A Few Thoughts on Priesthood

JosephBaptizingOliverNote: To those familiar with it, these thoughts are taken from Lecture Five. They are not original with me, but I have tried to summarize them in my own words as I have studied them. Sharing my notes is the way I customarily study doctrine. You will note many of the concepts here do not coincide with current teachings of the LDS Church, but they are all based on scripture. I always welcome dialog and discussion, especially from those who offer studied but opposing views.

Higher Priesthood Received From God

“All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion that brought Moses to speak with God face-to-face was taken away, but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All prophets have the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS 180-181) This is as true today as the day Joseph taught it. According to D&C 84:42, the higher priesthood is conferred by the voice of God to men out of the heavens.

Priesthood Independent of the LDS Church

Joseph is not talking about offices in the LDS Church. Priesthood existed long before the LDS Church was organized. The LDS Church is dependent upon priesthood for authority and power. Apostle, Seventy, High Priest, Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon are offices in the Church. They aren’t priesthood at all. They occupy positions in the Church of various church offices, with or without the presence of priesthood. This is not so radical if you think about our LDS history.

Priesthood Existed Before the LDS Church

When John the Baptist appeared and conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver, he had them baptize and then ordain each other. This was in May 1829, long before the church was organized. It is interesting to note the Holy Ghost fell upon Joseph and Oliver in great power immediately after being baptized. They were both filled with the spirit of prophecy. In addition, their minds were enlightened so as to understand the meaning and intention of the scriptures.

Priesthood Received After Exhibiting Faith

Faith and priesthood are two different things. People can heal by faith without priesthood. Men can do marvelous things through faith in Jesus Christ without being ordained to the priesthood. This is evidenced in scripture by young Melchizedek who “was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.” (JST Gen 14:26) His ordination occurred after he had exhibited great faith.

You Can’t Vote On Priesthood Power

Possession of the higher priesthood power comes only by the will of God, not by the will of man. It is not something we can vote on and confer upon a man. Voting is something the LDS church does when sustaining individuals to offices within the church. You can’t vote higher priesthood power upon a man. He must receive it directly by hearing the voice of God himself. “And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will…” (JST Gen 14:29)

Priesthood Not Lost When Leaving LDS Church

A man does not lose the priesthood when he is no longer a member of the LDS Church. Even the Handbook verifies this on page 122 under Restoration of Blessings. Under the direction of the First Presidency, an Area Seventy usually performs the ordinance of “restoration of blessings.” He does NOT ordain the man to the priesthood again, nor is he required to be endowed again. What does that tell you? A man does NOT lose his priesthood when he resigns from the church.

Authority and Power are Two Different Things

In other words, the LDS Church does not and cannot control priesthood. It is controlled by God. This is contrary to letters sent out by local church leaders stating that priesthood is withdrawn. Sorry. That’s false doctrine. I don’t know how many different ways I can express this to make the point clear. I received the Aaronic priesthood from my father. I still have it, along with a line of authority to prove it. The higher Melchizedek priesthood is only received directly from God.

Priesthood is a Call to Save and Redeem

Priesthood is not a franchise. It is not something that is given in order to control others. In its highest form, Priesthood is an opportunity, afforded you by God, to serve and to bless others. It its highest form, the Priesthood is a call to save and a call to redeem. It is a call to rescue others from destruction. The lesser priesthood is often used to condemn. In fact, when condemnation is placed upon a man in the church, you can be certain it is not performed with higher priesthood.

Priesthood is a Fellowship or Association

The real definition of Priesthood is an association between mankind and those on the other side of the veil. It is a brotherhood, and, potentially, a sisterhood. It is a fellowship, a ministry. It is a connection between the Powers of Heaven and the man or woman. Its purpose is raise up and to bless, never to condemn. In fact, if a fellowship or priesthood is used to condemn it may as well be considered as one of Satan’s priesthoods, because such condemnation does not save souls.

Priesthood is Not to Control or Compel

Priesthood is not a hierarchy, at least not the kind that mortals like to employ in which they love to control and compel others. Priesthood is more like developmental stages on Jacob’s ladder. Each stage of association, fellowship or priesthood is moving toward perfection. To be higher in your perfection is to be near to and therefore more like God. The only tools of the priesthood are persuasion, love, meekness and pure knowledge. It is never used to control or compel others.

Priesthood an Association with Powers of Heaven

Joseph named some of the powers of heaven for us: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim. These are all powers of heaven. D&C 121 teaches us how we are to relate to these powers of heaven. If you offer knowledge using persuasion, gentleness and love unfeigned, you are going to find someone who is armed with the power of heaven and who has an association with the powers of heaven as named by Joseph Smith.

Authority is Given to Bring Unto Christ

Priesthood power comes by sharing truth, light and knowledge from a higher source. When one uses priesthood he does not teach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. He will teach new truth and therefore shed new light on subjects, because such teachers are filled with light and truth themselves. They have authority given them to make men more like God, to lift and to elevate them, to enlighten and strengthen, to encourage and to point the way toward the Savior.

Priesthood Given to Dispense Knowledge

It will be knowledge that exalts you in the afterlife. We progress and grow, line by line, step by step, rung by rung, until we arrive at the station of an exalted and glorified being, dwelling in everlasting burnings. The afterlife does not consist of only a heaven and a hell. The afterlife is not a destination, and is not limited by time. Remember, it will be a great time after we have crossed through the veil before we will have learned all there is to be learned for exaltation.

Two Different Kinds of Fellowships

There are two different fellowships in the priesthood. One is between men or women and the other is between men and God. The fellowship we have on earth between us is different from the fellowship we have with heaven and the powers of heaven. Enoch taught us in Moses 7:27 it is the powers of heaven who bring us up into Zion. Think about that. While we are attempting to prepare for Zion among ourselves, we must also seek to have fellowship with Zion above us.

Seek to Associate with Powers of Heaven

There are many examples of these two fellowships in the scriptures: Enoch, Moses, Abraham, Jacob and others. They were first ordained to the fellowship among their brethren. They then went and obtained their errand from the Lord and established their fellowship with the powers of heaven. We ought never to be content to simply have the association that exists here. We should always seek to know and associate with the powers of heaven as we prepare for Zion to come.

Priesthood is to Enable us to See God

Don’t let anyone deceive you into believing this association is only meant for the afterlife. The purpose of the priesthood is to be able to see the face of God and live. It is to allow the power of Godliness to be manifest unto men, in the flesh. (D&C 84:21, 76:118, 93:1) This power, this priesthood, this fellowship, this association with the powers of heaven was meant to be laid hold upon by mortal men while here in this life. This life is the time to take care of this assignment.

Fellowships Required of Us in This Life

When Joseph said there were different portions or degrees of priesthood he meant the different fellowships and different associations we can have with the powers of heaven that exist on the other side of the veil. We need to cultivate that association in this life. Our growth requires these fellowships or priesthoods in order to obtain the power of Godliness so we can attain to the resurrection of the dead and dwell in everlasting burnings. Thus we can keep our second estate.

All Priesthood is Perishable

Even that priesthood conferred by the voice of God is perishable, if you are unwilling to restrain, and to contain yourself within the bounds the Lord has prescribed. Although Joseph did not, the church lost the higher priesthood, else why would the Lord point out the need to “restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fullness of the priesthood?” (D&C 124:28) While we’re still mortal, it is possible any person can lose the higher priesthood.

Lack of Faith Damns our Progress

I’ve always wondered why angels would choose to be angels as opposed to becoming Gods. It is because they are unwilling to believe they can obtain such a blessing. They limited themselves. It is the same with us. We hedge up our own way to heaven when we fail to develop sufficient faith and confidence necessary to lay hold upon all the blessings offered, because we believe those blessings are reserved for others and not for us. Like the children of Israel, we damn ourselves.

Faith Required to Obtain the Fullness

The Children of Israel would not ascend the mountain. They demanded a prophet to speak to God for them. They would not speak with God themselves. Thus they were cursed by God. Can you imagine how God must feel about those who preach today we are not entitled to receive any kind of revelation beyond what they say we can receive? Yes, there are those among us who say we cannot receive an audience with Christ, because such things are reserved only for prophets.

The Lord Took Away the Higher Priesthood

Joseph could not get the Saints to complete the Nauvoo temple before he was killed. Had they done so, the promised blessing in D&C 124:55 would have been fulfilled. The Lord wanted to restore the fullness of the priesthood – the higher priesthood – to the church. He had placed the church under condemnation in D&C 84:56. In D&C 124:28 the Lord told the Saints He had taken away the higher priesthood. The Temple was required in order to restore what was lost.

The Church was Cursed Instead of Blessed

If there’s one thing I have noticed as a result of being baptized again, it is the way I can now clearly see the meaning of the scriptures. Not only has my desire to study them increased, but the spirit bears witness to me the interpretations the LDS Church has taught for years about some passages, particularly in section 124, are simply wrong. We have lost the plain meaning of what the Lord tried to tell us there, or else we are just too blind to see it or are unwilling to accept it.

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

Joseph left us enough of the doctrine in the endowment ceremony, particularly in the method of approaching the Lord at the veil, for individuals to obtain the promised blessings for themselves. In other words, we can converse with the Lord through the veil. We can obtain an audience with the Savior. We can be sealed to the Fathers and eventually, come back into the Father’s presence. This is the promise of the holy priesthood. It can be obtained in this life if we desire and seek it.

Defining Fullness of the Priesthood

FacsimileThreeIn response to a comment made by a reader on the previous post, I wrote, “The fullness of the priesthood, or that which was lost (D&C 124:28), is to be brought into the presence of the Father, by the Son, to be fully endowed with the power that Enoch received, the power to bring about Zion.” I would like to elaborate on that comment and provide some backup for my thinking.

Priesthood Power Not Same as Church Authority

Just as power in the priesthood is different from authority in the priesthood, offices in the Church do not constitute the priesthood itself. They are simply organizational offices in an institution. I know this can be a difficult concept to accept. Some may claim it is false doctrine. Perhaps we can consider together this quote from Joseph Smith on the subject. It may prove helpful:

All Prophets Were Ordained By God Himself

“All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion that brought Moses to speak with God face-to-face was taken away, but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All prophets have the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS 180-181) Think about that last sentence from Joseph for a moment.

There is But One Priesthood of God

So Joseph teaches there is but one priesthood, yet we have a revelation (D&C 107:1) claiming there are two priesthoods, namely the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical. Add to this the idea of the Patriarchal priesthood, not defined in scripture, a phrase used by Joseph when urging the Saints to complete the Nauvoo temple. President Packer taught us a little more about this:

The Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

“There are references to a patriarchal priesthood. The patriarchal order is not a third, separate priesthood. Whatever relates to the patriarchal order is embraced in the Melchizedek Priesthood. All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to [the Melchizedek] priesthood. The patriarchal order is a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood which enables endowed and worthy men to preside over their posterity in time and eternity.”

Priesthood Power Received From the Father

So there is but one priesthood which exists, but it is not contained within or conferred by the church. It comes from one source – the Father. The Son is involved because He is the gatekeeper. He alone decides if a person if going to qualify to receive priesthood power. The Son makes it his work, or His ministry, to bring a person before the Father. This process can take many years.

The Son Prepares Us to Meet With the Father

The Son will work with a candidate for as long as it takes, and as long as the individual is willing to accept correction and reproof, from the Savior, to cure all that is wrong, fix all that is broken, remove all that is impure and prepare the disciple to be brought into the presence of the Father. It is the Father who confers and ordains a man to the highest priesthood. This is not a new teaching.

Priesthood Power Cannot be Conferred

Priesthood in the beginning was called the Holy Order. Later it was called the Holy Order after the Son of God, or the Holy Order after the Order of Enoch, or the Holy Order after the Order of Melchizedek. We think that is what we have in the church today. We think that is what we give to Elders when we first ordain them. But Joseph Smith could not confer that on another person.

Offices in the Church are not Priesthood

Priesthood power is received only from God. We cannot confer power upon another. We can ordain them with authority to officiate in offices in the church, but we cannot give them power. The fullness of the priesthood is contained within the Holy Order that comes from the Father. Show me a man who has entered into the Father’s presence and I will testify he has a fullness.

Our Goal Should Be To Receive The Father

But show me a man, no matter what position or keys he claims to possess, who has not entered into the Father’s presence, and I will testify he has not yet received a fullness. No matter what keys he has, he cannot possess the fullness. For that, the Father has a role He alone is required to fulfill. Joseph taught no man has seen the Father but He [the Father] has born record of the Son.

Ordination is Only a Preliminary Step

Being ordained is only the first step. Although it allows you to administer in an office in the church, it is really but an invitation, and nothing more than to go and get real power from God. It requires us to be faithful unto the Lord, to do all He asks us to do, and He will ask things of His sons that are difficult, in order to prove them faithful and worthy of being brought to the Father.

Receive the Lord’s Messengers Sent to Us

D&C 84 teaches us the importance of receiving the Lord’s servants, or messengers. They may be angels He sends to teach us, or they may be mortal. If we receive His messengers, we receive the Savior. The time will come when the Savior Himself will come to deliver instructions to prepare us further to come into the presence of the Father, in a very literal way, while we are yet mortal.

Fullness Means Completion of a Process

The whole purpose of the priesthood, as far as the man who receives it is concerned, is to prepare him to come into the presence of the Father in order to receive the fullness or the completion of the ordination. That is one definition of the word full – to be complete – or to have accomplished something. The accomplishment cannot be brought about without the involvement of the Lord.

We Must Receive The Father In This Life

“He that receiveth me receiveth my Father.” I can’t tell you how many times I have read that phrase with my brethren in priesthood meetings and wondered when this is supposed to happen. Surely the Lord intended for us to receive Him in this life, to be ministered to by Him in a literal and physical way. We receive the Father in this life to bear His presence in the world of glory.

Fullness of Priesthood and The Powers of Heaven

Receiving the fullness of the priesthood allows us to associate with those on the other side of the veil – the powers of heaven – who are helping to bring about the Lord’s work of bringing Zion. The fullness of the priesthood is required to withstand the brightness of the coming of the Lord, when He returns with the City of Enoch. Otherwise, they that come with Him will burn us up.

Seek to See the Face of God and Live

We have an association or brotherhood here on the earth which we call the priesthood. There is another brotherhood or association we should seek after, the association with the powers of heaven. D&C 84:21-22 teaches us the importance of priesthood in order to see the face of God and live. Obviously Joseph must have had priesthood when he saw the Father at age fourteen.

Attribution for Some of These Quotes

I recognize I have covered a lot in this post. It is all based on scripture, although I have not always provided the reference. You may also recognize a few direct quotes from some of the writings of Denver Snuffer. That’s because he organized ideas about priesthood in a way that make great sense to me. Otherwise, I would not have taken the trouble to study his writings.

Invitation to Receive of the Fullness

I finish as I started with an invitation to understand the fullness of the priesthood. It is simply to be brought into the presence of the Father, by the Son, to be fully endowed with God’s power, which can then be used to bless our fellow beings and to build the kingdom of God on the earth preparatory to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and those who come with Him in great glory.


Defining Power in the Priesthood

ReliefSocietyOrganizatonMy last post on Defining the Heavenly Gift went OK – not great – but OK, so I’d like to continue with the next phrase, only this time limit it to one. I think I tried to come to an understanding of too many key phrases in the previous post. I asked the Lord what the next phrase should be. He was very immediate, direct and emphatic. There was no hesitation He wanted me to understand this.

Even Apostles Interchange Power and Authority

I just re-read Elder Andersen’s wonderful October 2013 General Conference talk entitled, “Power in the Priesthood.” In fact, I watched or rather listened to the video as I read along. In his concluding testimony, he said, “The power of God’s holy priesthood is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Did he really mean power, or did he intend to say authority?

Church as an Institution or a Group of Saints

I guess it all depends on how you define “Church,” but I’m not going to make the same mistake I made on my post in which we discussed “The Heavenly Gift.” We’ll leave a discussion of that subject for some other time. Elder Andersen taught in that talk that power in the priesthood is not owned by the men of the Church, but that it belongs to God for the blessing of all His children.

Man Does Not Control Power of God

I love this example he used to explain the difference between authority and power: “A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings.” So, a man may be ordained, or have the authority of priesthood conferred upon him, but having power in the priesthood is a whole different story. Good so far?

Authority of the Church is Everywhere

In case there is still any question about the difference between the two, we can refer to President Packer’s General Conference talk on the subject of the Power of the Priesthood from April 2010: “We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide.”

Power is Not the Same as Authority

He continued with this contrasting statement, “But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” I hope this distinction of the two is not new to anybody.

Keys and Authority Can be Delegated

I refer now to the April 2014 General Conference address from Elder Oaks entitled “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.” I hope this talk is chosen by our stake leaders as one to study in our quorums and relief societies over the next six months. It’s interesting this talk was given in a priesthood session in which some women asked to be admitted to attend so they could be taught.

Women Have Power in the Priesthood

Elder Oaks quoted Elder Ballard thus, “When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which is priesthood power. … Access to the power and the blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God’s children.” Clearly, endowed women can receive priesthood power from God. Plainly, they must also have authority in the priesthood.

Women Have Authority of the Priesthood

In fact, Elder Oaks confirmed that with these words: “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be?” Sheri Dew wrote a marvelous book in 2013 entitled, “Women and the Priesthood,” which is sitting on my shelf of books to be read. Women preside with authority in this Church.

How to Retain Power in the Priesthood

I referred to it in passing at the conclusion of my post on “Defining the Heavenly Gift,” but I’d like to consider four key words found in section 121 that we all need to understand a little better. This especially applies to priesthood leaders as they use priesthood power to act in their offices in the Church. These four words are 1) Control, 2) Compulsion, 3) Dominion and 4) Amen.

Priesthood Leaders Can Lose Authority

I have friends who have been disciplined for their blogs. If priesthood leaders try to control what members of their wards or stakes do with their blogs, or compel them to change what they write or the way they write, or use their dominion over their own members to enforce their own ideas of what is appropriate to read or write, then Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

Excommunication Does Not Remove Priesthood

Wow. So even if an LDS blogger is excommunicated for what he or she writes in their blog, as long as they are worthy, have not lied or cheated, committed adultery or broken their covenants with the Lord, then the priesthood being forfeited is not that of the excommunicant but of those who participated in the disciplinary council. Priesthood can only be removed by God, not man.

Exercising Priesthood Power in the Home

Power in the Priesthood does not require membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a profound concept we need to understand. A man can be excommunicated and asked to not exercise his priesthood in the church, but the church has no power or authority over what a man does in his own home, including administering the sacrament to his family.

Administering the Sacrament in the Home

Yes, I know what the handbook says about the Bishop holding the keys over the Sacrament. But if the Church has cast the man out, and he retains his priesthood because he is worthy, since we know priesthood power comes from God and not man, then he is justified in keeping the Lord’s commandment to administer the sacrament to his family, in spite of the excommunication status.

The Fullness of the Priesthood

Power in the Priesthood is not and cannot be passed from man to man. Authority to act in the church is what is being delegated when we confer priesthood or ordain a man in the priesthood. The fullness of the priesthood means to have power in the priesthood from God himself. It is only received from God. The heavenly gift of priesthood power is controlled only by God.

The True Order of Prayer

A man is authorized to lead his family in prayer in whatever way he feels the Lord approves, or in whatever way he feels directed by the Lord. If he has been taught or endowed in the temple, he understands and can practice the true order of prayer to converse with the Lord through the veil. I don’t know how much clearer it can be, even if these things are not taught openly in church.

Your Comments are Welcome

I know. I did not stick to what I wrote at the beginning of this post. I said I would only write about one thing. Well, I tried, but this is what the Lord wanted me to write so there you go. I thank you for reading through my thought process on this subject. You are welcome to share your thoughts and ideas if you care to point out where I may have gone astray in my logic. God Bless.

Church Administration versus Ministering

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingWhen I was much younger, I was fascinated with the administration of the church. My sister works for the church. She is secretary to an Apostle. That means nothing, really. I only mention it to bring some context to what I am about to write. I love my sister and am proud of her accomplishments. I know the church doesn’t pay much but she has stuck it out all her life.

My Desire to Work for the Church

Around the time I married, nearly thirty-two years ago, I applied for a job with the church in the Information Systems Department. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to work for the church and help with all the technology as it is rolled out throughout the corporation – the institution?” I had a degree in computer programming and a few years’ experience designing database programs.

The Church Responds to My Request

I was surprised when I received a call from Russ Borneman (HR department I think) and Dennis Egget (IS Department) about coming up from California for an Interview. “Sure,” I said. They sent me a round-trip ticket on Western Airlines. I think this was back when the church owned a lot of stock in Western and sat on the board of directors so they got ridiculously low fares.

The Interview – Grilled by the Board

I thought the meeting a little strange. Let me tell you they grilled me. I felt like I was in a police lineup. They put me on a high-backed stool on one side of the room, while a board of about five or six employees from the IS department sat behind a long table on the other side of the room. I must have passed the initial interviews because the rest of the day was spent talking projects.

Objective: Reducing Project Life Cycles

We talked development code, specific assignments and objectives where “new” microcomputer technology could shorten project life-cycles. This was back in 1983. I believe the IBM PC had just been announced. My experience was all in CP/M and dBase coding but it was transferable. When we parted for the day I felt great and thought I had nailed the job. Boy, was I naïve then.

I Move My Family To Salt Lake

Foolishly, I moved my pregnant wife to Salt Lake, went back to the HR department of the church and asked to see Russ.

“What are you doing here?” he said.

“I’m here for the job. You said if I could get to Salt Lake I could start on the projects we talked about.”

He face said it all. It seemed to turn white as a sheet. “I’m so sorry,” he said. We gave the job to the nephew of Brother so and so” – and he named a General Authority. “He applied from another department and we have a policy of promoting from within.”

I Work for Management Systems Corporation

Sensing my disappointment, he cheerfully added, “But why don’t you go down the street to the retail store Management Systems Corporation,” (also owned by the church), “and I’ll put in a good word for you because of your experience with Apple computers. I did and I got the job but it was nowhere near what I needed to support my growing family. Maybe if I were a single guy.

Administration of a World-Wide Church

I told this story many years ago in a previous blog post. I only repeat it here to introduce a topic I’ve been thinking about all day – administration of a world-wide church. I’ve watched with interest as the church has grown in technology over the years. At first, it seemed they were slow to embrace Internet-based applications and anything not dependent on big iron “blue” machines.

The Church Needs and Uses High Tech

“Big Blue” of course is IBM and usually refers to the huge mainframes of yesteryear – the 360’s, 370’s and 390’s. I have no idea what the church uses today, if they still outsource (I doubt it) or if it’s all in-house. I don’t really care. I know they are (or were) big on Novell networks for obvious reasons – made in Provo – and I think they finally got off WordPerfect in the last decade.

Technology in MLS and LDS Tech

I am impressed with the technology of the church today. As a stake clerk I work on MLS every day. I love being able to find answers to just about anything on LDS Tech, a community of other clerks and developers, including many volunteers who give of their time and talent to support the vast and far-flung reaches of the church network. Just think about how it works for a minute.

The Church is Really Like a Bank

By the end of the day each Sunday, any authorized or interested party in the church administration or Church office building knows, to the penny, exactly how much income the church received that day. I am confident there are professional managers whose job it is to trend and forecast the state of contributions each week – and to have a report on some apostle’s desk first thing Monday.

All That Good Money Sitting There Unused

The Church knows exactly where the money is coming from, what areas are feeling the effects of economic downturn and where the fast offerings are being spent. They know exactly how much money is sitting in the missionary funds of each stake – perhaps billions of dollars going unused because many good families pay two years in advance. Others barely make the $400 a month.

Cultural History of the Book of Mormon

If you want to know more about how the church is run at the administrative level, be sure to read the Book of Mammon by Daymon Smith. He’s having a special over the next few months where you can get “The Cultural History of the Book of Mormon” for free, chapter by chapter, via PDF download. I said I was interested in church administration but not so much in our church culture.

Part Two: A Personal Experiencing in Ministering

Now I want to switch gears for a moment. I want to tell you a story about a wonderful spiritual experience I had yesterday (Saturday). I and another High Priest have been home teachers to a returned Mission President for about the last five years. Recently, this good brother contracted cancer. Each time he has a cancer treatment, he has called upon us for a priesthood blessing.

Home Teaching Can Be A Wonderful Thing

He was feeling so good before his last treatment that he felt he could forego the blessing this week. After all, he taught our Gospel Doctrine class just the day before and did a wonderful job. We received a call from his dear wife yesterday (Saturday) asking if we could come and provide a priesthood blessing. Apparently his treatment this week did not go as well as previous visits.

Called Upon to Give a Priesthood Blessing

We were pleased to respond. We alternate blessings with his treatments. He has six total, one every three weeks. I gave the first, my companion last time, so yesterday it was my turn again. Now I have given hundreds, if not thousands of priesthood blessings in my life. Some have been wonderful experiences while some were not efficacious because of a lack of faith somewhere.

Authority Versus Power in The Priesthood

I have been thinking about priesthood blessings a lot over the last few years since I have been introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer. I’ll bet you know what I’m going to say. It is the contention of some that Denver teaches the church is in an apostate condition and has been since the death of Joseph Smith. They claim he teaches the church has no priesthood authority at all.

Don’t Assume What Denver Snuffer Teaches

First of all, I want you to know that Denver does NOT teach that. I specifically wrote about sealing power on my first post about Denver a couple of years ago. He responded that he has never taught the church does not have sealing power. It is his contention that some types of authority or power can only be granted by a voice from heaven. Is that so hard to comprehend?

Being “In the Spirit” While Giving a Blessing

In any event, this is the first blessing I have given since my “episode” with the spirit on my birthday which I wrote about on my previous post. I made a momentous, life-changing decision that, for me – and for my wife – may prove to be a supreme act of sacrifice. I’ve got to tell you my heart has been tender since that day. I have been feeling especially dependent upon the Lord.

Blessing One of the Lord’s Faithful Servants

It was in this state of mind I laid my hands on this faithful returned mission president, former bishop and member of the stake presidency. I know him well and felt honored that he, or rather his faithful wife, had called us to come and give a priesthood blessing. As I sealed the anointing I began to feel something special and sacred that will be difficult to describe but which I’ll try.

Inspiration to Say Something I’d Never Said Before

I acknowledged the priesthood blessing as an act of faith of all in the room. I also acknowledged our dependence on Heavenly Father and his love for us demonstrated through His Son. Then I did something I had never done or said before. I felt impressed to say, “Acting as a conduit for the Lord Jesus Christ, we bless you to receive, through this ministration, virtue into your body.”

The Positive Energy of the Lord – His Virtue

After I said that, I could not speak for several seconds. I felt the love of the Lord for this humble man. I felt the appreciation the Lord had for this man’s years of faithful obedience, sacrifice and service in striving to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth. It was an overwhelming feeling. That is one of the things I miss most about setting people apart when I was in the bishopric.

My Personal Witness of Priesthood Power

There is a real power in the priesthood. It is enabled through our faith and though our desire to say what the Lord would have us say and do what the Lord would have us do. Don’t let anyone ever tell you there is no power in the priesthood. I am a witness that it is real. I know it’s not the ultimate power that comes from having the Lord lay his hands on our heads to confer power.

The Lord Wants Us To Be Conduits Of Virtue

Nevertheless, it is a real power, activated by faith and righteousness. I felt that virtue flow. It was a real sensation. It was a positive and uplifting energy flow that could only have come from the Lord. The Lord is the source of all virtue. It was not because of anything I had done or said. It was because the Lord has virtue to heal and wants His priesthood holders to be His conduits.

The Witness Comes in Exercising The Priesthood

I left that short home teaching visit a sobered and humbled man. Once again, I had received a manifestation from the Lord of his power. It is real. He is real. He is intimately involved in our lives. He wants to bless us. He will bless us according to our faith and righteousness. I am so grateful to be able to exercise the priesthood in behalf of others, especially those I love so much.

Part Three: Stuck in Administration of the Church

Now, my concluding point: Have I ever said how much I dislike Church Administration? I know I said at the beginning of this post how interested I was in church administration when I was a young man. I have had my fill of church administration. I would much rather minister than to administer any day. Why does it seem I’ve been stuck in administrative callings for the past 25 years?

Would Rather Be Teaching, Preaching or Ministering

I would so much rather teach or write or lead a discussion about gospel principles than to go to yet another meeting on how to do a successful stake audit or attend an organization meeting on how to plan a successful meeting or some other inane and basic principle of good planning that any person who has been in the business world or has served a mission knows over and over.

Perhaps As Much As a Year To Get New Job

I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me. I am striving to exercise faith. I know my faith is going to be tried over the next few months. I was surprised in Friday’s senior staff meeting that the CEO announced my resignation and added, “To be effective in one year.” I know I wrote that in the resignation letter but I had every expectation he wanted me out of there as soon as I quit.

Always Wondering How a Entrepreneurial CEO Thinks

Who knows? If I were a CEO, I would want to run my business as efficiently as possible. More to the point, I would want to spend as little money as possible to get the talent I need to run the parts of my business that I don’t understand, don’t have time to understand and don’t want to worry about. I think I’ve given the boss his money’s worth over the past nine years. But now…

Should I Consider Relocating to Utah?

Now it’s time to move on. At 57 years of age. Some people would say I’m done for. Nobody will hire an old man like me. “Overqualified,” they’ll say, code word for “You’re too old and will need too much money.” I know I have my work cut out for me. “Move to Utah,” some of my friends have said. Technology is booming up here.” Ah, yes, the grass is always greener…

We Are All Dependent Upon The Lord

I close with this thought. I love the Lord. I will do anything He asks of me. I have come to the point in my life where I know His voice. I’m not trying to brag. I’m trying to say it’s possible. I know when He speaks to me. I know His promptings. I have not always obeyed and have felt left on my own more times than I want to acknowledge. But I need Him now than I ever have before.

Sacrifice Can Seem Illogical And Unreasonable

Perhaps that’s why he asks us to sacrifice something that is illogical and unreasonable to most people in the world. As I wrote in my last post, what I did went against everything I have always counseled others not to do. Get a job locked down before you quit your present one. But I could not deny the Lord was asking it of me and was pleased with my response. I acted immediately.

Consequences Of Acting Rashly And Impulsively

Carol told me she wanted to respond to some of the comments on the last post and tell how she felt about my decision. Yes, it was rather cold around the house for a couple of days. She had every right to be upset with me. I encouraged her to add to the comments but she declined. She is too busy working her own magic on her blog and promoting her book, now out in paperback.

Thank You For Sharing My Life Online

It’s late and I want to get this posted tonight. I thank each of you who read my ramblings and allow me to share my life online. I’m just a simple Mormon boy coming to grips with a major paradigm shift in my life brought about by the writings of one Denver Snuffer. His books have changed my life. If you haven’t read them, I recommend you do so. You’ll never be the same.

Remembering the Covenant

RememberingTheCovenantI received my copies of Denver Snuffer’s Remembering the Covenant, Volumes 1, 4 and 5 the other day. Why would I invest $55 to purchase printed versions of something that is available for free online? I’ve already purchased and read Denver’s previously published eight volumes. And for the most part, I read the majority of what’s in the books on Denver’s blog over the past year.

Two reasons: I’m an old guy. I like physical books. I enjoy turning the pages, marking them up and seeing them stored in my library. Second, I found it interesting Denver hinted at something I have been thinking about for a long time. We take the availability of the Internet, Blogger and hey, even electricity for granted. The day may come when these things are no longer guaranteed.

I like the formatting of the books, the new chapter organizations and the footnotes. The blog comments are not included. That’s understandable. If you’re read some of them, they get way off the subject and frankly, there are some weird things in there that are distracting from the content. I’m not saying comments aren’t valuable, just that they can take things in unintended directions.

Commentary on The Second Comforter

I feel like a late-comer to the Denver party. Now, he wouldn’t like that characterization. He has always said the important thing is the message, not the messenger. And of course, Denver is not the only one focusing on the idea that we can and should receive the Savior in this mortal life. By that I mean a personal visit from the Lord in which he ministers to and teaches you sacred things.

As Denver noted on his blog, volumes two and three in the series were published previously as the single volume Removing the Condemnation. The advantage of purchasing them in this new format is that they are in a larger font and split into two volumes. I chose to save a few bucks by just getting the ones I didn’t already have. Amazon already has the three other volumes bundled.

So for me, having the luxury of the printed volumes allows me to study Denver’s commentary on his original book at my leisure, which is usually at night before retiring for the day. I learned recently that if I work on the computer right up until I retire, it makes it difficult to get to sleep. There’s something more relaxing about reading a book instead of reading on a computer screen.

Two Areas of Disagreement

In the year or so since I was introduced to Denver’s writings, I’ve made it a point to share with Carol some of the things I have been learning. She’s not all that interested, especially since the first book I
read from Denver was his last one, Passing the Heavenly Gift. We basically disagree on two points – the desirability of meeting Christ in this life and just what priesthood power is.

Carol was taught all her life and believes that there is no need to receive the Savior in this life in a literal way, meaning you don’t need a personal visit to be saved or exalted. She says that will come after this life. When I show her the scriptures and the teachings from Joseph she responds, “Well, the majority of the members of the church aren’t going to see Christ in this life, so there.”

We read chapter one of Passing the Heavenly Gift together. I wrote about her response in my first essay about Denver early in 2012. We’ve had an ongoing discussion about power in the priesthood ever since. Every time a baby is blessed, a baptism is performed or someone is confirmed or ordained, she leans over to me and whispers, “not valid – no power, right?”

Difficult Ideas to Accept

She’s trying to point out that, in her mind, Denver’s argument that power of some kind was lost, does not make sense to her because of the special feelings we each feel when we witness an ordinance of the priesthood, partake of the sacrament or attend the temple. While in the Celestial room, we’ve discussed what he has written. Gratefully, we’ve been able to keep it quiet and civil.

Carol’s viewpoint is that receiving a personal visit from Christ in this life is not necessary, at least according to all we’ve been taught growing up in this church. The focus has always been, receive the ordinances, including marriage in the temple, then endure faithfully to the end. That means as long as you attend church, accept callings, pay tithing and pray often, you’ll be exalted.

Thus, she says the focus of Denver’s first book is unnecessary, at least according to what we’ve been taught. What she got out of Denver’s last book is that he was very clearly saying that the church lost something with the death of Joseph, perhaps even sooner. She took great exception to this idea. What exactly was lost has been a matter of discussion between us over the past year.

Focus on the Book of Mormon

I’m glad I read his last book first. I had long been feeling that there was something missing in our modern church compared to the early church, meaning in the days of Joseph Smith. If you have been following my blog for any length of time, I hope I’ve made it clear that I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is scripture and is intended to guide our lives.

I also believe that Joseph received the sealing power from God, just like Nephi did, but that there was so much more he wanted to share with us that he received from the Lord before his life was cut short. He did not live to see the completion of the Nauvoo temple. There were things he knew that he tried to teach in the last few months of his life, that we just didn’t quite understand.

I’m looking forward to reading and studying these three volumes, Remembering the Covenant. I note that he positions them as a commentary on the Book of Mormon. I like that. There is so much of this marvelous book that even after a lifetime of studying I still don’t understand. I know Denver taught much of this stuff in his Gospel Doctrine classes over some twenty years.

Remain True and Faithful

In case you were wondering, I see no incompatibility between studying the works of Denver Snuffer and remaining a faithful member of the church. In fact, as many others have stated, I don’t think I have ever studied the gospel more intently in the past year since I first encountered his works. Denver has repeatedly encouraged us to remain faithful and serve in the church.

Yes, his first book is somewhat unconventional in that the doctrine of seeking an audience with Christ in this life is no longer taught in our church. And yes, his last book is controversial in that he put in one place all the arguments we have been reading on the Internet for years that there is something amiss in the direction of the church compared to what Joseph restored so long ago.

Can one believe that something is missing or not quite right in the church today and still answer the temple interview questions honorably? Absolutely.  I sustain the Brethren as authorized to lead this church. I see nothing in what Denver writes to be contrary to or opposing the teachings and practices of the Church. Denver has encouraged us to be faithful and serve in the church.

Future posts on Denver Snuffer

Although this blog is not devoted to discussing the writings of Denver Snuffer, I intend to bring up a number of things I have read in his books that I find interesting and worthy of discussion. I have had a paradigm shift in the way I view the priesthood that answers so many questions for me. I am also delighted to see the idea of meeting Christ in this life being taught and promoted.

Surely the Brethren cannot find fault with anyone who encourages us to seek an audience with Christ for the specific purpose of receiving instruction pertaining to our salvation. And surely they can’t fault him for informing us in one place, in a very favorable way I might add, about the things we have read in many places on the Internet regarding a different view of our history.

Don’t call me a Snufferite. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’m just a regular member of this church. I merely want to know what I must do to have an audience with my Redeemer in this life. I can’t imagine anybody labeling this as an undesirable thing. I’m simply grateful that Denver says it can be done and that he has done so. Thank God for his testimony and witness.

For More Information

In case you are interested, I’ve written several previous entries about Denver Snuffer:

01. March 24, 2013 – Overview of The Second Comforter
02. March 9, 2013 – A New Star Will Shine Forth
03. March 3, 2013 – All Are Invited to the Feast
04. December 25, 2012 – The Four Phases of Mormonism
05. December 11, 2012 – What Denver Snuffer Teaches
06. July 7, 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
07. May 12, 2012 – Orthodox Mormonism
08. May 5, 2012 – Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer
09. April 8, 2012 – Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil
10. February 26, 2012 – Loss of the Sealing Power