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.

Thoughtful Discussion of Controversial Topics


I’ve been doing some critical thinking about a couple of recent statements made by J. Michael Bailey. He is the Northwestern psychology professor who has been the subject of so much media attention due to the live sex demonstration in his human sexuality classroom last month. You can Google the story if you want the details.

What intrigued me was the challenging nature of the defensive statements he offered when the story became public knowledge. He said that he didn’t expect everyone to agree with his decision to allow the demonstration to take place and that “thoughtful discussion of controversial topics is a cornerstone of learning.”

I happen to be enrolled in a critical thinking class right now so this idea caught my attention. While I don’t agree with his decision, I do agree with his statement. So I expected someone to take him up on his challenge, because he offered it as such. Maybe it is too soon but I have yet to see a serious response to his justification.

An Argument to Illuminate Reasoning

A couple of days after the story broke, professor Bailey continued his defense by saying that he would give an F to those who objected to his teaching method. He wrote that the responses conveyed disapproval but did not “illuminate reasoning.” Apparently he has yet to receive an explanation as to why his demo was a problem.

I hope someone with more knowledge of this subject will respond to his proposal for a thoughtful discussion and offer a few reasons why his demonstration was not the best choice. I’m looking for arguments that will illuminate reasoning and do more than to just express disapproval. I could use it when I argue this in my class.

The Man who would be Queen

A little more background information on professor Baily might be helpful.  He wrote and published a controversial book in 2003, The Man who would be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. He admitted that he had sex with his research subjects and said he thought there was nothing wrong with this.

Coincidently, about that same year he found himself divorced and no longer the chair of the psychology department at Northwestern University. According to published reports from students, he is not a great lecturer, but makes up for it by presenting extremely controversial aspects of human sexuality in his classroom.

Teaching Should Benefit Society

I love to teach so maybe this is an area in which we can agree. Professor Bailey is an educator; therefore I’ll assume that it is his intent to help his students learn. As a professor of psychology, I would hope that it is his desire to prevent psychological damage in his students. After all, isn’t that the objective of studying the subject?

We study human behavior to understand it and to be able to deal more effectively with activities that are disturbing, distressing or problematic for the individual or society. For most practitioners, a goal of applied psychology is to benefit society. A university professor is in a particularly influential position upon civilization.

Pornography in the Classroom

Professor Bailey said he uses pornography in his classroom. “I don’t see anything wrong with showing pornography in the classroom provided it has some purpose in the class. Some can be a little explicit,” he said. “I teach the truth – as I understand it…[which] sometimes conflicts with people’s assumptions. That is controversial.”

Bill Yarber, a researcher at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute and author of the widely used textbook Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, said he’s never heard of a naked woman being brought to orgasm in front of a class of students. Watching a video is one thing but seeing a live demo is pushing things.

A commentary from a Catholic blogger about this episode illustrates a typical reaction, “Professor J. Michael Bailey’s Human Sexuality class has nothing to do with psychosexual development, morality, biology — nothing worthy of study; just an excuse for presenting risqué and deviant sexual behaviors as normative.”

Sexual Relations Should be Private

It is my contention that demonstrating the use of a motorized phallus to a group of students is not a legitimate form of sexual education, especially in the classroom. In fact, I will go so far as to say that viewing of pornographic material is equally inappropriate and unnecessary to meet the requirements of human sex education.

I believe that sexual relations should be expressed privately in marriage, between a husband and wife. I therefore believe that all public displays of sexual activity are inappropriate. I believe that pornography is harmful and destructive to the souls of those who create it and those who consume it. It is not needed for sexual education.

Professor Bailey’s demonstration was controversial because as far as I can tell, it was the first time live sex has been used in a classroom setting. But the real issue is how diametrically opposed this is to the values of virtue, modesty and respect for human sexual relations. It is degrading and cheapens it to something undesirable.

Achieving a Fulfilling Love

I think the comment of a student studying to be a therapist who then reported on her human sexuality class says it best for me. She stated that she had become a sexual zombie; that sex meant nothing to her because she had tried it all. She found no joy in sexuality. And yet she wants to become a therapist to fix others like her.

Pornography is any material describing or depicting the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. Pornography degrades the heart, mind and spirit. It robs us of self-respect and the sense of beauties of life. It tears us down and does not lift us up. It does not help us achieve fulfilling human love.

I will be leading a classroom discussion of this current event in my critical thinking class in a few weeks. When I shared my subject with the professor he was pleased and said that I might be surprised to learn how many in the class feel the same way I do. That would be a pleasant discovery that I hope is not limited to my college.

Interpreting Impressions of the Spirit


One of the greatest blessings of membership in the LDS Church is the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Of course we are not the only people in the world with whom the Lord works through his spirit.  But we are the only people who have claim upon the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.  That is a very unique and special claim.

When asked by a President of the United States, “How is your religion different from all the other religions of the day?” The Prophet Joseph Smith answered, “We are different from all other religions in the mode of baptism (immersion) and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (by those who have authority).”

God inspires all

In section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants we read, “A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.” All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel.  People everywhere can be inspired by the Holy Ghost.

However, the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is available only to those who receive the gift through the laying on of hands by one who is authorized and then remain worthy of that gift.  This basic doctrine is taught and emphasized often from the pulpit and in the classrooms of our church each week.

One of the most important duties we have in this life is to learn how to interpret the impressions of the Holy Ghost that we receive though this gift.  Sometimes they come unbidden but most of the time we need to prepare for and ask for spiritual guidance.  With this sacred gift, we can be confident that the Lord will respond.

God will guide us

This gift contains an inherent covenant promise that the Lord will respond to our requests for guidance. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  As long as we do our part in striving to keep his commandments, repent and seek his spirit, we can rely on his promise.

However, the gift needs to be exercised and developed until we can go before the Lord with confidence and ask in faith for what we want.  We need to learn what specific things we need to do to achieve the results we desire. “When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

We know we must study things out and come to an understanding or a decision on a subject before we approach the Lord for a confirmation of our decision or course of action.  Sometimes it can take years to fully consider and achieve a mastery of a subject before we can approach the Lord and ask to guide us to further knowledge.

Much already revealed

That’s why the Lord and his prophets counsel us to study the scriptures and the words of the living prophets and apostles.  When we ask the Lord for help in some area of our lives, we can expect him to answer through both the promptings of the spirit and very often by directing us to what he has already revealed on the subject.

It is amazing to me the number of times I feel impressed to look to the scriptures or a recent conference talk for the answer I am seeking.  “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  It is while I am reading the scriptures or conference talks that I feel the impressions of the spirit.

I think it is in the process of reading revealed words that we become most familiar with the mind and will of the Lord for us.  We begin to think like the Lord and develop a greater understanding of how he speaks.  The mind of the natural man is not attuned to God’s way of thinking so it takes effort to understand revelation.

Revelation requires humility

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”  Even our natural reasoning processes, if they are not directed by the spirit of the Lord, can lead us to false conclusions.  “For the natural man is an enemy to God … and will be forever … unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.”

The rest of the verse (Mosiah 3:19) emphasizes being submissive.  I guess if there is nothing else I have learned about receiving revelation, it is the idea that in order to receive it, I must be in a submissive state of mind and willing to do whatever it is that the Lord reveals to me.  Indeed, I must strive to become like a little child.

Of course, I know that the Lord will not tell me to do something that is contrary to what he has already revealed.  For example, if I ask the Lord for help in knowing the best way to get out of debt, I am confident that he will not direct me to play the lottery, nor respond to email invitations to send money to Nigerian scammers.

Revelation is real

That is why I am confident that the Lord is sincere in his promise to reveal the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  The key phrase there is “with real intent.”  Like you, I have witnessed this promise fulfilled over and over again throughout my life.  I have seen it happen for young and old when they ask with real intent.

I do not doubt the revelatory process.  It is real.  I have witnessed it in action throughout my life in Bishopric meetings, High Council meetings, in disciplinary councils and in preparing and presenting talks and lessons over the years.  It seems to flow easiest for me when the revelation being requested is meant to help others.

But the Lord never reveals things that are outside the stewardship of my family, my own life or my specific callings in the church.  While I may feel a desire to help another, if I do not have a direct responsibility for them, then I need to be very careful about what I feel impressed to tell them the Lord would have them do.

Revelation for others

I had a recent experience with this that confirmed to me how easy it is to step over the line into imposing my will on another.  The Lord will never direct us to do that.  In counseling with a fellow church member about a difficult situation in their life I shared some personal observations about what I thought got them into trouble.

Since I was not this individual’s priesthood leader, I was not entitled to know the whole story and made a judgment based only on what I saw.  My counsel to this individual was flawed and was offensive because it was lacking in understanding.  Gratefully, they were forgiving when I apologized after the error became apparent.

My point is that the Lord will never reveal something to me that another person should do unless I am responsible for that person as a husband, father or priesthood leader.  That can even be applied to prospective marriage partners.  The Lord will not tell us that another person should marry us. It should not be phrased that way.

Revelation to marry

When I asked my wife to marry me, I felt the Lord whisper to me that we could be happy together.  Of course Carol had her agency and could have said no.  It was an act of faith on her part to accept my marriage proposal.  The Lord knew I needed that revelation to prompt me to propose, but it was intended for me and not Carol.

I knew the Lord wanted me to marry.  I had been praying about it for some time and was actively seeking a marriage partner.  I knew that the Lord had revealed through his prophet that “soul mates are fiction and an illusion.”  So I wasn’t looking for that one special person, just someone with whom I could be happy.

I know that’s not very romantic but what made it special for me was the intensely strong and powerful impression that flowed into my heart and mind as I pondered asking Carol to marry me.  In my mind’s eye, I saw us many years down the road, even in these years today, enjoying each other’s company, growing old together.

What I have learned

In conclusion, I guess there are two things I have learned about revelation.  First, we must be humble and submissive to receive it and second, we can never receive revelation for anyone else’s life outside our own immediate family.  It just doesn’t work that way unless the Lord puts us in a priesthood position that requires it.

Impressions of the spirit are very private and should be kept so.  They are personal and unless you are the prophet of the Lord or have a direct priesthood stewardship for someone else, are meant specifically for one individual – you.  They are not to be shared with others unless you feel prompted to do so and then only carefully.

I have been blessed throughout my life with impressions from the Holy Ghost.  It is specifically because of the Gift of the Holy Ghost that they seem so abundant.  Receiving revelation can be almost a daily occurrence, but usually it comes in the form of very quiet, subtle impressions that are sometimes almost imperceptible.

Changing Requirements of Perfection


After reviewing one of my previous essays, a thoughtful reader asked my opinion about the idea of perfection and if the requirements for salvation had changed.  He said, “Open just about any page of the book of Leviticus and you’ll see laws that were of life and death importance to the early church, but not today. In contrast, there is no mention of baptism or confirmation in the Old Testament as a requirement for salvation, yet today, they are taught as essential.”

He also asked about the need for the Word of Wisdom, temple ordinances, plural marriage and the second anointing. He concluded, “If God is eternal, and heaven doesn’t change, shouldn’t the requirements to get into heaven be the same, no matter when you were born or what culture you lived in?” Although his email was private, great questions like these deserve a response that can be shared in my blog so others who might be interested can benefit from the dialog.

Perfection means completed

The savior taught in 3 Ne 12:48, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” Perfection to me has always meant complete or completed as in finished or fulfilled, certainly not something we will achieve in this life and not in the spirit world to come. Perfection is a state that is achieved only after we have learned all there is to know about becoming like God. And that can’t happen until we are resurrected beings because we will never understand what God is like until we have the same type of body that he has.

The Prophet Joseph said, “…go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”

Joseph F. Smith said, “Salvation does not come all at once; we are commanded to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. It will take us ages to accomplish this end, for there will be greater progress beyond the grave, and it will be there that the faithful will overcome all things … for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God. But here we lay the foundation.”

Flaws and errors removed

I have never equated perfection as meaning without flaw or error, rather as having flaws and errors removed.  That of course can only come through the atonement of the Savior.  It is not something that I can accomplish on my own.  That is my understanding of perfection – having flaws and errors removed by the Savior.  Therefore, it is my desire to meet the requirements for the atonement to be effective in my life as set forth by the savior and as revealed to his prophets.  I’m not talking about temporal salvation. The resurrection is a free gift to all.  We will all live again with immortal bodies.  But the quality of our life in the hereafter depends entirely upon us and our efforts to be worthy and prepared for the greatest of all the gifts of God – eternal life.

Requirements of Salvation

So that brings us to the second point – meeting the requirements of salvation.  I guess I’m not so concerned about what the people of the Old Testament had to do to please the Lord.  I’m glad I don’t live in the harsh conditions of those days when a man could be stoned for what today would seem to be a minor infraction.  They had a different law back then and the Lord taught us clearly that he fulfilled that law.  The Mosaic Law was to bring them to Christ, even though most of the Israelites who lived back then did not understand that.  The Lord described them as a hard-hearted and stiff-necked people.  I would hope that we are not like some of those early Israelites.  Someday, they must receive the ordinances of the higher priesthood just as it is required of us.

Baptism in ancient times

We are taught in Moses 6 that Adam was baptized.  When Peter said on the day of Pentecost that they must repent and be baptized, the people obviously had a clear understanding of the concept.  John the Baptist did not practice something that was new and unknown.  I am confident that baptism was practiced in the old world.  We know that Alma baptized in the Waters of Mormon. I think we can be certain that the Book of Mormon people brought the practice with them from the Old World.  Baptism is a priesthood ordinance and is one of the requirements of salvation.  The laying on of hands was a common practice as evidenced by priesthood blessings given by the early patriarchs to their children as well as by many references in the New Testament.

Temple ordinances required

I think there is ample evidence that temple ordinances were a part of the religious practice of the ancient people of Israel.  The Lord has always commanded his people to build temples where they are gathered in numbers of sufficient strength.  Where they were not, his saints were endowed with power from on high on the tops of mountains.  No, the majority of the Israelites did not receive the endowment as they lived the Mosaic Law.  But yes, all must be endowed and sealed someday.  That is one of the purposes of the Millennium.

Word of Wisdom for our day

Even though it is based on eternal principles such as moderation and self-control, the Word of Wisdom is a modern revelation given for our benefit in our day. As the Lord said, it was given “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.”  Just as the Israelites were given a law of health with many specific things to not do, we have been given a few guidelines for our health in our day. Isn’t that part of the principle of ongoing revelation – specifics suited for our times? No, it’s true that Jesus didn’t teach the Word of Wisdom when he came in the Meridian of Time, but he did reveal it for us in our day.  Thank God for living prophets and modern revelation that gives us that direction we need now.

Plural Marriage not required

Let’s consider why we no longer participate in the Second Anointing or Plural Marriage. Both of those subjects are fascinating to study and can produce a lot of fruitful discovery if we choose to get into them. I have always considered plural marriage to be optional, while entering into the law of celestial marriage to be a requirement.  We must receive that sealing ordinance to make progress according to section 131.  But plural marriage is not a requirement of exaltation.  You can read that in section 132, verse 61.  It says that if a man “desire to espouse another,” and the first wife consents and she is given or sealed unto him by the prophet then he does not commit adultery.  It is never worded that a man must take another wife.  Only certain brethren were commanded in the early days of the church to do so as part of the restoration of all things.

Timing of the Second Anointing

We don’t know much about the Second Anointing, do we?  We certainly aren’t taught about it in our standard Sunday curriculum or even in any of the CES curriculum as far as I can determine.  To be honest, I like the Wikipedia article.  It’s a pretty good summary of everything I have read over the years.  I know it bothers some people that this is not openly taught, but I guess they feel the same way that the temple ceremony is not openly taught.  Of course you can read the whole thing today on the Internet.  I like the fact that we work harder in the church today to ensure that people are more prepared for the first anointing.  To me, it is a lifetime of faithful service in the Lord’s church that prepares us for the second anointing, either in this life or in the resurrection.

Dormant religious practices

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if these things have really changed or are just dormant.  I am one who believes that those two practices in particular will once again be a part of our worship.  Yes, I am convinced that the day will come when even the “regular” member of the church will be able to receive the second anointing just as soon as he is ready and can participate in plural marriage if he so chooses and his wives are given to him under the direction of the prophet.  Of course, that’s not going to happen while we live under the laws of the government of the United States, but as we all know, the government of the United States will not stand forever.  Yes, the constitution is an inspired document, but when the Savior comes, we will enter a theocracy.

Be Faithful to Joseph

I guess the reason I’m not bothered by a lot of things that I read out there on the Internet about the church, including some very convincing arguments that make you think, is that I like to think of myself more like Hyrum Smith than Joseph.  I don’t see visions or hear the voice of the Lord like Joseph, but I have been blessed with the gift of believing.  That’s what I meant when I said that I choose to believe.  After many years of experience, I can tell you that feel happiest when I exercise faith and choose to believe what was revealed through Joseph Smith.  I believe Joseph.  I trust the brethren who lead this church today.  I have listened to them and studied their words for all my life.  I have never been disappointed nor had cause to doubt their spiritual leadership.  Like Hyrum, I want to remain faithful and supportive of their direction to the end of my days.

Just what was Portnoy’s Complaint?


Be forewarned: This essay contains references to masturbation and other sexual acts.  Once again by assignment, I examine the social impact of a controversial book first published over forty years ago, at the height of the sexual revolution.  I’ve noticed a trend among most of the short stories and books that we have considered this year in our American Literature classes: many of them contain material that would be considered to be shocking or offensive to more conservative readers.  Portnoy’s Complaint is no exception.  In fact, if Ginsberg hadn’t broken the indecency barrier with his poem Howl a decade earlier, I am certain that Philip Roth would have been charged with breaking some sort of obscenity law.  As it was, attempts were made to prohibit the distribution of the book in some countries and many U.S. libraries banned the book as too vulgar.  Of course that was in 1969.  Today it is considered an American classic.

I would like to address in this essay just what it is that makes Portnoy’s Complaint such an American classic, to discuss its universal appeal beyond the context of the Jewish culture in which the story takes place and to delve into the very important theme of religious influence on sexual thought, development and behavior.  I can’t think of any two subjects that are more a part of our American literature tradition than religion and sex.  Put them together in the same paper or book and you introduce conflict.  Make them one in your treatise and you have broken a taboo.  Roth’s book was a bestseller because he did just that.  If you aren’t familiar with the novel, it was Portnoy’s Complaint that he could not enjoy sex because of the guilt that he felt from his religious culture.  It is my thesis that the majority of American literature addressing this theme is faulty because of an incorrect understanding of the place of sex in religion.  In fact, it is my contention that Portnoy’s Complaint is deeply flawed because of the focus on guilt as a direct result of religious culture and upbringing.  But then, that’s what makes it so very American.

Alexander Portnoy understood the principle of guilt.  He was an expert at guilt.  In fact, he was a slave to it.  He lived with it day in and day out.  And where did he get it?  He tells us that it came from his parents.  After providing numerous examples he exclaims, “Doctor, these people are incredible! These people are unbelievable! These two are the outstanding producers and packagers of guilt in our time! They render it from me like fat from a chicken!” (p39)  Did they do it on purpose?  Are they to blame?  Perhaps this later observation from Alex makes it clearer.  “Doctor, what do you call this sickness I have? Is this the Jewish suffering I used to hear so much about? Is this what has come down to me from the pogroms and the persecution? from the mockery and abuse bestowed by the goyim over these two thousand lovely years?” (p40) In other words, he did not necessarily blame his parents for the guilt he felt; he blamed his religion.  He equated Jewish suffering, and in particular, his own guilt, upon his cultural religious history.

At the age of fourteen, coincidentally about the age that most boys are in the midst of puberty, Alex decided that he would no longer participate in the traditional religious practices of his parents.  He told them that he would no longer go to the synagogue with them. Since Alex has been masturbating, he has been experiencing guilt.  It is clear that he attributes this guilt to his religious culture.  In Jewish tradition, masturbation is prohibited, as are impure thoughts and sexual relations before marriage.  In the midst of a long-winded diatribe directed at his father but more generally directed at his people, he says, “… instead of crying over he-who refuses at the age of fourteen ever to set foot inside a synagogue again, instead of wailing for he-who has turned his back on the saga of his people, weep for your own pathetic selves … It is coming out of my ears already, the saga of the suffering Jews! Do me a favor, my people, and stick your suffering heritage up your suffering ass– I happen also to be a human being!” (p84)  But he could not get away from the guilt he continued to experience because of his ongoing sexual activities.

Portnoy’s Complaint is not just a novel about masturbation or the sexual activities of a young Jewish man.  It is really a very Catholic book, which means that the subject matter has universal and widespread appeal.  Every young man goes through puberty, and if we are to believe the statistics, the majority of them (90% by some accounts) will have masturbated at least once by the time they are 18, with 60% masturbating regularly during their adolescent years.  In America, the land of porn, we have the unique distinction of also being a very religious country.  According to recent statistics, 83% of Americans claim to belong to a religious organization even though less than 40% formally participate by attending church regularly.  Do you see my point?  If the majority of young men masturbate and the majority of people in America have some sort of religious tradition in their lives, then this really is an American conflict that Roth has brought to our attention in such an entertaining manner.  It is a characteristically American problem.

Portnoy’s answer to his complaint of guilt was to disassociate himself with his religious practices, a common solution for many young men in America who experience their own crisis of faith.  In his case, he continued to have a very difficult time with guilt because being Jewish is more than just a religion.  It is also his cultural heritage.  He simply could not get away from the terrible feelings of shame and remorse he experienced even though he had renounced his faith.  As he so eloquently exclaimed, “Doctor, I can’t stand any more being frightened like this over nothing! Bless me with manhood! Make me brave! Make me strong! Make me whole! Enough being a nice Jewish boy, publicly pleasing my parents while privately pulling my putz!” (p 40) Even many years after his vow of non-participation, he still felt like he had to be a nice Jewish boy to please his parents.  Even though he had graduated first in his law school class and was a very successful government lawyer, he could not free himself from the control of his parent’s beliefs, especially his mother’s ability to manipulate his feelings after so many years.

That was the wrong answer.  Instead of rejecting his faith, maybe he should have listened to his father and embraced it, or at least the good parts of it.  Alex went to Israel in a spontaneous attempt to find himself, his roots and some peace to his predicament.  Unfortunately, he did not approach his quest with the right attitude.  To him, it was purely an intellectual exercise.  “I set off traveling about the country as though the trip had been undertaken deliberately, with forethought, desire, and for praiseworthy, if conventional, reasons. Yes, I would have (now that I was unaccountably here) what is called an educational experience. I would improve myself, which is my way, after all. Or was, wasn’t it? Isn’t that why I still read with a pencil in my hand? To learn? To become better? (than whom?) So, I studied maps in my bed, bought historical and archeological texts and read them with my meals, hired guides, rented cars—doggedly in that sweltering heat, I searched out and saw everything I could.” (pp284-285)  In the middle of his travels, he hits up on the local Israeli girls but finds that he has suddenly become impotent.

Alex concludes that he has been cursed by God, or at least by some sort of all-powerful judge because of the way he treated the women in his life.  He resolves nothing and returns to America to a long session with his psychoanalyst, which results in the book we have read.  Of course this is a fictional account but it so aptly describes the typical intellectual approach of some to finding answers to the really big questions in life – like how to be free of guilt.  I have read the writings of a good rabbi who advocates the need to feel remorse and make amends.  If Alex had looked deeper into his faith, I am convinced that he could have found an intelligent way to eliminate guilt that is both rational and practical.  Guilt is a universal part of the human condition.  It is something that we all feel when we have done something that goes against our own moral beliefs.  In Alex’s case, he knew that it was wrong to masturbate, or at least to take it to the level that he did.  He also knew that he had hurt each of the women he introduced us to in the book.  If he had studied his own religion even just a little bit (how did he ever get through his own Bar Mitzvah?), he just might have learned the true meaning of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, one of the holiest days of the year for his people.

To me, guilt is an indication that you still care about something that you once valued.  If Alex didn’t care about these girls and their feelings, why did he keep bringing them up?  If he didn’t really believe deep down in his heart that masturbation was wrong, then why did he feel so guilty after all these years?  Alex was a good man, an intelligent man, but a confused man.  He was confused by the idea that sex was something only meant for personal pleasure.  If he would have considered that maybe, just maybe, what his faith taught about sex was worth considering, then maybe he could also have accepted the idea that he could be forgiven for whatever he has done that has caused him so much guilt.  In Judaism, sex is reserved for marriage.  It is intended to draw the married couple close to one another and to bind them as partners in their family.  It is not just Judaism that believes this, so again this is a very catholic book with universal appeal.  Alex did not want to get married, because to him, marriage was all about lust.

“Look, at least I don’t find myself still in my early thirties locked into a marriage with some nice person whose body has ceased to be of any genuine interest to me.  How much longer do I go on conducting these experiments with women?” (p114)  That’s pretty shallow.  People do get old.  Bodies change.  Yet they stay married.  Why?  Because they are comfortable and happy together.  It’s not all about sex.  Marriage is more about a relationship, helping each other find happiness, learning and growing together.  It’s not an experiment. It’s a commitment to one another.  “I have affairs that last as long as a year, a year and a half, months and months of love, both tender and voluptuous, but in the end-it is as inevitable as death-time marches on and lust peters out. In the end, I just cannot take that step into marriage. But why should I? Why? Is there a law saying Alex Portnoy has to be somebody’s husband and father?  I simply cannot, I simply will not, enter into a contract to sleep with just one woman for the rest of my days.” (p116)

No, Alex, there’s no law, but you are missing out on wonderful things that come from marriage and in no other way: a sense of security and belonging that lasts.  People get married because they love each other.  They get married for love.  And because you love another person you agree to be faithful to them and to do all you can to help them want to be faithful to you.  But he continues, “For love? What love? Is that what binds all these couples we know together– the ones who even bother to let themselves be bound? Isn’t it something more like weakness? Isn’t it rather convenience and apathy and guilt? Isn’t it rather fear and exhaustion and inertia, gutlessness plain and simple, far, far more than that ‘love’ that the marriage counselors and the songwriters and the psychotherapists are forever dreaming about?” (p117)

No Alex, love isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength, but then you’ve admitted that you know nothing about love.  You don’t understand that love involves sacrifice and giving and caring.  Actually, Alex, love is not convenient at all, it is often very inconvenient.  Love is the opposite of fear, it is faith.  One doesn’t enter into a marriage relationship at the end of a long series of exhausting sexual escapades, but at the beginning, when sex is a novelty to be discovered together by two people who are committed to each other and want to please each other for a lifetime.  I think we can safely conclude that Alex is against marriage.  He does not want to be married.  He does not want to be faithful to one woman.  He seems to think that a marriage will only work as long as there is a strong lust element.  Yet, he also complains over and over that he is not satisfied with his lustful, perverted life.

He won’t marry because he doesn’t believe he can or will be faithful.  He justifies dumping these girls because he says he knows that he will just tire of them and that he doesn’t want to cause them grief or pain down the road.  He tells us that he knows he will have a mistress a few years into the marriage, and asks why “… my devoted wife, who has made me such a lovely home, et cetera, bravely suffers her loneliness and rejection? How could I face her terrible tears? I couldn’t. How could I face my adoring children? And then the divorce, right? The child support. The alimony. The visitation rights. Wonderful prospect, just wonderful.” (p117) He’s already decided that marriage will never work for him.  He does not want to get married and probably never will.  He does not see that it brings him anything that he is not already getting, because apparently all he wants is sex.  Oh Alex, that is such a small part of marriage.  You have no clue, you have no idea what joy can be found in a marriage relationship that does not involve the bedroom.  You idiot!  You’re so smart, but you’re such a schmuck!  Grow up!

Get rid of that guilt by forgiving your parents, forgiving yourself and getting on with your life.  Decide that you’re going to change your approach to sex and marriage into something much more wholesome.  Get a clue from your religion.  Talk to your rabbis again.  Maybe you should study your theology and discover what it really teaches about how to overcome guilt.  You’re not the first person to ever experience this you know.  And Alex, thanks for the entertaining novel and for contributing greatly to this very American literary tradition of religion and sex in such a unique way.  But couldn’t you have done it without so much obscenity and vulgarity?

Roth, Phillip, Portnoy’s Complaint, New York: Bantam Books,1969

Revelation and Emotional Response


If you have read a few of my past essays, you may have noted that one of my favorite subjects is revelation, and specifically personal revelation.  It is only within the last few years since I started blogging that I have come to realize revelation is a controversial subject even among members of the church.  To me, it is a foundational doctrine, much like faith, and the basis for a testimony.

Sharing sacred experiences

I have shared a couple of examples of personal revelation from my own life in previous essays.  I know we have been counseled to keep sacred experiences private, but I felt impressed to share them as evidence that the Lord does give revelation to common members of the church like me.  I like to think that my experiences are typical, or at least I thought so until I started sharing them.

Elder Oaks said, “Although we are generally counseled not to speak of sacred things … there are times when the Spirit prompts us to share these experiences, sometimes even in a setting where our account will be published.”  Brigham Young said he would rather hear the people tell of their own powerful sacred experiences with the Holy Ghost than to hear any other kind of preaching.

Leaving a Record for Others

So I’d like to add another one of those experiences to my online record.  A fellow blogger shared with me that one of his primary motivations for writing and posting essays was so that his sons would have a record of his faith, experiences and testimony.  I feel the same way and hope that someday what I disclose here will help to strengthen the testimonies of others who may read this.

In the Young Single Adult ward where I serve as ward clerk, Carol and I recently shared the story of how we met and married.  My part of the story involves a sacred revelatory experience.  In order to get the full story, you might want to review Carol’s side of the tale as found on her blog.  She provides much more of the background leading up to the experience I address here.

No Date before Proposal

Carol and I did not date before I proposed marriage to her.  I had been off my mission for a few years and had graduated with a degree as a professional computer nerd. I had started my career in tech support and was working in Hollywood when she came home from her mission.  I happened to be dating her best friend who invited Carol along on our date to Mormon Night at Disneyland.

It was a fun date – for Carol and me.  We hit it off immediately.  Carol was happy to be home and was talkative.  Of course, what she talked about was her mission and the young lady I was dating just couldn’t relate.  I could.  I loved Carol’s enthusiasm and found myself commiserating with her sadness at having to leave and go back to the real world.  We talked almost all night.

Doing my Homework

For the next three months I continued to pursue Carol’s friend through dating and other social activities such as church firesides.  Occasionally Carol would be part of a group of young adults going to the movies, to the San Diego Zoo or some other activity.  It was Carol that came over to keep me company several nights while I was recovering from having a wisdom tooth pulled.

Yet I was infatuated with this other girl and kept petitioning the Lord in prayer to soften her heart towards me.  I fasted often, went to the temple and did all I could to show the Lord that I was serious about getting married.  I sent this young lady a dozen red roses with a note confessing my love for her.  I simply could not understand why she didn’t seem to respond with enthusiasm.

The Dodger Game

One day Carol invited me to meet her at Dodger Stadium, which I did after work.  So I told her about sending flowers to our mutual friend and asked her advice how I could get her to like me.  I noticed that Carol got real quiet.  I looked over to see her drawing a picture of a little broken heart on her Dodger program.  She then quietly excused herself, left the game and drove home.

I thought about that all that evening and the next morning.  I decided that it was inappropriate to have shared with her my efforts to win her best friend’s heart.  So I stopped by Carol’s house after softball practice to apologize for hurting her feelings.  She brushed off my apology but I dug deeper and asked her about how she felt about important things like family and marriage.

Revelation to Heart and Mind

It was then that the most amazing thing happened to me.  The Spirit of the Lord came over me in a way I have rarely felt.  While Carol was talking, the Lord communicated to my heart and my mind a vision of us living together many years down the road.  It was pure intelligence flowing into my being.  It was an answer to prayer more powerful than anything I had ever expected.

I can count on one hand these kinds of powerful revelatory experiences up to that point in my life.  In addition to what I saw in my mind’s eye, I heard a voice, just as distinctly and clearly as if someone had spoken, say to me that Carol and I could be very happy together.  It was not an audible voice but it registered in the same manner as if I heard it and that was astonishing to me.

Feelings and Revelation

But along with what I saw and heard, I began to feel a most powerful feeling. The scripture says that the Lord will tell us in our mind and in our heart when something is correct.  He also tells us that we must study it out first.  I had done my homework.  I had done my part.  I had asked for revelation and had studied it out.  I knew what I wanted and was living worthily of that answer.

We have been promised by apostles and prophets that the Lord will not leave us alone to make the most important decisions of our life.  Who we decide to marry has eternal consequences.  Acting on behalf of the Lord, these prophets have promised us that we can receive revelation to know for a certainty that the path we are pursuing is the right one and will lead to happiness.

Revelation is Personal

This is no idle promise.  It is real.  I am a living witness of the reality of such assurances.  A prophet had promised me that if I went on a mission, got an education and then sought earnestly for a companion with whom I could be happy, that the Lord would provide one.  That answer came in a powerful way to me on that day.  It was unmistakable revelation to me from the Lord.

Note carefully that when the revelation came to me, it was not intended for Carol.  The voice did not say, “Carol needs to marry you” or even that Carol would marry me.  It simply said that we could be very happy together.  It was an answer to my prayer and was intended for me.  It was what I needed to cause me to take action with confidence and to then ask Carol to marry me.

The Marriage Proposal

I wasted no time.  I told her what I was feeling.  She could see that something was affecting me.  I also told her that I felt impressed to ask her to marry me.  She was shocked.  I said, “I’d like to be sure so I’m going to fast and pray about it today and tomorrow.  Will you do the same?”  She said yes and invited me to come for Sunday dinner after church.  We then parted for the day.

After fasting and praying, I still felt the same way, so I formally proposed to Carol over roast beef dinner at her mom’s house.  She said yes.  Carol’s journal says that I didn’t even sit with her in church that morning.  We were both stake missionaries and had an investigator at church and so I sat with him instead.  I had not yet gotten used to the idea of thinking for two instead of one.

We can Receive Revelation

This sacred revelatory experience ranks high on my list of incidents that have influenced me in a powerful and enduring way in my life.  I had been taught by church leaders growing up that I could receive revelation.  I believed it.  I expected it.  So I was not surprised when it came.  But I was not expecting it to be so intense and dramatic.  Perhaps that was because it was so important.

Along with what I saw in my mind’s eye and heard in my thoughts, the Lord impressed upon me a feeling in my heart so comforting and unmistakable that I simply could not doubt that what I had received came from God.  It felt as familiar then as it has felt every time I have experienced it since that time.  I am confident that I knew and understood this feeling from before this life.

The Burning of the Bosom

I don’t always trust my feelings but I have learned to trust this one.  I know from many years of experience that some feelings are temporary and fleeting.  The feeling I get when the Spirit is trying to communicate to me is one that has an underlying sense of eternity.  It’s hard to explain to one who hasn’t experienced it.  I have come to learn it can be interpreted many different ways.

For me, the burning of the bosom that accompanies personal revelation has become very real.  It is a strong, powerful and very comforting feeling.  I can feel it when I am listening to particularly inspiring and motivational speakers in General Conference or any church meeting.  I have felt it in prayer.  I have felt it in giving priesthood blessings.  I always feel it when I speak in church.

Revelation and emotional response

But the personal revelation I receive is not in the comforting feeling by itself.  That is just the spirit of the Lord bearing witness to me that what I am learning or participating in is important.  The feeling also comes in warning me away from danger or in preparing me for bad news.  It is an amazing thing to have the gift of the Holy Ghost but it can take a lifetime to understand it.

Receiving revelation is not the same as experiencing the burning of the bosom.  However, some, including me, almost always feel this comforting sensation when receiving revelation.  It is up to each of us to learn how to distinguish between the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost that often or usually accompanies the receipt of revelation and an emotional response to something.

For a great discussion of this see Gerald N Lund. “Our Own Emotions as a Form of Counterfeit Revelation.”  Hearing the Voice of the Lord. Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 2007: 243.

God even loves computer geeks like me


While sitting in the hospital room with my wife on Sunday morning as she was recovering from surgery, I asked her a deep and personal question.  She wanted me to help her with her latest blog entry as she dictated it so I recorded it on my laptop computer.  When she finished it, I asked her how she knew that the Lord loved her.

She didn’t answer me right away but thought about it until this morning after we returned from a follow-up doctor’s visit.  She then shared some things that were unmistakable evidence to her of God’s love for her.  It was a sacred and emotional moment that helped me to know I am not alone in seeing God’s hand in our lives.

Looking beyond the battle

Carol is going through a difficult time right now and it took a lot for her to share those touching personal evidences.  Dealing with her cancer is taking a lot of her energy and sometimes causes her to see only the immediate battle instead of the big picture.  I asked her to take a minute to look beyond the battle and she did.

While we were waiting for the doctors to discharge her yesterday, I shared with her some of the things that are evidence to me that God knows and loves me.  As I held her hand and recounted evidences from my youth of answered prayers, I felt that we don’t pause often enough to realize how the Lord shows each of us his love.

Praying over our flocks

There are so many times in my daily work that I am confronted with situations that tax my technical capabilities.  It can be tough being the only computer dude in a small to medium sized business.  You are expected to be the expert on a myriad number of software and hardware products.  That’s just what an IT Manager does.

Little do my co-workers realize that there is no way that one person can know the answer to every question about all those hundreds of technology products that we use in our business.  I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for help from my Heavenly Father to be able to respond to yet another difficult tech question.

A not-so-typical problem

Let me give you an example from a recent experience that proved to me that the Lord knew what I was going through.  For several weeks a certain employee had been calling and complaining that emails were not getting through to her from a very important client.  We looked at everything trying to figure out the problem.

Finally, this employee laid down the law and said that this problem had to be fixed now!  I re-inspected all the filters through which our email passes and could find nothing wrong.  As I was reporting back via email, I decided to document the steps I had taken by including screen-prints of each filter and the corresponding settings.

A quiet whispered impression

Just before I was about to hit the send button, which in essence was admitting defeat, something impressed me to take one more look at the screen-prints I had included.  As I reviewed each line very closely, I noticed something so simple that I laughed out loud and then started to shout in joyous exultation.  I had found it!

My wife looked over at me and wondered why her normally so serious husband was shouting, “I’ve got you!” and doing a little happy dance.  I reminded her of the problem I had been dealing with for so long and told her that I had finally found the solution.  It was an exciting moment and one in which I felt profound relief.

The Lord stretches us

The problem was that the client had misspelled the employee’s name in her email address.  What compounded it was that she only did it occasionally and usually on the really urgent emails.  It was only when I had a screen-print in front of me with several copies of the incoming emails that I saw the simple yet terminal problem.

After I pointed the problem out to the employee with perhaps too much enjoyment, and everyone was happy again, I reflected back on how simple the problem really was.  Why hadn’t I seen it before?  I believe it was because the Lord wanted me to get to the point where I was about to admit defeat before he stepped in to help me.

Tender mercies of the Lord

I had done everything I knew how to do to resolve the problem.  I was convinced that it was what we call in the industry a false positive, or a piece of email being blocked in the spam filter because it met the criteria of the complex spam rules.  But it wasn’t a filter problem.  It just didn’t know where to deliver the email.

The Lord knows how much I hate to admit defeat.  I am a problem-solver by nature and thrive on resolving deep and complex technical issues.  That’s what makes my job enjoyable.  It is evidence to me that God loves me because he reached out and rescued me from having to admit defeat by prompting me to take that one last look.

The small and simple things

Now you may say that this was all just a big coincidence and that God had nothing to do with helping me to resolve the problem.  You may even say that I must not be very smart to have not seen right away that an email address had been misspelled.  But I can tell you that several of us had already looked at those screens for weeks.

This is not the only time the Lord has helped me in my work.  I could probably fill a dozen essays with example after example of how the Lord inspired me or blessed me to be able to do something that was beyond my natural ability.  I have studied and have worked in tech support my entire career but I have rarely done it alone.

Beyond my natural abilities

Success in my career is important to me.  It helps me to fulfill the commandment of the Lord to provide for my family.  Because the Lord gave me this responsibility and commandment, I feel that I have the right to call upon him to bless me in my work so that I can be successful.  It’s like we are in a sacred partnership together.

I have not always seen the hand of the Lord in my work.  Sometimes I have made rather foolish mistakes and wonder why they happened to me.  I look back and realize that I had been trying to do it on my own or not giving the Lord credit for helping me.  I always perform beyond my natural abilities when I ask God for help.

The Lord chastens us

The same thing applies to my spiritual life.  I have seen the hand of the Lord in my spiritual growth and development numerous times – too many to enumerate.  But I have not always acknowledged his kindness in helping me.  That’s when I struggle and wonder why I feel like I’m going through my life’s experiences all by myself.

It is only when I stop and think that I realize how truly blessed I am and how much the Lord must really love me.  The scripture says that the Lord chastens those who he loves.  If our chastening experiences are any indication then we must be some of the Lord’s chosen.  Now if I only knew for what purpose we are being chosen.

Preparing for eternity

I suppose I already know the answer.  Just as it is easy to overlook the hand of the lord in my work, thinking that something so mundane as computer tech support can’t be of any interest to the Lord, it is just as easy to overlook the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives as we pass through this episode of cancer in Carol’s body.

I love Carol and I will love her forever.  I chose her to be my companion not only for this life but forever.  I am convinced that we will pass through this cancer scare successfully.  I believe that the doctors caught it early enough that it will not be a problem once it is removed in the surgery next week.  That in itself is a miracle.

Summary and conclusion

It is easy to think that God doesn’t love us or isn’t interested in our mundane lives.  But if we stop and take the time to think about it, God is very involved in what we do each day.  We just have to look for ways that mean something special to us.  In my example, it was a subtle impression to inspect a screen-print just a little closer.

In Carol’s case, it is being able to fall asleep after a prayer in spite of tremendous pain, or wondering why you’re not stepping on the gas when the light turns green and then watching someone run a red light in front of you.  What about you?  How does the Lord demonstrate to you that he loves you and is involved in your life?

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