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?”

 

Looking into the LDS Church from the Outside


 

WhyIResignedWhen I decided to stop writing in my blog on a regular basis last month, I felt a great burden had been removed. I felt free to think, ponder and pray about my course in life without asking if the Lord wanted me to share my thoughts on any particular subject. I kept my feelings and beliefs to myself and appreciated the idea that I’m just another sojourner on this earth travelling with you. I began to feel less stress, less pressure and fewer impressions or ideas on which to elaborate here.

In many ways I’m no different from you. We have a lot in common. I think we both believe there is purpose in life. We get excited about some things that happen to us as we move through each day and annoyed at others. From past experience I know my audience is vast and wide. Most of my readers are LDS or former LDS. Most are believers in God, a personal God who knows and loves us individually. I especially appreciate many readers have kept in touch with me privately.

Changes in Church Handbook

LDSChurchHandbooks1A lot has happened in the world over the past month that caused me to want to post some ideas as it relates to the last days. The Paris attacks and the change in the LDS handbook both had me wanting to share a few comments but I resisted the urge. I enjoyed a much needed break. Things even seemed to quiet down at work. I still manage the day-to-day operations of my department and move several projects along, but for the most part, I feel less stress in my daily schedule.

I think my health has improved. After spending a week in the hospital and losing fifteen pounds, I began to feel my energy pick up in a way I haven’t felt in several years. This blogging break seems to have been good for me. I moved the blog to WordPress.com, which is free, and off the very expensive site, Blue Host. I miss the plug-ins, and there are still a few missing photos to be restored but I am happy I was able to transfer most of the history and photos to this free format.

My Meeting with the Bishop

our-bishopI also discovered something very interesting about myself and my personal growth. In the last month I have listened to the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, The New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants and am just finishing Genesis. Instead of thinking and pondering on my 75-minute daily drive to and from work, I have been listening to the scriptures on lds.org. There’s something different about going through them that fast. Time seems to be compressed.

I also met with my bishop in the last month. I wanted to confirm two things – that I was welcome to attend and that I could sing in the ward and stake choirs, which I had missed very much over the past year. I came to a slow realization I had made a mistake in some of the posts I directed to my Bishop and Stake President last year. I might be LDS today if I had not written those posts. But what’s done is done. I’m now on the outside looking in and have been for over the past year.

Social Stigma of Being an Apostate

preserving-the-restoration1If you’re interested, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts over the next little while about the idea of becoming a member of the LDS Church again. I know this may be a real shock to some readers so let me explain. If you’ll recall, and as far as I can tell, Denver never once advocated we resign from the LDS Church. I may be wrong, and if so, feel free to point that out. I think I did that on my own, believing I could not be baptized and remain a member of the LDS Church.

“Why,” you may ask,” would you want to become a member of the LDS Church once again?” There are plenty of reasons, the primary of which is to be fair to Carol. She feels she was cheated out of something when I resigned. I did not ask her. I told her. That was a foolish mistake. I knew what her response would be had I asked and I was determined to do what I felt the Lord was asking me to do. Of course many said I was deceived, but I assure you I was not deceived.

Purpose of Life is to Gain Experience

brighamyoung.jpgI made my decision about several years of study and prayer. I like to compare what I did in leaving the LDS Church as similar to what Brigham Young did in joining the LDS Church. He was in no hurry and neither was I. He studied, attended meetings, read, prayed and participated with the saints – mainly with his own family – in the LDS worship practices. When I decided to be baptized I seem to recall reading in the Church Handbook that baptism is a sign of apostasy.

Note I was not baptized into any existing or new church. I chose to be baptized as a token or sign between me and the Lord that I believed he had sent a teacher in our day with a message the LDS Church – the Gentile Church – had fallen away or had apostatized from the original format and intended purpose for which it had been established. I was not baptized into the Church of Denver Snuffer. I am not a follower of Denver Snuffer. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is the same.

Perhaps the Church Won’t Want Me

latemple_small.jpgBesides restoring to my wife what was taken from her without her consent, I believe I can do more good from within the LDS Church than I can from outside the Church. I miss the temple. Of course I recognize it will probably be years before the First Presidency decides I am worthy to have my temple blessings restored. Perhaps they will decide I can never have those blessings restored. After all, when I resigned, I did so fully acknowledging the severing of temple links.

I will be happy with simply being baptized again. You and I both know that once an individual dies, their family members do their temple work all the while reciting the phrase, “it will all work out in the end. God will make it right. If they are worthy, they will have the blessings of the temple for eternity. If not, they will receive what they have earned or are worthy of receiving.” I suspect most LDS folks, including many leaders, don’t know the mind of the Lord on this matter.

I Enjoy Attending the LDS Church

SLCSealingRoom.jpgUnlike many stories I read online and that have been shared with me in private emails, I have not had a bad experience in the LDS Church. I enjoyed my fifty-plus years as a member. I enjoyed my mission. I enjoyed going to the temple. I enjoyed serving in many callings over the years, especially the twenty-five years in various bishoprics and on the High Council. I love to teach the gospel and miss that. If baptized again, I doubt I would ever be given a call to teach or lead.

Incidentally, according to LDS doctrine, Carol lost nothing when I resigned. Just as children lose nothing when the sealing of their parents is cancelled, they still have the blessings of the sealing ordinance. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the LDS Church about the temple, what the ordinances represent and how they work. Probably the least understood concept, even among long-time High Priests who should know better, is the Holy Spirit of Promise in eternal marriage.

Lots of Questions to Work Out

baptism-saratoga-springsGo ahead and call me a fool if you like. I am aware of hundreds of people who were baptized as I was, who did not leave the LDS Church. They continue to serve in callings in the church and at the same time hold sacrament meetings at home and invite others to be baptized as a token they accept what the Lord has done and is doing in these last days. I have a lot of things I need to work out with the bishop before I can be baptized again, such as, “What is the Gentile Church?”

Did the Saints accomplish what the Lord asked of them in Nauvoo or were they cursed as the Lord said they would be because they did not complete the temple before Joseph’s death? Just what exactly is the higher priesthood and is it something that can be passed on from one man to another? Why do we have Joseph teaching ALL the prophets of the old testament after Moses received the higher priesthood directly from the Lord. Is that the ONLY way it is received?

Good People Who Are Disciples of Christ

carl_bloch_the_christWhy does the Church Handbook take precedence over the scriptures when most of the general body of the LDS Church has never seen it and certainly has never voted on it as binding upon them as a church? How in the world can the LDS Church punish the children of apostates when such action goes directly against the second article of faith? I have dozens of additional questions like these I am seeking to answer before I can answer the baptismal questions about LDS leaders.

I am in a unique position of being an outsider looking in at the Church after more than fifty years of being a members of that church. My views have changed considerably in the last year since I resigned. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the people in the church. I feel most are still my friends. Most seem to be genuine in their love for me. I believe most are true followers of Jesus Christ and want to please Him. My concern is with those who declare what is doctrine.

On TBMs, Parables and Dreams


Guest post: A young reader of the blog came for a visit recently. Carol and I enjoyed having him stay overnight. He introduced us to a new phenomenon called “couch-surfing.” You probably know all about it but we had never heard of it. Now we know. You want to come visit us here by the beach? The couch is available. He asked if he could share a few thoughts on the blog. With his permission, I have edited and combined a bit:

Part 1 – On TBMs

TBM meaning - what does TBM stand for?

TBM means – True Blue Mormon

Today I ended a two week road trip and am going to write of something, a new thought brought to my attention by a new friend. This merry little remnant group often uses the acronym of TBM. I’m not sure how often I have used it myself, not sure if I even have. Either way, TBM sounds like a damn mental disorder or STD. Seriously folks, is there anything in the medical world that is good that has been given initials? Where did this term come from? It really doesn’t matter, what matters is the fact it is used.

The remnant, as it likes to call itself, doesn’t use the term Mormon. So why do we need to call Mormons TBM? Or why can’t we just say LDS? Never mind the fact I think both groups got it wrong with the whole name thing: “8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.”

If we call ourselves Mormons, we are a part of the church of Mormon and as Jesus so bluntly states it, that means we belong to the church of Mormon and not the church of Christ. So we have between the remnant and TBM….Latter-day Saints, Mormons, remnant, and TBMs…..just about everything except Christian or “Follower of Christ.” Hilarious irony somewhere in there. One thing I think we should work on: there is power in a name and probably a reason Christ says to call yourself the Church of Christ.

A Derogatory Term

tbm2But back to my point, this merry little remnant group has decided to use this name for a group of people, and use it in a somewhat negative manner. I suspect they mean to say “HAHAHAHA STUPID TBMs.” I have noticed that condescending attitude on the day of my rebaptism, and only one fellow (the guy who did the baptism) told them to knock it off. I enjoyed that day and at the request of the guy who re-baptized me, wrote down my thoughts to remember my feelings. Here are a few of them:

“I noticed in talking with people an ever so subtle Denver Snuffer worship that persisted. I also noticed an ever so subtle spirit of contention.” Indeed….perhaps I do agree with this new friend more than I think, but just happen to think rebaptism was what I really needed. I don’t regret it. It was for me the right thing to do, but I can certainly see and even did pen it down, that the remnant does possess a very subtle spirit of contention. It’s odd I noticed it because I also wrote: “I seemed completely at peace.”

Perhaps that’s why I noticed the subtle disturbance. Or perhaps my Satan detector is very finely tuned. Anyone that has visited the comments section of Facebook or any of the various LDS-themed blogs knows that contention is opening billion dollar businesses there. A bunch of folks shouting, “I have had revelation. No, I have had opposing revelation. No, I have had yet more revelation…”

Revelation Takes Time to Master

Well isn’t that a fine pickle we’ve got ourselves into? Sounds like we’ve just crossed into the Brigham Young succession crisis the lot of folks were upset about in the first place. We’re doing exactly what we claim the LDS church does – contradicting itself. If we all actually got revelation on the matter, we’d be in agreement. But we’ve taken a whole bunch of rookies, who’ve probably gotten less than three revelations in our lives, and suddenly we’re all masters. I have some bad news. Revelation takes time to master. It’s a gift from God.

But back to that TBM STD term, the more I think on it, the more I see this new friend is right. TBM is a damn STD or mental disorder. It’s as idiotic as any of those other racial slurs we’ve invented. No one, and I do mean no one I have ever seen uses TBM as a good thing.

I have a very simple piece of advice for you. I’m going to quote some general authorities here: Dieter F. Uchtdorf says: Stop it. I’m also going to quote some random folks from the scriptures too: Repent! So to summarize and put this together: Just Stop It and Repent! Of the general authorities I have always enjoyed Dieter the most. He seems a cut above the rest.

Many of you may now be left without a way to refer to one another. How about brother and sister? But I know I’ve offended you….so without TBM as a term how else will you:

14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.

27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.

Ah yes, without the term TBM, how else will we do the highlighted things? You know what? Maybe me and my new friend don’t see eye to eye on the whole thing, and truth be told I’d like to ask this person a thing or two more about some stuff….but you know what? Charity is the greatest gift of all and I do not sense any bad intentions. And I think that counts for something, and this person showed plenty of charity.

We Ought To Be Much Kinder

You know….I don’t claim to get it right 100% of the time….but this past two weeks on the road with zero plans, I’ve seen more random acts of kindness, and participated in more random acts of kindness and felt closer to Christ than I have in a very long time. I’m a guy that has had visions since I was a child.

One time I had just finished eating and was daydreaming and thinking to myself, man they’ve gone and overcomplicated those stupid soda machines with a thousand flavors, as soon as I thought that some old guy walked up to it and couldn’t figure it out. Poor guy only wanted a simple old fashioned coke; taking five seconds to help him brought a smile to his face.

Another story: I was in a bar, and we were leaving. It was me and five other guys and we had all just met that night. Two of us just met two minutes previously. Someone spots two cops waiting for us across the street. One guy then invites us into his home (his apartment was next door to the bar) so we could avoid the cops. But somehow I am sure someone here is still throwing stones because I was at a bar.

Another point: I met a homeless guy….just passed him by at the Wal-Mart. I stopped and chatted for ten to fifteen minutes. In that time I was one of two people of at least one-hundred that actually stopped and looked at him much less chatted. Freaking random acts of kindness people.

2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Ministering to the Homeless

I wonder…are angels masquerading as homeless people? Are they reporting back to God telling Him all about how we keep driving right past them? Interestingly enough he and this homeless guy I just mentioned talked about that very thing….He claims he was named Gabriel and I am named Adam….some hilarious irony there.

We need to get off our damn phones. I saw the other day there are tons of these remnant Facebook groups with the same folks posting over and over and over on each group all the day long. We need to put down the damn phone and go help the beggar ten feet outside our door. We’re all so obsessed with achieving what Denver Snuffer acquired (bear in mind if his story to be believed it takes him a good twenty to thirty years), an audience with Christ, that we’ve forgotten Christ helped the most wretched and pitiful of souls.

He helped the drunks at the bars, the whores, the hookers, the sick, the possessed, and even the freaking dead. Christ even showed pity and mercy to the legion of devils He let go into the herd of swine. If Facebook and all that crap existed in His time I doubt He would be on it. I suspect He’d be out there helping the aforementioned and calling us out on how we waste our time. I met no TBMs this week…I met people. And I’m from the damn place that started the civil war.

I’ll close by repeating this: Just Stop It and Repent!

 

Part Two – A Parable

apple-pie.jpgI shall tell you a story…A Parable even. There was a man who had an apple tree and it produced much good fruit. It was very delicious to the taste. The man took the fruits of this apple tree and one day learned to make an apple pie. This was the only apple pie around then. You see people were still learning how to till the ground. This man however soon after some years learned to truly perfect this apple pie. This man took great care of his apple tree as he wanted to pass it on to his descendants. He taught them all he could about making apple pies but soon grew old and passed on.

This special apple tree however lived on and his descendants went on making apple pies. His son had learned firsthand from his master father and to most they could not tell the difference but he was not quite as good as his father. He then had sons and they too learned how to make apple pies. This continued on for many, many generations.

One day many years later a stranger was passing by. He had heard of the legendary apple pie and decided since he was so close by he would try this famous apple pie. He soon arrived with much anticipation but immediately noticed the house was falling apart and the trees of the yard did not look well taken care of. However he had heard the stories and figured what does he know? He comes from a land that doesn’t even have an apple tree so perhaps this is just the way it looks. He however craved good food and had heard the stories and the legends of this famous treat. You see in his homeland you do not get to eat such good food, the food is stale, dry, and often rotting or close to rotting. His people simply cannot seem to learn to cook.

The Legend of the Great Apple Pie

He knocked on their door and was invited to come in. He asked about the origins of this apple pie and was told all the stories. As he had listened with great anticipation and even hearing new stories he had not heard before he soon realized these descendants did not even know as much as he did. But he figured, “No matter at least they can bake a delicious apple pie.”

The man had become so overwhelmed with excitement he barely gave heed or notice to the fact the place smelled very similar to home. He figured all food looked terrible having never seen good fruit before. After some time the baked apple pie came out and he had it in front of him, ready to taste and eat.

He looked on with great anticipation exclaiming “I AM HERE, I AM FINALLY HERE LORD” as this was the place of legends. He took his fork to the pie and brought it to his mouth. He noticed it looked familiar. He asked the bakers about this before he took a bite and they said “This is how all food is, don’t you know that?”

He then proceeded seemingly satisfied with the answer. He took his first bite and noticed this was nearly identical to the food he was used too. He wondered could it be….could the stories all be a lie. He took another bite to be sure, and sure enough the pie tasted similar to his homeland’s rotting food.

Not All Pies Are the Same

He then recalled a story as he looked around. He recalled hearing how the original owner of this place would spend 4 hours a day cleaning and grooming and tending to the apple tree outside. He remembered thinking how clean this inside had to have been, which cleanliness made him different from his friends and family. He then asked the bakers how often they cleaned the apple tree to which they replied “Why should we clean it? It has always been that way and always produced this same fruit just as it did for our father and his father before him, we have always had this same fruit and this same tree.”

The stranger finally understood….the poor descendants had lost their way. They were stuck in their methods of baking and while this may have once been a legendary place all it was now was a story. The stranger explained this to the bakers but only one of the six bakers listened and so he and the stranger finally convinced the others to leave and let them be while they cleaned up the place and did things as close to the stories they had told them to do.

They worked hard and long as they had to plant completely new soil and build much of the house anew. It was tiring and time consuming but after several years they finally finished. The other five bakers repeatedly called them crazy but had agreed to this….in the meantime they opened up shop.

The Great Apple Pie is Restored

The stranger and the one baker finally opened….and this time it was good apple pie….the stuff of legends. In time the five grew angry at the stranger and the one baker but what could they do? They had a plan they thought. They would encourage the stranger to return to his homeland knowing a partner is needed they will pay someone to sabotage the new place.

And so they went to work on their plan and it succeeded. Soon a generation or two later passed and you could barely tell a difference between the two, yet strangely some folks swore one place was better than the other yet they were nearly identical in origin and story and taste.

As we near the end of our story one last stranger appears….it is the son of the original stranger from just two generations ago. He noticed this was wrong and told them of the apple pie stand in his homeland that he learned from them, but both stands laughed at him and would not heed his warning calling him crazy.

The Restored Pie is Rejected

He was cast out, but determined to try and get them to see reason, he went back to his homeland and brought with him the fruits of his labor. He soon returned and showed them proof of his claims yet he was still mocked and laughed at. His father had warned him this might happen, but he tried anyway. Sadly, he was fighting a lost cause. The people had their apple pies and could not fathom there being another apple pie, they presumed they had a monopoly on apple pies.

The poor stranger returned home, defeated and sad as the place truly was now nothing more than a good story, a legend, but a farce claiming to be what it once was. As he lay on his deathbed he died asking “How could a place with good food learn to enjoy eating rotten food? We once ate rotten food and now eat good food, yet strangely some among us prefer the rotten food? How can this be?”

To all who read this parable I say this….The meaning is not just the most obvious meaning, it has many meanings. I was foolish and did not write down all the meanings I have heard. THIS IS NOT JUST A PARABLE ABOUT THE MODERN CHURCH! Either way I’ll leave it to those that: 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: If your eyes are opened and your ears are listening, you’ll figure it out.

 

Part Three – A Dream

I once somewhere read of a dream by someone. Perhaps the dream is real or perhaps not. I don’t know. In this dream, a man was looking for Christ in church. He looked and looked but could not find Him. However, he happened by a boy who was in need of comfort because his parents had gotten divorced (I can’t remember the exact reason). He noticed the boy was all alone, but there was an old man sitting there in the room with him but not saying anything.

He briefly talked to the boy and found out what was wrong but soon enough left him in his search for Christ leaving the boy with the quiet old man. Some years later in the dream, he saw the boy again but with friends and noticed was even worse off. He asked the boy about it and the boy who was now a teenager explained that no one came to help him. The dream ended.

The explanation given by the author of the dream was this: do not get so stuck on your desire to see Christ that you forget to minister to the poor around you. He suspects had he ministered to the boy then and there that Christ was actually the old man in the room and would have revealed Himself, but because he did not, he failed to minister to Christ, and thus was unworthy of His presence. So do not forget the poor, the homeless, the sick, the needy, and so on, for by ministering to them, you minister to God Himself.

 

A Forum for Latter-day Commentary


approaching-the-heavenly-giftThere is an interesting discussion taking place over at the LDS Freedom Forum. For those who aren’t members of the “Approaching the Heavenly Gift” sub-forum, here are the details below (removed).

I have been asked to consider turning on the forum feature on this WordPress blog. It’s an easy thing to do and a relatively easy thing to administer, but is it worth it? Will people participate? Comments are open for discussion.

Update: The LDC Forums are up: https://latterdaycommentary.com/forums/

<Contents of the post removed at request of owner>

Here is the link to the LDS Freedom Forum in general: http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/

Q & A with Tim Malone, Author of Latter-day Commentary


ldc-blog-imageQ: How has your perception of Latter-day Commentary changed since its inception?

In many respects, the direction of this simple blog has turned completely around. When I started blogging almost eight years ago, my intent was to help combat what I perceived to be a plethora of misinformation out there about the doctrines I knew to be true, or that I grew up believing. I now find myself presenting reasons why what I originally thought was false doctrine may indeed be worth considering, especially since early documents support that Joseph originally taught it.

In other respects, the intent and focus of the blog has not changed at all. My intent was to share my gospel study and learning experiences. I have always appreciated teaching, have taught the gospel all my life and enjoyed making lesson plans or outlines of subjects and then fleshing them out with scriptures and quotes. That has not changed. What has changed is my perception of the truth. I have had to jettison some false beliefs that were based solely on tradition. Gratefully, I was prepared. I frequented many LDS group blogs for several years before I started my own.

Although I felt prompted and inspired to start the blog and made it a matter of prayer, I do not say the Lord told me to start the blog, only that I find a way to bring greater motivation to my life in the area of gospel study. I have shared many talks and lessons on my blog that I also gave in the gospel doctrine class or delivered from the pulpit over the years. Sometime last year I felt to dedicate the blog to the Lord and let Him use it for His purposes. Things changed radically. I found myself led to invite others to share the audience I had built up over seven years of work.

ds-blog-imageQ: You’ve had both positive and negative feedback from readers about some of the content regarding DS and the work currently underway. What was your initial reaction to his writings? Can you elaborate on the challenges of retaining your faith in light of recognizing discrepancies in the traditional narrative of the church?

I appreciate both kinds of comments from readers, especially those who can and do form cogent arguments in response to what Denver has written and what I have tried to explain in my own words. I am not always successful in understanding all the intricacies of the doctrines put forth. I may be seeing only a small part of what is being presented in the post and entirely missing how such a radically different view affects families and individuals in situations dissimilar to mine.

My initial reaction to Denver Snuffer’s work was positive. It was a revelatory experience. When I tried to share what I had read with others, I was saddened by how negatively they reacted. It was especially difficult as I tried to discuss what I felt was enlightenment from the Holy Ghost with my wife, who I consider my equal in our knowledge of church history. After all, she served her mission in Independence Missouri, with a Mission President teaching the standard narrative.

On the other hand, my mission president was a convert and always encouraged the missionaries to “push the envelope” in our studies. He did not shy away from inspiring us to reach out and understand the mysteries. He would say, “They are only mysteries because you haven’t studied them.” It’s funny that both our Mission Presidents were CES employees but Carol’s had a much more traditional or orthodox approach to the history of the Church, especially the Nauvoo period.

Retaining my faith in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and most of the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants was not difficult. I confess the idea that Section 110 may be of dubious authenticity was difficult for me at first. But when I compared Section 27 side by side with the original, and saw how it had been “expanded” under Sidney’s pen, I made a more careful consideration of section 110, took it to the Lord in prayer and came away satisfied.

40-years-in-mormonismQ: Are you still digesting the material laid out in the DS lectures last year, and if so, what specifically do you find to be significant?

I most definitely am still digesting the lectures and will be for years to come. I re-read lectures three and four again this past week, pondering carefully the enticing nature of how Denver has presented repentance. So many people I know try to “white-knuckle” it through repentance by using the “moving away-from” model as opposed to what Denver presents in a “moving toward” model. I have always favored that approach. It has always worked for me. I fully endorse it.

I’ve studied the lecture on covenants at least four times now and am just beginning to understand the significance and all-encompassing nature of what is found in that short lecture. I think it’s about twenty-two pages if I’m not mistaken. Yet I learned why the earth will be wasted at the Lord’s coming if we are not sealed to the fathers, as well as came to a better understanding that everything the Father is doing in our day is to fulfill that covenant he made with the Patriarchs.

I have had it reconfirmed to me once again how important it is that we are sealed to the fathers, the Patriarchs, and that this must be done in a temple, like the one Joseph was trying to get the Saints to finish in Nauvoo but which did not happen. There is not a temple found on the earth today which is acceptable of the Lord where He can come and seal us to the Fathers in that binding ordinance that is referred to in section 124 – a place to restore that which was lost.

I am still blown away by the priesthood lecture. I think I’ve read it six or seven times now and am still learning new things each time I study it. There was so much I thought I knew about priesthood that was simply wrong. I’m grateful to have been in attendance at the Mesa lecture. The idea of Preserving the Restoration resonates with me. I have seen so much understanding disappear from that we taught when I was growing up in the church in the sixties and seventies.

ds-interview-part1Q: Your recent interview with DS offered an opportunity for clarity on a variety of topics. How did this interview come about and did you find what you were looking for?

Although I could not attend the early lectures due to work commitments, I made it known on my blog I planned on attending the later lectures. I received an invitation from Denver to meet with him for dinner on the evening of one of the lectures. I suppose he wanted to meet this individual who had written so much about his writings over the preceding eighteen months. Carol and I had dinner with Denver and his family the night before the St. George lecture. We parted as friends.

This year, I celebrated ten years with my employer by taking a two week vacation, something unheard of for a computer guy in a small company. I wanted to make the first week a working vacation. I arranged interviews with several fellow bloggers and readers. On Wednesday, Carol planned an endowment session at the Brigham City temple. Obviously I would not be attending with her. I asked the Lord if there was someone else we wished me to add to my interview list.

He suggested Denver. I asked. He accepted. I asked if he would prefer the questions in advance. He agreed. I used to interview CEO’s and Marketing VP’s for a software newspaper I published years ago so the format was very familiar – sort of like a deposition. After Denver agreed, I went to the Lord for the questions. He provided. So the questions asked were what the Lord wanted to have expounded. I wasn’t necessarily looking for any particular answers. I wanted to understand some of the more controversial points from his lectures. Most of his answers were from PtHG.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of online and offline dialogs with readers about what Denver has written. I have no idea why they seem to think I know what is on his mind. It still amazes me how many people either haven’t or will not read his material. They will read what other people have said about it but won’t read it themselves. This astonishes me. If there’s one thing Mormons are supposed to be good at, it’s having an open mind about writings that are extra-Biblical. In other words, we want people to read the Book of Mormon in order to understand us better.

Yet, so few will take the time to make a formal study plan, combined with prayer in an effort to understand the doctrines behind the writings and lectures. I think some of the questions I asked in the interview were brought up in an effort to get people more interested in going to the source. If there’s anything I wanted to accomplish, it was to get people to seriously read, ponder and pray about the lectures. But so many have made up their minds. They are closed. It is so sad.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilQ: You’ve written a lot on the subject of NDE. What has contributed to your interest on this particular topic? How would you characterize common elements found in many NDE based on what’s been revealed about life after death?

I am by no means an expert on NDEs. I have had two dreadful near-death experiences in my life. Both times I was met by beings of darkness. The first time was in my youth. I opened the portal through my own foolishness. It woke me up big time. It turned me around. It caused me to fear for my life and to seek to repent, which took a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish. It was nearly a year later that I came into the presence of the Lord, which I have described on my blog.

The second NDE was a couple of years ago when my son opened a portal in our home at 2am in the morning while doing drugs and porn with a fellow druggie. I’ve posted the story and shared it with those who have asked. I was mislead by a well-meaning individual who told me I could deal with the dark spirits by asking the Lord to bring them into my aura so I could get them to repent. Yeah, right! It was one of the most foolish things I have ever done in my life. I still suffer pain.

My interest in NDEs is a result of having the portal to the spirit world opened in a manner that was not at all pleasant. I suppose only those who have experienced being sucked into that world, even for a moment, can understand the resulting interest in trying to make sense of the things discovered or actually remembered, by entering into such a realm. There are things revealed to your soul that this world denies. One seeks to find others who have been there and can relate.

true-order-prayer-imageQ: Your posts on the True Order of Prayer resonated with many people. The prayer circle was a more prominent fixture in worship (both inside and outside of temples) until May 1978 when the First Presidency restricted its use to certain settings. How have your prayers in this manner affected your relationship with the Lord and/or the Powers of heaven?

I still have a long way to go in this area. I am focusing on altars in my personal study these days. I want to know the history of true altar building, why the Patriarchs built altars, how they built them – no hewn stone – and if there is significance to where they are placed. I wish I had land of sufficient size where I could dedicate a private space to building an altar for worship. In the meantime, I asked the Lord if I could substitute a dedicated home altar and received his approval.

There is something powerful about altar worship. What we learn in the temple is significant. For me, a prayer at the altar is so much more powerful than my usual morning and nightly prayers. I find repetition does not enter into my heart or mind when I pray at the altar. I am filled with desire and am given the words to say. These prayers at the altar have changed my life. It is clear the powers of heaven pay attention when we go to the trouble of praying at a dedicated altar.

At one time in the history of Mormonism, it was acceptable practice to have a home altar. It was a sign of commitment to one’s religion to gather the family together at the altar for worship. I use my altar when I partake of the sacrament in my home. It is so sad to read how such practices as altar worship and partaking of the sacrament in the home are now considered apostate. Joseph Smith would not be welcome in the LDS Church today because of “apostate” worship practices.

Think about what we learn in the temple from Adam’s example with an altar. When he prayed at the altar, he opened a portal to heaven. He received messengers. This is a true and powerful form of worship. Ask yourself why we are taught about prayer in the temple if it was not intended for us to go home and practice this in our own home. Yes, I recognize some have been deceived and have received false messenger, but we have got to learn to deal with this if we want to progress.

posts-on-evil-spiritsQ: You’ve shared experiences in which you’ve come into contact with malevolent spirits and the distress they can cause. Were these experiences connected to prayer? What is your view on possessions recorded in the New Testament versus certain mental disorders in our day as possible possessions?

I think my answer to the NDE question above would have probably been a better fit here. The spirits were not invited, but conditions were brought about that caused them to make themselves known. It is not a pleasant thing to come into the presence of spirits who intend to do you harm. The prayers involved were after the fact, as in, “O Lord, save me from these evil creatures who desire to take away my light and life. O Lord, remove the fear from my heart and give me faith like unto Moses to command them in the name of the Son of God to leave my presence forever.”

I have written at least two dozen posts answering that very question about emotional and mental disorders being caused by evil and unclean spirits. I will refer people to my blog for answers. I will also encourage you to read Doug’s book on Conquering Spiritual Evil. It seems the majority of people today do not want to believe such creatures exist in our day and age. They consider the idea of evil spirits to be a throwback to less enlightened times. Think again people. Think again.

tim-malone-baptism-postQ: You’ve written extensively about your reasons for resigning from the church while acknowledging that leaving the church is not the path for everyone. Are you finding that many people are choosing to stay notwithstanding their belief that something new is underway?

My decision to resign was due to my unique circumstances. I served in leadership positions in my current and previous stakes that made it hard for some people to accept what I was sharing on my blog simply as part of my gospel study. I have had former stake presidents, high councilors and missionary companions who now serve as mission presidents write to castigate me for what I have done in reading and writing about Denver and his books. What are they so afraid of? They are afraid for their children. I don’t blame them. They are trying to hold their families together.

My writings were a threat to them. I understand. That’s why so many went to my Bishop and Stake President asking them to rein me in. Because I served in a somewhat public position at the stake level, I felt it best to quietly resign instead of go the excommunication route. When the Bishop put me on informal probation for apostasy, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew I wanted to get baptized and to write about it on my blog. Why waste the time of sixteen good men? Others felt the desire to go through a disciplinary council. I had been through too many.

why-i-resigned-imageI do NOT recommend anyone leave the church to be baptized. If you want to be baptized, go ahead but don’t announce it like I did. My mission in life is different from yours. I am aware of several thousand who have been baptized. By the way, if anyone baptized reads this and has not yet submitted their name to Keith for recording, please do so before the deadline of July 1st. I wanted my name on that permanent record that will be presented in the temple when it is built. I want the Lord and the powers of heaven to see I am not ashamed to stand up and be counted.

I recognize I am a bit of a rebel, a risk-taker and a troublemaker. I am not afraid of doing what I feel the Lord has asked me to do. I know so many of my friends in the LDS Church are upset with me for what I have done and am doing. My answer is always the same. I spent just as much if not more time investigating the writings of Denver Snuffer as Brigham Young did when he investigated Mormonism. Hundreds of hours in study and prayer have led me to where I am today. No LDS Leader can say I didn’t follow the prophet – search, ponder and pray. I did.

The standard answer – I know, because I have received it in so many private emails from friends in my current and former stakes – is that I have been deceived. They shake their heads and make references to “even the very elect.” Fine. You think what you will. I understand. I tell you I am more certain of my path in life now than I have ever been at any time in the past. But my path may not be for you. Do as you feel directed by the Lord in prayer. There are so many who are doing a marvelous work in their wards and stakes by sharing truth quietly and with discretion.

One final word: please stop telling me over and over how important it is to focus on the Lord and not on Denver Snuffer. Don’t you think I know that? Everything Denver is doing is inviting us to rise up and come unto Christ – to come into His presence. I have a calling, an election and a sure promise as to that blessed event in my own life. I have years of work ahead of me. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. Denver is a servant, a teacher, a witness. He cannot save you or me. We must come into the presence of Christ for that. Wake up people. I get it. Do you?

The Fellowship of the Internet


mine-historianI’ve always wondered why some people are afraid of Utah history. The state has many beautiful stories to tell. Most of them are intertwined with the history of the LDS Church. Today I enjoyed a piece of that amazing history up close and personal. I went on a tour of the Dream Mine, also known as Bishop John Koyle’s Relief Mine. I met some wonderful people on the tour with me.

The Relief Mine is rarely opened to the public so this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. I counted about fifty people on the tour, some from Idaho, Arizona and me from California. My friend who lives in Leland, Bishop Koyle’s old ward, now part of Salem, invited me. He added to the comments of our guides and others on the Relief Mine board. I enjoy meeting my readers.

dream-mine-millIt was a forty-five minute hike to the top. This is not a tour for the faint-hearted. Carol stayed in the car while I got my exercise for the day. The view from the top is beautiful. Our guide told us about Bishop Koyle’s vision of the white city that would spring up almost overnight in a year of great economic catastrophe, also an election year, and a year the U.S. President is assassinated.

Tetrad of Blood Moons

Several in the group spoke of the tetrad of blood moons and their significance. The fourth in the current tetrad will occur on the 28th of September this year. There seemed to be quite a bit of knowledge of the Jewish holidays, their significance and the signs in the skies. One tour member has published a book on the subject: Seven Heavenly Witnesses of the Coming of Jesus Christ.

four-blood-moonsI don’t know much about the signs in the skies, but I do know the Lord said he placed the lights in the skies for our benefit – as a warning to signify timing. I also don’t know how much Bishop Koyle knew about the signs in the skies, but you’ll find his dream or vision of the last days to be very interesting. Again, part of that unique Utah history, not something to shun or to be feared.

I suppose what annoys me most when I bring up stuff like this are the comments I get from some readers who announce it is a waste of time and energy to even read or seek to learn the story of such unusual events. I don’t think we should be afraid of learning about unusual dealings in our history. A little knowledge, especially if you make an effort to get facts straight, can’t hurt you.

A Prosperous Church

payson-utah-templeThe night before, Friday night, Carol and I toured the beautiful new Payson Utah temple. This is a full-sized temple. The Church really goes all out on building these beautiful structures. There is no doubt they are impressive, built of the best materials and construction with wonderful designs. It was fascinating to watch the video presentation before and to see the huge turnout of people.

It looked like most of the people taking the tour were LDS. The majority dressed in white shirts, nice dresses and the like. Utah County has the largest concentration of LDS members – about 82% – than anywhere else in the world. I’m fairly certain it is also the largest source of tithing per capita and has the largest number of families sending missionaries to the rest of the world.

If you want to see the influence of the LDS Church, look no further than this area of a half million of the most conservative Americans anywhere. In Utah County – Provo, Orem, Spanish Fork, Springville, Payson, Pleasant Grove, Salem and more – families look happy and the people seem to be just as nice as can be. Utah County is the poster child for the success of LDS Mormonism.

A Little Off the Beaten Path

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking it. I’m just pointing out how unique this area really is. Where I live in Ventura County, California, LDS Mormons are less than two percent of the population, as they are throughout most of California. Note how I keep referencing the full term: LDS Mormons. I want to make sure you’re aware there are different kinds of Mormons.

dream-mine-entranceI’m a Mormon, but I’m not LDS. I claim Mormonism as my heritage because my family joined the LDS Church when I was five years old. Thus I’m still interested in all things LDS. History of Mormonism is especially interesting to me. That’s why I like going to places like Salem Utah on my vacation to see the Dream Mine, a place I’ve only read about, but not really a tourist spot.

It could be. I wonder if the shareholders have ever considered investing in improving the road up to the mine and perhaps charging for a more frequent tour. The four who contributed to the tour had wonderful and fascinating stories and history to tell. I know they work regular jobs, but with a little organizing and improvement, the Dream Mine could become a genuine tourist attraction.

A Working Vacation

I was pleased to read yesterday Elder Perry has returned to some of his duties in the Twelve. I’ve always liked Elder Perry even before I met him. I was also sad to learn of Elder Scott’s health. I still think there should be an emeritus status for the Twelve. They did it for the church patriarch. Now he’s gone and so is that office – forever apparently. That seems like something significant.

reunion coverI’ve arranged to meet with some writers and publishers this week while in Northern Utah. It’s been a long-time hobby to interview and publish stories of people who value the written word. Publishing a book is a labor of love. Most books sell less than a few thousand copies in their lifetime. Yet it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours to produce, edit and publish a good book.

They’ve agreed to allow me to interview them for the blog. I hope to publish a short summary of each of the interviews Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. After that I’ll be on my way to the Remnant Family Retreat up on the Grand Mesa in Colorado. I’m really going because my friend Bret asked me to be there. Besides, when I asked, the Lord didn’t say I shouldn’t go.

LDS Church Not the Only Way

I’ve prepared most carefully for my interview on Wednesday. If it turns out like I hope, the answers to the twenty questions I have prepared could turn into twenty posts. I think you’ll be interested. I am grateful the individual I’m interviewing agreed to be recorded. Some people won’t go on record. There is no attempt to get controversial quotes, just to understand truth.

TimBaptism2aCroppedI’m surprised how many people have told me I don’t stand a chance at salvation now that I’ve left the LDS Church. I simply don’t understand such a decidedly anti-Christ proclamation. I’ve been baptized – twice now. I’ve made covenants. Those have not been nullified. These covenants are between me and the Lord, and between me and my wife. Faithfulness brings the promises.

I’m grateful I was endowed and received the instruction in the sealing ordinance. You know as well as I do the sealing ordinance is conditional upon our faithfulness to God and to our spouse. Being a member of the LDS Church is NOT a requirement for the promises of God. What IS required is to establish that sacred and binding relationship with Christ. I consider that my life’s work.

Vacations – Good for the Soul

I’m looking forward to attending Church with my sister tomorrow. I don’t get to see her that often. Although my siblings and I get together once a year just before Thanksgiving, it can be difficult for my eldest sister to make it down from Utah. I admire my older sister. She has done well with her work in the LDS Church, although I try not to ask her details of what she does.

2014JamesMaloneSiblings2It is the Sabbath tomorrow, a day of rest. I like to read on Sundays – catch up on current views and interpretations of doctrine. It always gets me into the scriptures and onto my knees in prayer. Yes, even on vacation. I love the Lord and I love prayer. It can be the sweetest time as I petition the Lord to not forget His humble servant. Ah! Turn me not away, receive me, tho’ unworthy!

I need ever so much to forget about the demands of managing networks for my employer. Even on vacation, he still turns to me when something isn’t quite to his liking. I appreciate the trust, but wish I could get him to turn to others I have trained who are just as competent. The ways of the world are always there. I am grateful I have good employment and can take a long vacation.

The Fellowship of the Internet

salem-dream-mineThanks for letting me share my thoughts. Thanks for being my friends. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful things with me and bringing fascinating knowledge into my world. I appreciate every good book recommendation, every thoughtful discussion of doctrine and turning doctrine into a religion that can be practiced pragmatically. What good is religion if it doesn’t bring joy?

May God bless you my friends. You have blessed me. You help me understand what it is that the Lord is sharing with you in your life. I don’t claim many gifts. I have had dreams, visions, and have felt the gift of prophecy. I feel the comfort of the Holy Ghost, but also feel alone at times. I know the Lord tests us to see how we will respond. This life is surely a test of character.

We are each special and unique, blessed with various gifts. I want to be a part of Zion. I am still learning what it takes to prepare myself to be counted a friend of my Savior. I ask myself every day if I am living in such a way that He can trust me. There’s nothing I desire more than to be found worthy of being called a friend of the Redeemer of the World, to be His humble servant.

Until we meet again…

 

Suspending Judgment


moroni-manti-templeI’ve decided to go to the Remnant Family Retreat in a couple of weeks. A reader invited me to visit the Dream Mine next weekend for a rare tour. I’ve read a lot about it over the years but not being from Utah, have never been to see it. It’s also known as John Koyle’s Relief Mine. The story is quite fascinating and a bit heartbreaking, ending in yet another LDS excommunication.

Because there is a week between the Dream Mine tour next Saturday – sorry, not open to the public – and the Remnant Family Retreat on the 15th, I’ve asked a few Utah folks for interviews. These are all interesting people, each involved in writing and publishing. I’m grateful Carol will be joining me on some of the interviews. I hope to post something to the blog after each one.

Keep Thinking – Keep Learning

I’ve always been attracted to critical thinkers and writers, meaning I enjoy considering differing points of views on subjects. I appreciate a persuasive argument written by those who have taken the time to study both sides and have come to a careful, thoughtful conclusion. I have discovered I’m persuaded by folks who invest themselves in their positions, who practice what they preach.

Holding onto an idea or a belief as being inviolate simply because that’s the way you’ve always believed, or the way your family has always believed doesn’t cut it with me. We are here on this earth to discover for ourselves what we think and what we believe about important issues. I am convinced we can only do this by continuing to think, study and learn long after school is over.

Openly Consider Opposing Views

RemnantFamilyReunionFrom the day we agreed as a team of bloggers to announce it, the pros and cons of the planned gathering have been discussed on this blog and elsewhere. There have been some hard questions asked, apologies offered and in general, people have divided into two camps. One group seems convinced this is “rushing into the pass,” while the other seeks a spiritual worship experience.

I have thought about it, pondered it, prayed about it and still have not felt it is a bad thing. I had originally planned to not go, mainly because of the travel expense and because I didn’t want to add any more stress to my marriage. My resignation from the LDS Church has not been easy on Carol. I think getting away from our daily routine for a couple of weeks will be good for us both.

Asking Questions is a Good Thing

I offer my thanks to all those who participated in the dialog here and elsewhere. I don’t always join in but I always read and consider every comment. I think we should have to struggle with the implications of questions when they are raised. I appreciated Lynne’s posts, as well as those from Adrian and Bret. I think we should also deal with fears raised no matter who raises them.

I suppose fear is the greatest impediment to agreement. One side is afraid of something. It could be based on past experience, observation, or private knowledge not openly shared. I don’t know anything about sacred dance, but there are plenty of people who do. I willingly consider what they have to say. If I am fearful of being deceived, I close myself off to learning opportunities.

Long-Suffering, Gentleness and Meekness

7-elevations-of-wholenessOne of my readers opened my eyes recently to an unpleasant reality. She could read fear in my writing. She shared it with me. I reacted badly. Her response was so filled with love I could not help but be persuaded by what she wrote. I went back and reconsidered my judgement. I found I was wrong. Fear was crippling me. She recognized it and pointed it out. I didn’t want to face it.

I am grateful for her courage and her loving response. She is one of the people Carol and I are going to meet with in that week between the Dream Mine tour and the Remnant Retreat. My point is this: she expressed an observation out of love. I reacted out of fear. She responded with kind words. I was persuaded by her gentleness and meekness. I now have a new friend and am very grateful.

Keep Fear Out Of The Conversation

Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Isn’t that what dialog is all about? I watched some of the discussion about the Remnant Retreat go poorly because of fear. I suppose if there’s anything I want to get across in this post it is this: Fear will kill faith every time if you let it. Fear will keep us from learning and growing. Fear will cause us to judge. When we judge, darkness follows.

My personal experience with fear and the pain it has brought into my life has taught me more about myself than I wanted to know. It was not pretty. I know why some of my long-standing prayers haven’t been answered. I have discovered I still carry fear from years past that cripples me. I have wasted too many years listening to this fear. Ask yourself: do you carry any fears?

Faith and Fear Cannot Coexist

Casting Away Satan by Carl BlochFear prevents us from opening the heavens. Fear allows the adversary to keep us in the dark. Fear keeps our minds closed and causes them to shrivel. Fear prevents us from reaching for the things we desire most in life. Fear is irrational. It is based on a lie. Fear has only the power we give it. Fear causes us to judge without having all the facts. Fear keeps us from agreement.

Faith is a risky business. It requires us to step outside our comfort zone. It requires us to reach out in ways we have never done before. Faith is blessed of heaven and always will be. Any act of faith is encouraged by the angels. It takes courage. It takes a willingness to go beyond previous exertions. Faith is always rewarded. Faith can be its own reward. It brings confidence and light.

May God Bless Our Fellowship

I look forward to meeting many of you at the Remnant Retreat in two weeks. Carol won’t be there. She will be at the LDS Story Makers writer’s conference in Provo. I am so pleased with the amazing growth Carol has made in developing her writing talent over the past few years. I have watched her turn criticism into triumph. She amazes me. I’m so glad she still loves me.

I look forward to praying with you. I look forward to hearing from the speakers. I look forward to seeing so many of you again. Please forgive me if I don’t remember you right away. I met so many people at the lectures last year. May God bless those who come to the retreat with a desire to learn, to grow, to fellowship and to find comfort in shared meaningful worship experiences.

 

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