I attended our ward Sacrament meeting today. Because of General Conference next week, we held our monthly Fast and Testimony meeting. A majority of the testimonies were from the sisters sharing their thoughts about the Women’s meeting last night. The number of testimonies of a loving God and Savior were about equal to those of a living prophet. I appreciated that.
I’ve become more attuned lately to the expressions of gratitude for a living prophet in our testimony meetings as well as in the material we teach each Sunday. I’m obviously going through some adjustments in my thinking about prophets. Yes, I fully accept Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet and acted as such. But yes, I also feel something was lost after Joseph.
Was Brigham inspired? Yes. Was he a prophet? I never knew the man. The people sustained him as such. The first prophet I knew was David O. McKay, but I don’t think I paid attention until the days of Spencer W. Kimball. Yes, I felt he was a prophet, else I wouldn’t have responded to his call to serve a mission. Did he speak for the Lord? I believed so. In fact, I still believe he did so.
Prophets Who Don’t Get in the Way
What about Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf? Our opening song this morning was “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” I always think of Joseph Smith when we sing that song. Do I think these men are prophets? We sustain them as such, or at least members of the LDS Church do so. I am no longer a member of the LDS Church. It makes me think of President Hinckley.
When he was asked the question, “Are you a prophet?” he responded, “The people sustain me as such.” I have always wondered why he didn’t just come right out and say, “Yes, I am a Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course that invites the follow-up question, “Does he talk to you?” and the inevitable answer, “I believe he inspires me today,” or some words to that general effect.
At least President Hinckley went out and spoke to the media. President Monson is getting a bit old and has short-term memory loss. I hope we will see him in good spirits and good health next week. He was at the Woman’s Conference last night. I hope we will hear from him. I still pray for the leaders of the LDS Church. I desire the Lord’s blessings upon them as well as local leaders.
Deny the Sacrament for Asking Questions
I’ve tried to make it clear I hold no animosity toward my Bishop and Stake President for placing disciplinary restrictions upon me as I was going through my faith crisis. I know they were just following the handbook. But I do feel it is wrong to withhold the sacrament from someone just because they are questioning their faith and belief in the authority of the LDS Church leadership.
In fact, I have said it is an abomination and anti-Christ to do that. The handbook is wrong in this matter. To withhold the sacrament because someone is not so sure they see the hand of the Lord on the current LDS Church leadership does not seem like a good idea. I know the Lord said to not administer the sacrament to those who are unworthy, but for wondering about a prophet?
I was willing to sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators because that’s what we have always called them. I told this to the Bishop. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I felt as if I was being asked to bow down to them, that they were to be as Gods to me. This is wrong. Our God is a jealous God and has commanded we have no other Gods before him, especially idols.
This is What the Lord Said About That
I ask myself, as do many, what have these men prophesied lately? What direction have they offered and then followed that with words to the effect of, “The Lord required me to tell you this,” or “As I asked the Lord about it, this is what He told me to say.” And just because I ask these questions, the church handbook says I am an apostate and should be denied the sacrament?
This is part of the reason I resigned. I do not believe asking questions makes one unworthy. I do not believe the church has a right to deny the Lord’s sacrament, of which He commanded we are to partake often, from those who ask questions. So when I heard another man say, referring to baptism, “The Lord has renewed this commandment to you this day,” I asked the Lord about it.
I refer of course to the invitation from Denver Snuffer, given at the Phoenix / Mesa Lecture to go and get baptized in living waters as a sign we accept the message the Lord caused to be delivered by a servant, called from outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church. The Lord knew very well that such an invitation would separate out those who believed the Lord sent this messenger to teach us.
Centralized Control – Secret Ordinances
We each must rely upon our own feelings about how we feel the Lord answers our prayers. In my case, it was unmistakable. I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Yes, what this man has spoken is the message I asked him to deliver. Yes, you will be blessed for being baptized again.” Simple logic told me I had to keep it secret or else I had to resign from the LDS Church to do so.
One of the advantages of resigning from the LDS Church is I can now partake of the sacrament at home in the way I feel the Lord intended it – with wine. Of course you don’t have to resign to do this, but you’ll have to keep it secret because the LDS Church wants to control it. I believe the ordinance was changed and became invalid when we substituted water for wine in the prayer.
My letter from Confidential Records included the wording, “If you want to become a member of the LDS Church again, see your local unit leaders.” Of course, that would require I go back to no questioning, especially in a public format like this blog. It would also require I accept some of the doctrines and ordinances I am now convinced have been changed. That won’t be happening.
Perform Ordinances in Your Communities
The funny thing is, as a non-member, I could have taken the Sacrament today. The Church, in order to be politically correct, does not forbid non-members from partaking of the Sacrament. But if you dare raise questions about some of the history, doctrines or legitimacy of the current leadership of the LDS Church, you are forbidden to take the Sacrament. Yes, that’s anti-Christ.
I don’t want to be one of those angry former Mormons who rails against the LDS Church. I would much rather focus on what I believe is about to take place in the near future. I was once again reading the Mesa Lecture last night and noted these words, which struck me powerfully. I have always felt strongly about the idea of the disintegration of society before the Lord’s return.
“Before the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes consisting of family and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s return we should expect something similar. Therefore, part of the preparation by God’s house for coming social chaos is likely to include some preliminary preparations by families and friends to fellowship with one another in local gatherings.”
Organize Communities to Build Zion
He indicated these communities would be completely apart from control by the LDS hierarchy. “Only by independently functioning can they hope to prepare for social chaos prophesied to accompany Zion and precede the Lord’s return.” (D&C 45:66-68) One of the things I know I am going to miss is the sense of community I once felt with my ward and stake. That is gone now.
Yes, you can say I am the one who resigned, but I promise you it was only a matter of time before I was excommunicated for apostasy. The bishop made it clear. The handbook mandates, requires, demands and states unequivocally a disciplinary council must be held in the case of apostasy with only the two possible outcomes of disfellowshipment or of excommunication.
I was labeled apostate because I was questioning why we don’t believe and teach some of the things we used to believe and teach. Because of that questioning, and because I was finding answers in the writings of a man who the church cast off, it was determined I was also apostate. You simply don’t question the Brethren in the LDS Church. If you do, you are no longer worthy.
To Bear One Another’s Burdens
I seek community. I have found some community online, but that can’t replace getting together to take the Sacrament, to mourn with those who mourn and to bear one another’s burdens. I also feel that Zion can’t be built up unless we seek to eliminate the poor in our communities. I want to participate in such communicates. I may need to travel to them since we are spread out so far.
If there’s anything I got out of the Mesa lecture besides the distinct impression from the Lord I needed to be baptized in living water, it was the idea of communities. I could see them in my mind’s eye spread all across the land. They were small groups at first, meeting secretly out of fear of discovery, just as the believers in Alma’s days had to hide from the searches of the King.
I had a reader ask me why I didn’t focus on the invitation Denver offered in Grand Junction. If you’ll recall, we were invited to organize into communities with the express purpose of learning to care for the poor and needy among us. He quoted Denver’s words in which the purpose of tithing is to bring to pass the words, “and there were no poor among them.” I share them here:
Build Zion Communities with No Poor
“So, given the fact that you are commanded to pay tithing, and some of you are unable or refuse to do so because of the particular circumstances that you see in your church of choice, and given the fact that the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves,’ I would suggest one small thing you could begin is to collect your own tithing in a group. You manage it among yourselves. You assist the poor among you.
“If you disagree with what your churches are doing but recognize the obligation to pay, then take control over the funds to do what you believe God would have done to help others. As groups of common believers, pay tithing into a common fund. Then by the voice of your own group, dispose of it by common consent so that everyone in your group knows everything that comes in and everything that goes out. Then you begin to have no poor among your group.
“You provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and transportation. Do it without a leader. Do it by the voice of your own common consent, by your own unanimous approval. Do it by united agreement. Now, if some of you who hear this decide to begin to do this you will learn firsthand in a pragmatic lab experiment just how difficult it is to become ‘one.’ You will learn how greatly this world opposes the idea of Zion.
The Cost of Discipleship Can Be High
“You will learn from the criticism of others how to suffer for your Lord’s sake. You may even be deprived of fellowship with others who do not agree it is your obligation to care for the poor, but that the church you belong to owns that right to the exclusion of your opportunity to participate. You may lose a temple recommend, or a church calling, or even your church membership. And you will learn how much churches care for money above all else.
“Even in a small group you will find challenges. You want to know how far away you are at this moment from Zion; this will tell you. If you want an accurate barometer of ‘what lack you yet?’ Then organize yourselves and you, unitedly in small groups, gather your tithing into the storehouse you maintain, and by your common consent take care of those who are poor among you. You will receive an education like none other in the reasons men fail to have Zion. The fact that men fail doesn’t excuse you from your own failing. Rise up!”
Seven Women Shall Take Hold of One Man
Now back to the Mesa lecture to conclude my thoughts. On page fifteen, we can read more about organizing communities for fellowship. Denver quoted the Lord, “There shall be a minimum of seven women to sustain the man in any vote, and if the man is married, his wife shall be one of them.” When I heard these words, I felt very sad. I wanted to participate but knew I couldn’t.
Later on the page: “If the man is married, his wife must be among the seven women. If his wife will not sustain him, he is unworthy to provide priesthood service in the fellowship.” I have thought much about this. I am in this specific situation. Once again, I am found unworthy. Not only can I not officiate in ordinances outside my home, I can’t even contribute to help the poor.
In this case, “The word ‘unworthy’ is not a statement of condemnation, but of qualification. There is nothing implied in the word about a man’s standing before God, only the fact that within the community of fellowship until the wife is prepared to support him acting outside the family, his effort should remain within his family until the wife sees value to her husband serving others.
Unworthy to Contribute, but not Condemned
“The word ‘unworthy’ was the Lord’s and therefore I do not feel at liberty to change it. But I want it clear that when He used it I had a definite understanding that no condemnation was implied. Only an orderly arrangement was given.” I can accept this definition of unworthy. It works. I can accept it because I know it comes from the Lord, not from interpreting some Church handbook.
It’s important to see that the Lord quoted “seven women” to Denver. You can see it yourself in the transcript in the middle of page fifteen. He was specifically quoting the Lord. There has been much discussion of this … “unusual” … aspect of the lecture. As Denver pointed out, the Mesa lecture has become a turning point for many individuals. I see so many who have stalled out.
Those who were expecting just another lecture on doctrine came away shocked. Those who were looking for direction from a servant of the Lord came away pleased with instructions to organize communities in preparation for Zion. I want to contribute financially and in other ways. I wait upon the Lord. Perhaps someday I will be able to do so. For now, this blog is my contribution.