These Signs Shall Follow those that Have Faith


I was talking to someone and they were troubled over someone who was very sick….after sometime I messaged them more or less what I am copying and pasting here. This person thought it was good and inspiring so I will leave here for all the readers of this blog. Do with it what you will.

I will explain what I know on miracles and I will try and be brief.

Miracles come about via faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is as you have heard I am sure is a hope in things unseen. That is a bit vague…..but another way of putting this is one must be literally willing to make themselves a blind and stupid fool for the sake of their faith in Christ trusting that God will not abandon them and they actually won’t be made a blind and stupid fool….essentially all vanity and pride and self-consciousness and doubts and fear must quite literally be ripped apart. You must have none of it. Faith can to a point exist with those things, but the less of those things you have the more faith you can have. Think of it as a scale that must be balanced to 100. X + Y = 100. X is faith, Y is that other stuff. The formula you are seeking is essentially X (100) + Y (0) = 100. But this can be any combination of numbers….but you are trying to get it to X (100) + Y (0) = 100

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To this end….there are two types of blessings really. There is the kind the church is quite familiar with which I like to call a blessing with training wheels. And there is the kind that can move mountains; this is a kind without training wheels.

 

The kind with training wheels….you give a blessing and you just sort of say whatever you feel prompted to say, and in some cases some folks don’t feel prompted so they just say whatever and hope for the best. One might say I bless you to be well and to recover and to feel better…this is very vague and perhaps the person will feel better. Many will then say see blessings work this person recovered but never mind the fact it took a long time. Sometimes these blessings might even say I bless the doctor to know what to look for. though to be sure sometimes these blessings are quite powerful and quite effective and will actually work quite well….but the point is it is a random crapshoot like playing at Vegas….one never knows what will happen. I once read this quote:

 

“Years ago as a missionary…I believe it was Paul H. Dunn came through our mission….and we chatted about doctrine. He said “You want to know why Elders don’t heal more people…because their chicken!! They are afraid to pronounce healing to a sick person and to have that person not immediately recover”. He also said that “Too many Elders don’t even attempt to know what the will of the Lord is in a blessing….they just start talking…they don’t pause to consider what the Lord’s will is.” Whether you consider that a valid source or not…it is still intriguing….and it has stuck in my brain. ”

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The Will of the Lord is plainly stated in several places concerning healing.

 

Doctrine and Covenants 63:9

9 But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.

 

Mark 16:20

20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

 

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

 

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

 

20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

 

65 And these signs shall follow them that believe—

 

66 In my name they shall do many wonderful works;

 

67 In my name they shall cast out devils;

 

68 In my name they shall heal the sick;

 

69 In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;

 

70 And the tongue of the dumb shall speak;

 

71 And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them;

 

72 And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.

 

Mormon 9:24

24 And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover;

 

98 And these signs shall follow him—he shall heal the sick, he shall cast out devils, and shall be delivered from those who would administer unto him deadly poison;

 

100 And what if I will that he should raise the dead, let him not withhold his voice.

 

Doctrine and Covenants 24:13

13 Require not miracles, except I shall command you, except casting out devils, healing the sick, and against poisonous serpents, and against deadly poisons;

General Conf2015oct-Priesthood

 

As you can plainly see The WIll of The Lord is THAT WE HEAL THE SICK MIRACULOUSLY!!!! None of these blessings and 2 years later you are better if at all nonsense. Make a lame man jump from his chair, restore a missing limb, open the eyes of the blind, and even raise the dead. THIS IS WHAT WE ARE TOLD TO DO!!!! I could quote even more scriptures on the topic…it is literally all over the place in scripture

 

So this blessing without training wheels. Interestingly enough I had just written this follow story down somewhere yesterday.

 

 

A couple of years ago….my old man, asked me to give him a blessing the next day. Giving me a night to think about it. Now my old man was going to see the doctor as he was having heart problems as he had already had had two heart attacks and a bypass surgery and I think a stint put into his heart….so heart problems.

 

Now I had already discovered this unholy thing known as circumcision and had already begun to study this topic of miracles in some detail…..and upon pondering and praying…..God made this clear to me. I was to direct this blessing myself. I was to place my hand on his heart which I would rub with consecrated oil and to say it clearly “In the name of Jesus Christ I command your heart to be healed from this day forth”

 

You’ll notice here….there was no relying on The Spirit to direct the blessing. This is a blessing without training wheels. yes God informed of how to do this….but I think only as a teaching exercise, with the point being “you can go into blessings and direct them yourself and provided you have faith and priesthood and are a righteous man aka you don’t violate the verses that say “amen to the priesthood if you do these certain things” then I God will honor it”….I asked about this Amen to the priesthood…..God in prayer took me through that chapter line by line and it was explained I don’t do anything that breaks the priesthood….though a sinner yes, though you’d fail a temple interview yes, but you don’t abuse priesthood, you don’t use it unjustly, you don’t exercise authority and abuse others with it, so it’s okay….use it. Be not afraid. Have faith.

 

I think what I ended up actually saying was “In the name of Jesus Christ I command your heart to be healed and from this day forth it shall trouble you know more if you have faith”

 

Before I gave the blessing I explained to my Dad what I would do be doing. And at the moment I felt prompted to open with The Lord’s Prayer. Then gave him the blessing and then closed by all of us standing in a circle and saying a prayer of thanks to God.

 

The point here is….this blessing was direct and to the point and I do not discount The Spirit….but I was the one left in charge of directing things. How can we become Joint Heirs with Christ, Gods even, if we cannot direct and master what little we are in charge of here? Be not commanded in all things. Reason with God. We are given a brain that can Reason with God Himself. The parable of the talents….multiple your talents and return and report to God.

 

I learned many things from that….but one thing was I was too specific which reminds me of the young man who prayed endlessly to serve his mission in Charleston, but not be specific enough he got sent to West Virginia rather than South Carolina like he wanted….so only his heart was better but not the veins around it. His heart however was extremely well….doctors were quite amazed a heart that had had two heart attacks, a bypass surgery, and a stint was so well off.

 

I have taught you what I know….if this person you are worried over has faith, and asks for a blessing….then be not afraid to speak to this disease boldly without any fear “In the name of the Living God and His Son Jesus Christ I rebuke your cancer and command it to flee from you and for you to recover in this very instance” It may also be necessary to cast out a demon or many demons as sickness and demons go hand and hand.

 

Give it a shot….see what happens yeah?

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EDIT:

After posting this I just realized I didnt touch on the topic of demons all that much. I’m not going to write a big thing here just a brief word of caution. Demons can very often if not 100% of the time be related to illness of all kinds. As a result unless you specifically address them the illness isn’t likely to go away….however be advised not all demons are created equal. Douglas Mendenhall two books go into some detail on demons but I will just leave this here:

 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?

 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

I leave that there to state….if the illness is related to a demon and the demon happens to be noticeably more powerful than your average demon odds are you will have to do some spiritual preparation before hand of some kind and won’t be able to just waltz in there and cast them out along with the illness at least not until they claim to know you like Paul I’d imagine. But the point being….in attempting to heal which I believe is always God’s will you may encounter Satan and his demons and as such you will need to know how to handle them. Not all demons are created equal.  However some demons may very well easily depart without much of a fight. These demons if nothing else will test your resolve.

This warning will be especially true for beginners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning from our Restorationist Cousins


I had the pleasure of listening to Prophet-President Stephen M. Veazy from the Community of Christ church, the new name for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as of 2001 on one of the podcasts done by Mormon Stories.

He likes to be called Steve.

It was refreshing and enlightening to listen to one who calls himself a prophet-president of a nominally Mormon sect (although they eschew that name) discuss his uncertainty over faith issues, being honest about troubling early Mormon history, and his comfort with describing the process by which he receives revelation for his church. If I can have one takeaway from the Community of Christ (CoC) it’s how comfortable they are with canonizing new revelation every few years or so and adding to their Doctrine & Covenants and how good they are with transparency. Their section 164 was canonized in 2010 in a process similar to how the early saints accepted revelation from Joseph Smith. I rather like that! I find the later sections to be a bit vapid, but nothing that is less that what we see gracing the pages of the Ensign. Their courage and declaring it revelation is pretty brave, and the commitment to modern revelation should be applauded. So too, is their fellow-shipping of the marginalized and their willingness to forgive their members and their leaders for sinning and mistakes–just like Joseph. I believe that the ordination of women was in the Spirit of Joseph’s involvement of women in Nauvoo, even if they may take it further than it should at this point (heck, I don’t know).

Now don’t get me wrong. I believe all branches of the restoration that are organized and institutionalized are wrong at some things. The Community of Christ has, in my opinion, overemphasized ecumenical attachment to the wider Protestant community and with mainstream theology and academia. They emphasize the Bible over the Book of Mormon. They aren’t attached to the reality of the Restoration as far as Joseph’s reach into heaven, which I believe is THE defining characteristic that makes the Restoration worth preserving . . . coming into the presence of the Lord in a real and material sense. They do however, have a better grasp of the Christian teachings as outlines in the Book of Mormon. They care less about the genesis of the work, and more about its teachings and effects at bringing peace and community to a Christian brotherhood, which they interpret as Zion. In many ways, their efforts at building Zion are more heartfelt and effective than in the LDS Church, even if they have a greater Gentile attachment to Protestantism and liberal theology. I say good on them for their best efforts! I believe that those of us who would be classified as Restoration preservationists, Mormon refugee remnant types, those that have left the keyholding suffocation of the traditional LDS institutional church, and who have been re-baptized, would have place and fellowship in CoC congregations in a more accepting manner than in some of our LDS wards. Perhaps we can accept them as well and be tolerant of some of their unbelief as we work towards understanding and implementing the Doctrine of Christ and principles of Zion.

Which got me thinking. What else can we learn from other Mormon sects that would benefit a Mormon seeker of truth? I believe that many of them have some vital gems that would allow us to a) learn the good they have to offer as well as b) help them to come to their own better understanding of Mormonism – perhaps enough to recommit themselves to preserving the Restoration and understanding and applying its vital truths.

One may benefit greatly at this point from understanding the theological and historical tree of Mormonism. I will discuss some of them here.

While the first great schism happened as the RLDS/CoC Church “reorganized” itself in the Plains under the tutelage of Joseph Smith III in the 1860’s and 1870’s on Joseph Smith’s legacy of monogamy the next great schism would happen over 50 years later in Utah over the same idea but in reverse. Lorin C. Woolsey began the Council of Friends in the 1920’s which came out of the confusion of the post-Manifesto LDS world and the final solution of excommunicating and shunning any polygamist. The Council of Friends was the impetus for the many polygamist fundamentalists groups that exist today, and they are many. Some of them I believe have nothing worth preserving due to how they have conducted themselves in a manner inconsistent with the Savior. I won’t mention them. But some of the groups have to one extent or another, managed to adhere to some of the Christian principles that came to light during the Restoration. The largest of them being the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB). If you watch the TV show, the Sister Wives, you will see an example of a plural family from the AUB “Work.” Now I believe that all polygamist sects are trying to return to a fundamentalism that was already corrupted, that had already strayed from the foundations Joseph Smith taught before 1844. Just as the LDS Church lost so much through the death of Joseph and Hyrum and through Brigham Young’s Machiavellian maneuvers, what came after with John Taylor had become too corrupted to be an appropriate return point. Too many of those groups have gone down dark paths, and we have decades of evidence that it has not brought Zion. But we can point out some things that we can learn from them to help us in our own journeys:

  • They don’t murmur or disparage the other churches including the LDS Church.
  • The unchanging nature of God’s word. New prophets can supersede past ones, they need to agree.
  • They recognize that Mormonism is “out of order” and they are waiting for the “one Mighty and Strong” to restore what was lost. They do not exempt themselves for having some level of apostasy.
  • The Kingdom of God or the Gospel being separate from the Church
  • Rebaptism as a re-commitment
  • Efforts at consecration and Zion living
  • The Law of Adoption (Sealing to a Saved man)

I’ve been amazed by how many of these people are willing to allow for a servant of the Lord outside of their own narrative to come and teach them truth. Many of them have accepted Denver Snuffer as a messenger from the Lord. For that, I pray they will be blessed.

Leaving Utah-based polygamy sects, I want to spend the next part exploring the Saints that were left behind, on the Prairie, and back east. Many of them place a greater emphasis on the doctrines in the Book of Mormon, which I believe is a key to pierce the heavens.

I’ve already discussed the Community of Christ, but many people are unaware of the foundational Restorationist traditions that were abandoned during the CoC’s ecumenical liberalization after the 1960’s. Many of those dissaffected by the change (when they were self-described as RLDS) have created their own break-offs and sects that adhere more closely to the foundation of Mormonism. They often practice a more “Mormon” religion. They generally believe in Joseph and Emma’s story of monogamy, as was the accepted narrative in the RLDS Church from the 1860’s to the 1970’s. They accept the Book of Mormon as historical, miraculous, and divinely inspired as the “most correct book.” Other churches predate the RLDS movement–they come out of earlier traditions. They have value as well.

The Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke away from the RLDS/CoC Church in 1999 as a result of the liberalization of many of their doctrines, mainly giving women the Priesthood and leaving the patrilineal succession of the High Priesthood (the Prophet not being a Smith). They recognize an apostasy and that no one on Earth has the authority to lead the Church, so they do as they can, follow the Doctrine of Christ until such a thing is made manifest. They believe that modern revelation must be consistent with past revelation. It does not trump the old stuff as one sees in the LDS and CoC churches. The remain committed to a geophysical Zion and consider themselves heirs to the original Church of Christ of 1830

Other Independent Restorationist break-offs number in the tens of thousands through the Midwest, a legacy begun in the 1980’s. Some of them are still members on the rolls of the CoC. They hold many of the same views as the more established Remnant RLDS break-off group, but are more independent and factiononalized along geographic and theological differences. Due to the open and tolerant nature of the CoC Church, the cross-pollination of this movement with the CoC Church cannot be overemphasized. Some hold the primacy of the Book of Commandments over the Doctrine & Covenants. Others believe in a more appropriate Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost where the laying on of hands is merely a prayer for the reception of the Holy Ghost by the member. They all eschew modern innovation to ordinances.

Other branches come independent of the RLDS church, some earlier.

  • Temple Lot (Hendrickites) – Believe in the Book of Mormon, Bible, and Book of Commandments. They have more human interpretation of Joseph Smith and follow many of the tenants laid out by David Whitmer. They have a looser and more democratic understanding of Priesthood. Their claim to fame is to have a “temple” on the supposed spot of the 1831 dedicated land in Independence Missouri for a temple.
  • Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites) – They are a Pennsylvania sect that follow the narrative that Sydney Rigdon was the rightful heir of the Church. Their current beliefs include dialing back their scriptures to the Bible and Book of Mormon. They practice the Washing of Feet as performed in the School of the Prophets in Kirtland. They focus many of their efforts on preaching the gospel to the Native Americans on both continents. They try to teach the gospel as is outlined in the Book of Mormon in its purity.

Only the largest corporation, The LDS Church, claims an unbroken chain of authority, with an impressive leadership genealogy, policies, properties, and works . . . yet as it continues to march forth, their take on the Restoration seems ever more distant as they focus more on handbooks and Ensigns. All of these other major groups to one extent or another recognize a loss. They see that the foundations built by Joseph Smith have been squandered, misused, misdirected, or forgotten to one extent or another.

joseph_preaching_groveYet it’s in recognizing the loss than hope comes, hope that we can reclaim the Restoration once again among those that have broken off. It won’t be easy. Many of their leaders would have to give up their claims to leadership, a high goal indeed, for many do not like to give up power, meager as it is in these small institutions. They are big fish in a small pond. Many will resist calls for re-baptism, or calls to form fellowships apart from the Gentile accouterments of the 501c3 status with paid or venerated clergy. But their people may feel the call of the Spirit, that after four generations, the Lord is moving once again as he prepares for the end to call out and create the Church of the Lamb of God.

I have no doubt that some of these groups were and are led by a portion of Lord’s Spirit, just as a portion still resides among Latter-day Saints. The explosion of Mormon break-offs after Joseph’s death speaks to me as many attempted to reproduce or claim the original spark. No one could have predicted in 1845 or 1846 that Brigham’s version would be the largest and most thriving system. Most of the rest of them recoiled in horror at the abominations practiced in Utah by Brigham Young (or the similar frauds of James Strang in Wisconsin). Many of them received revelations and visions, such as William Bickerton, or Alpheus Cutler, David Whitmer, or Joseph Smith III. Some of them tried to revive the Restoration, but with little to limited success.  Today we view these men as apostates, but I wonder if it would serve us better to see them as visionaries in understanding some of what needed to be accomplished, whether it was accomplished or not. We place their “fruits” against the emigrations west, 14 million membership, the hundred or so temples of the Latter-day Saint movement, it’s 60,000 missionaries, and billions in annual profits . . . against a building or two with a dedicated but dwindling group of people that wish to hold up such principles as consecration, a more democratic and charismatic Priesthood, and a reverence to the gospel as outlined in the Book of Mormon and it’s founder. But instead of material and programmatic fruits, impressive as they are, perhaps we should examine the state of the heart of the believers and the founders of these small groups, and see what they produced in the limited time they had? Did some ever rise up and claim the Heavenly Gift?

Perhaps we should view some of them as brave and unsung heroes.

Perhaps their fruits will be those who the Lord invites during the Parable of the Supper to come and feast with Him, because those that were bidden . . . did not come.

Perhaps in remembering the Restoration, we should find a way to live and invite our Restoration cousins to join hands with us, to come to a unity of the faith, to be the beginning of something greater that the Lord has promised since the beginning.

Setting Up The Targets


youre-not-invitedI don’t live in Utah so I’m not used to hearing stories like this: My niece married later in life, and now has two lovely stepdaughters. Someone among the friends of the girls was having a birthday party but these two girls were not invited even though they play with the same group of girls or see them every day in school. The reason for excluding them? “Because you don’t go to church.”

Amazing. Does such judgement really exist among the hearts of the Latter-day Saints in Utah County? You know the girls obviously learned it from their parents. What a tragedy. Today, being Fast Sunday, I experienced a small taste of that exclusive attitude that permeates the LDS Church, even here where I live in Camarillo. Please understand I’m not blaming my local bishop.

When I resigned from the LDS Church last year I pointed out that according to the handbook I could now partake of the sacrament, whereas I had previously been forbidden to do so because the Bishop had restricted me due to apostasy. I made it clear I felt this was anti-Christ when I submitted my resignation papers. It was a key component as to why I had resigned at that time.

The Handbook Takes Precedence

LDSChurchHandbooks1With the change in Bishopric earlier this year I asked the new Bishop how he would feel about me bearing my testimony of the Savior, the prophet Joseph or the Book of Mormon from time to time. He said he would think about it. Today, he made it clear he would not allow it, even though all my life I have witnessed those investigating the Church [non-LDS] stand up and speak freely.

The citation is found on page 141 (2010) of handbook 2 which reads, “After the Sacrament, the Bishopric member conducting the meeting … then invites members to bear … testimonies.” He said he was going to have to stick to the handbook even though I had assured him I would limit my testimony to the Prophet Joseph, the Book of Mormon and my feelings about the Savior.

Again, please don’t assume I’m blaming my bishop for anything. The idea of marriage to the handbook is ingrained in “bishops-in-training” from the time they attend their first priesthood leadership meeting, usually as an Elder’s Quorum secretary or counselor. I never noticed just how powerful this indoctrination really is. It also permeated my service on the High Council.

No Apostates Allowed to Speak

BreadAndWineYet a person who is not a member of the LDS Church is not prohibited from partaking of the sacred ordinances of the Sacrament. On page 173 of handbook 2 (2010) we read, “Although the sacrament is for Church members, the bishopric should not announce that it will be passed to members only, and nothing should be done to prevent nonmembers from partaking of it.”

Isn’t it strange that what should be a decision made under careful consideration because the Savior so commanded, is relegated to one-line dismissal in the Church handbook, while one of the most important things a person can do to engender and encourage faith in others – to bear testimony of Christ – is prohibited out of fear that person might share something controversial?

When I first resigned we were preparing for the ward and stake Christmas programs, to which I have always enjoyed contributing each year. I was asked to not participate last year, which I thought rather odd, especially when we were always asking everyone to invite their friends and neighbors who were not members of the Church, to join us. The restriction was later rescinded.

Obtaining Power Directly From God

PassingHeavenlyGiftWhen I was first introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer by a former bishop who simply asked what I thought about “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, I posted my intention to read the book. One individual offered his assessments of the man with the following, “He doesn’t believe Joseph passed the priesthood keys on to anyone. He says they can only be obtained from God.”

I always thought that curious. This individual obviously felt there was something wrong with the way God controlled His priesthood power among men. If I remember correctly, Joseph taught that ALL prophets after Moses obtained the higher priesthood directly from God Himself. This has been a large portion of my study over the past few years – how power from God is obtained.

I have been asked – politely – by several people just how exactly I now differ in my religious beliefs. I assume they ask this so they can be careful with what kind of questions they ask me. I don’t know or understand why people are afraid of offending me. The one who did this the best was my high priest group leader (at the time). I love and appreciate him for his tactful manner.

Common Ground for Conversation

ProphetJosephSmithIn order to make it easy for those who ask me the question in the future, I’ll refer them to this essay. Maybe that will save them some time or potential embarrassment at having to ask the question. They see me attending church each Sunday – at least Sacrament meeting – as well as choir practice and ward socials. There’s always that slight awkward feeling of “what do I say?”

It reminds me of the three commandments of missionary work – steer the conversation toward religion, don’t talk about politics and for heaven’s sake, never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Here are a few subjects that we might find mutually interesting: 1) Something new you learned about Joseph Smith. 2) Some new aspect of doctrine that came up in your personal gospel study.

3) If you feel daring, perhaps we could discuss something from the Church Handbook, but, of course, that only works if you serve in a priesthood leadership position. Funny how that works. Members of the LDS Church are judged by what’s in the Church Handbook over and above what is found in the scriptures, yet they do not have access to this super-secret book. Why is that so?

Deep Knowledge of the Atonement

come-let-us-adore-himYou’re always safe to bring up something about the Savior. I love to talk about the Lord. But I don’t like platitudes which we seem to get so much of at church each week. Perhaps you could take a few minutes and read the chapter on the Atonement as found in the book, “Come, Let us Adore Him,” unless you feel it’s against your temple covenants to read anything but the Ensign.

In there you will learn how the Atonement came in waves – each one stronger than the previous. You might also learn the waves came in pairs. The Savior first experienced the feelings, guilt and suffering that those who commit the offense must endure because of their sins. The second wave imposed the suffering of those who are victim of these offenses. Now you know how it worked.

Please don’t be as the Pharisees who asked by what authority this knowledge is proclaimed. All truth contains its own authority. Don’t say, “Why, this isn’t taught by our modern day prophets and apostles, therefore I won’t accept or believe it.” Why is it so hard to believe that God could send another witness of his divinity and his mission in our day just as He did in sending Joseph?

What Do You Think Of Denver’s Latest Book?

preserving-the-restoration1I thought I was done with my blog. For eight years I wrote over 500 posts on the LDS Religion. At first, I did my best to defend the orthodoxy with which I grew up. Sadly, I was taken to task by many who did not like my version of orthodoxy. I began to dig deeper, I prayed with greater intent to understand what about our religion was important and exactly on what I should focus.

I don’t know if my former bishop (the one with whom I served as a counselor) feels he is an answer to my prayers, but there is no doubt in my mind the Lord sent him to me with that one simple question in the temple that day. I’m sure he doesn’t condone my action in resigning from the Church, but I continue to thank the Lord He had the courage to ask me that question that day:

“What do you think about Denver’s latest book?” My response ended the conversation. The Bishop walked away or someone else caught his attention, but that question stayed with me, along with my response, “Denver who?” For weeks the Lord kept bringing the name to my mind. I didn’t even know his last name. I now ask you: “What do you think of Denver’s latest book?”

 

The Rules of the Contest


the-contestHow easy it is to be misunderstood. People often jump to conclusions so quickly. Even things close friends write in response to a post can be way out of line. It becomes clear to see where an individual stands in fulfilling one the most important parts of friendship. Or maybe I’m such a damned poor writer I am unable to get my thoughts across as clear as I once believed I could.

I was raised with four sisters. I learned way too late in my teenage years how important it is to be kind to those you love. My brother and I were rough with each other but never worried about hurting each other’s feelings. Hell, he was a U.S. Marine, gone from home at age seventeen so he wasn’t around when I was a teenager. It was from my sisters I learned a fundamental key of life.

Kindness, non-judgment, and expressions of compassion are character traits real men can learn and use all their lives. Men who master these traits will have a great advantage over those who push their way through life with a mean, rough exterior being exhibited as their primary persona. Learning how to listen and hear a person out is not the exclusive domain of women in our lives.

The Glory of God is Intelligence

glory-of-god-is-intelligenceThe most intelligent man I know is also the best listener. In fact, when I think of him, his ability to hear and understand me are the first things that come to mind. He seems to know my mind on any given subject even before I do. Yet he listens and never butts in when I’m explaining how I feel about something. Come to think of it, he only responds when I invite him to share his ideas.

Long-time readers know how seriously I take my religion. Perhaps too serious. I have often been counseled to lighten up. Well-meaning people with my best interests in mind have been clear on this idea. Perhaps a better word for religion would be faith. Specifically, faith in Jesus Christ. I have strong feelings about my Savior and greatly respect those who exhibit His mild demeanor.

I think gentleness best describes what I appreciate about the Savior. He truly is a gentle man. I don’t mean gentle in the sense of weak or wishy-washy, but gentle in his concern for us and how we will respond to what he asks of us. Which leads me to the focus of this post: understanding what the Lord asks of us. Sometimes, it can seem strange or even contrary to a previous request.

Timing Can Be so Important

god-is-patientFor example, in my previous post, I summarized how for several years I studied the teachings of a man I consider inspired and a servant of the Lord before taking action on an invitation to show I accepted those teachings. I stated that perhaps I had made a mistake in the way I managed this essential action. In short, I resigned my membership in the LDS Church and sought for baptism.

Because I mentioned mistake, some thought I was referring to the idea of being baptized again. Let me be clear. I don’t believe it was a mistake to be baptized again. I know many who have been re-baptized, but did it quietly, sharing their good news with only a few close friends. In my case, I also felt it was right at that time to publicize it widely. So where did I make a mistake?

I don’t feel I made a mistake in resigning from the LDS Church. I could have gone ahead and been baptized without resigning and without announcing it on my blog. Others shared they felt that was the right path for them. I didn’t feel that way then and still don’t. It seems dishonest. If anything, my mistake was in not consulting with Carol before taking such a consequential action.

A Few Definitions to Agree Upon

define-prayerSeveral individuals who I thought were trusted friends jumped all over me for that very reason. “How could you do such a thing?” they said. “What were you thinking?” another said. “Did it not occur to you how this would affect your wife?” Trust me, I pondered Carol’s response very carefully over many days. Because I trust her, I followed the promptings of the Lord in prayer.

Because it’s important, here is my definition of how the Lord answers prayer, at least for me. When I want to know the Lord’s will on something, I ask for inspiration and guidance in my thoughts, I review what I already know about the idea or subject and then I ask the Lord to make it clear what would be the best path for me – the one that is filled with the most light at that time.

In describing answers to prayers in previous posts, I have mentioned feelings, visits, visions, voices, dreams and promptings. I have given examples of each. The most common has been in feelings, as in, “the Spirit of the Lord pressed upon my feelings,” or “A feeling I should pursue a certain course of action continually ran through my mind so much I could see myself doing it.”

Responding to the Ultimate Authority

jesus-teaching1I was surprised at the number of private emails I received in response to this last post. Perhaps the individuals didn’t want others to know how they felt about my post. After all, it *appeared* I was saying I wanted to be baptized again in the LDS Church. I noted I had met with my current bishop without mentioning things we discussed, limited mainly to historical and doctrinal doubts.

I suppose what I’m looking for is someone who can answer my questions and clear up doubts I have picked up over the past few years along with those I have put on the shelf from years past. I recognize the responsibility to answer these questions are mine. I own these questions. It would be unfair to anyone else to burden them with my doubts. The Savior is the ultimate authority.

In one of those private emails the individual asked, “If the Lord told you to be baptized into the LDS Church once again, would you do so?” My immediate response was in the affirmative. I love the people of my ward and stake. I hold no ill feelings toward anyone in our congregation although I’m sure there are many who are angry with me for the very public actions I have taken.

The Objective is Truth

truth-has-no-agendaAlthough this is certainly not a game, I’ve shared two rules of the contest: How, for me, prayers are answered and what actions should be taken when such prayers are clearly answered. May I introduce a third rule? Truth is the objective in this competition. I am not interested in being part of a group whose goal is to create loyal followers or congregants who fit their idea of fellowship.

I am seeking truth. I don’t believe truth is subjective based on who is telling the story. I’m not in this for the social benefits, although there are clearly many such benefits. I appreciate the idea that fellowship is required in order to serve one another that our burdens may be light. I love to worship together in song and prayer. The gifts of the spirit are given to strengthen one another.

Perhaps I can leave you with something to ponder to demonstrate the objective of truth. In 3 Ne 11, the Lord taught the requirements of baptism are to repent and to become as a little child. He also said, “And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock.” Now look at the second baptismal question.

Come Follow Me, the Savior Said

come-follow-meWho has the right to set the requirements for baptism? We are entering into a covenant with our Savior, with Jesus Christ. Why is it a requirement of salvation to accept a man as an intermediary between us and Christ? I’m not trying to trick anyone here. I simply want to know. It just doesn’t seem right. Christ was clear what he taught in 3 Ne 11, at least it’s clear to me as I pray about it.

We follow the Lord. He has the power to save us. No man, as far as I can tell, can do anything to redeem us from hell. That’s why I was baptized again. I was not baptized into a Church. I was not baptized to demonstrate allegiance to any man. I was baptized to demonstrate my acceptance of the doctrine to follow Christ. Adding to these requirements is evil. Or so the Savior has said.

I wish I had the power to open the eyes of the people to see what we have done. We have set a man in the place of Christ. I know that sounds harsh, but this is the first question I would need to have resolved before I would consider accepting baptism in the LDS Church. That question and several others would need to be removed from the baptismal interview. Does this not seem clear?

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