A Day of Rejoicing – A New Beginning


TimBaptism2aCroppedI barely remember being baptized when I was eight years old. My family had joined the LDS church a few years earlier. Being only five at the time, I had the advantage of a few years of instruction in Primary and Sunday school. I also had the blessing of having read the Book of Mormon with my mother. It was the first time for both of us. I remember reading these words:

“… Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.” (Mosiah 18:12) I wondered about these words. Even at seven years old, they impressed me. A man desired to do the work of the Lord. He asked the Lord for power to do that work.

Today I was baptized again. The man who baptized me repeated the words of Alma’s prayer above, then used the words of the baptismal prayer as found in Third Nephi 11:25, “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” He did not say, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ …”

A Commandment Renewed Today

I can’t tell you all the reasons why the wording is different or important but I can tell you this: I know the Lord was pleased I chose to be baptized again by someone using these words. I hope you can see it in my face in the photo I have included in this post. I knew I had completed what the Lord had asked of me twelve days earlier in Mesa, Arizona on the 9th of September, 2014.

When I heard those words that day, “I am telling you in the name of the Lord that commandment is renewed again by Him today, to you,” I knew I had to be baptized in the manner I have just described. “And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been … he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention …”

I knew I needed to be baptized in this manner and I was not going to argue with anyone about it. Because the LDS Church considers it an act of apostasy to be baptized again, and I had no desire to argue about it, I resigned my membership. I was then free to follow the commandment of the Lord to be baptized in the correct manner, using the correct words. It was a wonderful feeling.

A Temporary Community of Believers

I appreciated being joined by others who were baptized with me today. I will be forever grateful to the man who traveled from his community in Utah to baptize us. There were eight of us who met to discuss the gospel and partake of the sacrament in my home. We used wine – not water – as the Lord directed in the scriptures, grape juice for those who didn’t want to drink alcohol.

It will be awhile before I am able to join with a community who believes as I do. There are not enough in my area here in California. Having received the priesthood from my father, I can bless and partake of the sacrament in my home. That authority is not controlled by the LDS Church, just as the spirit of the Holy Ghost is not controlled by the Church. I felt the Lord’s spirit today.

I will be content with the community I feel with so many of you who read my blog. I know there are many who disagree with what I have done. I understand. Carol and I had a visit with a friend from Colorado after the baptism today. He is a family counselor. We discussed the importance of following the promptings of the Spirit, who leads us to Christ back to the presence of the Father.

A Tried and True Method

TimBaptism3aCroppedEven though I try, I don’t think I will ever understand how deeply this has affected Carol. She was not happy with my decision. Five or six generations of Mormonism has ingrained within her traditions that are not part of my heritage. To me, it was a simple logical decision. I studied the writings of a man who claimed to have seen the Savior. I confirmed his claim in solemn prayer.

This man claimed to have been given a message from the Lord to be delivered in a series of ten lectures. I read, listened to, attended some and studied all of the lectures. I was and am convinced the message he delivered is authorized of the Lord. I confirmed this using the principles I learned growing up in Primary, Sunday school and seminary – I studied them out, then asked the Lord.

I have been told by some, including Carol, that the message of this man is offensive. I did not find it so. It felt right as I studied it. It felt good. I guess you can say it “tasted” good. It fed my soul. The message led me to the scriptures. It caused me to ponder them again and again. I acted upon the message. I exercised faith in prayer culminating in the action I have taken this day.

77 Truths That Stand on Their Own

My friend from Colorado delivered a book to me at the Mesa Lecture. It took him years to write. From what little I have reviewed of the book, it is filled with truth – 77 Truths to be exact, which is the name of the book and the website. I have perused it and intend to review it in a future post. It has nearly a thousand quotes and probably an equal number of scriptures. It will take time.

“Within each of the 77 Truths, scripture is provided that reveals the light and wisdom necessary to receive the mysteries of God and become Zion at heart. Those who accept the Divine invitation represent the “few” who will be blessed to contribute to Millennial Zion. This is the day that each of us must now choose: God or man? Truth or tradition? Zion or Babylon?”

Bret, the author, asked that new readers commit to reading at least the first three chapters, and then, if the spirit prompts, up through chapter twenty-one. That’s only 107 pages. I can do that. I plan to read those first 107 pages before the end of the week. I hope some of you will take a look at Bret’s book with me. He worked closely with the Lord to bring it forth. Truth brings us light.

Promised Blessings of Obedience

When I asked the Lord about being baptized, I received from Him a promise. I asked if I could share it. He agreed. His promise to me is that by being baptized, I have demonstrated acceptance of the messenger He sent, and therefore, over time, and through effort, can receive the same kind of knowledge this messenger has received – a knowledge of what the Lord will soon accomplish.

A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world (TPJS 217). The message delivered by the servant should be carefully studied. I have put dozens of hours into it already. That is not enough. Each portion of the lecture deserves, indeed requires, dozens of hours to comprehend.

The Lord commands us to seek learning, even by study and by faith (D&C 88:118). It is one thing to be able to quote scripture, recite passages from writings or lectures of inspired men. It is quite another to obtain knowledge from heaven and from heavenly beings. That is the promise of the Lord I have received – that eventually, I will be taught by heavenly beings. It is made sure.

TimBaptism1aCropped

Preparing For the Final Lecture – Part Two


PassingHeavenlyGiftThis is part two of my notes in preparing for the final lecture in the Denver Snuffer series – “Forty years in Mormonism.” The purpose of these posts is simply to review some of the material presented in the previous lectures.

In a sense, it contains my study notes. I learn best by sharing and soliciting feedback. I hope you enjoy these quotes and are motivated to read the complete lectures at the links provided.

 

 

You can read the other two parts in the links below:

Part One: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/09/08/preparing-for-the-final-lecture-part-one

Part Three: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/09/08/preparing-for-the-final-lecture-part-three

Centerville – Covenants: 10-6-13

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/177634830/Centerville-Transcript-Covenants

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Lecture_4-Centerville-Covenants.pdf

Opening Remarks at Centerville:

“…tonight we are going to talk about covenants. In particular covenants that are being referred to in a verse we find in the Joseph Smith History, verse 39. Moroni changing the content of the

text of Malachi, states in that verse to Joseph Smith on this fall equinox occasion, the words of Malachi in this way: “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (JS-H: 1:39)

“Therefore we learn there is some peril if we do not have our hearts turned to these fathers. The peril, as Moroni put it, is that we will be “utterly wasted at his coming” if we fail. But His coming is not limited merely to the singular “him”–being the Lord. If you go back to what Moroni said to Joseph in verse 37 it says: “they that come shall burn them.” Therefore when He comes, they that come with Him shall burn those who are unprepared, those who are scheduled to be “utterly wasted” at His coming. And so we need to inquire into what exactly the promises were, who the fathers were that the promises were made to, and then avoid this peril of those who come to do the burning of all who are unprepared for that return. As to them, “it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Remember that in the Boise talk I said these were genealogical terms, because their family lines comes to an end at that point.

“In looking at the promises made to the fathers, I want to go back to 2 Nephi, chapter 3 and begin there. I have referred to this earlier in Boise. When we’re tracking back the covenants that were made, and we’re talking about the promises that were made to the fathers, and trying to identify who the fathers are, we get a real advantage in making that determination by what we have in Lehi’s blessing to his son Joseph. Beginning at verse four of chapter 3 of 2 Nephi, Lehi says: “For behold, thou art the fruit of my loins; and I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt. And great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph.” As soon as you encounter the word “covenants” an alarm should go off. Because much of what is and has happened in the history of the world, is as a consequence of covenants made by God with the fathers. One of the fathers who possessed promises and covenants with God was Joseph, who was carried away captive into Egypt.”

Closing Remarks in Centerville:

“So here are the words my prophecy: That the things that we have looked at this evening, restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the seer named Joseph, the son of the father named Joseph, fulfilled the promise of Joseph of Egypt, and they are all true. I know them to be true. And you could know them to be true too. But the price you have to pay to gain that knowledge is to study what was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Otherwise, they’re just something gathering dust on a shelf. Don’t read them as if you’re trying to vindicate the religion you already understand. Don’t read them as if you’re trying to defend your current group of preferred doctrines. Read them as if you are as ignorant of the will of God as the convert you hope to make living somewhere in Florida or New Guinea or Guatemala. Because the truth of the matter is we have been devolving in our understanding from the day of Joseph Smith until today at an ever accelerating rate. And what we have left, Enoch called gross darkness.

“I bear testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. I bear testimony that our Lord lived and lives. I’m one of those who can say that I am a witness of that. I have seen His suffering. I have heard His voice. He doesn’t intend that I be a solitary witness of Him, or Joseph be one. He intends for every one of you to rise up and do as James bids you to do. If you lack wisdom, ask God. He gives to you, He gives to all of us liberally. He is real. It is His work to bring this stuff to pass. The only thing that we can do is to offer to be a servant. And I am confident that I am a poor one of those. But I am His servant. I serve Him however poorly, however offensively, however inadequately. He intends to call, in the plural, servants to fulfill what needs to be done in the last days. He does intend to bring again Zion. That will be his, and not a man’s work.

“When we get together again the next time I talk, the subject is going to be Priesthood. And the time after that we’ll talk about Zion. Hopefully as a consequence of covering the subjects we do, in the order that we address them, you’ll begin to appreciate the restoration that has come about through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Hopefully you will understand Joseph’s work as only the beginning of the work of God in the last days. Much of what is left yet to be accomplished will not be accomplished unless it is through others, eventually leading to the return of the natural fruit. A proposition that remains a challenging and undone and an incomplete labor.

“The things I’ve talked about tonight were chosen precisely because they focus on the issue, the real issue involving covenants, we need to begin to understand in the last days in order to know that the covenants of the fathers and the work of reuniting His children with the fathers is something yet to be accomplished. But it is something which, hopefully, we will begin to see happen again. Joseph did not return without some success in that. Joseph was able to obtain what he sought. Now we need to do the same to save ourselves in our day.”

Orem – Priesthood: 11-2-13

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/183144071/Orem-Transcript-Priesthood

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Lecture_5-Orem-Priesthood.pdf

Opening Remarks in Orem:

“…today we are talking about priesthood. A topic which probably everyone is this room thinks they know a whole lot about, and can recite a whole lot of history, and give a whole lot of details, and explain everything there is to know about it in so far as the restoration is concerned. You all probably think you know what Joseph has said and what the scriptures tell us about priesthood. I’m going to ask you for purposes of today to assume that what you know is riddled with incompletions, omissions, and gaps in the storyline. And it is a fact that Joseph Smith never set out to ever give a comprehensive accounting of the subject of priesthood.

“He gave snippets. He gave a grab here and a grab there. In the process of doing so he left things that have been filled in by the imagination of people, but not necessarily by anyone, who like Joseph, knew what he was talking about. Therefore, as you run into new things throughout the talk today, things that you think I’m off base with, or making a mistake because it doesn’t agree with what you think you already know, I would ask you to be patient enough to hear the whole matter through today. And then be further patient enough to take it back into the scriptures, and prayerfully look at it. Because it’s just possible, in fact in my view it is probable, that you know things that are wrong and you need to abandon them. So I would ask you to be patient as we go through this today and at least try it on for size and see if something doesn’t click.”

Closing Remarks in Orem:

“The Powers of Heaven themselves have limits. This is the reason why that third form of sealing power is so rare a commodity. Because even the angels desire to inquire into it but the angels don’t possess it. It doesn’t matter if from the hierarchy of those on the other side of the veil you manage to wrestle something from them. Even if it comes from one who claims to possess thrones, or principalities, as “the god of this world” claims to hold. God says in this revelation if you can understand His words, that even His angels and those who have ascended far up, must in every case, only establish that which comes by the will and covenant of the Son and the Father. The Son because He possesses the right to do so. The Father because He is the one from whom the original covenant began in the preexistence. So don’t think because you’ve had an angel promise you something it is always to be yours. Recognize that according to Doctrine and Covenants section 132, you have to connect up with the Father’s word before you obtain an eternal covenant.

Changing topics again, I want to discuss the first meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman. Adam was not considered to be among those who were mortal, because Adam began life in the Garden in the presence of God. Therefore, mortals were those who had been born following the Fall of man. Those who were born in the mortal realm in that meeting began with Seth. The seven who gathered at Adam-ondi-Ahman were mortal because they were born outside of God’s presence. They were restored again into God’s presence at the meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman.

The fact is, that same thing that was in the beginning will be in the end of the world also. That’s the covenant, that’s the promise, and that’s the destiny, and God will surely fulfill that.

“We take a lot of comfort and spent a lot of money buying all of the stuff around Springhill Missouri, valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman because that was a place where Adam was. (D&C 116: 1.) It is the place where God will come to once again. I want to suggest that, the wicked, knavish, proud, boastful, those fare sumptuously and who seek the honors of men, will never have possession of, and be able to control or prevent the unfolding of God’s work. The words Adam-ondi-Ahman mean “Adam in the presence of the Father.” Therefore, any place that the Ancient of Days comes to, while Christ is there also, is by definition Adam-ondi-Ahman. It can occur anywhere. When it does, that will be Adam-ondi-Ahman. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if a fallen and corrupt society owns a piece of real estate. God is not bound by the stratagems of men. Nor are His purposes controlled by the vanities of men.

“And yet if they will repent, and if they will hear what the Lord has to say, He can still work with them. But if not, then He’ll work with you. Assuming that you came and are willing to hear, and assuming your heart is soft and you’re willing to take in the things that God required to be included in what I’m saying today. Some of the content of today’s talk came by revelation as recently as this morning. I’m doing this to be faithful to the things that have been asked of me, not by man or men but by God. I don’t even control the content of this material. I’m not parsing these scriptures because I think they are nice. I’m telling you what I know to be true, because it is what I’ve been asked to declare by Him whose presence I have been in.”

Grand Junction – Zion: 4-12-14

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/218988667/Grand-Junction-Transcript-Zion

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Lecture_6-Grand-Junction-Zion.pdf

An early paragraph from Grand Junction:

“…the more upset someone is about Mormonism, the more angry they are, the more emotionally connected they are to denouncing Mormonism, the easier it is to have a conversation with them. In my experience, it is easier to make a convert from an emotional critic because they care about the topic. That is why they are emotional. So I would encourage all of you to share your religion. Perhaps in the exchange you will learn something true about the faith, as well. Some of the greatest criticism leveled against our faith is based on truth, and we shouldn’t be afraid to correct our own misunderstanding when we encounter that. True religion ought to be a search for truth, even when it is uncomfortable. Shedding our false traditions can be painful, but it is necessary if you intend to arrive at last at the truth. A false religion is unworthy of a faithful man or woman.”

Closing paragraphs from Grand Junction:

“Time and time again, the location of Zion is approved by the Lord in different spots, precisely because the entirety of North and South America would be an acceptable place to build Zion. But within those general geographical parameters, it must be in the mountains. It must be among the natives who are originally here. It must be established under the guidance of someone who hails from both the tribe of Ephraim, and is a descendent of Jesse. You can read that in the Doctrine and Covenants. (D&C 133: 6.) It will surely come. There is absolutely no reason for the Lord to tell you another place to go and pollute, if you don’t rise up and bring within you the worthiness necessary, to turn at last, a place into the New Jerusalem.

“To a place where the Lord can come and dwell among you. A place where you can be of one heart, where you can be of one mind, where there are no poor among you, and where you have all things in common. Where you meet the requirements to meet with Him. There is no reason to assemble you together at any spot until then. You can do everything that needs to be done preliminarily, wherever you dwell at present. You can prepare your hearts and you can prepare your minds and can begin now to understand the difficulties. Instead of judging the failures from before, you can start to walk in the path they attempted. Then instead of judging, you can empathize with their failures. You will come to some appreciation for the fact that it is not going to be any easier for you than it was for them. You can find out what they learned when they attempted it.”

Ephraim – Christ, Prototype of the Saved Man: 6-28-14

This is the first talk I was able to attend in person. I was surprised when so many people came up to me before and after the lecture to say hello. Some I knew but many I didn’t. I heard a lot of, “I read your blog but have never commented.” I know that has nothing to do with the lecture but it’s what I remember most – how kind the people were who introduced themselves to me.

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/233544493/Ephriam-Transcript-Christ

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Lecture_7-Ephraim-Christ.pdf

Opening Paragraphs from Ephraim:

“The topic today is Christ. In the next talk we’ll be addressing the subject of coming to Christ, but in this talk today, it is about Christ Himself. You know, very often it is easy to summon confidence in the Lord when something happens in your life to remind you. When some event gives you evidence He exists. For that moment you briefly feel close to Him. But as soon as the cares and troubles of this world interfere, the moment passes, and you begin wondering, “Is it all true? Am I just believing a myth?”

“Jesus Christ came into the world unexpected, unannounced by men, unanticipated by His generation, but expected and announced by heaven. There were signs in heaven, but men were largely oblivious. When the shepherds keeping watch over the flocks by night were interrupted, it was not by an earthly herald. There was none among men. It was from beyond the veil. The Savior crept into the world with heaven noticing, but precious few of us paying attention to what was afoot.”

“It is so easy to overlook Him because of the cares of the world. I want to assure you He is real. He exists. He was a man, every bit a man as any of us. He had flesh, He had blood, He dwelt among us. Don’t doubt that. For the purposes of this talk, trust in Him, believe in Him, have confidence in His existence.”

A few closing paragraphs from Ephraim:

“When I first got an answer to prayer sitting in a barracks in New Hampshire, if I hadn’t acted on that I would never have beheld the Lord, much less been taught by Him. But I did, and I do. Whatever He still asks of me, I do. It does not matter how unpleasant I find it, or how reluctant I may be. I go and I do. You need to do likewise. It may not even make much sense to you when you’re going and doing. You may think you are offending when you absolutely do not intend to do so. You may find the people you love rejecting you.

“I lost friends and was rejected when I converted to Mormonism. Then I found a new family in the faith I accepted as a nineteen year old. After forty years I was rejected by that new family. I have laid everything on the line for the Lord twice now in a single lifetime. I cannot tell you what sacrifices He may ask of you, but whatever He asks of you, that do you.

“Let me end by bearing testimony and witness to you, that the things I’ve been saying, beginning in Boise and going on through Phoenix, the beginning date, the ending date, the content, the fact that there are 10 of them, the timeframe in which they are being delivered, the fact He wanted us to begin on the first day of the 40th year, and He wanted us to end on the last day of the 40th year, those things are not my doing. He is the author of this all.

“Hearken to the word of the Lord. End your days on this barren treadmill and rise up. There is no reason to fail when the Lord offers you His word, and even His presence, today. He will not leave you here comfortless, but He will come and take up His abode with you. The idea this is only to happen “in your heart” is an old sectarian notion, and is false. Joseph Smith declared that, and I declare he spoke the truth.”

Las Vegas – A Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit: 7-25-14

Carol came with me to hear Denver and to have dinner at his invitation with his family that evening in St. George. We both enjoyed meeting him and appreciated his invitation to dinner. I think it helped Carol to see Denver is a regular kind of guy with a family he loves and is happy to be around. I think Stephanie also enjoyed meeting Carol. They were both very gracious to us.

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/235588105/Las-Vegas-Transcript-A-Broken-Heart-and-Contrite-Spirit

Link: http://russellyanderson.com/DenverSnuffer/Lecture_8-LasVegas-Broken_Heart.pdf

One of the opening paragraphs from Las Vegas:

“The Israelites Moses led did not want to encounter Him. This was not because God’s presence is so terrible it drives men from Him. That cannot be true because Moses approached Him, Joseph, Abraham, Isaiah all approached Him. However, God’s presence makes every man evaluate who and what they are. Although we can lie to ourselves about how good we are, when the measuring stick used is God, we are unable to deceive ourselves. When the comparison is to God, all of us come short. Even when the Lord testifies to you that your sins are forgiven, you still recognize you fall short. To the extent a man has confidence in the presence of the Lord it is wholly derived from Him. He must strengthen you, because if He does not, we would all retire in shame.”

A couple of closing paragraphs from Las Vegas:

“If we are required to develop the attributes of Christ, how is it possible for us to do so, unless God patiently tries to persuade us to voluntarily be like Him? How can you hope to be like Him, if you refuse to be persuaded? God came as one of the weak things of this world. The only way He is ever going to invite you is through one of the weak things of this world, speaking in weakness, asking you to be persuaded. It doesn’t matter how earnest I am, I know my standing before God. What matters is your willingness to be persuaded. Over that I have no control, and want no control. I simply put the case as the Lord has put it to me, in the hopes that what He has to offer, and what He says need to be said will get through to you. Your relationship and your accountability is not to me, it’s to Him. Therefore, be persuaded. Please, for your own sake, be persuaded.”

“Look, pray to Him and realize that as you reach up to Him, He would rather reach down to you with greater enthusiasm than any of you could muster. But in order to establish the necessary conditions for our development, there was a law ordained before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated. That law is as easily accessible by the father of King Lamoni, as it is accessible to the father of the young man overtaken and falling into the fire, and into the water. It is as accessible to the brother of Jared as it is accessible to you.

“Because when the law before the foundation of the world was ordained, it was intended for all men to possibly receive of God’s fullness. If receiving of His fullness required a course in rabbinical reasoning, or an advanced theological degree, there would be almost none who are saved. But the Book of Mormon gives us account after account. What happens to those who do not possess the required soft heart and willingness to bow? They come away saying, “God maketh no such thing known unto us.” Like Laman and Lemuel, they establish for themselves, using their iron necks and their brass brows, the inability to look up to God and be saved.”

Continue on to Part Three: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/09/08/preparing-for-the-final-lecture-part-three

Coming Unto Christ Through Reading


ScriptureStudyLDSOne of the books we were allowed to bring with us on our missions back in the 70’s was Jesus the Christ by Elder Talmage. I remember reading it as part of our personal study time. The little white missionary handbook that laid out our daily schedule included one hour of personal study time but we often found time during lunch or just before we retired around 10:30 each evening.

Even with reading the book several hours each day, it took at least a month to get through it. I had to look up so many of the words that were new to me at that age. We were allowed to read The Articles of Faith and The Great Apostasy, both by Talmage, also A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards and D&C Commentary by Hyrum M Smith and Janne M Sjodahl.

Different Apostle for a Different Generation

Words are important. They convey a world of meaning. The little book that got me through Jesus The Christ was called Understanding Talmage, 1973 from Deseret Book – forty pages of words not found in the every-day language of middle-class 19-year old LDS missionaries. Talmage was on one level and I was way down on a much lower level when it came to his massive vocabulary.

Later in my life I read the Messiah series from Bruce R. McConkie. I found the books easier to read, mainly because I was older, had a college education behind me and frankly, I don’t think McConkie used quite so many erudite words. I felt a greater sense of majesty about the Savior as I read McConkie’s books, quite different from the rather scholarly approach I got from Talmage.

Except Some Man Should Guide Me

It was not until I read The Second Comforter and Come, Let Us Adore Him by Denver Snuffer that I began to feel a connection with the Savior as someone with whom I could relate. The Lord became a friend, a brother and a mentor. Something in Denver Snuffer’s books touched me in a way Talmage and McConkie could not. I’d like to investigate that difference in this short post.

I’ve read and heard many people say, “You shouldn’t need to have someone else interpret the scriptures for you. You should be able to get everything you need out of the scriptures.” Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. I’ve noted before, I feel like the Eunuch reading from Isaiah asked by Philip if he understood what he was reading. “How can I, except some man should guide me?”

Those Who Know Don’t Talk About It

I’m not saying Talmage or McConkie have not met the Lord. Goodness knows we adore Elder McConkie’s last conference talk as being a witness of that fact. On the other hand, neither of them ever came out and said, “I first met the Lord on such and such a date. He ministered to me. We embraced. I felt the wound in his side and touched the nail marks in his hands and his feet.”

There are many who continue to respond the same way to every essay I write which includes a reference to Denver Snuffer. “You can tell Denver Snuffer is a liar because God tells men not to talk about the experience when they come into the presence of Christ.” We have discussed this myth ad infinitum on this blog starting with my first post on Snuffer back in February of 2012.

Bear Witness of the Testimony of Jesus

I am a witness that God asks us to share sacred experiences as appropriate. I have been prompted by the Lord many times to relate some experience in conversing with the Lord through the veil. On the other hand, some things should never be shared, nor can they be shared because words fail when trying to relate such experiences. They are intended only to prepare us for the next life.

Perhaps I relate better to Snuffer because I’m older now. Denver and I are similar in age. He is an attorney, while I am employed as a computer professional. His vocabulary does not seem to overwhelm me. I enjoy his writing style, even though I have complained in the past about his tendency toward verbosity and replication. That skill is actually the sign of a good teacher.

Seek Balance Through Service to Others

My mother was a professional educator. My love of learning and of books comes from her. My personal library contains numerous books inherited from my mother. My sister, a librarian, has an equal number. I seem to spend all my spare time reading. Physical limitations kept me from participating in sports and kept me from following the military career exampled by my father.

The argument can and should be made about coming unto Christ through service. I fully agree, but there is nothing that can replace studying about a subject or individual to obtain a foundation upon which to build. Thus, coming unto Christ by reading is and has been my focus. I spend far more time reading than I do in service. I know that’s imbalanced, but it’s the way it worked out.

Reading and Learning Motivates Action

I’ve reviewed the Second Comforter in several previous posts. I tried to relate the points that I found enlightening. I was amazed to find multiple readers wanted to argue with me about the source. Their contention was that nothing from Denver Snuffer could be trusted, especially since the man had been cast off from the LDS Church for apostasy. That seems a little close-minded.

The book was published in 2006. Since then Denver has come out with numerous other books and multiple lectures, all focusing on the same subject of coming unto Christ. As far as I can tell his message has always been, “You can read about it all you want, but until you actually do what the Lord directs, you’ll never obtain the desired goal of entering into the presence of the Lord.”

A Book on How to Meet the Savior

I think that’s the difference I find in Snuffer’s books about the Savior as compared to Talmage, McConkie, or others who have written about the Messiah. Denver’s books invite us to action, and contain promises of results, to which he bears witness by personal examples. Church leaders today simply don’t come out and say, “I have seen him and so can you. Here’s how you do it.”

I suspect that’s the appeal of Denver Snuffer to so many like me who have long believed the promises of D&C 93:1, D&C 107:18-19 and D&C 88:68. I suppose that’s why hundreds flock to his lectures in spite of threats from local church leaders to “stay away from that apostate.” There are those who recognize not all truth comes exclusively through the LDS General Authorities.

Suffering in the Garden Came in Waves

I have written previously about my own witness of what I saw in the Garden of Gethsemane, but it was nothing compared to the witness borne by Denver in his book, Come, Let us Adore Him. I challenge anybody to read the chapter on Gethsemane with humility and then come away with anything but great adoration for the Lord and Savior of us all for what he suffered on that night.

Wave after wave of suffering, torment, grief and pain tore through his body. He healed himself using his own virtue because he was a God, even the Son of God. He suffered the pains of both those who caused the sorrow of others and those who were the victims. The greater suffering came in the second wave – that of the victims – who suffered anger, bitterness and resentments.

We Can Hear His Voice as we Read

How grateful I am to know we can have a direct and personal relationship with our Savior. He wants to talk to us, to commune with us and to dwell with us. I learned this in greater abundance through reading the words of a man now cast off by the LDS Church. Yes, I had read and knew this previously, but I didn’t internalize this until it was explained in words I could understand.

How can a man come to know the Master unless someone teaches him? How can someone teach of the Master unless they know him? There is so much out there written about the Savior. Those who have taken the Holy Ghost for their guide will recognize the Master’s voice, no matter what the source. His promises to come unto us, to dwell with us are real and can be literally fulfilled.

The Promises of the Lord to Us

One of the great promises of the Lord to us is that his work is not yet complete. What he did while upon the earth, teaching, preaching and then suffering for us, he called his preparations. For what was He preparing? He was putting into place the mechanism for us to fulfill our life’s work, which is to exercise faith in Him, to repent, and then to be baptized by water and by fire.

“You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” One of the most common topics of my private emails seems to center on the process of how one can receive the baptism of fire.

We Can Know and Hear the Voice of the Lord

The second most common topic is how we can hear the voice of the Lord. The answer lies in the first question. Once you receive the Holy Ghost, you can speak with the tongue of angels. Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

The scriptures act as a Urim and Thummim or a conduit for the voice of the Lord to come unto us. The more familiar we are with the scriptures, the more familiar we are with the voice of the Lord. We learn to distinguish that voice, oftentimes delivered to us by angels and sometimes by the Lord directly, from all the other voices we hear. We can also speak by that same tongue.

Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy

Joseph Smith linked revelation from the Lord with our own salvation. Without it, we cannot be saved. “Salvation cannot come without revelation. It is vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy.” (DHC 3:389)

I thank God for the knowledge of Christ or the testimony of Jesus that has come into my life both through studying scripture and the words of those who know Christ today. My efforts to put into practice acts of kindness and service are directed by the ongoing voice of the Lord that comes to me through the Holy Ghost. We can know Christ. We can hear His voice. But we must study.

Learn by Study and by Faith

We must understand doctrine.  We must study the scriptures.  But more important than anything else, we must seek to gain further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord directly. In this post I have focused on the importance of studying. I have strong feelings about studying because in my rebellious youth, I felt I didn’t need to study. The Lord showed me otherwise.

But there is a better kind of knowledge, one that has greater eternal impact. As Joseph said, “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” He also declared that “the best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.”

May we do both with faith and diligent effort. God will bless us for so doing.

Keys of the Kingdom Revisited


Keys-of-the-KingdomCarol and I have had a running conversation since Sunday about the succession crisis at the death of Joseph. To me, it has become the crux of the matter when considering the legitimacy of the LDS Church as the Kingdom of God on the earth. We have both been taught all our lives that Brigham had the Keys of the Kingdom and therefore nothing was lost when Joseph was killed.

Before I present anything may I remind everyone that this is the blog of a private member of the LDS Church and in no way represents the official viewpoints or doctrines of the LDS Church. For that, go to lds.org where you can read the official narrative of how the succession between Joseph and Brigham took place. I won’t review it here. I assume you are familiar with the story.

Second point: if my writing about this bothers you, please don’t read it. I am simply trying to understand our history more perfectly. If the history of our Church is not something that has anything to do with your faith or your willingness to follow the prophet or the Savior then go elsewhere. Pease ignore what I am about to present if the succession issue was settled in your mind long ago.

The Death of Joseph Smith

Up until a few years ago, I had no problems with stating Brigham was just as much a prophet as was Joseph. I accepted the standard narrative that the keys of the kingdom were given to each of the apostles by Joseph before he died. I’m sure we have all read the story of Brigham’s concern when he heard about Joseph’s death. He was with Orson Pratt in Peterboro, New Hampshire.

At first, Brigham was not sure and did not know how to proceed. He had to think about it. This was new and unexpected. It had never happened before. Hyrum was the intended successor, but he died before Joseph. Then Brigham remembered the Twelve had the keys. Section 107 tells us the Quorum of the Twelve is equal in authority and power to the Quorum of the First Presidency.

Legal Successors to Joseph

Brigham did not consider himself to be the legal successor to Joseph. He believed that right belonged to either Joseph Smith III or David Smith. He long hoped for the Spirit of God to move either Joseph or David to fill the station Brigham believed their father had appointed to them. We see things as being very clear and orderly today. At the time, they were not so clear to Brigham.

Brigham said, “[Joseph’s] boys … are in the hands of God, and when they make their appearance before this people, full of his power, there are none but what will say- “Amen! We are ready to receive you.” He also said, “The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph’s legal successor. You never heard me say so. I do not think anything about being Joseph’s successor.”

Elected to the Position

In the great debate between Sidney and Brigham, both claimed they would be caretakers until Joseph’s sons could lead. Brigham relied on the idea that he possessed “all the keys” and was voted into office. When he became President of the Church, he recorded in his own journal he was “elected” to the office. He did not believe he needed any ordination to assume the office.

Did you catch that? Brigham Young was never ordained to be the President of the Church. He was only elected or sustained to the position. Common consent was all he felt he needed to take over the leadership of the Church. And he got it. Things were different in the early days of the Church. The position exists by reason of common consent and gives all the authority needed.

Authority and Power not the Same

Authority in the Church was derived from the consent of its members. However, authority is NOT the same as priesthood. While many have been called, few have been or ever will be entrusted with the power of the priesthood. Power in the priesthood is received by God and not by the laying on of hands. Power in the priesthood cannot be passed from one man to another.

I’ll state it again: Authority in the Church is not equal to power in the priesthood. President Packer made this clear in an April 2010 General Conference address. “The priesthood does not have the strength that it should and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” The power of the priesthood cannot be controlled by men.

Power not Controlled by an Institution

Power in the priesthood comes from heaven or it does not come at all. There has never been an institution entrusted with the power of heaven, and that includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church can convey authority for men to rule over one another throughout the world. But the power of the priesthood comes only one way, and that is by the voice of God.

As the revelation to Joseph states it, man, or the Church does not have any right to either confer power in the priesthood or to prevent it from being conferred. Heaven alone determines if a man will be permitted to act as one of Heaven’s chosen high priests. Ordination is only an invitation. God alone confers the power. Any priesthood holder who has thought about this knows it is true.

Priesthood Independent from the Church

Priesthood and redemption are tied together. And if Joseph Smith’s revelations are to be trusted, then the church does not and cannot control either, because God controls both. Establishing the church was distinct from restoring the priesthood. And priesthood has existed, can and does exist independent of a church. Joseph’s revelations and ancient scripture repeatedly teach this truth.

The Church is completely dependent upon the priesthood to fill the male offices of the Church, but the priesthood still remains independent of the Church. The Aaronic priesthood has power for angels to minister, but Melchizedek priests may behold the face of God. When a man such as Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son in 1820, he must have held the higher priesthood.

Higher Priesthood Comes Only From God

No man can see the Father without this priesthood and live. Therefore, Joseph had this higher priesthood even before the appearance of angels who later conferred priesthood upon Joseph. It is apparent Joseph was among those whose priesthood reckons from before the foundation of this world. The higher priesthood does not come from a man. It is only given by the voice of God.

Priesthood power is clearly something different than an ordination. But it is clear the only thing an ordination accomplishes is to invite the one ordained to connect to heaven. It is from heaven alone that priesthood power is obtained. An ordination confers an office in the Church, but an office in the Church is not synonymous with the power of heaven or power in the priesthood.

Ordinances are Invitations to Get Power

There are two different kinds of apostles. One is an administrative office in the church. The other is a witness of the resurrection, who has met with Christ. When Brigham was ordained an apostle, he was told his ordination was not full and complete until God had laid His hands upon him. The Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days?

Most of the ordinances of the church are not the real thing. They are types and symbols of the real thing. They are official invitations, authorized by Christ, and extended to any person who will join the Church to go and get the real thing. Any person who has priesthood conferred upon him will need to go into God’s presence and receive power in their priesthood, through the veil.

Brigham Claimed to Have All the Keys

Every person who joins the church and keeps its ordinances will be invited through these very ordinances to come and receive the Lord. When they do come into His presence, they will find themselves in possession of promises, rights, privileges, power and covenants for themselves and their posterity, for all generations, and into eternity. They will have then turned unto the fathers.

Brigham’s claim to be in possession of “all the keys” previously conferred upon Joseph by heavenly messengers raised the question of exactly what was included in the conferral. Even today there is no full description of what keys were involved or what rights were included. Today, the claim is that the keys identified in section 110 are what were passed to the Twelve.

Joseph Never Taught Section 110

I have a copy of the Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, volume 1 in my possession. I read with interest the account of how section 110 came to be. It was recorded by Warren Cowdery, not as a direct eyewitness but being copied from some document no longer extant. This account is written in the third person and describes the visit of the various messengers to Joseph and Oliver.

The account of section 110 was not inserted into the record until many years after the deaths of the only eyewitnesses, Joseph and Oliver, who never taught or mentioned they had been visited by Christ, Moses, Elias or Elijah in the Kirtland temple. It was not discovered until 1852. In any event, the wording states the keys were committed, as if Joseph already had the sealing power.

Visit Of Elijah Still a Future Event

Until his dying day, Joseph referred to Elijah’s return as a still future event. Brigham Young was ordained an apostle in 1835, more than a year before the 1836 appearance of Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah in the Kirtland temple. Joseph did not participate in Brigham’s ordination. Brigham was ordained by the Three Witnesses. How then, did Brigham receive the keys of the kingdom?

The Apostles were all invited to complete their ordinations by having hands laid upon their heads directly by Him who had the right to confer the Apostleship with power. Brigham Young never claimed such an ordination ever happened. Quite the contrary, he claimed the Lord never visited him. He said he never had any being from a higher sphere visit or speak with him in his lifetime.

Fullness of Priesthood Never Conferred

Brigham Young was correct about who should lead the church after Joseph’s death. The Twelve Apostles were entitled to lead the church. Section 107 makes this clear. The Church has the right to function as a complete organization with all the offices we have today. It also has the right to sustain by common consent individuals to those various offices, constituting authorized leaders.

Did Joseph die before he conferred the keys he held upon another? Was something vital lost to the Church when Joseph was taken? It is clear the Church was offered the fullness, but a temple was required to reveal it. Once completed, it would be the Lord that would confer priesthood power upon the saints, transfer the fullness of the priesthood, and then come to dwell with them.

Keys of the Kingdom Were Lost

But the temple was not built in time. Joseph even offered to sacrifice his life to give the saints more time. His offering was accepted, yet the work was not completed in time. In fact, the temple was never completed. The Lord never visited the building. The promised fullness was not passed to the saints in the manner section 124 commanded. Something vital was lost for a time.

Joseph’s death did not end the Lord’s plan for the Latter-day Saints. The Book of Mormon confirms the gentile church – we are identified as such in D&C 109:60 – will remain part of God’s plan from the moment of the restoration until the New Jerusalem is built. And so it has. But what keys, if any, were passed from Joseph to Brigham? Who has the Keys of the Kingdom?

Rebuttals Welcome

Parting the Veil


BeStill_FribergI yearn to connect with the powers of heaven. Each morning in my prayers I ask the Lord to walk with me. Each night I ask Him to part the veil that I may see and understand His will for me. On occasion, He does just that. May I share two such experiences from many years ago that remain with me still? I have often wondered why the Lord revealed them to me when I was so young.

Expanding the Mind

At seventeen years of age, most young people don’t have sufficient life experience to know how to keep themselves within the bounds the Lord has set. In fact, they usually don’t know just what those bounds are or why He has set them. New friends come into their lives, bringing new ideas and new things to share. Sometimes, the things shared seem to open the mind but are deceiving.

Cryptic? I think you can read between the lines. After six months I decided I had been deceived long enough. I found myself on my knees pleading with the Lord to redeem my soul from hell. Night after night I cried unto my God. I apologized. I begged for forgiveness. I felt the pains of a damned soul. I could not seem to shake the feeling of being lost, or of having lost my birthright.

The Lord Calls Unto Me

I was not an addict, or was I? Cravings to turn to old ways of sin enticed me day and night. Yet in my prodigal days before going cold turkey, I felt the constant beckoning of my Savior. “Come back to me,” he cried. “This is not what you want. This is not real. I have something better. I can show you what is real.” I held on to this promise through days and nights of pure torture and hell.

I turned to scriptures I had casually carried with me every Sunday, but had not taken seriously. I was especially drawn to the large print, early-morning edition Seminary scriptures. I found in them passages I had underlined. They reminded me of lessons taught by loving and sacrificing seminary teachers who gave of their time and sleep in an effort to reach out to me in my youth.

Putting Off the Natural Man

One night, after an especially difficult day, I found myself in the Book of Mormon, reading the discourse of King Benjamin to his people, sharing the words of an angel he had received only the night before. “Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.” I pondered the idea of being taught by an angel.

Closing the book, I knelt in prayer and poured out my soul for the Lord to save me. I had read once again that “…the natural man is an enemy to God…unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man…” How many times had I read this before? I knew it by heart. Even in the 1970’s we had scripture mastery. This was one that always impressed me.

The Sin of Rebellion

I next remembered another scripture lesson from my Old Testament teacher. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee…” Me, stubborn, rebellious? Yes, you, my son. It sank deep into my heart. I had rejected the word of the Lord. Does that mean he had rejected me?

I cried unto the Lord for peace, but no peace came. I pled for mercy, knowing I did not deserve it. After what seemed like hours of wading through the darkness with a broken heart and contrite spirit, I began to feel a lessening of my burden. I sensed a change in my body. I felt lighter. Did I imagine it or were the cravings really gone? In their place I felt something different in my heart.

An Angel Sent to Teach Me

“Be still, and know that I am God.” I stopped my crying. I became aware of the presence of something or rather someone powerful. This was a new experience for me. This was the first time the heavens had parted. Did I see anything? No, my natural eyes saw nothing. In fact, they were still closed. I sat still for the first time in hours – perfectly still, hardly daring to breathe.

I had never sat this still before in my life. I was not alone. Someone was there with me. I could sense his presence. Somehow, I knew it was not the Lord, but someone sent to teach me or show me something. I literally felt a hand pass across my face, over my eyes, slowly from left to right. I was impressed the Lord wanted to show me something. I got off my knees and lay upon my bed.

An Entry From my Journal

May 1974: “After prayer, I am overcome by the spirit. I lay upon my bed but can’t sleep. In my mind’s eye, I see myself speaking to an overflow gathering of people wanting to be taught the gospel. We are in Southern Utah. It is inside a building like a tabernacle. The feelings are very overwhelming. It is incredibly quiet and reverent. People are listening to me intently as I teach.

“There is an unbelievable outpouring of love and the Spirit. What I am relating is intensely important and has to do with the end of the world and preparations for the Second Coming. The building is filled to capacity and the crowd spills out into the street. People are standing at the windows, straining to hear. The building is lit by candles. It seems there is no electricity. Why?

“I can see I am an older man, in my seventies or eighties. I remember these intense feelings for the rest of my life – they were very real.  I believe it was the Spirit of the Lord showing me what the Lord expected of me. He knew this vision would be motivational to make myself worthy for the gifts of the Spirit – prophecy and revelation – as promised to me in my Patriarchal blessing.”

Another Entry From my Journal

June 1974: “After prayer one night, I remember lying in bed unable to go to sleep because of the intense feelings associated with what I am seeing in my mind’s eye.  I see myself speaking at an outdoor gathering.  It is late summer or early in the fall. It is not cold or wet in any way. There is a green sunshade stretched over the podium and speaker area. There are trees to either side of us.

“I am on the stand with many other individuals participating in the Lord’s work. It is later in my life and I am an old man. There is a gathering of thousands upon thousands of people stretched out for what seems like miles before me.  I am one of the speakers.  In fact, it is my impression I am conducting the meeting at that particular gathering. I am confused by this impression. Why?

“Shortly after we are married, Carol and I visit the Valley of Adam-Ondi-Ahman. I realize I have been there before – it is the same place I see in my mind’s eye this night. I am overcome with the same feelings of that night. I remember most intently the feelings associated with speaking to this large gathering to this day. I am not sure this is an event I will experience during mortality.”

We Can Receive Revelation

These were the first of many revelatory experiences in my life. The Lord gave me permission to share these. In fact, He asked me to share them this evening. I don’t know why. I am not trying to call attention to myself and say, “Hey, look at me. I’m so good. I got revelation.” As you have read, I am not so good. I did not deserve these experiences. I still wonder why I received them.

The only reason I can think the Lord asked me to share these particular journal entries is because there is someone out there who needs to read this. I speak to you, whoever you are. Don’t doubt the Lord is willing to reveal things to us. I am a witness he does. Our Mormon culture seems to forbid the sharing of sacred things such as this. Not so. They are given to strengthen each other.

Share When the Lord Asks

Over the years, I would try to work these and similar experiences into my priesthood, Sunday school or Seminary lessons. I even occasionally tried to share them over the pulpit in a talk or a testimony. I knew the Lord was OK with me sharing them, because He prompted me to do so. For some reason, I have not been prompted to share experiences such as these in recent years.

There have been a few more similar revelatory experiences the Lord has asked me to share. I have done so on my blog over the years. Some He has forbidden me to share. I don’t know why. Some I will only share in private. I don’t try to second guess the Lord. If He says share, I do so. If He says keep it to yourself, I shut my mouth. The point is, revelation is real. I am a witness.

Daily Conversation With the Lord

For the past few years I have had a daily running conversation with the Lord. He knows what I want. He tells me to be patient. He does not say no. He tells me to wait. He is testing me. He told me so. There is more He wants me to know. It can only be known by revelation. Meanwhile, I study and pray because that is what He asks of me. He is constantly directing me in what I study.

I suppose that’s also a form of revelation. I sometimes take it for granted. When I was younger I thought everyone was directed by the Lord in what they should study or learn. I was surprised to learn otherwise. Everyone has spiritual gifts. I know I’m not the only one.

From My Patriarchal Blessing

“You will be guided and directed and schooled in your mission by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit unto you … as you share these blessings with the Lord, He will pour out more blessings upon you. Your cup will run over, your heart will be full. You will have the peace of mind that brings great comfort to the soul.” The Lord has asked me to share, so I share what he requests.

The more I share, as directed by the Lord, the more I feel His pleasure at what I am doing. The more I bear witness of the revelatory process, the more I sense the joy He has promised. As I am blessed, I desire to share that with others. As I do so, He pours out more blessings and fills my heart with joy. I know He is pleased. Revelation is real. The Lord is willing to speak with us.

Remember His Long-Suffering

I did not appreciate the Baptism of Fire I received later that year when I was seventeen. I wish I understood then how fragile a thing it is to retain a remission of your sins. The great secret is to always remember the Lord’s goodness and long-suffering toward us. I remember those days as the Lord called out to me to return to Him. I remember His long-suffering and patience with me.

Lately, my days have been filled with anticipation. Like many of you, I know something is about to happen. Too many of you have shared with me privately and in the comments of this blog to think this is just me experiencing this feeling. There is something afoot. The heavens are open for business. He is willing to reveal Himself to us and show us wonderful things. I know this.

“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.”

Cry Mightily Unto the Lord


BrotherofJaredThe Brother of Jared took sixteen small stones to the mountain. We know they were small because he carried them in his hands. They were certainly smaller than an egg. Perhaps he had eight in each hand. When he came down from the mountain he had eighteen stones. The Lord gave him two more to be used by future prophets to read and translate the words the Brother of Jared would write of the Savior.

After the Brother of Jared cried unto the Lord in a prayer of great faith and sound reasoning, the Lord touched the stones one by one with his finger. The record does not say the Brother of Jared placed the stones on a rock in front of him as we see depicted in the painting by Arnold Friberg. I like to think he held them in his hand as he cried unto the Lord in mighty prayer saying, “Lord, see these stones…”

Assuming he held the stones in his hands, I wonder what that would have felt like as the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched them one by one. The Brother of Jared would have felt the pressure of the Lord’s finger as He touched each one of them. I also wonder at what point the Brother of Jared finally saw the finger of the Lord. Was it on the first stone or did it take sixteen touches before he could see?

Taught by a Servant of the Lord

This is an example of one of the things Denver Snuffer taught us this weekend. I have been a member of the LDS Church all my life and have never heard anyone teach the importance or significance of the phrase to “Cry Mightily.” I am not seeking to point out any deficits in the teachers or the material. This may not be a new idea to you. I can only conclude I was not ready to hear or did not understand before.

I have been praying unto the Lord all my life. I have been asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me from the time I was seventeen when I first entered into His presence. I fasted for three days once thinking the Lord did not hear me or doubted my sincerity. At the end of the fast he reminded me I had not yet been endowed. He invited me to return to my quest in a few years. Thus I continued to study and prepare.

After being endowed, I got busy with my mission. After being sealed, I got busy with building a marriage and responding to the demands of my career. I forgot about the Lord’s invitation. I think I would have appreciated a reminder from those who lead this church of the importance of completing the invitation of the Lord to come into His presence. For some reason it never came up again from our church pulpits.

Reminded of the Promised Invitation

It wasn’t until I was introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer and read Passing the Heavenly Gift that the Lord visited me again. It was on the night of 25 January 2012. I wrote to my Facebook friends a few days later I hadn’t stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to read a book in many years. I knelt in prayer that night and cried mightily to the Lord asking if the invitation I had received at age seventeen still stood.

He assured me it was an open invitation. From that day to this I have been living in a state of rejoicing and anticipation. Knowing the path I was on, the adversary visited me last year to discourage me. I saw him, or rather his minions with my natural eyes. It was not a pleasant or uplifting experience. It has been a mighty struggle these eighteen months to recover from that experience, walking daily with the Lord.

Even stranger than the opposition from the adversary has been the opposition from those who love me. I find it amazing so many friends have fought against the Lord in their attempts to discourage me from fulfilling my promise to receive Him. It is especially disconcerting to see those who should know better, oppose the Lord and even deny Him by claiming He doesn’t work the same way taught in the scriptures.

Do Not Hinder Members in Their Efforts

If you are a servant of Jesus Christ, you will not oppose his invitation to come unto Him. If you claim to represent Him, or claim to be authorized by Him, or that you hold keys from Him, I know you will not teach those who believe in Him and seek to follow Him that they cannot receive Him. That would be anti-Christ, wouldn’t it? Surely a key holder would not hinder members from crying mightily unto Christ.

I have been counseled to forsake the Lord by those who claim to be His servants. “Come off this path,” I have been told. “You are in the mists of darkness,” when I can clearly see the rod of iron in my hand. How can this be? “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” Surely a priesthood leader would not ask a member of the flock to not heed the shepherd.

Is it possible a humble priesthood leader, in his zeal to follow the handbook could be in the wrong? “. . . they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2 Ne 28:14). Does our handbook contain policies with specific instructions against praying as taught in the temple?

A Sacred Sacrament Meeting

On Thursday evening I met with a number of my fellow travelers who are on the same journey. A small group of some fifteen to twenty of my friends met to take the Sacrament and to teach and testify to one another about the reality of being called of the Lord to come unto Him. The handbook of the LDS Church includes a policy that forbids members from administering the sacrament without a Bishop’s permission.

As instructed in scripture, and in order to not change the ordinance, new wine – not grape juice – was used instead of water. We partook of unleavened bread, as a reminder of the Passover. We had loaves of additional bread, that we all could be filled as we met and talked about the Lord for a few hours. It was a sacred experience. We all knelt. I was honored to bless the bread. Nobody led or controlled us.

I don’t think I have been to a more sacred, uplifting and sweet sacrament meeting in my life. Tears were shed, especially mine, as I realized how much I loved my fellow Saints while I listened to them describe how difficult their journey to Christ was because of the persecutions of their leaders. Some had been excommunicated. Others left voluntarily because they were forbidden to worship in the Lord’s way.

A Meeting With a Prophet

On Friday evening Carol and I enjoyed dinner with Denver and his family. I’ve declared and proclaimed on my blog at least a half dozen times now my conviction, borne of the spirit after years of studying, pondering and praying, that this man is a prophet of the Lord. I have never said he is a prophet of the LDS Church, which some have misunderstood. Nevertheless, he is an authorized messenger of Christ.

I love how many people start their private emails to me writing, “I know something of this man…” and then proceed to share their fears – borne out of love for me – that he is no prophet. I promised I would report on my meeting with him. I specifically asked the Lord for this opportunity some six months ago. Just a few days later Denver called me, without any prompting from me, and asked for this meeting.

I had no desire to ask him anything. I did not want to interview him. I did not want to discuss doctrine. I simply wanted to feel of his spirit and see how he treated his family. I had spoken with the Lord several times about my desire to know the truthfulness of this man’s claims and to know if his witness could be trusted. After all, it’s not every day a man claims to have been visited by the Lord, at least not lately.

A Witness Confirmed – Again

I don’t know how many more times the Lord can tell me Denver Snuffer is His servant before I weary the Lord with my petitions. I do not need to ask again. The matter is closed. There is nothing anyone can say, there is no argument anyone can offer, there is no doubt in my mind. When the Lord tells you he has asked a man to deliver a message, then you reject that message at the peril of your own salvation.

If I haven’t made it clear before, then I do so now. I am a second witness the Lord calls men in this day to do His work. This prophet messenger did not and does not challenge the right of President Thomas S. Monson or the rest of the men we sustain as Prophets, Seers and Revelators to preside over this Church. Denver Snuffer is not claiming that authority. He is doing what the Lord has asked him to do for now.

I know this is a radical claim that causes anger in some people. I have received those angry emails and have read those angry comments on my blog. The only response I can offer is the same one the Lord gave to his disciples when He visited them in the Americas. Contention is the spirit of the devil. If you feel angry because of the message of Denver Snuffer to receive Christ, think carefully about the source.

Excommunicated for Being Visited by Christ

I am grateful Carol agreed to attend the lectures this past weekend. I am grateful she attended the sacrament meeting and the dinner with Denver and his family. I am also grateful she gave me time to meet with other friends in a private setting to discuss changes in the LDS Church over the past few years. She joined us later for dinner on Saturday evening for a wonderful meal and entertainment.

I hope I don’t embarrass Him, but I want to publically thank Will Carter, “Good Will,” for joining us that evening and sharing story after story after story of faith-promoting evidences of the Lord working in his life. I don’t believe I have ever witnessed a man more filled with faith than Will Carter, a man who wants only to do the will of the Lord and come into His presence. For this he was cast out of the LDS Church.

I once originally entitled a post about Max Skousen, “The LDS Church Excommunicates Those who Know Christ.” Because so many LDS members were offended, and told me so, I changed it to something less offensive but just as factual. I wish I had kept the original title. For me, the evidence continues to mount. In spite of claims to the contrary, I can almost promise you will be cast off if you say you have seen Him.

My Witness, My calling and Election

I have shared my witness many times of the reality we can be born of the spirit. I have born witness we can enter the presence of the Lord. I have testified He will converse with us through the veil. I look forward to the day when I fall on my knees to bathe his feet with my tears. I hope to embrace him, in the flesh, and feel the wound in his side and touch the nail marks in his feet and his hands – in this life.

Receiving the Second Comforter is a true doctrine. Having your calling and election made sure is a true doctrine. If you are a key holder in this church and fail to teach these doctrines, you are anti-Christ. You and I have the responsibility to receive these ordinances and to bear witness to others that they can and must receive them in this life as well. If not, we will be held accountable for not performing our duties.

God bless the men who we have placed in leadership positions in this church through common consent. I sustain the fifteen men who lead this church as prophets, seers and revelators. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. I sustain the local authorities I work with and pray for them every morning and night. God bless us to come unto Christ.

An Open Invitation to the Brethren

Yes, these words are directed at the men who lead this church. I am asking you to do your duty. If you have been in the presence of Christ, the only way you can help stem the tide of young people leaving this church in droves is to bear witness of Christ. Testify you have seen Him. If you haven’t, call mightily unto Him until he comes unto you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He works this way.

I know it is considered bad form to counsel those who preside over you. I am sorry if this offends you. I can only do what the Lord has asked of me. I know my words may get me cast off. You are welcome to exercise control and compulsion and domination over me by virtue of your priesthood but you know the results. Amen to the priesthood of the man who does not use kindness, long-suffering and persuasion.

And please stop perpetuating the myth that those who are excommunicated will lose their souls or at least their exaltation. This is false doctrine. You cannot remove a man’s priesthood and you know it. Power in the higher priesthood comes from God, not from man. I have associated with enough of my friends whom you have cast off to know they are happy, they love the Lord and are trying to please Him.

Amen to the Priesthood of that Man

Read the appeal letter carefully: http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/11/appeal-letter.html. Notice the use of the words, control, compulsion, dominion and Amen. I know all appeal letters are supposed to be read by the members of the First Presidency. I suspect they are not, but are simply delegated to the bureaucracy. If that happened in Denver’s case, I have to wonder whose priesthood was really lost.

Answering the Affiliation Question


 

TempleRecommendWhen I turned in my temple recommend I didn’t expect it to upset so many people. It might have had something to do with blogging about it. There is wisdom in keeping some things private. But blogging about the issue paid off in droves. I received countless emails with advice and ideas on how to solve my dilemma. The solution: Most people concluded I was simply being too honest.

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t be too honest. Oh, yes you can. For example, what’s the correct answer to the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” More to the subject at hand, think about the Lord’s instructions to Peter, James and John from the first time he sent them to see what was happening with Adam. There are times it is appropriate to withhold information.

The Affiliation Question

For those who aren’t familiar with the question, from what I remember, it reads like this: “Do you support, affiliate with or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” You can read the temple recommend questions online in many places including the church website.

This question has been discussed ad infinitum in dozens of LDS forums and blogs over the years. It’s still a current topic of discussion. The young people in our church have grown up Internet-savvy. They’re concerned about all the different information they read online about doctrine and history. There are so many things online that simply aren’t taught in the official LDS curriculum.

Become Independent Witnesses

We study and research the facts. This is good practice. We need to think about things. We need to make our own decisions. Hugh B. Brown said: “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the Church and resist all efforts to suppress it.  The Church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.”

One of my long-time readers emailed me this morning. He casually mentioned a chat with his Elder’s Quorum President in his home. My friend was excited about some of the things he was reading and shared them with his Quorum President. What was the response? “I don’t think you should be reading that stuff.” When asked why, he replied, “It’s not published by the church.”

Amen to the Priesthood

This sort of answer causes me to think of the words in Section 121 about control, dominion and compulsion. I know the Brethren want us to be educated. I know they want us to be informed. It is not right to tell a man what he can and cannot read. That is contrary to the plan of the Lord. We are here to gain knowledge or light and truth. The Church doesn’t have a monopoly on truth.

We should encourage free thinking. We should encourage our members to study things out. We should not be telling our members to avoid opposing points of view. That causes blindness of the mind and eventually hardness of heart. I’m serious. How can you treasure the truth if you don’t know what others think? We become unbalanced if we don’t know both sides of our doctrines.

Accepting Counsel and Direction

I know cautions like those expressed by the EQ President of my friend are motivated by love. I feel the same Christ-motivated love from my Bishop and Stake President. Like my wise friend expressed in his email, he appreciated the counsel of his priesthood leader. I also appreciate the counsel of my priesthood leaders as they express their concerns for me in what I read and write.

Because I know they love me, I ponder carefully their counsel and direction. Ultimately, what I read is up to me. I read what I feel inspired to read. Sometimes, the material is not particularly uplifting. That doesn’t matter. It’s what the Lord wants me to know. Not everything in life is all light and rosy. While I would prefer direct revelation, the Lord always tells me to study it out.

Traditions of Our Fathers

As I shared previously, when I turned in my recommend, it was because I felt it was the honest thing to do. I have been very open and clear about my study of the writings shared by a former member of the Church. When I started reading his material, he was a member in good standing. I found in his writings an enormous amount of light and truth, as witnessed by the spirit to me.

Here was my reasoning: I agree with many things this good brother has shared. However, he is no longer a member of the church. Therefore, I can’t answer the affiliation question with a “no.” The tradition in our church is when a man is excommunicated you should no longer consider his words of any value and should refrain from reading anything he may write, or so I’ve observed.

Truth is Truth, No Matter the Source

I was wrong for several reasons. First, the only reason I knew the man had been excommunicated is because he felt it important to be open and honest about his standing with the church. I greatly appreciate that openness. Next, the Church has not published anything to indicate we should not read what this man has written or listen to his lectures. How do we know the Church’s position?

I don’t know if his teachings are contrary to those accepted by the Church unless they tell me. I must rely upon my Priesthood leader to tell me. He receives notices from the First Presidency. He can consult with the Stake President – we already have – and the Stake President can then consult with the Area Authority Seventy. But I doubt there will ever be an official statement.

My Answer to the Affiliation Question

Therefore, my answer to the affiliation question is not only no, but an unqualified no. I’m certain the Church will not direct its members to stay away from reading books or attending lectures in the pursuit of truth and knowledge, or would they? In Handbook 2, section 21.1.40, we read the current policy of the Church in regards to certain kinds of “Symposia and Similar Gatherings.”

“The Church warns its members against symposia and similar gatherings that include presentations that (1) disparage, ridicule, make light of, or are otherwise inappropriate in their treatment of sacred matters or (2) could injure the Church, detract from its mission, or jeopardize its members’ well-being. Members should not allow their position or standing in the Church to be used to promote or imply endorsement of such gatherings.”

Beware of False Prophets

Similarly, Elder Ballard has taught in General Conference,

“Therefore, let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’” (2 Ne 26:29) CR, Oct 1999, pp. 77–78 or Ensign Nov 1999 pp. 62–63.

Attending Lectures and Conferences

I have been to one of the lectures of this excommunicated individual I am discussing. I found it to be uplifting and enlightening. I came away feeling edified. To be frank, I am fairly certain the policy of the Church is referring to certain Sunstone Conferences of the past. It is also clear the intent of the affiliation question is to weed out those who are members of polygamous groups.

It is unfortunate the policy causes some members of the Church to consider all lectures about the doctrines of the gospel not sponsored by the Church to be “off limits.” I don’t think that was the intent of the Brethren when they published the symposia policy, nor do I think it was the intent of Elder Ballard to discourage learning when he spoke about the subject in General Conference.

Forty Years in Mormonism

I have listened to and studied each of the seven preceding lectures presented by Denver Snuffer. I found no fault in his material meaning I heard nothing that disparaged, ridiculed, made light of or was otherwise inappropriate in the treatment of sacred matters. I have also read nothing in his material that could injure the Church, detract from its mission or jeopardize my well-being.

I have declared previously on my blog that the man presenting the lecture series, “Forty Years in Mormonism,” has a message well worth our time and attention. I consider him a messenger from the Lord, with a “Testimony of Jesus” I have not found elsewhere. Specifically, the man claims to have been ministered to by the Lord and will be talking about that subject this very weekend.

Please Don’t Resign Your Membership

To those who plan on resigning their membership from the Church this week on Pioneer Day, and especially to those of my friends who I know have made that decision, I ask you to please reconsider. Instead of resigning, I invite you to consider the message of the man who claims to have been ministered to by the Lord and claims to be sharing a message given him of the Lord.

Yes, this borders on advocating, but I recommend it to the alternative being considered. To those of you who have no problems with the “untaught” history and changes in the Church over the years, this message is not for you. For those of my friends who are unhappy with the perceived deceptive practices and lack of forthrightness of the Church in the past, please heed my plea.

We Need You – Don’t Leave Yet

You can do much good as a member of this Church. Many of you are young, intelligent, returned missionaries, married in the temple. I have heard you teach. I have heard your testimonies. I have seen your loving concern for your brothers and sisters in PEC meetings and in ward council. We need you. We need your voices, if nothing more than to make Gospel Doctrine class interesting.

I express my love for you. I hope you will come back. I have sought the Lord diligently for all my life. I have found no better place to associate with like-minded individuals than within the membership of this Church. I know there are problems. I know it is difficult to attend when you hear the same thing over and over again. There is wisdom in the practice of “milk before meat.”

You Are Some of Our Best and Brightest

I had a long-time reader tell me privately “these are not our best and brightest” that are resigning. I disagree. You are smart and talented. You are savvy as to the ways of the world because you have had to deal with things in your youth we older folks never encountered. You know how to make a convincing presentation and how to passionately persuade others to your views on truth.

You have energy and drive we need. You are knowledgeable about the scriptures, the doctrines of the Church and especially about the issues that face it. Many of the older members are blind in that they do not see these issues. To them, all is well in Zion. You and I know otherwise. Yes, you will make a big splash with lots of media attention on Pioneer Day but what about after that?

I Have Been in the Lord’s Presence

I have been asked if I have been ministered to by the Lord. The answer is yes. I have not seen Him but I have been in His presence. I have never shared this before. The baptism of fire is real. I have also been in the presence of the adversary. They are both real. So is the Holy Ghost. We can talk with the Lord. We can converse with Him through the veil. Please let Him guide you.

I long for the day when I will be ushered into the presence of the Father again. It is the Son that takes us there. It is true there are some things too sacred to share but bearing witness of the love of the Savior is not one of them. You’ve heard me teach. I wish I could be in your presence so you could feel my words. I pray the Lord’s blessing upon you. He asked me to share these words.

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