Faith, Sacrifice and Making a Living


 

avjet_wwii_smallSeveral readers have asked me if I am still blogging. The answer is no, even though this is a new post. To me, blogging is writing often, like two or three times a week, and spending considerable thought and research on the subject. Active blogging also involves promotion in order to increase your readership. I did that for many years, but now I write just to share observations on occasion.

Something I have noticed over the past few years is how much sacrifice the Lord asks of us. He asks kindly, but can be rather insistent at times. Agency is honored, but if we think about what the Lord is trying to accomplish, He is more than willing to provide glimpses of what He has in mind. That’s a general rule I’ve noted. Sometimes, it’s a strong impression with no explanation.

May I share an example that may help? Even if everyone who reads this responds that what I have written is benign and obvious, I feel the need to share, to be sure I understand the trial through which I am passing. We all have trials, don’t we? I think I’ve shared in a previous post of the strong, very strong and unusual impression I received to resign from my employment early last year.

BTW, the picture above is where I have worked for the past twelve years. Obviously, the picture was taken during WWII. My office is in the front middle hangar. We have two server rooms, tied together with 10Gb fiber, with onsite and offsite redundant backup. It has been a wonderful place to work, but the daily commute is a killer.

The Cardinal Rule

servers1It’s been drilled into me all my life that the husband in a marriage has the responsibility to provide for his family, both temporarily and spiritually. I’ve had a good career, but to resign from a lucrative position after twelve years without any other prospect in sight is breaking a cardinal rule in the process. Men think mostly about their work. It’s always on our minds.

I enjoy my work. I’m a computer generalist, meaning I have a broad knowledge of a lot of things related to computers, networks and managing technical projects and people. But I’m also a bit of a specialist in many areas such as ensuring disaster recovery, removing viruses, blocking spam and administering networks, especially through VMWare and Microsoft Active Directory.

Enough of the boring stuff. The point of this post is you don’t break the cardinal rule when you feel the urge to change jobs. That is exactly what the Lord asked of me last year. My employer was bought out and I felt, through the process of prayer, that the Lord wanted me to leave that company, for reasons which I’ve explained in my last post. So I gave a good six month notice.

Assurance from the Lord

linkedin-timmalone1I hesitated several months after the company was sold before I gave my notice. I kept thinking, “I can’t do this. I don’t have anything else lined up and I’m too young to retire.” But the Lord is insistent. The impression continued for months. Finally, to my wife’s dismay, I resigned and reported back to the Lord. His response? Wait. He asked me to wait until the end of the year.

Wait for what? I was to wait to begin my job search. Carol and I prayed every morning and night for the faith to be patient. We asked continually for the Lord to show us the path, prepare the way and open a door when the time came to begin the search in earnest. That day came just after Christmas last year. You can read about it in my last post. In the meantime I worked and prayed.

The day after I posted about Preserving the Fruit of the Restoration, which fruit I believe to be marriages, I received a text from a long-time reader indicating he felt impressed to contact me about an opportunity, which by the way, involved moving to a foreign country. At first I dismissed it, but each night in prayer the Lord asked if I had responded to this individual yet.

A Whirlwind Journey

passport1The Lord really is patient with us, but He can be very insistent. Finally I reached out to my reader and he began the process of sharing what he had in mind. I was very intrigued. I was invited to visit the company, which is not based in my home state of California, and spend some time in interviews and meetings. At the end of the week, I had an amazing offer in my hand.

I was invited back for a week of training, made travel arrangements, and waited. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the HR Manager five days before I was to begin my journey informing me the offer had been rescinded. The call came as Carol and I were in the car so she heard the entire conversation. Gratefully, she bit her tongue as I tried to salvage the deal.

Wow. What a shock. We had arrived at home and sat in the car numbed by what had just taken place. How could this happen? We had a written offer. I had given up a month of my search time in preparing for travel out of country – renewing my passport, starting the process of packing, and in general wrapping our heads around the idea of living in a completely foreign environment.

Consultation with the Lord

refinersfire1Our scripture reading and prayer that night were especially poignant. Tears flowed as we begged the Lord to help us deal with this turn of events. Truly, the Lord will wrench our very heart strings in testing us in the refiner’s fire. Yet, we know we are made perfect through sufferings. It has been a few days. I decided to take next week off to dedicate to connecting with my network.

I have one month of gainful employment remaining. Normally this close to the end of the job, I would have something new lined up. This is surely a test. I’ve been fired two or three times in my career, each time through no fault of my own, usually due to the completion of a project. The last time it took seven months to land a job. I think I’ve described that process in a blog post.

I’ve asked the Lord privately why this happened, what I should do and what lies before us. I can honestly say this is one of those times when I know we did everything the Lord asked of us and have every right to expect his blessings in answering our many months of prayer together. The only thing I hear from the Lord when I ask is,” Be faithful. Do your part. You are being tested.”

A Common Experience

georgewashington1Obviously we are not the only couple in the world to have gone through a challenge like this. The difference is that I would never quit a job without something else lined up. Yet, the Lord asked me to do so, to step out into the unknown, to see if I trusted Him enough to provide. In some ways, this is a double test, because I thought it was nailed down. Yet now we begin anew.

The last time I was let go at the end of a computer conversion project, I fasted and went to the temple every week. I intend to follow that same plan this time, only my temple will be on the mountain top each Saturday afternoon. I can’t think of any trial that can break up a marriage faster than unemployment. Yet our scripture reading and prayers remain sacred and sweet.

I am grateful. It is an opportunity to show the Lord I trust in Him no matter what. It is so easy to give in to fears and play “What are we going to do?” That’s exactly what Satan wants. That is not the Lord’s way to deal with a challenge like this. The Lord requires the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I feel both. I so appreciate having my sweetheart standing at my side.

One last note

christianreformation1I promised Denver I would mention the new website about the 500th anniversary of the history of the Christian Reformation. I have spent some time at the site, viewing the videos and reading the items under the tab entitled “Reformation.” It is well done, teaches truth, and makes some things so much clearer than the way I remember being taught growing up. It’s well worth your time.

www.christianreformation500years.info

…and…

www.youtube.com/channel/UC6cEtBt6U_A0oDKfQCGoCjA

God bless.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charity NEVER Faileth . . .


Let me repeat. Charity NEVER Faileth . . .

In our quest for Zion, Charity may be our number one weapon both personally and collectively. Here’s what Paul said about it (essentially mirrored by Moroni) in 1 Corinthians 13:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Charity is everything in forming Zion. Charity is the key to knowledge (along with meekness) to discerning truth from error.

Faith is the first part of the exercise for individual salvation. Faith IN and through Jesus Christ, understanding His character, motives, and intentions is the first step . . . but for some people, they are smitten with unbelief and faith fails them. For others, they have the next step, hope. Hope comes after faith has been tested and the Power of God has been made manifest to at least some extent in a person’s life. Hope then becomes the wellspring that can be counted on for the person to continue following the Words of Christ unto Eternal Life. Yet even with hope the vicissitudes of life can overwhelm our patience and set us back.

charityCharity can overcome the setbacks that a person may encounter with either faith or hope. When you practice charity, it may not even matter if you believe–there are agnostics that can exhibit many of the principles of charity which literally calls down the Grace of God to overcome any obstacle from which you may be suffering. Stumbling blocks are removed, forgiveness is granted, unbelief is destroyed, hope is made perfect, and ultimately, if one has not had the Baptism of Fire and the Second Comforter, those things are promised through charity.

Since I like to write about practical things, and these topics are often very abstract, let me drill this one down for you.

Charity can be practiced in a few ways.

  • Denying not the beggar – I’ve discussed this before, but it is the starting point for any discussion about charity because our Western minds gravitate towards charity as the term for “helping the poor and disadvantaged.” But let me take it a step further. One may give a dollar to a man, but to give a dollar with love, with kindness, with care, and with taking a few minutes to show love, that is a thing a beauty. There is a clip on youtube that I saw a few month ago that showcases this perfectly. Notice the look on the beggar’s face after the surprise that he gets from these three helpers. He is puzzled and bewildered, but touched as well. His heart changed a little from the kindness showed him by three strangers. I know of a ministry of remnant Mormons, anonymously, who visit some very shady places where the homeless hang out. They go down not just to feed them soup, give them a meal, or a handout. This isn’t a “shelter program.” Instead, they meet with them on their terms, in their “homes” on the sidewalk and spend time talking to them, getting to know them, loving them. Yes money is exchanged, but that’s almost beside the point. Several of them have been healed by the laying on of hands. Sicknesses and injuries where there is no money to fix have been healed by the Power of God. The next time you think about what kind of charity needs to be practiced by those aspiring to Zion, I want to call attention to their unsung example.
  • Loving Thy Neighbor as Thyself – And who is your neighbor? Jesus gave a parable on this, and it certainly isn’t the person who lives next door. To put it in today’s context, it is a Christian who has the opportunity to serve a gay couple (think less wedding cakes and more fixing a blown tire on the side of the road), or as what happened to us last weekend, helping a Mexican family find their drunk husband and father who had wandered off in the city park–even though we didn’t speak Spanish. We ought to show genuine care and kindness for anybody that comes in our path, whether they have tattoos and piercings, or wear garments with stiff necks.The Boy Scout virtues apply here.
  • Forgiveness, Praying for our Enemies – We answered who our neighbor is, but who is our enemy? While it may be a distant political leader that doesn’t share your persuasions, I suggest that it’s more likely a mother, a father, a spouse, a fellowship member, or anyone with whom you have had a falling out over one thing or another, justified or not. Injustice is never an excuse not to forgive. Neither is pain. If you are struggling with answers to prayers or with an endowment from the Lord, may I suggest you check your heart for an “enemy” that needs your mercy, forgiveness, and prayers. From the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, we find these gems:
    • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

    • 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    • 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

    • 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

    • 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

    • 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

    • 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    • 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

  • Praying for Zion – The last example of charity I wish to discuss is one I have learned recently as I have sought blessings from the Lord. I often feel compelled in my instruction from the Spirit to pray for my fellowship groups, for long periods of time, extending my heart until it will break for a brother or sister. The prayers are intense and personal. Usually they are accompanied by an outpouring of love from the Spirit. What this does is prepare me to accept their needs and wants in my life to be above my own. If we are ever to achieve Zion, it must be so. I believe the reason I feel compelled to pray and love my group more intensely than any other group I associate with, including my extended family, is that we are all willing, our hearts are broken and ready . . . to receive the Lord. I believe charity to this group is where the Power of Zion can be found.

If Anything will Doom us . . .

As I’ve talked about charity, and meekness, I have cased other forums, Facebook, etc. where I have seen anti-charity and hard hearts, particularly over the discussions of gay rights and plural marriage. We can all agree the Church doesn’t have Priesthood keys, we can break bread over that, but we will break off fellowships, destroy the peace of others, and otherwise create contention over a hard-fought position on a thing. We may even have some revelation to back up our position–whether it’s of the right source or not. Some of us are well-learned and we lean upon the understanding of the world–science and historical consensus–to inform our opinions and it lifts us up past the fog of the simpletons to declare our position as sound. We need to stop all such nonsense and re-establish our positions as one that knows NOTHING. Only then can the Lord teach us His ways.

There are even some who wish to co-opt this movement from the beginning. We ought to flesh that out as unsound and wrong. The statements Denver Snuffer has made on plural marriage ought to suffice for the attention given to that thing IF you are a Zion seeker. No . . . it’s not because he’s impervious to error as a servant of the Lord . . . it’s because he’s right . . . we need to focus on our own personal attention to the principles of repentance, finding a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and coming unto Christ in a way that can soothe our feelings and iron our errors so we CAN come into a unity of the faith. The Grand Key of Discernment will teach us that this is right.

I declare this as truth at least to me–anyone who sets up stakes BEFORE they are redeemed will a) never be redeemed and b) most likely turn out to be an agent of the adversary before it’s all over. There is a group of folks out there who have had an idea about what would happen when the Lord would begin rising up servants to cleanse the Church. This has been informed over decades as a core doctrine. I imagine the Zealots in the time of Christ when they began seeing the signs. They expected one things, and got another. When that promised political delivery didn’t happen, many ceased walking with the Lord at that time. When Denver Snuffer began his testimony and lectures, there was much hope imbued upon him to be the guy who was going to “set the Church in order.” He has perhaps tacked to a different path on this issue than many have hoped. Some have ceased to walk with the remnant at that time. I cannot help but notice the shift in some of the forums that declared Denver to be a false prophet right after the polygamy talk. At least they were honest to their own stakes, but many haven’t been as transparent about their change of heart. They ought to be.

711299Others have read deep into his talks to find the silver lining of the future reality of polygamy. I wish we would not do this. I reminds me of when Joseph Smith publicly declared that he was against polygamy, but then was teaching it in private (as the historical record describes), or when Wilford Woodruff declared that polygamy was suspended, gave his infamous statement about the prophet not being able to lead the Church astray, and then STILL authorized polygamous marriages in secret. When one “seeks deep,” I an reminded of this scripture in Isaiah:

“Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”

If anything has brought great mischief upon the Church, it is HOW polygamy came into the Church, and HOW it left the Church. If anything has caused people to be lead astray, led to strong-man fundamentalism, set up prophet worship in the Church, led away into secular paths, destroyed the tender feelings of the daughters of God, it is HOW this principle was handled (note: I’m talking about it’s application here–the reality of such a doctrine is a discussion for a different time). I am not keen on trying to scope out a “wink, wink” from Denver Snuffer over the eventual return of polygamy doctrine to the Church of the Lamb of God. Instead I say let it lie, and let a man’s words be “yea, yea, and nay nay.”

Finally, others are so pained by the damages done in the name of plural marriage, sexual abuses, iniquity of the marital yoke, that while they laud the monogomist language of Denver, their stakes are even putting them at risk for future guidance from heaven that may challenge those stakes. I don’t believe this will happen, but I loath to never allow for something to happen. It is enough to know a thing is not true today. Let the future take care of itself and be humble. There may be other sacrifices that are possibly harder to accept than plural marriage. We must be willing to accept such sacrifices.

I am reminded of 1 Nephi 14:1:

“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.”

That verse is talking about us, about Mormons, right here, right now. There IS a stumbling block. I would state that ultimately it’s how Mormonism set a man between a person and God through the misapplication of Priesthood keys–but the best example of how Priesthood keys have been misapplied has been the entrance and exit of polygamy. Almost all of the break-offs are related to these two issues. It is the stumbling block prophesied, and I for one, would like it removed, no matter which direction the removal takes us. I want to be part of the Church of Lamb of God who the Lord will gather in along with the remnant of the House of Israel.

Back to Charity . . . 

And that requires us to use charity on this issue. We ought to throw a cloak of charity over our brothers and sisters who have a different view on things. We ought to pray for them. In doing so, we may find our own stakes to soften, to moderate, to be more pliable to the workings of the Spirit, insomuch that we CAN come to a unity of the faith. I challenge all of us to apply charity to the stumbling blocks of our day–be it plural marriage, gay marriage, or Church authority. Pray for our enemies, love our fellowships, our wards, and I believe we can work all of this out. I hope that we do, and the Lord has PROMISED me that it will work out if we do!

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.

 

The Point of It All


Adam-and-Eve-Kneeling-at-Altar-PrayingA friend of mine and I were discussing the fracas on the (anti-) Heavenly Mother thread.  She asked me how I would answer the dilemma I posed to Nate therein.  I answered that the dilemma is not one for me because I teach repentance and faith in God, and this because my target audience is those who don’t have the gift of the Holy Ghost, either never having been baptized by fire, or having been so baptized but having let the light go out.

She asked me what I really want, and answered for me.

You want people to have the gift of and speak by the Holy Ghost. You want  people to act on principles of righteousness, not pride or anger or shallow reasoning. You want to see the gifts of God manifested in all people. You want egoism to cease and peace to reign.

She said it better than I could at the time, preoccupied with the fracas as I was. That is the Zion I am seeking but keep not finding, neither in person nor online.

With Tim’s loving and graceful permission, I have endeavored to teach a few things here and there in the hope of shortening the learning curve of whoever will listen and respond, to bring to pass the preparation of the children of God for the establishment of Zion and the advent of Christ.  I have always wanted – hoped – that people would go and search the scriptures and drink deeply of the words of Jesus Christ, specifically those things that he delivered by his own mouth to his disciples and to the people, and do exactly those things continually, laying aside the precepts and traditions of men.  In doing the works of Christ, we learn what manner of being he is, and he makes us as he is.  I must thank Sfort for giving me the final piece of the puzzle – the role of works in our salvation – which is just that.  Yet even without understanding why we do those works we are commanded to perform, we are profited thereby, learning the principles of righteousness, and receiving revelations and commandments not a few as we pray continually.

“Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?”  Or, why do you do what the Lord said?

“I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”

But now I know.  This thing is in similitude of the works of God, wherein he giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not.  And he bestows his grace – his ability to give good gifts – upon them who delight to serve him and keep his commandments continually.

He who would be greatest shall be the servant of all.

I truly cannot improve upon the teachings of the Lord; I only wish I could persuade all men to abide in him and do his works continually.  I wish I knew what I could say to get anyone to want to hear his words and do them, praying always for the fullness of his spirit.

There is deep meaning in this to me.  I once was an unbeliever, possessed of the spirit of the devil, and led to do whatever wickedness my heart desired – yet I wanted peace and that desire for peace led me to stop doing the most egregious things.  But peace was still never quite mine – until one day I was caught in a benevolent snare woven by God and perceived by the Spirit that the true path to happiness was in the teachings of Jesus, specifically the sermon on the mount / plain.  And at that time, for the first time in my life, the light and love of God entered my heart, and I was told there was a God, and that he loved me.  And from thence I was enfolded back into the Church, and struggled ineffectively against my many sins according to the teachings thereof for years.

I studied our religion as though it were brand new to me, particularly delighting in Nibley’s books – and the same light and love that entered into my heart with the voice of the Spirit telling me there was a God and that he loved me entered into my heart again as I marveled at the King Follett Discourse in The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and told me that Joseph was a true prophet.

Even so, I could not seem to get free from the sins that did so easily beset me, until finally I started trying to walk in the paths of the Lord as he taught and my temptations kind of just faded away.  I cried unto the Lord for the Spirit continually, praying anytime I thought of praying, while observing to do those things the Lord said to do.  And my prayers were eventually answered in a manner I would not have beforehand been able to comprehend or even imagine.

And that’s the key point – it is literally incomprehensible and unimaginable until it happens to you.  I’ll give an analogy.  When I was a teenager, I believed all love songs were lies.  I believed they were taking the vague sentimental warmth I felt for my parents, let’s say, and blowing it up through poetic exaggeration beyond all recognition to make themselves seem to be better than me by claiming to experience things which I did not know about nor believe in and could not imagine.  And thus it was until I felt love for the first time, and then I understood the songs.

So it was with this answer from heaven.

And that’s what I want for each of you if you haven’t yet discovered the way.  That’s why I keep talking about the golden rule, and the teachings of the Savior.  I had a blog once called “Cry Mightily,” the purpose of which was to convince men to, well, cry mightily unto God to receive the Holy Ghost, as taught throughout the Book of Mormon.

Once you see this teaching, you can’t miss it.

All I can do is invite you to come and see – do what I did, and see if you do not receive what I received from God, which cannot be described in words.  Pray always for the Holy Ghost, and do the commandments of the Lord that he delivered in his own voice, focusing your mind solely on these things.  Yield to no temptation, including fear.

For those in whom the light has gone out, the path back is the way you took to get there in the first place.  Do you remember what it was to pray with all the energy of your soul?  Do you remember what your works were in those days?  Does the memory of those things not haunt you?  Are you satisfied where you are?  I have been in your shoes.

What more can be said?

Faith, Grace, and the Works…


FaithGrace1I decided it might be a good idea to post what my take on grace and works is so people can more fully understand where I am coming from. The works of God are very important, but even more important in my opinion is the proper understanding of how we can gain access to the power to do those works. A lot of this comes from writing that was done elsewhere, so I apologize for those who have already read s lot of this. Most of the time when I have heard people talk about grace it has been explained something like this;

“We must strive to be as righteous as possible, being obedient to the commandments the best we can, and since we cannot do it perfectly, Jesus fills in the gap.” Usually people like to use hand motions and say. “We are here, and Christ is here, and the distance between these points is filled in by the atonement.” Does this sound familiar? Also I don’t know how many times I have heard people declare that OBEDIENCE brings the Spirit. (which is true in one sense that is rarely clarified) Also I have heard the teaching that righteousness brings the Spirit. There seems to me to be a lot of people who worry that if they do not do their home teaching, attend the temple, do daily scripture study as an individual and family, do couples scripture study, have family home evening each week, magnify their calling, and be willing to do anything the “leaders” ask, that they will not be worthy to have the Spirit. What a damnable line of thought! I would like to start with a prayer that I read the other day…

Dan 9:4-7-11 – And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him……

Dan 9:14-19 – Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

What a beautiful prayer with the attitude that each of us should have each time we pray. Also a scripture from old father Lehi;

2 Ne 2:2-3 – Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.

Lehi did not tell Jacob that he would be redeemed because of Jacob’s righteousness, but rather because of the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. So how is it that we receive grace initially, which would also be the equivalent of being born again or receiving a remission of sins? Well Nephi says we are “saved by grace, after all that we can do”. Does that mean we just work as hard as we can to be perfect and keep all the commandments, then we will receive grace? NO! He made it pretty clear that we need to rely “wholly upon the merits of Christ”. Think of Alma the Younger, or King Lamoni, or Saul. What did they do but turn to Jesus Christ and cry out for His redeeming power? They couldn’t do anything else! That was the only work they could do for the grace and power of God. And it worked, and it WILL WORK FOR YOU!

In the book of Helaman, Nephi speaks about how the people in the time of Moses were afflicted by the fiery serpents and when they were bit there was nothing they could do except to turn and look to the serpent and they would be saved. He taught that the same scenario is true for us. “All that we can do”, is turn and look! If we do this we will live. Sounds easy right? The easiness of the way is oddly confusing to people.

Some reasons that people have a problem with this are: 1) They just don’t believe it. 2) They themselves want credit for earning it. 3) They have not been brought to a point in their life where they realize they themselves have been “bit by the serpent” of sin, or that they are in the same hell that Alma the younger was in and just have never realized it.

faith-that-worksI know number two of this list doesn’t seem reasonable, but how often do we hear or read people say things like, “If you want the baptism of fire, you have to do all of the things that Jesus commanded, and be righteous enough to receive it”. This is a dangerous idea because many people who have received visions or revelations can become prideful with this line of thought and think they received those experiences because they just behaved better than others, or they are more favored or righteous than others who haven’t had the same experiences. I will give it as my opinion that God has withheld revelations and visions from some of the best people FOR A TIME to try them, and some of the weakest of us are given great revelations quickly and easily to try us to see whether we will lift ourselves up and think we got them because we deserved them.

The truth is that none of us deserve revelation. None of us will ever be righteous enough to deserve a visitation from Christ. In fact, the realization of this fact (meekness) is the only thing that will bring us further light and knowledge on a continual basis.

Mos 4:11-12 – And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

What glorious promises if we can just remember our nothingness and humble ourselves in the depths of humility daily. ALWAYS retain a remission of our sins, ALWAYS rejoice? Yes please.

After we first receive grace and a remission of sins, the Lord places a bit of His righteousness in us, and then what is our responsibility? Do we then just work hard to keep the commandments and endure to the end through behaving like Jesus the best way we know how? NO. We must repeat the process over and over again, continually “supplicating God for grace”. Grace for grace until the day comes that we are “filled with grace”.

Every time the Holy Ghost comes upon us we are being added upon and sanctified. We are being filled by the heavenly oil one drop at a time. This grace allows us to be obedient to God. Grace makes us obedient! Obedience does not bring us grace, unless it is obedience to the commandments to love God, and have faith in Jesus Christ.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE RIGHTEOUS OR BE OBEDIENT TO GOD WITHOUT CHRIST GIVING US THE POWER TO DO SO!!!!!!

An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, and no man can please God without faith. This is why works can never be good works or the works of God unless God does those works through us. It is His righteousness and His works that bring about any good in any of us.

So what is grace? Grace is a literal power that can reside in us. In the scriptures we are taught that the grace is the power to heal, the power to be brought to the throne of God, the power to be perfected in Christ. Jesus Christ was and is full of grace.

If you have a question about how one receives grace it is really quite simple, it is through faith in Jesus Christ. Here are some scriptures to ponder on.

Rom 14:23 – And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Think about what that really means, this goes right along with Paul suggesting we can give all of our goods to feed the poor, give our bodies to be burned and it can be meaningless without Charity.

Heb 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

People must grasp that we can do nothing of ourselves. Faith brings grace, which empowers us to do the works of God. I know people love to quote James. “Faith without works is dead.” James knew that faith ALWAYS brings works. People cannot claim to have faith if the God is not working through them, it is not possible. The statement that “works without faith are dead”, is just as true as the reverse.

Alma 34:16-17 – And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. YesTherefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

Repentance and faith go hand in hand. We see very clearly in scriptures that repentance is not a checklist of a list of things we do to change behavior and make restitution. It is changing our minds and turning to Christ. Then we do the works that God leads us to do afterward.

And what are the works of God? (at least some of them)

D&C 84:65-73 – 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.73 But a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation.

We cannot boast of these things because it is never by our power or righteousness that they are done!

RichYoungRulerOkay, so hopefully people can understand that I believe in works as much as the next guy, I just know that works do not bring the Spirit, but rather the Spirit brings works. It seems very plain in the scriptures. To those who love to quote the scriptures that “and by your works ye shall be judged, whether they be good, or whether they be evil…”

Think about how beautiful the power of the atonement is! I have read a lot of NDE experiences where people have life reviews and they are pained by having to relive and understand their sins. One thing the Holy Ghost told me long ago while reading one of these books is that if we accept the atonement of Christ, our life review will only be filled with good works! All else will be erased by the mercy of God. Beautiful! Even one evil work is enough to damn us to hell for eternity! One sin is all it takes. No amount of good works can ever make up for it.

Usually in my writing I imagine I am speaking to those who have already obtained a hope in Christ, and are seeking to come to know Him better. I believe everything we can learn about Christ helps us to receive greater faith in Him. As we come to learn of His attributes and teachings by revelation, are faith and love increase.

Those who continue in faith and grace can eventually receive the Spirit of the Lord. Look at these examples of those who have been blessed with this.

Dan 10:8-19 – Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

Notice the power of the Spirit of the Lord that these angelic beings have. When they said to be strengthened, Daniel was. Even the power of their touch wrought a change upon Daniel. Can mortals be given such power? The spirit of the Lord is simply too powerful for our flesh unless we are changed.

Rev 1:7 – And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

These are a couple of examples. The Book of Mormon is full of examples of those who were wrought upon by the Spirit of the Lord and their bodies could not even handle such power. This power is going to return to the earth! Nephi said when the Spirit of God was upon him that he knew he could command water that it should be earth and it would be done, if it was God’s will. Of course we know intellectually that if God commanded to do anything we could do it, but Nephi knew because he was filled with the very power to do it!

This is the power that was given to Nephi and Lehi that no prison could hold them. They were in harmony with God and would desire nothing that God wouldn’t grant, because their desires matched the desires of God. It is my testimony that this power can be given to each of us, despite our weakness and fallen state. Our flesh must be sanctified though, and it is only through continually supplicating God for grace that anyone will ever obtain it. Is it enough to obtain the promise of redemption, or should we rather continue on until we hear the audible voice of God speak not only to our spirit, but also our body as He did to the brother of Jared, when He said that he was redeemed at that moment?

May God bless us all with grace, even though there is not a soul among us who deserves it. – Nate (Minorityofone)

 

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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