Praying on the Mountain Top


praying-on-a-mountain-topOver the last few months I have been scouting local hiking trails for places to be alone. Why? There is something about raising your voice in prayer that makes it more powerful, or at least that has been my experience. I thought I had found two such locations but each time I returned to them, they seemed desecrated – beer bottles strewn about, signs of a party, things such as that.

So I kept searching. One of the first place I went was Mt. Pinos on the Kern County line. Sadly, it was covered in snow the first time I was there. I made a promise to come back. Thursday I did so. After performing a marriage for a friend and partaking of the sacrament, I began the hike up to the top. Just before I got there, the spirit whispered, “Turn off here, go left, I will direct you.”

I was not disappointed. After less than five minutes I encountered a beautiful fallen log, with an area encircled by the log as if it were set aside for privacy. I needn’t have worried. It was 4:00 in the afternoon and I had only seen two couples on the trail. They were going down as I was going up. I knew the Lord had directed me to this place. I had been praying about it for several months.

A Quiet, Peaceful Circle

ForestLogI sat in the enclosure with my back to the tree and began to pray. I will filled with joy and desired to express it. I prayed for about a half hour. I am not sure I asked for much other than to bless my friends and family. I had much to tell the Lord. Doing so in “voz alta” seemed to give my words that extra power and direction I had been searching for. My heart was overfilled with gratitude.

It’s Sunday as I write this so I have had time to ponder what happened. No, I saw no light, was not visited by any beings from the unseen world, and did not hear any voices speaking out loud. However, and of this I am certain, the veil was thin. I was surrounded by those who loved me. I felt their love. I knew they were there. Was it all in my mind? I suppose you could say that.

So what? Did that make it any less real? Not to me. The feeling of “thinness” of the veil stayed with me all the rest of that day and into the next. I expressed it in family prayer that night. Carol looked at me a little funny. There were words I did not normally used – expressions of purpose and meaning that were strong, powerful and heart-felt. They came from this feeling of thinness.

The Elements of Prayer

minds-eyeHow can I explain it so you will understand? I’m not sure I can. I was filled with peace, joy and a sense of connection to those unseen beings all about me. It was as if they too had been waiting a long time to “make the connection” and impart something unto me I cannot describe. A think a gift would be the best word – a spiritual gift, one filled with longevity and one that would grow.

I felt the Lord was pleased. In fact, I know he was. While I did not hear audible voices, there were voices in my mind, familiar voices I had heard before, especially that of the Lord. He let me know I was on the right path. He expressed satisfaction as I thought about some of the sacrifices I had made lately. He made it clear He was aware of them and appreciated them.

Open to my mind’s eye was a vision of what the future held. This is not unusual. I have had such visions before. They are always dependent on my behavior, my actions and how hard I worked to cause them to come to pass. They were familiar, as if I had seen them before, some place or time in the distant past, others in the more recent past, meaning sometime earlier my mortal life.

The Effort is Worth it

mesa-homesWhy am I sharing this? Am I trying to impress? I hope not. My desire is to communicate the idea the Lord answers prayer, especially if we make the effort to place ourselves in a spiritual state of peace and focused relaxation. I don’t know why, but my nightly prayers simply don’t come close to this kind of communication. Perhaps it’s because I’m still so wrapped up in the day’s work.

I prayed about whether I should share this. It was clear the Lord desired I at least document even if only as a part of my personal journal. In this case, the impression came that the idea of making the extra effort to be alone in the woods or on top of a mountain would be helpful to someone. I want to make it clear the Lord answers us according to our efforts to reach him in such a manner.

Was it worth it to climb a mountain for an hour or more? You can drive most of the way up. Yes, Absolutely. I used to find quiet spots on the mesa in St. George earlier in my life when visiting my in-laws. This was the same sort of prayer then – filled with a close bond that seemed to be obtainable in no other way. It is in these sort of prayers that the veil is thin and impressions clear.

Prayer Brings Confidence

sealing-of-couplesMy heart was filled with joy as I descended the mountain. Nothing had changed as far as my work and work expectations. In fact, I had to go back to work that night to take care of some things on the network that could only be done after everyone was gone for the day. I don’t think anything was changed as far as my relationship with my wife, it being a little strained right now.

What did change was a sense I was on the right path. No, it was more of a confirmation of such. I KNEW I was on the right path. My efforts and reading, studying and sharing both on my blog and in private emails was pleasing to the Lord and He let me know it. I came down with a greater sense of encouragement, a greater desire to make a difference, to contribute, to strengthen others.

As a note of closing, I want to express thanks to Keith for sharing certain things on his blog. For the first time in nearly two years, I was able to perform a priesthood ordinance outside my own home. At one point I was touched. I had clearly seen myself performing this ordinance when I had prayed for permission to do so previously. It was acceptable to the Lord. His voice is unmistakable.

God bless…

Sinning Against the Greater Light


MoroniAndJosephWhen I resigned from the LDS Church, I thought I would continue to support Carol in her desires to sing in the choir. I grew up playing the piano for a few years, performed in a school band and have generally loved music all my life. I married a woman who has a beautiful voice, who loves to sing and understands, as I do, that singing with a choir is a way to worship God.

I am on the ward and stake choir email lists. I received invitations to practice for our upcoming stake conference and for our annual Christmas concert. The ward choir director approached me personally about participating in the choir. There are only three or four tenors who will sing. I suggested he check with the Bishop to make sure it was okay with him. Apparently it was not.

Come Sing Praises Unto the Lord

Having been a counselor in the bishopric over the ward choir in years past, I know how hard it is to get people to sing. Sometimes, we have even issued callings to people to sing in the choir as a way of getting them to come out to practices and perform. I clearly remember asking members to invite their friends who are not LDS to come join us in the choir to bolster that worshipful sound.

I won’t take the time to review the handbook. If someone else wants to look it up and correct me, they are welcome to do so. I’m confident there is nothing in the handbook stating someone who is not a member of the LDS Church can’t sing in the ward or stake choir. In fact, I am fairly certain I remember places in the handbook where inviting non-members to sing is encouraged.

Where Much is Given, Much is Required

Carol and I discussed this. She said she also spoke with the bishop about me singing in the choir. I wasn’t there so I can’t share exactly what was said, nor can Carol remember the exact words. However, the phrase, “sinning against the greater light” (D&C 82:3) was brought up. That took me by surprise and got me pondering and praying about that scripture. So I took it to the Lord.

“For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” I have a few questions for discussion by this group if you are willing engage me in dialog. First: Is it a sin to resign from the LDS Church? If so, why? Do we automatically assume one who resigns from the LDS Church has sinned against the light?

No Claim Until the Work is Completed

Look, I’ve been clear all along. I have not had that personal visit from the Lord. I have not had that physical embrace with the Lord. I have heard His voice and I have been born of the spirit. I can even make an argument for saying I have had my calling and election made sure, but I won’t because the Lord and I are still working that out. Some of you know what I’m referring to here.

I think I understand the bishop’s concern. Because of my blog, my case is well known in my ward and stake. I think it was a shock to many people when I resigned. It would make people uncomfortable to see me singing in the choir. I get that. I agree with the Bishop’s decision. But I don’t agree with the statement, either said or implied that I have sinned against the greater light.

The Holy Ghost Brings Light and Truth

The Bishop doesn’t know how much light I have. I know the scriptures and the LDS Church place the Bishop in a position of being a “Judge in Israel.” I believe the Bishop is entitled to inspiration. I have seen it in action. But my judge is not an LDS Bishop, nor is it an apostle in the LDS Church. My judge is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to him I answer. I seek to please the Lord.

I’ve raised this point before. I prayed deeply about resigning. The Lord and I discussed it often. I studied and prayed about the message delivered by Denver Snuffer for over two years. I knew I wanted to be baptized as a sign to the Lord I accepted His message and His messenger. I knew it would not go over well with my local priesthood leaders. Thus I resigned. That’s old news.

The Holy Ghost Comes to Those Who Obey

AlmaAndAngelThe definition of light in the scriptures is synonymous with intelligence and truth. Light comes to us as we study truth, ponder and pray about it. The glory of God is intelligence or light and truth (D&C 93:36). We know it is impossible to please God without exercising faith. Faith is a principle of action. It is one thing to believe something is true. It is another thing to act upon it. Faith requires action.

As Carol and I discussed it, we agreed just about any bishop in the LDS Church would have done what our good Bishop did. He called me in for counseling. He expressed his loving concern for me. We discussed my spiritual growth and my testimony. My testimony was moving away from accepting the LDS Church as being authorized to administer the ordinances of salvation.

Keys of the Kingdom Were Lost

Joseph was and is a prophet. The Book of Mormon is scripture. It contains the word of God. The LDS Church was at one time “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D&C 1:30) I was willing to sustain President Monson as a prophet, seer and revelator because that’s the title we have given to our leaders. I agree with Denver’s claim that the LDS Church lost something.

The higher priesthood was lost when Joseph was killed. The remaining authority, the keys of the kingdom, was lost when the LDS Church exercised unrighteous dominion in casting off Denver Snuffer for apostasy. He did what the Lord told him to do in publishing PtHG. I have asked the Lord. I have discussed it with Him. He has told me in no uncertain terms Denver was authorized.

Never But One on the Earth at a Time

ProphetJosephSmithStatements like these are annoying to true believing Mormons. I used to be one of them. I think I still am – a Mormon, that is. I claim the right to call myself a Mormon because I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I am simply not a member of the LDS Church. There is only one man on the earth at a time that can exercise all the keys of the priesthood. (D&C 132:7)

If the Lord told me Denver was authorized to speak in the name of the Lord, that the message he has delivered was authorized of the Lord, that he had the sealing power as well as all the keys of the priesthood that can be bestowed upon man while in the flesh, then where does that leave President Monson? Who do I believe? Do I believe the Lord or do I believe LDS truth claims?

Light Comes In Acting Upon Truth

As always, the bottom line lies in personal revelation. There is only one counter to a claim from someone who says he is authorized to speak on behalf of the Lord and has a message for all. We normally reserve that for a prophet. Therefore, Denver is a prophet. The counter claim, of course, is that Denver is a liar and I have been deceived. This is not new. I’ve been told this many times.

Back to the original point of determining how much light an individual has. In my pondering on the subject, I have decided the more light a person has the more quickly they recognize truth and act upon it. Wealth is not a determining factor of light. Social position does not determine light. Even position in the church does not help us ascertain the amount of light someone has acquired.

Careful and Ponderous and Solemn Thoughts

The only determining factor I have been able to use for my own purposes in deciding who I should listen to and allow to influence me is how deeply they have sought for light and how quick they respond to new light they gain. I am impressed by a man who can not only use the scriptures in preaching the gospel but can use his own personal revelations to confirm them.

“The things of God are of deep import, and time and experience and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O Man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost Heavens, and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of eternal expanse; he must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart, none but fools will trifle with the souls of men.”

The Lord is the Keeper of the Gate

Joseph taught clearly the need we each have to commune with God directly, to spend our time in careful, ponderous and solemn thought. In other words, if we want to be filled with light, we must search and contemplate the things God has revealed through others, and then verify them for ourselves in our conversations with the Lord. We must then act upon the light we receive.

Each of us can know for ourselves the things of eternity. We do not need to rely upon another man to tell us the way things are in the heavens. While we are yet tender in our knowledge, it is understandable we would lean upon others more experienced and wise in the ways of the Lord. But in the end, it is the Lord we must meet at the gate which is meant to be opened in this life.

Confidence in the Presence of the Lord

TimBaptism2aCroppedI am grateful I can say I have done as the Lord has asked me. I am grateful to feel my confidence waxing stronger in the presence of God. (D&C 121:45) I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost in my life to a greater degree than ever before over the past six weeks since I was baptized. The promises of the Lord are real. The Holy Ghost is real. We can obtain and know the Mind of Christ for ourselves.

Have I sinned against great light? I don’t think so. I simply resigned from the LDS Church. I do not recommend this for everyone who comes to know the message delivered by the Lord through Denver was inspired, revealed and authorized. In my case, it was the right thing to do. I have felt the sustaining hand of the Lord in my decision, in the gift and companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

But that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Is resigning from the LDS Church a sin? Is it more important to remain a member of the LDS Church than it is to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost? Can we be confident an invitation to be baptized anew is authorized of the Lord? How confident are you in your relationship with the Lord? Have you heard His voice to you?

The signs of change are all around us now – both within the Church and in the world. No man knows the hour, but we know the Lord sends prophets to warn us. (Amos 3:7) Is it possible the Lord can endorse a man’s decision to leave the LDS Church? I claim He did – for me. On the other hand, he may tell you to stay and work within the Church to help prepare others for the coming of Zion.

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