Strengthening One Another in Fellowship


HatchRockTwo 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

FewInNumbersI 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

PriesthoodCorrelationLast 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

start-a-blogBesides, 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

blogs-of-noteWe 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.

Therefore Shall a Man Cleave Unto His Wife


sealing-room-altarOn September 13 2014, I submitted a letter of resignation from the LDS Church to my local leader. I had thought long and hard about my decision and confirmed it in prayer several times. What I did not do was to tell my wife in advance of my action, but I think she saw it coming. If you understand what the LDS Church teaches about temple marriages, you will agree with me Carol is indeed a wonderful woman.

For those who don’t know, the LDS Church teaches the most important thing a man and woman can do in this life is to marry in an LDS Temple and remain married throughout their mortal lives. Carol has the advantage in this situation. She did not resign from the LDS Church, therefore, it is believed and taught she will be given to or allowed to choose any worthy man who remains faithful in the kingdom of Heaven.

I, on the other hand, am damned forever, according to LDS doctrine, unless I repent, renounce what I have done, subscribe again to the baptismal requirements, am baptized again as a member of the LDS Church, and eventually, after a long period of probation, have my temple blessings restored, a process which requires authorization from the First Presidency or the highest leadership of the LDS Church.

Traditions of Their Fathers

SaltLakeTempleNightI have detailed this previously, but to summarize, Carol is a fifth-generation member of the LDS Church. On the other hand, my family are converts from the 1960’s, with only two out of the eight considered active today, my parents having passed on in the last decade. They had informally left the church earlier. Tradition is a powerful influence in Carol’s spiritual life, which I believe I understand and deeply respect.

Sometimes I am simply amazed at the depth of Carol’s love of the Lord and tolerance for me. If you can put yourself in her shoes for a moment, I’m sure you can understand the loss she has suffered. On ward temple night, she goes alone. She knows I partake of the sacrament using wine. The very idea of wine in her home has deep personal repugnance, her grandfather having lost his legs and died as an alcoholic.

She often comments, wondering aloud really, why those who leave the church are so vocal in their comments about how anyone could belong to such a deluded organization. It hurts her to hear or read such material. She has seen it firsthand from some of the people I have chosen to associate with in various fellowship groups. I feel similarly about some things said by LDS members and Church leaders.

Study, Ponder, Pray

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I still attend our main church meeting with Carol each Sunday. She asked this of me and I still dearly love so many of our friends we have associated with over the years. It is difficult at times to hear what I now consider subtle innuendos and even outright lies from the pulpit (I don’t attend classroom activities), from good people who have NOT studied things out and are simply repeating what others have said.

I considered myself an orthodox Mormon for all my life. I served an LDS mission at age nineteen. I met my wife through the LDS Church Young Single Adult program and married in the temple shortly after. As is fairly normal, I served for over twenty-five years in various teaching and leadership positions and did my best to make my private worship practice something that would give me spiritual strength each day.

I am a computer professional and spend almost all day every day on the Internet. It is a part of my job. When I take breaks I would go read what others were writing about the LDS Church and participate in the ongoing dialog on many of the blogs and chat groups. I like to consider myself well-read, or at least I can say I have contributed a lot of money to Deseret Book over the years in building my well-stocked library.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

ezekial-chariotThe subjects of my blog were almost always on my mind for eight years. I thought about, studied about and wrote about the basic history and doctrines in a manner I hoped would be helpful to those who were serious about learning more about the LDS faith. Of course, as anyone can tell you who has done a serious study of Mormon history, the LDS Church white-washed, covered up and lied about much of it.

I have been pondering the idea of seeking re-admittance to the LDS Church. Why would I do such a thing? Mainly to strengthen my marriage. “Don’t do it for me,” Carol says. She is right. So I continue to ponder, pray and study. My greatest desire is to do the will of the Lord. We each have spiritual gifts. I like to think I have at least some sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. In other words, I hear His voice.

This is not a unique claim, one that has certain requirements of course, but is highly sought after by most members of the LDS Church I know. If a Mormon says to you, “I don’t want to hear the voice of the Lord,” I would translate that to mean, “I don’t want to do what I’m afraid I might hear,” Likewise, it is, or was, a long-time aspiration of faithful Mormons to come into the presence of the resurrected Lord.

Receive the Second Comforter

carl_bloch_the_christThis idea – embracing the Lord as a mortal – is a hot topic of debate today, at least among those who think it has significance. Some have told me, “It doesn’t matter. Just endure to the end and all will be well.” Did we not at one time teach it is worth any sacrifice to embrace the Lord while yet in this life? That’s the debate: Should we seek to come into the presence of the Lord? Or simply endure to the end?

Those who quote Joseph (and I’m certain I’ve shared this quote a dozen times on this blog), are looked upon by most as being quacks. The correlated material found in the LDS manuals today does not include this doctrine of seeking an audience with the Lord. This is the main doctrine I studied for two years before I decided I didn’t want to be part of an organization that almost NEVER brought this up.

“Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him,

“Potshots at the Brethren”

quorum-twelve-april-2016“and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”  TPJS, 149-151

Well, actually, there was much more to my decision that this. I met with my Bishop for a year to discuss my concerns. I was serving in the Stake Presidency at the time. He didn’t seem to have any problems with my questions. I figure he just accepted such things as part of my private gospel study. One time I quoted a General Authority saying we needn’t be concerned with this specific doctrine. My bishop reacted.

I won’t say he was upset. He’s a good man in control of his emotions. His statement, as I recall and recorded it, is that I was “taking potshots at the Brethren.” That got me thinking. Why is this doctrine so divisive? Is it not desirable? Does it not motivate? I will say, without a doubt, the idea of coming into the presence of the Lord is a thousand times more motivating to me than the idea of regular temple service.

Teaching the Word of the Lord

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingI want to have the Lord abide with me. That is the promise of the Second Comforter. I will do anything asked of the Lord to obtain this goal. It befuddles and amazes me when good brethren in my High Priest group told me I was wrong to bring this subject up, that enduring to the end is ALL that is required. That was the last time I attended a High Priest Group meeting. It seems their minds are made up forever.

I am saddened by the reports I read of husbands writing they will no longer be participating in some of the online groups that are out there – the ones Elder Ballard said in which we should be involved. I have also made that decision. I do not comment on the blogs anymore and I rarely write one. The reason given? The wife holds the upper hand. Divorce is threatened. “You teach correlated stuff or you’re out of here.” * See my comment below. This is NOT quoting Carol but was shared by an online friend in sorrow.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife. He has a responsibility to lead his family in righteousness. It is a sad thing we have relegated that responsibility as to what we believe to those who write the correlated doctrinal manuals that are used in the LDS Church today. The word of the Lord should come from God and the head of the family, not from some committee writings.

 

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