Remember


recorders-clearinghouseFirst, Keith asked fellow bloggers to get the word out about the deadline to record 2015 baptismal ordinances. You can read more about it on his blog: Recorder’s Clearinghouse. And Keith, don’t be mad, but may I offer this: a new entry in an existing blog is called a post. So what Keith has written is a new post in his blog. If you received baptism in 2015, be sure it gets recorded in the book to be placed in the temple when it is built. The top link in this paragraph will take you directly to that specific post, not the front page.

money-pitSecond, please remember Rock and Connie Waterman in your prayers. Rock is suffering from some sort of blood poisoning. Rock is a fellow blogger who I met at the Sunstone Symposium last year. His blog is Pure Mormonism. One of the best posts there is his treatment on tithing. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. After years of reading what others had to say about the “right” amount of tithing to pay, I asked the Lord about it and was reminded of Rock’s post on the subject. It changed my mind and more importantly, my heart. Yes, tithing is a commandment and I still pay it, just not to the LDS Church.

doctrine-of-christThird, I’ve been asked to make sure the word gets out about the Doctrine of Christ general conference (lower case “g” and “c”) that will take place in Boise, Idaho this September. You can read more about it on the site dedicated to the event. At this point, as much as I would like to go, I anticipate a conflict with a major work project to take place precisely on that weekend. I’ll be lucky to make it to Sunstone but only because it falls on the same weekend as Carol’s family reunion. I hope to slip away for a few hours to hear Denver’s presentation. Living in California makes it difficult for me to attend events such as these. I can’t wait to retire to St. George.

Remember Christ

carl_bloch_the_christNow that the business has been conducted, I turn to the subject at hand: Remember, specifically, remembering Christ. Even though I attend our local LDS Sacrament meeting with Carol each week, I also participate in the ordinance of the sacrament in my own home using wine each week. I do this for two reasons: First, to show the Lord I remember Him and am grateful for his voice unto me when I asked if I should be baptized. Second, to show I remember his sacrifice for me, that allowed me to have that “born again experience” in my youth when I was first brought into His presence.

You’ll note I include Carl Bloch’s rendering of the Savior and not Del Parson’s. No offense to Del, but my experience with the Savior is depicted more in Carl’s version. There is a softness and gentleness about the rendition that if different from the red robe version from Del. You’ll find a copy Del’s painting in just about every Bishop’s office of the LDS Church. There is a sternness to that version that bothers me. It causes me to think that Satan was also a son of God. Would they not appear similar?

Finally, a note to those many readers who have been so kind to me over the years, many sending me their books and some teaching me privately. I remember you and I remember your kindness. Please forgive me if anything I have written has harmed you or your faith in Christ in any way. I ask this because I know we will meet again, if not in this life, then on the other side of the veil. I remember you. I remember your kindness. I remember what you have shared. I especially appreciate the sacred experiences related in private. God bless us each in our work. There is much to do. I pray to God each day to find the strength and especially the time to do what I know He wants me to do: write and teach.

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder


jesus-declares-fulfillment-of-isaiahs-prophecyI caught a glimpse today of something wonderful about to come forth. No, I’m not referring to the book by Elder LeGrand Richards but I chose the title on purpose. I attended a class presented by one of my readers on the subject of judgement, part of a series of classes from her upcoming book, Understanding the Divine. What I witnessed was part of a marvelous work and a wonder.

At the risk of embarrassing her, I’m going to praise the work of Karen Prier here on my blog today. You may remember a few weeks ago Karen left a comment on my blog post, The Lord Requires us to Take Action. The comment was direct and personal. It was not offensive. It was, well… annoying. It struck a nerve. Even though I tried to deny it in a later post, she was right.

Preparation to Receive More Light

karen-prierIn her comment, Karen counseled me to write without referencing the LDS Church. She shared, “If you will let go of all fear and anxiety of judgment with the church and those who belong to it you will receive more light.” As Carol can attest, I pondered her counsel for days before firing off a rather passionate barrage defending my actions in continuing to write about the Church.

Well, I already shared the details previously, but to recap, Karen wrote a beautiful apology that moved me to tears. I took the time to read more about her work on her website, then asked if we could meet, which we did today. I have already stated I was wrong. Karen was right. But that’s not what I want to share in the next few paragraphs. That little exchange simply got us together.

Paradigm Shift on Judgment

I am convinced the Lord wanted us to get together so Carol and I could meet with Karen to learn more about her books and share them with you here on my blog. Of course, it’s a little difficult to review a book that’s not out yet but based on a 2.5 hour class this morning and an interview of a little over an hour this afternoon I am convinced Karen is sharing profound truth worth reading.

I thought I understood Judgement. I’ve studied it for years. I know how important it is to choose wisely, to judge righteously and to not judge by appearances. Today I learned so many things in her class on Judgement I realized I needed to completely shift my paradigm of the subject. Karen included much from her second book, or rather a series of seven books on The Creation Pattern.

The Creation Pattern

elements-of-creationYou should recognize this if you’ve been endowed. The first three days are related to the healing of the body. They are part of the lower law. They help us get clean. That term has significance in Karen’s teachings. Day four is a bridge covenant between the lower and higher laws. The last three days are the higher laws which cannot be practiced until the three lower laws are mastered.

 

Day One – Creation of the Earth – Light – Faith and Vision
Day Two – The Waters – Getting Clean – Repentance and Baptism
Day Three – Plants, Seeds – The Holy Ghost – Law of Obedience
Day Four – Stars, Planets – Jesus Christ – Law of Sacrifice
Day Five – Animals – Service – Law of the Gospel
Day Six – Man – Love and Virtue – Law of Chastity
Day Seven – Enter into God’s Rest – Law of Consecration

Understanding the Divine

Karen’s first book, which is currently undergoing final editing and illustration, includes seven key elements to help you understand and improve your personal relationship with God. She teaches classes on each one and is recording them for both audio and video distribution. If they are anything like what I witnessed this morning, they are full of energy, truth, light and love.

7-elevations-of-wholenessOne – Desire
Two – Gifts
Three – Truth
Four – Grace
Five – Language
Six – Paradox
Seven – Judgment

Seven Types of Judgment

As you can probably see, Karen organizes in groups of seven. It is significant. It means complete or wholeness. Karen’s website is the Seven Elevations of Wholeness. She offers seven seminars. Her books include the Seven Elements to Understanding and the Seven Days of Creation. In the class Carol and I enjoyed today, she introduced seven types of judgement and how they hinder.

One – Other People – If we don’t want responsibility for our pain, we blame it on others.
Two – Ourselves – John 3:21 – A man is his own tormentor and condemner. Truth is light.
Three – Things – Guns, money, clothing, food, wine, “buckets, bags and toys” (Ask her)
Four – Ideas – Justice and Mercy, Political issues, Logic vs. Spirit, Food, Marriage, Laws
Five – Situations / Experiences – D&C 122:5-7 – pain or peace – Pain not inherently bad
Six – Actions – Most common, actions are not sins, intent of heart is place of sin or purity
Seven – God – We use scriptures as weapons. Killing, sex, alcohol lying all used by God

Repent and Replace

gethsemane.jpgI wish I could share in this section even a tenth of the power and passion we felt from Karen as she taught the principle of R&R – repent and replace. She gave so many examples and made it come alive as a daily living principle to be used on our journey to wholeness. We have a stigma that repentance is something you do once, or something only bad people need to do. This is false.

The principle of R&R brings relief – physical, emotional and spiritual. As Karen taught, she said several times repentance is the most beautiful word in the human language. I would have said love but she explained repentance allows you to “get clean,” to accept anything God asks of you if you are willing. When you are clean, you are pure, have no fear and are in a state of real love.

Seven Seminars Offered

One – Understanding the Divine
Two – Seven Days of Creation
Three – Hearing the Voice of the Lord
Four – Seven Virtues of the Divine Feminine and Masculine
Five – Healing Through Virtue and Faith
Six – Family Relations
Seven – Becoming One in a Group

After she shared a little of the past history, how she got involved in healing and how she got the training God wanted her to have, I asked Karen to describe her vision for the future. I was blown away by her plans. Her website is new. Don’t judge her experience, power or knowledge by that. This woman knows what she’s doing. She is a master healer, an expert in the currency of heaven.

Doing Repentance Better

karen-prier-teachingI close as I began. I believe we are about to witness a marvelous work and a wonder about to come forth among the women of God such as Karen Prier who have prepared themselves to take the message of Christ-centered healing to the world. I recommend you watch her website for news of when her books will be available. I intend to add them to my library and study them.

As noted in her bio, Karen is full of enthusiasm and power that allows her to reach her audience. I could not believe when two hours had passed in the class. I pray for Karen’s success in getting her teachings of Christ-centered healing to those who need it. I know I do. I want to understand more about how to use R&R in my daily life. As I learned today, we can all do repentance better.

 

Seven Verse Sermon


Hath [the Lord] commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

[T]he Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.

Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.

Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.

Forgiveness


Woman-At-The-Well3 Nephi 12:21-24
Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.

For some, who have yet to receive the baptism of fire, this might be the one thing holding you back. Put the Lord to the test and see if he doesn’t receive you when you do exactly this.

D&C 64:8-10
My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

This gives one a thing to check on if one is being afflicted and sorely chastened. This passage also implies, logically, that in the end, the only real sin is not forgiving others of all their trespasses. That, in turn, leads one to the conclusion that it is lack of forgiveness that characterizes those who are cast out.

I knew a man, upward of 10 years ago, who was cast out of his home by his soon-to-be-ex-wife. He felt betrayed by her; a burning coal of pain was placed in his heart and he had no relief from it. She owed him! And he obsessed about it for a couple of weeks, until it occurred to him that given the way he felt about her, they could not both be exalted, for the exalted dwell in unity and harmony, mutually indwelling, knowing all there is to know about each other. It would be intolerable to exist in that unity with those who bear the pains of betrayal in their hearts towards them. Moreover, even if she would admit her fault in the matter, she would not change her course, and she could not make him whole. There was therefore no purpose served by holding on to her debts, so he freely forgave her of all her debts to him, both temporal and spiritual. Maybe someday they could be friends again, and maybe in the next world they could dwell happily in each others’ presence. If it were not to be so, at least it would not be because of him. And because he did that, the glowing ember of pain was taken from his heart, and the Lord invited him to see what Joseph saw.

This doesn’t mean that man gets along with his ex.

May we all forgive all.

Mormons Are a Submissive People


Jesus-Rich-Young-RulerI’ve noticed a constant theme over the past few years as I have written about those who have been excommunicated from our church. I don’t know if it’s just coincidence the subject has come up so many times or if I have sought it out. I’d like to explore the idea of submissiveness with you in this post and get your opinion as to what the right attitude should be towards this.

Opposite of Arrogance and Rebellion

I’ve told you I pray about my posts. I’ve also mentioned to specific individuals privately this post was coming. These good people are worried about me. I know they love me and have expressed concern I’ve been dealing in territory they say causes them discomfort. Rebellion and arrogance are the opposite of submissiveness. I’ve had experience with both as a young lad.

Remember Them Which Rule Over You

I’m not going to address the scripture in Ephesians 5:22 of wives submitting themselves to their husbands. I’ll leave that to others. I prefer to center my remarks on the scripture in Hebrews 13:7, which reads, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

Obey Counsel of Priesthood Leaders

I note in the Topical guide the word remember is replaced with the word Obey. If I recall correctly the Topical guide was compiled by Elder McConkie and Elder Packer. I believe we can safely surmise the word obey can be used in the place of the word remember, at least in this case. In short, we are to remember and obey the word of our priesthood leaders who preside over us.

Blind obedience not encouraged

That’s probably the crux of the matter. Some of my readers find it troublesome to think anyone could or should come between us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. They can quote scripture and words from the Brethren – so can I – indicating how important it is to confirm all we receive from our priesthood leaders for ourselves. In other words, avoid blind obedience.

Examples from Disciplinary Councils

Put another way, we are to submit to their counsel, especially when it is given in love with concern for the salvation of our souls. Perhaps I can best illustrate with a few examples from disciplinary councils in which I have participated over the years. Don’t worry, I’ll provide no specifics; mention no names nor identify anyone in any way so you may think you know them.

Restoration of Full Fellowship

I have been blessed that the majority of these disciplinary counsels have been convened to consider bringing the member back into full fellowship after a period of disfellowshipment or excommunication or. I am pleased to report that most of these councils have resulted in positive outcomes. Tears and hugs all around have usually been expressed at the end of the proceedings.

A Willing and Contrite Spirit

In discussing as a bishopric or High Council what is different in the second council, it invariably comes down to a matter of attitude. We note the contrite spirit, the willingness to do as advised, the demonstration they have done as counseled over the year or years – I hate to see a disciplined member go more than a year without sacrament and temple blessings. They are different people.

Submissiveness Natural Result of Repentance

In other words, they have learned to be submissive. I have specifically heard penitent individuals express words to the effect of, “Bishop (or President), what would you have me do? I will do whatever you ask, anything you say to get my membership back or to be considered a member in full standing again.” There is no pride, no thought for self, only a desire to please their leaders.

The Lord Forgives, So Should We

Of course we ask them to relate their feelings about the Lord. We ask about their prayers. We ask if they feel forgiven. We ask if they feel the Love of their Savior. We ask about their efforts of restitution, if they have asked forgiveness of those they have harmed, used or abused (often a hard thing to do). We ask about their scripture reading, their gospel study and other habits.

Don’t Dwell on the Sin

If you have never gone through a disciplinary council, you may think this intrusive. We don’t dwell on the sin. We don’t rehash details of the sin. We focus on their efforts of repentance. I think my first disciplinary council was in 1989 as an executive secretary. Ordinarily the clerk attends but he was unavailable so I was asked to take notes and write up the report to Salt Lake.

Bishop’s Counsel is Recorded

I can only recall one council in which we decided the individual was not yet ready to be returned to full membership status. They obviously had not taken the bishops counsel seriously. We always provide a written record of what the bishop feels inspired to ask of them as evidence of their willingness to repent. That is his right and responsibility as a sustained common judge in Israel.

Counselors Provide Input for the Bishop

Having sat on the side of the table in which my duty is to provide counsel to the Bishop or Stake President, I have noted their response. With some leaders, it’s just a poll to see what we think, especially if it’s a cut and dry case. With others, the priesthood leader is genuinely interested in what we have to say. I have always appreciated that, especially when I was a new in the calling.

High Council Disciplinary Format Different

Remember, in a Stake Disciplinary council half of the High Council is to speak on behalf of the member. The member is allowed to have witnesses speak on his behalf and if I’m not mistaken, to have members of his family present to be at the proceedings, as long as they are reverent. The format is given by revelation. You can read about in in section 102 of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Submissiveness Shows Respect

Now, let’s return back to the idea of submissiveness and respect. I’ve always struggled with the habit we have in our church of standing when a General Authority of higher authority comes into a meeting. To me, this smacks of hierarchy worship. That’s not to say I don’t follow it. I do. When I conducted sacrament meetings and a member of the Stake Presidency entered, I stood.

The Unwritten Order of Things

When sitting in Bishopric training meeting or High Council or Stake PEC, I note that we always deferred to the presiding authority as the last to speak and having the final ward. We usually expressed our opinion from youngest to eldest. It’s just the unwritten order of things that Elder Packer discussed in his talk offered so long ago on the subject, which many said they disliked.

I’m a First Generation Mormon

I suppose it’s the natural man in me, the rebel of a first-generation Mormon. I come from a long line of Baptist preachers and Presbyterian ministers. I attended the Presbyterian Church with my mother until I was five years old and still remember the pomp and formality of the worship service. Dad was a lapsed Baptist. I have many living relatives I love who are ministers today.

Apostasy not same as Moral Transgression

I want to conclude with a short discussion of the difference between a disciplinary council convened for moral transgression as opposed to one convened for apostasy. I’m alarmed we have seen more of these apostasy councils lately. It wasn’t that way as I was growing up in the church in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Apostasy usually brings up visions of rebellion, arrogance and pride.

Apostasy Usually Decided At The Top

However, in cases I have investigated first hand, I found none of these were present on the part of the individual who was excommunicated. Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t say for certain, but I have interviewed them or read their account of the proceedings and their letter of appeal. I sense a difference in the actions of the presiding authorities – their minds made up in advance.

Stake President Carrying Out Assignment

This was clear in the account of Denver Snuffer. There is no doubt his stake president was told by members of the SCMC in Salt Lake what needed to be done with no room for negotiation. In other words, the decision was made. The stake president was simply under orders to carry out the formalities of discipline. I feel the same thing happened with Mel Fish and with Brent Larsen.

Even Good Men Can Err in Doctrine

This quote from Joseph reminds me of my friend Paul Toscano: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (HC 5:340)

The Sanctity of Dissent

Paul wrote a book explaining his side of things, “The Sanctity of Dissent.” The more I think about it the more I agree with Paul. I believe we have a right to disagree with the interpretations of scriptures and doctrines as offered by our General Authorities. I believe we should be able to share that on our private blogs without fear of reprisal or punishment from church officers.

Blogs are For Exploring New Ideas

Of course, as I have written many times, I would not dream of teaching my personal ideas or interpretations from the pulpit or in the classroom. I sustain the Brethren and their right to declare what should be taught uniformly throughout the church – but NOT to censor what we write in private or semi-public, such as a blog. Our blogs are not official word of the church.

Blogging is Following Counsel of Elder Ballard

That’s why I wrote in my previous post how it troubles me when we are punished for trying to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard to be involved in the online dialog about the church and our doctrines. We want people to understand us, even if we differ somewhat from the standard or orthodox interpretation of the official doctrines that are presented by teachers in our classrooms.

Seeking to Remain Informed

For those who have expressed concerned I have gone apostate because I enjoy reading, writing about and discussing the writings of certain individuals such as Denver Snuffer, Max Skousen, D. Michael Quinn, David John Beurger or just about anything from Signature Books, please don’t think this affects my testimony of the fundamentals of this church. My testimony is intact.

Many Prophets In Addition to Joseph

I revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. In spite of his flaws, he was a prophet of the Lord in these latter days. But don’t take away from me my right to call Denver Snuffer a prophet as well. I accept the Book of Mormon as the Word of God, intended to be a warning for our day. Again, please don’t take away my right to read and discuss the writings of Denver Snuffer on my blog.

Seek Guidance From God in What to Study

As I’ve written many times, I love this church and love the people in it. I love to serve in the small capacity in which I am asked, be it as a home teacher or in my current calling as the Stake Financial Clerk. I seek the guidance and direction of the Lord each day in what I should read and study in addition to the scriptures. I feel lead and am grateful for that still small voice to my soul.

Submissiveness to Local Priesthood Leaders

I like to think I am a submissive individual. I try not to take any offense when corrected by my priesthood leaders. I try to welcome it with a cheerful attitude. I know they love me and have my best interests at heart. As I’ve always said, I would remove my blog in a heartbeat if they said it caused people trouble or caused them to doubt their own testimonies of God and of our Savior.

Expressed Willingness to Remove my Blog

I wonder if the day will come when that changes. This is probably getting repetitious to my regular readers. I am growing. I am learning. I am seeking the face of the Lord. I do not feel this blog is being written by commandment of the Lord but by suggestion and a desire to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles. God bless them, especially those who suffer effects of old age.

Seek Learning by Study and by Faith

God bless you my brothers and sisters. May you seek learning by study and also by faith. I strive to do both. I will not leave my eternal salvation to what I hear taught each week in the three hour block of meetings. It is simply not enough. It is my personality and learning method that I must write and share as I read. Otherwise I do not feel a commitment or internalization of what I read.

Keys to My Participation in Ordinances

Please, rest assured, I intend to be and remain submissive to the direction of my priesthood leaders. Unless the Lord tells me otherwise, I will do as they direct. I sustain them and grant them authority over me. At this point in my life, the spirit directs I should do so. I want and need the sacrament and the temple. These brethren hold the keys of those blessing in my behalf.

A few Thoughts From Ephraim’s Rescue


HandcartBurialThis is not a review of the movie. There are spoilers. It is a commentary on priesthood blessings.

Here in the Mission Field

On this Pioneer day down here in California we went and saw Ephraim’s Rescue. I think it played one time last week in Simi Valley and tonight’s showing in Ventura was a one-time event. We don’t get many Mormon movies down here in the “mission field.” I was tired after a long day of technical training but I’m glad Carol and I went. I came away greatly impressed.

Thank You T.C. Christensen

I don’t know the filmmaker T.C. Christensen but after seeing the movie I had to look him up on the Internet. He’s just a few years older than me and has made a lot of movies that I recognized. You might also know a few of them like Forever Strong, 17 Miracles, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, The Testaments and a whole bunch of other movies, many for the church.

Prophet of the Restoration

I have read of people who decided to be baptized after viewing his Joseph Smith movie. I am convinced that T.C. Christensen has done a lot of good with his filmmaking and has been helped by the Lord in doing so. Although my wife said she doesn’t like sad movies, I wanted to write about this one because I was able to identify so well with the main character: Ephraim Hanks.

The Gift of Healing

Played extremely well by Darin Southam in the majority of the movie, I was most touched by the development of the gift of healing as it was depicted in the movie. Each time we witnessed one of these – and there were several – a feeling of reverence came over me that increased. We both cried at the pitiful scenes of the suffering Pioneers, but I’ll always remember those priesthood blessings.

Priesthood Blessings

I’ve given hundreds of priesthood blessings in my life, most of them sacred and heart-felt. As a new Elder, I recall one in particular in which I felt impressed to tell an individual her sins had been forgiven her. If I remember correctly, she died a few days later. I had not been prompted to say she would be healed. We knew she was dying. It was meant to be a blessing to prepare her for death.

The Lord Inspires Us

At the time, I struggled to say the words that her sins had been forgiven, but I could not deny the Lord wanted me to express them, so I did. At the conclusion of the prayer, tears streamed down her face. “How did you know?” she asked me. “I didn’t,” I said, “but the Lord knew what you needed to hear.” Many tears were shed by each of us – the dying sister, me and my companion.

Thy Sins Are Forgiven Thee

Later, my companion asked me why I would say such a thing. He said he had never heard of anyone promising someone their sins had been forgiven them in a priesthood blessing. I reminded him of the story in the Miracle of Forgiveness where President Kimball blessed a dear sister who had struggled with feelings of worthiness even after a lifetime of faithful service in the church.

Forgiveness and Healing

As I recall the story, she and her husband had been intimate before they were married and it always caused her to feel unworthy. How would you like to be blessed by a prophet of God and told that your sins were forgiven? Better still, how would you like to hear those words from the Lord directly? I know I would. Someday I hope to hear them when I meet the Lord, hopefully in this life.

None of us Are Perfectly Clean

I was impressed by the last scene of one of the many priesthood blessings depicted in the movie. It’s where the character that played Thomas Dobson was blessed that he would not lose his feet that had been frozen. Ephraim was asked, “Why do you wash your hands? You are a holy man.” He replied, “None of us are perfectly clean,” or something very similar (I may be putting two of the blessing scenes together on this).

Symbolic Washing of the Hands

It was the washing of the hands that I found so impressive. It was so very symbolic. I know I usually remember to wash my hands before giving a blessing, but never in the manner depicted in the movie with such reverence. That added so much to the scenes. It got more impressive each time. Darin Southam did a great job but I think it was more because T.C. Christensen wrote and directed it that way.

Promise From a Patriarch

In my patriarchal blessing is the phrase, “You will have the gift of faith and the gift of healing upon you that you might bring comfort and blessings to those who are in need of the Lord’s blessings.” After seeing this movie, I’m not sure I have developed or used this promised gift to the degree the Lord had in mind when he inspired the patriarch to share it. I feel the need to repent and be more faithful in this area.

Raising From The Dead

Apparently Ephraim Hanks developed his gift to a degree that he was able to raise from the dead, as did his brother. It reminds me of similar stories of Matthew Cowley having this gift as he served his mission in the South Pacific. I have heard or read many such stories of healing over the years but few who raised individuals back to life. I wonder what kind of faith that would take.

Blessings of Comfort

Of course, I also recall President Kimball teaching that not all are healed when priesthood blessings are given because it would thwart the Lord’s plan for that individual. Perhaps they need to continue in their suffering for a season to learn the lessons of life for which we all came to this earth. It has been my experience that priesthood blessings of comfort are more common than are healings.

Reverence for the Ordinance

In any event, I simply wanted to share a few thoughts about how touched and impressed I was with the depiction of priesthood blessings as seen in the movie. To me, that was the best part of an otherwise sad and emotional story. It’s just too bad Ephraim couldn’t have gotten there just a few days earlier to keep the pretty girl interested in Thomas Dobson from dying. That was the saddest moment.

Overcoming the Label of Addict


AddictionRecoveryProgramNote: To those waiting for my promised analysis of the 45-page Daymon Smith paper on the Atonement I wrote about in my previous post, please be patient. It is on the way, but is more involved and complex than I had anticipated. The idea of the sacrifice of the Savior being a penal substitute for our sins is, to me, the heart of the atonement and one that I appreciate profoundly.

I’ve stated many times that the reason I blog is to motivate me to study the gospel. I like to share new viewpoints I discover on various doctrinal subjects. I’ve also discovered that this is an area in which we need to be very careful. There are some really smart people out there who write and teach extremely well, but only the spirit can tell us if what they are trying to teach is the truth.

Advice for a Repentant Sinner

Recently, I shared a series of posts here on my blog that focused on the Atonement. I wrote about sin, repentance and forgiveness. I used some youthful examples which were painful but helpful to get to the heart of the matter. I want my religion to help me feel better, spiritually speaking, and to give me hope for a better life in the next world. In other words, I want to feel forgiveness.

I don’t know if you’re like me in that you can understand something intellectually and yet not have it sink down into your heart so that it changes your life. It’s a mortal weakness that I don’t think is unique to me. In any event, I solicited and received advice on how to make the power of the atonement more real in my life. I received a lot of personal emails but one really stood out.

A unique paper on the Atonement

I asked for and received permission to share some highlights from this amazing document, which I’ll link to at the end of this post. The author, Greg was 19 years old at the time he wrote it. I’m 56 and thought I pretty well understood this doctrine, but I learned more in four hours as I read the dozen pages he shared than I have in studying a myriad of books on the subject in my library.

I suppose it’s because the focus of his paper was from the point of view of an addict. Now this is where it gets a little tricky, because the whole argument of his essay is that we should not label ourselves as addicts. He goes to great lengths to explain why. I think that has been my issue all along. I have always considered myself to be an addict – a recovered addict – but still, an addict.

The Consummate Power of the Atonement

Among other synonyms, consummate means perfect, supreme, absolute and complete. In other words, there is nothing held back in the power of the atonement. Up until I first received my temple recommend and asked my bishop about healing after repentance, I always believed that healing meant healing, complete, whole and perfect. I thought we taught that in the LDS church.

But as I shared in that post, my poor bishop seemed absolutely distraught when he shared with me that the best I could hope for was to endure to the end and hope I was worthy when I died. I thought I was at the end of my problems. But as the wise mother said to the new bride, I simply did not know at which end I found myself. That day was the beginning of my many troubles.

Family Services Addiction Recovery Program

In our church we conduct an addiction recovery program. I have written about this before. The fault I find with the program is that it is based on the 12-step AA program, which unfortunately, contains some false doctrine. The main problem I have with the program, and which is the key to Greg’s paper, is simply the use of the label ‘addict’ in describing one who has sinned habitually.

The scriptures never make a single distinction between someone with an addiction and anyone else. Do you realize how powerful that statement is? In other words, there is not, or should not have to be any special kind of program to help someone overcome an addiction other than what we already have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. To add to the doctrine of Christ is evil (3 Ne 11:40).

Behold, This is My Doctrine

To call yourself or others an addict or even a recovering addict is adding to the doctrine of Christ and is therefore evil. It implies that you are moving away from something, always trying to avoid something. That is not what the Savior taught. He commanded us to come unto him. We are to do all within our power to move toward Christ. We are on a sandy foundation to teach otherwise.

I have always believed in the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. This is a part of the doctrine of Christ. It is something for which we should all strive. We should be seeking this baptism with all our hearts. If we focus on coming unto Christ and receiving Him, we will not need to focus on avoiding the mists of darkness. We will then be holding onto the rod of iron in our eternal quest.

Healing Means Complete Healing

The Savior says He can heal us. I believe Him. In spite of what my bishop said at age 19, I have always been seeking this healing and sanctifying power of the Savior in my life. I have always believed that He and only He can take away that addiction or attraction to sin. When we come unto Christ completely, we are consumed in his love. The desire for sin is removed from us.

For 37 years I have struggled with the worry and fear that because I was once an addict, I might someday slip back into that addictive behavior. And you know what? I did – many times – all because I had labeled myself as an addict. I had convinced myself that “once an addict, always an addict” applied to me. This is a false doctrine and a teaching of the devil meant to ensnare us.

Recovering from False Labels

I do not believe we should ever consider ourselves addicts. I also do not believe we should call ourselves “recovering addicts.” I now believe that even “recovered addict,” as I have always referred to myself, is wrong. There is not or should not be a special class of individual who is coming unto Christ. We need no additional labels. We are all sinners. We are all repenting.

If we call ourselves an addict or even a recovering addict, we imply that we are trying to avoid something, or move away from something we fear. This approach will always fail because it is fear-based and we all know the source of fear. Let us resolve here and now to remove this false label from ourselves. We are simply children of God, coming unto Christ through His doctrine.

A Few Gems from Greg’s Paper

We are commanded to change the way we are. We are commanded to change who we are. Elder Holland said, “All the counseling or cognitive therapy in the world will not break a pornography addiction without the Savior.” Elder Holland said we can never use the excuse, “that’s just the way I am. I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology.”

“What if someone shoves porn in your face after years of sobriety? The porn is not the problem. The problem is lust. If that person has truly changed then lust will have been rooted out of their heart and no outside influence could override their agency and make it return.” The only way to remove lust from one’s heart is to come unto Christ and to be filled with the pure love He offers.

Coming Unto Christ is the Answer

“There is no way to lighten our own burdens. If you’re wearing a heavy backpack there is nothing you can do to make it lighter on you. No matter what position you try and no matter how you twist and contort your body you will never be able to change the weight of the backpack. Someone has to help you. Someone else on different ground has to help you with the weight.”

That someone is Christ. The other option, succumbing to Satan, is inevitable if you never accept Christ’s strength. If in the end you have not chosen Christ, it will not matter who you have chosen. You either repent now, change now, humble yourself now, or remain in sin and denial of Christ forever. There is no tomorrow. In sin our tomorrow is unchangeably filled with pain.

Stop Using the Word Addict

A better phrase would be “once a mortal, always a mortal,” even if it’s only true for a season. People struggling with pornography have an acute awareness of their weakness. One mother was upset over her son looking at pornography. “Why can’t he just stop?” She asked. Yet when she was asked why she couldn’t just stop overeating, she had no answer. See, we are all sinners.

Temptation falls under the category of weakness. The only thing that makes a temptation a temptation is because the natural man actually wants to do it. Just because someone that has been addicted in years past continues to feel temptations doesn’t mean they are still addicted. It means they are still human and therefore must rely on Christ for strength. Stop calling them an addict.

Complete the Last Step

Perhaps the reason some people continue to use the phase “recovering addict” or “recovered addict” is because they feel they have gone as far into the recovery / repentance process that that possibly can. There is one more step to complete which is to come unto Christ and be healed. Perhaps they are afraid of that last step. They would rather stay in a continual state of recovery.

The thought of having to do a bit more and reach a little further into themselves is daunting and discouraging. Perhaps they are afraid that if they are fully recovered or healed then they will no longer have the kind of fraternity found in a recovery group. This need can be filled with a strong ward family and reaching out to others to help them complete that last step to come unto Christ.

It’s Easier Than it Seems

Could it be this simple? Is it true that all we must do is continually focus on the Savior and come unto Him in all we think, say and do? Yes, it is that easy. It is work, but it is easy. We must forget man-made programs, science and psychology, look to the Savior to live. Does that sound too good to be true? It does, but it is nevertheless, the only way – to come unto Christ and live.

The healing power of the Atonement is real, but one must seek it and ask for it. Forgiveness is easy. We can know we are forgiven simply by repenting and asking the Lord to forgive us. But there is more to be done after that if we want the change to be permanent. We must ask to be healed. We must do whatever He requires of us to receive this gift and blessing, but it is real.

Always Move Towards Christ

It is not enough to stay away from the great and spacious building because surrounding it is an exceedingly great mist of darkness. The point is not to avoid the great and spacious building. It is to hold to the iron rod and to go toward the tree of life. There are no fences around the great and spacious building. We must cling to the iron rod and keep our eyes fixed on the tree of life.

The point is not to defeat Satan. We could never do that. We must instead embrace Christ. He has already conquered. An attitude of recovery is good. It moves us away from sin. Eventually something must take that place, for there will be space and unless we fill it with Christ, sin and relapse are sure to return. We must become fully recovered by filling that space with Christ.

The Change Can Be Instantaneous

This may be the hardest thing to accept, especially if you have been hanging onto the false label of recovering or recovered addict for many years. I know if was for me. According to science it may take months and years for the brain to change. But according to the gospel we believe, it can happen instantaneously. Elder Holland said, “You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast.

“It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, ‘I’ll change’- and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to be made. You may well spend – indeed you had better spend – the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as for Alma and the sons of Mosiah.”

The Lord’s Healing is Complete

No one is strong enough to overcome addiction on their own. By living a Christ-centered life, we qualify for His strength. But when the Lord heals, it is without reservation or limit. Christ is 100% trustworthy and will, through our humility, maintain our purity. The Savior can effectively break the chains of addiction in a lasting way – with permanence and without scars.

The Lord will give us a new heart and a new spirit. We will no longer desire evil. Our struggle will cease. He can and will free the addicted individual from their bondage but they must come unto Him with full completeness of heart, nothing held back, no reservations. We must truly desire it and be willing to do whatever the Lord requires of us to obtain the gift of healing.

We Must Become Great

The only way to truly overcome addiction is to become great. The person who gives up addiction and turns to Christ can never return to a normal life. They can no longer be a normal person, because the normal person gives in to temptation. Instead, they must become great. They must become a disciple, a true follower of Jesus Christ with an eye single to the glory of God.

We can’t just give Him our addiction, we must give Him everything. Addictions can be erased. The effects of addictions, even long-held addictions can he healed. We can be restored to perfect spiritual health, but it comes at a price. We must complete the steps the Lord outlined when He taught His gospel. We must be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost. We must receive the Lord.

To Contact the Author

Greg Nelson is the author of the paper I have reviewed in this blog post. The contact information listed at the end of the paper states that he resides in Providence Utah and can be reached via his email at itstimetopowerup @ gmail.com. If you click on this link, you can open the paper in Google Docs and find his information if you wish to contact him. He was very amenable with me.

As I noted he was 19 when he wrote this paper. He is now 22. I think you can tell I am obviously impressed with what he wrote. As I told Greg, his paper was an answer to my many years of prayer. He said he felt compelled to share it with me after spending a few hours on my blog. I will be forever grateful for the insight he has added to my understanding of complete repentance.

Books about the Savior in my Library

Come, Let Us Adore Him by Denver Snuffer (2009) – recently read this
The Second Comforter by Denver Snuffer (2006) – Have read this several times
Trusting Jesus by Jeffrey R. Holland (2003)
The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister (2000)
The Redeemer – Reflections of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, compilation (2000)
Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King by Duane S. Crowther (1999)
Following the Light of Christ Into His Presence by John M Pontius (1997)
Following Christ by Stephen E. Robinson (1995)
Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson (1992)
Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation by Gerald Lund (1991)
In the Arms of His Love by Steven A. Cramer (1991)
I Know That My Redeemer Lives, Deseret Book compilation (1990)
Life in Christ – Discovering the transforming power of the Savior by Robert L. Millet (1990)
Come Unto Christ by President Ezra Taft Benson (1983)
What it Means to Know Christ by George W. Pace (1981)
The Mortal Messiah series by Bruce R. McConkie (1979)
Come Unto Christ by Duane S. Crowther ( 1971)
Jesus the Christ by James Talmage (1915) – read this back on my mission

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