Sharing the Gospel through Goodreads


TimMaloneGoodReadsI finally got around to updating my Goodreads account with a few of the book reviews I have written over the years. I have been amazed by the response of new readers to my blog. It makes me feel a little better after being dropped by ldsblogs.org. I know people have told me not to be concerned about that but it still hurts losing that extra 200-300 hits per day from their site.

Readers and Blog Hits

Why are hits important to bloggers? I suppose the answer is different for everyone. Is it selfish? Is it egotistical? Is it narcissistic? I hope not. In my case, I started blogging in 2007 before Elder Ballard asked the Saints to be more involved in the online dialogs that are taking place about the church with or without us. My inspiration was an early LDS solo blogger I followed for years.

Solo Versus Group Blogs

Jeff Lindsay was an early pioneer solo blogger I admired as compared to the multiple group blogs that existed for many years. Group LDS blogs are fine and get a lot of traffic but frankly, I found I did not agree with many of the viewpoints I considered “unorthodox,” in other words, worldly. I know that’s judgmental but I did not find myself uplifted by some of the discussion there.

I Read So I Can Write

I want people to be exposed to some of the things I have found uplifting to my faith. I find that it helps my own personal study. Indeed, that is the major reason why I blog – to motivate me to read the scriptures and study the gospel. It’s hard to write about something and not sound like a fool if you haven’t read anything on the subject. I read so I can write. I write about what I read.

Television versus Reading

I grew up without television so I have a difficult time sitting down in the evenings to watch TV to unwind. I would much rather grab a book. So I do. But because I want to be with Carol, I also grab my earplugs. Yes, it can be distracting but if I hold the book just right, I can block out the TV and focus on what I’m reading. I can’t get over the feeling that TV for me is wasting time.

Non-Fiction versus Fiction

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I usually don’t read fiction. If you look at the list of books I’ve entered so far on Goodreads, you’ll note that the majority are non-fiction and LDS-related. I am fascinated by books about the last days, the spirit world and church history. I also like to read controversial stuff you won’t find in Deseret Book as well as your orthodox LDS book fare.

Out of the Best Books

I am a firm believer in the commandment from the Lord, “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” I find nothing wrong with counting my reading of LDS-related books as my gospel study time. There are lots of scriptures quoted.

Physical versus Digital Books

I think I have transferred copies of most of my book reviews over to GoodReads. That made me the #56 book reviewer this month earlier today. As I wrote in a previous post, it’s going to take me months to include every book in my library, which has recently passed the 2,000 mark. I’m from the old school. I like to hold a physical book in my hand to read. Thus I buy a lot of books.

Book Reviews Are Helpful

But just to be sure, I decided to make a list here of my reviews with links so I can compare to what I now have on Goodreads. It truly is gratifying to receive emails from individuals who have read my reviews and felt inspired to write and thank me. It’s nice to think that maybe something I wrote has helped someone else. I have so very few original thoughts. I am guided by books.

Books Reviewed on Latter-day Commentary

These are in no particular order. I just went backwards through my blog looking for book reviews and added them with links to the list here. By the way, reading a book doesn’t make you an expert on a subject, but it does help you talk intelligently or at least understand when others bring it up. Also, as I’m sure you know, in most cases, the person writing the book is supposed to be an expert, but that is not always true. We’re all still learning.

01. 6-4-13, Born of the Spirit, E. Richard Packham, 1979
02. 5-29-13, There is a way Back, Gerald Pearson, 1970
03. 5-4-13, The Unquiet Dead, Dr. Edith Fiore, 1987
04. 5-3-13, You Have Been Here Before, Dr. Edith Fiore, 1986
05. 4-23-13, Beloved Bridegroom, Donna Nielsen, 1999
06. 4-17-13, Remembering the Covenant, vol 1, Denver Snuffer, 2013
07. 4-12-13, The Doctrine of Meeting Christ in This Life, Eric Chun, 2013
08. 3-18-13, From Darkness Into Light, Mel Fish, 1999
09. 3-24-13, The Second Comforter, Denver Snuffer, 2006
10. 2-2-13, Near Death Experiences, Part 2, containing:

  • The Gateway We Call Death, Russell M. Nelson, 1995
  • Embarrassed by the Light, Douglas Beardall, 1995
  • Saved by the Light, Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry, 1994
  • NDE – Near Death Experiences, by Lee Nelson and Richard Nelson, 1994
  • Beyond Death’s Door, Robert L Top and Wendy C Top, 1993
  • Reborn in the Light, Cherie Sutherland PhD, 1992
  • Embraced by the Light, Betty J Eadie with Curtis Taylor,1992
  • Closer to the Light, Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, 1990
  • Beyond the Veil – Volume Two, Lee Nelson, 1989
  • Beyond the Veil – Volume One, Lee Nelson, 1988
  • The Light Beyond, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, 1988
  • The Journey Beyond Life , Michele R. Sorensen and David R. Willmore, 1988
  • The Unquiet Dead, Dr. Edith Fiore, 1987
  • Return From Tomorrow, George G Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill, 1978
  • Spirit World Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, 1978
  • Life After Life, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, 1975
  • Temple Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, 1974
  • Life Everlasting, Duane S Crowther, 1967

11. 1-30-13, Near Death Experiences and Me, Part 1, Containing:

  • Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander, 2012
  • Visions of Glory as told to John Pontius, 2012
  • Conquering Spiritual Evil, Doug Mendenhall, 2011
  • To Heaven and Back, Mary C Neal MD, 2011
  • Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, 2010
  • In His Arms by Denise Mendenhall, 2006
  • And Should We Die, Ron McMillan and Randy McMillan, 2003
  • Possibilities…Lessons From the Spirit, Doug Mendenhall, 2002
  • Visits From Beyond the Veil, Marlene Bateman Sullivan, 2002
  • There is no Death, Sarah LaNelle Menet, 2002
  • And There Were Angels Among Them, Marlene Bateman Sullivan, 2001
  • My Peace I Give Unto You, Robert Lake with Doug Mendenhall, 2001
  • The Message, Lance Richardson, 2000
  • Life After Death, Robert L Millet, 1999
  • I Stand All Amazed, Elane Durham, 1998
  • I Saw Heaven, Lawrence E. Tooley, 1997
  • Heavenly Answers for Earthly Challenges, Joyce H Brown, 1997
  • Beyond the Darkness, Angie Fenimore, 1995

12. 1-18-13, And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, Anthony Larson, 1981
13. 1-13-13, Visions of Glory, John Pontius, 2012
14. 9-10-12, Conquering Spiritual Evil, Doug Mendenhall, 2011
15. 8-14-12, The Book of Mormon: A Biography, Paul C. Gutjahr, 2012
16. 6-24-12, Teachings of The Doctrine of Eternal Lives, Anonymous, 2011
17. 5-5-12, Ten Parables, Denver Snuffer, 2008
18. 2-26-12, Passing the Heavenly Gift, Denver Snuffer, 2011
19. 3-28-11, How Americans View Mormonism, Gary Lawrence, 2008
20. 12-6-10, Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth, 1970
21. 5-5-10, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850
22. 5-11-09, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman, 2007
23. 4-23-09, Shaken Faith Syndrome, Michael Ash, 2008
24. 3-16-09, In Sacred Loneliness, Todd Compton, 1997

A few Thoughts From Ephraim’s Rescue


HandcartBurialThis is not a review of the movie. There are spoilers. It is a commentary on priesthood blessings.

Here in the Mission Field

On this Pioneer day down here in California we went and saw Ephraim’s Rescue. I think it played one time last week in Simi Valley and tonight’s showing in Ventura was a one-time event. We don’t get many Mormon movies down here in the “mission field.” I was tired after a long day of technical training but I’m glad Carol and I went. I came away greatly impressed.

Thank You T.C. Christensen

I don’t know the filmmaker T.C. Christensen but after seeing the movie I had to look him up on the Internet. He’s just a few years older than me and has made a lot of movies that I recognized. You might also know a few of them like Forever Strong, 17 Miracles, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, The Testaments and a whole bunch of other movies, many for the church.

Prophet of the Restoration

I have read of people who decided to be baptized after viewing his Joseph Smith movie. I am convinced that T.C. Christensen has done a lot of good with his filmmaking and has been helped by the Lord in doing so. Although my wife said she doesn’t like sad movies, I wanted to write about this one because I was able to identify so well with the main character: Ephraim Hanks.

The Gift of Healing

Played extremely well by Darin Southam in the majority of the movie, I was most touched by the development of the gift of healing as it was depicted in the movie. Each time we witnessed one of these – and there were several – a feeling of reverence came over me that increased. We both cried at the pitiful scenes of the suffering Pioneers, but I’ll always remember those priesthood blessings.

Priesthood Blessings

I’ve given hundreds of priesthood blessings in my life, most of them sacred and heart-felt. As a new Elder, I recall one in particular in which I felt impressed to tell an individual her sins had been forgiven her. If I remember correctly, she died a few days later. I had not been prompted to say she would be healed. We knew she was dying. It was meant to be a blessing to prepare her for death.

The Lord Inspires Us

At the time, I struggled to say the words that her sins had been forgiven, but I could not deny the Lord wanted me to express them, so I did. At the conclusion of the prayer, tears streamed down her face. “How did you know?” she asked me. “I didn’t,” I said, “but the Lord knew what you needed to hear.” Many tears were shed by each of us – the dying sister, me and my companion.

Thy Sins Are Forgiven Thee

Later, my companion asked me why I would say such a thing. He said he had never heard of anyone promising someone their sins had been forgiven them in a priesthood blessing. I reminded him of the story in the Miracle of Forgiveness where President Kimball blessed a dear sister who had struggled with feelings of worthiness even after a lifetime of faithful service in the church.

Forgiveness and Healing

As I recall the story, she and her husband had been intimate before they were married and it always caused her to feel unworthy. How would you like to be blessed by a prophet of God and told that your sins were forgiven? Better still, how would you like to hear those words from the Lord directly? I know I would. Someday I hope to hear them when I meet the Lord, hopefully in this life.

None of us Are Perfectly Clean

I was impressed by the last scene of one of the many priesthood blessings depicted in the movie. It’s where the character that played Thomas Dobson was blessed that he would not lose his feet that had been frozen. Ephraim was asked, “Why do you wash your hands? You are a holy man.” He replied, “None of us are perfectly clean,” or something very similar (I may be putting two of the blessing scenes together on this).

Symbolic Washing of the Hands

It was the washing of the hands that I found so impressive. It was so very symbolic. I know I usually remember to wash my hands before giving a blessing, but never in the manner depicted in the movie with such reverence. That added so much to the scenes. It got more impressive each time. Darin Southam did a great job but I think it was more because T.C. Christensen wrote and directed it that way.

Promise From a Patriarch

In my patriarchal blessing is the phrase, “You will have the gift of faith and the gift of healing upon you that you might bring comfort and blessings to those who are in need of the Lord’s blessings.” After seeing this movie, I’m not sure I have developed or used this promised gift to the degree the Lord had in mind when he inspired the patriarch to share it. I feel the need to repent and be more faithful in this area.

Raising From The Dead

Apparently Ephraim Hanks developed his gift to a degree that he was able to raise from the dead, as did his brother. It reminds me of similar stories of Matthew Cowley having this gift as he served his mission in the South Pacific. I have heard or read many such stories of healing over the years but few who raised individuals back to life. I wonder what kind of faith that would take.

Blessings of Comfort

Of course, I also recall President Kimball teaching that not all are healed when priesthood blessings are given because it would thwart the Lord’s plan for that individual. Perhaps they need to continue in their suffering for a season to learn the lessons of life for which we all came to this earth. It has been my experience that priesthood blessings of comfort are more common than are healings.

Reverence for the Ordinance

In any event, I simply wanted to share a few thoughts about how touched and impressed I was with the depiction of priesthood blessings as seen in the movie. To me, that was the best part of an otherwise sad and emotional story. It’s just too bad Ephraim couldn’t have gotten there just a few days earlier to keep the pretty girl interested in Thomas Dobson from dying. That was the saddest moment.

The Lord Prepares Groups of People


TheSaviorKirtlandTempleI was pleased to be asked to substitute teach Gospel Doctrine class this week. It is about the closing of the Kirtland period, the first missions of the early Saints to Canada and later to England, then the exodus from Kirtland. Of course that exodus was not as dramatic as leaving Nauvoo, but it was nevertheless undertaken under duress, especially by the prophet Joseph.

Preparing to Teach

I enjoy teaching the gospel whenever I’m asked, just as I enjoy speaking in church whenever I’m asked. I have found over the years that I tend to over-prepare. I probably spent twenty hours this week reading various sources of church history, but mainly in The Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney. I was amazed to read again the way the Lord prepared groups of people for the missionaries.

Entire Congregations

Both Heber C. Kimball and later Wilford Woodruff, converted and baptized entire congregations of hundreds, including most of their ministers. At one point in time, it was estimated that a full 80% of the church membership had descended from one of these early English converts. I know that’s true in my wife’s family. I, on the other hand, still consider myself to be a first generation Mormon.

A True Believing Mormon

While my wife’s family is from Utah – and wow there are a lot of them – I’m a California boy. I only bring that up because I tend to think of myself as not your typical Mormon. Although I have described myself as orthodox and conservative everywhere I write, I like to think that I’m more open-minded about some things. Let’s take Denver Snuffer for an example. Uh-oh, I know what you’re thinking.

Books from Denver Snuffer

When I first encountered the writings of Denver Snuffer, I knew right away that the Lord had either asked him or inspired him to write his books, or both. There’s just something about his style, his tone, the authority with which he writes, the depth and the importance of his subjects that causes him to stand out in my mind as someone who has something special and something very different.

A Divisive Individual

So I began to mention him on my blog, write a few reviews of his books and generally bring him to the attention of my readers. I was amazed and shocked by the response of some who found that my suggestion of even considering his legitimacy could have any merit. “How could you be such a fool, Tim? How could you be duped by someone who is an obvious charlatan and one who will lead you astray?”

Read the Material First

They didn’t use those exact words, at least not in the public comments, but in essence, that is what they were saying. Invariably, when I asked if they had read his material, almost all those who were opposed to his ideas, had not gone directly to the source. They were only responding to what they had read from others. Occasionally I’d have an intelligent private dialog with a few who had taken the time to read.

Beware of False Prophets

I have found that when people comment on Denver Snuffer on my blog, they tend to fall into one of two groups. The first believe he is another Warren Jeffs, Jim Harmston (died June 2013) or some other recent wanna-be prophet claiming that the LDS Church is apostate so they start their own. Most have no idea what Denver Snuffer has written. The second group has taken the time to seriously read his writings, consider them, pray about them and attempt to improve their lives by following his suggestions.

Stay Active in LDS Church

I guess I tend more towards the second group. I have read most everything he has written, or at least enough to know that the man is not inspired from the wrong source. There is some real substance to what he has written. Some of it is above me – way above me – but most of what he writes makes sense, especially the part about staying active in the LDS Church. I like that because I have lots of friends at church that I love dearly.

Private Discussion Groups

There are a number of online groups that discuss Denver’s writings, some public, but most private. I confess I belong to a few of them. I don’t contribute much there. I prefer to write on my own blog. This has always been my own spiritual journal so to speak. I have a separate journal that I have kept all my life, but I use my blog to “push the envelope” on spiritual areas I’m pondering so I can get feedback.

A Year-Long Lecture Tour

If you know anything about Denver or follow his blog, you know he has announced a series of lectures beginning on September 10th in Boise, running in various Intermountain West cities and ending in Phoenix a year later on September 9th, 2014. I’m glad they are being recorded because I would very much like to attend one of them but it doesn’t look like he will be making a visit to California on this road trip.

More and More Missionaries

One of the things Denver has pointed out is that the gathering of the elect in the very last days is a two-fold project – one conducted by the institutional LDS church – and one conducted by the angels of God. I am convinced the missionary changes announced last year by President Monson and which are already bearing fruit, at least in the number of missionaries we send out, is not the final gathering prophesied in the scriptures.

Hastening the Work

I believe it is simply a hastening of the work. The Lord is using the LDS Church to gather the elect. There is no doubt about that. But the Lord is also causing something wonderful to happening to various members of the church that puts them in another group – a group that is being prepared to be taught by angels and to eventually receive an audience with the resurrected Lord in this mortal life.

A Movement in the Church

I am being contacted by more and more individuals who want to talk privately about Denver and what they sense is happening in the church today. Some dialogs are via email, some on the phone, but all focus on the fact that we each want to receive a personal visitation from the Lord. Do you remember the terrible controversy this created when George Pace was rebuked by Elder McConkie for even suggesting such a thing?

An Audience With Christ

Maybe you’re too young but I remember it well. It put a real chill and damper on the church for a long time of anybody bringing that subject up again in Gospel Doctrine or a priesthood quorum. It’s almost as if we now give lip service to the idea of knowing the Lord, but we dare not say that we can indeed “know” Him, as in, have an audience with Him while in mortality. Why is that idea so bothersome to some people in our church?

Teach by the Spirit

I’m rambling and I know it. It’s late and I’ve got to get to bed to be ready to teach the gospel tomorrow. Although our block meets at 1pm, I still want to review the material I have prepared and petition the Lord for strength to teach by the spirit. I never want to be so married to the order or the exact content of my prepared material that I miss when the Lord whispers that I teach something a little differently that I had planned.

To my Regular Readers

Let me end by throwing this out there for discussion. Now I know I don’t have as many readers as I used to since I was dropped by ldsblogs.org, but the numbers show a couple hundred visitors a day – most who get here through a Google search on Denver Snuffer – in addition to a couple hundred subscribers who get my posts in an email or on their reader. I would like to know what you think about this.

A Risk of Missing Out

Specifically, what if the Lord really did appear to Denver Snuffer as he claimed? What if the Lord really did ask him to write his books? What if he is now asking him to take the message more directly to the LDS people via this series of lectures he is conducting over the next year starting in September? What if the Lord really does intend to see how we will respond to the message of this man some call an apostate?

Gathering the Elect

Did Jesus come from within the established ranks of the Jewish hierarchy when he came in the Meridian of Time to teach His gospel and establish his church? What if, just what if, the Lord really is sending Denver Snuffer out on these lectures to seek out and find those from within the church that are ready to be taught by angels and to receive an audience with the Lord? What if the Lord wants you to know something more?

Blogging the End of the World


AnotherMeteorStrikeI think I’m getting excited about blogging again. When I started back in 2007 I did a lot of work to promote this thing. I registered with all the appropriate sites. I left comments on numerous other sites similar to mine. I made sure I stuck to my three themes so my readers would know what to expect: Mormonism, Sexuality and the Last Days. I have only made one major subject change: LDS Book Reviews – both new and old.

My Review of Visions of Glory

I am amazed at the number of book reviews I have written over the years. I don’t know why I’m not more active on Goodreads. Maybe it’s because I like writing longer reviews. If I could figure out an easy way, someday I might transfer them over. What’s surprising is how popular they are. I’m especially pleased by the longevity of my review of Visions of Glory – now six months as my most popular post and still in the #1 spot.

Studying Doctrine has Become Rare

I’ll bet Cedar Fort is extremely pleased with the performance of the book. I also think they were extremely surprised. I’ll bet Deseret Book was even more surprised. If you’ve been watching what Deseret Book sells over the years, you will have noticed how much fluff and stuff it has become. It became rarer and rarer to find a book about doctrine. What’s the matter with us? Don’t we study the gospel anymore?

Feminist Mormon Housewives

Deseret Book knows that women buy books. Take this as a sexist remark if you like, but most LDS women I know don’t care to study doctrine as much as they like to talk about the social aspects of the church. Thank you Feminist Mormon Housewives. I love you for how you have connected the women of the church in ways the leaders of the Relief Society never imagined it could or would ever be.

Dropped by the Bloggernacle

I was recently dropped by LDSBlogs so I’m not too concerned that the important LDS bloggers will see this post. I am officially no longer a part of LDSBlogs or the Mormon Archipelago: Gateway to the Bloggernacle. Must have been something I wrote to tick them off. Who knows? I still have a small smattering of loyal readers (150-200) who are just as interested in some of the topics I write about regularly.

Catastrophic Changes Coming

I still write about the Signs of the Times and will continue to do so, especially as they become more obvious. I can’t wait for the day when the first of the prophesied apocalyptic catastrophes comes to pass. Folks, we haven’t begun to see what the Lord has in mind when he warns us about earthquakes in divers places, the sea heaving itself beyond its bounds or the increase of blatant evil and wickedness.

Study Signs of the Last Days

The kind of stuff the Lord is talking about in the scriptures only happens when the planets get knocked out of their orbits and start careening across the sky. Don’t doubt that it will happen because it has happened many times before, just not in the collective memory of anybody we know. But the prophets recorded it. It happened in their day and it will happen again in ours. But do we study the signs?

Abomination of Desolation

Has anybody bothered to figure out what Abomination of Desolation really means and especially what it means to see it in the Holy Place? The Supreme Court of the United States just set the last piece of that puzzle into motion. It won’t be many more years now. I’m beginning to think that some of the cataclysmic things the prophets tried to warn us about will come in my lifetime after all. It will be sad because the day of warning will then be past. My blog and every other piece of electronic gadgetry will be history.

Visited by the Angels

I recognize the tenor of this post is a little unusual for me. I normally try to be about as humble as I know how to be so as to not offend. I also recognize I’m in the minority – an orthodox conservative LDS blogger who entertains the published ideas from a man who claims to have seen the Lord. That’s a controversial subject. Even the men we sustain as the leaders of our church don’t talk about that. It’s just too sacred, right?

The Last Effort to Gather

I think the time has come that the Lord is gathering the elect in ways that are different from what we were raised to believe. The missionary effort of the LDS Church just kicked into high gear. I have no doubt we will see tremendous results over the next few years. But I refer to another kind of gathering – a spiritual gathering – that is different from the converts brought in by the huge number of missionaries we will shortly have.

Gathered by the Angels

The scriptures tell us that the elect will be gathered by the angels, not just the missionaries. The Lord is hastening His work in asking more of those who have been ordained to the priesthood. The endowed have been invited to come into the presence of the Lord. I am hearing more and more private stories of those who are being prepared by angels to come into the presence of the Lord and receive the rest of what we have been promised.

What to Expect Going Forward

This particular post is in response to a brand new reader who called and asked which of my posts he should read so he could get to know me better. I’ll make a list below that I hope will be helpful. But I think if you just remember my focus is on three things, you’ll know what to expect if you choose to follow my blog: 1) The Catastrophist movement and the Electric Universe 2) What the scriptures teach about the signs of the last days. Look for those signs in the heavens. 3) How to be personally prepared – prepared by the angels to be taught directly by the Lord.

Some of my Favorite Blog Posts

01. About Me – I’m about as open as I know how to be in this blog.
02. Visions of Glory – My review of the last book of John Pontius.
03. Near Death Experiences and Me – Yes, I had an NDE in my youth.
04. Conquering Spiritual Evil – My Review of Doug Mendenhall’s book.
05. Excommunicated for Priestcraft – This should never have happened.
06. Born That Way – Where I first proposed possession by evil spirits.
07. The Unquiet Dead – More evidence of opposite sex spirit possession.
08. And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood – Review of Anthony Larson’s book.
09. Eternal Lives, Past Live and Reincarnation – Still a controversial topic.
10. The Adam-God Theory – This is what I believe and I’m sticking to it.
11. Ten Signs of the Second Coming – These are straight from the scriptures.
12. A New Star Will Soon Shine Forth – Commentary on Denver’s final post.
13. You Have Been Here Before – Review of Dr. Fiore’s first amazing book.
14. Remembering the Covenant – A list of most of my posts on Denver Snuffer.
15. The top 50 most viewed essays – A good list from way back in Sep of 2011.

A Few Upcoming Essays

I’m currently reading Blake Ostler’s Fire on the Horizon. I’m going to the temple tomorrow to ponder the most important thing I have learned from his book so far – how to build a relationship with God that involves the “I-Thou” paradigm. I can’t explain it in one paragraph but hope to write a review of this wonderful book on the Atonement and the Endowment recently published. It has made all the difference in the world in how I see myself interacting with others and God.

The Mind of God

I also read a book from a reader who claimed to have seen God and was given the book through revelation. As I’ve said before, not many people have made this kind of claim so when someone tells me they have seen the Lord, I pay close attention to what they say or write. The Book is called “The Mind of God” and contains some amazing details of just how synchronicity works. I told him I wouldn’t write a review but I’ve changed my mind. I have been pondering it much lately. I think it needs wider exposure.

Clean Hands, Pure Heart

I’m also reading Clean Hands, Pure Heart by Philip A. Harrison. I’ve read a lot of books on the subject of Overcoming Addiction to Pornography. As I’ve mentioned in several previous blogs, I never really got over the effects of this youthful habit. I think I got some bad advice from a bishop way back before my mission when he gave me my Temple Recommend. I wrote about a paper from a reader in a previous essay. He tells me of a book that will help me overcome the false understandings of why I never felt truly forgiven. I thank my reader Greg Nelson for sharing.

He Restoreth My Soul

Update (7-12-13): The book I described above was not the one recommended by my friend Greg from my previous post. In his essay he refers to He Restoreth My Soul by Donald L. Hilton, Jr, MD, which I just received from Deseret Book today. Sadly, I don’t think they sent me the latest version. I see on the Amazon listing there is a third edition. Mine is simply labeled “revised edition.” Hmmm… If you don’t hear from me for awhile it’s because I’ve got a lot of reading projects going on right now, besides work, family, church. Just like you, I lead a normal life.

What This Blog is About

So there you have it – what this blog is all about. It’s my catalyst to study the gospel. I don’t shy away from controversial subjects including pornography, masturbation, possession by unclean and evil spirits, and the fact that Satan is trying to destroy the brethren of the priesthood today. For me, writing helps. If it offends you, don’t read my stuff. I try to be uplifting and faithful to the teachings of the LDS Church but you’ll have to be the judge of that yourself. God bless.

Overcoming the Label of Addict


AddictionRecoveryProgramNote: To those waiting for my promised analysis of the 45-page Daymon Smith paper on the Atonement I wrote about in my previous post, please be patient. It is on the way, but is more involved and complex than I had anticipated. The idea of the sacrifice of the Savior being a penal substitute for our sins is, to me, the heart of the atonement and one that I appreciate profoundly.

I’ve stated many times that the reason I blog is to motivate me to study the gospel. I like to share new viewpoints I discover on various doctrinal subjects. I’ve also discovered that this is an area in which we need to be very careful. There are some really smart people out there who write and teach extremely well, but only the spirit can tell us if what they are trying to teach is the truth.

Advice for a Repentant Sinner

Recently, I shared a series of posts here on my blog that focused on the Atonement. I wrote about sin, repentance and forgiveness. I used some youthful examples which were painful but helpful to get to the heart of the matter. I want my religion to help me feel better, spiritually speaking, and to give me hope for a better life in the next world. In other words, I want to feel forgiveness.

I don’t know if you’re like me in that you can understand something intellectually and yet not have it sink down into your heart so that it changes your life. It’s a mortal weakness that I don’t think is unique to me. In any event, I solicited and received advice on how to make the power of the atonement more real in my life. I received a lot of personal emails but one really stood out.

A unique paper on the Atonement

I asked for and received permission to share some highlights from this amazing document, which I’ll link to at the end of this post. The author, Greg was 19 years old at the time he wrote it. I’m 56 and thought I pretty well understood this doctrine, but I learned more in four hours as I read the dozen pages he shared than I have in studying a myriad of books on the subject in my library.

I suppose it’s because the focus of his paper was from the point of view of an addict. Now this is where it gets a little tricky, because the whole argument of his essay is that we should not label ourselves as addicts. He goes to great lengths to explain why. I think that has been my issue all along. I have always considered myself to be an addict – a recovered addict – but still, an addict.

The Consummate Power of the Atonement

Among other synonyms, consummate means perfect, supreme, absolute and complete. In other words, there is nothing held back in the power of the atonement. Up until I first received my temple recommend and asked my bishop about healing after repentance, I always believed that healing meant healing, complete, whole and perfect. I thought we taught that in the LDS church.

But as I shared in that post, my poor bishop seemed absolutely distraught when he shared with me that the best I could hope for was to endure to the end and hope I was worthy when I died. I thought I was at the end of my problems. But as the wise mother said to the new bride, I simply did not know at which end I found myself. That day was the beginning of my many troubles.

Family Services Addiction Recovery Program

In our church we conduct an addiction recovery program. I have written about this before. The fault I find with the program is that it is based on the 12-step AA program, which unfortunately, contains some false doctrine. The main problem I have with the program, and which is the key to Greg’s paper, is simply the use of the label ‘addict’ in describing one who has sinned habitually.

The scriptures never make a single distinction between someone with an addiction and anyone else. Do you realize how powerful that statement is? In other words, there is not, or should not have to be any special kind of program to help someone overcome an addiction other than what we already have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. To add to the doctrine of Christ is evil (3 Ne 11:40).

Behold, This is My Doctrine

To call yourself or others an addict or even a recovering addict is adding to the doctrine of Christ and is therefore evil. It implies that you are moving away from something, always trying to avoid something. That is not what the Savior taught. He commanded us to come unto him. We are to do all within our power to move toward Christ. We are on a sandy foundation to teach otherwise.

I have always believed in the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. This is a part of the doctrine of Christ. It is something for which we should all strive. We should be seeking this baptism with all our hearts. If we focus on coming unto Christ and receiving Him, we will not need to focus on avoiding the mists of darkness. We will then be holding onto the rod of iron in our eternal quest.

Healing Means Complete Healing

The Savior says He can heal us. I believe Him. In spite of what my bishop said at age 19, I have always been seeking this healing and sanctifying power of the Savior in my life. I have always believed that He and only He can take away that addiction or attraction to sin. When we come unto Christ completely, we are consumed in his love. The desire for sin is removed from us.

For 37 years I have struggled with the worry and fear that because I was once an addict, I might someday slip back into that addictive behavior. And you know what? I did – many times – all because I had labeled myself as an addict. I had convinced myself that “once an addict, always an addict” applied to me. This is a false doctrine and a teaching of the devil meant to ensnare us.

Recovering from False Labels

I do not believe we should ever consider ourselves addicts. I also do not believe we should call ourselves “recovering addicts.” I now believe that even “recovered addict,” as I have always referred to myself, is wrong. There is not or should not be a special class of individual who is coming unto Christ. We need no additional labels. We are all sinners. We are all repenting.

If we call ourselves an addict or even a recovering addict, we imply that we are trying to avoid something, or move away from something we fear. This approach will always fail because it is fear-based and we all know the source of fear. Let us resolve here and now to remove this false label from ourselves. We are simply children of God, coming unto Christ through His doctrine.

A Few Gems from Greg’s Paper

We are commanded to change the way we are. We are commanded to change who we are. Elder Holland said, “All the counseling or cognitive therapy in the world will not break a pornography addiction without the Savior.” Elder Holland said we can never use the excuse, “that’s just the way I am. I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology.”

“What if someone shoves porn in your face after years of sobriety? The porn is not the problem. The problem is lust. If that person has truly changed then lust will have been rooted out of their heart and no outside influence could override their agency and make it return.” The only way to remove lust from one’s heart is to come unto Christ and to be filled with the pure love He offers.

Coming Unto Christ is the Answer

“There is no way to lighten our own burdens. If you’re wearing a heavy backpack there is nothing you can do to make it lighter on you. No matter what position you try and no matter how you twist and contort your body you will never be able to change the weight of the backpack. Someone has to help you. Someone else on different ground has to help you with the weight.”

That someone is Christ. The other option, succumbing to Satan, is inevitable if you never accept Christ’s strength. If in the end you have not chosen Christ, it will not matter who you have chosen. You either repent now, change now, humble yourself now, or remain in sin and denial of Christ forever. There is no tomorrow. In sin our tomorrow is unchangeably filled with pain.

Stop Using the Word Addict

A better phrase would be “once a mortal, always a mortal,” even if it’s only true for a season. People struggling with pornography have an acute awareness of their weakness. One mother was upset over her son looking at pornography. “Why can’t he just stop?” She asked. Yet when she was asked why she couldn’t just stop overeating, she had no answer. See, we are all sinners.

Temptation falls under the category of weakness. The only thing that makes a temptation a temptation is because the natural man actually wants to do it. Just because someone that has been addicted in years past continues to feel temptations doesn’t mean they are still addicted. It means they are still human and therefore must rely on Christ for strength. Stop calling them an addict.

Complete the Last Step

Perhaps the reason some people continue to use the phase “recovering addict” or “recovered addict” is because they feel they have gone as far into the recovery / repentance process that that possibly can. There is one more step to complete which is to come unto Christ and be healed. Perhaps they are afraid of that last step. They would rather stay in a continual state of recovery.

The thought of having to do a bit more and reach a little further into themselves is daunting and discouraging. Perhaps they are afraid that if they are fully recovered or healed then they will no longer have the kind of fraternity found in a recovery group. This need can be filled with a strong ward family and reaching out to others to help them complete that last step to come unto Christ.

It’s Easier Than it Seems

Could it be this simple? Is it true that all we must do is continually focus on the Savior and come unto Him in all we think, say and do? Yes, it is that easy. It is work, but it is easy. We must forget man-made programs, science and psychology, look to the Savior to live. Does that sound too good to be true? It does, but it is nevertheless, the only way – to come unto Christ and live.

The healing power of the Atonement is real, but one must seek it and ask for it. Forgiveness is easy. We can know we are forgiven simply by repenting and asking the Lord to forgive us. But there is more to be done after that if we want the change to be permanent. We must ask to be healed. We must do whatever He requires of us to receive this gift and blessing, but it is real.

Always Move Towards Christ

It is not enough to stay away from the great and spacious building because surrounding it is an exceedingly great mist of darkness. The point is not to avoid the great and spacious building. It is to hold to the iron rod and to go toward the tree of life. There are no fences around the great and spacious building. We must cling to the iron rod and keep our eyes fixed on the tree of life.

The point is not to defeat Satan. We could never do that. We must instead embrace Christ. He has already conquered. An attitude of recovery is good. It moves us away from sin. Eventually something must take that place, for there will be space and unless we fill it with Christ, sin and relapse are sure to return. We must become fully recovered by filling that space with Christ.

The Change Can Be Instantaneous

This may be the hardest thing to accept, especially if you have been hanging onto the false label of recovering or recovered addict for many years. I know if was for me. According to science it may take months and years for the brain to change. But according to the gospel we believe, it can happen instantaneously. Elder Holland said, “You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast.

“It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, ‘I’ll change’- and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to be made. You may well spend – indeed you had better spend – the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as for Alma and the sons of Mosiah.”

The Lord’s Healing is Complete

No one is strong enough to overcome addiction on their own. By living a Christ-centered life, we qualify for His strength. But when the Lord heals, it is without reservation or limit. Christ is 100% trustworthy and will, through our humility, maintain our purity. The Savior can effectively break the chains of addiction in a lasting way – with permanence and without scars.

The Lord will give us a new heart and a new spirit. We will no longer desire evil. Our struggle will cease. He can and will free the addicted individual from their bondage but they must come unto Him with full completeness of heart, nothing held back, no reservations. We must truly desire it and be willing to do whatever the Lord requires of us to obtain the gift of healing.

We Must Become Great

The only way to truly overcome addiction is to become great. The person who gives up addiction and turns to Christ can never return to a normal life. They can no longer be a normal person, because the normal person gives in to temptation. Instead, they must become great. They must become a disciple, a true follower of Jesus Christ with an eye single to the glory of God.

We can’t just give Him our addiction, we must give Him everything. Addictions can be erased. The effects of addictions, even long-held addictions can he healed. We can be restored to perfect spiritual health, but it comes at a price. We must complete the steps the Lord outlined when He taught His gospel. We must be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost. We must receive the Lord.

To Contact the Author

Greg Nelson is the author of the paper I have reviewed in this blog post. The contact information listed at the end of the paper states that he resides in Providence Utah and can be reached via his email at itstimetopowerup @ gmail.com. If you click on this link, you can open the paper in Google Docs and find his information if you wish to contact him. He was very amenable with me.

As I noted he was 19 when he wrote this paper. He is now 22. I think you can tell I am obviously impressed with what he wrote. As I told Greg, his paper was an answer to my many years of prayer. He said he felt compelled to share it with me after spending a few hours on my blog. I will be forever grateful for the insight he has added to my understanding of complete repentance.

Books about the Savior in my Library

Come, Let Us Adore Him by Denver Snuffer (2009) – recently read this
The Second Comforter by Denver Snuffer (2006) – Have read this several times
Trusting Jesus by Jeffrey R. Holland (2003)
The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister (2000)
The Redeemer – Reflections of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, compilation (2000)
Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King by Duane S. Crowther (1999)
Following the Light of Christ Into His Presence by John M Pontius (1997)
Following Christ by Stephen E. Robinson (1995)
Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson (1992)
Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation by Gerald Lund (1991)
In the Arms of His Love by Steven A. Cramer (1991)
I Know That My Redeemer Lives, Deseret Book compilation (1990)
Life in Christ – Discovering the transforming power of the Savior by Robert L. Millet (1990)
Come Unto Christ by President Ezra Taft Benson (1983)
What it Means to Know Christ by George W. Pace (1981)
The Mortal Messiah series by Bruce R. McConkie (1979)
Come Unto Christ by Duane S. Crowther ( 1971)
Jesus the Christ by James Talmage (1915) – read this back on my mission

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