A New Prophet in Town


ProphetJosephSmithThe Thesis of this Short Blog Post

This is a small Mormon-based blog read by few people. I don’t think I appear on anyone’s list of recommended LDS blogs any more. That probably started when I went public with book reviews of the now-excommunicated Denver Snuffer. In this post, I would like us to consider for just a moment the possibility that the Lord could send a messenger or servant to the LDS people who did NOT come from the rank and file of the General Authorities or the Quorum of the Twelve. It has happened in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Isn’t it possible it could happen in our day?

A Small Diversion for My Aching Head

Friday night Carol and I went to see Catching Fire, the latest episode of the Hunger Games series. It was a welcome distraction from a difficult week at work, and a sort of celebration for me for having completed 712 hours of advanced technical training over the past nine months. For those who follow my blog, you’ll remember it was also some nine months ago I had what I considered a couple of undesirable existential experiences that drove me to the ER for treatment. I still suffer continual headaches but have made recent progress in other, more important areas. I’ve shared details in previous posts. Email me if you want to know more and can’t find it.

A Surprising Whispering of the Spirit

At the end of the movie I was surprised to hear the spirit whisper something to me I was not expecting. It had nothing to do with the movie, but rather was an answer to questions I carry in my heart. I don’t have doubts about the church – never had. But I always have questions – still do. In my interpretation, I heard, “You are to be an observer and a witness. You were not sent here to manage or control anything.” I was astonished because it answered a long-standing prayer about my mission in life. I was also surprised because that seemed like an unusual time and place to receive inspiration or revelation. Perhaps it’s because my mind was disengaged. My spirit soared as I considered the implications of what I had just heard or rather felt in my heart.

Witnessing the Fulfillment of Prophecy

I started this blog some six years ago with the intention of sharing personal commentary of things coming to pass in my day that could possibly be based on scriptural prophecy, such as the surprising news today that the United States has made a deal with Iran to admit them into the nuclear weapons club. In my mind, this pulls the trigger of Israel’s attack on that country, and the response by the rest of the world, including the United States, in uniting against Israel in what will ultimately be WW III. I now consider myself more of an interpreter of current events that are LDS related, specifically about what is happening among church members. I do this mainly by writing reviews of books that deal with topics recommended to me by some church members.

Questioning the Traditional Narrative

In January of 2012 I was introduced to the writings of one now persona non-grata among our LDS writers, a man recently excommunicated for writing a book of doctrinal analysis that also happens to contain a lot of LDS history, told from historic and scriptural sources. Passing the Heavenly Gift was not written by collecting and combining anti-Mormon stories circulating out there. Denver Snuffer, an attorney by trade, questioned the traditional narrative of how we have taught ourselves what happened to the LDS Church at the end of the Nauvoo period in 1844. Denver Snuffer is also the author of the widely-recommended book, The Second Comforter.

Cursings Instead of Blessings

I wonder why nobody has commented on Denver’s latest blog post yet, also published this last Friday. Perhaps I’ve missed where it was shared among all the Mormon blogs out there. If so, someone kindly point me to the source. I’ve been pondering it for three days. I even re-read the scriptures regarding this post with Carol on Friday night. Before we had completed reading the passage, she said, “Well, of course that’s right. I taught the D&C in Seminary and remember this well.” I am referring of course to the verses in Section 124 where the Lord promised “Cursings Instead of Blessings” if the Nauvoo Temple was not completed within the designated time.

Pondering in the Temple

I went to the temple yesterday specifically to ponder what I felt in my heart on Friday night. Yep, I heard it right. The feeling remained the same. What Denver wrote in that post deserves our serious consideration. As Carol said to me, “Everyone knows the saints were cursed for not completing the temple like they were supposed to. They had too many other building projects going on.” We discussed their having to leave Nauvoo in the dead of winter, crossing over the frozen Mississippi River, a miracle of sorts, although not as uncommon as I once thought. We talked about the difficulties and hardships of crossing the plains. Carol served her mission in Independence, Missouri. She knows what winter is like in Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. Brrr…

This Post Qualifies as Sunday Worship

It is Sunday morning as I write this. I hope somehow to get this post published by the end of the day. Our Sundays have become too full with the addition of ward and stake choir practices both before and after our regular block of meetings. It takes a lot of energy for me to memorize and harmonize Christmas choral numbers even though we have both been doing it for years. When we’re done with choir practice, Carol wants to sit and vegetate in front of the TV. ‘Tis the season for Christmas shows. Since I can’t get this off my mind, I’ve asked the Lord to help me get this published tonight. I’m taking a vacation next week to catch up with the ton of private emails from readers. I hope to publish this tonight for subscribers to read Monday morning.

Thesis Revisited for Clarification

I want to state it again and ask you to ponder it seriously. Is it possible the Lord could or might call a man to deliver a message to the general population of the church? We know that flies in the face of D&C 28:5-7. It also goes contrary to the standard narrative (now mantra) taught in this church that any message from God to his people will come from the prophet and only from the prophet. Today, this of course refers to Thomas S. Monson, the man we (and I) sustain as the president of the church. We have also given the fifteen men who lead this church the title of “prophet, seer and revelator.” I also sustain these men as leaders in our church. But could there possibly be other men, not among these fifteen, sent by the Lord with a message that the Lord wants his people to hear and understand? It’s unthinkable, isn’t it? It would be too confusing.

Kingdom of God on the Earth

Thus, as I have written before, the church was right in following established procedure of having Denver Snuffer excommunicated or barred from membership in the organization of the church. It has happened many times before and will happen many times again before the days of the LDS church as an established organization are over. Wait, did I just imply that the LDS Church as we know it today could possibly be dissolved or disorganized when the Lord returns? Haven’t I used that phrase all my life in teaching classes, speaking from the pulpit, in private and public prayer? I have. Isn’t the LDS Church the Kingdom of God on the Earth today? Aren’t we Zion? You mean this church we belong to will no longer be needed when the Lord comes? Poppycock!

Be Careful What You Write in This Church

I brought this up once before and was severely castigated by a former colleague on the High Council, now a Stake President at BYU Idaho. As he wrote in response to my Aug 19 post in a comment left on Facebook on Aug 21: “The statement that the LDS Church will not be on the earth when the Savior comes is a provocative statement and not true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth and is awaiting the kingdom of heaven to arrive where they will be united (See all of D&C 65). The Lord’s Church is the way wherein Israel and Gentiles are brought to a fullness and to fully come unto Christ.” And my response:

We Have Changed What We Teach These Days

“…you’ll have to forgive me. I’m an old guy. I grew up in an era where High Council speakers would shoot from the hip (not read prepared talks). I always loved listening to High Council speakers, especially those who took it seriously to prepare. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that statement growing up in the old Covina Stake, that ‘someday, there will be no more LDS church. We won’t need it. The Lord will run things without this institution we have built up over the years (that’s paraphrasing).’ The closest thing I could find to back this up is this quote from Daniel Peterson: ‘The church today, as has often been noted, is simply the essential but temporary scaffolding that surrounds an eternal family-priesthood structure in the process of construction; until that construction is complete at some point in the postmortal future, priesthood is mediated through and associated with the church.’ I think Brother Peterson and I see priesthood similarly. The church needs the priesthood, not the other way around.

The Church is Just a Temporary Scaffolding

“I even seem to recall either Elder Packer or Elder Perry talking about the church being the temporary scaffolding that won’t be needed when the Lord comes because the priesthood will run things – everything – in that there would no longer be a need for the LDS institution as we know it today. Not trying to argue with you. I do appreciate your comments and getting me to read section 65 again. Thanks for leading me to the scriptures. PS – No response necessary. I know you’re a busy man.” Adding to that Facebook comment: I feel stronger today than I did back in August that the LDS Church is a temporary institution, and was NOT what the Lord intended to be the conclusion of what he tried to accomplish through Joseph Smith. What the Lord wanted to reveal to the Saints was never revealed. It had everything to do with the Nauvoo Temple not being completed and therefore, the church going into exile, disorganized and cursed by the Lord.

Love and Devotion in the LDS Church

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love this church. It has blessed my life. I have tried to be as submissive as I could from the day the Lord told me at age 17 the following: “Joseph could not teach the people everything because they would not receive nor could it be taught outside the temple.” That’s almost a direct quote from personal revelation recorded in my journal. I’ve written about this before as part of my testimony in the early part of this blog. I have been blessed by choosing to serve a mission, seeking and receiving revelation as to who to marry in the temple, accepting every calling ever issued and even by singing in the choir when practices consume so much from me besides time. I love to teach, I love to preach. I love to take the sacrament and I love the temple. As I’ve said so many times before, if asked by my leaders, I would delete this blog without a second thought. I’m more interested in keeping covenants.

Only Christ Can Provide Certain Things

I’ll conclude with this: I’m missing something I cannot receive from this church and so are most of you. I feel like my friend the Stake President mocked me when he asked: “…if you’re saying you aren’t being fulfilled at church, or by the standard works, where else are you looking to be fulfilled? Is Denver Snuffer going to tell you something more powerful than President Monson? Is Max Skousen going to reveal something more relevant than Abinadi? It would be like a thirsty man leaving the safety of the oasis to go seek water in the desert wastes. So again, my question is, what can Denver teach me that the Savior cannot?” I answered him there but I’ll also answer here. I want the world to know why I think the Lord has sent us a legitimate prophet in the form of Denver Snuffer. I know that is a blasphemous claim to some. Please try to understand.

Church is Filled With Men Who Love God

I have loved every Bishop with whom I’ve served as counselors or clerks over the past twenty-five years – a dozen. I have loved every Stake President who presided over me, inspired me, led me, helped me learn how to administer so well, and some even how to minister better. My bishop asked me to come in to talk recently. I’ve never had a bishop do that. He said the Lord told him to do so. The first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t know why the Lord prompted me to have you see me, but I feel impressed he wants me to tell you that you are loved. We talked for almost two hours about what it’s like to raise a son who is both a genius and is afflicted with mental and drug issues. I did a lot of crying in that first meeting. I could not help myself. But I never got around to what I really wanted to talk about. The spirit didn’t prompt me to do so.

Called In To Speak With The Bishop

We met a second time about a month later. This was within the last week. Once again I hoped the spirit would prompt me to bring up the real issues that were troubling me. We had a visit that I would describe as two servants of the Lord talking about what it’s like to stay on the path while serving in this church. He taught me from the scriptures. I went home and shared them with my wife that evening in our scripture study. They are found in Ether 12:27 about why God gives men weaknesses – so they can be humble. The other was in 2nd Nephi 9:28-30. He emphasized verse thirty where Nephi has Jacob teach us the importance of having our hearts set in the right place. I wanted so much to talk about specific steps one must follow to be taught by angels or have the Lord visit me in my home as my patriarchal blessing promises me I shall be. But again, I felt constrained by the spirit to not bring the matter up. I have asked myself why that would be so.

The Church No Longer Teaches Detailed Steps

I feel better about it now. As I write this section, it is after church. The assigned teacher for our High Priest’s group did not show up. The group leader was out of town. The First Assistant asked, “Has anyone read the assigned talks from General Conference we were asked to discuss?” A good worthy brother volunteered and led the most inspiring discussion of the Redemption of Jesus Christ and the desire of the Savior to forgive. You’ll find both in the April 2013 General Conference addresses. During the discussion someone mentioned the idea of a checklist of things we need to accomplish before we die. He even mentioned “that some people feel you must have your calling and election sure, but we’re not supposed to talk about that.” I felt I just had to add a few comments and spoke for nearly five minutes about the idea that not only can we receive the Second Comforter, but that we were commanded to do so by Joseph just before he died in 1844.

Discussing The Second Comforter in Church

Nobody was aghast. Nobody complained. Nobody said, “I’m going to tell on you for talking about something that is forbidden.” To the contrary, I felt the rapt attention of all twenty or so High Priests in the room, nodding their heads in agreement, saying, “That’s right,” and adding their comments that, to me, seemed to be in agreement to my words spoken with passion, “I don’t know why we hear we’re not supposed to talk about receiving the Second Comforter. I shared my witness of seeing the Savior in the Garden and then explaining in my own words what really happened that night that to me, answers the question, “How is it done?” asked by Enos. I ended by asking, “Why do we feel in this church that we can’t talk about receiving the Savior? Why don’t we teach each other how it is done, step by step? Of course I didn’t mention Denver Snuffer but I basically taught them a combination of Denver’s witness from Come, Let us Adore Him from memory, as well as my own witness. Was that wrong? No. The Spirit had prompted it.

Back to the Thesis for a Conclusion

Why did the Church excommunicate Denver Snuffer? He was cut off for publishing Passing the Heavenly Gift and for conducting the lecture tour in which he is now engaged and which he is almost halfway through. A convert to our faith, who claims to have done as we were taught by Joseph Smith – he received the Lord in person – has been expelled from our association solely for delivering a message he claims he was commanded to deliver. I believe the Lord has sent us a legitimate prophet or messenger with a specific message and as an authorized representative of the Lord. After nearly two years of reading his many works, pondering his words and praying numerous times, I want to go on public record – hardly anybody reads my blog anyway – that Denver Snuffer is a servant of the Lord, doing what the Lord told him to do. I have asked this of the Lord too many times to count. I knew it the first day I read PtHG and it has not changed even though the man has been separated from our association by force. I am not saying the fifteen men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators are not authorized by the Lord to lead our church.

A Final Thought

What I am saying is we need to open our minds to the possibility that the Lord could and has sent a messenger, another authorized servant, a prophet with a message that we should consider, and to which we should give heed. I know the man is not perfect, but I do know he was asked by the Lord to teach what he has taught – at his own considerable personal expense – and that the Lord will bless him for being obedient, in spite of being cut off by the institution of the LDS Church. I am not the only one who feels this way. There are many who have received their own witness. I may be one of the most vocal and the most visible due a simple fluke of how search engines work. I feel like Joseph Smith when he said, “I had seen a vision, I knew it and God knew it. How could I deny it?” (paraphrasing) You can tell me I’m deluded, that I’ve been deceived – join the crowd – but that will not change the fact that the Lord has told me over and over that the man cut off by our church for apostasy was simply doing what he was asked to do by a kind and loving Savior. I am like Brigham Young. I studied this for nearly two years. The witness only grows stronger.

Invitation to Dialog – Open to Discussion

I know many of you disagree. I have written about this over twenty times. It started out as a simple book review. Until today, I don’t think I have ever come out and directly expressed my feelings that Denver Snuffer’s books and lectures were inspired by and accepted by the Lord. In other words, why excommunicate a man for doing what he felt the Lord told him to do? I did not find the books to be a trial to my faith, although I know others differ with my opinion. I don’t feel this is a competition between Thomas Monson and Denver Snuffer. What I know about keys is that they give the one who holds them permission to perform a specific assignment. I have no problem answering the question: “Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?” The answer is yes. But I cannot deny when the spirit tells me the Lord gave Denver Snuffer an assignment that he is doing his best to fulfill. I simply do not see any conflict. What do you think?

Born of the Spirit for Addicts


BornOfTheSpirit_ERichardPackhamOne of the promises of being born of the spirit is that of a mighty change of heart (Mosiah 5:2). This mighty change is supposed to take away any disposition to do evil and replace it with a desire to do good continually. Of all the dialogs I have with addicts, this is the most difficult verse to confront. It is at the same time, the most hopeful and the most damning of scriptures.

I’d like to share a story of how I came to understand the power of this verse and how it changed my life forever. Some people teach that being born again is a one-time experience and I suppose for them it is. For me, it is a weekly experience. Perhaps that’s an incorrect explanation of this verse and doctrine but by the time I complete my story maybe my interpretation will make sense.

A Happy Returned Missionary

I returned from my mission in 1978 and immediately enrolled in college. The first year was a joy because I was pursuing my dream of becoming a computer technician. I immersed myself so much in school that I got a two year degree in a little over a year and was employed in not one but two computer jobs before the end of the decade. Microcomputers were the hot new thing.

Not only did I plunge myself into school after my mission, but I also did everything I could to be active in church. After all, I was a recently returned missionary. I had all the energy in the world because I had the Lord on my side, right? I taught the Elder’s quorum. I accepted leadership positions in the young single adults and in the LDS student association on campus. I kept busy.

Teaching Seminary in California

I wasn’t really surprised when they asked me to teach seminary but in hindsight, I should have said no. I have never turned down a calling, but this one was too much for me at that time in my life. Within six weeks I was overwhelmed. I was praying with all my might every night as I tried to find time and energy to prepare lessons that would keep thirty high school freshmen engaged.

Something in me snapped one Friday after the kids, full of energy that all high school kids enjoy, pushed back a little too hard and totally destroyed the spiritual experience I thought we were going to have that morning. For those of you who have taught seminary, I know you can relate. Well, I was only 22, just a few years older than these kids, and decided I had enough that day.

How Quickly Life Changes

I told the seminary principal he would need to find a substitute for the next week while I thought about all the things I had going on in my life. It didn’t take a week to decide. I told him that very Monday that teaching seminary was too much for me at that time in my life. They put my class in with another more experienced teacher while they found a replacement. I felt bad. I still do.

My life went on. I moved away from home. I continued to immerse myself in the exciting world of microcomputers and tried to forget about my failure at teaching seminary. I took yet another computer job that required me to work on the weekends. I don’t think I did it on purpose, but subconsciously I used that weekend job to drop out of church for a while. I just felt burned out.

An Inactive Church Member

Thus I found myself an inactive member of the church in less than a year and a half after a very successful mission to Central America. I was busy but I was miserable. I couldn’t make it to church because of my weekend job. I found myself drifting away from scripture reading, gospel study and even association with my friends from church. Gratefully, they didn’t forget about me.

One thing I’m glad I didn’t lose is my love of books and reading, especially church books. I know that sounds strange, but I loved my experiences in the church growing up, especially as a missionary and in the years surrounding my mission. I prepared well to serve and I loved the doctrine, something that still gets me excited. The social aspects of the church are hard for me.

I Still Loved the Gospel

I had attended Rick’s College before my mission and enjoyed a Book of Mormon class from Keith Sellers. He got me excited about the Book of Mormon. George Pace, my LTM branch president, influenced my love of the Savior. My Mission President was a former Institute Director who loved to teach. President Muren made teaching the gospel come alive for me.

I have always been impressed by books and classes from those employed by the church who teach full time in the CES program. I have heard some of them say that we shouldn’t be so impressed. After all, they get paid to study the gospel all day. Nevertheless, I continued to keep up with new publications from CES folks even when I was not active in church those few years.

The Power of True Doctrine

One Saturday afternoon, when I had a few moments between jobs, I went to the nearest LDS book store in California, which for me at that time was Deseret Book in Orange County. I saw a little book that caught my eye entitled, Born of the Spirit by E. Richard Packham. I’m convinced the Lord led me to it. It was just what I needed at that time in my life to get turned around again.

I marvel as I look back through my copy of the book and see the highlights and study notes in the margins. The excitement I felt as I read the book comes back to me each time I see those notes and re-read the high-lighted sections. I remember the feeling of becoming spiritually alive again. I found hope that I could overcome feelings of unworthiness from sin that had crept into my life.

I Sin Differently Than You

I’ve publically confessed that I have struggled with an addiction to pornography since I was eight years old. It was a habit in my youth that got out of control and became embedded in my personality. This habit caused me to return to the sin again and again anytime I was confronted with failure or when challenged in a way that I felt overwhelmed or not immediately successful.

I’ve also shared that the addiction is under control but only because I have learned to apply the principles I discovered in Richard Packham’s book. Well, technically, it is simply by fully living the gospel of Jesus Christ that the problem is under control. But what I learned in Born of the Spirit helped me understand the process and how it really can work, especially for an addict.

The Problem for Addicts

I know I’m not the first person in the world to discuss this difficulty. The problem is how can someone who is an addict lose all desire for that addiction? In other words, how can Mosiah 5:2 possibly apply to a person addicted to a behavior or substance? In fact, the church has a program dedicated specifically to addiction recovery that covers this concept of overcoming the flesh.

When addicts hear someone in church bear testimony that they know they can be forgiven, they readily shake their head and say to themselves, “Yes, I know that too. But what about the next time the temptation comes along? How many times will the Lord forgive someone who commits the same sin over and over again?” If you’re an addict I know you’ve thought about this before.

Addiction Recovery Program

Did you know that Mosiah 5:2 is not found within the church’s Addiction Recovery Program? That problem came about because the church took the existing AA 12-step program and adapted it instead of writing a program designed completely from the restored gospel. I know many people love the program but some have told me it doesn’t explain how to be born of the spirit.

It comes close. Trust me. I have read and studied this wonderful program over and over. I have helped people step through it online. But I remain convinced that it falls short in this one very important area. The closest it comes is a reference to Moroni 6:8 – “As oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.” Close, but not quite the same concept.

Lose the Desire to Sin

The bottom line for me is do we believe we can be born of the spirit and lose all desire for sin or don’t we? Is this a true doctrine of Christ or isn’t it? Can an addict truly be healed and have self-control in their lives again? Can they be baptized by fire and become pure in heart? Maybe this only applies to regular members of the church. What about someone who keeps repeating a sin?

We addicts understand and recognize we can be forgiven. We have experienced it over and over again. But it gets tiring after a while. It gets harder with each failure. The Lord taught that when the evil spirits who afflicted us the first time come back, they bring reinforcements. Any addict can testify to the truthfulness of this doctrine. It gets harder and harder to repent as time passes.

A Process or an Event

You can’t imagine how many times I have said to myself, “Can’t I be rid of this temptation once and for all? Can’t this evil desire be rooted out of my breast never to return again? How did King Lamoni do it? Why hasn’t it happened to me? I hear stories from other church members who say they repented and were forgiven as if it were a one-time event. Why isn’t it like that with me?”

I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, being born again is a process, not an event. But it is a process that works. It may be different for you, meaning you have only needed to repent once of a sin and it’s gone forever from your life. I am happy for you. I thank God there are people like you. Please continue to bear your testimony and tell us how blessed and forgiven you feel now.

Helping Others Repent

I have served in twelve different Bishoprics and Stake Leadership positions for over twenty-five years. I only share this because I want you to know I have sat on disciplinary councils dozens of times. I have watched the repentance process from the point of view of an advisor to a Bishop or Stake President. I have noticed something about those who successfully come back to activity.

They seem to understand that repentance is a process. They don’t talk about a one-time glorious event that changed their life forever. They humbly express gratitude for the tender mercies of the Lord in helping them get back up each time they fall. They tell us they have learned to rely on the Lord for inspiration in their daily walk in life in a way that they never before understood.

Returning to the Same Sin

For those who came to the end of the first half of a disciplinary council, we used to assign them to read The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball. It’s a hard book to read, not because it’s poorly written, because it’s not, but because of what it can do to your soul if you let it. It can make you feel less than the scum of the earth if you stop reading after the first half of the book.

I don’t know if the book is still regularly assigned for those who are working with bishops or stake presidents to regain their membership or full fellowship again. From the book I seem to recall some especially harsh words reserved for the repeat offender who sins again and again. In effect, President Kimball taught that forgiveness is cancelled when one returns to the same sin.

The Simplicity of the Gospel

It wasn’t until I read Brother Packham’s book that I began to understand the full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ when correctly understood and applied. Remember, the gospel is simple. There are only a few parts – to believe in Christ as our Savior, to turn from our sins, to accept baptism by immersion and then the part most people forget – to receive the baptism of fire.

There’s a whole lot more we teach in our church but that’s the gospel in a nutshell. You can find it outlined clearly in 2 Nephi 31-32, the second half of 3 Nephi 11 and 3 Nephi 12:1-2. One of my favorite verses is 2 Nephi 32:6, which is a promise of a personal visit from the Savior to give us the rest of His doctrine, but that’s a subject for another post – the need for a personal visit.

Born of the Spirit is Not Optional

Joseph taught that being born of the Spirit is not an optional part of our commitment to the Lord when we accepted baptism. “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.”

“Though his sins may have been cleansed away, yet so great is the force of habit that he would, without being renewed by the Holy Ghost, be easily overcome and contaminated again by sin. Hence, it is infinitely important that the affections and desires should be, in a measure, changed and renewed, so as to cause him to hate that which he before loved, and to love that which he before hated.” – Orson Pratt

Requirement of Time and Sacrifice

It takes time to be born of the spirit. It simply takes time. For some it’s not as long as it is for others. I guess for me, I’m one of the slow learners. I’m still asking for the miracle of having the spirit purge the dross and wickedness out of my heart. I ask each night for the Lord to take away my desire for the things of the world, to cause me to sacrifice or give up Babylon and love Zion.

For me, I must constantly work on a replacement. Sacrifice means giving up something good for something better. The natural man likes pleasure. That’s good I suppose, for the natural man. But the spiritual man in me loves the Lord and wants to please Him. That’s why I work so hard every day to study the gospel, to learn the doctrine, to understand how to teach it better and to live it.

No Other Online Review

Brother Packham’s book is still available from Cedar Fort and from Amazon. He has published a more recent book, Enabled by the Power of Christ (2008) but I haven’t read it yet. I am amazed that there are no reviews of the book on Goodreads or on Amazon. That makes mine the first. How’s that possible for such a wonderful book published so long ago? I highly recommend it.

I have read that books on doctrine don’t sell any more. I wonder why that is. Brother Packham’s book makes what to me is one of the most important parts of the gospel come alive – being born of the spirit. If you have read the book or would like to discuss some of the wonderful quotes or comments found within its pages, leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

Progress Report on Denver Snuffer


DenverSnufferPagesI apologize for the misleading title. This is not about Denver Snuffer. This is about my progress in reading and digesting what Denver Snuffer has written. If you’ll recall, about a month ago I ordered, received and wrote about Denver’s latest publications. I just finished reading volume one of Remembering the Covenant and want to share a few things I learned from that volume.

Remembering the Covenant is a reprint of Denver’s blog. Volume one covered approximately the first five months, from 1 February 2010 to 7 June 2010. It is about 435 printed pages. I took my time reading it because I had several other reading projects going on at the same time. I read each entry twice, highlighting with a different colored marker on each pass, pondering as I read.

This is still a solo project. Carol is not interested in what I am reading, although I do share a few quotes with her on occasion. She usually likes to point out that if the Lord wanted me to know what Denver had to say, the Brethren would have told us to read his books. Sigh. Carol’s not big on doctrine. The social aspects of the church are more important to her. We balance each other.

Careful, Ponderous and Solemn Thought

Many of the entries were familiar to me, having read them at one time or another on his blog. I was also impressed that a lot of content was shared here the first time in this volume and found full expression in his book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. It’s obvious the ideas found in PtHG were developed a long time before they were put together so powerfully in that controversial book.

My objective in the methodical and deep reading of Remembering the Covenant is obviously tied to my desire to obtain what Denver has written about in his first book, The Second Comforter. No, I have not yet obtained an audience with the Lord, but then, I’ve only been asking seriously for the last year or so. I started asking in earnest after my first reading of The Second Comforter.

Maybe my approach is all wrong, but what I’m trying to accomplish here is prove one way or another that a regular member of the church can have the same experience Denver Snuffer says we all can and should have – to receive a promise from the Lord of Eternal Life. And yes, that means a personal visit from the resurrected Lord, and to receive that promise from his own lips.

Why I Haven’t Received the Promise Yet

I found many helpful entries to explain why I haven’t had that sacred experience yet. One of them is found on page 261. You can read the entry on his blog dated 27 April 2010 – God is No Respecter of Persons. About halfway through the post he discusses what alienates us from the Lord. He makes an interesting point that it is not our sins per se, but the way we offend Christ.

Specifically he says, “He is offended when we are forgiven by Him, and then return to the same sin. This shows a lack of gratitude for His forgiveness.” Denver acknowledges that some struggle with addictions, compulsions and weaknesses for years, even decades. That’s me. He then offers what I found to be a sad commentary. It made me think that I must still have a long ways to go.

He writes, “When at last, because of age or infirmity, a troubling weakness is at last overcome, He will readily accept your repentance and let you move forward, clean, whole and forgiven.” This makes me sad because it causes me to feel that those who struggle with addiction will not be accepted by the Lord until the biological temptations of the body go away due to old age.”

I Sin Differently Than You

Perhaps you can help me out in my thinking here. Maybe some of you know what I am talking about. I’m going to be frank. They say confession is good for the soul. I’ve written about this before on my blog and got a lot of positive feedback from folks who said it helped them to be so open and honest about such a sensitive subject. You may think less of me after reading this.

Mental illness runs in my family. So does addiction. I’ll bet they go hand-in-hand. I recall a line used by President Uchtdorf in a recent General Conference address (April 2012). I believe he said it came from a bumper sticker. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.” In my previous blog post on the subject I wrote I was exposed to Internet pornography in 1995.

However, that wasn’t my first exposure to pornography. It seems the adversary knew what my weakness was before I ever understood. I struggled with pornography from the time I was eight years old, long before the Internet. I find it interesting that this temptation came into my life right after I was baptized. It has been a constant battle with many ups and downs for nearly fifty years.

A Common but Serious Weakness

I have never confessed this in a public forum before. I am pleased to say that I am a recovered addict and have been clean for many years, but like an alcoholic, it can come back in a second. My state of mind is something about which I have to be constantly wary. I must always be careful about what I look at, what ads I see, what TV shows I watch, what web pages I visit.

This is not a secret from Carol. We have worked on this together over the years. I am amazed at how kind, patient, loving and accepting she has always been. This is an intimate part of our lives but human sexuality is a big part of the mortal experience so it has eternal ramifications. For me, the biggest part of this struggle has always been feelings of guilt and of disappointing the Lord.

The last time I tried to confess this sin to a bishop, I also tried to turn in my temple recommend. This was many years ago, early in my married life. He pushed the temple recommend back at me and said, “I want you to go to the temple more frequently and I want you to stop confessing this. This weakness is between you, your wife and the Lord. You work it out among yourselves.”

Broken Souls Are Loved by the Lord

I came away from reading Denver’s entry that God is No Respecter of Persons thinking that I will not be worthy or qualified for a visit from the Lord to obtain the promise of Eternal Life for many more years, probably just before I am ready to leave this life. Perhaps someone who struggles with an addiction is a special case, who can’t be trusted until they’re almost dead.

I found some consolation in reading his entry on Broken Souls on page 387 which can be found on his blog dated 25 May 2010. In it Denver describes his work with and love for those who find it difficult to associate with other members of the church because they struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression caused by addictions. I could immediately relate this to my life-long hurt.

He writes that he has close friends who struggle with addictions so haunting and so terrible a force in their lives that rising each day to face the coming fight takes greater courage than he could imagine. “They are acting in faith at every waking breath, as they fight against a foe that I do not comprehend and could not face.” Yep, that pretty much describes my daily walk in life.

Forgiveness for a Former Addict

Hope came as I read there, “I marveled at how very much these broken souls, these discouraged people … are the very ones with whom I feel the Lord’s presence and love as I have the honor of meeting and talking with them about the gospel. These are the ones He loves the most. These are the ones with whom he associated during His ministry. He associates there, still.” I like that.

I made a decision a long time ago to continue to follow the gospel path, to attend my meetings each week, to accept and faithfully serve in callings when asked, to attend the temple and to do all within my power to prove to the Lord that I loved Him and wanted His forgiveness. But I also accepted the fact that I would never really feel that I belonged, that I was not worthy of the Lord.

All this, because as a former addict, I did not feel I could be trusted. I could and would do all that we are supposed to do, including prayer and gospel study, but deep down, I knew my weakness and it terrified me that I was capable of such betrayal. I had known the Lord’s forgiveness early in my life, but my constant struggle over the years caused me to feel I had offended the Lord.

You Deserve Your Insecurities

On page 408, in the post entitled Developing Your Faith dated 30 May 2010, Denver writes, “Insecurities are a result of a lack of faith. You deserve them. You have not acquired knowledge yet. You have them as a gift, as a warning that you have not yet received what you need. Nor have you developed faith yet.” He then admonishes us to go and re-read Lectures on Faith Six.

Of course, that lecture is about offering sacrifice to obtain sufficient faith to be saved. In this lecture is found the famous quote that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” I have thought and pondered about this for at least twenty years. I have yet to figure out what more I can sacrifice.

According to Denver, it is my fears and insecurities that I must sacrifice. It is my lack of trust in myself that comes from years of being a former addict that I must sacrifice. I know the Lord has forgiven me. That’s a given. I have asked and know that He has forgiven me. There has never been a hesitation when I have asked for forgiveness. But does he trust me enough to visit me?

Timing for the Visit From the Lord

I suppose the real question is, “Do I trust myself enough to let the Lord visit me?” Of course, we do not set the timing of the Lord’s visit. So the mechanics of how this works puzzles me. Let’s say I finally figure out in my mind at last a way to give up that lack of trust that I put there so long ago as I began my recovery from my addiction. I give up the fear that I can’t be trusted.

Well, that’s nice. That is, it’s nice to be able to say to myself that the Lord trusts me, but unless I hear the Lord say it to me personally, perhaps it’s just self-deception. The Lord has commanded us to drop doubts and fears from our hearts. I am willing to do so. For non-addicts I assume it’s a simple thing. You simply say to yourself, “I trust myself that I will not participate in sin again.”

I’m sure I’m over-analyzing this and making it way more complicated than the Lord intended. The gospel is supposed to be so simple that even a child can understand it. We are supposed to become child-like in our trust and faith in the Lord. I know I can trust the Lord, but I am not certain I can trust myself, even after all these years. There simply are no guarantees, are there?

Invitation to Dialog

For any other Snuffer readers out there, what do you think? Am I going about this wrong? Denver reports on page 421 in “Be Still and Know That I Am God” (2 June 2010), “Study what I’ve written carefully and anyone will find it is all there. Several people have done so, and have received the promised results.” That’s nice to know. I believe Denver and am happy for them.

I’m still pondering the approach I need to take to accomplish this work that only I can do for myself. One approach is to hang onto the belief that because I am a former addict who has offended Christ by returning to my sins after having been forgiven, that I must wait patiently until my life is nearly over before the Lord will visit me to proclaim I have Eternal Life.

The other approach is to give up all doubts and fears left over from years of sin, trust the Lord implicitly that He is willing to come to me now and ask all the more sincerely for that blessing. Perhaps I have missed something in The Second Comforter and need to go back and re-read it yet one more time, asking the Lord to show me what steps I missed the first few times I read it.

The Stupor of Thought


scripturesAbout twenty years ago I served in a unique position in the church. My calling was “Melchizedek Priesthood Leader.” Because our little ward was so small, the Stake President had placed all priesthood holders in the ward into one group. In effect, he combined the Elder’s Quorum and the High Priests Group and put me in charge.

I also served as the de facto ward mission leader because we had none. As you can imagine I felt a little overwhelmed. I often prayed for inspiration to know what to do to help our little ward grow, but it was to no avail. We lived in an older part of town with many transients. Older members kept retiring and moving away to Utah.

On one occasion I attended a stake meeting where I had decided to speak up about the problems we were experiencing in our little ward. I thought about and prayed about what I wanted to say. But for some reason I didn’t pay attention to the fact that this particular stake meeting was not the right place to bring up my concerns.

Preparation for Prayer

Now in order to understand what I’m about to share, I’ve got to tell you a little bit about how I receive revelation. When I pray and ask the Lord to help me with a problem or to guide me through a difficult situation, I know I’ve got to do two things first. I’ve got to study it out and make a decision about a course of action.

Then I present my decision to the Lord in prayer. I tell Him about the problem. I tell Him what I’ve studied. Then I tell Him what I’ve decided. Finally, I ask for a confirming witness of the spirit to know if what I’ve decided to do is good or best. It’s a time-tested formula that has worked for me as long as I have been praying.

After praying, I then wait and listen carefully. Sometimes I know immediately one way or the other about what I have discussed with the Lord. But often, my prayer is not answered right away. This was one of those occasions where I did not feel that confirming witness of the spirit that what I wanted to do was the right thing.

The Mind’s Eye

A little more detail might be helpful to understand how revelation works for me. When I ask the Lord for help to know if a certain course of action is the correct one, He will often answer my prayer by allowing me to see myself engaged in that particular activity. In fact, I can often hear as well as see some things in advance.

When I was young I wondered if I should go on a mission. I followed the formula. I studied it out. I made a decision and I asked the Lord for a confirming witness. I was then overwhelmed with what the Lord revealed to me about my mission. I saw myself helping people understand the truth. I heard myself preaching the gospel.

Over the years, this gift of seeing myself perform specific actions in advance of actually doing them has been repeated. There are times when I can hear the words I say as I am performing the task, such as teaching or speaking. There are also times where the Lord inspires me with specific words or phrases so I will write them out.

Revelation is Rehearsal

For me, revelation is kind of like a rehearsal. It gives me confidence and makes it easier to do the difficult tasks of life because I have already seen myself complete them successfully. I greatly appreciate this gift and have come to rely on it more and more as I go through my life. It’s like the spiritual creation before the physical.

Now back to my story. I had studied the problem out. I had made a decision. I had prayed about it. But I did not receive that confirming witness. I did not see myself sharing my thoughts in the meeting. I knew I had done my homework. I had done my part. The problem was clear in my mind. I felt confident I could explain it.

And indeed I could, but it wasn’t what the Lord wanted expressed at that time in that meeting. The problem was real, my proposed solution was good, although not best as I later found out. In another setting, the discussion I wanted to have would have been appropriate. This meeting was not the time or place for my comments.

The Moment of Truth

I went to that meeting prepared, or so I thought. The meeting progressed to the point where the problems were being discussed. The Stake President solicited discussion. A sister shared her concerns. I raised my hand, was called on and began to speak. No sooner had I opened my mouth then I knew I had made a mistake.

A feeling came over me that I knew I was wrong in what I was trying to share. I should have stopped right then and graciously said something like, “What I’m sharing right now doesn’t feel right. Although I thought it was earlier, it doesn’t seem so now. Forgive me.” The discussion could have continued from there.

Instead, I foolishly continued to speak, reaching into my mind for the things I had studied out and thought about as I prepared to present my solution to the Lord. To my amazement and eventual embarrassment, what was once clear and concise was now a jumbled mess in my mind. I could not recall my points to make any sense.

The Stupor of Thought

And that, my friends, is how I learned that the stupor of thought is a real thing. I could not explain myself. My words weren’t making sense. My fellow brothers and sisters in the meeting were looking at me funny. Finally, the Stake President had to interrupt me to keep me from blathering on. My face burned with embarrassment.

The Lord had answered my prayer. I just hadn’t understood. There was nothing really wrong with my proposed solution, given a different set of circumstances. I didn’t have all the information the Stake President had. I didn’t have the whole picture. My ideas were fine, just not relevant or pertinent in the current situation.

I sat quiet the remainder of the meeting and reflected on what had just happened. I was chagrined and a little confused. It was then I realized I had not been careful in listening to the Lord as I prayed. I had not seen or heard myself sharing what I had studied out so carefully. There was no rehearsal, no advance spiritual creation.

Summary and Conclusion

I learned that the stupor of thought can last as long as it needs to in order to work. I had been given a stupor of thought and should have kept it to myself in my prayer. Instead, I took it with me to a public meeting where it was made evident to all. The stupor of thought God gave me caused me to forget my erroneous conclusions.

I have since learned to be more careful in my prayer rehearsals. If I am unable to see myself sharing my conclusions or performing my intended course of action with success first in my mind’s eye, then I know it would be better to seek another solution. I have come to greatly appreciate this wonderful gift of prayer.

I now know how to use the stupor of thought to refine my path through life without making embarrassing mistakes like I experienced in that stake meeting so long ago. In essence, I have learned to keep quiet unless the Lord distinctly inspires me to say something at the right time and in the right place. This has taught me patience.

Reference: D&C 9:7-9

Get Serious About Gospel Study


How many hours a day do you spend studying the gospel? OK, how many minutes? Hmmm, let’s break that down. Would minutes per week work better for you? And no fair counting the time you spend sitting in church meetings or reading blogs that discuss the church. I mean time spent in the scriptures and asking the Lord to help you understand well enough to teach others in an intelligent way the doctrines you find there.

If you’re like me, your gospel study time is nowhere near what you would like or know it should be. When I was preparing for my mission I spent hours each day reading scriptures and various commentaries on the scriptures. I wanted to know what I would be teaching when I went out there to present the doctrines of the kingdom of God. I miss those days. I felt immersed in the spirit then and knew the Lord was pleased.

Fast forward thirty-six years. I’m an old man in my fifties. I’ve spent a lifetime of service in various callings, enjoying each one with the learning and growth that came with them. My calling right now is easy – stake auditor – and I have no serious demands on my time other than what is expected of any other computer guy who supports a small business with about 100 computers and a dozen servers. No big deal.

A Gospel Study Plan

There are two parts of gospel study that make it work for me. First is the discipline of a schedule. If I don’t have a set time each day where I know I have nothing else planned then the work of reading and writing is just not going to get done. Notice I said writing. For me, gospel study without taking notes, summarizing or writing out conclusions about how it can be applied or taught is really nothing more than reading.

Not that there’s anything wrong with reading. But at my age, I need to move beyond the basics of reading. Like most of you, I’ve read the scriptures dozens of times. I’m familiar enough with what’s in them that when someone quotes a scripture in a talk I can usually find it with the flips of a few pages or the scrolling of a few screens. Reading the scriptures and pondering them is certainly a good use of gospel study time.

I guess it’s the teacher in me that feels the need to prepare outlines, collect quotes, compare commentaries from different authors and gather everything I can about specific subjects. I’m not a scholar but from what I understand about the scholarly process, the idea is to become an expert on some aspect of the gospel and then to advance the body of knowledge with individual insights that add to the understanding of others.

Purpose of Gospel Study

But of course, that may be the wrong way to undertake a serious study of the gospel. Take a step back and ask yourself what is your purpose in reading and searching the scriptures. What do you hope to accomplish? What will be the end result of years of pondering and study? Do you want to come across as a “know-it-all” in the gospel doctrine class? I don’t. What I want from my time is pure and simple. I want to receive revelation.

The second required part of my personal gospel study plan is inspiration. If I don’t have some goal or vision or idea of what I want to learn or discover in exchange for the investment of my time, then I struggle with the natural man in me, the inner child that needs a reason why. Let’s face it – self-discipline is not fun without a reward. I have found over the years that I need to reward myself for the work of study.

My reward, and this is personal so it may not appeal to you, is to take what I have studied and present it to the Lord in prayer, asking for a confirming witness that my conclusions are correct. Because I have invested the time in study, it’s as if I give myself permission to talk to the Lord in a language that is beyond my own natural ability. It feels as if the heavens open. There is a real closeness to the Lord that is undeniable.

Inviting Revelation

There is something about the language of scripture, particularly as found in the Doctrine and Covenants that brings the spirit of revelation into my heart and mind. It is especially powerful when read out loud. After completing a study session, I’ll retire to a private place where I can sit and read a section of the D&C out loud, as if I were acting as voice for an assembly found just on the other side of the veil. It is powerful.

I then kneel in sacred prayer. I find that if I have completed my preparations satisfactorily, I am enabled to exercise sufficient faith in prayer – and I pray out loud – to call down the powers of heaven upon me. The words just seem to flow. I know what to pray for and even how to phrase it. I am able to report to the Lord what I have studied, what I have learned and conclusions I have reached about truth and its relevance.

For me, the process works best when I am confirming what someone else has taught or claimed to be true. I confess I have received very little personal or “new” revelation through this process although there are times I can say with absolute certainty that the Lord has given me something sacred that is meant just for me. I then write it down. I do the same when I have a dream that I know has come from the Lord.

Sharing Revelation

This is a sacred process. If you have not experienced it you may think it unusual or strange. I can tell you it is different from the way the world teaches we should study and gain knowledge. The difference is in the addition of the elements of prayer, revelation and a confirming witness of the Holy Ghost. I have been taught and have believed from my youth that a testimony is built with both study and sincere prayer.

I am impressed by those who know history or who know how to explain a doctrine well in an expository manner. But I am more impressed by those who know how to take that knowledge and nurture or build the testimony of someone else. Knowledge of the truth shouldn’t be like a club to be wielded in a challenging or threatening manner. What you gain from heaven should be used to uplift and strengthen.

If the Lord gives you light and truth through your efforts in study and prayer then it should be sweet to you and to others if you are directed to share it, especially in a teaching capacity. To edify means to bring a focused clarity to the mind and a confirming, sweet witness to the heart. If it does not edify when shared then it is not done in the Lord’s way. Even a call to repentance has a comforting spirit to it.

My Personal Motivation

There’s a reason the Lord commanded us to study and search the scriptures. The primary song “search, ponder and pray” teaches us that the responsibility to know the Lord and his ways rests squarely upon our own shoulders. Nephi’s lament that men will not search knowledge was meant for us in our day. We are the gentiles that need to come unto Christ through a deeper knowledge of the doctrines of the Book of Mormon.

The Lord isn’t trifling with you or me when he commands us to repent and to cast off the chains of the adversary that bind us. The Holy Ghost will inspire you with exactly what you need to do to remove the condemnation from your own life. I know that I must repent and am grateful for the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon that helps me through that process. I have a long way to go and hope the Lord gives me time.

I intend to get serious about my gospel study in a way that I have not done for a long time. I intend to recapture the spirit that accompanied me as I spent hours each day in gospel study while preparing for my mission. While I may not be preparing for a mission, I am preparing for an audience with the Lord and intend to be prepared when that day comes. I also intend to have that audience while yet in this mortal life.

The Invitation

How about you? How are you doing on your preparations to meet the Lord? Are you motivated and do you spend the time required to know what He expects and needs you to know before He can reveal Himself unto you? How much time do you spend in gospel study each day? Are you consistent? Are you discovering new things, immersing yourself in the scriptures and coming to understand the voice of the Lord?

I invite you to join me in getting serious about studying the gospel. Make it a higher priority. Be aware of the natural tendency to think that you have learned enough. Believe that the Lord has so much more that He wants to reveal to you. Be willing to pay the price through study and prayer. If you are already serious and consistent in your studies then I congratulate you and pray for the Lord’s choicest blessings upon you.

I promise you that the Lord will reveal great and marvelous things to those who make the effort in this life to receive them. I have tasted just enough of those promises that I know I want more. I have been immersed in the light of truth and the sweet comforting spirit of the Holy Ghost on many occasions after study and prayer. I want more. I want to know the mysteries of Godliness that he offers to share with each of us.

Whisperings of the Holy Spirit


A line in my patriarchal blessing reads, “if you will listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, that comes to you, you will be directed into the path that you should go, that your advancement will not be detained, that you will use every possible moment in your development for the work that you have been called to do.”

I have long pondered that line and wondered what it meant. Now that I am getting old, I decided to look back at my life’s journey for evidence of the fulfillment of this promise. I was amazed at what I discovered with just a few moments of pondering. I share this as a journal entry, evidence of the Lord’s love for me.

A Blessing at the Age of Five

I attended the Presbyterian Church with my family the first five years of my life. I remember the singing and the constant getting up and down in the pews. I wondered what that was all about. Dad had to work most Sundays but mother took the rest of us to church each week. She was a schoolteacher and a good one.

In 1962 my mother had several people come into her life who were members of the church. She was intrigued. She asked questions. The missionaries came to our home. Most of my family was baptized. Of course, I was too young to receive that ordinance but in order to create a membership record I went up to the stand the next Sunday to be blessed by the Bishop.

I felt special. I felt like I belonged. I felt like I was in the right place. Even at the age of five, I knew when something was right. This felt right. I felt like I was part of something important. I loved growing up in the old Covina ward and Covina stake of the 1960s and 1970’s. I attended Primary, Sunday school, and later priesthood, Sacrament meeting, mutual and seminary.

Reading Book of Mormon at Age Eight

I have a small keepsake given to me by my Primary teacher when I was baptized. The memento is a well-known painting of the Savior laminated onto a round slice of a small tree. On the back are the words, “Congratulations on your baptism. Be sure to let him guide and direct all of your thoughts and actions. Remember to pray always. Love, Muriel Bay.”

I knew my Primary teacher loved me. She also gave me my own copy of the Book of Mormon. It had a plain brown cover. It was the first one I read. I read it with my mother out loud. It was also the first time she had read the Book of Mormon. She would mark out all the instances of “and it came to pass” because she thought they were distracting. We finished it together that year.

For the longest time I thought that everyone read the Book of Mormon aloud with their mother when they were eight. I now understand how special that was. Because of sacred feelings I felt as we read together, I have never doubted the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I knew then and still know that it is the word of God and was given to us to guide and bless our lives.

God Can Show us Our Future

Shortly after I was baptized, we went as a family to Disneyland as we often did. There was an attraction called the Carousel of Progress in the park from 1967 to 1973. On the way out of the ride, you walked past an exhibit called “Progress City.” It was while looking at that exhibit one day that I felt the Holy Ghost whispering to me in a setting outside church or my home.

I don’t know why I found the exhibit so fascinating. I couldn’t wait to see it each time we went to the park. Perhaps it was the symbolism of the display. It seemed to speak to me of things that would come to pass in my life. On this particular occasion the feelings were intense. I seemed to hear the Lord saying, “I love you. You will participate in wonderful technology.”

The feeling was so real that I looked around to see who was talking to me. Yet I immediately realized that I had heard no audible voice. Nevertheless, the voice came into my mind and caused my heart to burn within me. I chalked it up to the magic of Walt Disney but the impression has stayed with me to this day as evidence of the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to me.

Recognizing a Lack of Authority

I didn’t do too well in school as a youth. Not because of any lack of ability but because of a lack of discipline. One year my mother felt it best to enroll me in a private religious school. I remember they required us to go to some sort of worship service at the end of each week. Something felt out of place. There was something missing but I couldn’t place my finger on it then.

I later realized what it was. It was the spirit whispering to me that the pastor who led the worship service was doing this as a part of his job. He got paid to preach the gospel to us. It felt different when my Primary teachers and Sunday school teachers taught me. It felt right. When this pastor taught, it was more for show, so the parents who paid his wages would be pleased.

From that day on I never doubted there was something special and unique about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even as a ten-year old boy in California who barely paid attention in Primary or Sunday school, I recognized the spirit of the Lord when it moved on teachers who were set apart by those in authority. That authority is only found in the LDS church.

Putting Words in my Mouth

I was asked to be the seminary class president in 1970. One day, Sister Starr became upset by the rude behavior of the kids. She started to cry and stepped out. As the president of the class, I took over, and found myself talking to my classmates about the importance of being respectful. I think that was the first time I experienced the Lord putting words in my mouth. It amazed me.

A Comforter in the Face of Adversity

In August of 1971 I concluded my young Boy Scout experience by going on a 50 mile week long trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. For some reason, the other scouts teased me. I felt out of place. Perhaps it was because of my asthma. I didn’t think I could make it up and down those mountains.

One day I felt especially sad about something the other boys did to mess up some of my equipment. I was too old to cry, and was not a fighter so I bottled it up inside. It hurt. The next day on the trail I stopped to look out over the beauty of the countryside and felt my heart burn with peace and a sense of wonder. I felt the comfort of the Holy Ghost and the Lord whisper peace to me.

Faith and a Patriarchal Blessing

I was fifteen when I received my patriarchal blessing in June of 1972. The bishop said I should fast so I did. He said wonderful things would happen if I exercised faith. My mother and sister went with me. Pati also received her blessing that day. I felt the love of the Lord in the most powerful way that I don’t think I had ever felt before. It was a spiritual feast that day and still is.

Vision in my Mind’s Eye

In 1973 I was in High School watching a video about how disk drives are made at an IBM plant. I experienced what I consider my first revelatory experience. I was shown what my life’s work would be. I knew then and have always known that I would work with computers. I was amazed at the clarity of the vision. It was simple and direct, private from God to me in my mind.

As I watched the video, I could see myself working with that technology in just a few short years. I saw myself specifically on a job where I managed the very same technology I was seeing in the video. That vision was fulfilled several times over the next few years as I obtained jobs before and after my mission where I used those specific removable disk drives of an IBM System 3.

Line Upon Line Revealed

In the summer of 1974 I was preparing to attend my first year of college. I prayed deeply to understand how the Lord felt about me and how my life would unfold. Intense feelings came upon me as scene after possible future scenes of my life were revealed to me. I saw myself teaching the gospel. I saw and heard myself speaking from the pulpit as real as if in front of a congregation.

Years later, I recognized as each of these scenes came to pass. As I taught in a priesthood meeting or stood at the pulpit as a High Councilor, those same feelings came flooding back. It was the Lord’s way of saying to me, “See, I told you how it would be. Aren’t you glad you prepared yourself for this experience?”

The Lord is Willing to Forgive

That fall at Rick’s College I heard Elder LeGrand Richards speak about the power of a testimony and how it had blessed his life as a missionary. Never had I felt the spirit impress me that I needed to have a testimony like his. I spent hours praying each night that week until on Friday I knew I could pray undisturbed late into the night while my roommate was at a dance.

I had an amazing experience of receiving a powerful knowledge of forgiveness and a witness of the power of my Savior’s love for me. I felt a closeness to Him that I had never realized could be possible. I understood better how much I needed him and to have his power with me in my life so I could be successful. I had not fully realized until then that I was nothing without his help.

Powerful Witness of the Spirit

I was blessed to have many free months in 1976 to do nothing but prepare for my mission. I spent all my time studying the gospel and trying to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. President Kimball taught that we could and should have our own independent witness of the truthfulness of Joseph’s mission. At this point, I already knew the Book of Mormon was true.

I decided to fast and pray until I got an undeniable answer for myself that Joseph was a prophet. For three days I studied during the day and prayed fervently at night. One the third night the Lord whispered peace to my soul. He told me it was enough. I knew the Lord was pleased with my faith. I had a confirming witness that what I had been studying about Joseph was true.

That witness helped me resolve concerns that had come to me as I read some of the early history of our church not found in our official curriculum. It also served as an anchor to my soul when I later read how much these same events troubled others. They did not trouble me because of this powerful witness to my soul that Joseph was the Lord’s prophet in spite of his mortal failings.

Trailing Clouds of Glory

One Sunday evening I attended a regional young adult fireside just before I left for my mission in July or August of 1976. As the speaker addressed us, I seemed to drift off into a vision. I saw the gathered youth there in a similar setting as if in the pre-earth life. I knew promises were made. I was part of something special. I knew I was on a path that was pleasing to the Lord.

Power to Bless Others

My mission experience was difficult. It was meant to be. I was a long way from home in a very humble part of the world. We worked hard but we weren’t as effective as we should have been. A new mission president shook things up at our first zone conference. He challenged us to get on our knees at end of each discussion and invite the people we were teaching to join us. I shared the amazing results in a previous essay on this blog.

Powerful Revelation in Marriage Choice

I returned from my mission, finished my schooling and went to work. I struggled a bit as many returned missionaries do because I missed that intensity of the daily immersion in the spirit. At one time I was working three jobs trying to get ahead in the fast moving world of computers. Finally, I stepped back, took a look at my life and remembered that I was supposed to get married.

I started dating seriously but the girl I thought I wanted didn’t find a computer geek like me all that desirable. Her best friend came into my life when she returned from her mission. We hit it off right away but I still pursued the other girl. I confessed my feelings for her, but at the wrong time and to the wrong girl. To my chagrin Carol left the Dodger game with a broken heart.

The next day, I couldn’t get her off my mind. I went to see her. I asked what her plans were and how she felt about family and the things of eternity. An amazing feeling of revelation then came upon me. Again, it was a revelation from God, personal and direct to me. I saw us in my mind’s eye thirty years down the road. That day I saw is now. I proposed on the spot. She accepted.

The Power of Bearing Testimony

I wrote previously about how Elder Holland taught me how to properly bear my testimony so it would have a powerful effect on others. I thought I knew all about bearing testimony from years of experience in the mission field. After being instructed by an apostle, I came to realize what a powerful tool it really can be if delivered properly, in the right setting and the right spirit.

I don’t believe I have ever been as immersed in the spirit as I was that day while bearing my testimony. The Lord was bearing witness to me at the same time that I was bearing my witness to others. It was a fulfillment of another line from my patriarchal blessing, “You will be blessed with the gift of prophecy and revelation that you might speak the words of the Lord pertaining to the salvation of his children.”

Much has been written by our detractors about the practice of bearing testimony. It has been ridiculed as brainwashing and a way of avoiding thoughtful discourse. Sadly, many within our own church have repeated their lies about this practice until they believe it. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a real power in the sharing of our testimonies that strengthens.

Conclusion: My Testimony

Although I hope that every essay on this blog testifies of my love of the Lord and a witness for the truth, I want to be sure that my testimony is recorded as it stands today. Who knows, this could be my last day on earth. I want to leave a record that I knew and loved the Lord and that I know he loves me. I hope I have presented some evidence of that with the vignettes above.

As simple as it sounds, I know that God lives. I know that he loves me. He has demonstrated that to my soul sufficiently over the years that I cannot doubt it. I know he desires my happiness and is pleased when I exercise faith in Him and in Jesus Christ. I look forward to the day when I am reunited with Him. I hope and pray that it will be a joyous reunion but know it will be up to me how I live the remainder of my life, true to my faith.

I know that Jesus Christ was and is a real person, literally the Son of God. He has a glorified resurrected body of flesh and bone. He continues to minister to mankind today. I am a witness of his love, his willingness to forgive, to teach us and to guide us through this life. Like our Father in Heaven, he desires our happiness and has done for us what nobody else could do. He fulfilled His mission so that we can fulfill ours in confidence.

The Spirit Bears Witness

The Holy Ghost is real. His whisperings are real. I have been helped by the Holy Ghost countless times. In fact, I feel his help every day of my life, especially if I ask and listen. He inspires me. He teaches me. He leads me to Christ. I am so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It is a real power in my life, one that I cherish and of which I strive to be worthy. The Holy Ghost burns the witness of the truth into my soul as I study and pray.

Joseph Smith was a prophet of God in every sense of the word. He was an instrument in the Lord’s hands to restore the truth to the earth through the Book of Mormon. I have studied his life and have learned of his failings. I feel to give thanks to God that he was so open and honest about what he experienced. The Lord re-established His church through Joseph. He restored authority and keys to perform ordinances that are binding in eternity.

I am so grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has blessed my life. I sustain and support the leaders of this church. I appreciate their efforts to guide and help me on my life’s journey. It is in the LDS Church that I have been able to receive the ordinances I need to come onto Christ. I look forward to many more years of service in this Church. It is through giving service that I find joy and fulfillment in life.

The Power of the Sacrament


I wrote an essay several years ago on my old blog that still gets a lot of hits even though I retired that blog and transferred everything over here. I’m glad I kept the old blog up because occasionally I get a comment there that inspires me to write something profound. Well, I think it’s at least inspired and uplifting. I felt impressed to share it here. It starts with the comment from Samantha:

Hello,

I recently started meeting with my Bishop to repent for other sins that I had committed. I was almost ready to get my Temple Recommend when Satan came at me with full-force. I began to engage in watching pornography and masturbation.

My Bishop is a wonderful man, but I am far too scared to tell him of the addiction that I am faced with. It is not a daily habit, but it is still a problem. I have prayed, and I have come to realize I cannot overcome this on my own.

I feel so awful and depressed after engaging in these behaviors. I want to be clean; I want to go to the temple.

Is there anything else that I can do that would be sufficient for the repentance process? I don’t want to tell my bishop, at all. I do want to overcome this addiction immediately though. Or at least be able to refrain from such atrocities.

Please help.

And my response:

Hi Samantha,

Much love your way. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. I commend you for your desire to increase your self-mastery. That’s a big deal. Some people are not bothered by viewing porn or masturbating. “It’s normal,” they say. In fact, we’re looked upon as being weird because we want to adhere to a higher moral standard commanded by the Lord and his servants.

I recommend visiting the sites I linked to at the end of the original essay. There is a lot of good advice to be found in those pages. Most of the comments I have added here over the years are intended to give hope and encouragement. I want to continue that in responding to your plea for help. I think I wrote this previously but I’ll share it again. This trial can bring you to the Lord.

I feel impressed to share something that may or may not be applicable to you. Perhaps it will be helpful to future readers. It has to do with responsibility and accountability. Going to the temple is a big deal. The temple is a place of revelation. When I go there I always come away knowing more about myself, what I really want out of life and what I want to do with my free time.

I’ll bet like most people who have written me about this problem, you’re fine as long as you keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a regular schedule of work or school or both, you do well in that structure. The difficulty usually comes when there are no pressing demands on your time and nobody waiting for you to do something for them – a teacher, a co-worker or a family member.

That’s usually when your thoughts turn to yourself and what you want. Those are the defining moments of life. Satan knows that, which is why temptation seems to strike hardest when you are pondering something like going to the temple. We grow and advance in our lives when we go to the temple. We come closer to fulfilling our purpose in life as we attend the temple regularly.

The best advice I can offer is to partake of the sacrament and ponder the promises found in the sacramental prayers. The key phrases are “always remember him” and “have his spirit to be with them.” I know you’ve probably heard this in every public prayer and perhaps you offer it your own private prayers – to have his spirit. But do we focus as much on “always remember him?”

There’s something special and wonderful in the Sacrament that even after more than fifty years I still don’t fully understand. No, it’s not magic. We don’t believe in that. But it is powerful and it is real. I feel hopeful after partaking of the sacrament with real intent. I want it to work in my life and because I want that, believe that it can, it does. My power is strengthened by the Sacrament.

At the end of every Sabbath day I feel empowered, partly through offering service but mostly because I have partaken of the sacrament and have pondered how I can better remember the Savior during the week. I think ahead to the moments when I know I will have down time and think what I can do to show the Lord that I do remember him and want his spirit to be with me.

For me, there is something of a miracle that takes place in those quiet moments. Because I have asked, the Lord reveals to me what I will be doing during those quiet moments during the week. I can see myself working on some writing project or some other activity that will be helpful to me and to others. No, it’s not guaranteed that I will do exactly that, but it’s clear that it can be so.

My desire to do good things and be good is strengthened. I am in a partnership with the Lord to make something special out of my life. It is in the quiet moments that my life really develops. But it doesn’t work unless I make the effort to remember the Lord. Every time I do, he gives me special sacred feelings that encourage me and help me feel like I can do all I’m asked to do.

I hope this helps. There is no easy answer. It’s not like you can turn off a switch. Sorry. You’ve got hormones and that’s a good thing. Without them you’ve have no drive or ambition in life. Well, I’m speaking from a man’s point of view. For a woman I suppose that without hormones you would have no desire to nurture and strengthen relationships. I thank God for the sex drive.

Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a theory about why we feel depressed or hopeless when participating in pornography or masturbation. I’ve shared it elsewhere. It has to do with the influence of unclean spirits – those who have no hope or light of Christ in their lives. It’s just a natural result of allowing them to use you, even for just a moment. You feel what they feel.

Of course if you don’t believe in the existence of evil or unclean spirits you’re going to think this is crazy. That’s OK. As I wrote at the beginning of my essay, I’m not writing this to those who are unbelievers. My experience in life has settled the question for me. They are real and I know of their existence through experiences too sacred to share. But let’s not dwell on that aspect.

Focus on the Savior. Focus on building hope. Believe that you can eventually master yourself. Be happy that you even want to. God bless you in your efforts. Nobody can do this for you. In the temple we learn all ordinances are personal, performed one at a time for each individual. No answer fits everyone, but I have found this plan has met with success time after time in others.

Good luck and God bless. You can do it.

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