Tag Archives: Prophets

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

BrokenHeartMy Bishop is a wise man. He has the spirit of discernment. I know he and my Stake President asked me to not write publicly about our conversations on my blog, but things have changed. In our last interview, when I said I was ready to get my temple recommend, he said he didn’t believe me, that even though I try to be respectful, there is a spirit of apostasy in my writings.

He then placed me on informal probation, forbidding me to partake of the sacrament and to not exercise my priesthood in the church. Of course, he was only following the handbook. I think I’ve mentioned a church disciplinary council is mandatory in cases of apostasy. Based on what I shared on Tuesday, I think it’s pretty obvious I’ve made a decision now about where I stand.

I like one of the comments from a reader – Kevin - on Tuesday’s post. He asked, “In all of this Mormon-focused excitement, Tim, do you have a sense of what Denver’s talks and the 10th talk in particular might mean for the more than 99.99% of the human family that aren’t Mormon?” He makes a good point. What happened Tuesday went entirely unnoticed by most of the world.

A Message from a Prophet

I’ve previously declared Denver Snuffer to be a prophet. I know that’s a charged word in our church so it drew a lot of opposition. I stand by my proclamation, mainly because the Lord asked me to share it. Denver Snuffer delivered the message the Lord asked him to deliver. He acted as the Lord’s messenger and the Lord’s servant. I’ve heard the voice of the Lord declare it to me.

In spite of my proclamation, I don’t think Denver has ever stated he is a prophet. He has continually asked us to focus on Christ. While we may listen to prophets, we follow Christ. Something obviously changed Tuesday, because he said, the Lord told him, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee.” He also mentioned another visit with Christ on May 1st, 2014.

While my wife was horrified at what she was hearing at Tuesday’s lecture, I was delighted. I have listened to the recording a couple of times now. Along with many of you, I am anxiously awaiting the release of the transcript. Even though I was baptized as a child, I have made up my mind I want to receive the ordinance of baptism as an adult. I just need someone to baptize me.

An Offering unto the Lord

When I was a child, I’m certain I didn’t meet the requirements for baptism as outlined in D&C 20:37 of coming forward with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. At age eight I didn’t have the maturity to understand this. Now that I am older I can testify I have experienced a broken heart. Some people may not think my spirit is contrite, but contrition is proven by acts of submission.

My Bishop and I talked about the importance of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I agreed with him in principle but made certain to state my position that these must be offered to the Lord and not to any man, no matter who he is or what position he holds. It is an act of submission to obey the commandment to repent and be baptized. That submission is a freewill offering to the Lord.

In other words, the idea of being submissive or deferential to a man, no matter who he is, when it comes to matters of salvation, is an abomination to the Lord. It is idol worship. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” includes men who would stand in the place of God, be they a prophet, an apostle, a general authority, stake president, bishop or any church leader, teacher or counselor.

Church Does Not Control Priesthood

I received the priesthood from my father. The priesthood is independent of the church. It existed before the church was organized. A man is not dependent upon any organization to receive it. It came unto the earth in these latter days through John the Baptist. Unlike the higher priesthood, the Aaronic Priesthood can be passed down from man to man. The church doesn’t control it.

Therefore, I can seek out any man who has the Aaronic priesthood, and, following the pattern of praying first to receive power, he can then baptize me. The church has nothing to say about this. It has nothing to do with the church. The church cannot control the exercise of the priesthood in a private ordinance. Baptism is between me and the Lord, not between me and the LDS Church.

The promise of the Lord in 3 Nephi 9:20 is that if we offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit to the Lord, he will baptize us with fire and with the Holy Ghost. He said nothing about the laying on of hands in this verse. In my youth I went through a period of deep repentance, striving to cast off the effects of my sins. I am certain I was born again that evening, but was I baptized with fire?

An Abomination before the Lord

I’ve been thinking about the imposed discipline of being forbidden to partake of the Sacrament. I know the Lord commanded we shall not allow any one knowingly to partake of the sacrament unworthily (3 Ne 18:28-29), which caused me to ponder the meaning of worthiness. I cannot bring myself to believe my questioning and writing about the church has made me unworthy.

When I sat as a counselor in various Bishoprics over the years, I always took the opportunity to suggest to the bishop, when asked for ideas on how we could help penitent souls, that he would consider allowing them to take the sacrament, perhaps sooner than they may have “deserved” it by their actions. After all, who among us really ever “deserves” to partake of the sacrament?

Unless you know someone is engaging in fornication or adultery, forbidding someone to partake of the sacrament is anti-Christ. It is an abomination before the Lord. Forbidding to partake of the sacrament as a means to pressure someone to change their way of thinking is detestable. It is an abuse of power. It is an attempt at exercising control and compulsion by virtue of dominion.

More Than One Prophet on the Earth

When I turned in my temple recommend it was because I was struggling with the “affiliation” question. After I resolved that and felt ready to renew my recommend, the Bishop shocked me by his statement I don’t sustain the prophet as the only man authorized to exercise all the keys of the priesthood. I said I accept the prophet as the leader of the LDS church with the right to direct it.

I tried to explain it with this example: If Thomas S. Monson were to walk into any LDS Church meeting, he could do whatever he wanted. He could make any change he wanted to make. He could change the meeting to whatever format he wanted. He could ask anyone to accept a call, to teach a class, to sing a song, to pray, or whatever he felt inspired to have them do in the meeting.

Apparently that wasn’t a good enough answer. He leaned forward and said, “And…?” I accept Thomas S. Monson as the leader of the LDS Church. Can’t we have more than one prophet at a time? I believe Denver Snuffer is also a prophet, but not the leader of the LDS Church. There are many examples in the scriptures of having more than one prophet on the earth at the same time.

LDS Church No Longer Led by Priesthood

Well, it’s all a moot case now. The Church was careless with Denver Snuffer. There was no sin in his life warranting church discipline. He was morally worthy. His excommunication was an abuse of authority. As soon as the decision was made, the Lord terminated the priesthood authority of every leader involved in that decision. This is easily demonstrated in D&C 121:37.

Denver appealed to the First Presidency, outlining the involvement of the Twelve and the Seventy. The appeal gave notice to them all. The appeal was summarily denied. Last General Conference, the entire First Presidency, Twelve, Seventy, all other general authorities and auxiliaries voted to sustain those who abused their authority in casting him out of the church.

At that moment, the Lord ended all rights of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to claim it is led by the priesthood. They have not practiced what He requires. The Lord brought about His purposes. This has been in His heart all along. He chose to use Denver to accomplish it. None of this was Denver’s doing. The Lord’s strange act was not planned by Denver.

Organizing into Local Communities

Denver said he did not understand this until the Lord made it known unto him on the evening of May 1st, 2014. The Lord has done this. He is the author of this. The Lord had wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power and the glory from the LDS Church leaders. D&C 84:27-28 explains how John the Baptist was raised up to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews. It applies to Denver.

The Jews did not notice what the Lord had done through John the Baptist. In like manner, God’s house is a house of order. He sets things up according to his pattern and then tears them down in the same way. It is not God’s purpose to abandon the restoration. It is His purpose to preserve the restoration, which at this moment is in terrible jeopardy. The restoration itself must be rescued.

This is why I want to be baptized. I want to show the Lord I accept what He has done through his servant and messenger. Denver is not starting a new church. We are simply being invited to take back the restoration into communities as it was intended. We are organizing though the Internet, finding like-minded individuals who believe and want to be baptized as we read in 3 Nephi 11.

Tithing is Intended to Help the Poor

Since I no longer have a temple recommend, I see no need to pay my tithing to the LDS Church. However, since it is a commandment to pay tithing, I am seeking a community where I can help the poor with my tithing. 100% of my tithing will be used to help the poor. It will not go to pay the salaries of any church employee or leader, to build malls or to maintain any church building.

We do not need church buildings to meet in small groups or communities. We can and will meet in homes, in parks, at the beach, in the mountains or wherever we choose. Because we have the priesthood we can administer the sacrament and baptize. This is not a new church. It is simply practicing our religion the way the Lord intended it. The Internet makes it easy to organize.

There will be no hierarchy, no curriculum other than the scriptures and no formal program that must be rigidly followed in a set, three-hour block. We will not go over the same lessons every four years, drinking milk ad infinitum, but will minister to the needs of each other according to our desires to learn and the gifts of the spirit. And we can sing songs from any source we choose.

No Poor Among People of Zion

Above all, we will help each other come onto Christ. We will teach what he requires to open the heavens, to receive angels, to commune with the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, and to be ministered unto directly by the Savior, something I almost never hear about in the LDS Church. There will be no poor among us. The whole purpose is to be a people worthy of Zion.

I am already aware of a half dozen small groups, some that have been organized for months. I know of baptisms taking place with rejoicing because of the receipt of the spirit in abundance. There are those who have been successful in managing the tithing funds in such a way as to be able to remove a single mother and her children from welfare. This is truly the gospel in action.

Sadly, because I am all alone here in the Central California Coast in my acceptance of what the Lord has done through Denver Snuffer, I must travel to groups organizing in more populated areas or wait until more people in this area catch the vision of what the Lord has done. Equally sad is the fact that, for wanting to live my religion, the LDS Church will no doubt cast me out.

Cry Mightily Unto the Lord

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

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

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

Taught by a Servant of the Lord

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

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

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

Reminded of the Promised Invitation

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

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

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

Do Not Hinder Members in Their Efforts

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

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

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

A Sacred Sacrament Meeting

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

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

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

A Meeting With a Prophet

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

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

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

A Witness Confirmed – Again

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

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

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

Excommunicated for Being Visited by Christ

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

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

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

My Witness, My calling and Election

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

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

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

An Open Invitation to the Brethren

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

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

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

Amen to the Priesthood of that Man

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

The Doctrine of Additional Prophets

The day of the Lord will come quicklyTo My Long-Time Friends and Associates

We have a lot in common. We have spent years worshiping together and providing service in the church. We have served in Bishoprics, on High Councils, in High Priest groups, as teachers in the Primary and in a multitude of other callings over the years. We have taught seminary and Sunday school together. We have been missionaries and have sung together in the choir. It has been forty years since my first calling as a teacher at age seventeen. Know this: I love you and love my association with good people like you.

I understand the orthodox, standard and correlated doctrines of the church. I have studied and taught them all my life. From my earliest days in Sunday school, Primary, Seminary, religion classes at BYU-I, institute classes, adult Sunday school, including years teaching the doctrines and history of this church, I have loved every minute of it. I have tried to develop gifts of the spirit in teaching and preaching. Some of my most spiritual experiences have been in prayer, while preparing lessons to be taught on Sundays.

A Rich Tradition of Conserving the Past

I recognize most leaders and members of the LDS church are conservative by nature. We hold dear the traditions of our church and our nation. We love the ceremonies of remembering, partaking of the sacrament, participating in home and visiting teaching, striving to find our ancestors through research in family history and taking the names of our ancestors to the temple to perform ordinances of salvation. This is right and good. I am also conservative by nature. I cherish our long history and rich traditions.

I can’t tell you how much I love singing the songs of Zion in Sacrament, Sunday school and priesthood meetings with you. I’ve enjoyed my time on the Stake High Council, in Bishopric meetings, ward council and PEC meetings. My association with you has blessed my life and caused me to reflect many times on the happy state of those who are righteous, of those who strive to live after the manner of happiness. I see the result living the gospel has brought to your lives and have tried to emulate your good examples.

We Are Each A Little Different

I’m sure you have recognized I am a little different in that I am quiet, introverted and somewhat shy. I learned to immerse myself in books and studying the gospel from the time I was seventeen. I have spent over forty years studying the doctrines of this church, trying to understand what we really believe and what we are supposed to accomplish with our lives. For the most part we are agreed. I have been able to “put questions up on the shelf” as we have been taught to do, while waiting patiently for answers.

Because I know I am responsible for my own salvation, I have sought those answers diligently. Over the past few years I have come to see things a little differently. I have come to view certain passages of scripture with a different interpretation than what we have been taught all our lives in the standard curriculum of the church. I know this is bothersome to some of my long-time friends. I know you are concerned about me. You have told me so. I appreciate your kind expressions of love and concern.

I Love the Lord, I Love His Church

Please know I am not seeking to disassociate myself from this church and certainly not from our long friendships. I have no desire to create doubt or confusion. I do not wish to be blamed for influencing your children to turn from their membership in this church we love and have loved for so long. I am a Mormon and intend to remain a Mormon as long as this church will allow me to stay. Because I love the Lord, and believe in the principle of personal revelation so strongly, I intend to do as He directs me.

The Lord has directed me in the scriptures and in my personal prayers to places I had never imagined I would go. I have always thought of myself as a true-blue, died-in-the-wool Mormon, believing all I had been taught about our history and how we should view certain events in that history. You may ask why our history is so important. It is critical to our understanding of what this church has to offer and what the Lord is doing with His church. Note I still refer to the Church as the Lord’s. I do not doubt that fact.

I Sustain the Authorities of This Church

I have repeatedly stated I sustain the local and general authorities of the Church. I continue to reaffirm that commitment. I sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators as we have done by common consent since the days of Joseph Smith. Although I do not understand the principle of keys as well as I would like, I have always and will continue to affirm the living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, as a prophet of God, the only man who is authorized to exercise all the keys of the priesthood as I understand them.

The big difference, and what has changed in my life over the past few years, is my belief in additional prophets of the Lord, outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church. For this I have been chastised, warned and pleaded with to be careful, to turn from this erroneous belief and to keep my beliefs to myself. In a desire to be honest and give my local priesthood leaders full opportunity to determine my worthiness to continue serving in my current stake calling, I turned in my temple recommend a month or two ago.

Response to Turning In My Temple Recommend

I was surprised at the reaction. You would think I had done the worst thing any member of this church could do. Especially astonishing were the responses of former associates in stake leadership positions – in a previous stake – whose words caused me to feel I had turned my back on all I hold precious and true in my life. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have done nothing of the sort. I am loyal to a fault. I have no desire to do or say anything to cause others to doubt their testimonies of the restored gospel.

I know I am not the first to go through this experience, but perhaps I am the first to make such a public issue of the matter by explaining and describing the process on my blog. I am striving to honor direction from my local leaders to not share details of our meetings, and believe I have kept that promise. The funny thing about my declaration and my actions is that it is so in line with what we find in the Book of Mormon, I can only surmise people have not read or do not accept the Book of Mormon on this matter.

Multiple Prophets Currently Lead Our Church

We currently have fifteen men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators. Every General conference and at least in one Stake Conference per year, I raise my hand with you in sustaining them in this calling. Many of you know my sister is the secretary to one of those apostles. I am grateful to have met Elder Perry both in his office in the Church Administration Building and here in my home ward a few years ago. I find him to be a delightful man, worthy of the position he holds, filled with the light of the Lord.

The Scriptures teach the Lord reveals His will and directs His children through prophets. I fully accept this doctrine. If we study the scriptures closely, especially the Book of Mormon, we will note the Lord does not limit Himself to prophets within the prevailing institutional hierarchy. In other words, it is more common for the Lord to send prophets from outside the leadership of the day than it is from within that church. Think of Enoch and Moses, then Lehi, Alma and Samuel the Lamanite from the Book of Mormon.

There Is a Strange Thing in the Land

We are studying the Old Testament in our Gospel Doctrine class this year. We just learned about how the Lord called Samuel, even as a boy, who replaced Eli, who served as the Presiding High Priest in Israel at that time. In the New Testament we have the examples of John the Baptist and even the Savior who came from outside the accepted hierarchy of the day. The more you think about it, the more you will come to realize the Lord has always sent prophets to warn us of destruction and prepare us for Zion.

Just so I’m not misunderstood, I am going to be as clear as I know how to be. Although I am not the first to make this declaration, perhaps because of my leadership positions in the church over the years, and because of the prominence of my blog, I am going to place everything on the line in proclaiming what I know to be true through study and prayer. It will go contrary to what you have been taught over the years. You may find it outrageous and may be offended. Nevertheless, this is prompted by the Lord.

My Declaration of a New Prophet

I declare unto you, in all words of soberness, in words revealed unto me by the Lord, that He has sent a prophet to us within the last few years from outside the hierarchy of the Church, with a mission to teach us, to warn us, and to lead us to the Lord. I have spent hundreds of hours studying his published words. I have listened to his recorded teachings over this past year and have found truth in what he has shared. I have sat in his presence recently to test his spirit. I found no fault and have had my witness reaffirmed.

I declare unto you this prophet is acting as an Elias, or a John the Baptist, with the mission to prepare us to receive the Lord. More importantly, he is as Moses in striving to show us the way to the Lord, that we may enter into His presence in this life, to be prepared to be caught up to meet the inhabitants of the City of Enoch at the coming of the Lord. That event will be accompanied by great destructions. This is well known. Not as well-known is just how soon those destructions will begin to be poured out upon us.

I Am No Apostate – I am True and Faithful

I make this declaration knowing full well it is contrary to the traditions of our fathers and of our church, but it is not contrary to the ways of the Lord. You will know this if you take seriously the message of the Book of Mormon. Use the current mantra of the church in “Follow the Prophet” to study the words of this prophet. How can you judge a matter without studying it out, pondering it and praying about it? You may find it uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, but I promise you, the Lord bears witness of the truth.

I am not alone in this declaration. There are hundreds, if not thousands, who also know this man to be a messenger sent from the Lord. You would think a church that teaches the importance of studying the Book of Mormon would stand by this doctrine of prophets coming from outside the hierarchical order of the established institution. Instead, they have cast this messenger out as an apostate. In so doing, they have violated the principles of the priesthood, and in effect, have rejected the fullness that was offered.

The Lord Will Reveal Himself to Us

The day of the Gentile is now past. It is over. The Gentile church rejected the fullness as prophesied. I am saddened to have been a witness to this event. I did not think it would happen in my day. I do not know the timetable of the Lord, but I do know we are now in the last days, not just the latter-days. I do not know what will happen to me. I only know I must do what I have covenanted to do. I have promised to stand as a witness of the Lord in all times and all places. I am called upon to bear my own witness.

I bear witness the Lord is willing to reveal Himself to us. We should be diligent in seeking His face. He has promised to come unto us, to not leave us comfortless. I know this is true. He has promised us He will bear witness of the truth of all things if we will but ask Him. I have done so. The Lord has made it clear I must share my witness in order to progress. I dare not disobey Him. I love Him. I seek to do his will. If I am cast out as an apostate, so be it. That will not change the priesthood He has given me.

A Few Closing Thoughts

You can hear this prophet for yourself. He is now declaring the message the Lord has given Him. He will be teaching in the desert for two days at the end of July – First in Las Vegas and then in St. George. This will give time for people to soften their hearts before the final message to be delivered in September in Phoenix. I pray the Lord will soften the hearts of the honest and believing blood of Israel before we reap the bitter harvest of our rejection of the fullness. The time is short. Great destructions now await us.

You can tell false prophets by their fruits. But you must study and understand the message they deliver before you can tell the Lord you have done as He has asked. Let the Lord take control. Let Him compel you and have dominion over your heart. Seek righteousness in your judgments. Do not add your “amen” to the rejection of a prophet, a true messenger sent to guide us in the way of salvation. I, for one, cast my lot with the Lord and what He has revealed. I stand by my sacred covenant. I am true to my promise.

Las Vegas and St. George

Las Vegas LectureDate:  Friday, July 25, 2014
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Place: Fiesta Henderson Hotel & Casino
777 West Lake Mead Parkway
Henderson, NV 89015
Seats: Cancun Room A/B, seats 150St. George Lecture

Date:  Saturday, July 26, 2014
Time:  9:30 a.m.
Place:  Lexington Hotel and Conference Center
850 Bluff Street
St. George, UT 84770
Seats:  Ballroom, seats 275

Note: The Ephraim talk is now online: http://www.scribd.com/doc/233544493/Ephriam-Transcript-Christ. How can anyone claim this man is teaching false doctrine? I still can’t believe the church cast him out.

Update (7-14-14): There has been so much misunderstanding in regards to my declaration above, I feel the need to clarify. Note I did not proclaim this man was sent to be a prophet within the LDS church. In fact, I thought I made it especially clear he was sent from outside the hierarchy. I did NOT proclaim him to be an LDS prophet. I declared he was sent to us as a servant of the Lord with a message for all who would hear it.

The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy, thus my declaration that he was / is a prophet. I stand by what I wrote. Please don’t add inference that the messenger / servant I refer to has anything to do with the LDS church hierarchy. He is not part of the institutional church. Members of the LDS Church vote on our prophets. They are called and sustained by common consent. The whole point of the post was / is that this man was sent by the Lord with a message.

Update two (7-18-14): Many of you know I took my blog down for a day or two at the recommendation of my Bishop. There was so much interest in this post, my declaration and the ensuing commentary that I could not bear to disappoint those who come here for discussion. I brought the blog back online after 24 hours. I thank you for allowing me to read your comments. I am simply amazed at the awesome thoughtfulness that goes into the ideas you share. God bless you all.

Some of you know Jules and her blog, 2nd Witness. Although I promised I would not add any new posts until after I return from the two lectures in Las Vegas and St. George next weekend, I was made aware of this letter from Jules to her bishop(s) and simply could not resist sharing: http://2ndwitness.com/letter-of-dissent-jules.html I found it especially interesting as she added so many insights in the area of this original post: The Doctrine of Additional Prophets.

Defining Fullness of the Priesthood

FacsimileThreeIn response to a comment made by a reader on the previous post, I wrote, “The fullness of the priesthood, or that which was lost (D&C 124:28), is to be brought into the presence of the Father, by the Son, to be fully endowed with the power that Enoch received, the power to bring about Zion.” I would like to elaborate on that comment and provide some backup for my thinking.

Priesthood Power Not Same as Church Authority

Just as power in the priesthood is different from authority in the priesthood, offices in the Church do not constitute the priesthood itself. They are simply organizational offices in an institution. I know this can be a difficult concept to accept. Some may claim it is false doctrine. Perhaps we can consider together this quote from Joseph Smith on the subject. It may prove helpful:

All Prophets Were Ordained By God Himself

“All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion that brought Moses to speak with God face-to-face was taken away, but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All prophets have the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS 180-181) Think about that last sentence from Joseph for a moment.

There is But One Priesthood of God

So Joseph teaches there is but one priesthood, yet we have a revelation (D&C 107:1) claiming there are two priesthoods, namely the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical. Add to this the idea of the Patriarchal priesthood, not defined in scripture, a phrase used by Joseph when urging the Saints to complete the Nauvoo temple. President Packer taught us a little more about this:

The Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

“There are references to a patriarchal priesthood. The patriarchal order is not a third, separate priesthood. Whatever relates to the patriarchal order is embraced in the Melchizedek Priesthood. All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to [the Melchizedek] priesthood. The patriarchal order is a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood which enables endowed and worthy men to preside over their posterity in time and eternity.”

Priesthood Power Received From the Father

So there is but one priesthood which exists, but it is not contained within or conferred by the church. It comes from one source – the Father. The Son is involved because He is the gatekeeper. He alone decides if a person if going to qualify to receive priesthood power. The Son makes it his work, or His ministry, to bring a person before the Father. This process can take many years.

The Son Prepares Us to Meet With the Father

The Son will work with a candidate for as long as it takes, and as long as the individual is willing to accept correction and reproof, from the Savior, to cure all that is wrong, fix all that is broken, remove all that is impure and prepare the disciple to be brought into the presence of the Father. It is the Father who confers and ordains a man to the highest priesthood. This is not a new teaching.

Priesthood Power Cannot be Conferred

Priesthood in the beginning was called the Holy Order. Later it was called the Holy Order after the Son of God, or the Holy Order after the Order of Enoch, or the Holy Order after the Order of Melchizedek. We think that is what we have in the church today. We think that is what we give to Elders when we first ordain them. But Joseph Smith could not confer that on another person.

Offices in the Church are not Priesthood

Priesthood power is received only from God. We cannot confer power upon another. We can ordain them with authority to officiate in offices in the church, but we cannot give them power. The fullness of the priesthood is contained within the Holy Order that comes from the Father. Show me a man who has entered into the Father’s presence and I will testify he has a fullness.

Our Goal Should Be To Receive The Father

But show me a man, no matter what position or keys he claims to possess, who has not entered into the Father’s presence, and I will testify he has not yet received a fullness. No matter what keys he has, he cannot possess the fullness. For that, the Father has a role He alone is required to fulfill. Joseph taught no man has seen the Father but He [the Father] has born record of the Son.

Ordination is Only a Preliminary Step

Being ordained is only the first step. Although it allows you to administer in an office in the church, it is really but an invitation, and nothing more than to go and get real power from God. It requires us to be faithful unto the Lord, to do all He asks us to do, and He will ask things of His sons that are difficult, in order to prove them faithful and worthy of being brought to the Father.

Receive the Lord’s Messengers Sent to Us

D&C 84 teaches us the importance of receiving the Lord’s servants, or messengers. They may be angels He sends to teach us, or they may be mortal. If we receive His messengers, we receive the Savior. The time will come when the Savior Himself will come to deliver instructions to prepare us further to come into the presence of the Father, in a very literal way, while we are yet mortal.

Fullness Means Completion of a Process

The whole purpose of the priesthood, as far as the man who receives it is concerned, is to prepare him to come into the presence of the Father in order to receive the fullness or the completion of the ordination. That is one definition of the word full – to be complete – or to have accomplished something. The accomplishment cannot be brought about without the involvement of the Lord.

We Must Receive The Father In This Life

“He that receiveth me receiveth my Father.” I can’t tell you how many times I have read that phrase with my brethren in priesthood meetings and wondered when this is supposed to happen. Surely the Lord intended for us to receive Him in this life, to be ministered to by Him in a literal and physical way. We receive the Father in this life to bear His presence in the world of glory.

Fullness of Priesthood and The Powers of Heaven

Receiving the fullness of the priesthood allows us to associate with those on the other side of the veil – the powers of heaven – who are helping to bring about the Lord’s work of bringing Zion. The fullness of the priesthood is required to withstand the brightness of the coming of the Lord, when He returns with the City of Enoch. Otherwise, they that come with Him will burn us up.

Seek to See the Face of God and Live

We have an association or brotherhood here on the earth which we call the priesthood. There is another brotherhood or association we should seek after, the association with the powers of heaven. D&C 84:21-22 teaches us the importance of priesthood in order to see the face of God and live. Obviously Joseph must have had priesthood when he saw the Father at age fourteen.

Attribution for Some of These Quotes

I recognize I have covered a lot in this post. It is all based on scripture, although I have not always provided the reference. You may also recognize a few direct quotes from some of the writings of Denver Snuffer. That’s because he organized ideas about priesthood in a way that make great sense to me. Otherwise, I would not have taken the trouble to study his writings.

Invitation to Receive of the Fullness

I finish as I started with an invitation to understand the fullness of the priesthood. It is simply to be brought into the presence of the Father, by the Son, to be fully endowed with God’s power, which can then be used to bless our fellow beings and to build the kingdom of God on the earth preparatory to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and those who come with Him in great glory.

 

Respect for an Aging Prophet

PresMonsonWomensBroadcast2014_02I watched the recording of Saturday’s historic Women’s Conference the other day. The music was beautiful, the messages were wonderful. Someone at church commented on Sunday that President Monson “did not look well.” OK, let’s see. He’s 86 years old, has long been suffering from the effects of diabetes and lost his wife almost a year ago. I hope I look as well at age 86.

Even Our Prophets Get Old

I watched the video closely at the end as he walked out of the Conference Center, assisted by church security and then accompanied by his daughter. I even paused the recording every few seconds to study his features. He looked pretty good to me. I took a frame grab and posted it with this short entry so you can judge for yourself. Sorry about the poor quality. He didn’t pose for us.

After All, He’s Still a Man

Why do we do this? Why do we care so much about how our prophet looks? And why do we seem surprised the man is aging and is, gasp, possibly suffering from the effects of what we call dementia, senility or Alzheimer’s? He’s not a God. He’s a man. All men must die. And he’s not the first LDS prophet to suffer diminishing health while serving as President of this large church.

Leave President Monson Alone

I wrote previously about the decline of President Benson over the last six or seven years of his life when he was pretty much out of touch with reality. As I wrote there, it didn’t bother me then that President Benson had Alzheimer’s and it doesn’t bother me now. If President Monson is suffering from dementia, then for goodness sake, let’s give him a break and let him enjoy it.

Will He be “Allowed” to Speak?

Every six months the dialog on the Internet forums goes a little bit overboard in analyzing how President Monson looked or the way he delivered his addresses. The speculation is rampant that he may not be “allowed” to speak for fear of going off and getting lost in his delivery. He was always pretty good at engaging his audience with antics like the ear wiggling in Priesthood.

Update after Saturday Sessions:

As everyone knows, President Monson spoke at both the opening and the Priesthood sessions. He sounded wonderful. He can still deliver a good talk. I was so pleased to see him looking and functioning so well. I don’t recall seeing President Packer. I pray the Lord’s blessings upon him. Elder Perry looked as spry as ever. He may soon be the President of the Quorum (end of update).

Update after Sunday Morning:

If his delivery of Sunday morning’s address was any indication, the Lord blessed President Monson in great measure. I was especially touched by his own little prayer he offered at the end: “Heavenly Father, I am always glad you are here and there.” So touching. So sweet. So childlike. This man is not putting on an act. He truly is becoming more child-like. God bless President Monson.

Keyword Searches are Trending

I know I’m nobody as far as influence on the LDS blogging community, but I still get a lot of Google hits on phrases like “Monson senile,” or “Monson dementia.” Watching the keyword searches on my blog is like taking the temperature of what church members are discussing on a daily basis. It’s that time again. Those “Monson Alzheimer’s” keywords are starting to trend.

The Internet Has Changed Everything

Thomas S. Monson has spent almost his entire life in the service of an institution that has grown tremendously. Every growing institution has challenges. Besides managing that growth, another challenge is dealing with disenchanted members. The Internet has done two things that were, by all indications, not anticipated by the Brethren until it was too late. The damage has been done.

We Can Know More Than The Brethren

First, it provided a massive repository of material from early church history that was previously unknown to most members. Second, it provided a platform, through forums and blogs, to connect with other members in a way that allowed them to share research and build community. Leaders found themselves overwhelmed with people who knew more about church history than they did.

We Gave the Current Leaders Their Titles

We put the title of prophet, seer and revelator on the fifteen men who lead this institution. Now the Lord gave those titles to Joseph and to Hyrum, but as far as I know, He did not give them to members of the Twelve. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Brigham did not give himself those titles. He was voted into the office of President through common consent by members.

Brigham Never Claimed to be a Prophet

We are the ones who gave those titles to our President and members of the Twelve. Again, someone please show me where the Lord designates they should have those titles in scripture. In fact, Denver wrote about this specific thing both on his blog and in Passing the Heavenly Gift. I am fairly certain Brigham never claimed them for himself.  It was a more recent church change.

Commentary by Denver Snuffer

Inside the Church the current interpretation is that the “office” has associated with it a “title” set out in scripture.  The “office” of the President of the High Priesthood (D&C 107: 65-66) , who is the President of the Church, also bears the “title” of “prophet, seer and revelator.”  (D&C 107: 91-92.)  The current interpretation of these verses is that the possessor of the office is entitled to the title of “prophet, seer and revelator” by virtue of office alone.  Therefore, nothing more is needed in current church usage other than possession of the office, which alone gives the possessor of the office the title accorded to the office.  So, no, our current terminology does not require something other than office. Source: Denver Snuffer Blog, 21 May 2010

Yes, we Have Administrative Apostles

I am in agreement with Denver that being ordained to the office of Apostle does not make one a prophet, seer or revelator (or translator). We have come to associate the titles with the office of President or Apostle. There are two different kinds of apostles – those who have actually received the Lord and had their ordination complete and those who are apostles in name only.

This May be New To Some of You

Please don’t be offended if this is a radical new interpretation or understanding of the highest positions we seem to almost worship in our church. These are all good men and I love them dearly. I will be listening very closely to each of them speak – if they are well enough to do so. We may or may not hear President Monson speak. If he does, great – if not, I’m OK with that.

Exercise ALL the Priesthood Keys

I still sustain him as “prophet, seer and revelator and as the only man on the earth authorized to exercise ALL the priesthood keys of the Kingdom of God on earth.” There are other keys not associated with the Kingdom of God on Earth one can receive. We may also need to come to a better understanding of what a key actually is. Is it permission as we teach or is it knowledge?

Keys, Keys, We’ve Got Keys

I want to make this short because this is what the Lord asked me to teach when I prayed about it Sunday night. It is not new and what I have shared here is not complete. You add the rest in the comments if you would please. Also, correct me where I’m wrong. Keys, keys, keys – We’ve got to understand what they really are and who can hold them. Our eternal salvation is at peril.

I Uphold Them with my Faith and Prayers

God bless us all to enjoy General Conference this weekend. I hope I have made it clear I love and sustain these Brethren. Like Denver, even if one of them directs I need to be disciplined, as Elder Nelson did toward Denver, I will sustain them as authorized in the office they hold. We sustained them. We put them in those offices by common consent to lead this institution.

Offices in One or Both Kingdoms

Just remember, there is currently a big difference between the Kingdom of God on the Earth and the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Think about it. I am grateful to have membership in both. I hope and pray they will come together in my lifetime, but I am an old man, so it may not be my privilege to witness the joining of the two. Besides, I think we are far from ready for Zion yet.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

But that’s a topic for another day – April 12th, to be exact, in Grand Junction Colorado. Wish I could be there. Carol and I are making plans to attend at least one of the lectures in St. George, Las Vegas or Phoenix. Denver, if you want to come to Southern California, let some of us help you find a venue. Please don’t forget there are saints outside of Utah who love you. Peace.

Visualizing the Day of the Lord

MeteorsHittingCityHave you ever thought about what we will see, feel and experience when the physical events of the Lord’s return begin to unfold? What will your life be like on that day when the catastrophic destructions that have been prophesied start to happen? Will your day be different? Will there be anything unfamiliar in the skies? Will the weather be strange, perhaps a little rare and unusual?

Prophets Have Seen the Day

I know many prophets have thought deeply about this. In fact, they have done more than think about it. They have prayed about it and asked the Lord to show them what it would be like. The revelations have come. They have recorded them and shared them with us. Most were a result of asking specific questions. One of the questions I have asked is “Will it happen all at once?”

Signs Precede His Return

The answer is no. While the Day of the Lord can be pinpointed to an actual day when the world sees the Lord return, there is much that will happen first. The Lord has given us many warnings that contain clues. We call them signs. He has told us to watch for the signs. We talk about the signs. We teach each other the signs. We discuss them. We write about them. We read them.

Destructions Accompany His Return

Some of the questions I have asked and prayed about are “How will these destructions take place? What will cause these destructions? Why must there be destructions anyway?” I am not the only one who has asked these questions. In fact, the method or catalyst of the destructions that will come upon us in the last days has been known for thousands upon thousands of years.

Everyone will Be Affected

What if you don’t believe in a) God, b) The Lord, c) religion d) prophecy or anything of a spiritual nature that you can’t see, feel or touch with your natural body? What if you don’t care about these prophecies, feel that they are a waste of time and have no desire to understand them? That’s OK. I suspect when the day of the Lord arrives, you’ll want to learn about them quick.

Exact Day is Unknown

We are living in a day when so many of the pre-cursor signs have happened or are happening that more and more people are “jumping the gun,” so to speak, in assuming that the big day is about to burst upon us. Remember what the scriptures say: Nobody knows that exact day, not even the angels in heaven. Only our Father in Heaven knows the exact day of Christ’s return.

Understand the Signs

There are many reasons we know the great and terrible day of destruction is getting closer each day but there are many things that must happen first. The Lord loves His children and has given us distinct signs to watch for. There have been multiple books published on the subject. One of my favorites is 65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second Coming by David J. Ridges.

The Sequence is Unclear

I’ve been told it’s not wise to try to put any of these signs in order or precedence. We have been advised to simply study, know and understand the signs of the times. Anybody who tries to put them in any particular order seems to get into trouble, meaning others will vehemently disagree with them. I suppose that is inevitable, since the Lord didn’t specify an exact sequence either.

Signs in Heaven and on Earth

In my book, I focus on the cosmological signs and the events of nature that go along with them. For example, the sun will be darkened, the moon will become as blood. Diseases, plagues and pestilences will sweep the earth. There will be famines, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Signs and wonders on earth and in the heavens, the rainbow withdrawn.

All Nature Will be in Commotion

In particular, I focus on the great sign of the coming of the Son of Man, the return of the great hailstorms that will destroy the crops of the earth, the great earthquake such as never before, the burning that is prophesied to accompany His return, and the elements that will be in commotion. I have always wondered what it would be like to live through these terrible disasters of nature.

The Whole World Will See

What could possibly cause the earth to reel to and fro like a drunken man? What could cause the mountains to melt with fervent heat? How will we feel when these storms, tempests, whirlwinds with their thunderings, lightnings and sounds of the trumpets come upon all people? It’s evident that the whole world will experience these last great events. They won’t be localized or confined.

Wormwood and John the Revelator

What did John the Revelator mean when he talked about a third part of the sea becoming blood, the third part of the creatures of the sea dying and a third part of the ships destroyed? Why? What is this great star that falls from heaven, burning as a lamp that falls upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters? Why is it called Wormwood? What does that mean?

Hail of Brimstone not Ice

Are the great hailstones that fall made of ice? If so, how can they be mingled with brimstone and with fire and with blood? Others have written about the deteriorating social conditions through which we are now passing. Who can doubt the wickedness and abominations that are beginning to sweep the land? I believe the prophecies that the governments will be overthrown and wasted.

We Don’t Need Specific Details

I know it’s easy to simply say, “The coming of the Lord will cause all of these things.” Details, my friends, I want details. The Lord uses natural causes and obeys natural laws even if we don’t fully understand them. For example, I have to ask “Why will it be a day of burning?” Well, yes, from the brightness of his glory, but is there something else that might accompany his return?

Return of City of Enoch

Don’t the scriptures say that the Lord will come down with the inhabitants of the City of Enoch? Hmmm…how is He going to do that unless the part of the planet on which they reside, which was taken up when they left, returns with them? In other words, isn’t it possible or probable he will be accompanied by the return of the remnants of the planet with those who left with Enoch?

Return of Lost Ten Tribes

And what about the lost Ten Tribes – won’t they return first? You know, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” I know I’m stretching it here since so few – read hardly anybody – believes that the Ten Tribes were taken from this earth. The prevailing theory is that they are simply mixed in with all the people of the earth or – gasp – hiding under the ice somewhere.

The Sound of Great Trumps

And what causes the great sound of the trumps? There are lots of them. I know, it’s the angels, but couldn’t there be a natural explanation like the oscillations of two very large celestial bodies when they come close together. Uh, oh, the scientist in me just kicked in – that goes against all the laws of nature – two planets can’t get that close together without one of them disintegrating.

Thunderbolts of the Gods

We have so many historical and scriptural evidences of great thunderbolts or lightnings that flash from the heavens. And we’re not talking from the local clouds. We’re talking about the kind of electrostatic discharge that occurs when two large celestial bodies come in close contact. Oh, wait, scientists don’t believe such a thing could happen. It’s never happened before, has it?

Highway in the Great Deep

What is this highway that shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep? Where will it go? How high will it go? Of what will it be composed? Is it possible that this great highway could connect two planets? Is it possible that these planets were connected at one time in the past? If the speed of the earth’s rotation slows, what will happen to all the water at the equators? Where will it go?

Great Sign of the Lord

What exactly is the great sign of the Lord that He told us about and Joseph described in more detail? Will the world see the sign coming for some time before it arrives? Could it look like a planet or a comet or both as it comes close to the earth, on an intersecting course? I’ve always wondered about this curious statement of the Lord. How will the world react when they see it?

The Lord Will Reveal The Details

Well, that’s enough conjecture for a while. The Lord has said unless we ask questions, we get no answers. I can tell you that I have asked these and many more questions. I think I’ve got some answers, at least enough to satisfy a part of my curiosity. I have more to ask the Lord, but He has made it clear I am not quite ready for the additional detail he will reveal until I am prepared.

That’s the Background for my Novel

I’ve been studying this for about thirty years. I remain fascinated and am anxious to learn more. I pray about it most every night. Sometimes, I make it a matter of fasting and temple pondering. I can tell you that as I have written some of the chapters, the words just flowed as if I was taking dictation. Maybe the book is just for me, but perhaps it’s good enough to make it to publishing.

We Can See The Day of the Lord

I would like to see the day of the Lord. I am convinced many prophets have seen it. We have a record of their visions in the scriptures. We also have the records of ancient civilizations that experienced similar visits of planets and the destruction they caused. That is the basis for my novel – what will happen to the inhabitants of the earth if a planet came alongside to meet us?

Sample Chapters Available to Read

I’ll conclude with this book jacket synopsis from the novel. If you are interested, you can read some of the rough drafts on the “Red Dust – LDS Fiction” tab. I hope to soon register a domain name, do some serious work on applying the edits from the feedback I already have and finish this book project that has been on my mind for so many years, even if it’s only to say it’s done.

Book Jacket Synopsis for Red Sky

The sky is falling…literally. Four scientists race against time to reassure the world as it encounters a rogue planet. Astronomer David Mitchell is the face of the government. He must provide play-by-play advance notice of what to expect next. But how can anyone predict what will happen when two planets come together? It’s never happened before. Or has it?

Manny Volynsky is on a mission to tell the world the truth about this rogue planet. He’ll stop at nothing to get to the scientific conference where he’ll have a worldwide audience. There is can share answers about the red dust that has started to fall. But Manny is a nutcase history professor who has no credibility in the scientific world. Will they listen to his stories of the ancient myths?

Death from the skies is impossible. Everyone knows that, especially David who has taught it repeatedly over the years, using scientific evidence to prove it. When fire begins to accompany the red dust, the conflict between science and myth is blurred. Manny’s predictions of future events have come true. David must decide if he will give Manny a voice to warn the people.

Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer

Denver Snuffer is becoming less of an enigma to me. I still don’t know him but I like him, based solely on his writings. I think his little book, Ten Parables, tipped my thinking to his favor. I’ve now read six of his eight books and am working on the seventh – Eighteen Verses. I have saved the best for last – Nephi’s Isaiah.

I have Denver’s permission to derive my own interpretations of his parables. I offer them here as a way of solidifying what I have read and pondered. He writes in his preface that parables “teach truths by using symbols and analogies.” They are “intentionally susceptible to different interpretations and layers of meaning.”

The book was a fun and easy read. I completed it during a lunch hour at work. It is only 107 pages. Some of the parables were obvious as soon as I read them. Some seemed a little obtuse, requiring a bit of pondering. “They have been carefully composed. The words are deliberate.” I hope my interpretations do them justice.

This is another in an ongoing series of essays on the books of Denver Snuffer. I have previously reviewed Passing the Heavenly Gift and The Second Comforter. Comments are welcome. Obviously you will have had to have read the book. I look forward to reading what you think of the parables.

1. A Busy Young Man

This one is very short. I wondered why he placed it first in his book. I suppose it represents Denver when he was a young attorney. He worked many long years to learn of the Master, while doing the Lord’s work. First the rope for seven years, then the net for seven more. Perhaps it represents Denver’s callings in the church.

2. Wise Men

This one is obviously about the General Authorities of the church. I love the symbol of the fruit tree. It could be so many things, but mostly I thought it was a good representation of members of the church. The symbolism of the telescope is also profound. It represents the ability to see things far off, available to all.

“They became men … with the most cunning and cautious minds. For many years they added no wisdom to the kingdom … They only spoke of … the great lessons of the past.” Then again, the parable could be referring to the religious leaders of the past since there is an obvious reference to either Galileo or Copernicus.

3. Triangularity

This is obviously about temple worship. It contains one of Denver’s common themes throughout his books that the ordinances of the temples are mere symbols and not the real thing. You may also conclude that it is about the study of God or more precisely, the Godhead. I love the many references to orthodoxy and creeds.

Then again, it can also be construed as a much generalized view of the history of man, his beliefs about God and his religious worship practices. The part about wars and schisms leads me to think that. There is reference to the restoration and again, the introduction of orthodoxy and the idea of speaking directly to and with God.

The ending is wonderful. It is so applicable to the church today whether we realize it or not. We do indeed look upon anyone who claims to have an “unusual” story of spiritual communion with God to be heterodox. I suspect it is because of the fear of being deceived that this has been inadvertently promoted by those who lead us.

4. The Horses of Shiloh

This is a wonderful parable about the Savior. I like the implications of the lines, “He was hard for any man to ride, and many feared to approach him. Only the most brave attempted it. Only a few were able to ride him.” Obviously this is referring to the process of coming unto Christ and gaining an audience with Him.

The churches of the world have made an image of the Savior that is nothing like who he truly is. The ending: “In Shiloh there was a neglected statue, in a forgotten back alley, of a rearing horse covered with scars whose disproportionate and unruly form was thought to a symbol of everything vile and unwanted in a horse.”

Sadly, in the end, nobody would ever know what the horse really looked like. I wonder if this is meant to imply that our depictions of the Savior in art today are not at all what he was really like. I suspect this is the intent. Most pictures of the Savior depict him as almost feminine, not the battle-scarred warrior that he was.

5. The Weathered Tree

At first I thought this was going to be a camping story. I was delighted it turned out to be the story of a wise tree that stood alone on a cliff, gnarled and scarred, but who had a commanding view of all that surrounded her. The two forests that grew below her are a good contrast between the foolish and the wise who look to her.

6. Five Men From God

The five men from God are Sampson, John the Baptist, Jesus, Joseph and Hyrum. These are the witnesses who were sent to warn and bless mankind. But they were all rejected. God was therefore justified in leaving man to fend for himself, with no warning of impending danger. Man will be unprepared when the last day arrives.

7. Hope and Tarwater

This has become my favorite. I expected something more or different at the end but was pleased that the same theme played out all along. It was a sustained effort. It is analogous to life and the way we travel through it. One young man finds the woods to be a dangerous place. His journey through it reflects wariness and uneasiness.

The other young man found the woods to be a place of beauty and serenity. He was at peace with his surroundings and derived much enjoyment and pleasure from his journey. Although the two men became aware of each other towards the end, they did not meet. They each related their journey to others when they arrived home.

I could write an entire essay about the analogy and the symbolism in this parable. But the end result for me was the way the two young men related their tale at the end and how it confirmed to others their impressions of the forest. They brought with them their perceptions of how things were in the woods, and they were right.

8. Brakhill’s Greatest Citizen

This one is told so well I thought there really was a town of Brakhill, Wyoming and a real children’s author named Olyvie Canfield. I can imagine Denver wrote this for one of his daughters. I got the distinct impression that the building built by the story’s other leading citizen – Ira Wilkas – represented the City Creek Center.

I’m still pondering this one. I wonder if anyone else has come up with who might be represented by Olyvie Canfield. I suppose Ira Wilkas represented the Church. Is it possible that Olyvie might have been a symbol for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? This has probably been discussed on LDS group blogs but I missed it.

9. The Great Competition

This one is about the plan of salvation, told from a very long-range view, including the great battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil. Denver has drawn some profound implications of what happens at that great event because those who chose not to come to compete were invited to the great feast at the end.

The focus is on loyalty. Who would remain true to the king in spite of the seeming unfairness of the competition designed to cause a great division among the people? I would love to share this one in a Sacrament talk or Sunday school lesson, but of course, you and I know that one cannot quote from unorthodox sources in church.

10. The Missing Virtue

I’ve read this one a couple of times since the initial reading. When I first read it I knew right away that it was about Denver. I think he had referenced somewhere else in his books his experience with failure to help someone in need. I suspect this was highly personal and significant to Denver. I’m grateful he shared it with us.

One the one hand you could focus on how much he was affected by having failed to provide something for the beggar earlier in his life. Eighteen years is a long time to wait to feel that you have made up for an earlier failure. Thankfully, he found the opportunity again, took advantage of it and was greatly blessed as a result.

I did not see any judgment of his fellow priesthood brethren in this parable. He only related the facts. He told it the way it was. I too have seen this many times. But I have also seen the goodness of my brethren in similar situations. There are many who go out of their way to help those in need. I love my fellow brethren.

Elder Perry Visits our Sacrament Meeting

We had a visit from Elder Perry to our ward in Camarillo today. He told us he was in town on one of the last days of a week-long series of meetings in California. He started in San Jose on Tuesday and had one more half day Monday in San Fernando. He has been meeting each day with the missionaries for a few hours and then with the Priesthood leadership of multiple stakes.

We were expecting a large crowd for the missionary farewell of the youngest sister of our bishop. I’ll bet she’ll always remember that she spoke on the same program as an apostle. When he walked in, nine year-old Whitney Peterson handed him a piece of paper with four questions. He delighted us by answering them candidly and directly. I paid close attention to what he said.

Four Questions for an Apostle

Her first question was “How many churches have you visited?” I think she meant different wards or stakes “You do the math,” he answered. “I’ve been doing this for forty years. We go out three weeks out of every month. We have five weeks off in the summer and two weekends off each year for General Conference.” I did the math. Without duplicates, that would be 1,320 churches.

Next, Whitney asked, “How many temples are there in the world?” He laughed as he replied, “I don’t know. I can’t keep track anymore.” Somebody apparently looked it up as he was talking and told him – 136. He told the story of president Hinckley going to Stake Centers while on visits to Mexico looking for properties large enough to accommodate temples to be built next door.

The next question was “Where do you live?” I expected him to simply say Salt Lake, but he told us he lived a half block north of the conference center and that he walks to work each day. He has a key to a side door so he walks the rest of the way through the tunnels to his office in the church administration building. Now I know how this almost 90 year-old apostle keeps in shape.

An Apostle’s Witness of the Savior

The last question was the best. “Have you ever seen an angel or the Savior?” I listened closely to hear how an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ would answer this question. He told a couple of stories. First, he described one of the weekly meetings with the twelve way back when Elder LeGrand Richards was still alive. The meeting had to do with changes being made in the temple.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Elder Richards said that President Woodruff had been there. When asked why, he said that Elder Richards was the only one of the twelve present who had attended the 1893 dedication of the Salt lake Temple (as a child). President Woodruff was vitally concerned with the temple that he had dedicated. To Elder Perry, this was a visit by an angel.

The 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood

He then told the story of the 1978 revelation that all worthy men could hold the priesthood. He said that there were only three of the twelve still alive who had been there. He described how President Kimball asked to be the voice in the weekly prayer circle and how he poured out his heart in petitioning the Lord for understanding of his will on what should be done on this issue.

He said that the outpouring of the spirit was so great that at the conclusion of the prayer they each went back to their offices without saying a word. They usually go have lunch together. Something sacred had happened. To Elder Perry, this was evidence the Lord had visited them in the temple. The next Thursday, President Kimball submitted the new revelation to the twelve.

The Savior Directs This Church

Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly. He said that the heavens only open on rare occasions. He spoke for a moment about placing our tent door toward the temple. He then closed by bearing testimony. He said, “There is only one man who receives revelation for all. This is not a man-made church. The Savior directs this church from above.”

“This is how he continues to reach out to each of us. There is an order and a system in place. Twelve are given the keys but only one may use them at a time. In the church there is order and uniformity. This provides absolute certain direction that comes from the Lord. I know without any doubt God lives and that the Savior directs this church.”

An Evening with Richard Bushman

About a thousand other people and I enjoyed an evening with Richard Bushman last night. He spoke about Joseph and Emma for about 40 minutes and then entertained questions from the audience for another 40 minutes. While his insights on Joseph and Emma were interesting, I found the questions more fascinating, because they reflected a lot of the issues I blog about.

For those who don’t know, Richard Bushman is the author of Rough Stone Rolling, the 2005 biography of Joseph Smith that has become the definitive account of the prophet’s life as told from the viewpoint of a faithful historian. I took advantage of the opportunity to have him autograph my copy and was not the only one in the audience who waited in line to do so.

Open and honest discussion

It was wonderful to see so many people interested in learning more about this great man and the beginnings of the Mormon Church. Every time he finished answering a question a dozen more hands shot up. We could have been there for several more hours. I think that goes to show you how much we as a people appreciate someone who has studied the prophet’s life in such detail.

There were many questions that focused on the process of translating, the Urim and Thummim, the seer stone in the hat, polygamy, the three witnesses and the eight witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, the martyrdom, succession, Book of Abraham translation, Mountain Meadows massacre and folk magic. He welcomed every question and encouraged us to ask even the most difficult ones.

A well-qualified historian

One of the most refreshing comments I heard was his expression of appreciation to the church, specifically to the church historian’s office, Marlin K. Jensen and Richard E. Turley for the recent publication of Massacre at Mountain Meadows. He then said that he hoped that the church would do the same with the issue of polygamy, treating it openly and with historical accuracy.

Burt what impressed me most about the evening was the obvious fact that Richard Bushman is a highly respected historian who probably understands the beginnings of Mormonism as well as or better than anyone else. Besides being the co-general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, he chairs the board of directors of the Mormon Scholars Foundation.  He knows early church history.

Serving faithfully in the church

And yet, Richard Bushman has served as a bishop, a stake president, a patriarch and is currently a sealer in the Los Angeles temple.  I would say that he is a faithful, believing Latter-day Saint, in spite of everything he knows about early church history.  I bring this up specifically to make a point about a common response to my essays and how I can still believe when I know this stuff.

I recently had someone ask me how I was able to do what I do – serve faithfully in the church – in spite of all that I know about, as he called it, “the more disturbing facts of the origins of Mormonism.”  I think maybe he might want to redirect that question to someone like Richard Bushman who knows so much more than I do and yet has been a faithful believer all his life.

Believing in spite of knowing

This individual asked, “How do you reconcile your belief and what the church teaches, with the history of things like the origins of the temple ceremony, polygamy, first vision contradictions, development of the story of the restoration of the priesthood, and other issues?”  I answered him privately in an email but have been pondering this whole idea of believing in spite of knowing.

Frankly, it perplexes me. I think I have expressed this same sentiment several times in previous essays every time it comes up. What is so hard about studying and understanding our very early church history, warts and all, and then continuing to believe that Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of God to bring about the restoration of the gospel and his church in the latter days?

Shocked by our history

Are we supposed to be shocked, dismayed and overwhelmed with doubt every time we discover some new fact about the early days of the church?  For example, last night we were reminded that beer and wine were used by the early saints, and sometimes even whiskey.  Today, we would be shocked if we learned that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles drank a glass of wine.

Yet in volume IV, page 120 of the History of the Church on the date of April 17 1840 we read, “This day the Twelve blessed and drank a bottle of wine at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon forty years before.”  Things were different back then, weren’t they?  The Word of Wisdom had been received in 1833 but was not binding upon the saints as a commandment like it is today.

History not being hidden

When Fanny Alger was brought up by Brother Bushman last night as an example of an early failed attempt by Joseph to obey the law of plural marriage, I’ll bet there were a few people in the audience who did not know that Joseph had married this sixteen year old girl in 1833. The revelation on celestial marriage had been received in 1831 but Joseph was hesitant to obey.

For some reason, the idea that Joseph participated in plural marriage is supposed to be shocking to us. This continues to be one of the most common tactics of our critics – to try to shock us with facts that are supposedly being hidden from us by our modern church leaders.  Nothing could be further from the truth. We are always being encouraged to study our history and learn the facts.

Selling the Book of Mormon Copyright

Another example that our critics like to throw at us is the failed attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in Canada. Until recently, the only source for this event was the memory of David Whitmer who was not present when Joseph sent the brethren on their mission.  Joseph never said that it must have been a false revelation as Whitmer claimed he said upon their return.

We’re then supposed to conclude that if we can’t trust a revelation from Joseph then how are we supposed to know what is revelation from God. I’m not an apologist but I’m grateful that there are people who dig into these things to get the facts and present them for our review.  Of course, the same facts can be presented in favorable or unfavorable light, depending on where you go.

Consider carefully the source

For example, you can read the story of the copyright mission to Canada on MormonThink as supposed evidence that even Joseph Smith didn’t know when revelations were from God and when they were from the devil.  Yet you can read the same account in greater clarity and detail from a more trustworthy and reliable source like FAIR and come away strengthened in faith.

We could go on and on with hundreds of things that are supposed to be shocking to us modern believers of the faith because they seem so out of character with what we’ve been taught about Joseph or other leaders of the early LDS church. If we are bothered by something, then we need to do our homework and get all the facts as part of the process of confirming truth for ourselves.

Get the facts straight

If I were concerned upon reading that Joseph Smith was supposed to have said that even he didn’t know when a prophecy came from the Lord or that he is supposed to have said that a revelation he received must have come from the devil, as David Whitmer said he did, then I would want to read more about this and would be very careful about the source that I study.

Because if I believed that Joseph really said this, then that might lead me to conclude that if even prophets have a hard time understanding revelation, how can I really be expected to understand or know the truth of revelations that come to me, especially revelation that I think is telling me that the church itself is true? Do you see how important it is to get the facts of certain matters?

The Joseph Smith Papers

Of course Joseph never said that he must have received a false revelation.  In fact, according to more recent information discovered, the brethren who went on the mission to Canada in an attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon felt that they were successful on their mission and that the Lord was pleased with their efforts. The promised sale was conditional.

I’m grateful for brethren like Richard Bushman, who are helping to bring us the Joseph Smith papers. In volume 1 of the Manuscript Revelation Books, we have the full copy of the mission to Canada revelation. It can be read there. The criticism that Joseph later claimed that the revelation had not come from God is in all likelihood the product of a false memory by David Whitmer.

We can believe the prophet

As I wrote in a previous essay, I believe it is our lifelong pursuit to understand revelation and to come to know how the Lord communicates with each of us. We can rely on the promises of the Lord to lead us, guide us and walk beside us because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. I hope we cherish this gift and live worthy of the constant companionship of this promised revelator.

Joseph Smith knew when the Lord was inspiring him and so did most of the brethren who were with him at the time when he received revelation. We can trust that the Lord will help us to have the assurances we need to believe in the mission of the prophet Joseph Smith. Someday, we will meet Brother Joseph and if we still have questions about his life we can ask them to him directly.

My Interview with Mormon.org

On this Pioneer day, I decided to answer all the personal questions that you are asked when you fill out the profile on Mormon.org.  There are a whole lot more under the FAQ section (about 80) but that will have to wait for another day when I have more time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process of answering these questions and felt like I was being interviewed, thus the title of this blog post.

01. Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?

Having grown up with daily prayer, I can’t imagine a day go by in which I don’t communicate with my Heavenly Father in prayer.  We start the day in prayer as a family asking for the Lord’s blessing upon us as we work.  We end the day in prayer the same way, usually kneeling by the bed, reporting our activities to God and thanking him for his help.  We give thanks for the food we eat at mealtimes and participate in public prayers in our weekly worship service.  It is through prayer and reading scriptures that I feel close to God and directed in my life.

02. Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?

The most powerful admonition of the Lord that has helped me find happiness in this life is his commandment that we love one another.  I remember this whenever I feel that I have been misunderstood or hurt by someone else, either intentionally or not.  It is so easy to take offense in this world but the end result is that we only hurt ourselves when we do that.  To love others is to trust in the Lord that he will help make everything all right, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first.  He also requires us to forgive others since we all make mistakes and errors in judgment. We show our love by forgiving.

03. Please share your feelings/testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel.

Even though I grew up hearing the Joseph Smith story I am still amazed as an adult to realize just how powerful his history really is.  Think about it!  Angels, gold plates, visits from God, Jesus Christ and ancient apostles and prophets – these are all miraculous events that we just don’t hear about everyday.  It is truly a marvelous thing to learn all that the Lord did through Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God.  I am especially grateful for revealed doctrines that clarified and corrected the errors of man in the many religions of the world.

04. Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.

I have read at least a dozen biographies of the life of Joseph Smith, and continue to be amazed that the Lord was able to accomplish so much through this one man.  He was a prophet in every sense of the word in that the Lord revealed his will for us through him and continues to do so through the prophets that have followed.  But it was Joseph who paid so dearly with his life even though he did what the Lord told him to do in bringing forth the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I hold Joseph Smith in high regard and look forward to meeting him in the world to come.  I want to thank him for his faithfulness in translating the Book of Mormon.

05. Why do Mormons go on missions?

I went on a mission because I watched a video of the prophet asking all worthy young men to serve the Lord as missionaries.  As he shared his vision of how the gospel would go to all the world, I deeply felt a desire stirring within my soul to be a part of that great army of missionaries.  It was a major sacrifice for me to leave my studies and spend two years in Central America seeking out those who would respond to the Lord’s invitation to come unto him through baptism.  I loved my mission experience and found joy in testifying to the world that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  We go on missions because we are commanded to share the gospel and feel the desire to seek out and bring the message of the truth to all who will receive it.

06. Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?

Besides being a commandment to seek out our ancestors, we do family history research because we feel a desire to know and appreciate the story of those to whom we are indebted for our very lives.  I am a product of all those who came before me.  My parents were influenced by their parents and they were who they were because of their parents and so on back as far as we can discover.  Once we have the basic facts of their lives such as names and dates, we are privileged to go to the temple and perform proxy ordinances for them so that they too may meet the commandments of the Lord to be baptized and enter into covenants of exaltation.  We do family history work so we can be saviors on Mt Zion (Obadiah 1:21).

07. How has attending Church services helped you?

One of the highlights of my week is to attend church services each Sunday.  I serve in a leadership capacity in my church, and attend a few more meetings besides the regular three-hour block of Sacrament, Sunday school and Priesthood meetings.  I love the interaction with others who believe as I do and feel as I do about trying to follow the teachings of the Savior.  I say try because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes each week.  That’s another reason why I love to go to church each Sunday – I get to renew my baptism covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.  I learn more of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these church services and feel a unity with God and with my fellow saints as we worship God and Jesus Christ together.

08. What has helped develop greater harmony in your home?

Like everyone else, I have experienced moments of argument and disharmony in my home which leave me feeling frustrated, resentful, hurt or angry.  I do not like such feelings, especially in my home where I want to relax and feel happy, safe and secure.  So over the years, I have made a greater effort each day to promote harmony and unity by not arguing and not finding fault with my family members.  I was not very good at this as a youth and so I appreciate the blessings that have come to me as an adult as I try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to love others, especially members of my own family, who need and deserve my love the most.  We can have a harmonious home by practicing kindness and forgiveness.

09. What have you done successfully to shield your family from unwanted influences?

Of all the teachings of the church about family, this idea of keeping out the world has been the most difficult but the most rewarding.  Television and the Internet are two of the most challenging types of media to monitor and control.  We believe in freedom so we encourage each other to seek after virtuous and uplifting material.  So the shield we put into place is not anything controlling such as “thou shalt not!”  It is more of making sure that we understand the differences that certain material, music or entertainment can produce, compared to the results of worthy content.  We seek out and support worthy entertainment and uplifting media content and pray constantly that we will each desire such material over the worldly offerings.

10. Could you talk about your baptism?

I was eight years old when I was baptized and for me, that is a long time ago.  My father, who was a recent convert, had to work the evening of my baptism, so he was unable to perform the ordinance.  I was baptized by a young man who was preparing to serve a mission.  My father was able to confirm me a member of the church the next day and I remember the special feelings that came to me as he conferred upon me the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I remember my primary teacher was there and gave me a picture of the Savior mounted on a small piece of wood.  I still treasure that memento and the words of encouragement that she penned on the back.  I’m sure I did not understand all the implications of the covenants I was making at eight years old, but I have come to appreciate the blessings of this ordinance more and more each Sunday as I take the Sacrament and remember what the Savior miraculously did for me in taking upon himself the effects of my sins upon conditions of repentance.  It is baptism that makes my repentance possible.

11. Why/How do you share the gospel with your friends?

I am not a very outgoing person so I believe that the best way I can share the gospel with others is through providing a good example of following the teachings of the Savior.  I have been amazed over the years as I see the influence that my behavior has on others.  I feel it brings respect and a kind of trust that can come in no other way.  I am sometimes surprised that people, including co-workers, will unsolicited confide in me details of problems they are working out and seek my advice and opinion.  I am then able to share my beliefs that following the teachings of Jesus Christ can and does help me deal with problems and that it can help them too.  Because I am shy, I find great comfort in sharing my feelings about the gospel online and am an active LDS blogger.  I also use modern technology like Facebook and Twitter to share my life.  The gospel comes up in the natural course of sharing things online and results in online dialogs in non-threatening and informative way.

12. How does making right choices help us make more right choices?

When we choose the right even when it is hard to do, we strengthen our character and develop integrity.  Deciding to do the right thing one time makes it easier to do the right thing the next time.  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the added advantage of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This gift helps us understand what the right thing to do is in difficult situations.  When we decide to follow the impressions of the Holy Ghost in making life’s choices, we show God that we value and appreciate this gift.  The impressions of the spirit will then become stronger or easier to recognize and we can grow in always making right choices.  Of course, being mortal, we will all make mistakes.  The Holy Ghost can also help us repent and make better choices in the future.

13. In what ways have your prayers been answered?

There are so many countless examples over the years that it is hard to share just one or two.  Perhaps the most dramatic for me was on the day that I proposed to my wife.  After I returned home from my mission, I had been praying for quite some time to find a woman who believed as I did and with whom I could be happy.  I was dating my wife’s best friend but the chemistry was just not there.  One day my wife invited me to a ball game and I told her about my troubles getting her friend to like me.  I could see that her feelings were hurt. The next day I visited her in her home and had a long conversation about life and marriage and family.  I had some very powerful spiritual feelings as I was talking to her that I knew were an answer to my prayers.  I proposed on the spot and we were married a few months later.  The Lord helped me with one of the most important decisions of my life.

14. What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?

My role in the family is to provide security and stability – both financial and spiritual.  I enjoy my responsibility to work and earn the money that we need to have a home, food, clothing and other necessities of life.  But more importantly, I enjoy my responsibility to provide spiritual direction for my family.  We are strengthened by attending church together, by praying and reading the scriptures together and by pursuing worthwhile family goals.  For example, my wife and I take classes at the local community college in the evenings in an effort to improve ourselves and keep our minds active.  We are strengthened as we work together as a family to accomplish good things with our lives and to provide service in our church and our community.  The gospel of Jesus Christ helps us in this endeavor.

15. How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?

Sometimes this life can be a drag on the spirit because of all the disappointments and setbacks that come as a natural part of living in this world.  Understanding the Plan of Happiness helps me to realize that such setbacks are temporary.  I remain convinced that the Lord is very involved in my life and wants to help me through my journey until I am ready to return to his presence in the life to come.  Knowing that I lived before I came to this world to experience mortality helps me to have a bigger picture of things.  Knowing that I will live in the world to come and that I will someday be resurrected with a glorious and eternal body give me hope that goes beyond the drudgery and dullness that this life can sometimes be.  The Plan of Happiness is just that – a plan for me to find and achieve happiness through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and enduring to the end of mortality true to what I know.

16. What is hope and what do you hope for?

Hope is the belief and conviction that there is purpose and meaning to this life.  Hope is the understanding that even though we pass through trials and troubles, we can have the assurance that our experiences are for our good and will cause us to grow.  I hope for a glorious resurrection.  I know that this is dependant upon my personal righteousness and my works of faith in this life.  Yes, the resurrection is a free gift to all men, but we believe that the quality of our lives in the hereafter is very much dependant on our actions here.  This life is a time of testing and proving and we can hope that our efforts in struggling against opposition in this world will be rewarded by a just and merciful God who wants to bless and help us through it.

17. How has the Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?

In the Book of Mormon we read that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).  I can’t think of any more concise and explicit scriptural reference that helps us understand the purpose of life.  Of course, the Book of Mormon provides a lot more insight into how we go about finding that joy and even helps us to understand what true joy is.  One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is the prophet Lehi’s dream about the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8).  In his dream he partakes of the fruit of the tree which is desirable to make one happy and is sweet above all that he had ever before tasted.  Eating of the fruit fills our soul with exceedingly great joy.  The fruit of course is the love of God and we obtain it by holding fast to the Word of God that is represented by the Rod of Iron in Lehi’s dream.  What a great story!

18. How has the Holy Ghost helped you?

I consider the Gift of the Holy Ghost one of the greatest blessings in my life.  There have been so many instances in which I have been helped by the Holy Ghost that it is hard to imagine getting through this life without this wonderful gift.  The Holy Ghost inspires me and encourages me to do things that are hard to do but that result in happiness for me and for others in my life.  The Holy Ghost has warned me of danger many times, prompting me to stay away from certain things and places.  The Holy Ghost has helped me by prompting me to a certain course of action that I otherwise might not have considered.  The Holy Ghost has been my constant companion in my work, helping me to remember things that, if forgotten, could have been the cause of much distress or pain.  The Holy Ghost has comforted me in times of sorrow and distress, helping me to feel the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior even when I do not feel worthy of their love.

19. What blessings have come through your faith in Jesus Christ?

It is because of my faith in Jesus Christ that I am able to get through some of the more difficult aspects of my life.  For example, it is hard for me to do things in a public setting.  But I have been taught and believe that it will be for my good.  The Lord has promised me through the scriptures that he will help me through these difficult circumstances as I exercise faith in him.  And like everyone in this world, I am no stranger to making mistakes and poor choices, even when I know better.  It is through my faith in Jesus Christ that I put into practice one of my favorite little sayings that helps me keep going: “Success is not in never falling, but in getting up each and every time we fall.”  I know that I can be a better person than my fallen human nature would dictate, and it is through faith in Jesus Christ that I am willing to make greater effort each day to be the man that I know he would have me be.

20. How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?

One of the best ways I know of to live in harmony as a family is to do all within our power to avoid criticism, cutting remarks or any attempt to make another family member feel less than loved.  We do this by sharing the same ideals and goals – to seek happiness in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Where some family members may not have fully accepted the vision of the gospel, we can provide an example of tolerance and patience with them, just as our Heavenly Father and our Savior do with us.  Fighting, arguing, bickering and contemptuous behavior toward any family member is not the way to have peace and harmony in our homes.  Thus, we pray each day that such undesirable activities are mitigated by expressing love and kindness in all that we do.  We are each at differing levels of maturity in our understanding of this concept, so it is up to those who do, to live it better each day.

21. Can you think of a specific challenge in your family that Gospel Principles helped overcome?

Like most families, we have experienced our share of challenges that have tested our faith and caused us to lean deeply on our understanding of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to overcome.  For example, my wife and I have both lost parents to death, have had our share of serious health problems, including cancer, and have suffered through multiple seasons of financial stress due to unexpected unemployment.  In addition, we have been pained as not all family members have accepted our faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  But it is because of the teachings of Christ that we are encouraged to be patient, that we are comforted when discouraged, that we are inspired when distressed and that we are given strength when we feel weak.  We go on and we press forward, believing that it will all work out for our good, either in this life or in the life to come.  We meet those challenges with strength knowing that we are not alone and that God has promised to help us through them if we will but exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and remain true and faithful to him.

22. How can your talents and gifts bless others?

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God gives gifts to each member for the purpose of blessing and supporting each other in this life.  Some of those gifts and talents are more obvious, such as singing, musical ability, acting, performing or even a talent to be able to speak with confidence in front of the congregation (trust me, not all members have this talent).  But the scriptures teach that God gives some gift or talent to every member.  Perhaps one is blessed with the ability to be a good listener, another to share heart-felt testimony of how they know the church to be true, others with the gift of teaching children or even just the talent of being able to live peacefully among their neighbors.  When we share our talents and gifts with others, God blesses us and we are “magnified” or made more effective so that others can receive the same benefits that we enjoy.

23. Think about your everyday activities. What are things you act upon each day where you cannot see the end results? How does faith move you to action?

A very simple everyday activity for me that is an act of faith is prayer.  I have never seen an angel or heard a voice in response to my prayers, but I continue to pray each day, believing that God does hear and answer my prayers.  And indeed he has – by sending the comforting feelings of the Holy Ghost to bless and confirm to me that he loves me and wants me to know the truth for myself.  My faith in God and my trust in the words of his prophets as found in the scriptures causes me to continue to pray both as an individual, with my family, in my congregation and in the homes of other members of the church that I visit.  The end results of my prayers are not always evident right way but are just as certain as if I had seen the effects at the time of the prayer.  I am confident; yes I can say that I know, that God hears and answers our prayers that are offered in faith and with real intent.

24. How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?

I first read the Book of Mormon when I was very young – probably 5 or 6 years old.  I read it out loud with my mother, who was a schoolteacher.  Our family had recently joined the Mormon Church so this was also my mother’s first time reading the Book of Mormon.  I remember the special feelings I had as we read it together.  I felt a warm and comforting spirit as I read. I have read the Book of Mormon many times in the many years since I first read it.  In fact, there is not a year that goes by in which we do not read from it either individually or as a family.  No matter how many times we read the same passages, we always seem to learn something new or have our faith in the truthfulness of the book reaffirmed.  The same warm feelings always return. But it is by following the principles of the gospel that are written in the Book of Mormon that we draw closer to God.  It is in the pages of the Book of Mormon that we learn more about the purpose of life and God’s plan of happiness for us.  The Book of Mormon teaches us to study things out and to pray about them that we may know of their truthfulness for ourselves.

25. Can you talk about the missions of the Church and your participation in them?

Up until recently, we as members of church recited the mission of the church as follows: to preach the gospel, redeem the dead and to perfect the saints.  Within the past year, a fourth mission has been added: to care for the poor and the needy.  We now call these four areas of focus simply the purposes of the church.  In my life, I have participated in each of these areas by serving a mission and continuing to share the gospel, by doing family history or genealogy work and by magnifying my callings to serve in the church as a teacher, leader or whatever I’m asked to do.  I’m grateful to be able to assist in caring for the poor and the needy by contributing money to the fast offering funds of the church and by volunteering to serve food at the local homeless shelter on a regular basis.  These missions or purposes of the church help me as an individual member focus on what is really important to our Heavenly Father – to save his children, both temporally and spiritually.