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?

Opening the Conduit to Heaven

the-heavensI read a lot of blogs. You probably do too. What or who we read can tell us a lot about each other. I’m especially interested in keeping in touch with those who are on a journey similar to mine. Below are a few blogs I check on a regular basis. Although I don’t spend a lot of time there, I also check in from time to time on the top four LDS group blogs at the bottom of the list just to see what’s being discussed.

Denver Snuffer Pure Mormonism – Rock Waterman
To the Remnant – Adrian Larsen In 200 Words or Less – Will Carter
The Gospel According to Scoot Just and True – Spektator
Anonymous Bishop Bare Record of Truth
Thoughts on Things and Stuff 77 Truths – Bret Corbridge
2nd Witness Upward Thought
The Perfect Day My Journey to the Fulness
Latter-day Spence – Clean Cut Thoughts from Salem – Russell Anderson
By Common Consent Times and Seasons
Mormon Stories Podcasts Wheat and Tares

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned anything from one of my recent favorites. It’s not even on my blogroll: The Gospel According to Scoot. Today I’d like to share something from Scott that has just made my day and my week. I’ve been pondering a post – this one – for a long time. I knew it was coming. I knew I wanted to study the subject and post it. Scott helped me nail this one down.

My Interview With Denver Snuffer

Over the past few months, I’ve been elaborating a little on the subjects from my interview with Denver back in May. At the bottom of this post you’ll find Denver’s answer to question eight. It was a difficult one dealing with the subject of leadership. Although I asked it poorly, I used the example of the discussion we were having on this blog about the Asenath honeycomb dance.

hosts-of-heavenWhat I asked in my question was what I believed at the time about what was happening with these dances. Of course, those in attendance at the retreat know that what was presented was nowhere near what I described in my question. That doesn’t mean that such practices aren’t happening. It just means I have no personal knowledge, so I shouldn’t have used the example.

Long-time readers know this blog is not and never was dedicated to the insights of one man. This blog has explored writings from dozens of Mormon authors. It just so happens that the Mormon author whose works I have been reading for the past few years are so prolific, I have felt a desire to share many insights. There are nine posts from the interview so far. The first is an overview.

5-13-15: A Visit With Denver Snuffer 5-21-15: The Fullness of the Gentiles
5-27-15: The Snuffer Interview – Part Two 5-30-15: Reconnecting to the Fathers
6-6-15: They That Come Shall Burn Them 6-13-15: Baptizing with Power and Authority
6-16-15: Reorganizing the Family of God 6-28-15: A Wild Man Hath Come Among Us
7-4-15: Opening the Conduit to Heaven

Conversing With the Lord

jacob-altarNow on to what I learned from Scott Stover about opening the conduit to heaven. First, from personal experience, I can tell you it is real. We can literally open a conduit to heaven. I have done so. Contrary to what some have written here on this blog, it is something over which we have some control. When we approach the heavens correctly, our prayers are heard and shared.

In response to prayer, like Scott, I have received revelation, as I’m sure many of you have, and have recorded it in my revelation book. As I have shared before, images, scenes, words, phrases, sentences and whole paragraphs have come, almost as dictation. Most of what I have received I have not shared, nor have I ever felt a desire or the right to do so. They are personal and sacred.

On the other hand, when I have asked the Lord for enlightenment on a specific subject with the clear understanding up front that I desired to share it, He has been most generous. The insights are my interpretations of what I have received, meant to inspire, encourage or otherwise prompt you to take your own questions to the Lord and receive direction and inspiration for your life.

Knowing the Voice of the Lord

isaiah-recording-revelationAs Scott shared in his latest post entitled, “Come Unto Me #2 – Scriptures,” the key to hearing and knowing the voice of God compared to our own voice or that of the adversary is found in Moroni 7:11-19. This should be no surprise to anyone. “According to this revelation, there is a grand key whereby we may know that the voice we hear is the voice of the Lord.

“If the voice: 1) Encourages the worship of Christ, 2) Promotes charity, humility, and the power that comes only from them and 3) Does not engender a desire for control, compulsion, or dominion (D&C 121:34-46), …then it is His voice.” Did you know you can use this same formula to ascertain if someone is sharing ideas that contain eternal truth when they write responses to blog posts?

As my regular readers are probably aware, or at least those who read the comments in response to some of my posts, especially those that address some observation I share about an insight I have gained from Denver, there is great opposition to just about anything that comes from the man. That is a sign to me, along with what I hear from the Lord, that he is speaking the truth.

The Gift of Discerning of Spirits

heavens-glory“There always did, in every age, seem to be a lack of intelligence pertaining to this subject. Spirits of all kinds have been manifested, in every age, and almost amongst all people. … All have their spirits, all have a supernatural agency, and all contend that their spirits are of God. Who shall solve the mystery? ‘Try the spirits,’ says John [1 John 4:1], but who is to do it? The learned, the eloquent, the philosopher, the sage, the divine—all are ignorant. … Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints?

“A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. …

“As we have noticed before, the great difficulty lies in the ignorance of the nature of spirits, of the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known; if it requires the Spirit of God to know the things of God; and the spirit of the devil can only be unmasked through that medium, then it follows as a natural consequence that unless some person or persons have a communication, or revelation from God, unfolding to them the operation of the spirit, they must eternally remain ignorant of these principles…”

Source: Joseph Smith, HC, vol 4, pp 571-581 – Editorial in Times and Seasons, April 1842

Use the Keys God Has Given Us

Where there is no vision, the people perishA man or woman can go astray from the path approved by the Lord at any time in their life. The path I have chosen, to withdraw my membership in the LDS Church so I can experience greater freedom of expression in what I share here on my blog, is NOT the best choice for others. The important thing is to KNOW you are on the right path. Of course, the only way to know is to ask.

As you can imagine, I have been told over and over by loving, well-meaning individuals that I have been deceived in my prayers and in the confirmations that have satisfied my soul. All I can say is God bless you. My path is not for you. For those who say Joseph was a fallen servant or Denver is a false prophet or fallen servant, I say, you believe what you want and act accordingly.

Don’t let my confidence in my path dissuade you from your confidence in yours. They don’t have to be the same. As long as what we are doing encourages the worship of Christ, promotes charity, humility and kindness toward others, and does not produce a desire for compulsion or control or dominion over others then we’re good. Teach me of Christ and I will listen. God bless.

Opportunities to Go Off the Rails

Question Eight: A follow-up to the last question about the need for leadership in this movement can be illustrated by a recent post from Keith on the Recorder’s blog. In there he noted some people are submitting names of children baptized as young as five years old. The scriptures specifically teach the age of accountability is eight years old. He also noted the fact that some baptisms are being submitted for recording as having been performed by a woman. He quoted, again from the Phoenix lecture, your statement about priesthood being confined to men because of the Fall. You elaborated much on the idea there are so many opportunities for believers to go off the rails. I see it all the time when we discuss doctrinal questions on my blog.

For example, the worship of Mother in Heaven is a subject about which some people feel very strongly. They advocate a practice – a sacred dance – in which the objective is for a manifestation of divine favor. Specifically, they look for, expect, and report they have experienced the presence of Heavenly Mother in their ritual. This is similar to what happened with the children of Israel when Moses was up on the mountain for forty days communing with the Lord. In the end, Moses wore himself out because he had to judge every little thing that came before the people. What is the right way? How will the Lord provide leadership for His people who are awaiting His return? I’m looking for a practical answer here, not idealism.

A Few Comments on Heavenly Mother

ANSWER (Denver): For those who think they can please and appease a Heavenly Mother by that sort of innovation, I think they will be very surprised when they finally have an opportunity to meet Her. She may not be at all the soft, kindly, genteel little old lady some people imagine. She may be tougher by far than our Father.

Do you imagine for a moment that Lucifer would have been cast out of heaven without the Mother consenting, approving, and advocating? Do you think for a moment that could be the case? Do you think that those who were cast out with him had some weak-willed woman weeping at their departure? Do you think She wasn’t protecting Her Family, and approving the compulsory exile? I don’t talk about Her, but I think there is a lot of imagination about Her that needs to be reined in. When Her fearful presence is revealed the fools will then shut their mouths. Stop rushing forward because what you find in your impatience may condemn you and your foolishness.

Gifts Are An Open Conduit

Gifts are an open conduit. What flows through the gifts will include opposition. Just because you have a gift doesn’t mean that this gift is not equally accessible by the opposition as it is accessible by God. “It must needs be that there is an opposition in all things.” (2 Ne. 2:11.) You can’t bring about righteousness without there being an opposition in all things. So how do you avoid mistakes when you allow something to influence you through your gift that actually comes from the adversary pretending to be the source of light? The pretentions of the Bringer of light, the Light Bearer, which is what Lucifer’s name means, do mislead.

road-to-emmausWell, to avoid mistakes, first of all, I would look to the scriptures as a standard against which to measure any new revelation given to you. If you look at Christ on the Road to Emmaus, and you look at Moroni’s lectures to Joseph, everything communicated was scripture-based.

I’ve given a more comprehensive restatement of the Restoration than anyone since Joseph, but have almost entirely confined it to the scriptures and statements attributed to Joseph. That measuring standard is where you first find the anchor needed to keep the truth. People who don’t read their scriptures are subject to all kinds of foolish presumptions about things that aren’t there. If you go back and look at the exact wording, sometimes the foolish presumption is not justified by the actual language and content of the scripture you think justifies what you are doing. Study and compare everything to the scriptural standard. The more familiar you are with their language the better equipped you will be to recognize truth.

Personal Worthiness a Requirement

Second, personal worthiness. We have to live our lives in conformity with the light that we have. We cannot ignore commandments, or excuse ourselves from departing, and expect that we can avoid deception. If we are willing to disobey and excuse ourselves, then we become unable to distinguish the light from the shadows. It’s just the way it is. If we lie to ourselves, we love a lie. And if we love a lie we’re going to be deceived by lies. We make ourselves open to lies, we make ourselves willing to accept them.

We have to rely on light and truth and the Holy Ghost. D&C 45:56-57:

And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.

The way you do that is by knowing what is in the scriptures with some considerable care, living according to the truth that you have, and allowing the Holy Ghost to become your guide, even if what you hear from the Holy Ghost challenges, disappoints, or even frustrates you.

The Strong Man Model is Flawed

(Tim): Do you want to address the part about leadership? I know it was kind of an add-on. It didn’t quite fit.

(Denver): Yes, the narrowness of the question at the end was delightful, because it allowed me to avoid that. But I do think the work that I have been doing, the lectures that were given as part of a single talk, and the stuff that I am trying to remind people of, it’s all in the scriptures. It is all in the foundation of the Restoration. I don’t think that “leader as micromanager” is an answer to anything and failed in Joseph’s day. “Teacher” as someone who brings material to your attention, allowing you the freedom then to choose, is good and worked for Enoch and Melchizedek.

prince-of-egyptIf people engage in the sort of inordinate wickedness Moses found when he came down from the mountain—if that is practiced anywhere among those that are responsive to my message, they simply won’t be gathered. They will be left behind. Those that are patient and humble will inspire the confidence of angels who will do the gathering, and they will be gathered. Gathering won’t be because some boss manages to whip people into line. They need to be given the freedom to get out of line. And then once out of line, they must be permitted to go their way.

Transcript One:
Note: This version has been reviewed by Denver, missing material added

Transcript Two:

Link to the MP3:
Note: The file is 60MB. It’s best to right-click on the link to download it.

Link to a PDF of answer to question eight:


Q & A with Tim Malone, Author of Latter-day Commentary

ldc-blog-imageQ: How has your perception of Latter-day Commentary changed since its inception?

In many respects, the direction of this simple blog has turned completely around. When I started blogging almost eight years ago, my intent was to help combat what I perceived to be a plethora of misinformation out there about the doctrines I knew to be true, or that I grew up believing. I now find myself presenting reasons why what I originally thought was false doctrine may indeed be worth considering, especially since early documents support that Joseph originally taught it.

In other respects, the intent and focus of the blog has not changed at all. My intent was to share my gospel study and learning experiences. I have always appreciated teaching, have taught the gospel all my life and enjoyed making lesson plans or outlines of subjects and then fleshing them out with scriptures and quotes. That has not changed. What has changed is my perception of the truth. I have had to jettison some false beliefs that were based solely on tradition. Gratefully, I was prepared. I frequented many LDS group blogs for several years before I started my own.

Although I felt prompted and inspired to start the blog and made it a matter of prayer, I do not say the Lord told me to start the blog, only that I find a way to bring greater motivation to my life in the area of gospel study. I have shared many talks and lessons on my blog that I also gave in the gospel doctrine class or delivered from the pulpit over the years. Sometime last year I felt to dedicate the blog to the Lord and let Him use it for His purposes. Things changed radically. I found myself led to invite others to share the audience I had built up over seven years of work.

ds-blog-imageQ: You’ve had both positive and negative feedback from readers about some of the content regarding DS and the work currently underway. What was your initial reaction to his writings? Can you elaborate on the challenges of retaining your faith in light of recognizing discrepancies in the traditional narrative of the church?

I appreciate both kinds of comments from readers, especially those who can and do form cogent arguments in response to what Denver has written and what I have tried to explain in my own words. I am not always successful in understanding all the intricacies of the doctrines put forth. I may be seeing only a small part of what is being presented in the post and entirely missing how such a radically different view affects families and individuals in situations dissimilar to mine.

My initial reaction to Denver Snuffer’s work was positive. It was a revelatory experience. When I tried to share what I had read with others, I was saddened by how negatively they reacted. It was especially difficult as I tried to discuss what I felt was enlightenment from the Holy Ghost with my wife, who I consider my equal in our knowledge of church history. After all, she served her mission in Independence Missouri, with a Mission President teaching the standard narrative.

On the other hand, my mission president was a convert and always encouraged the missionaries to “push the envelope” in our studies. He did not shy away from inspiring us to reach out and understand the mysteries. He would say, “They are only mysteries because you haven’t studied them.” It’s funny that both our Mission Presidents were CES employees but Carol’s had a much more traditional or orthodox approach to the history of the Church, especially the Nauvoo period.

Retaining my faith in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and most of the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants was not difficult. I confess the idea that Section 110 may be of dubious authenticity was difficult for me at first. But when I compared Section 27 side by side with the original, and saw how it had been “expanded” under Sidney’s pen, I made a more careful consideration of section 110, took it to the Lord in prayer and came away satisfied.

40-years-in-mormonismQ: Are you still digesting the material laid out in the DS lectures last year, and if so, what specifically do you find to be significant?

I most definitely am still digesting the lectures and will be for years to come. I re-read lectures three and four again this past week, pondering carefully the enticing nature of how Denver has presented repentance. So many people I know try to “white-knuckle” it through repentance by using the “moving away-from” model as opposed to what Denver presents in a “moving toward” model. I have always favored that approach. It has always worked for me. I fully endorse it.

I’ve studied the lecture on covenants at least four times now and am just beginning to understand the significance and all-encompassing nature of what is found in that short lecture. I think it’s about twenty-two pages if I’m not mistaken. Yet I learned why the earth will be wasted at the Lord’s coming if we are not sealed to the fathers, as well as came to a better understanding that everything the Father is doing in our day is to fulfill that covenant he made with the Patriarchs.

I have had it reconfirmed to me once again how important it is that we are sealed to the fathers, the Patriarchs, and that this must be done in a temple, like the one Joseph was trying to get the Saints to finish in Nauvoo but which did not happen. There is not a temple found on the earth today which is acceptable of the Lord where He can come and seal us to the Fathers in that binding ordinance that is referred to in section 124 – a place to restore that which was lost.

I am still blown away by the priesthood lecture. I think I’ve read it six or seven times now and am still learning new things each time I study it. There was so much I thought I knew about priesthood that was simply wrong. I’m grateful to have been in attendance at the Mesa lecture. The idea of Preserving the Restoration resonates with me. I have seen so much understanding disappear from that we taught when I was growing up in the church in the sixties and seventies.

ds-interview-part1Q: Your recent interview with DS offered an opportunity for clarity on a variety of topics. How did this interview come about and did you find what you were looking for?

Although I could not attend the early lectures due to work commitments, I made it known on my blog I planned on attending the later lectures. I received an invitation from Denver to meet with him for dinner on the evening of one of the lectures. I suppose he wanted to meet this individual who had written so much about his writings over the preceding eighteen months. Carol and I had dinner with Denver and his family the night before the St. George lecture. We parted as friends.

This year, I celebrated ten years with my employer by taking a two week vacation, something unheard of for a computer guy in a small company. I wanted to make the first week a working vacation. I arranged interviews with several fellow bloggers and readers. On Wednesday, Carol planned an endowment session at the Brigham City temple. Obviously I would not be attending with her. I asked the Lord if there was someone else we wished me to add to my interview list.

He suggested Denver. I asked. He accepted. I asked if he would prefer the questions in advance. He agreed. I used to interview CEO’s and Marketing VP’s for a software newspaper I published years ago so the format was very familiar – sort of like a deposition. After Denver agreed, I went to the Lord for the questions. He provided. So the questions asked were what the Lord wanted to have expounded. I wasn’t necessarily looking for any particular answers. I wanted to understand some of the more controversial points from his lectures. Most of his answers were from PtHG.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of online and offline dialogs with readers about what Denver has written. I have no idea why they seem to think I know what is on his mind. It still amazes me how many people either haven’t or will not read his material. They will read what other people have said about it but won’t read it themselves. This astonishes me. If there’s one thing Mormons are supposed to be good at, it’s having an open mind about writings that are extra-Biblical. In other words, we want people to read the Book of Mormon in order to understand us better.

Yet, so few will take the time to make a formal study plan, combined with prayer in an effort to understand the doctrines behind the writings and lectures. I think some of the questions I asked in the interview were brought up in an effort to get people more interested in going to the source. If there’s anything I wanted to accomplish, it was to get people to seriously read, ponder and pray about the lectures. But so many have made up their minds. They are closed. It is so sad.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilQ: You’ve written a lot on the subject of NDE. What has contributed to your interest on this particular topic? How would you characterize common elements found in many NDE based on what’s been revealed about life after death?

I am by no means an expert on NDEs. I have had two dreadful near-death experiences in my life. Both times I was met by beings of darkness. The first time was in my youth. I opened the portal through my own foolishness. It woke me up big time. It turned me around. It caused me to fear for my life and to seek to repent, which took a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish. It was nearly a year later that I came into the presence of the Lord, which I have described on my blog.

The second NDE was a couple of years ago when my son opened a portal in our home at 2am in the morning while doing drugs and porn with a fellow druggie. I’ve posted the story and shared it with those who have asked. I was mislead by a well-meaning individual who told me I could deal with the dark spirits by asking the Lord to bring them into my aura so I could get them to repent. Yeah, right! It was one of the most foolish things I have ever done in my life. I still suffer pain.

My interest in NDEs is a result of having the portal to the spirit world opened in a manner that was not at all pleasant. I suppose only those who have experienced being sucked into that world, even for a moment, can understand the resulting interest in trying to make sense of the things discovered or actually remembered, by entering into such a realm. There are things revealed to your soul that this world denies. One seeks to find others who have been there and can relate.

true-order-prayer-imageQ: Your posts on the True Order of Prayer resonated with many people. The prayer circle was a more prominent fixture in worship (both inside and outside of temples) until May 1978 when the First Presidency restricted its use to certain settings. How have your prayers in this manner affected your relationship with the Lord and/or the Powers of heaven?

I still have a long way to go in this area. I am focusing on altars in my personal study these days. I want to know the history of true altar building, why the Patriarchs built altars, how they built them – no hewn stone – and if there is significance to where they are placed. I wish I had land of sufficient size where I could dedicate a private space to building an altar for worship. In the meantime, I asked the Lord if I could substitute a dedicated home altar and received his approval.

There is something powerful about altar worship. What we learn in the temple is significant. For me, a prayer at the altar is so much more powerful than my usual morning and nightly prayers. I find repetition does not enter into my heart or mind when I pray at the altar. I am filled with desire and am given the words to say. These prayers at the altar have changed my life. It is clear the powers of heaven pay attention when we go to the trouble of praying at a dedicated altar.

At one time in the history of Mormonism, it was acceptable practice to have a home altar. It was a sign of commitment to one’s religion to gather the family together at the altar for worship. I use my altar when I partake of the sacrament in my home. It is so sad to read how such practices as altar worship and partaking of the sacrament in the home are now considered apostate. Joseph Smith would not be welcome in the LDS Church today because of “apostate” worship practices.

Think about what we learn in the temple from Adam’s example with an altar. When he prayed at the altar, he opened a portal to heaven. He received messengers. This is a true and powerful form of worship. Ask yourself why we are taught about prayer in the temple if it was not intended for us to go home and practice this in our own home. Yes, I recognize some have been deceived and have received false messenger, but we have got to learn to deal with this if we want to progress.

posts-on-evil-spiritsQ: You’ve shared experiences in which you’ve come into contact with malevolent spirits and the distress they can cause. Were these experiences connected to prayer? What is your view on possessions recorded in the New Testament versus certain mental disorders in our day as possible possessions?

I think my answer to the NDE question above would have probably been a better fit here. The spirits were not invited, but conditions were brought about that caused them to make themselves known. It is not a pleasant thing to come into the presence of spirits who intend to do you harm. The prayers involved were after the fact, as in, “O Lord, save me from these evil creatures who desire to take away my light and life. O Lord, remove the fear from my heart and give me faith like unto Moses to command them in the name of the Son of God to leave my presence forever.”

I have written at least two dozen posts answering that very question about emotional and mental disorders being caused by evil and unclean spirits. I will refer people to my blog for answers. I will also encourage you to read Doug’s book on Conquering Spiritual Evil. It seems the majority of people today do not want to believe such creatures exist in our day and age. They consider the idea of evil spirits to be a throwback to less enlightened times. Think again people. Think again.

tim-malone-baptism-postQ: You’ve written extensively about your reasons for resigning from the church while acknowledging that leaving the church is not the path for everyone. Are you finding that many people are choosing to stay notwithstanding their belief that something new is underway?

My decision to resign was due to my unique circumstances. I served in leadership positions in my current and previous stakes that made it hard for some people to accept what I was sharing on my blog simply as part of my gospel study. I have had former stake presidents, high councilors and missionary companions who now serve as mission presidents write to castigate me for what I have done in reading and writing about Denver and his books. What are they so afraid of? They are afraid for their children. I don’t blame them. They are trying to hold their families together.

My writings were a threat to them. I understand. That’s why so many went to my Bishop and Stake President asking them to rein me in. Because I served in a somewhat public position at the stake level, I felt it best to quietly resign instead of go the excommunication route. When the Bishop put me on informal probation for apostasy, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew I wanted to get baptized and to write about it on my blog. Why waste the time of sixteen good men? Others felt the desire to go through a disciplinary council. I had been through too many.

why-i-resigned-imageI do NOT recommend anyone leave the church to be baptized. If you want to be baptized, go ahead but don’t announce it like I did. My mission in life is different from yours. I am aware of several thousand who have been baptized. By the way, if anyone baptized reads this and has not yet submitted their name to Keith for recording, please do so before the deadline of July 1st. I wanted my name on that permanent record that will be presented in the temple when it is built. I want the Lord and the powers of heaven to see I am not ashamed to stand up and be counted.

I recognize I am a bit of a rebel, a risk-taker and a troublemaker. I am not afraid of doing what I feel the Lord has asked me to do. I know so many of my friends in the LDS Church are upset with me for what I have done and am doing. My answer is always the same. I spent just as much if not more time investigating the writings of Denver Snuffer as Brigham Young did when he investigated Mormonism. Hundreds of hours in study and prayer have led me to where I am today. No LDS Leader can say I didn’t follow the prophet – search, ponder and pray. I did.

The standard answer – I know, because I have received it in so many private emails from friends in my current and former stakes – is that I have been deceived. They shake their heads and make references to “even the very elect.” Fine. You think what you will. I understand. I tell you I am more certain of my path in life now than I have ever been at any time in the past. But my path may not be for you. Do as you feel directed by the Lord in prayer. There are so many who are doing a marvelous work in their wards and stakes by sharing truth quietly and with discretion.

One final word: please stop telling me over and over how important it is to focus on the Lord and not on Denver Snuffer. Don’t you think I know that? Everything Denver is doing is inviting us to rise up and come unto Christ – to come into His presence. I have a calling, an election and a sure promise as to that blessed event in my own life. I have years of work ahead of me. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. Denver is a servant, a teacher, a witness. He cannot save you or me. We must come into the presence of Christ for that. Wake up people. I get it. Do you?

Speaking With The Lord About Joseph

The Prophet Joseph SmithNearly forty years ago I spent six months preparing to serve a mission for the LDS Church. I had graduated from High School, attended Ricks College for a year, worked for six months and was now engaged in extensive preparations to understand the doctrines of Mormonism I would soon be teaching. I was blessed with the time and financial ability to do nothing but study the gospel.

What I wouldn’t give to have that blessing in my life again. My years since have been consumed ensuring the computing needs of my employer are met on a daily basis. On days I make the time and effort to study the gospel I think back on that long-ago year when I did nothing but ponder, read, study, fast and pray about what the Lord is going to do before He returns in the last days.

d-and-c-commentaryIn the spirit of Oliver Cowdery, those were days never to be forgotten. My tutor was the Holy Ghost. My texts were scriptures and commentaries I had obtained from a local book store that carried LDS books. I especially enjoyed studying the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary from Hyrum M Smith and Janne M Sjodahl, the 1972 reprint edition. It’s a lengthy book at 864 pages.

A Promise From the Lord

I lived with two of my unmarried siblings who worked or attended college, my parents having sold their home and sent us out in the world to fend for ourselves. The summer before I attended Ricks College was a spiritual awaking for me, filled with sacred moments in prayerful revelation to my mind’s eye. Asking in faith, the Lord opened my mind to visions of personal future events.

RicksDevotionalIt was at Ricks, after many hours of heart-wrenching prayer, I obtained a promise from the Lord which remains with me to this day. He has not left me, even in my darkest hours. He can and will walk with us through our life’s journey. He will speak to our minds. We can hear His voice. As part of that meeting, detecting the voice of the adversary and his emissaries also became clearer.

I have shared this story before, but have visited it again with a different understanding. Having resigned my membership in the LDS Church, I wanted to know if anything had changed about the revelations I received in my youth. Were they still valid? Had I been deceived? I asked the Lord recently. He answered, assuring me it was He that spoke to my mind that long-ago night.

Always Knew the Book was Scripture

The Book of MormonAfter a few difficult retirement years in Utah my mother moved back to California and stopped attending the LDS Church. I have shared her story previously, including her disappointments with what she found in the Utah LDS culture. Upon returning, she gave me many of her church books along with her journals and papers, asking only that I not share them before her death.

In the ten years since her passing I have reviewed most of her papers. Recently, I have felt the desire to make one of her papers available online. It is entitled “How I gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon.” Mother was a teacher and scholar, well-read, endowed with a keen intellect and a profound ability to teach. She loved preparing lessons, passing her love of learning to me.

If you can, take a moment to review mother’s story. She and I were very close in the years just before and after my mission. She wrote this paper while taking Institute classes. We had many deep discussions about the gospel and church history. She knew so much about Joseph Smith. I was amazed to discover her difficulties with the Book of Mormon and why it troubled her so.

Didn’t Always Know About Joseph

I prefaced what I am about to share with reference to my mother because it was she who gave me the intellectual curiosity to ask the Lord about things which she herself did not know. Her habit was to refer me to a book, then encourage me to take my questions to the Lord. I have her papers on Joseph, the Savior, temple ordinances, celestial marriage and more on the Book of Mormon.

ProphetJosephSmithI learned to read at my mother’s knee. We read the Book of Mormon together when I was young. I experienced first-hand her lining out all the instances of “and it came to pass,” as she shared in her paper. She had a hard time with the Book of Mormon. I loved it from the first time I read it with her. I knew it was the word of God. Always have. But I didn’t always know about Joseph.

That’s what I really want to share in this post. From my notes in front of the D&C Commentary, I’ve recorded the dates I consumed the book. Fifteen pages a day is not much. I also noted a few choice observations the Lord shared with me as I read, one of them being, “No amount of study can take the place of obedience,” and “When ignorance is removed, obedience is expected.”

Some Things Not Lawful to Share

When I finished the book, I felt inspired to take it to the Lord in prayer. I wanted to know if the revelations recorded from Joseph were from the Lord. It was an interesting experience. I did not expect it to take three days. I expected it would take a few hours at most, similar to what I had experienced at Ricks College. I think this was the only time in my life I fasted for three days.

JosephSmithInLibertyJailI would study during the day and pray for hours at night. I took literally the admonition to enter into my closet and pray in secret. Sometimes, after a few hours of study during the day, I would continue my quest in prayer. I wanted an answer. I needed to know. I burned with the desire to receive a response. I had talked to the Lord previously. I had heard his voice at Rick’s College.

As I recorded in my journal and in a previous post, I was surprised at the answer. I want to be very clear about this. We can hear the voice of the Lord. He told me the commentary was written with the intent to encourage faith. But He was more emphatic when He said to me, “Joseph did not tell everything he knew and neither can you. Some things can only be experienced in prayer.”

Joseph Was No Fallen Prophet

At the time I was satisfied with the answer. I should not have been. I should have pressed for more. But it was apparently sufficient for that season of my life. Now I want more. In fact, I have wanted more for many years and have been pressing the Lord to share. Each time He tells me the day will come but is not yet. He and I both know I have not yet met the requirements. So I wait.

JesusRedRobeI want to keep this post short. There are only two things I wanted to share. I hope I have been clear. The first is that we can speak with the Lord, we can hear His voice. We can enter into His presence. He is willing to reveal Himself unto us. The second is that the Lord does call men to speak for him as prophets today. Joseph was the Lord’s prophet and still holds keys given him.

The restoration of the Lord’s work with men on the earth commenced with Joseph Smith. He performed his mission admirably, as did Hyrum. I have been studying the Book of Mormon for over fifty years and have never felt any doubts of the authenticity of Joseph’s claims. The Lord will bless those who speak up for Joseph. I do so with this post. Joseph was no fallen prophet.

Cry Mightily

Nephi-prayer-broken-bowRomans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.

18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.

19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
1 Nephi 2:16-19

29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.
2 Nephi 25:29

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man–for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord–and blessed be the name of my God for it–

2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
Enos 1:1-8

1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.

2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.

3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
Mosiah 4:1-3

1 Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.

2 They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.

3 And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.

4 And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.
Mosiah 26:1-4

27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;

28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
Alma 13:27-29

40 And it came to pass that after he had said all these things, and expounded them to the king, that the king believed all his words.

41 And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people.

42 And now, when he had said this, he fell unto the earth, as if he were dead.
Alma 18:40-42

15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

17 And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:

18 O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.
Alma 22:15-18

8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.
Alma 38:8

13 Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom.

14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.
Alma 38:13-14

35 Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.
Helaman 3:35

40 And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?

41 And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you.

42 And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed.

43 And it came to pass that when they cast their eyes about, and saw that the cloud of darkness was dispersed from overshadowing them, behold, they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire.

44 And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them; yea, they were encircled about; yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison; and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.

45 And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.

46 And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying:

47 Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.
Helaman 5:40-47

23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—

24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.
3 Nephi 12:23-24

5 And when thou prayest thou shalt not do as the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

12 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
3 Nephi 13:5-15

Seek not to conform God to your will, but rather your will to God’s.

7 Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

8 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

12 Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.
3 Nephi 14:7-12

6 And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold, they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.

7 And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus. And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people.

8 And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken–nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken–behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.

9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.

10 And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them.

11 And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized.

12 And he came up out of the water and began to baptize. And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.

13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
3 Nephi 19:6-13

2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.
Ether 3:2

13 Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.

14 Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.

15 Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you–yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.
Ether 4:13-15

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail–

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Moroni 7:45-48

I hope the point is made.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Luke 3:21-22

17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
2 Nephi 31:17

Confessions of a Mormon Blogger

MembersFacingDisciplineI thought about entitling this “Lessons Learned from Church Discipline,” but I don’t want that to be the main focus of this post. First, to be clear: In spite of rumors to the contrary, I am not under any restrictions or church discipline. I turned in my temple recommend because I felt I no longer qualified – all based on my understanding of the way I thought a question had to be answered.

So Easy to Be Judged and Misunderstood

One of the things I learned is how offensive this action is to some people. I was truly shocked by the number of private and public emails, blog comments and Facebook comments from people who expressed disappointment, shock and even anger at what I had done. To them, it was as if I had turned my back on the church and was declaring myself a non-believer or even an apostate.

Wisdom in Keeping Some Things Private

I also learned the wisdom of following counsel to keep some things private. I am now certain I misinterpreted my priesthood leader’s request to not write about this on my blog or Facebook. I thought he meant to not share the private details of the conversations, which I haven’t. I believe now he meant to not share *anything* about the process. Too many people have misunderstood.

Yet Open Dialog Helped and Persuaded

OK, so I’m a fool. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the conversations that ensued with wonderful input from some of my friends who helped me understand what that temple recommend question really means. As they have shared, just because you read material from individuals who have now been excommunicated, it does not mean you are no longer worthy of a temple recommend.

Come to Understand Certain Key Words

You’d think I would know better. I’ve probably conducted hundreds of recommend interviews over the years but never had anyone say anything other than “no” when asked the affiliation question. I thought deeply about those three words: a) support, b) affiliate, and c) agree. They refer to “teachings or practices that are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church.”

Stigma of Being Labeled an Apostate

I have spent two and a half years reading, studying and trying to understand the writings of one LDS author who has now been excommunicated. In spite of this, I am more confident to answer that last temple recommend question “yes.” There are many, many things in his writings which caused my heart to burn and with which I agreed as I studied them. I found much truth in them.

Support, Affiliation and Agreement

Once this author was excommunicated, I had to answer the question for myself if I supported, affiliated or agreed with his teachings. I made up my mind he was not teaching new things, he was simply offering his interpretations of key scripture. I happen to agree with many of those interpretations. Did that make me an apostate, especially since I intended to go to his lectures?

Responses Based on Both Love and Fear

I discovered the idea of reading the material of a now-excommunicated author and especially my intention of attending a couple of his lectures was particularly offensive to some of the people I know and with whom I keep in touch on Facebook. It confused me. What motivated such words of condemnation? How had I threatened them by my intentions? Were they really that insecure?

Seek Learning by Study and Also by Faith

This particular author is presenting a series of lectures along the Wasatch Front. I purchase the recordings, study the transcripts and write blog posts about them. I do this because I have asked the Lord in prayer for knowledge on opening the heavens, which is the subject being addressed. I have learned answers to private, individual prayer are difficult to explain to those not involved.

Must Experience It Yourself to Relate

It reminded me of my missionary days and the salt analogy from President Packer. I had tasted salt. In my personal and private prayers, I received undeniable witnesses I was on the right path for me. The Lord was pleased with my studies, my efforts to understand the truth and my future intentions to deepen that understanding through attending lectures discussing profound doctrines.

Takes Time to Understand Deep Doctrine

After many discussions, Carol has agreed to attend two of the lectures with me in July, although I know it is not something she really wants to do. As part of my “due diligence” in forming my opinion and ascertaining truth for myself, I felt it important to experience the lectures in person. There’s nothing like hearing someone teach in order to get a better understanding of their spirit.

Continue to Invest in Close Relationships

That brings up another thing I learned – the importance of lots of open conversations with others in your family who are invested in your spiritual standing with the Lord and the church. I tried to reassure Carol over and over that my many hours of studying this material – along with studying the scriptures – will NOT lead me away from her, from the LDS church or from our Savior.

United as a Family in This Challenge

I believe Carol has a right to participate in my upcoming counseling session with the Bishop and Stake President this week. I intend to ask them if she can attend the meeting. Ordinarily, such interviews and counseling about temple worthiness are conducted separately, even when husband and wife are being interviewed for the recommend renewal process. That’s just the way it is.

Surprise at the Rapid Growth of the BlogGrowthOfBlog

I am extremely appreciative of the thousands of people who read my blog. Each time I write a post, it goes into the news feeds or email boxes of people all around the world. I know because I have reviewed the list of subscribers. There are many additional thousands who come to read my blog each time I post something new. Hundreds have joined the dialog to share their comments.

Thoughtful Comments From Blog Readers

For the most part, readers and commenters on the blog are civil and respectful toward each other, even though my subjects tend to cause strong feelings. There are those who are supportive of the conclusions I have reached in my studies and those who see them as heretical or false doctrine. I am constantly reminding my readers I am not teaching doctrine – only expressing my opinions.

Facebook Readers are a Different Breed

On the other hand, I notice the dialog on Facebook has a different tone. It seems more combative with occasional personal attacks. For a while I disconnected my Facebook connection to the blog until I saw how many hundreds of readers came from Facebook. Every blogger seeks readership and I am no different. I write to be read with the hope of being understood, otherwise why write?

Grossly Uninformed but Still Opinionated

Many of my readers have taken the time to read, study or otherwise come to an understanding of some of Denver Snuffer’s commentary on the scriptures. Others have a cursory comprehension based on the summaries of others. That’s unfortunate. They come across as misinformed and even bigoted because they have missed the wonderful depth of doctrine that he has explicated.

A Closed Mind is a Dangerous Thing

It never ceases to amaze me that people want to talk about Denver as opposed to my desire to discuss the scriptures he has opened to unorthodox interpretation. It also surprises me how many people are adamant they know such interpretations are wrong because they do not fit what we have taught in the standard historical narrative over the years. Their minds are closed – period.

Equally Yoked – Both Love to Write

Carol and I have discussed this often with specific examples of individual cases from my blog. Since Carol is a writer with some experience and skill, having invested thousands of hours in her craft, I know she can relate when people are dismissive of her ideas about superior ways to get a story across. I am grateful for my dear wife who accepts the importance of continually learning.

Edifying Content Can be Controversial

When I first started sharing my study notes, observations and commentary on the things I was learning from this writer, I was surprised at the polarity in the feedback. One of the best tools of a writer is persuasion. Everyone should learn to write persuasively. Writing with passion is also a skill that helps get your point across. But there is a difference between passion and ad hominem.

Persuasion Part of Power in the Priesthood

As I have attempted to share what I have learned about certain uplifting subjects such as power in the priesthood, it became clear even long-time members of the church do not understand the source of that power and the only authorized way the Lord endorses our exercise of that power. They seem to be confused between authority and power even though it’s such a basic doctrine.

LDS Bloggers Being Excommunicated

Because I have written so much about what I have learned by studying the scriptures behind the doctrines expounded by this particular writer, I became concerned as I was made aware of others who were being excommunicated for what appeared to be simply reading and commenting on the same books I was studying. My fellow bloggers were excommunicated for endorsing a book.

Practices of Fear and Control in the Church

I knew about the Strengthening Church Members Committee from the excommunications of the September Six back in 1993. I remember those days. It put a real damper on intellectual pursuit of the doctrines of the gospel. It initiated a period of time where nobody dared to ask questions anymore for fear of being reported by the SCMC committee to their local priesthood leaders.

Strengthening Church Members Committee

Now, I don’t think the SCMC is particularly looking to find fault with my material, but I have to wonder at some of the IP addresses in my logs that come from downtown Salt Lake City. I know I have readers in the Church Office Building. Some of them have written and called me. I have enjoyed our discussions. Thousands of readers come from Utah but don’t comment. That’s okay.

Guidelines from the Church PR Department

I’m not paranoid. I’m just concerned, especially after learning of the excommunications of some of my fellow bloggers who write about the same subjects. In light of the disciplinary action for Brent Larsen, Will Carter, John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and Rock Waterman, the church recently responded with some helpful guidelines. My friend Log helped me parse the church statement:

  1. Insisting on changes to “Church” doctrines or structure.
  2. Recruiting others.
  3. Creating organized groups. <—- that’s “affiliate”.
  4. Staging public events.
  5. Creating literature. <—- books and blogs qualify.

Tone of Your Writing Determines Response

Based on these guidelines, there’s no doubt the church IS looking at the blogs of the members, searching for content with the wrong “tone.” Clearly, “How and why one asks is as important as the questions we’re asking.” I hope I’ve made it clear. I have questions but I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t consider them doubts or present them as such to anyone else.

Leave Official Doctrine Up to the Church

Another key for LDS bloggers is to avoid teaching. Leave that up to the church. Pondering and speculation are OK. Some doubt the profitability of speculation. I don’t. I love to consider “what if” scenarios. I guess it’s the computer guy in me. I do that all the time at work. Otherwise, you might find yourself called in by your Bishop or Stake President asking specifics about your blog.

Future Direction of My Blog

To close this post, and hopefully encourage some of my readers who wonder about where I’m going with this, I thought it might be helpful to share my conversation with Carol in our weekly family council this afternoon. Because she loves me and seeks reassurance, she is also concerned about what I am doing with my blog, my studies and what I intend to do with what I am learning.

Reassurance is Always Helpful

We went over the five points of testimony. I assured her I know God lives. We pray together as a couple each morning and night. My personal prayers are rich, rewarding and fulfilling. I know my Savior lives and loves me. I feel His presence during the day. I am certain he walks with me and is very interested in how I respond to the daily challenges I face with work and my blog.

My Testimony and One of my Questions

I know Joseph was a prophet of the Lord and received keys to administer this latter-day work. I know he received the priesthoods – both Aaronic and Melchizedek – and passed on the Aaronic priesthood to the church. The power of the Mechizedek priesthood must be received by each of us individually. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by the gift of God.

God Bless our Prophets and Apostles

Some have expressed difficulty with my qualifications of the priesthood as I have described it above. That’s one of the questions I am working out in my own mind. I sustain each of the fifteen men to whom we have given the title of “Prophet, Seer and Revelator” in this church by common consent. I pray for them each night. I am happy to pay my tithing to the LDS Church.

Acceptance of Local Priesthood Counsel

I look forward to receiving counsel from my local priesthood leaders this week. I plan to fast all day before our meeting as I seek to be humble before the Lord. I intend to accept and implement any counsel they offer, or any discipline they feel needs to be administered. However, if asked to remove my blog, I will need to talk to the Lord about that as I feel He approves of my blogging.

Need Official Guidelines for LDS Bloggers

Note: I started blogging in 2007 just slightly prior to this invitation from Elder Ballard for LDS Members to get involved in the “online conversations” about the church. It sure has taken a long time for the church to finally start coming up with some guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable in our blogging efforts.  I wonder what took them so long. Didn’t expect this kind of response?

True Order of Prayer – Part Two

Adam-and-Eve-Kneeling-at-Altar-PrayingLast week, I dedicated an altar in my home and prayed according to the true order of prayer as I have been taught in the temple. It was an amazing experience that opened up a whole new world for me. My only disappointment was that it was not shared with my wife, or at least not until today. This post will be another journal entry, meant to document, not argue merit or propriety.

Tweeting General Conference Together

As suggested by one of my readers, I fasted today for those who would be speaking in General Conference. I was not disappointed. Carol and I had a blast sitting side by side watching the conference on the Internet and adding our comments to Twitter, using the #LDSConf hashtag. I’ve done it for years but this is the first time Carol has done that. The time flew by quickly.

Family Council to Discuss Plans

In between the sessions of conference we held a family council to discuss our plans for the family reunion in June and attending Denver’s St. George lecture (date not yet disclosed). I would say this was the longest family council we have held in thirty-one years of marriage. I am pleased to report there was no arguing or hard feelings, which may be a first for Carol and me.

Developing Talents as Writers

You see, both of us are stubborn and determined about what we believe and what we want to accomplish or achieve with our lives. Carol is determined to be a good writer and has come a long way in the last few years. She amazes me and frankly, has blown me away with the talent she has developed. In our writer’s group meeting Friday, everybody loved her latest chapter.

Sharing My Prayer Experience

While we didn’t start with prayer, we started with the understanding that I would share with her what I had experienced last Sunday. I asked her permission during the morning session of Conference. I know that sounds strange, but she knew what I was asking. I was asking for her time and undivided attention. I knew she hadn’t found time yet to read my post from last week.

Kindness, Patience, Love Unfeigned

I have learned there are only three tools at my disposal to get my message across. Neither I nor the Lord work through force or by demanding. That’s the quickest way to invite the spirit of the adversary into your home. The three tools are 1) Kind words, 2) Patience and long-suffering and 3) Love unfeigned. God has commanded us to love our wives with all our hearts. Think about it.

Carol is a True Believing Mormon

Carol is concerned about being led astray. I don’t blame her. That’s one of the reasons I married her. She is as TBM as you can get (email me if you don’t understand that acronym). For Carol, the mantra to follow the Brethren IS the gospel. She will do whatever she is asked by those who preside over us in the church, both locally and from Salt Lake. She’s an amazing LDS woman.

I am an Uncorrelated Mormon

For me, I have become more and more open and uncorrelated over the years to the point where I am now totally uncorrelated (email me if you don’t understand that concept). Do you see the problem? We are at opposite ends of the spectrum of orthodoxy. I’m the one who has changed. I make no bones about it. I have been led on this journey by the Lord and could not resist His love.

A Mother Who Taught Me

Let me see if I can give you an example to help you understand. In my gospel study and prayer, I had the advantage of not having to go through the shock many of my friends have suffered when they learned the true history of our church. Thanks to a mother who knew and taught me, I also knew all the warts of the church from my youth. I knew I belonged to an imperfect institution.

True and Faithful to the Church

I have been documenting my faith journey online for seven years. Frankly I was shocked at the reaction of some of my readers who kept asking me, “How can you be true and faithful to this church when you know what you know about the history?” My answer has always been, “I love the Lord and know He would not give me more than I could handle.” That has been my secret.

Don’t talk about it at Church

By that I mean this: Because I asked, the Lord led me to material over the years that helped me to understand and be able to explain what happened in our history that was different from what the official narrative of the church has been. He also told me to keep it to myself or limit it to my blog and to NEVER teach what I had discovered within the walls of any LDS Church building.

Wait for the Right Time

By following that direction from the Lord, my testimony has been strengthened and my peace has increased day by day. The focus in my journey has been to draw closer to the Lord, to prove myself obedient to His will and to do the hard things asked of me, which is primarily to keep my mouth shut about the things I was learning until the time was right. Well, that time is now here.

We are not Forced to Believe

Now, let’s return to the family council. My objective was to convince Carol to go with me to Denver’s lecture in St. George. I knew the only way I could do that was if the Lord revealed it to her. She needed to know she was safe and that I was on her side. This is such a serious issue that it could easily cause marriage partners to go their separate ways. I will not allow that to happen.

My Responsibility to Teach My Wife

I also know I cannot be exalted without Carol. She is my queen. I cannot go before the Lord in the world to come without my sweetheart. If I have not taught her the truth, it is my own fault and the Lord will hold me responsible. And she must be willing of her own free will and choice to come forth when I call. She doesn’t have to unless she wants to. I want her to be by my side.

Afraid of Denver Snuffer

So I taught her and addressed her concerns with love and patience. The Lord put words in my mouth. I knew what to say and the right way to say it. This is a gift I appreciate and have always attributed to the Lord. It is one of the functions of the Holy Ghost to help us know what to say in difficult situations. This was one of those situations. Carol is afraid of Denver Snuffer.

Denver Snuffer labeled an Apostate

From the day we read together the first chapter of his book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, she made up her mind that he was an apostate and was going to get excommunicated. She wanted to have nothing to do with him. It only made it more difficult to talk about him and what he has shared when he was excommunicated last year. The phrase, “See, I told you so” was heard in our home.

Sealing Power in LDS Church

I’ve done my best to share with her what I was learning. It has always been difficult because of the poor first experience she had. You can read about it in my first post about Denver in 2012. She is convinced Denver has taught the Church does not have the sealing power. My mistake – I misunderstood the message of his book until later, and because he clarified it for me online.

Sealing Power Key to Exaltation

This is a touchy subject. Imagine what that does to a woman who relies on the reality of that sealing power to give her everything for which she has ever hoped and dreamed – to be united with her family for the eternities. This has been the main thing we have discussed over the years as we have talked about Denver’s books, which of course I have done in our home for two years.

How Sealing Power is Received

I am still not sure I can fully explain how it works. All I know it is different from the official narrative. I also know the higher sealing power cannot be passed from one man to another. Sealing power is received ONLY the way Nephi received it – by hearing the voice of the Lord. This is a hard concept and goes contrary to the fundamental core of what the Brethren teach.

Apostasy for What you Believe

In other words, if you teach this, you are an apostate and can be excommunicated. I have never and will never teach it inside an LDS church or while on an assignment such as home teaching. I also will not share it with anyone unless I am asked. When I met with the Bishop three times over the last few months he didn’t ask if I believed what is found in Passing the Heavenly Gift.

Grounds for Excommunication

He knows I won’t teach it in the church. I don’t want to get excommunicated. The Lord has allowed me to share it only on my blog and it still brings out the worst in people as we discuss it. The big question is: can a man be excommunicated for believing this doctrine even though it is clearly taught in our scriptures? He can be and men are being excommunicated more and more.

Excommunicated for Reading a Book

Only today I received yet another private email in which one of my readers told me he received a call from his bishop after the first session of Conference informing him he was to appear before a stake disciplinary council this Wednesday at 7pm. What is his sin? He was excommunicated for simply reading and sharing on his blog what he has read of Denver Snuffer, Daymon Smith and Rock Waterman.

Private Discussion Groups

Why do you think most who read Denver’s works and want to discuss them stay in members-only discussion groups? It’s sad. I told the Lord I wasn’t going to do that and that’s what I finally got his authorization on last week – to openly teach this doctrine more clearly on my blog in the months to come. Yes, I will probably be excommunicated. I am at peace with that. Carol isn’t.

Teaching With Love Unfeigned

This is getting long. Let me wrap up. For two hours I taught Carol. For two hours she listened to me. She was upset several times. I did not reciprocate because I understood her fear. With love unfeigned I continued to teach her. She had her back to me for a while. That’s never a good sign. Finally she turned to me, trusting me and listening with her heart. I knew it was time to pray.

True Order of Prayer with Carol

The last session of conference started, preventing us from doing so. As soon as it was over, we went to our home family altar, offered the signs of the priesthood together then knelt down to pray. Well, I prayed, she listened. I again used the second sign of the Aaronic priesthood as I prayed. I told her it would be a short prayer and it was. It was specifically about Denver Snuffer.

We Don’t Want to be Deceived

I told the Lord WE didn’t want to be deceived. I asked the Lord to make it known to Carol if it was alright that we attended his St George lecture together. I already had my answer. The prayer was specifically for Carol. As I related in my post last week, the answer doesn’t have to come right away. I asked for the Lord to answer Carol’s prayers. She says she has been struggling.

Gospel of Jesus Christ in Action

I know I have shared a personal and what many might consider a private story, not appropriate for a blog post. I disagree. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ in action. The purpose of my post is to share my witness that the True Order of Prayer can and should be used in our homes. It is also intended to be practiced as a family, or at least as husband and wife who have been endowed.

If Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine

We arose from our prayer and hugged, then went downstairs. I broke my fast with a wonderful meal Carol prepared. I then tried to answer some more of the emails that have been flooding my inbox over the past week. I know the Lord will answer our prayer when Carol is ready. It may be months. But I am so pleased we are doing this the way the Lord directed me. We must be united.


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