These Signs Shall Follow those that Have Faith


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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Doctrine and Covenants 63:9

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

 

Mark 16:20

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

65 And these signs shall follow them that believe—

 

66 In my name they shall do many wonderful works;

 

67 In my name they shall cast out devils;

 

68 In my name they shall heal the sick;

 

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

 

70 And the tongue of the dumb shall speak;

 

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

 

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

 

Mormon 9:24

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

 

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

 

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

 

Doctrine and Covenants 24:13

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

General Conf2015oct-Priesthood

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Give it a shot….see what happens yeah?

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EDIT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This warning will be especially true for beginners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evening with Richard Bushman


About a thousand other people and I enjoyed an evening with Richard Bushman last night. He spoke about Joseph and Emma for about 40 minutes and then entertained questions from the audience for another 40 minutes. While his insights on Joseph and Emma were interesting, I found the questions more fascinating, because they reflected a lot of the issues I blog about.

For those who don’t know, Richard Bushman is the author of Rough Stone Rolling, the 2005 biography of Joseph Smith that has become the definitive account of the prophet’s life as told from the viewpoint of a faithful historian. I took advantage of the opportunity to have him autograph my copy and was not the only one in the audience who waited in line to do so.

Open and honest discussion

It was wonderful to see so many people interested in learning more about this great man and the beginnings of the Mormon Church. Every time he finished answering a question a dozen more hands shot up. We could have been there for several more hours. I think that goes to show you how much we as a people appreciate someone who has studied the prophet’s life in such detail.

There were many questions that focused on the process of translating, the Urim and Thummim, the seer stone in the hat, polygamy, the three witnesses and the eight witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, the martyrdom, succession, Book of Abraham translation, Mountain Meadows massacre and folk magic. He welcomed every question and encouraged us to ask even the most difficult ones.

A well-qualified historian

One of the most refreshing comments I heard was his expression of appreciation to the church, specifically to the church historian’s office, Marlin K. Jensen and Richard E. Turley for the recent publication of Massacre at Mountain Meadows. He then said that he hoped that the church would do the same with the issue of polygamy, treating it openly and with historical accuracy.

Burt what impressed me most about the evening was the obvious fact that Richard Bushman is a highly respected historian who probably understands the beginnings of Mormonism as well as or better than anyone else. Besides being the co-general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, he chairs the board of directors of the Mormon Scholars Foundation.  He knows early church history.

Serving faithfully in the church

And yet, Richard Bushman has served as a bishop, a stake president, a patriarch and is currently a sealer in the Los Angeles temple.  I would say that he is a faithful, believing Latter-day Saint, in spite of everything he knows about early church history.  I bring this up specifically to make a point about a common response to my essays and how I can still believe when I know this stuff.

I recently had someone ask me how I was able to do what I do – serve faithfully in the church – in spite of all that I know about, as he called it, “the more disturbing facts of the origins of Mormonism.”  I think maybe he might want to redirect that question to someone like Richard Bushman who knows so much more than I do and yet has been a faithful believer all his life.

Believing in spite of knowing

This individual asked, “How do you reconcile your belief and what the church teaches, with the history of things like the origins of the temple ceremony, polygamy, first vision contradictions, development of the story of the restoration of the priesthood, and other issues?”  I answered him privately in an email but have been pondering this whole idea of believing in spite of knowing.

Frankly, it perplexes me. I think I have expressed this same sentiment several times in previous essays every time it comes up. What is so hard about studying and understanding our very early church history, warts and all, and then continuing to believe that Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of God to bring about the restoration of the gospel and his church in the latter days?

Shocked by our history

Are we supposed to be shocked, dismayed and overwhelmed with doubt every time we discover some new fact about the early days of the church?  For example, last night we were reminded that beer and wine were used by the early saints, and sometimes even whiskey.  Today, we would be shocked if we learned that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles drank a glass of wine.

Yet in volume IV, page 120 of the History of the Church on the date of April 17 1840 we read, “This day the Twelve blessed and drank a bottle of wine at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon forty years before.”  Things were different back then, weren’t they?  The Word of Wisdom had been received in 1833 but was not binding upon the saints as a commandment like it is today.

History not being hidden

When Fanny Alger was brought up by Brother Bushman last night as an example of an early failed attempt by Joseph to obey the law of plural marriage, I’ll bet there were a few people in the audience who did not know that Joseph had married this sixteen year old girl in 1833. The revelation on celestial marriage had been received in 1831 but Joseph was hesitant to obey.

For some reason, the idea that Joseph participated in plural marriage is supposed to be shocking to us. This continues to be one of the most common tactics of our critics – to try to shock us with facts that are supposedly being hidden from us by our modern church leaders.  Nothing could be further from the truth. We are always being encouraged to study our history and learn the facts.

Selling the Book of Mormon Copyright

Another example that our critics like to throw at us is the failed attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in Canada. Until recently, the only source for this event was the memory of David Whitmer who was not present when Joseph sent the brethren on their mission.  Joseph never said that it must have been a false revelation as Whitmer claimed he said upon their return.

We’re then supposed to conclude that if we can’t trust a revelation from Joseph then how are we supposed to know what is revelation from God. I’m not an apologist but I’m grateful that there are people who dig into these things to get the facts and present them for our review.  Of course, the same facts can be presented in favorable or unfavorable light, depending on where you go.

Consider carefully the source

For example, you can read the story of the copyright mission to Canada on MormonThink as supposed evidence that even Joseph Smith didn’t know when revelations were from God and when they were from the devil.  Yet you can read the same account in greater clarity and detail from a more trustworthy and reliable source like FAIR and come away strengthened in faith.

We could go on and on with hundreds of things that are supposed to be shocking to us modern believers of the faith because they seem so out of character with what we’ve been taught about Joseph or other leaders of the early LDS church. If we are bothered by something, then we need to do our homework and get all the facts as part of the process of confirming truth for ourselves.

Get the facts straight

If I were concerned upon reading that Joseph Smith was supposed to have said that even he didn’t know when a prophecy came from the Lord or that he is supposed to have said that a revelation he received must have come from the devil, as David Whitmer said he did, then I would want to read more about this and would be very careful about the source that I study.

Because if I believed that Joseph really said this, then that might lead me to conclude that if even prophets have a hard time understanding revelation, how can I really be expected to understand or know the truth of revelations that come to me, especially revelation that I think is telling me that the church itself is true? Do you see how important it is to get the facts of certain matters?

The Joseph Smith Papers

Of course Joseph never said that he must have received a false revelation.  In fact, according to more recent information discovered, the brethren who went on the mission to Canada in an attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon felt that they were successful on their mission and that the Lord was pleased with their efforts. The promised sale was conditional.

I’m grateful for brethren like Richard Bushman, who are helping to bring us the Joseph Smith papers. In volume 1 of the Manuscript Revelation Books, we have the full copy of the mission to Canada revelation. It can be read there. The criticism that Joseph later claimed that the revelation had not come from God is in all likelihood the product of a false memory by David Whitmer.

We can believe the prophet

As I wrote in a previous essay, I believe it is our lifelong pursuit to understand revelation and to come to know how the Lord communicates with each of us. We can rely on the promises of the Lord to lead us, guide us and walk beside us because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. I hope we cherish this gift and live worthy of the constant companionship of this promised revelator.

Joseph Smith knew when the Lord was inspiring him and so did most of the brethren who were with him at the time when he received revelation. We can trust that the Lord will help us to have the assurances we need to believe in the mission of the prophet Joseph Smith. Someday, we will meet Brother Joseph and if we still have questions about his life we can ask them to him directly.

Choosing to Act with Certainty


William Shakespeare was arguably the most influential writer in all of English literature. One of his plays, Hamlet, seems to have become so influential that it has profoundly affected the course of Western literature and culture even after 400 years. From Hamlet, I have chosen three themes that Shakespeare developed so beautifully: 1) The impossibility of certainty, 2) The complexity of action and 3) The mystery of life and death. These ideas are further advanced in Tom Stoppard’s existentialist work, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Through absurdity, we are lead to believe that 1) The world is incomprehensible, 2) We are insignificant and incapable of making meaningful choices and 3) We are but players on a stage.

The very purpose of life

In effect, Stoppard’s ideas are the same as Shakespeare’s, illustrated with an equal amount of wit, but in a much more bleak and sarcastic style. I dispute these ideas and in contrast, it is my contention that 1) We can choose what we believe about and do with our lives, 2) We have power to act and can cause things to happen and 3) We can be certain about our choices to act in this life. In fact, making choices and acting upon those choices is the very purpose of life. The process of choosing and acting brings great meaning and fulfillment to our lives and is of significant value to our mental health and happiness. It is by not acting that we forfeit opportunities for growth.

Removing doubt from our lives

When the ghost appears to Hamlet and makes him swear to avenge his father’s murder, Hamlet does not seek that vengeance right away. Hamlet is not sure that he believes the ghost is who he says he is or if he is telling the truth. He is uncertain. He is placed in a difficult situation and wants to be certain that Claudius is guilty before taking action. In an effort to gather support for his sworn course of action, he feigns madness and causes actions that will help him ascertain the veracity of the events related by the ghost. He asks the players to change the production so he can watch the reaction of Claudius when he sees his crime revealed in dramatic form. These are the actions of a very thoughtful and intelligent man.  It is obvious that his madness is an act. So it is not so impossible to be certain about things. Perhaps it just takes a little time and planning. A little later Hamlet witnesses Claudius confess his crime in prayer, thus his doubts are removed.

Dealing with uncertainty

In response to the confusion expressed by Guildenstern at the incomprehensibility of the events unfolding around him, the Player in Act II of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead says, “Uncertainty is the normal state. You’re nobody special.” Tom Stoppard purposefully demonstrates for us that Guildenstern does not have all the information he needs to make sense of the world around him. Obviously, Stoppard is relating that we are all in the same boat in that we also do not know of everything in the script, so to speak, except for the small part we play.

To act or be acted upon

Of course we are not really in the same boat as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in that we live in the real world where we can seek out and obtain more information if we chose to do so. They are only actors, figments of the imagination of Shakespeare and Stoppard, with no control over their lives.  In a sense, they are being acted upon by the whims of the authors. With their limited viewpoint, life does seem incomprehensible and impossible to be certain about anything.  On the other hand, we can discover, learn and choose to be certain in our beliefs about life around us.

Philosophies and belief systems

When the Player in Act III of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead says, “Life is a gamble, at terrible odds—if it was a bet you wouldn’t take it,” he is implying that the universe is unfair and does not discriminate between good people and bad; that rewards and punishments are entirely random. But is the world such a chaotic place as Stoppard seems to believe it is as expressed through the words of the Player? We go to great effort to create meaning in our lives, developing belief systems and philosophies that give us comfort and a sense of order. It’s true that we cannot control the elements and we cannot control what other people say or do, but we, all of us, have created philosophies or adopted religious ideas to help us cope with the seeming disorder and confusion. Thus, we create our own sense of order and fairness, especially if we look at this life as only a small part of our existence, a mere blip on the timeline of eternity.

To be or not to be

In what may be the most famous speech in the English language, Hamlet examines the mystery of life and death, weighing the moral ramifications of living and dying. “To be, or not to be,” he poses; to live, or not to live. Is it nobler to suffer a life full of “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” or to seek to end one’s suffering through death? He compares death to sleep and thinks of the end to pain, suffering and uncertainty that it might bring. In fact, he decides that it would be better to die than to live with the heartache and shocks of life.

Philosophical inquiry not enough

But then he considers the afterlife and the dread of possibly trading one miserable existence for something unknown but conceivably worse. He concludes that this dread makes “cowards of us all,” and so we thus continue to suffer through lovesickness, hard work, political oppression and a host of other undesirable afflictions common to all in this life. This speech connects several of the main themes of the play, including the idea of uncertainty, inability to act and the mystery of death.  Hamlet is deeply passionate and relentlessly logical but he has demonstrated for us the difficulty of knowing truth through philosophical inquiry alone.  There must be another way.

The power to act

There is a better way. When we are presented with something new or different from what we previously believed, we can choose to believe it or to reject it. When we choose to believe a piece of information, a theory, a philosophy or even a religion, we then have the power to act upon our new belief, thus causing results either within ourselves or the world around us.  We have that power because we are agents unto ourselves.  We can cause things to happen of our own free will.  In effect, it is the ultimate in scientific inquiry and the empirical method.  Once we act or cause action, we can then see the results for ourselves.  We then have knowledge.  We can now be certain about our choices to act in this life based on the results they bring about.

Experience brings knowledge

Let’s apply this to Hamlet. Presented with the news from the ghost that his father had been murdered by Hamlet’s uncle, he decided to believe it, at least partially, but also decided to obtain greater evidence. He caused the players to act as accusers which rattled Claudius into a confession overheard by our hero. Hamlet then had confirming knowledge, obtained by his own actions. He no longer needed to believe what the ghost said. He was certain of this thing.  He acted upon his belief and learned something for himself through his own experiences. He no longer needed to believe what someone else said was true. He now had a personal knowledge.

Ask the right questions

Now let’s apply this to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as presented by Tom Stoppard. These confused gentlemen are small players in the big picture, but we are made privy to some of their thoughts and actions while they are not on stage. When they encounter the Player, we sense that they have an opportunity to learn more about their purpose and meaning from him as he seems to know far more about what is going on than he reveals. If only the pair would ask the right questions, they might get some answers. Alas, they do not and continue to march through the entire book just as confused and bewildered as they began. Because they do not actively seek understanding from a potentially knowledgeable source, they therefore have nothing in which to believe or act upon. Consequently, they are unable to make any significant choices and obtain no confirming knowledge to make sense out of their life. They die meaningless deaths.

Choose what we believe

Finally, let’s apply this to us. We come into this world with no knowledge of the purpose or meaning of our lives. Over time, we are presented with a multitude of explanations, beliefs and philosophies to explain the events that are going on around us. Unlike players or actors on a stage who have no control of their lives, we have been given the ability to makes choices and act upon our beliefs. For example, we can choose to believe that there is purpose and meaning to life and that there is someone who knows the beginning from the end. Acting upon this belief, we seek for more knowledge from others who profess similar beliefs. Again, we are presented with choices as some will claim that their answers are the best. They invite us to act upon their beliefs as well as their requests to support them, often financially. They even invite us to participate in their cause in spreading their views to others.

Act upon our beliefs

Choosing to believe something and then acting upon that belief gives us experience. We can then decide if we like the results of our experiment. We can be certain that something is of value or not based upon our own experience. In the process, we learn a lot about ourselves. We discover what will satisfy us and what makes us happy. We rise to the level of our own desires for knowledge. The critical part of the process is to take action. Unless we act upon our beliefs we can never know for ourselves if it is of any value to us. For example, someone may tell you that seeing a Shakespeare play is an enjoyable and enlightening experience. But unless you go see one for yourself, you will never know. Similarly, the best way to learn something about a life philosophy or religion is to participate in activities that practitioners of that way of life follow.

We can be certain

We can choose what we want to believe, act upon those beliefs and then be certain for ourselves if those beliefs have merit or value. Life does not have to be so complex, uncertain or mysterious, especially if we reduce it to a serious of choices and actions. We choose to believe that an education is of value and act upon that belief by paying for an education and doing the hard work required to get a degree. We are then certain of the value of an education. We may decide that it was a waste of time and money or we may choose to believe that our life has been improved and enhanced by our achievement. After all, most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. The world is not so incomprehensible.  We are significant and more than just actors on a stage.  We are here to gain knowledge through our choices in life.

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