Your Bill Is Coming Due.


PaymentDueThroughout this post, the JST ( http://centerplace.org/hs/iv/ ) is made use of instead of the KJV.

If you agree that Jesus spoke the words attributed to him in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible, and if you agree that by entering into the waters of baptism you have entered into a covenant to be obedient to him until the end of your life, or if you have partaken of the sacrament, then you have witnessed unto God, the Father, that you are willing to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Moroni 4:3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

JST John 14

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

If you love Jesus, keep his commandments.  You love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and he will bring the Father to you.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

The visit spoken of is literal, and in this world.

D&C 132

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to [my] glory.

22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

Remember, the idea that one receives Jesus in one’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.  To receive Jesus therefore means to take him into your home.  If you do not receive him in the world, then you do not know him, and you do not receive exaltation.  If you receive him in the world, then you know him, and will receive exaltation.

Putting it all together, you love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and you will receive him into your home.  If you receive him into your home, he will bring the Father to you, and you will receive your exaltation.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

If you do not keep his commandments, you have no promise of any of these things.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 [W]hen we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

So what are the commandments of the Lord?  For brevity, here is the shortest version.

JST Luke 6

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are they who hunger now; for they shall be filled. Blessed are they who weep now; for they shall laugh.

22 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you who are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you who laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

27 But I say unto you who hear my words, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you.

28 Bless them who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.

29 And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.

31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

32 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

33 For if ye love them only who love you, what reward have you? For sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what reward have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?

40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

41 And why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?

42 Again, how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote which is in thy brother’s eye.

43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit;

44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

46 And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like.

48 He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.

49 But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

These teachings are repeated three times throughout scripture.  Three times.  Thrice.

 3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Are you keeping these sayings of Jesus?  Are you performing them daily?  Are you giving to every man that asketh?  Are you lending to all, not hoping to receive again?  Are you returning reviling for reviling, or are you patiently enduring abuse?

These are, after all, the things you witnessed unto God that you are willing to do.

And, remember further, great promises are offered to those who both do and teach.

JST Matthew 5:21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever breaks the least of these commandments, and teaches men to do likewise, are promised they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, while those who both do them and teach them are promised they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

JST Luke 14

25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.

29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?

30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,

31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,

32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.

33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

He meant it.  And do not think to claim that by your loyalty to the prophets and apostles of the Church, or any others, that you can bypass the requirements Jesus has set.

35 Then certain of them came to him saying, Good Master, we have Moses and the prophets, and whosoever shall live by them, shall he not have life?

36 And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had known them, ye would have believed on me; for to this intent they were written. For I am sent that ye might have life. Therefore I will liken it unto salt which is good;

37 But if the salt had lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

38 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dung hill; men cast it out. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. These things he said, signifying that which was written, verily must all be fulfilled.

So likewise if you keep not his sayings, even while claiming loyalty to prophets, you are as salt that has lost its savor, a covenant people claiming Jesus for king yet not obeying the king’s laws, and therefore are covenant-breakers, good for nothing but to be cast out.

Those who teach you that you owe less to the Lord than you have covenanted to do are the unjust steward, who will be sharing lodging with you in everlasting habitations if you agree with them (see JST Luke 16).  Time is short, and your bill is coming due.

Therefore, do not procrastinate the day of your fulfillment of your own words, covenants, witnesses, or agreements, but begin today to keep the commandments of the Lord that he delivered by his own voice to his people, that you may be accounted faithful in all things.

 Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain [bring into your home] strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

And who knows but that the angel in disguise might be the Lord himself, seeing if you are one of his disciples.

The Rules of the Contest


the-contestHow easy it is to be misunderstood. People often jump to conclusions so quickly. Even things close friends write in response to a post can be way out of line. It becomes clear to see where an individual stands in fulfilling one the most important parts of friendship. Or maybe I’m such a damned poor writer I am unable to get my thoughts across as clear as I once believed I could.

I was raised with four sisters. I learned way too late in my teenage years how important it is to be kind to those you love. My brother and I were rough with each other but never worried about hurting each other’s feelings. Hell, he was a U.S. Marine, gone from home at age seventeen so he wasn’t around when I was a teenager. It was from my sisters I learned a fundamental key of life.

Kindness, non-judgment, and expressions of compassion are character traits real men can learn and use all their lives. Men who master these traits will have a great advantage over those who push their way through life with a mean, rough exterior being exhibited as their primary persona. Learning how to listen and hear a person out is not the exclusive domain of women in our lives.

The Glory of God is Intelligence

glory-of-god-is-intelligenceThe most intelligent man I know is also the best listener. In fact, when I think of him, his ability to hear and understand me are the first things that come to mind. He seems to know my mind on any given subject even before I do. Yet he listens and never butts in when I’m explaining how I feel about something. Come to think of it, he only responds when I invite him to share his ideas.

Long-time readers know how seriously I take my religion. Perhaps too serious. I have often been counseled to lighten up. Well-meaning people with my best interests in mind have been clear on this idea. Perhaps a better word for religion would be faith. Specifically, faith in Jesus Christ. I have strong feelings about my Savior and greatly respect those who exhibit His mild demeanor.

I think gentleness best describes what I appreciate about the Savior. He truly is a gentle man. I don’t mean gentle in the sense of weak or wishy-washy, but gentle in his concern for us and how we will respond to what he asks of us. Which leads me to the focus of this post: understanding what the Lord asks of us. Sometimes, it can seem strange or even contrary to a previous request.

Timing Can Be so Important

god-is-patientFor example, in my previous post, I summarized how for several years I studied the teachings of a man I consider inspired and a servant of the Lord before taking action on an invitation to show I accepted those teachings. I stated that perhaps I had made a mistake in the way I managed this essential action. In short, I resigned my membership in the LDS Church and sought for baptism.

Because I mentioned mistake, some thought I was referring to the idea of being baptized again. Let me be clear. I don’t believe it was a mistake to be baptized again. I know many who have been re-baptized, but did it quietly, sharing their good news with only a few close friends. In my case, I also felt it was right at that time to publicize it widely. So where did I make a mistake?

I don’t feel I made a mistake in resigning from the LDS Church. I could have gone ahead and been baptized without resigning and without announcing it on my blog. Others shared they felt that was the right path for them. I didn’t feel that way then and still don’t. It seems dishonest. If anything, my mistake was in not consulting with Carol before taking such a consequential action.

A Few Definitions to Agree Upon

define-prayerSeveral individuals who I thought were trusted friends jumped all over me for that very reason. “How could you do such a thing?” they said. “What were you thinking?” another said. “Did it not occur to you how this would affect your wife?” Trust me, I pondered Carol’s response very carefully over many days. Because I trust her, I followed the promptings of the Lord in prayer.

Because it’s important, here is my definition of how the Lord answers prayer, at least for me. When I want to know the Lord’s will on something, I ask for inspiration and guidance in my thoughts, I review what I already know about the idea or subject and then I ask the Lord to make it clear what would be the best path for me – the one that is filled with the most light at that time.

In describing answers to prayers in previous posts, I have mentioned feelings, visits, visions, voices, dreams and promptings. I have given examples of each. The most common has been in feelings, as in, “the Spirit of the Lord pressed upon my feelings,” or “A feeling I should pursue a certain course of action continually ran through my mind so much I could see myself doing it.”

Responding to the Ultimate Authority

jesus-teaching1I was surprised at the number of private emails I received in response to this last post. Perhaps the individuals didn’t want others to know how they felt about my post. After all, it *appeared* I was saying I wanted to be baptized again in the LDS Church. I noted I had met with my current bishop without mentioning things we discussed, limited mainly to historical and doctrinal doubts.

I suppose what I’m looking for is someone who can answer my questions and clear up doubts I have picked up over the past few years along with those I have put on the shelf from years past. I recognize the responsibility to answer these questions are mine. I own these questions. It would be unfair to anyone else to burden them with my doubts. The Savior is the ultimate authority.

In one of those private emails the individual asked, “If the Lord told you to be baptized into the LDS Church once again, would you do so?” My immediate response was in the affirmative. I love the people of my ward and stake. I hold no ill feelings toward anyone in our congregation although I’m sure there are many who are angry with me for the very public actions I have taken.

The Objective is Truth

truth-has-no-agendaAlthough this is certainly not a game, I’ve shared two rules of the contest: How, for me, prayers are answered and what actions should be taken when such prayers are clearly answered. May I introduce a third rule? Truth is the objective in this competition. I am not interested in being part of a group whose goal is to create loyal followers or congregants who fit their idea of fellowship.

I am seeking truth. I don’t believe truth is subjective based on who is telling the story. I’m not in this for the social benefits, although there are clearly many such benefits. I appreciate the idea that fellowship is required in order to serve one another that our burdens may be light. I love to worship together in song and prayer. The gifts of the spirit are given to strengthen one another.

Perhaps I can leave you with something to ponder to demonstrate the objective of truth. In 3 Ne 11, the Lord taught the requirements of baptism are to repent and to become as a little child. He also said, “And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock.” Now look at the second baptismal question.

Come Follow Me, the Savior Said

come-follow-meWho has the right to set the requirements for baptism? We are entering into a covenant with our Savior, with Jesus Christ. Why is it a requirement of salvation to accept a man as an intermediary between us and Christ? I’m not trying to trick anyone here. I simply want to know. It just doesn’t seem right. Christ was clear what he taught in 3 Ne 11, at least it’s clear to me as I pray about it.

We follow the Lord. He has the power to save us. No man, as far as I can tell, can do anything to redeem us from hell. That’s why I was baptized again. I was not baptized into a Church. I was not baptized to demonstrate allegiance to any man. I was baptized to demonstrate my acceptance of the doctrine to follow Christ. Adding to these requirements is evil. Or so the Savior has said.

I wish I had the power to open the eyes of the people to see what we have done. We have set a man in the place of Christ. I know that sounds harsh, but this is the first question I would need to have resolved before I would consider accepting baptism in the LDS Church. That question and several others would need to be removed from the baptismal interview. Does this not seem clear?

I See… Awake!


i-see-awake-mendenhallI’m surprised. I thought I knew Doug. A private email list is not enough. Yes, word of mouth works, but someone needs to start the chain. I’ll start it if no one else will. This post is about a book. Some may think it a simple book. Others may dismiss it as just another of millions of self-published books. Doug, this is an important book and it needs attention. It needs marketing.

May I help? I know you didn’t ask for it, but as I prayed about it the Lord asked me to do all within my power to get the word out within my sphere of influence. I admit my influence is small, but there are some who will appreciate this. Adam, for example, who has a distinctive interest in this subject, will want to read it. Adam, keep the books you borrowed as a gift.

It’s not a pleasant subject for some. Never has been. Many reject it outright. Don’t believe it. Never will. That’s okay. This is not for them. This book is for those who have been warned and who understand the powers of the adversary that are becoming stronger and bolder as the time of the Lord’s return draws near. Denise will appreciate this post. Why not – she contributed much.

Part One of a Two-Part Book

Doug, may I express my love for you again. I did so on during out visit last May. It was a cold and windy afternoon in Mt. Pleasant, but you were so kind and gracious to receive me. I told you I came on behalf of the Lord, with a message to encourage you to finish this book. Apparently you didn’t need it. The book is now available and it is exactly what the Lord wanted published.

I know because I asked Him. He loves you Doug. You are a brave man. You are a blessed man. If there is anything in my power to do or say to bring blessings unto you, I invoke them upon you and your household, including your daughter Denise. I don’t mean to embarrass you Denise, but I consider your father a good friend, one who loves the Lord. You are blessed to be his daughter.

Doug Mendenhall of Publishing Hope, Mt. Pleasant Utah, has published another book. He did not announce it other than in a private email list. The book isn’t available on Amazon or even at Confetti Books. Doug is the author of Conquering Spiritual Evil, a handbook in dealing with the devil in these last days. This will appeal to few. That’s okay. My writings also appeal to so few.

Open Your Eyes and See

So consider this a semi-private endorsement of a wonderful new book, written from the heart, with the spirit of the Lord as guide. It is not a Denver Snuffer book so don’t expect the same kind of pronouncements. It is a Doug Mendenhall book. Doug knows what he is talking about. He has a mission in life that is closely tied to being the father of Denise Yale. God bless you my friend.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilI have almost finished the book. It is easy reading. It is almost like a quiet, easy-going, private dialog between two friends. I felt he was writing it just for me. I needed it. I appreciated it. I was spiritually fed by the content. Some will be offended by what they read. Some won’t have the necessary background to understand what they are reading. That’s okay. Others will be blessed.

The book is about opening your eyes – your spiritual eyes. It is about encountering the adversary, his devils and minions. Again, an uncomfortable subject, but one that needs to be brought to the forefront of our attention NOW. The battles are real. These battles are being fought in the secret chambers of our homes, our bedrooms, our closets and places where we invite God to be with us.

Healing the Spirit and the Soul

It is about healing, something I have been seeking for a lifetime. It is about faith, the kind of faith that goes way beyond what an institutional organization encourages or endorses. This faith is the kind that gets the attention of angels, who come and hear the mighty prayers of those who seek to have the thorn in the side removed, yet are powerless themselves to do more that share peace.

There is but one who can heal, yet in his wisdom, He lets us deal with these fiery darts, and other devices of the adversary through our own faith and learning. Perhaps we would not seek learning if we did not suffer so. Thanks be to a loving Savior who stands just outside the circle of our sight, yet makes Himself known as we cry unto Him in pain, sorrow and even intense suffering.

Did not He do the same? Even He was amazed at the intensity of the experience, the power of the adversary to inflict torment, torture, evil, pain, sorrow, sickness and abuse. Undeserved and unjustified, we suffer with him in like manner. Our pain is just as real, but not as intense. Or is it? God knows how much we can stand. He knows how much we can overcome and yet remain.

An Endorsement and an Invitation

I have said nothing about the book other than to mention it and to invite you to obtain and read it. You can only get it from Doug as far as I can tell. It is $25. The money is not the issue. What is at stake is your willingness to learn and to accept the reality of what goes on around us, unseen to our mortal vision, but real nonetheless. Be wise. Be educated in the ways of the opposing spirits.

Perhaps you are so far above such afflictions that this book will serve no purpose in your life. Have you been in the presence of the Lord? If so, you don’t need this. You already understand. If not, you will gain much from what you find in these pages. I offer no review, only a final plea to those whose hearts are pricked by this post. Obtain a copy. Read it. Pray about it. God bless you.

PublishingHopeTitle: Awake…I see! – Publisher: Publishing Hope, a private publishing house, 320 pages

Author: Douglas H. Mendenhall, with insightful contributions by Denise and Kitten

No ISBN. Contact Doug at publishinghope@gmail.com http://www.publishinghope.info/

Price: $25. Send checks to PO Box 282, Mt. Pleasant UT 84647 – Spiral bound

Developing Awesome Spiritual Curiosity – A Thinking Mormon’s Yearning for Zion


1399663943853

  • Awesome – causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, or admiration
  • Curiosity – eager to learn or know; inquisitive.

The Mormon Internet is abuzz these days with the effective marketing of the CES Letter, with this recent one from friends over at Zelph on the Shelf, a comprehensive guide to well-worn criticisms against the LDS Church and Mormonism in general. While there are many questions and challenges that ought to be raised by the CES Letter, many people go so far as to give up on God altogether. While the remnant/restorationist community has quietly added people interested in remembering the original intent of the Restoration by the Prophet, Joseph Smith, their efforts pale compare to the massive successes in the ex-Mormon agnostic/atheist communities. This post is an attempt to answer/address those concerns in light of being respectful of their positions, but helping to show a better way, one that does not give up on seeking the Christ.

I believe one of the keys is to develop a healthy sense of awesome curiosity.

As children, during the toddler years, we didn’t care a whit about authority. When our parents told us not to touch the hot plate, we did it anyway, because we needed to experience these things for ourselves. We said “no” to everything. We tested everything. We did it with childlike wonder, not because we didn’t trust the adults, but because it didn’t matter what THEY thought. The world was so new that we had to test everything for ourselves!

The Savior taught,

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Then there is King Benjamin,

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child,submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

There are many applications to these scriptures, but the application I want to apply is the sense of awe that a child displays at learning about the world. There are no pre-conceived notions, no “Occam’s razor,” no appeal to authority, just unadulterated possibilities.

children reaching for JesusWe have too much unbelief as adults, particularly as cultural Westerners, but this cultural tendency has followed us into Mormonism as well. It also follows us out of Mormonism when we leave. We are constantly on the outlook for authority, the safe answer. We crave authority–it calls to us as a safety valve when we are brought up against something that challenges us. It seems as Gentiles that we are forever cursed with it. During the Dark Ages we looked to the Catholic Church and the Divine Right of Kings. The Reformation brought the Enlightenment, reformed church authority, the authority of reason, the authority of government, the authority of texts, and the authority of the authentic self. All of these compete in the marketplace of ideas to one degree or another. But we still crave authority, and we debate about it, and seek to convert others to our understanding of proper authority.

Somewhere between the toddler years and grade school, we learn about the benefit of authority, of learning from someone else’s mistakes so we don’t have to feel the pain of a bad experience. We don’t really much like pain, so we soon learn to trust authority on issues that won’t lead us into a path of pain. To one extent or another, we take this upon us and go with it, to one degree or another. A few eschew it, and others embrace it with aplomb.

We not only fear the pain of experience, but we fear being wrong. We want to believe that the path we are taking, whether philosophical or the actual steps we take each day, are the right steps. Some of us plan ahead for years to ensure those steps are correct. We study manuals, read authoritative texts, test results, consult the experts, and make choices based upon the propensity of our certainty. Even in choices of love, we consult the stars, pedigrees, attractiveness, and spiritual confirmation, to determine a sense of certainty about the person we choose to be with our entire life, all in hopes that the choice will be right, and cause us very little pain.

Belief vs. Knowledge

But many are also lazy in their pursuit of knowledge. We have a tendency to cut corners, to be comfortable with filters instead of getting right to the source. We develop all sorts of opinions based upon authority filters, and we do it with as little work as possible. We become credulous to some authority, and incredulous to others. At the same time, we find little time, effort, or desire to form our own experiences based on our own awesome curiosity. We become stuck weighing authority for the development of truth. This happens whether we are orthodox in our own religiosity, or whether we are orthodox to systems that are loyal to the establishment of reason. Usually I find it is because we read and think too much on one hand, and not enough on the other.

The error here is in the need to develop certainty. Mormons love to teach the value of certainty. In the statement “we know” something is true, we feel to develop the certainty of a principle, even if in the true sense of the word “know” we don’t really know, we just believe strongly. Or . . . we equate feelings of the Spirit on a topic with the concept of knowing. Alma 32 teaches us otherwise. We can only know if something has goodness it in by the process of planting a seed of truth, and then waiting for the fruit. Sometimes we like to circumvent the process and go right for the fruit. I believe that’s an error. If we settle for the feeling without the planting, we can be led astray.

Let me illustrate: How many can distinguish the feelings of peace and love with the feelings of safety and security? I will admit that they are almost the same kind of feeling. The Lord has positive things to say about peace and love being fruits of the Spirit (Note that they are NOT the Spirit). The Lord does not have good things to say about safety and security (or “all is well”). Those feelings are associated with being led astray into deception. If one goes directly to the feeling of an experience, one could be misled. However, if one goes through the implantation process of testing a truth, a pattern emerges where we:

  • Learn about a principle, as much as we can
  • Test the principle by reason and also by pondering about it in your heart
  • Feeling the Holy Ghost or absence of the Holy Ghost
    • Does it cause a “burning of the bosom”?
    • Does it cause “swelling motions?”
  • Does it cause in increase of love for God and for others?

If these things occur, we can know the seed is good, even if we don’t yet “know” the principle is true in the most complete sense of the word. That comes later. All it means is “keep going.” Note that the process is no shortcut. We don’t go straight for the feelings of “peace.” Peace may be a fruit of the Spirit, but sometimes the Spirit encourages us to do things that can cause us consternation or dread, yet we know we must do it. I doubt Abraham, for example, felt much peace taking Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed, or that the Savior felt much peace going to the Garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes the absence of peace is required. We cannot shortcut this process, no matter how our Gentile sensibilities want us to. We must ask tons of questions of the Lord, and ponder the matter, showing a good-faith effort in our gardening sensibilities. Otherwise, we may be asking amiss.

Feelings vs.Thinkings

The problem with going straight for the peace and love train is that these things are evident everywhere, not just in Mormonism. We can feel peace and love watching a great movie, doing drugs, going to another church, listening to Christmas music, or during the State of Union address (if it’s our guy.) Just going by the emotion is dangerous. The heart “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” – Jeremiah 17:9. The heart cannot be trusted, although inevitably, it will responds positively to righteousness. Otherwise how could man have joy in righteousness?

Man has a tendency to trust either his heart or his head. If his heart, he ignore facts that bombard his brain. He becomes separated from them, enduring “cognitive dissonance.” If, however, a man trusts his brain and not his heart, the problem often then becomes the appeals to authority. Facts, in and of themselves cannot save you. They cannot teach you truth. They can only inform. Men who believe they are trusting only in reason deceive themselves, for the mind plays tricks on us, it creates narratives that are delicious to our sense of needing certainty about things, which in the complete scheme of things, is just another deception of the heart. It is a fool thing to believe that we can elevate ourselves completely beyond our own emotions. We are humans, not robots. The entire history of philosophy has shown the folly of this error. The Age of Reason lasted about 200 years and ended up with Napoleon and Rousseau in the Romantic era. Reason is subject to facts. Facts are incomplete, and the narratives that tie facts together are highly subjective. It’s why today’s philosophers do not try to find a grand theme of truth in reason. They’ve kind of given up.

41P75Z9M0NL._SY300_The folly of certainty through appeals to authority has lead to a long and disillusioned path for Mormons. We are taught to trust in the Spirit, but we often circumvent the process and go for the emotional dessert. The Church (and the church) makes matters worse by using heart-sell tactics to deliver feelings of peace directly to us without any of the work it takes to create real peace. Seeing a meme on Facebook, listening to a choir piece, seeing a beautiful air-brushed photo of the temple, or hearing a tearful General Conference sound-bite on Mormon.org may have great intentions, but they often end up deceiving us into accepting the counterfeit peace for the real thing. When we then encounter these feelings in other arenas, we either feel deceived by the implied “corner on the market” we sometimes assume with such tactics, or we follow these feelings into other efforts that do not save.

For the thinking Mormon, this can be even more destructive, because we often begin to realize that the heart isn’t a good tool to measure truth. We become incredulous of feelings, and rely upon the more sound systems of evidence and reason. But we never seem to be able to give up our need to be certain about things. We displace the authority of the heart-sell to the authority of the head-sell, as we see with the CES Letter. We turn to the experts, to academia, to established science, to peer review, to popular thinking-oriented political philosophies, hoping that as we do so, we will be unable to be duped.

worshipscienceBut grasping onto thinking authority can be just as destructive, because it’s more subtle. While religious and business institutions are well-known for their bottom-line tactics, we seem to me more circumspect about institutions that are supposed to hearken to a different call, in medicine, academia, and in science. We expect them to be noble and righteous. Well . . . didn’t we once think that about our “one true Church?” How are the motivations of humans in noble institutions of reason any more noble than motivations of humans that operate in the spiritual business sphere? There may be more checks and balances, true, but in many ways, there are also more filters to wade through. Most true science hides beh
ind university paywalls that take some difficulty accessing (back to the efficient information problem) so we settle for Facebook memes and soundbites or science and political puff pieces that get promoted in mainstream journalism–hardly an unbiased source. What we often do when we start to move from religious belief to secular belief is really just switch authority teams.

We give up having faith in the “Church”, and we turn to having faith in humanity. Either way, we put our trust in the arm of flesh.

The Mormon Shelf

booksWhich brings us to shelves. The shelf metaphor has been a metaphor for the thinking Mormon, who gathers what she can rationally absorb into the room, and puts what she cannot absorb onto the proverbial shelf, to be dealt with another day. I find the shelf metaphor imperfect. As a little child, one does not stick things on shelves, one plays with everything, with a sense of curiosity even about that which they do not understand. Sometimes those toys are the funnest to play with! I wonder if we would do better not putting sensitive stuff on shelves and instead, wade into the waters with them, embracing them in all of their ambiguity and possibilities, and stop trying to limit what outcomes will be by short-cutting the system with incredulity and appeals the heart or to “Occam’s razor,” which is just another way of saying that you feel like you must limit possibilities, that you must establish a boundary of incredulity. Maybe we should just be a little more patient, even though that’s hard for little children. Adults trying to learn to be like little children, however, patience should be easier because the need for certainty isn’t as dramatic. It’s really an attitude learned and sense of wonder about the universe. As a thinking Mormon, you can go one of two ways. You can fold your arms, gather facts, and develop a narrative that limits possibilities based on appeals to authority. Nephi warns:

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. 2 Nephi 9:28

This appeal to authority is part of “thinking one is wise”, but in reality, they limit the ability to learn truth from other sources, spiritual sources, because it doesn’t fit within the paradigm of modern scientific consensus. However, this can happen whether the appeal is to scientific knowledge or to General Conference authority.

The other way you can is to be learned is to understand that we haven’t even scratched the surface and that we know about as much as a pinhead is to the universe, and that spirituality is virtually untouched! That should shake your certainty to the core, and hopefully make you a little more humble. Humility is a key to spiritual truth. Learn to see the wonder in what you don’t know. Learn to love awesome curiosity!

I’m not saying we need to believe everything to a level of extreme gullibility. Most cases of over-belief into gullibility happen when people give up their critical thinking skills to the authority of another, whether prophet, priest, or professor. The trick in the balance is test as much as you can with your own empirical approaches, in your own appeals for truth, and save your incredulity for authority, ANY authority, even those that preach impartiality and reason as their foundation. The empirical/personal anecdotal should be the most powerful knowledge in the universe, because it is the most meaningful, and we ought to be keeping open as many possibilities to attaining THAT knowledge as we can.

What can I do to develop awesome curiosity?

  1. Stop the appeals to authority! Whether you are orthodox Mormon or a more secular-leaning type, if you have to keep some incredulity or doubt, be incredulous of ALL authority, not just the opposing team. Doubt the prophet, politician, and professor with equal measure. Understand the limits of man, both in his mind, and in his heart. Be an equal opportunity skeptic. It gives doubting your doubts a whole new meaning.
  2. Follow leaders, not preachers – We can all find someone to preach to us, someone that will give us religion, or ideology, whether from the pulpit, or lectern, spoken in fiery rhetoric, or written with dispassionate logic. People have itching ears, and it’s even better when they can bask in glow of a cultural event where they can celebrate that preaching and listen for hours and hours. It’s far better to find someone who has plowed a road, someone you can actually learn from, and then go and try to plow your own road.
  3. Be more empirical – Don’t just believe what you read, or trust someone else’s experience, opinion, or path. Find your own! Prayer is wonderful because it can be a testing mechanism. There are rewards and benefits for doing it the right way. And there are some that have been able to transcend our own reality and peek into something different. The science of the experience does matter (is it inside or outside the self), but the experiences itself matters more, and I believe that can tell you infinitesimally more than naval gazing from the arm chair about whether it’s authentically external or suffers from confirmation bias.
  4. Don’t just believe, test belief – Instead of thinking about belief as a passive kind of Santa Claus belief, believe in a principle while expecting a reaction. An example would be to test belief in a particular attribute about God. Pray and behave as if that attribute is true. Does it make a difference in your prayers? Does it bring greater spiritual gifts? Does it increase your own love for others and for God? Does it bring you closer to God? If you don’t get expected results others have achieved, instead of assuming they are duped, re-examine first whether you have done the experiment correctly. Perhaps you need to make some adjustments.
  5. Adjust to new information – The world is always changing. They are always finding things under the great sandbox of scientific information. Does your personal belief system allow you the ability to be flexible? This doesn’t just mean being flexible to a new fact, but flexible to conflicting facts . . . or no facts at all. Does the absence of fact allow you to still move forward with possibilities? Do new facts constitute a puzzle piece or a narrative of certainty? The more certain, the less capable we are of adjusting to new information.
  6. Do whatever it takes – Does the prospect of finding God drive you? Do others experience help motivate you to find Him? Is it worth it? Do facts on the ground dispirit you from undertaking the quest? I believe that in order to do what it takes, one must have the drive to make this quest the most challenging of one’s life, to view it in terms of being the most rewarding. If all you find at the end of it all is increased bliss, it’s probably worth it to a point, but the world will drag you back down. But if the possibility of an audience with Heaven is the end goal, I would think one would stop at nothing.

I would challenge all of us to undertake this the Grand experiment!

Farewell – May God Bless you


mormon-writing-on-platesAlmost eight years I took a leap of faith, began to write short items I thought might be interesting to others, and posted them on Blogger. For years I labored, seeking to share what I thought would be helpful and enlightening. Sometimes, I know I hit the mark. Other posts were a complete waste of time. But in the end, I felt I did what the Lord asked me to do for a season.

It’s time to say goodbye. The blog expires this Thursday, but I could not let it do so without expressing my love and gratitude to those who helped me on my journey. I have come to love you, especially as I have been in some of your homes, taken the sacrament with you and prayed with you. How grateful I am to have had this season to share and feel of your love and kindness.

Some few of you have been mean and vicious – somewhat immature really. I forgive you. You did not hurt me. You were reaching out in anger, feeling threatened. I understand. I used to feel the same way. That’s how I started my blog – defending the orthodox traditions of the LDS Church. I am no longer a member and that bothered quite a few of you. I am sorry for your pain.

I still love you. The attacks came mostly from those who knew me personally, who grew up with me or served with me in the councils of the church or who worked at my side in a shared career. Others came from fools who knew nothing of which they wrote, but sought only to get attention and elicit a response. I feel sorry for such individuals who have no self-control in open dialog.

But most of you were encouraging and understanding. I thank you for your kind words, for the thousands upon thousands of comments, for the discussion, for the sharing of books, and of scriptures, of authors, references and points of view I had not considered. You are so kind. It is your sharing with me that blessed my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Bless you.

Today I meet with our new bishop. It has been over a year since I resigned from the LDS Church. I am not qualified to re-baptized LDS, nor do I think it will ever happen. But because I love my wife and desire to be one with her, I desire to do all within my power to be reconciled to the faith of her forebears. We have great differences of opinion on doctrine but I love her dearly.

BreadAndWineI do not believe a man should have to swear an oath-like promise to uphold a prophet. That flies in the face of 3rd Nephi 11:40. I also am convinced, through prayer and study, that the correct way to partake of the sacrament is with wine, for that is the way the Lord has said he will partake of the Sacrament with us when he returns. Thus, in the eyes of the LDS Church, I am not worthy.

I also believe sealings in the temple are not guaranteed. A man and woman must be sealed by the holy spirit of promise to be united forever. That means they must come into the presence of the Lord together. No promise made by any man across from an altar in a temple on this earth will substitute for hearing such a promise from the mouth of the Lord. I seek that promise in this life.

I accept tithing as a commandment from God but I am not willing to give that tithing money to the LDS Church to support the professional clergy or to build malls or to buy land in Florida. I want my money to go to the poor. Nor do I believe I must pay tithing on my gross earnings each paycheck. I have done that for over fifty years but no longer believe this is what the Lord asked.

I sang in our ward choir today, a hymn of worship honoring Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the focus on the Savior. I am also grateful anytime I am taught the doctrines revealed through Joseph Smith by those who understand them as they were originally revealed and not as they have been interpreted or watered down by the correlation process of the modern bureaucrats in the church.

preserving-the-restorationSo many people don’t even recognize it because they won’t study. I have just about finished Denver Snuffer’s latest book, Preserving the Restoration. I was there for many of the talks that were delivered. He has surely added much to clarify and kept his promise to remove himself from the narrative. I heartily recommend this book if you want to learn purity of Mormonism.

I am still convinced something catastrophic will come to pass in the last days, sometime in the next few years. I have no idea how long we have. It could be economic collapse, social chaos, of what the scriptures describe as the catastrophes found in the Book of Revelation, in the words of the Old Testament prophets and in the Book of Mormon. Yet I go forward in faith trusting God.

I want to be a part of the temple that needs to be built. I desire to contribute to the building of that temple. I want to be a part of Zion. I do not believe the LDS Church has any clue about how Zion really will come about. I am convinced the spirit of prophecy and revelation was lost at the top echelons of the LDS Church with the deaths of Hyrum and Joseph. I’m not a fan of Brigham.

My mission in life right now is to be one with my wife. I love her dearly. She has been hurt by my withdrawal from the church of her heritage. To me, it was a totally logical and spirit-guided decision, made after much thought, pondering and prayer. My decision to be baptized was meant to be a sign I accept Denver Snuffer as the Lord’s messenger in these last days, a leap of faith.

Denver still has not declared himself to be other than a teacher. I declare him to be otherwise. I cannot and will not share words delivered to me in prayer, nor am I called to be a public witness, but my witness is true. He is called of God and has done what he has done because God asked him to do so. I do not know him well, but know the Lord is pleased with what he has done.

mormon-bids-farewellI bid you farewell. I pray the Lord’s blessings upon you. I am not here to tell you your belief in the LDS Church is right or wrong. I simply did what the Lord asked me to do. I provided a forum for a season that some needed and that helped me on my journey to take the steps I know I needed to take to please the Lord. I have a long ways to go. Life is in Christ and in no one else.

I seek not to offend but know some have and will take offense. God bless you my friends. I may add to my record on the free WordPress site from time to time, but for the most part, my record stands. It helped me tremendously to share my life journey with you as I came to a much clearer understanding of LDS Mormonism and what it was that Joseph was trying to restore in his day.

Thank you for reading my posts. Thank you for the thousands upon thousands of comments. Thank you for trying to set me straight. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for the many, many private dialogs. Thank you for inviting me into your homes and to your gatherings. I am so grateful for what I have learned and pray I can live up to the knowledge God has given me.

I look forward to the tremendous changes I am certain will continue to take place in the LDS Church and in American society. The world will change dramatically within the next few years. Today, we are blessed. Perhaps it will be several years before the catastrophes spoken of by the prophets will come to pass. But they will come. It may or may not be in my remaining years.

Adieu.

Keeping the Sabbath, When and How


“Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy takes the rest of the week” – Alice Walker

elder-nelson-sabbathYou can’t pick up an Ensign these days without hearing much about the need to keep the Sabbath day. This is a good thing. I hope that the Church isn’t just focus-grouping this topic as a sort of “this year’s theme,” or to just amp up the attendance numbers, but see an honest need for people to remember the Lord on a weekly basis. The Church must have data that shows how much it is in disrepair among Latter-day Saints. So it got me thinking . . .

How exactly does the Lord want me to keep the Sabbath day, and keep it holy?

President Nelson’s talk in April is a good resource. I’ve read it a couple of times and I find it to be a great discourse on the subject, as far as some basic concepts:

  • Attend church to offer up sacraments, taking upon us the Name of Christ
  • Rest from your labors
  • Pay devotions to the Most High
  • Serving others–family history is an option, visiting the lonely and sick, etc.
  • Strengthen family ties
  • Preparing food with “singleness of heart”
  • Don’t do your own pleasures, but the Lord’s pleasure

When I was “active,” I enjoyed the gentle call of the Spirit to attend services. When I attended all three hours, I felt a better sense of renewal than I did when I just went to Sacrament meeting. I have not been back to an LDS service in some time, my Sabbath schedule interferes with attending my ward Sunday services, since one of my Sunday fellowships happens over the top of my ward schedule. There are times when I miss that interaction, and I’m challenged to fill my Sabbath worship other ways.

Among folks in this movement, the Sabbath day has also been a hot topic. I thought I would spend some time to break down some of the theories and ideas and hopefully present some ideas on what it means to keep the Sabbath day. I really don’t have a theory on the best way to do it, so maybe you have some better research or revelation as to tell you how to live it best.

Day of the Week

Does it matter? For some of our more Torah-oriented fellowship groups, this is a critical thing. The day is of a vital importance, and as with Jews, the Sabbath should be celebrated from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. They also include festivals and other holy days celebrated anciently. I’m not sure it matters. I think if the exactness of observance is done in a way that causes a greater remembrance of the Savior, it can be a good thing. If it becomes a rallying point, or a brand, or a system that sets certain people up as have the best understanding of “the way,” I think it creates more pride than it does anything. For me, I’m inclined to keep my Sabbath worship on Sunday out of convenience, knowing that for me, it’s not so much the day as it is the fact that I’m reserving one day (or more) out of the week to honor the Lord. Furthermore, I’ve read some interesting ideas that ancient Jews followed the lunar calendar, so what we deem as Saturday, the day of rest, was a roaming date that depended on the cycles of the moon. It would be quite a feat for someone to come up with THAT Sabbath schedule. Maybe someone should. I’m open to being taught more on this subject.

Thou Shalts and Nots

When I was a youth, my mother would note to me that we would never watch NFL football on Superbowl Sunday (we never watched it on any other day, but that’s beside the point). When Superbowl Sunday came round the first of the year, our family made it a point of pride that we would skip out on such an event. It was the hallmark of how closely we kept the Sabbath. We also stayed in our church clothes most of the day, listened only to uplifting Sunday-oriented music, and couldn’t watch TV–that is, until the sun went down, then on popped the ABC Disney Sunday Movie! There was no systematic approach to Sabbath worship in our home, it was all based on how she grew up and her cultural understanding. These days I watch the Superbowl, not because I like NFL football, but that it gives my wife’s family time to get together and deepen relationships–another critical element of Sabbath worship, strengthening family bonds. Sure, we could do other things, but I won’t quibble. I understand the nature of the get together at least in my mind.

Our scriptures say very little about what you can and can’t do on the Sabbath although some general guidelines are offered up in D&C 59. I have highlighted some things that jumped out to me as well as comments in parentheses.

And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; (I believe the house of prayer here is very simple, no need to go to a chapel)

10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. (See my post on confession, how could we better confess to our Brethren and not just to a church leader?)

13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full. (Maybe we should be skipping the pot roast)

14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.

15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—

Much of what we get on the topic also comes from the New Testament when the Savior was constantly testing the Sabbath cultural rules that He thought were either nonsense or looked past the mark. The point is, “to keep it holy,” and not get caught up in rules and customs that must be kept.

As I began thinking about this, I’ve applauded that the Church has avoided a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts. What President Nelson states is pretty much the sum total and it comes primarily from our own modern scriptures. In the past decade, there was a big push back in the Hinckley era to get people to stop shopping on the Sabbath. I think this is a good albeit somewhat inconsistent application of the term, “shopping,” since gas purchasing, eating out, online shopping, and other types of shopping were sort of isolated from the more leisure shopping as outlined in those discourses. My wife worked at a Mormon-owned restaurant chain in Provo and in the afternoon, the suits and ties littered the place by people who needed to eat–perhaps they were staying in town–or just didn’t want to cook but wanted the fancy meal. The point is that we could understand the need for meals for visitors who were from out-of-town, but for people that just wanted to “rest” on the Sabbath, but have the big meal, it seemed like they were passing on the sin to my wife and her co-workers, who were pretty much forced to work Sundays. Perhaps this is meant by singleness of heart–keep it simple, you don’t need pot roast every week. I think what it comes down to is how much charity do we employ towards others in our day of rest? Does it cause others to have to work harder so we can enjoy our Sabbath? Do we accelerate the engines of Babylon with our Sabbath habits or calm them down? How much does charity play in our activities? Are we using the Sabbath day to do more with the encompassing commandments to “Love the Lord Thy God, and Love Thy Neighbor?” If not, perhaps we need to repent.

The Sabbath is only the beginning

I return to the statement I quoted at the beginning. “Anyone can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy takes the rest of the week.” Perhaps the best use of the Sabbath is to set ourselves up so that we can find more ways the rest of the week, to keep it holy as well. For me, movies, TV, video games, shopping, leisure, have taken a back seat to spending time reading and pondering the gospel in my free time. I don’t say this to boast. I’ve always been a gospel hobbyist and so for me, I have to use my idle time to do more than argue about church matters on Facebook. Taking time to watch an uplifting program with my wife may be a better use of my time.

What has whispered to me as I’ve written this is that all of the debate about the right day to worship is sort of a Telestial affair. In Zion, the Sabbath day will be everyday, not just one day in the week.

I leave my post with the lyrics to Take Time to be Holy by William D. Longstaff

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”

Confession Time


 

My mother (bless her heart) has been posting these new “helpful” videos put out by the Church that promotes the Church’s 12-step program, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. The Church’s program is targeted toward those with drug or sex addictions, and some with eating disorders.

I like what AA has done for people. I think the 12-step program is a GOOD program, at least its principles are good, even inspired. The videos are good. I thought it was very brave for a person to get up and tell their story that way, until I noticed that the people confessing on camera also had a camera following them around showing us their sinful ways and the repercussions of their sins. Yes, they were actors. I wonder of that sends the wrong message. I get that people are ashamed, but I also wonder how powerful it would be if a real person said these things, raw, in front of a camera, then stated . . . and I’m a Mormon.

Full disclosure, I have had a mild addiction to pornography. The joke is . . . who hasn’t, at least among us men. I get a little sensitive to people (like my mother) who have no such addictions, being pre-occupied with such things, worrying about the beams in others eyes. OR . . . a Church full of men who have never made the kinds of mistakes that would embarrass the Church (the shameful “heinous” kind), having been fully vetted, now setting themselves up as a light to help heal those of us that have as if they have it all figured out. None of them have had sex or drug addictions. They were able to escape such holocausts, or hide them enough to escape the Church vetting process. Can they really help us bear that burden? I don’t think we contemplate enough the mystery of how Christ can succor our pain. Perhaps there is more to this than we think, being the only perfect being, yet feeling the weight of every sin upon His shoulders.

It made me think about sin in general and how it relates to shame, to culture, to the idea that in the LDS world, we rank sins according to their heinousness through a misapplication of Alma 39. One wonders why we don’t have 12-step programs for anger, indifference, pride, arrogance, vanity, selfishness, greed, or self-righteousness. What does it say about the state of the Church that the very things that are keeping us from Zion are the very things that we care little about in terms of repentance? What does it say about a church that keeps tallies on its members to vet them so that they won’t get into the kinds of leadership positions that would embarrass the Church, as a missionary, or for a future leadership assignment.

We all know certain priesthood leaders that take their calling this way–spending more time worrying about “protecting the flock” than saving the stray sheep, but again, only from certain “heinous” sins. Come, confess to the bishop . . . share your pain and lighten your burden with a servant of the Lord . . . , to disallow you the opportunity to serve, or deny you ordinances because the Lord needs you to suffer and scrub your heart completely clean (on only some sins) before you can have that temple recommend back, or so we can quietly annotate your record if you have crossed certain lines. Talk about ulterior motives. No Alma the Youngers allowed. Do you think that encourages MORE repentance, or less, especially among men who subconsciously rank their righteousness with how many priesthood keys they hold? I believe this to be anti-Christ and an abuse of the priesthood that God has given men. It’s no wonder signs and miracles are not seen in our day . . . too many of our priesthood holders have had it “amened” quietly by the Lord, and they have not repented in order to get it back; they feel they are justified by a secret handbook that has no power to save. They heap judgments upon their brother, many against their own promptings, but feeling they have to be obedient to the handbook. They then rush to give the widow a blessing, but there is little power in this blessing. Why have miracles ceased, says Moroni, because of unbelief (unbelief in God’s ways, belief in man’s system of obedience to handbooks or the written order of things).

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made. Moroni 7: 37-38

Then there is this guy, confessions of a Mormon bishop . . .

I enjoyed reading his perspective. It was a good read. I wonder if he has been unwittingly placed in a position he is not supposed to be placed. I wonder if one of the problems we have in the LDS community is caused by “confession” to a bishop or stake president.

Confession in our culture, is upheld often as the most necessary part of repentance. We have this shame and guilt of sin, we are told to bear it to our “judge in Israel” and we feel lighter. I understand this is a cultural understanding and not a doctrinal one. The Church’s official position would disallow such things. Nonetheless, when we go the bishop, we often feel we are forgiven, particularly if he is sympathetic and kind, like this good man. I wonder if this is a false forgiveness–all of those who leave the bishop’s office feeling better. And . . . since we only confess “heinous” sins, one wonders if we don’t get ENOUGH repentance. We stop short of what is required of the Lord, to give away ALL our sins to know Him. I get that confession can help, so who better to confess to, than your own spouse! If we would also spend more time in our closets crying unto the Lord for forgiveness and a change of heart, instead of crawling to the bishop, perhaps we would qualify for that mighty change of heart, and lose the disposition to sin. I know in my life, as I have cried unto the Lord, and have taken the time to give away all my sins, and have received the Baptism of Fire, that I lost the disposition to sin entirely. That’s not to say that I’m not perfect, but that I am a changed being. The light is quicker to embrace, and it’s quicker to return. I know the Lord and that He is quick to forgive, so in turn, I am quicker to forgive myself and worry less about the guilt and shame, and worry more about embracing the light. It’s changing me for the better.

Let’s give bishops less sleepless nights and rely more upon the Lord!

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