Zion’s Biggest Enemy, Century 21


Last week, I shared some basic ideas pertaining to Zion and how it can be accomplished. Some good comments ensued. When I write about Zion, I’m interested in some of the practical aspects of Zion for a reason. Practical is another word for “practice.” Ultimately, Zion is the Father’s work, and He sends His angels to do that work, as well as servants. Nothing we can do will bring Zion, economically, religiously, or politically. Only our individual salvation can qualify us to be a part of this Great and Marvelous Work. Our “practice” however, can be counted to us for righteousness. If, in our “practice” we consecrate resources to others to elevate them, will that not affect our personal righteousness? Thus we may move from grace to grace, perhaps even earn grace, if there is any grace to be earned at all.

Real Estate

venezia-european

When we think of the biggest purchase in any of our lives, the number one item is usually real estate. The next status-oriented symbol would be the automobile, then toys and clothes. But as a percentage of wealth, real estate takes the cake. It ties up most of the resources we have. It is the single largest thing that will bring us “status,” “enjoyment,” and comfort. The industry is built to play on a person’s emotions, bank account, affordability maxims, sell-able features, even neighborhood status and school boundaries. In the 1950’s, the first time in modern history where home-ownership was available to many, people would purchase homes and in 30 years, pay them off. In today’s world, we live in real-estate bubbles, waiting anxiously to see how much our home has appreciated so we can upgrade to a better home with more features, more comfort, and more status.

I find brother Heber Kimball to be a visionary man, often because the fruits of some of his visions and prophecies seemed to have born out.  Said he,

“After a while the gentiles will gather by the thousands to this place, and Salt Lake City will be classed among the wicked cities of the world. A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the results will be financial bondage. Persecution comes next and all true Latter-day Saints will be tested to the limit. Many will apostatize and others will be still, not knowing what to do … Before that day comes, however, the Saints will be put to tests that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes.” (Deseret News, Church Department, p. 3, May 23, 1931.)

1024px-Salt_Lake_City_panorama

Today in Salt Lake City and in Utah County, there is another real estate bubble intoxicating the residents there. If the first bubble breaking in 2008 did not teach them a lesson about “a spirit of speculation and extravagance,” certainly this next bubble will when it also ultimately collapses. The Saints of the Wasatch Front often seem to equate spiritual blessings, the damnable “prosperity gospel,” with a blessed increase in status. To be fair, the Brethren have taught against this at least over the pulpit from time-to-time, the most recent being Dallin Oaks in the last General Conference (April 2015). Words, however, are cheap.

The Brethren, along with Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, and Area Authorities, are often awarded such positions PRECISELY because of their prosperity and status. They have some of the most extravagant homes on the Wasatch Front in some of the nicest neighborhoods, and they also own secondary properties and cabins, some of them gifted by the Church, the higher up one is in the hierarchy. Brigham Young first modeled this as he amassed millions living in his Utah mansions from Salt Lake to Saint George. This did not set a good example for those that followed. The Saints can smell the hypocrisy over the pulpit when such things are taught, otherwise, they liken it not unto themselves, but see only the extravagance in others. To be fair again, some reject such extravagances. Thomas Monson and Gordon Hinckley lived in modest homes, as do many others, stake leaders and the like. We should honor such examples of modesty.

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Brigham Young vs.

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Thomas Monson*

*Note: I’m aware Thomas Monson has other properties gifted him by the Church, but this is his primary home, which I’m using primarily as an example.

Why does this matter?

The obvious first reason is one of pride. Anytime we seek to gratify our lusts, vain ambitions, and cover our sins with beautiful homes, AMEN to our ability to be a tool in the hand of the Lord. We have chosen our God, and it is Babylon. But there is a more practical reason why it’s so damnable. Simply put, if one does not have expendable income, one cannot “expend” it on behalf of others. It is tied up and useless. Now . . . everyone’s situation is different. I will not wax as a Pharisee and rise up to condemn you for your beautiful home, even though it seems like I just did. Some people with beautiful homes have homeless people, families, and others living in their empty rooms. THAT is Zion-like behavior. I happen to have six rooms in my home when I only probably need three. I was ashamed of my own opulence, even though I live in a modest home. However, modesty is a relative principle. One can be just as guilty of status-worship if they are poor but sacrifice everything to look like a middle class family. I was guilty. I now allow people who are in need to live in my home with me. It is part of how I tithe and consecrate my surplus (which IS unfortunately tied up in a home). If you practice modesty, you have the freedom to do good things for others with you resources. You can consecrate, and THAT is why it matters.

What you can do

If I were in the market for a new home in Utah these days (I don’t live there now but did), feeling the call of the bubble equity in my home, I might pray to the Lord to ask him to guide when I would sell, perhaps who I would sell to, and what I would purchase, all in a way that would elevate my righteousness and help me to bring Zion. This might mean I would sell my home under-market to a family in need and consecrate that equity surplus to them. It may mean I downsize and park that profit somewhere that is more liquid and usable to Zion-like projects. It may even mean that I live in a trailer or in a van down by the river, or a small farm-house in the country. If the Lord commands it, you should listen. There is value in mobility, especially as society begins to deteriorate. A nice home in a collapsed economy is often nothing more than a gold-plated coffin. A trailer could allow you some get-out-of-Dodge space. You must be prayerful about such circumstances.

realestateWhen you go to look for a home, recognize that the real estate agent is not your friend in Zion. He wants you to spend as much as you can afford. He will sell you on status. He will sell you features. He will even try to sell you value or return on investment if you are that savvy. Before you visit the agent (in fact you may even want to pray about finding the right kind of agent), go to the Lord and prayerfully ask which features you NEED in a home. That is totally up to you and the Lord. I don’t need to judge you for deciding to get that four car garage if the Lord has Zion-like plans for you. I will say as an aside, however, that I do NOT buy the “I need a large home for my family at Thanksgiving” motive unless you find a way to fill that home in the Thanksgiving off-season. Look, I’m only trying to protect you Zion seekers from asking for that which is amiss. The Lord honors agency and will often deliver according to your faith. Pay careful attention to what the Lord thinks you need and not what YOU think you need. Once you have your list of must-needs, then visit the agent and don’t allow him to up-sell you.

Now, you can apply this to all material things, be it cars, clothes, toys, recreational vehicles, other properties, etc. Let me give you a word of caution which I recognize is my own opinion, but it is probably a good guess. I’ve heard many prosperous Saints give testimonies of their material things being gifted to them through prayer in the Lord. They seemed to get confirmation for their extravagances. I suspect that they were probably asking amiss. I suspect that if one were to REALLY ask the Lord His will, they may be disappointed with His answer. They may be asked to give up their home to a family in need and move into a trailer. I believe THAT kind of behavior would be something that could stir the angels to begin gathering you for Zion. I’m not sure I’d be willing to do it, but if I’m going to ask Him, I better be prepared to accept and embrace that sort of an answer. Two very good examples, the Savior, and Joseph Smith, most likely died penniless. We know Joseph likely died bankrupt and left Emma in distress. How did a man with such power and such authority, running for President, mayor of the largest city in Illinois at the time, commander of the Nauvoo Legion place himself in such a predicament? Those kind of questions may be the kinds of questions that will help us attain Zion.

My apologies to Century 21 and the real estate industry. They are a great agency, and I bought my last home from one of their agents, who was very tuned in to my list of features and needs. There are good agents who will help you with whatever you want, and will try to sell you a home with integrity.

The Hidden Conference Talk


President Hinckley's Reads Presindent Benson's Talk

President Hinckley Reads President Benson’s Talk

Ezra Taft Benson’s
Hidden Conference Talk

Beware of Pride stands as one of the most profoundly simple yet spiritually significant prophetic messages of the Restoration. But it also contains a second, hidden message for those with eyes to see, and ears to hear.

Probably very few people of the current generation have ever heard of Ezra Taft Benson’s April 1989 conference address, Beware of Pride, or even know that it exists. After all, that was 26 years ago. By now, the content of that life-changing talk has been probably been correlated out of every course of study in the church.

Log’s post last week, Cry Mightily, reminded me of Beware of Pride, so I went back and read it again.

Like the day in 9th grade when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot, or the day I saw the twin towers collapse into their own footprint, I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing in the moments when I heard President Benson give that talk. It felt like something on both sides of the veil had just changed.

There were others like me back then who called out for canonization – we wanted Beware of Pride added to the official body of LDS scripture, feeling it to be as spiritually pivotal to this people as King Benjamin’s message was to the people of his day.

Very few, if any, conference addresses before or since Beware of Pride have quietly cited to so many Book of Mormon prophet writers. Any diligent truth seeker who takes the time to pull up and print out Beware of Pride, adding the complete words of the cited scriptures into the full body of the text, will see emerge the actual conference talk President Benson wanted to present to his people, but which has remained hidden in plain sight for such a time as this.

Back in 1991 my friend Lorin did the original scripture breakout on Beware of Pride, incorporated it into the text of the talk, printed out copies and gave them to people in his circle of influence. Every one of us had easy access to the Book of Mormon, and any of us could have done the same thing he did. But it was Lorin who did the work and gave the gift. Unbeknownst to him, that simple labor of love changed the trajectory of my life. I just realized that I never thanked him, so I do it here. I haven’t seen him for 24 years and don’t know where he is, but I hope he finds this and hears my gratitude.

Last week, when I read Log’s post, I saw it again. Everybody has easy access to the Book of Mormon. Anybody could do what Log did and break out the scriptures into a simple synopsis about crying mightily, and post it on a blog. But the fact is that nobody did it, except Log. He did the work and offered up his labor of love, hoping that somehow, somebody would get the point.

The genius of any brilliant synopsis like Benson’s Beware of Pride, or Log’s Cry Mightily is that you can’t just put it together using a word search and cut and paste function. The scriptures don’t work like that: you have to know your stuff.

It takes years of wholehearted reading, retaining, internalizing and experimenting, and then many tears and many prayers to organize and present the words of the prophets in such a way that the Holy Ghost will then confirm the point of the newly created whole as 100% truth.

And then in Log’s case, it also takes a nearly invisible ego to resist the urge to interpret their words, just get out of the way, and let the prophets speak for themselves.

Log’s post called me out and reminded me to go back and read Beware of Pride again. Unfortunately, I discovered that it still has my name written all over it. I know, the scriptures aren’t supposed to be of any private interpretation, but it sure looks like Beware of Pride was written to me.

That’s the hard thing about Beware of Pride: anybody who thinks it applies to everybody else (but not to themselves) will not set foot in Zion.

The message in Beware of Pride pierces my heart and convicts me of the sin of pride every time I read it.

So here I am back on my knees again, yielding my agency and personal agenda to Christ again, crying mightily again, working out my salvation and progression with fear and trembling, again.

This is all just to say thank you dear brother Log, for your labor of love.

Point taken.

Denver Snuffer Excommunicated


PassingHeavenlyGiftDenver Snuffer recently posted the news on his blog that he has been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for apostasy. It was not unexpected by most who are familiar with his writings. This morning, before I learned the news, I received the email below from a reader regarding Denver and my many posts about what he has written. I asked for the writer’s permission to share it here on my blog so I could respond publically. He agreed.

My response to a private email on Denver

Warning: If you have any feelings of love, support, friendship or sympathy for Denver Snuffer, this email will make you sit up and think as it did me. The writing is strong and passionate. [Update: see comment below: Strong writing is protected speech as it is opinion about a public figure.] Let’s please be clear up front these are not my words. It is my intention to defend against these claims, based solely on what I have read of Denver Snuffer and my feelings as a follower of Jesus Christ. Denver doesn’t need me to defend him, but I feel the desire to do so.

Loss of Temple Recommend Over Reading a Book

Now that the excommunication is official [see my note below], and even though I’ve already addressed it in two previous posts, I recognize my public expressions of sympathy for Denver Snuffer, whom I have never met, could conceivably disqualify me for a temple recommend. The question is “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

Update: The church has not and has said they will not comment on Denver’s official status as a member of the church. Therefore, I have no problem with reading his material, listening to his recorded lectures or attended meetings at which he speaks. I can answer the temple recommend question truthfully that I do not support, affiliate with, or agree with any … individual whose teachings are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the LDS Church.

Divisiveness Over Denver’s Book

Here is the email, with some identifying information left out:

—— Start of email ——–

“…the last thing I want to do is to pick a fight with a Snufferite.  Nevertheless, I saw your blog, so now I am commenting, as I can’t understand how you think the way you do.  I am not a fan of Denver Snuffer.  I was introduced to Denver Snuffer’s work by a former friend of mine … who is a friend of Snuffer.  We are no longer friends, mostly because of disagreements over Denver Snuffer.

Denver is Labeled a Liar

“I have his Second Comforter book, and find the THEOLOGY impressive.  In fact, I find almost ALL of Denver Snuffer’s theology impressive.  I actually AGREE with the idea of a second comforter experience while in the flesh, but that is not impressive in the sense that it is actually more common than we think, as a lot of mundane people out there have had it.  And so, Denver Snuffer’s claim is not a unique one or a special one.  What is unique, and what makes him a liar is the fact that he claims a commission from the Savior.  He is out of order.

Claims Denver Is Seeking A Following

“I HAD the book PTHG but quickly disposed of it after I read it (not impressed).  It as well is very useful in certain aspects but I didn’t want to own a copy, to be frank.  It is his worst book.  Not the facts presented in the book, but the interpretation of them.  It made me irritated that Denver Snuffer is capitalizing on certain facts to gain a following.  Yes, I stand by that statement.”

Says Denver Vilifies the Lord’s Anointed

“He vilifies the Strengthening of the Members committee.  He vilifies the Lord’s anointed that has received revelation on Snuffer’s need to be disciplined.  And sorry [but] Snuffer publically vilified his own stake president for his own political gain, in hopes that he could affect the outcome of his trial.

Calls Denver Snuffer a False Prophet

“I’m sorry, but this is what makes Denver Snuffer such a subtle false prophet: Because his Theology IS so believable, and IS mostly so much on track.  It’s not that the Church does not need reform.  It’s that Denver Snuffer is the one taking it upon himself to proclaim that to the world.  Yeah, I’ve heard it all before.  Sorry.

Claims Denver Needs to be Humbled

“The prophet that will reform the Church will be a successor to Thomas S. Monson or to his successors, with actual keys, not some guy with a holier than thou complex.  Snuffer needs to be brought down off his high horse.  He needs discipline, and I hope he is excommunicated.  His attitude is apostate through and through.

Says Denver Has Not Seen Jesus Christ

“I don’t care how much he claims to support the brethren.  He does no such thing.  I find his THEOLOGY very useful for the most part.  But his attitude is that of an apostate with a cloven tongue.  He is not a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is a liar and has not seen Jesus Christ.

Warns Us to Withdraw Support for Denver

“Jesus Christ would have told him to stand down and submit to the keys of the priesthood before he got to this point if he was truly in communication personally with him.  It’s all hogwash.  And so, I just thought I would give you my opinion, though you being a Snufferite so it seems will be another one probably with deaf ears to someone like me that tries to warn people about actual false prophets.  I would advise you to withdraw your support for Snuffer.”

———— End of Email —————–

What You Can Expect From Me

My personal rules of engagement are that I will not attack an individual for making statements that I believe are unsupported. I also desire to find unity in my responses. I attempt to compose my sentences in such a way that they are not offensive, but thought-provoking. I have tried to have an open mind about the writings of Denver Snuffer from the day I was introduced to them.

My Personal Investment of Study and Prayer

I also want you to know up front, if you haven’t read any of my previous posts about Denver Snuffer, and I have written over a dozen, that I have read most everything Denver has published or made available publically. I have also listened to many of his lectures and pondered both the lectures and the writings. What’s more I have prayed specifically about the content of both.

The Book Puts the Church in a Negative Light

The Church did the right thing. I know that sounds harsh, but too many people were bothered by Denver’s book. The Stake President’s letter spells it out. I can’t speak to the mischaracterization of doctrine because I’m not a scholar, but yes, I can see how you can say Denver denigrated just about every prophet since Joseph Smith. And there is no doubt the book puts the church in a negative light. Quoting the SP, “Your work pits you against the institution of the church.” Yep.

Some say Denver Snuffer is Now an Apostate

If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. You can officially call Denver Snuffer an apostate if you feel so inclined. He was specifically excommunicated for apostasy, or even more specifically for an act of apostasy, which was the publication of the book, Passing the Heavenly Gift. Wow. That concerns me. As I considered in a previous post, can an individual be disciplined for expressing opinions about the church in a personal blog that just happens to be open to the public? Yes. [See my comment to Tom below – this is NOT official news from the church.]

Reading the Words of an [Alleged] Apostate

I have been questioned by those who love me and by some who read my blog why I have such an interest in the writings of Denver Snuffer. The simple answer: I don’t know. I find something in them that satisfies my soul. I don’t consider myself a scholar or an intellectual. I just like some of the explanations and exhortations I find in Denver’s books, especially in Passing the Heavenly Gift. So is it wrong to read the words of an apostate? I thought we are to seek for knowledge.

Seek Out of the Best Books

I started reading Denver’s books so I could answer the question when asked, “What do you think of his latest book?” I had to seek the book out, purchase it online and then invest the time to read, study, ponder and pray. I’ve related that experience in a previous post. Others have had contrary experiences, but for me, reading PtHG was an enlightening and spiritually uplifting experience. It did not contain new information, at least in the first two thirds, but it had a powerful ending.

Finding Good in Some Bad History

The book gave me hope. For years I had felt something was amiss in my worship experience. I thought perhaps if I studied more, prayed with greater intensity or tried all that much harder to be submissive and obedient to what I thought the Lord wanted me to do, things would improve. They didn’t. I was not finding joy in my service in the kingdom. I know that’s my own personal problem, one only I could fix. Reading PtHG gave a voice for the feelings I was experiencing.

The Church Holds the Keys

I love this church, this religion, this gospel and the people who embrace it. I love to associate with the Saints. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I could not do what Denver has done. I need the sacrament each week and the temple as often as possible. The church holds the keys to my admittance to the temple. I will do what the church says to do in order to get into the temple.

I Need The Church Each Week

I need the sacrament each week. I am a sinful man. I make mistakes. I need the atonement and believe that comes through repentance and partaking of the sacrament frequently. I love to serve in this church. I’ll accept any calling and appreciate my opportunity to serve the stake presidency as an assistant stake financial clerk. I would be just as happy serving as a primary teacher. I love to teach the gospel either from the pulpit or from the front of a classroom. I need those things.

I Also Need Freedom to Write

Even though I agree with what the church has done in excommunicating Denver, I am troubled now that this action has taken place. He did not lose his membership because of any issue with the moral code of the church. His Stake President said he was worthy of a temple recommend just last Sunday. The problem was over freedom to express himself in writing. Yes, that is why I am so interested in this case. I grow as I write. I learn as I write. It is the way I study the gospel.

Some Specific Responses to the Email

I am not a Snufferite. I do not follow a man. I follow Jesus Christ. I do not believe Denver Snuffer is a liar. I believe him when he writes he has been ministered to by Jesus Christ. I accept his claim that he received a commission from the Savior to write at least his first book on the Second Comforter. I also believe he wrote Passing the Heavenly Gift under the inspiration of the Lord. I know it’s a controversial book. It’s not for everyone. My wife won’t read it. It scares her.

A Commission From the Savior

I don’t believe Denver is seeking a following. He has specifically stated he is not looking for a people to lead. He said his purpose was to add his witness that we can commune with the Lord in a personal and direct way. I suppose he was asked to write that first book to show that a regular member like you or me can receive the Second Comforter. He lays out the steps to achieve it. Such a goal is the meat of the gospel – to be ministered to by Jesus Christ and to hear His voice.

A Man of Humility Who Loves the Lord

I don’t believe Denver to be a false prophet. Everyone who has the testimony of Jesus Christ is a prophet. Denver has not asked us to leave the church. On the contrary, he encourages us to be as faithful as we can, to love and serve our fellow members. I do not sense pride in the writings of Denver Snuffer. I sense the opposite. He comes across as a humble man, a man who wants to do the will of the Lord. He is sacrificing a lot to do what he feels the Lord has asked him to do.

A Man Trying to Do the Lord’s Will

No man is perfect. So what if he rides a Harley (gasp!). So what if he occasionally lets slip an expletive like hell or damn most conservative LDS would never use in public or private. I do not know how I would respond if the Lord asked me to do something that would eventually get me excommunicated. If the Lord really asked Denver to write PtHG as a tool to help some of those who it helped (and I have letters from them to prove it), then he was doing as he was directed.

A Threat to the Church and Weak Members

Don’t tell me I am being double-minded, saying the church did the right thing while at the same time defending Denver for doing what he says he has been directed to do. I do not fault the church. I agree with the action taken. Denver was too much of a threat for most members of the church.  I am impressed that Denver would do what he felt the Lord wanted him to do – write that book – even though he probably knew at the time it would eventually get him disciplined.

Follow Your Own Inner Voice

Is Denver out of order? Does he sustain the Brethren? You’ll have to answer those questions for yourselves. But for goodness sake, don’t judge the man without at least making some small effort to get to know him. Read his blog. Read his books. If after doing so you feel what he writes is not for you, so be it. If you pray and the spirit tells you to not read his books, so be it. What he writes is not for everyone. All I know is his books helped me. I’m glad he wrote them.

Not a Follower of Denver Snuffer

I don’t think I’ve added much new in this post I haven’t written before. I would like to write a review of his Boise lecture once I receive the CDs later this week. I read from a friend who was there, the CDs were delayed. They hoped to be able to burn them on the spot. I’m sure Doug will fill the orders as quick as he can. I look forward to reading what others have said who were there. If you attended the lecture, perhaps you could leave a few comments here on what you thought.

Don’t Believe His Teachings Are Contrary

The bottom line for me is that I feel impressed of the spirit to continue in my quest to understand what Denver Snuffer has shared. I need to finish some of his books and intend to re-read parts of PtHG and especially The Second Comforter. I learn something new each time I invest the time to read and ponder what I can apply that will bring me closer to my goal of opening the heavens and be taught what the Lord wants me to know. In the meantime I will serve here as best I can.

We do not Encourage Compulsion

I’ll make no broad statements condemning anyone who says Denver is a liar. I am not offended if you call him an apostate. According to our church, he is. But don’t tell me what I can and can’t read or believe. Amen to the priesthood of any man who tries to exercise control or compulsion on the souls of men. Force is not the way of the Lord. Neither is fear. We should not be afraid to learn something new and then make up our own minds if it is useful or helpful to us. God bless.

Interpreting Impressions of the Spirit


One of the greatest blessings of membership in the LDS Church is the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Of course we are not the only people in the world with whom the Lord works through his spirit.  But we are the only people who have claim upon the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.  That is a very unique and special claim.

When asked by a President of the United States, “How is your religion different from all the other religions of the day?” The Prophet Joseph Smith answered, “We are different from all other religions in the mode of baptism (immersion) and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (by those who have authority).”

God inspires all

In section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants we read, “A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.” All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel.  People everywhere can be inspired by the Holy Ghost.

However, the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is available only to those who receive the gift through the laying on of hands by one who is authorized and then remain worthy of that gift.  This basic doctrine is taught and emphasized often from the pulpit and in the classrooms of our church each week.

One of the most important duties we have in this life is to learn how to interpret the impressions of the Holy Ghost that we receive though this gift.  Sometimes they come unbidden but most of the time we need to prepare for and ask for spiritual guidance.  With this sacred gift, we can be confident that the Lord will respond.

God will guide us

This gift contains an inherent covenant promise that the Lord will respond to our requests for guidance. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  As long as we do our part in striving to keep his commandments, repent and seek his spirit, we can rely on his promise.

However, the gift needs to be exercised and developed until we can go before the Lord with confidence and ask in faith for what we want.  We need to learn what specific things we need to do to achieve the results we desire. “When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

We know we must study things out and come to an understanding or a decision on a subject before we approach the Lord for a confirmation of our decision or course of action.  Sometimes it can take years to fully consider and achieve a mastery of a subject before we can approach the Lord and ask to guide us to further knowledge.

Much already revealed

That’s why the Lord and his prophets counsel us to study the scriptures and the words of the living prophets and apostles.  When we ask the Lord for help in some area of our lives, we can expect him to answer through both the promptings of the spirit and very often by directing us to what he has already revealed on the subject.

It is amazing to me the number of times I feel impressed to look to the scriptures or a recent conference talk for the answer I am seeking.  “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  It is while I am reading the scriptures or conference talks that I feel the impressions of the spirit.

I think it is in the process of reading revealed words that we become most familiar with the mind and will of the Lord for us.  We begin to think like the Lord and develop a greater understanding of how he speaks.  The mind of the natural man is not attuned to God’s way of thinking so it takes effort to understand revelation.

Revelation requires humility

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”  Even our natural reasoning processes, if they are not directed by the spirit of the Lord, can lead us to false conclusions.  “For the natural man is an enemy to God … and will be forever … unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.”

The rest of the verse (Mosiah 3:19) emphasizes being submissive.  I guess if there is nothing else I have learned about receiving revelation, it is the idea that in order to receive it, I must be in a submissive state of mind and willing to do whatever it is that the Lord reveals to me.  Indeed, I must strive to become like a little child.

Of course, I know that the Lord will not tell me to do something that is contrary to what he has already revealed.  For example, if I ask the Lord for help in knowing the best way to get out of debt, I am confident that he will not direct me to play the lottery, nor respond to email invitations to send money to Nigerian scammers.

Revelation is real

That is why I am confident that the Lord is sincere in his promise to reveal the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  The key phrase there is “with real intent.”  Like you, I have witnessed this promise fulfilled over and over again throughout my life.  I have seen it happen for young and old when they ask with real intent.

I do not doubt the revelatory process.  It is real.  I have witnessed it in action throughout my life in Bishopric meetings, High Council meetings, in disciplinary councils and in preparing and presenting talks and lessons over the years.  It seems to flow easiest for me when the revelation being requested is meant to help others.

But the Lord never reveals things that are outside the stewardship of my family, my own life or my specific callings in the church.  While I may feel a desire to help another, if I do not have a direct responsibility for them, then I need to be very careful about what I feel impressed to tell them the Lord would have them do.

Revelation for others

I had a recent experience with this that confirmed to me how easy it is to step over the line into imposing my will on another.  The Lord will never direct us to do that.  In counseling with a fellow church member about a difficult situation in their life I shared some personal observations about what I thought got them into trouble.

Since I was not this individual’s priesthood leader, I was not entitled to know the whole story and made a judgment based only on what I saw.  My counsel to this individual was flawed and was offensive because it was lacking in understanding.  Gratefully, they were forgiving when I apologized after the error became apparent.

My point is that the Lord will never reveal something to me that another person should do unless I am responsible for that person as a husband, father or priesthood leader.  That can even be applied to prospective marriage partners.  The Lord will not tell us that another person should marry us. It should not be phrased that way.

Revelation to marry

When I asked my wife to marry me, I felt the Lord whisper to me that we could be happy together.  Of course Carol had her agency and could have said no.  It was an act of faith on her part to accept my marriage proposal.  The Lord knew I needed that revelation to prompt me to propose, but it was intended for me and not Carol.

I knew the Lord wanted me to marry.  I had been praying about it for some time and was actively seeking a marriage partner.  I knew that the Lord had revealed through his prophet that “soul mates are fiction and an illusion.”  So I wasn’t looking for that one special person, just someone with whom I could be happy.

I know that’s not very romantic but what made it special for me was the intensely strong and powerful impression that flowed into my heart and mind as I pondered asking Carol to marry me.  In my mind’s eye, I saw us many years down the road, even in these years today, enjoying each other’s company, growing old together.

What I have learned

In conclusion, I guess there are two things I have learned about revelation.  First, we must be humble and submissive to receive it and second, we can never receive revelation for anyone else’s life outside our own immediate family.  It just doesn’t work that way unless the Lord puts us in a priesthood position that requires it.

Impressions of the spirit are very private and should be kept so.  They are personal and unless you are the prophet of the Lord or have a direct priesthood stewardship for someone else, are meant specifically for one individual – you.  They are not to be shared with others unless you feel prompted to do so and then only carefully.

I have been blessed throughout my life with impressions from the Holy Ghost.  It is specifically because of the Gift of the Holy Ghost that they seem so abundant.  Receiving revelation can be almost a daily occurrence, but usually it comes in the form of very quiet, subtle impressions that are sometimes almost imperceptible.

LDS Church growth slows in United States


I feel a desire to move beyond the provincial, local view of my LDS experience and step up to a larger worldview. This is going to be hard for me because except for the two years I spent in Central America as a missionary (1976-1978), I have not traveled much beyond Southern California and Utah. My career just has not required much travel of me. I like that just fine.

Now I know some of you are world travelers and according to Google Analytics, some of my readers are in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Philippines, New Zealand, India, Taiwan, Japan, Norway, Brazil and the list goes on and on. I have had visitors from 95 countries in the last six months, the latest just today from Belgium.

Take a look at Miguel Lomelino’s blog. He was my visitor from Belgium today. I think he has got a great world view already. He is reaching out to LDS members in the United States and has a lot of material that is from all over the world. I’m impressed. He speaks four languages and served as a missionary from 1987-1989. He has been married 14 years and has 3 children.

Baptisms in the U.S. are down

I suspect that I am not alone in my US-centric view that, frankly, can be offensive to some who do not live here in the land of the nativity of the LDS church. We can get so wrapped up in our local issues, like Proposition 8 in California, or even the Presidential elections that it is easy to forget that there is a whole world of interesting people living their religion all over the world.

I know this is a concern to the Brethren. You probably know that baptisms in the United States have been flat or down over the past decade. If you really press me, I’ll go digging for the source of those stats, but I’ve seen it in multiple places, from Stake Leadership meetings to Dr. B’s blog. If you dig enough, you may be able to find some details on the Cumorah project website.

I don’t think this is any surprise to any of us living in the United States. We have seen it in our stake and ward leadership meetings. People simply aren’t flocking to the LDS Church here in the U.S. like they used to. Each year, our ward baptismal goals decrease and we fail to meet them. But if you look at the chart, you’ll see that church growth is up worldwide. Why is that?

America is wealthy

In a word: pride. America is rich. We are prosperous. You wouldn’t know that by reading the national dialog, but it sure bears out where I live in Camarillo California. Sure, the average price of homes has come down from $700,000 to $500,000 in the past two years, but we still seem to have more Hummers in our little neck of the woods than seems appropriate for a non-war zone.

Don’t get me wrong. I think we are a blessed nation. We have worked hard and have improved our standard of living tremendously. Unfortunately, we have also increased our indebtedness at the same time. So many homes and cars purchased on credit surely can’t be a good thing. How does your personal financial health stack up – could you weather a long season of no income?

I am convinced that Boyd K. Packer was right – it is about time the Lord taught us a lesson. Oops – we can’t use that talk. It wasn’t official. Never mind. Strike that. My point is that too many in America live paycheck to paycheck with assets obtained on high interest credit. It has been that way for many years. Thus, we are consumed with work and paying on those debts.

Non-existent financial security

Now I know that not everybody in America lives as I have described. There are plenty of people who have no debt and with savings that will last them for years. But those people are few and far between. Besides, how safe are investments in the Stock Market these days? Our little 401k has lost 20% of its value over the past year and I’m just your average middle-income American.

There are also plenty of people who have no savings at all – no 401k and no hope for retirement income other than Social Security. They mostly live in big cities on both coasts and not in the suburbs where it is typically more expensive. They also live paycheck to paycheck but don’t have as many assets accumulated because their education or income levels are just not as high.

I’m sure I’ve offended a few people because I am making generalities and assumptions, but let’s face it. For the most part, every citizen of the United States is rich beyond belief when compared to the places where most of the convert baptisms are coming from. I’m talking about Brazil and Chile and the Philippines and Mexico and Central America – places where most people are poor.

Humility brings conversion

When I served in Central America as a missionary, we had phenomenal baptism rates that are unheard of here in the United States except in the Spanish branches of the stakes I have been in. My first month out we had 13 baptisms. I ended the mission with 68 baptisms overall. I think that the retention rate was abysmally low, but what caused these people to join the church?

Hope. These people were looking for hope and a change. Many of them found that hope and were able to make permanent changes in their lives that raised their standard of living because they sought and obtained a higher education. I’m not saying that worked in all cases, but I saw enough examples myself to see that the gospel of Jesus Christ also improved standards of living.

These people were poor and they were humble. They also trusted in God and had a lot of faith. When we taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ, they responded by doing as we asked – reading the Book of Mormon and praying. God fulfills his promises and sent the spirit to bear witness to them that what they were learning was true. Many of them responded by joining the church.

Summary and conclusion

So am I saying that the church only does well among the poor people in poor countries? You decide that for yourself. I’m just pointing out that the United States is a wealthy country and that baptisms are down in the United States. Are baptism and conversion rates directly related to poverty? No. They are directly related to humility. There’s a big difference. Think about it.

Humble people are teachable. Humble people are looking for help and for hope. Humble people realize their dependence upon the Lord. They may be poorly educated and poorly trained but they are sensitive to the power of the spirit of the Lord when it is carried into their homes by humble Elders and sisters who heed the call of a prophet to spread the gospel to all the world.

Truly humble people, while they seek change, are not seeking a handout. They want to work and they want to improve their lives, including their standard of living. Once they have hope, they do not expect to stay in miserable circumstances all their lives. They will work to move ahead. That’s why baptisms are down in the United States. There just aren’t many humble people left.

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