone just because they are questioning their faith and belief in the authority of the LDS Church leadership.

In fact, I have said it is an abomination and anti-Christ to do that. The handbook is wrong in this matter. To withhold the sacrament because someone is not so sure they see the hand of the Lord on the current LDS Church leadership does not seem like a good idea. I know the Lord said to not administer the sacrament to those who are unworthy, but for wondering about a prophet?

I was willing to sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators because that’s what we have always called them. I told this to the Bishop. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I felt as if I was being asked to bow down to them, that they were to be as Gods to me. This is wrong. Our God is a jealous God and has commanded we have no other Gods before him, especially idols.

This is What the Lord Said About That

I ask myself, as do many, what have these men prophesied lately? What direction have they offered and then followed that with words to the effect of, “The Lord required me to tell you this,” or “As I asked the Lord about it, this is what He told me to say.” And just because I ask these questions, the church handbook says I am an apostate and should be denied the sacrament?

This is part of the reason I resigned. I do not believe asking questions makes one unworthy. I do not believe the church has a right to deny the Lord’s sacrament, of which He commanded we are to partake often, from those who ask questions. So when I heard another man say, referring to baptism, “The Lord has renewed this commandment to you this day,” I asked the Lord about it.

I refer of course to the invitation from Denver Snuffer, given at the Phoenix / Mesa Lecture to go and get baptized in living waters as a sign we accept the message the Lord caused to be delivered by a servant, called from outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church. The Lord knew very well that such an invitation would separate out those who believed the Lord sent this messenger to teach us.

Centralized Control – Secret Ordinances

We each must rely upon our own feelings about how we feel the Lord answers our prayers. In my case, it was unmistakable. I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Yes, what this man has spoken is the message I asked him to deliver. Yes, you will be blessed for being baptized again.” Simple logic told me I had to keep it secret or else I had to resign from the LDS Church to do so.

One of the advantages of resigning from the LDS Church is I can now partake of the sacrament at home in the way I feel the Lord intended it – with wine. Of course you don’t have to resign to do this, but you’ll have to keep it secret because the LDS Church wants to control it. I believe the ordinance was changed and became invalid when we substituted water for wine in the prayer.

My letter from Confidential Records included the wording, “If you want to become a member of the LDS Church again, see your local unit leaders.” Of course, that would require I go back to no questioning, especially in a public format like this blog. It would also require I accept some of the doctrines and ordinances I am now convinced have been changed. That won’t be happening.

Perform Ordinances in Your Communities

The funny thing is, as a non-member, I could have taken the Sacrament today. The Church, in order to be politically correct, does not forbid non-members from partaking of the Sacrament. But if you dare raise questions about some of the history, doctrines or legitimacy of the current leadership of the LDS Church, you are forbidden to take the Sacrament. Yes, that’s anti-Christ.

I don’t want to be one of those angry former Mormons who rails against the LDS Church. I would much rather focus on what I believe is about to take place in the near future. I was once again reading the Mesa Lecture last night and noted these words, which struck me powerfully. I have always felt strongly about the idea of the disintegration of society before the Lord’s return.

“Before the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes consisting of family and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s return we should expect something similar. Therefore, part of the preparation by God’s house for coming social chaos is likely to include some preliminary preparations by families and friends to fellowship with one another in local gatherings.”

Organize Communities to Build Zion

He indicated these communities would be completely apart from control by the LDS hierarchy. “Only by independently functioning can they hope to prepare for social chaos prophesied to accompany Zion and precede the Lord’s return.” (D&C 45:66-68) One of the things I know I am going to miss is the sense of community I once felt with my ward and stake. That is gone now.

Yes, you can say I am the one who resigned, but I promise you it was only a matter of time before I was excommunicated for apostasy. The bishop made it clear. The handbook mandates, requires, demands and states unequivocally a disciplinary council must be held in the case of apostasy with only the two possible outcomes of disfellowshipment or of excommunication.

I was labeled apostate because I was questioning why we don’t believe and teach some of the things we used to believe and teach. Because of that questioning, and because I was finding answers in the writings of a man who the church cast off, it was determined I was also apostate. You simply don’t question the Brethren in the LDS Church. If you do, you are no longer worthy.

To Bear One Another’s Burdens

I seek community. I have found some community online, but that can’t replace getting together to take the Sacrament, to mourn with those who mourn and to bear one another’s burdens. I also feel that Zion can’t be built up unless we seek to eliminate the poor in our communities. I want to participate in such communicates. I may need to travel to them since we are spread out so far.

If there’s anything I got out of the Mesa lecture besides the distinct impression from the Lord I needed to be baptized in living water, it was the idea of communities. I could see them in my mind’s eye spread all across the land. They were small groups at first, meeting secretly out of fear of discovery, just as the believers in Alma’s days had to hide from the searches of the King.

I had a reader ask me why I didn’t focus on the invitation Denver offered in Grand Junction. If you’ll recall, we were invited to organize into communities with the express purpose of learning to care for the poor and needy among us. He quoted Denver’s words in which the purpose of tithing is to bring to pass the words, “and there were no poor among them.” I share them here:

Build Zion Communities with No Poor

“So, given the fact that you are commanded to pay tithing, and some of you are unable or refuse to do so because of the particular circumstances that you see in your church of choice, and given the fact that the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves,’ I would suggest one small thing you could begin is to collect your own tithing in a group. You manage it among yourselves. You assist the poor among you.

“If you disagree with what your churches are doing but recognize the obligation to pay, then take control over the funds to do what you believe God would have done to help others. As groups of common believers, pay tithing into a common fund. Then by the voice of your own group, dispose of it by common consent so that everyone in your group knows everything that comes in and everything that goes out. Then you begin to have no poor among your group.

“You provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and transportation. Do it without a leader. Do it by the voice of your own common consent, by your own unanimous approval. Do it by united agreement. Now, if some of you who hear this decide to begin to do this you will learn firsthand in a pragmatic lab experiment just how difficult it is to become ‘one.’ You will learn how greatly this world opposes the idea of Zion.

The Cost of Discipleship Can Be High

“You will learn from the criticism of others how to suffer for your Lord’s sake. You may even be deprived of fellowship with others who do not agree it is your obligation to care for the poor, but that the church you belong to owns that right to the exclusion of your opportunity to participate. You may lose a temple recommend, or a church calling, or even your church membership. And you will learn how much churches care for money above all else.

“Even in a small group you will find challenges. You want to know how far away you are at this moment from Zion; this will tell you. If you want an accurate barometer of ‘what lack you yet?’ Then organize yourselves and you, unitedly in small groups, gather your tithing into the storehouse you maintain, and by your common consent take care of those who are poor among you. You will receive an education like none other in the reasons men fail to have Zion. The fact that men fail doesn’t excuse you from your own failing. Rise up!”

Seven Women Shall Take Hold of One Man

Now back to the Mesa lecture to conclude my thoughts. On page fifteen, we can read more about organizing communities for fellowship. Denver quoted the Lord, “There shall be a minimum of seven women to sustain the man in any vote, and if the man is married, his wife shall be one of them.” When I heard these words, I felt very sad. I wanted to participate but knew I couldn’t.

Later on the page: “If the man is married, his wife must be among the seven women. If his wife will not sustain him, he is unworthy to provide priesthood service in the fellowship.” I have thought much about this. I am in this specific situation. Once again, I am found unworthy. Not only can I not officiate in ordinances outside my home, I can’t even contribute to help the poor.

In this case, “The word ‘unworthy’ is not a statement of condemnation, but of qualification. There is nothing implied in the word about a man’s standing before God, only the fact that within the community of fellowship until the wife is prepared to support him acting outside the family, his effort should remain within his family until the wife sees value to her husband serving others.

Unworthy to Contribute, but not Condemned

“The word ‘unworthy’ was the Lord’s and therefore I do not feel at liberty to change it. But I want it clear that when He used it I had a definite understanding that no condemnation was implied. Only an orderly arrangement was given.” I can accept this definition of unworthy. It works. I can accept it because I know it comes from the Lord, not from interpreting some Church handbook.

It’s important to see that the Lord quoted “seven women” to Denver. You can see it yourself in the transcript in the middle of page fifteen. He was specifically quoting the Lord. There has been much discussion of this … “unusual” … aspect of the lecture. As Denver pointed out, the Mesa lecture has become a turning point for many individuals. I see so many who have stalled out.

Those who were expecting just another lecture on doctrine came away shocked. Those who were looking for direction from a servant of the Lord came away pleased with instructions to organize communities in preparation for Zion. I want to contribute financially and in other ways. I wait upon the Lord. Perhaps someday I will be able to do so. For now, this blog is my contribution.


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