High on a Mountain Top


mountain-altarBirthdays, in my opinion, are wonderful opportunities for reflecting and pondering upon one’s life achievements up to the point of that birthday. On the occasion of my birthday last month, I did just that…I pondered. I sat and thought about what I had accomplished and what I was doing with life that is of benefit to others, my own family being the primary recipients in mind.

One of the ideas for pondering that came forcibly to mind was that of my health. I am grateful for my life and have always thanked the Lord for intervening in both preserving it and warning me when I am in danger of losing it. On the day of my birthday last month, I began a tradition that I have been attempting to maintain each Saturday since – that of climbing some mountain.

Those who are my Facebook friends will have seen some of the photos I have posted of those excursions, each being a bit more strenuous than the last, this last Saturday being no exception. There were moments in my descent from the heights in which the Lord, almost audibly, said to me, “Get on your butt and scoot down the trail before you find yourself flying head over heels.”

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

daymon-smith-skeletorI will always think of Daymon Smith when I bring up the voice of the Lord. His introduction of the possibility that the voice I hear is simply my own conscious occurs to me on occasions such as this, but to make the matter plain in this case, it was indeed the Lord – my Heavenly Father – warning me with love and yet strong emphasis: “Be careful. I love you. Don’t lose your life.”

In any event, I have been climbing mountains almost every Saturday over the past five weeks. “Why?” you ask? To get closer to the Lord or course. Now I know one does not NEED to climb a mountain to speak with the Lord. Still, there I go, looking for yet another place where I can be high above the earth, alone and away from others nearby who may happen to hear my words.

I found such a spot this last week and intend to return next week or the week after. I asked the Lord if He was pleased with my search. He confirmed. “Speak with confidence, my son,” and I did so. I thought I might share a few thoughts about the idea of calling upon the Lord in mighty prayer. For me, it requires that confidence of being away from others and up on a mountain.

Hiking in the Mountains

philmont-scout-ranchIt doesn’t have to be that way. For some reason I’ve somehow always been a hiker. As a youth, my longest excursion took me 59 miles into Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. Of course I was much younger then but I have similar fond memories of hiking up the Pacific Crest backbone in the San Gabriel Mountains to Mt. Baden Powell – a 3,000 foot climb over 8 miles.

Why do men climb mountains? I don’t know. I only know my purposes: to be alone, to be close to the Lord and to raise my voice in prayer, to “cry mightily” unto to Lord. I loved camp-outs during my Boy Scout years. I would stare for hours at the stars before falling asleep. I was in awe of such grandeur and the idea of such distances the light had travelled to reach my eyes.

I suppose it comes from the image of Moses ascending the mountain to see the Lord. In the Old Testament times, before temples were built, men approached the Lord at the top of mountains. I also think of Enos, who, although he was not on a mountain, sought the Lord in solitude. We know Nephi was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain.

High on a Mountain Top

nephi-visionWouldn’t that be something – to be carried away by the Lord to a high solitary place to hold a sacred conversation? Again, I’m not saying you need to go climb a mountain to achieve the goal of hearing the voice of the Lord. For me, it brings security, peace, trust and confidence. Joseph Smith sought the grove, sacred to their family, early in the morning, to reach out to his Father.

As I’m sure most of you have, I have heard the voice of the Lord. It is unmistakable. Some call it our conscious, others our inner spirit, or guiding light. I recall conversations with my Heavenly Father when I was a teenager, answering my prayers and directing my actions when asked. At times, the Lord was clear He preferred I NOT participate in the activities of others around me.

I think we might be surprised if we really think and ponder just how much our Heavenly Father really is involved in our lives. Sometimes I have a running conversation that lasts for days as I work on some complex project at work. Other times, His voice has been clear in enticing me to stay away from certain activities. A common thread deals with my need to repent more often.

The Hidden Trail

end-of-the-roadWhen I reached what I thought was the end of the road on my hike Saturday, I looked to see if I could continue hiking down and across the canyon in front of me. No way. I asked out loud, “It this the spot?” No voice, but an impression came to look to the right. There was a small trail, most likely used by the local wildlife to get to the top. “Ah, ha.” I began the long, steep ascent.

Halfway to the top I came upon a small clearing, not quite a meadow but no longer ascending. I immediately knew this was the spot. I could come to this place anytime for privacy and to feel that nobody would hear me if I were to raise my voice and cry unto the Lord in mighty prayer. I felt a sense of exhilaration and rejoicing. It seemed I had been looking for this place for years.

The wonderful thing is, it is close to my home – within a fifteen-minute drive – and less than an hour along the trail, giving me plenty of time to think about what I want to say to the Lord. The area is flat enough I could build an altar there if I wanted to, but I feel in my heart that it will be some time before I do so, IF I choose to do so. One reason of course is it is in public wilderness.

Making a Living Can Be Stressful

avjet-hangarI’m going to Moab, Utah in a few weeks to associate with some friends, observe the Sabbath and to partake of the Sacrament. At first Carol had agreed to go with me but has a conflict with a writing seminar. I’m not sure how comfortable she would be with wine in place of water we use in the Sacrament. It will be good to get away from all the stress of my work at the airport.

For those who don’t know, my company was bought by a subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company. I swore I would never work for a public company again – I despise audits – but am excited at the opportunity to help the owner of the company I have been with for the past eleven years as he starts his new company. I enjoy building new things and making technology work like it should.

I recognize this has been a long, rambling post. I simply wanted to share how grateful I am the Lord hears and answers our prayers even though it can sometimes take years. I have long felt the need for a spot to build an altar, a spot I could hold sacred, a spot I could pray in voz alta. The Lord has answered my many prayers and shown me a place that He would find acceptable.

Cry Mightily Unto the Lord

brotherofjaredI believe that may be why we feel some of our prayers are not answered. Perhaps we are too timid in what we offer to the Lord. When speaking out loud, when we “cry mightily,” we are led by the Lord in what would be for our best good. He knows what we need. Somehow, when we put our heart into it as implied by “cry mightily,” our spirits seem to be more in tune with His will.

But then, I have felt the same thing when pondering and meditating ever so quietly. I guess it just depends on what your spirit needs at that particular moment. I only know there are times I felt compelled to pray with great passion – to cry mightily – and have felt restrained even in my own home, and even then concern over what the neighbors may think can easily hold me back.

I encourage you to find your own sacred place where you can cry mightily to the Lord. Perhaps you have concerns that others would think you in need of medical or psychiatric assistance. Another good place that comes to mind is way out in the desert, far from any habitation, a place that perhaps took an hour took to reach. I know some such places down in the St. George area.

The Lord Might Drive Us Into the Desert

Adam-and-EveI am confident the Lord can and will drive any of us into the desert to some spot He has picked out for us, a place where we can raise our voices in mighty prayer and come to know His will. He is anxious to answer. He will give even inspire us with words or phrases that will help us come into the state of mind or being that allows us to receive answers clearly and confidently.

May God bless each of us to find our own mountain top to commune with our Heavenly Father.

Obeying the Voice of God


home-teachersIntroduction: This was written at the request of my home teacher. Spoken word and tradition seem more important than written accounts. I prefer writing. In this short essay I have placed some critical phrases that probably mean more to me than to someone who has only heard them. Those who have read my sources or my journal / blog summaries over the past eight years might gain from this. Otherwise, I hope this is an intriguing introduction.

A Few Salient Points on Which Perhaps we can Agree

Most people I know are good, meaning they want to do good things, help others, and enjoy happiness in life. Their actions are based on their beliefs. Most people fit this mold. To do otherwise would be untrue to yourself and leads down the path of sorrow. I was asked to relate this story. I will be as concise as possible.

A faith is a set of practices based on a set of beliefs. Our early forebears set out to the new world believing God had something better in mind for them other than the repression of being controlled by others. Nobody likes that. We each have an inborn desire for freedom. Our history, past and current state teach this.

In other words, this life is a journey, either physical, mental or spiritual, but today, mostly spiritual. Let’s forget politics for now. This post is not about that subject. You don’t have to be LDS or Mormon to appreciate this but it helps. Christian or Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and the list goes on. We are human beings.

We live on the same planet. We see the same goodness and evil. Most of us hate war. I do. Yet we believe in protecting ourselves. Most of us believe in freedom, yet we detest forcing our beliefs on others. I do. You believe what you want about God, life after death, the purpose of life, and why things happen to you each day.

I believe what I chose to believe about these same subjects. After nearly sixty years I have seen direct comparisons expressing sincere love and being downright mean. I don’t like to cause people to feel uncomfortable. That’s why I don’t argue, yet I stand up for truth by example. I strive to be someone other people can like.

preserving-the-restoration1What Led Me to Be Intrigued by Alternate Voices

Let’s get personal. You may have been born a Catholic or a Muslim. I was born a Presbyterian on my mother’s side and a Baptist on my father’s. I didn’t see much difference back then, although I do now, having studied each for many years. My family, led by my mother, found and joined the LDS Church when I was just five.

I didn’t take it seriously – just went along. It was no big deal for me. I became a Mormon. So what? To me, it was just Christianity, although, not so much at first. I was taught – mostly by good, dedicated women – to be kind, unselfish, peaceful, and especially to change my ways when they brought unhappiness into my life.

In other words, I leaned about repentance or change. When I was about sixteen, I was a bit rebellious. This period lasted about six months. I did not like the feelings of unhappiness I felt – cognitive dissonance we would call it today. So I decided to do something about it. I decided to practice the orthodox teachings of my faith.

I became your typical Mormon. Before that, I was just a teenager who sometimes made bad choices and learned I didn’t like the results. Now I began to make some very purposeful choices typical of a Mormon. I went to an LDS University. I went on an LDS foreign mission. I dated and married an LDS girl, in a local LDS temple.

I tried to be orthodox. For forty years I did everything I was asked, gave of my time and money to the institution and believed as the modern published manuals taught. I noticed an unusual thing, even in the short forty years I was LDS. Things were changing. I mean specific beliefs and teachings found in the LDS doctrines were noticeably changing.

Keeping Your Eyes Open Can Be a Dangerous Thing

PassingHeavenlyGiftIt was subtle at first and not really important or far-reaching into the lives of my fellow believers. Over time, especially over the last seven to ten years, they have become radical, very noticeable and very contrary to what we used to believe and to practice. I suppose the most evident has been the intense focus on following and obeying the hierarchy.

It even got to the point where those who asked questions, simple questions about why we did things a certain way, were brought under pressure by local leaders for raising such questions. Heresy was the correct word that should have been used, but things change slowly in the Church. Asking questions made one an apostate.

Desiring to follow the counsel of the hierarchy, I began to write publically. Over time I suppose I became bolder in sharing what I was discovering in my studies. I read, I studied, I prayed and I wrote. Soon I found I was accused of being a gadfly, a troublemaker, because I pointed out how things had changed over our history.

One day, I has told I was “taking potshots at the Brethren.” If there was a moment in my journey that caused me to reconsider my dedication to the LDS Church, it was that moment. I thought long and hard about that comment from a trusted leader. I was flabbergasted, really, and wondered what he meant. I was simply studying. I write and publish as I study.

I read, I pondered, I prayed, I meditated, I wrote, I shared, I did what I thought my leaders wanted me to do, especially Elder Ballard who issued the challenge to be involved in the online dialog about the LDS Church. In my eight years of blogging about the LDS Church I was honest and sincere in what I wrote, or so I thought.

LibraryFrontRoom.jpgThere’s Always Someone Hated by the Orthodox

I was introduced to the writings of an individual whom I recognized had taken many of the same subjects I had pondered and presented them in such a way I could not deny he communicated the subjects in the way the Lord wanted them presented. I read, I studied, I pondered, I prayed, and the Lord answered.

And now comes the dilemma. What do you do when he Lord says one thing and the leaders of the Church who claim to be His say another? Do you trust man or do you trust God? I chose to believe what I felt in my heart, or more accurately, what I felt the Lord speak to me in my mind. I did what I felt the Lord wanted me to do.

Immediately the arguments started from those who loved me: “You have been deceived. This man is a liar. His words contradict the scriptures.” NO, I studied his words. They contradicted the LDS Church handbook, and much tradition, not what I believed to be scripture, including The Lectures on Faith, which were and are canonized as scripture.

And there’s where I’ll leave this short explanation requested of my home teacher as to why I resigned from the LDS Church. The key to my heart and conversion lies in those two points: The Church Handbook replaced the Lectures on Faith. One is canonized and another secretly hidden from most members of the LDS Church.

After twenty-five years of serving in LDS Church Leadership positions where we read and studied the handbook more than the scriptures in our leadership meetings, I came to the conclusion the LDS Church is led by man, and NOT by God, at least not by the God who spoke to me during my studies and prayers.

The big question is, or course, is whose voice did I hear when my prayers were answered? Was I deceived? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. I decided to demonstrate my beliefs when I resigned and was baptized. I did that specifically to show I accepted the writings, teachings and the work of the Lord’s servant.

A Few Final Questions to Determine Further Interest

carl_bloch_the_christOf course, you must answer for yourself: Who is the servant of the Lord today?

God bless you each and every one as you sincerely ponder this critical question.

Is there a man you trust more than you trust the voice of God when you pray?

Is your faith based on tradition and not on what you have heard from the Lord?

Finally, this one: Can tradition save you or does it take meeting with a saved being?

The Church is like the Republican Party


I will quite possibly do a longer post sometime soon….but for now a simple one.

Watching the recent politician party debates for the presidential campaign and especially the republican party I cannot help but be struck by the stunning similarities to the church. Trump has no doubt brought in many new republicans, but many long time republicans are not a fan of Trump.

The question is often posed to many long time republicans, but I’ll basically paraphrase a conversation with my dad

Me: “So are you a Trump fan?”

Dad: “I like Rubio”

Me: “So if Trump wins would you vote for him?”

Dad: “Well I sure won’t vote for anyone on the democrats side”

do we not face a similar question with the church? Are we by leaving the church voting democrat?(politics aside I mean are we not voting for the opposite team?)

Dad has at times blasted our governor in South Carolina and ex-governor for saying basically “I won’t vote for Trump” to which Dad says “That’s like giving a vote to Hillary Clinton”. Dad also gets mad at Mitt Romney for his recent remarks.

Well he’s not wrong….so by leaving the church are we really just voting for the other side by default?

 

Imagine The conversation like this:

Me: “So are you a Denver Snuffer fan?”

Dad: “I like Thomas Monson

Me: “So if Snuffer wins would you vote for him?”

Dad: “Well I sure won’t vote for anyone on the *non-mormon church leader’s* side”

Just a passing thought is all

 

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