Two weeks ago Carol and I travelled to Moab Utah for the weekend. We attended a conference of the Southern Utah and Colorado fellowships. We were asked to refrain from promoting it on social media, thus I wrote nothing in my blog. It was a wonderful gathering held at the Rockland Ranch (Hatch Rock) over two days with speakers from the various fellowships. I am so grateful to have been able to attend.
I am also grateful Carol went with me. I did not tell her much about it, nor especially did I mention that Denver might be there. Although Carol attended several of Denver’s lectures with me in 2014, and was especially complimentary of his lecture in St George on marriage, she is not particularly fond of the man. Perhaps it is because I resigned from the LDS Church after reading his books and attending his lectures.
On Saturday, I was asked to provide a short report of our fellowship activities in California, a difficult task since we are spread out so far up and down the length of the state, a few toward San Diego, a few here near Ventura, a few more in Northern California. I did my best – it was pouring rain – then sat down to enjoy the fine testimonies of others and they bore witness of how their various fellowships were blessing their lives.
And Their Number Were Few
I have to ask myself, and upon receipt of a social email from Denver, I asked him, why so few? Why are so few willing to read the words he has written, or listen to the testimony he has borne of the Savior? He reminded me we are constrained by section 121: persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge… These are the tools of the Savior to persuade.
I also ask myself, after having served in the church for so many years, why was I unsatisfied? Why did I not feel fulfilled in my soul with a sense of purpose and meaning that should come from participating as fully as I could in what is proclaimed to be the true and living church upon the face of the earth? Was I not reading the scriptures or studying the gospel enough? I asked the Lord in prayer. That was not the case.
I want you to know I love the Lord. I wish I could tell you more of the things He has revealed to me, but He has asked me to refrain. I have hinted and tried to share as much as I dared in years past when He revealed them to me. I have been in His presence. He has encircled me about in His love. I have felt the reality of forgiveness from sins. He is quick to forgive. But there is so much more He would give us.
Correlation is Death to the Spirit
Last week I attended a small gathering of our local fellowship – just five or six of us. We witnessed baptisms, partook of the sacrament and then discussed the gospel in a way that fulfilled my soul so much more as compared to sitting in a High Priest Group being fed the correlated lesson. And I was a HP Group leader. My point is the spirit is real and gives life but there is something missing in those correlated lessons.
I hope not to offend anyone. The LDS Church is doing a wonderful job, but something is lacking. I did not recognize it until a few years ago while serving as a High Priest Group Leader. There are many standard questions and equally standard answers. If your answer does not fit within the accepted nature of what is suggested in the manual, the brethren around you are quick to let you know. I speak from experience.
This should not be. Man should be free to speak his mind and expect respect and illumination from his brethren who share the same faith. Sadly, the correlated curriculum has destroyed that opportunity to be free with one’s thought and explications on the subject, quote or verses being considered. This is sad to me and is the very reason I refuse to attend Gospel Doctrine classes or High Priest’s group anymore.
A Loosening of the Tongue
Besides, as a non-member, the HP Group is considered a private meeting, is it not? I could be mistaken. My purpose of this post is not to rail against the tightly controlled structure of the LDS Church class meetings, but to write about the benefits and joys of fellowship among those who love you and feel the same about the Lord and the Restoration. For the most part they have been cast out or have resigned.
After witnessing baptisms in the living water of Ventura harbor, we sat on the grass a little inland, blessed and partook of the sacrament in the open air and under a bright sun. You may say that wine loosens the tongue but I tell you it caused those who partook to feel the love and blessings of the Lord. We do not drink wine to get drunk but to remember the Lord, his blood which was shed for us, and the life he imbues in us by so partaking.
We speak of what we write – three of us are bloggers – or what we read on various blogs. The gospel is discussed. The utmost importance of obeying the commandments, the reality of the Lord’s admonition to give unto the poor, without restraint. Tithing is to care for the poor, not to pay the salaries of the many General Authorities or build shopping malls. I didn’t used to have a problem with that idea. Now it galls me.
Discussing the Gospel with Joy and Gladness
We laugh. We joke a bit. We express love. We hug. We speak of deep doctrine and often speak of the foolishness of those who write on our blogs who have no clue what they are expressing, not having studied of contemplated the subject in depth. We are not perfect or scholars. We are each sinners as are all who have need of fellowship and the sacrament. But when we leave, we are uplifted and strengthened.
I express gratitude to my brethren and sisters who participate with me in our fellowship meetings, even though we do not get together as often as we like. I administer the sacrament in my own home each week after attending the local LDS Sacrament meeting with my wife. I pray with passion, I study the gospel, I write – either in my journal or here on my blog. I wish our fellowship could get together more often.
This will be short. I simply wanted to express gratitude for those the Lord has placed nearby – within a few hours travelling distance – and for their willingness to drive that distance here in the Golden state. I love you my brethren. You know who you are. I pray for you and your families. We share many of the same feelings about the LDS Church even if we currently attend the meetings or not.
God bless all the humble followers of Christ who desire to cry mightily unto him and to obey his commandments. I am so grateful for the Sacrament. I love my brothers and sisters who attend our LDS Wards, but derive so much more from our small fellowship, even if we sometimes only get together via the Internet. NOTE: If you wish to read or hear Denver’s address to the combined fellowships at the conference, you can find them on his downloads page.