A Report from the Grand Mesa Retreat


grand-mesa-topAlthough I’ve seen a few reports of the retreat in various Facebook groups, only one offered impressions of the opening session. I would like to share a few thoughts about what took place that night. As I write this first part on Saturday afternoon, the majority of the people attending the retreat are up on the Mesa. After prayer, I decided to not go up there with such a large group.

I was on the Mesa Friday in between storms. It was beautiful, quiet and peaceful. It felt sacred. The Mesa is under a three-day winter storm warning. As I look up there this afternoon I see dark storm clouds. I wonder if it’s snowing. The schedule called for the men to go up there to practice giving blessings to one another and, if lead, to prophecy, similar to the school of the prophets.

These are good things to do. My difficulty is with the weather. I’m an old man and am not sure I could stand in the snow for hours upon hours. I know the Mesa is a sacred place. You can read much about it on various sites, especially those that describe the Native American legends and myths of the mesa. For example, Google “Legend of Grand Mesa.” There are several good links.

Inspiring Speakers, Uplifting Music, Sacred Dance

horah-dance-weddingThe Friday night session was enjoyable. It was well attended. My estimate is there were well over a hundred and fifty adults present, perhaps as many as two hundred. Arrangements were made for the children to be cared for in another location. There were four speakers presenting, each one enjoyable and uplifting. There was also sacred music and yes, sacred dancing as well.

You may recall the kerfuffle about the idea of sacred dance. Marti Grobecker introduced it to us in a most delightful way. I was standing in the back of the room, next to Bret, when she began speaking. In the middle of her presentation she stopped, looked directly at me and said, “You can’t quote this on your blog, Tim.” Everyone laughed. I promised her I would not quote her.

However, I didn’t say anything about describing the dance. It was lovely. So many people came up to the stage she had to split them into two dances. It’s basically a circle dance – circles within circles, with each circle going in the opposite direction. She described the purpose of the dance is to move the angels to attend and to bless. Those in the center of the circle receive more energy.

Sacred Dance – Historical Precedence

In the packet each participant received upon arriving was a copy of Marti’s paper on dance, a copy of Bret and Samantha’s book, Unequally Yoked, the schedule, directions to venues and music we would be singing. Here is a link to a PDF of the handout. Marti was kind enough to provide the document in a PDF format for anyone to download.

From my point of view, the dancing was one of the highlights of the evening. It seems everyone wanted to participate. There were only a dozen or so left in their seats. I even went up there with the intention of dancing but it was simply too crowded. I stood by and clapped with the music, a sort of Jewish tune. It reminded me of a Jewish wedding, but the music was NOT Hava Nagila.

Rock_Waterman_SayingsBy the way, Rock was the first speaker. He gave a delightful talk on being born of the spirit and how it had influenced his and Connie’s lives. After Marti’s dance presentation and a wonderful rendition of Beautiful Savior, Jacqueline Olson, who had traveled from Arizona to attend my baptism last year, spoke about getting to know Christ, his personality and how he speaks with us.

 

Brought Together Through the Internet

RemnantFamilyReunionFinally, Larry Winn spoke about his experiences in coming unto Christ. He sang for us and had us sing along toward the end. The feeling I got was similar to what happens in many missionary farewells as the audience sings, “God be With You.” I then offered the benediction, thanking the Lord for teaching us about sacred dance. I asked Him to bless Bret and Samantha for all they did.

At this point I’d like to refer you to Scott Stover’s account of the remainder of the conference. He came in just as we were singing Beautiful Savior. I agree with his observation that it sounded like angels, probably because of the high soprano descant. For me, the evening was a moving worship experience. The focus was Christ, hearing his voice, singing and dancing praise to Him.

I was happy to see so many familiar faces from the lectures last year or from their online profile pictures. Many of my favorite bloggers were there: Will (200 Words or Less), Joe (Just and True), Rock (Pure Mormonism), Adrian (To the Remnant), Jules (My Journey to the Fullness), Anonymous Bishop, Scott Stover (The Gospel according to Scoot) and Bret (77 Truths).

Protecting the Higher Elevations

winter-storm-warningI have to comment a bit more on the weather. Take a look at This short post on Bare Record of Truth on the weather forecast for the weekend of the retreat. A three-day winter storm warning in May on the same three exact days of the retreat seems quite the coincidence. The result was that the men were not able to go on the hike to the higher elevations of the Mesa.

Although I’ve only been up there once in my life, I felt like I was treading on sacred ground. I stopped at the visitor center, which was closed due to the snow and at the Grand Mesa lodge where I bought a gift for Carol. From what I understand, the men gathered in these two spots for their Saturday meetings up on the Mesa. They could go no higher because of the snow and mud.

I apologize to Bret for not being there Saturday. He had asked me to lead one of the groups, but in prayer that morning I had an unsettled feeling. I left early Sunday to meet Carol back in Provo but before I left I heard various reports that the meetings on the Mesa went well, even if all the participants were freezing their tail feathers off. I’m glad the experience went well for everyone.

Spiritual Experiences as a Group

grand-mesa-visitor-centerAs I finish this post it’s Monday afternoon. I’ve had some time to think about the retreat. In my estimation it was a success. It brought people together who had much in common. There was a sense of peace and unity, light and enlightenment, and a wonderful sense of worship and praise. But I keep thinking back to one of the six questions I didn’t get to ask of Denver on Wednesday.

“If an individual has met with the Lord, he will want to go out and bless his fellowman. So fellowships are important, yet it seems the actual rising up is an individual effort. Can you help me understand how the two work together?” It is similar to another question about fellowships he had answered previously so we skipped this one. What we did this weekend was a retreat.

I think Bret’s intent was to create a setting for people to have “spiritual experiences.” I put that in quotes because I have been pondering the idea of group spiritual experiences lately. Salvation is obtained from the Lord in repenting, receiving the ordinance of baptism and continuing to do all we possibly can to receive the Holy Ghost. These are individual efforts, but we serve in a group.

Individual Effort and Group Fellowship

OneHeartOneMindAbout having asked the Lord about this and hearing Denver’s answer, I think the optimum size for a fellowship, or a church, is perhaps as few as fifty people, surely no more than one hundred. What we participated in this weekend was labeled a retreat. It was not a conference in the sense that although I heard there were some baptisms, nobody was ordained or sustained in the priesthood.

Correction: Sustainings did indeed take place as noted in the comments. I was not there Sunday because of my desire to be with my wife, who continues to struggle with this whole movement and my involvement in it. I obviously missed some wonderful experiences. I will be reading Bret’s book for ideas on how I can deal with this lack of unity in my marriage. Thanks to several readers for the correction.

The work of salvation is both an individual effort – prayer, gospel study, repentance – as well as a group effort – service, paying tithing and meeting each other’s needs. The Retreat was good, but I kept wondering what purpose it served. Bret said it was called by Christ and I believe him but what was accomplished to build up his people? Well, we enjoyed each other’s fellowship.

I believe there were several group sacrament services – remember, I left on Sunday morning. I hope they were sacred experiences for all those who participated. If you feel inspired to share, I would like to hear how things went with the Sunday services. Did you go away filled? Was the retreat worth your time and the travel expense involved? Were you uplifted by the experience?

The Ordinance of the Sacrament

BreadAndWineWithout providing too much detail I would like to share what I feel was one of the most sacred experiences of my life. By invitation, I stayed in the home of an individual there in Cedaredge Friday and Saturday night. I started a three-day fast Friday morning so did not participate in the wonderful barbeque that was provided on Saturday. After the barbeque we had the sacrament.

I would say there were twenty to twenty-five of us present for the first round of the sacrament. Just as we were finishing, another twenty individuals showed up. We had the sacrament again. This time I was honored to perform the ordinance. After this, we had a few short testimonies from a few individuals as requested by our host. I was one of them. It was, to me, very sacred.

From many, many years of serving as a gospel doctrine teacher, a high counselor, or primary teacher, I have learned there are times the Lord can use me as a conduit to express his feelings for the individuals in the class. The same thing has happened hundreds of times when setting someone apart or giving a priesthood blessing. The love of the Lord flows through me to others.

Expressing the Love of the Lord

This was one of those occasions. We each have different gifts. Some have one. Some have many. Some come naturally. Some must be developed. Some are given without much more than asking. Others are only given after years of preparation. For me, this was one of those times where I felt the Lord had prepared me for this moment. I am grateful for the inspiration of my host in asking.

Now I don’t know if anyone else felt it, and perhaps it was the wine talking, but my heart was glad and I felt to express the love of the Lord for all present. I opened my mouth to do so and it was filled with words from the Lord in blessing all those present. Again, perhaps I was the only one who felt it, but the Lord was with me as power in the priesthood flowed through me to them.

I know it doesn’t sound like much as I read it on my computer screen, but as I thanked the Lord later that evening in personal prayer, He let me know that is why I had been invited and why He had inspired me to go to the retreat – so I could express love to those who were present for their efforts to travel and to participate in this retreat that He directed Bret to organize at this time.

The Retreat Was Pleasing to the Lord

unequally-yokedThat’s it. The post is open for discussion. You can argue what we did and what we experienced could have been felt within the confines of the LDS Church. I disagree. You can argue we are all apostates who partook of the sacrament without it being authorized by a local bishop. I also disagree with that. Say what you want. I was there. I know what I felt. It was a good thing.

Thank you Bret and Samantha, Rock and Connie, Marti, Jacqueline, Scott, Adrian and all those who helped out in the child care, the youth activities, the music, the venues, the sound system, the contributions to help those travelling from long distances and all the behind the scenes stuff. I know we didn’t get up to the higher elevations, but I believe the hand of the Lord was in that too.

Thanks Bret for letting me offer the prayer, for letting me help with the editing of the book and for helping this California native feel welcome so far from home. And to my unnamed host who allowed me to sleep on his couch, as I said privately, I don’t think I’ve had such a good night’s sleep – two nights in a row, as I did in your home. Truly, you are a man blessed of the Lord.

 

Of One Heart and One Mind


OneHeartOneMindI will present three cases for your consideration. I know each of these men, although one only through correspondence. I’ll include a few facts, then a few observations and perhaps draw a conclusion or two. There is a theme I’m hoping you’ll see. There is also a unifying factor in each of these cases which I believe can bond each of us even though we are mostly connected online.

Doug Mendenhall and the Jedi Workshops

First, consider the case of Doug Mendenhall. I met Doug about five years ago at a symposium he was hosting for my friend Anthony Larsen, the author of the Prophecy Trilogy of books on the last days. Doug wrote Conquering Spiritual Evil. He is the father of Denise Yale, a wonderful young lady and mother who lives without a veil, a very difficult thing to do in this dark world.

Doug conducts a series of lectures which he calls Jedi workshops. I think it’s funny, because as you’re probably aware, there are some in this world who have declared their religion to be Jedi. They take it very seriously. Doug’s material has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or even Yoda. Well, maybe a little bit of Yoda. It’s all about the spirit world around us.

When I heard Doug was coming to California to present a weekend workshop I knew I had to be there. A dozen open-minded people gathered in the home of one of our group in Oceanside and for twelve hours over two days we were introduced to ideas about how things work on the other side of the veil that, frankly, would blow your mind if you haven’t read some of Doug’s books.

Insights Into the Spirit World

Much of what Doug knows about the spirit world comes from Denise and Katherine or Kitten as she is called. Kitten is also sighted or lives without a veil. Life is very painful for Kitten. She has paid a terrible price in physical pain and near death, meaning she has been to the spirit world on many occasions, as has Denise. If you can open your mind and your heart, I recommend Denise’s book.

I enjoyed myself immensely during the weekend instruction. Could Doug prove all the things he was sharing? No. Did I accept everything he was sharing? Yes and no. I did not disbelieve. I had no reason to do so as I had limited experience with some of the things he was sharing. If you are interested in knowing details, email me privately and I’ll share some of the things that he shared.

Update: So many people have emailed to ask for a copy of the notes I have created a new post here: https://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/11/27/doug-mendenhall-jedi-workshop/

My observation: Doug has been called a whacko and worse by neighbors who should have been more loving and accepting of the difficult life through which his family has passed over the last dozen years. I love Doug. I appreciate how hard it must have been to write that book. I learned a lot from the book. He helped me through a difficult situation. His book was an answer to prayer.

When an Appeal is not an Appeal

Second, consider the case of Keith Henderson, the man who sealed Denver’s Phoenix / Mesa lecture. Keith was recently excommunicated, as one might expect. I shared his original letter to his local priesthood leaders here on my blog. It was an eye-opener. Some saw accusations in his letter. I didn’t. I saw statements of facts, observations and perhaps a few challenges to do right.

Keith and I have kept in touch. I have found him to be man of integrity and honesty. His words are thoughtful, cut deeply to the heart of the matter and caused me to ponder things of eternal significance in my own life as I had recently passed through a similar experience of having to decide how I felt about the influence the LDS Church wielded in my life. It was disconcerting.

Keith shared his letter of appeal with me this evening and gave me permission to share it on the blog. I am more than happy to do so because it illustrates a point of disorder in the church – that of announcing excommunications from the pulpit. I thought that practice stopped years ago. How does that fit into the appeal process? It doesn’t. It’s wrong and should not be done. Here you go:

Keith’s Letter of Appeal

November 3, 2014 – Appeal of Disciplinary Council Decision
The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
In care of *** * ******, President of the Clinton Utah Stake
[Emailed and post mailed November 4, 2014]

Dear Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf:

I have been excommunicated from the Church on the vague charge of apostasy. I did not attend the Stake Disciplinary Council because I asked President ****** what definition of apostasy I would be tried under, to which he took out the Church Handbook of Instructions. I said that I was already familiar with the definition contained therein. He said there would be no use in wasting my time or his by re-reading it. I then stated to him that I desired, and felt to have the right to be tried as pertaining to the instructions in the scriptures, and not by the instructions of men mingled with scripture as contained in the semi-secret Church Handbook of Instructions, and if this cannot be, then I refuse to attend such a farcical hearing.

I therefore appeal to the First Presidency to overturn the decision to excommunicate me from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immediately reinstate me to full fellowship for the following reasons, and under the following premises:

D&C 102: 27 says, “should the parties or either of them be dissatisfied with the decision of said council, they may appeal to the high council of the seat of the First Presidency of the Church, and have a re-hearing, which case shall there be conducted, according to the former pattern written, as though no such decision had been made.”

2. D&C 20: 80 states with no equivocation, “Any member of the church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.

• The Church Handbook of Instructions neither purports to being part of the canon of  scripture, nor does it come up to any definition of such. For instance we have in the Bible Dictionary the following definition; “[Canon] is used to denote the authoritative collection of sacred books used by the true believers in Christ. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the canonical books are called standard works.” The Church Handbook of Instructions is not part of this collection, neither has it [unlike the others] been voted upon by the common consent of the members as being binding as scripture upon them.

• If I had been tried according to the requirements of the scriptures I would have been tried in a court of two or more Elders, the court having been initiated by at least two accusers who were worthy members of the church and eye witnesses of my crime. The scriptural requirement is that they be of my peers (not leaders), whom I would have been able to question; and then, whereupon having been found guilty, the verdict would have then been presented to my congregation. They would have then voted by the raising of the arm to sustain or not. This scriptural requirement for dealing with transgressors or those at fault was not followed, nor even suggested, except by me.

3. Current church practice in church courts creates conflict of interest.

The witnesses who present evidence or who make accusations and bear testimony are, and should be biased, but the High Council and particularly the Stake Presidency take the role of judge, and consequently are supposed to be unbiased and impartial. This requires that neither of these two sitting councils can act as witnesses or make accusations. Any church court that has any of the councilors or any of the stake presidency acting as witnesses or making accusations, in any degree of bias, cannot be called impartial, and thus should recuse themselves from voting on the guilt or innocence of the accused. This then should make such a court null and void as there could never be a fully impartial council under these circumstances. Otherwise it is nothing but a farce.

4. Evidence is not enough.

There is a scriptural process called the Law of witnesses and it is in place for a reason. Evidence or hearsay of wrongdoing without an eyewitness testifying, is insufficient. The witnesses are the saints, and it takes a saint to condemn anyone. Also, every word must be established by two or three witnesses. So if someone in the church, for example, publishes his ideas in a paper, but none of the saints are offended by it, or bring up accusations against the author, the Stake Presidency has no jurisdiction to lay charges against the author, nor does the High Council, nor does the Bishopric. Charges and accusations can only come from a saint’s testimony and it requires two saints for any of these councils to obtain jurisdiction to bring a judgment against a member. The Lord made it this way because it is the jurisdiction of His saints to have the first, and the final word, judging both the nations of the earth and also Zion.

So let the scriptures themselves reiterate: “But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. (D&C 42: 81.)

I submit that not even a modicum of proper evidence has been established against me as perpetrating even a hint of the crime of apostasy and that judgment of me as committing such was done with prejudice and partiality on the part of both my bishop and stake president, because they acted as both accusers and judge. I do not say that I have not written papers concerning my beliefs and understanding of the scriptures. But I do say that if they caused any offense which might have warranted excommunication, it was not handled in any sort of a proper manner by any of those charged as my leaders who have the responsibility of following the scriptures, which delineate the proper procedures to be used.

I therefore repeat my request, and appeal before you, that you take all these objections to that which has been done so far, and overturn the horrendous mistake which has been made by those concerned, and reinstate me immediately to full fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sincerely, Keith M. Henderson

Observation: What will happen if the First Presidency decides the appeal has merit and reinstates Keith into full fellowship? What will the bishop do in view of the fact he has stood in front of the priesthood, the relief society and in fact, the whole ward in Sacrament meeting specifically to announce that Keith has been excommunicated for apostasy? Is there a procedure to retract?

A Wild Man Has Come Among Us

Third and final case: I know the majority of LDS Church members have not heard of Denver Snuffer. They are not aware of or read his publications, nor have they considered the message he delivered up and down the Mormon Corridor over the past year (Sep 2013 to Sep 2014) at his own expense in a series of ten lectures. He claims to have done this at the direction of the Lord.

I have considered the message he has delivered. I have read his books, listened to the lectures, studied, fasted and prayed about the message I heard and the claims made. I suppose this is the heart of the matter I want to consider tonight and why I’m sharing this with you. Denver has had a tremendous influence upon thousands of Mormons, both in and out of the LDS Church.

Now that the message has been delivered, he is busily engaged in revising, editing and preparing the message for publication in a book form. It is all about the restoration, what was originally revealed and what the Lord tried to accomplish through Joseph Smith – preparing a people for Zion. With Denver spending every free moment on the book, a sort of vacuum has developed.

Looking for a Strongman

People are attracted to confident leadership. We seem to gravitate to those who speak with authority and sound a clarion call to action. It is actually a rare commodity in today’s world. Business leaders tend to get action through force, threats, fear and coercing. It is rare to find a leader who wields power and influence through love unfeigned, long-suffering and persuasion.

I know many people, especially those in my son’s generation, have said, “now what?” They have said it directly and they have implied it in what they are writing and sharing on the blogs and in the forums. They are looking for leadership – someone to tell them what to do. They are looking for a strongman to take charge, to make things happen and to lead them to the Promised Land.

In steps Bret Corbridge, who has called a conference to be held on May 15th on the Grand Mesa in Colorado, a sacred land and a land of promise. Bret is the author of 77 Truths but don’t call him a strongman. Bret has said his role in this conference is to organize, not necessarily to teach. Some are wondering about this conference, it’s significance and if it is the start of something such as the building of Zion.

Surely Zion Shall Dwell in Safety Forever

What do each of these men have in common? It is a love of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a desire to help others come unto Christ and to experience the joy that comes from knowing him. Each has expressed and demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice and to obey the promptings of the Lord. Except for Doug, they have each been cast out of the LDS church on vague charges of apostasy.

Consider the phrase the Lord uses in Moses 7:18 – “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” I know many who are contributing their tithing to various groups with the specific intent of helping to care for the poor among them. But I’d like to consider the idea of one heart and mind.

I’d also like you to think about how we interact with one another on this blog. It is my belief that almost everyone who comes to this blog loves the Lord, wants to know Him, to please Him, to serve Him and to help others to come unto Him. Each is blessed with different talents and many different ways of seeing life, current events, interpreting scripture and exercising spiritual gifts.

The Holy Ghost Fell on Many

My friend Log has been trying to make a point about the Golden Rule. Some of his observations are astute and astounding. They have helped me as I have had to deal with a difficult situation in my business dealings over the past few days. Log has a need, a desire to express himself under the cover of anonymity. He has his reasons. He is not anonymous to me. I love Log as a friend.

Lynne has shared an excellent post about Having Skin in the Game. I loved and appreciated her forthright comments. I found them inspiring else I would not have posted them under her name with her permission. Nate – Minority of One – has posted some of the most read and commented posts about the Savior and Mother in Heaven that I have found both enjoyable and enlightening.

Accept Imperfections in Each Other

I have in my email archives thousands of private emails from the past seven years. Readers come and go but they all seem to have one thing in common. They are searching for something. We want community. We want to share. We want to express ourselves and to be understood. But the most basic thing I see is we are all of one heart and one mind – we love and want to please God.

I have invited a few other regular readers to share posts, which they will be doing in the near future. I invite each of you who come here to read and share to make the effort to remove any kind of judgment from your heart. I know its human nature. I don’t like receiving emails or texts or phone calls discussing other readers or writers. We love the Lord. Let’s be united in that love.

77 Truths – A Book Review


77TruthsI promised my friend Bret I would provide a review of his book, 77 Truths. I usually wait until I finish a book before I write an analysis. In this case, I simply can’t wait. It’s too good. I thought I would read at least the first 21 Truths before writing anything. He recommended that would be a natural stopping point, but I decided after the first three Truths I just had to share something.

Bret’s book is filled with quotes and scriptures. Original content is actually quite sparse, but Bret didn’t need to add much to the collection he provided. If he had, his book would have been much larger than 460 pages. I don’t see how he can publish this for $17.95 and still make a profit, but maybe that’s not his intent. The book is on sale for about $15 at Amazon today, an amazing deal.

For Personal or Group Study

The format of the book is large – 8.5 x 11 – and the layout is unusual in that the scriptures and quotes are center-justified. Thus, most of the book has that appearance. What Bret has done is collect, arrange and comment on his selections in order to make a point or establish one of the truths presented in each chapter. His comments are full-justified, so they’re easy to distinguish.

So why is this book better than Especially for Mormons, which is also a collection of quotes, stories and poems? It’s simple. Bret is not focusing on emotional, feel-good, or inspirational stories. He is presenting truth and backing it up with evidence. Each truth is three to five pages, making it ideal for teaching and discussing in a small group setting lasting an hour or two.

There are seven chapters:

  1. Father’s Eternal Life
  2. The Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
  3. Apostasy by Omission
  4. Cleansing America and the Church
  5. The Fall of Babylon
  6. Gathering the Remnant
  7. Latter Day Zion

I hope to write more about the other chapters in a later post, but for today, I will share a few thoughts about the first chapter. In fact, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to let Bret’s words speak for his book. Omitting all the quotes and scriptures, I’ll share what Bret has written only about the third truth, and if the post isn’t too long, I’ll add a few words at the end.

——— Beginning of Material from Bret ————

Truth #3 – Those seeking salvation in this life and exaltation in the worlds to come must have an eye single to the glory of God. Centering our faith on a “Lesser God” is not spiritually sufficient.

Note to Reader: The purpose of this section is not to criticize the brethren or speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. There is a difference between being intentionally negative about the church versus providing the light needed to obtain a proper hierarchy of focus and worship.

[Quote from Neal Maxwell removed] The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to have an “eye single to the Glory of God” (D&C 4:5). Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to worship the prophet, church, or family, and yet much of today’s Mormon conversation repeatedly focuses on these secondary aspects of the gospel.

[Quote from President Kimball removed] It is an individual and collective choice whether “our god” will be the telestial toys of Babylon, the terrestrial treats of the church, or the Celestial Gods of this Universe.

Growing believers may initially place their faith in the church and its prophet. This trend is summarized as emotional stories and vain repetitions. Heartfelt proclamations such as “I know the church is true,” “We are led by a living prophet,” and “I love my family” are commendable beliefs. Unfortunately, when these supportive elements become the core of our testimony, we may have looked beyond the mark of Christ (Jacob 4:14)

[Quote from Joseph Smith removed] In Mormonism today, emphasis on prophet, church and family frequently overshadows focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Savior is mentioned, it is often implied that He is supportive of “the church” instead of the other way around!

A Jealous God

[Exodus 20:3-5 omitted] Being a “jealous God” means the Almighty wants our problems, praise, devotion, focus, worship, affection, and sins. Thus, a significant difference exists between knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer, and friend and having a testimony based on “following the prophet.”

Who is your God?

[Quote from President Benson removed] The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that remaining dependent on other human beings – even if they are true prophets, correlates with telestial glory (D&C 76:99-101). Those who place their trust primarily in church leaders and fail to demonstrate a valiant testimony for Jesus Christ, do not qualify for celestial glory.

The Glory of Men

[D&C 76:98-102 omitted] Under Father’s tutoring hand disciples grow from emphasizing other men to worshipping God the Father personally without apology. This essential shift occurs through sacrifice and adversity, for it is when our hearts have been shredded and torn asunder that we finally stop making excuses and reach out to the only being who can truly save us.

In the Mirror

[Quote from Jeff Ostler omitted] To assist us in surrendering our entire souls unto Christ, endowed members are invited to consecrate themselves, time, talents, and all that they possess to the building up of the kingdom of God on earth. To fulfill this covenant requires that we honor the true Bridegroom and end our “affair” with any of the “lesser gods.”

Father First

[Story omitted about visit from General Authority] Gratefully, our Father did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Because of His divine patience and endless love Father stays with His children until they are ready to grow beyond mortal distraction and worship Him as the only living and true God! (D&C 20:19). The result of this process is a proper hierarchy of worship.

Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God (Jeremiah 30:22)

Another type of “false-god” involves trusting in our own “arm of flesh.” With so much focus on goals, personal performance, and “hastening the work,” is it possible our obsession with doing good works actually represents a subtle form of self-worship? Does being active in the program of the church and answering a few temple recommend questions really make us worthy? [Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler]

Under the chastening hand of our Father, a mighty and disturbing day arrives wherein you realize that what “you want,” your passions, desires, and vain ambitions, and all that you have sought to do with “your life,” is a form of idolatry. During this disturbing and freeing moment, the growing disciple realizes that he or she has been worshiping self over God. This awakening can result in a needed “coup,” which involves our personal spirit again becoming dominant over the natural man. It is then that individual enters into God’s sacred errand.

In relation to this process, consider Joseph Smith’s observation … “all the religious world is boasting of righteousness; it is the doctrine of the devil to hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness.” His warning requires us to ask, have we become too prideful about being active in the Lord’s church?

Saving Ourselves?

[Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler] To imagine ourselves independently “worthy” is an illusion of the ego. The shadow within loves to focus on self and proclaim, “Now is the day of my power!” When this occurs, our imagined “righteousness” delays us from receiving the only one who can really save us. Author M. Catherine Thomas provides an excellent example of growing from a “self-salvation” mindset to a place where we can be transformed by Christ. [Quote omitted]

Just Come

In choosing God and His gospel above all else, much of the world becomes superficial and meaningless. The previous glitter of Babylon fades and we discover, “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalms 118:8). With consistent effort, every believer can come to that glorious day when he or she makes an irrefutable stand for Christ, and with broken heart and bleeding knees, proclaims, “The Kingdom of God or Nothing” (John Taylor).

——– End of Material from Bret ———

I see my friend Kathryn has purchased the book, written a short, five-star review and posted it on Amazon. I hope more people will do the same. The book deserves a grassroots effort to bring it to the attention of thoughtful readers. I will post my review there as well as on Goodreads. Having Bret visit my home and talk about the process of writing the book helped tremendously to understand.

The source for each of the 802 quotes is listed in the Bibliography at the end of the book. You will recognize many if not most of the 100 names of individuals he quoted. I was surprised to find my own name acknowledged, along with several of my friends. It makes me want to take the time to finish the book even sooner. I wonder if something I wrote is included in the book.

Proper Hierarchy of Worship

I stopped after truth #3 in my reading and included it above because I was so impressed with what was shared. It loses a little something without the quotes, but it gives you a flavor for the boldness with which Bret states each truth. I can tell you from personal experience, as I’m sure many of you can, Bret is right on that Mormonism today puts the church ahead of the Savior.

Those steeped in LDS culture are shocked if anyone suggests they are following a man, even if he be a prophet. Isn’t that the most important thing? Well did Denver Snuffer nail it when he wrote there is but one doctrine left in the LDS Church – follow the prophet. That seems to be mantra to solve every problem, answer every question. Wrong – so wrong. We are to follow the Savior.

Visit the Website: 77Truths.com

One last thing: Visit Bret’s website. As of this moment, there are unfinished sections. I look forward to seeing his blog get started as well as work on the dictionary / glossary I see planned. Bret has put a tremendous amount of thought, effort and time into this work. He told me he finished the majority of the book a couple of years ago but the Lord asked him to wait until now to publish it.

I wonder why.

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