Looking into the LDS Church from the Outside


 

WhyIResignedWhen I decided to stop writing in my blog on a regular basis last month, I felt a great burden had been removed. I felt free to think, ponder and pray about my course in life without asking if the Lord wanted me to share my thoughts on any particular subject. I kept my feelings and beliefs to myself and appreciated the idea that I’m just another sojourner on this earth travelling with you. I began to feel less stress, less pressure and fewer impressions or ideas on which to elaborate here.

In many ways I’m no different from you. We have a lot in common. I think we both believe there is purpose in life. We get excited about some things that happen to us as we move through each day and annoyed at others. From past experience I know my audience is vast and wide. Most of my readers are LDS or former LDS. Most are believers in God, a personal God who knows and loves us individually. I especially appreciate many readers have kept in touch with me privately.

Changes in Church Handbook

LDSChurchHandbooks1A lot has happened in the world over the past month that caused me to want to post some ideas as it relates to the last days. The Paris attacks and the change in the LDS handbook both had me wanting to share a few comments but I resisted the urge. I enjoyed a much needed break. Things even seemed to quiet down at work. I still manage the day-to-day operations of my department and move several projects along, but for the most part, I feel less stress in my daily schedule.

I think my health has improved. After spending a week in the hospital and losing fifteen pounds, I began to feel my energy pick up in a way I haven’t felt in several years. This blogging break seems to have been good for me. I moved the blog to WordPress.com, which is free, and off the very expensive site, Blue Host. I miss the plug-ins, and there are still a few missing photos to be restored but I am happy I was able to transfer most of the history and photos to this free format.

My Meeting with the Bishop

our-bishopI also discovered something very interesting about myself and my personal growth. In the last month I have listened to the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, The New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants and am just finishing Genesis. Instead of thinking and pondering on my 75-minute daily drive to and from work, I have been listening to the scriptures on lds.org. There’s something different about going through them that fast. Time seems to be compressed.

I also met with my bishop in the last month. I wanted to confirm two things – that I was welcome to attend and that I could sing in the ward and stake choirs, which I had missed very much over the past year. I came to a slow realization I had made a mistake in some of the posts I directed to my Bishop and Stake President last year. I might be LDS today if I had not written those posts. But what’s done is done. I’m now on the outside looking in and have been for over the past year.

Social Stigma of Being an Apostate

preserving-the-restoration1If you’re interested, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts over the next little while about the idea of becoming a member of the LDS Church again. I know this may be a real shock to some readers so let me explain. If you’ll recall, and as far as I can tell, Denver never once advocated we resign from the LDS Church. I may be wrong, and if so, feel free to point that out. I think I did that on my own, believing I could not be baptized and remain a member of the LDS Church.

“Why,” you may ask,” would you want to become a member of the LDS Church once again?” There are plenty of reasons, the primary of which is to be fair to Carol. She feels she was cheated out of something when I resigned. I did not ask her. I told her. That was a foolish mistake. I knew what her response would be had I asked and I was determined to do what I felt the Lord was asking me to do. Of course many said I was deceived, but I assure you I was not deceived.

Purpose of Life is to Gain Experience

brighamyoung.jpgI made my decision about several years of study and prayer. I like to compare what I did in leaving the LDS Church as similar to what Brigham Young did in joining the LDS Church. He was in no hurry and neither was I. He studied, attended meetings, read, prayed and participated with the saints – mainly with his own family – in the LDS worship practices. When I decided to be baptized I seem to recall reading in the Church Handbook that baptism is a sign of apostasy.

Note I was not baptized into any existing or new church. I chose to be baptized as a token or sign between me and the Lord that I believed he had sent a teacher in our day with a message the LDS Church – the Gentile Church – had fallen away or had apostatized from the original format and intended purpose for which it had been established. I was not baptized into the Church of Denver Snuffer. I am not a follower of Denver Snuffer. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is the same.

Perhaps the Church Won’t Want Me

latemple_small.jpgBesides restoring to my wife what was taken from her without her consent, I believe I can do more good from within the LDS Church than I can from outside the Church. I miss the temple. Of course I recognize it will probably be years before the First Presidency decides I am worthy to have my temple blessings restored. Perhaps they will decide I can never have those blessings restored. After all, when I resigned, I did so fully acknowledging the severing of temple links.

I will be happy with simply being baptized again. You and I both know that once an individual dies, their family members do their temple work all the while reciting the phrase, “it will all work out in the end. God will make it right. If they are worthy, they will have the blessings of the temple for eternity. If not, they will receive what they have earned or are worthy of receiving.” I suspect most LDS folks, including many leaders, don’t know the mind of the Lord on this matter.

I Enjoy Attending the LDS Church

SLCSealingRoom.jpgUnlike many stories I read online and that have been shared with me in private emails, I have not had a bad experience in the LDS Church. I enjoyed my fifty-plus years as a member. I enjoyed my mission. I enjoyed going to the temple. I enjoyed serving in many callings over the years, especially the twenty-five years in various bishoprics and on the High Council. I love to teach the gospel and miss that. If baptized again, I doubt I would ever be given a call to teach or lead.

Incidentally, according to LDS doctrine, Carol lost nothing when I resigned. Just as children lose nothing when the sealing of their parents is cancelled, they still have the blessings of the sealing ordinance. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the LDS Church about the temple, what the ordinances represent and how they work. Probably the least understood concept, even among long-time High Priests who should know better, is the Holy Spirit of Promise in eternal marriage.

Lots of Questions to Work Out

baptism-saratoga-springsGo ahead and call me a fool if you like. I am aware of hundreds of people who were baptized as I was, who did not leave the LDS Church. They continue to serve in callings in the church and at the same time hold sacrament meetings at home and invite others to be baptized as a token they accept what the Lord has done and is doing in these last days. I have a lot of things I need to work out with the bishop before I can be baptized again, such as, “What is the Gentile Church?”

Did the Saints accomplish what the Lord asked of them in Nauvoo or were they cursed as the Lord said they would be because they did not complete the temple before Joseph’s death? Just what exactly is the higher priesthood and is it something that can be passed on from one man to another? Why do we have Joseph teaching ALL the prophets of the old testament after Moses received the higher priesthood directly from the Lord. Is that the ONLY way it is received?

Good People Who Are Disciples of Christ

carl_bloch_the_christWhy does the Church Handbook take precedence over the scriptures when most of the general body of the LDS Church has never seen it and certainly has never voted on it as binding upon them as a church? How in the world can the LDS Church punish the children of apostates when such action goes directly against the second article of faith? I have dozens of additional questions like these I am seeking to answer before I can answer the baptismal questions about LDS leaders.

I am in a unique position of being an outsider looking in at the Church after more than fifty years of being a members of that church. My views have changed considerably in the last year since I resigned. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the people in the church. I feel most are still my friends. Most seem to be genuine in their love for me. I believe most are true followers of Jesus Christ and want to please Him. My concern is with those who declare what is doctrine.

By Study and Also By Faith


ssalem-thoughtsWhen the Interwebz first began to crawl (1993 – See history of Mosaic), browsers didn’t have “Favorites.” Instead, we created lists of links in raw HTML code and made it our home page. The tradition continues today with blogrolls. I update my list about once a year, sorting it by Alexa rankings. Number 150 on my current list is Russell Anderson’s Thoughts from Salem.

When I first started blogging, I would link to articles on Russell’s previous site, Lightplanet.com because it had a wealth of LDS information I was unable to find elsewhere. Russell sold that site a while back, contacted me about his current site and we began a correspondence. Knowing I was going to be in his neck of the woods this week, we made arrangements to meet for lunch.

I was delighted to discover a kindred spirit with much in common. We are both computer guys, love to study the gospel, have a strong desire to share our research and have a similar journey in what we have concluded. We both started our online efforts with the intent of defending the LDS Church, then came to realize there was something not quite right with the official LDS narrative.

The Church was Rejected

nauvoo-temple-daguerreotypeFor example, in D&C 124 the Lord said the church would be rejected if it did not complete the Nauvoo temple in a timely manner. The Lord desired to restore the fullness of the priesthood which He had taken away. The official church narrative is that the temple was completed. On his website, Russell provides a detailed chronology of the Nauvoo temple showing it was otherwise.

This is a big deal. You’ve really got to think about the implications of what happened in Nauvoo. If the fullness of the priesthood was taken away, and the Lord said it was, then how is it possible the LDS Church can claim to have that priesthood today? The church has gone to great lengths to show the temple was completed, thus the fullness of the priesthood had to have been restored.

Anybody who considers the list of cursings the Lord promised in that section will realize they were each realized. The Lord did not reveal any new ordinances in the Nauvoo temple. He did not reveal things hid from before the foundation of the world. Instead, the saints were moved out of their place by their enemies. They received cursings, wrath, indignations and judgments.

Prophets and the Heavenly Council

The standard LDS interpretation of Amos 3:7 is that God will speak to his people through the prophets, specifically the fifteen men who carry the title of “prophet, seer and revelator.” The current mantra of the church, “follow the prophet” uses this verse as the foundation to support the idea of centralized hierarchical leadership, control and direction for the true people of God.

the-divine-councilNowhere else have I found what I consider to be the more correct interpretation of that verse than on Russell’s site. He presents a logical construction of the elements found in this scripture in such a way that, for me, brought a paradigm shift about how I can recognize a true prophet. He will be introduced to the Heavenly Council by God and will testify of having been so included.

The purpose of the Heavenly Council is not something you are taught about in the standard LDS curriculum. Of course it is referenced in Moses and especially Abraham (the Gods), but nowhere does the church teach that mortals can participate in such a council. Amos teaches us how God calls a prophet – He brings him into the Heavenly Council – then that man receives assignments.

The Doctrine of Christ

One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Christ and to bring us unto Christ. The doctrine of Christ is taught plainly by Nephi in 2 Nephi 32. He plainly teaches repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and coming unto Christ. The church used to understand and correctly teach that coming unto Christ meant to receive him in the flesh. They no longer do.

carl_bloch_the_christIn verse six we read, “Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.”  Nephi is clearly saying Christ shall manifest himself unto you and teach you much more in person.

The church discounts that claim and instead teaches Nephi’s words were fulfilled when Christ came to the Americas after his resurrection. On his website, Russell presents us with a logical deconstruction of Nephi’s instructions about receiving Christ in the flesh. The purpose of the gospel is to prepare us to receive Christ in the flesh while yet mortal. It can’t be any clearer.

Hearing the Voice of God

The church teaches the higher priesthood can be passed from one man to another. This is not so. The higher priesthood is only received directly from God, by hearing his voice declare it. This is taught plainly in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, especially in Section 84. Others have also explained this fact, but Russell’s page on the subject presents a sound exegesis.

PassingHeavenlyGiftWe tend to overlook the fact that the ordination is simply an invitation to go and get the power. We do NOT receive the higher power of God by ordination. We MUST have the Lord declare it unto us by His own voice out the heavens. No earthly organization controls the power of God. He alone decides who receives it. President Packer understood and taught this a few years back.

In order to have the higher priesthood, we must receive Christ – literally, physically. There is an ordinance involved. Note I said ordinance, not ordination. The ordination invites the man to do all the Holy Ghost teaches him he must do to come into the presence of Christ. The Savior then confers power upon the man. That’s why the penalty for turning from the priesthood is so severe.

A Useful Website for Research

I could go on and on with great examples from Thoughts from Salem but it’s late and my intent was to simply introduce you to the site, express my opinion that it is a valuable resource and invite you to peruse it for some wonderful instructive content. This man has done his research and has provided some unique insights expressed in a logical, methodical and organized manner.

His page on Denver Snuffer is a great source for links that you may not have seen previously. His page containing links to those excommunicated from the LDS church for teaching contrary to the official doctrinal interpretation is noteworthy. Take a look at the Topics page for details on a few Mormon myths, the idea of multiple mortal probations before resurrection and quite a few more.

There is also a valuable page of links to LDS reference material such as older conference talks, periodicals and publications, books, scriptures, Joseph Smith sermons, papers and teachings. See also his page on succession in the presidency for evidence of historical inaccuracies. His post on D&C 136, Brigham’s only canonized revelation is especially revealing.

 

The Path of Discipleship


JST Luke 14

25 [T]here went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.

29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?

30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,

31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,

32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.

33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

JesusTeachingWhat he is saying is, if you desire to be his disciple and to take him to be your Master, then commit to living his teachings in all things. If you fail in your discipleship, if you refuse the sacrifices commanded, then when you are in hell, the denizens thereof will hate you above others. If you know you cannot bear the loss of your career, your reputation, your home, your friends, your family, and even your life, then don’t start the path. Discipleship is not for you.

Religion, on the other hand, might seem to offer a way out. “If I follow the prophets, surely this would suffice, and I wouldn’t need to worry about losing all earthly things according to the teachings of Christ.”

35 Then certain of them came to him saying, Good Master, we have Moses and the prophets, and whosoever shall live by them, shall he not have life?

36 And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had known them, ye would have believed on me; for to this intent they were written. For I am sent that ye might have life. Therefore I will liken it unto salt which is good;

37 But if the salt had lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

38 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dung hill; men cast it out. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. These things he said, signifying that which was written, verily must all be fulfilled.

Matt712If you know these things and do not do them, you shall be cast out.

Hence, “ALL THINGS whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets.”

What is the reward for following the teachings of Christ with diligence and exactness?

JST Matthew 10: 21 Remember, the disciple is not above his master; nor the servant above his lord. It is enough that the disciple be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

JST Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

You will be even as Jesus is. It is possible to be perfect.

Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:125
125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.

Charity is the bond of perfectness. And with it, you are even as God is while you are in this world.

JST 1 John 4
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

So how do we obtain charity? Is it developed over a lifetime of home teaching, temple work, and tithe-paying?

Moroni 7:48
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Follow in his word and pray for charity until you receive.

JST John 8
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

This is the path of discipleship.

JST Luke 6
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are they who hunger now; for they shall be filled. Blessed are they who weep now; for they shall laugh.

22 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you who are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you who laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

27 But I say unto you who hear my words, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you.

28 Bless them who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.

29 And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.

31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

32 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

33 For if ye love them only who love you, what reward have you? For sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what reward have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?

40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

41 And why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?

42 Again, how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote which is in thy brother’s eye.

43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit;

44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

46 And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like.

48 He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.

49 But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Escape From Idolatry


golden-statueI notice a pattern with people who escape idolatry. I would dare say it is nearly universal. It is perhaps the most difficult and treacherous path to navigate in this life, but if we endure to the end, it leads to the riches of eternity.

In the worst of idolatry, men and women will put their trust solely in external things. Usually this consists of pastors, bishops, preachers, ministers, and whatever books that happen to be approved within their belief system. If they run into a question or concern, they speak to the nearest “authority” on the subject, who has enough knowledge with the approved books to pacify the person and lull them back to sleep.

golden-calfIf the person keeps seeking greater truth, they will soon begin to see contradictions coming from the pulpit. The local “authority” will sometimes say things that are not coinciding with the approved books, and the seeker begins to see that the local authorities are fallible, and not to be trusted as far as Truth is concerned.

In the next phase the seeker will begin to seek the words of the “greater” leaders and “authorities.” They will seek the words of the founders of the religion, the dead prophets and popes, the great men and women of the belief system. The seeker will begin finding others who see the fallibility of the local leaders and they will enjoy seeking words of the greater leaders of the belief system.

money-idolatryEventually if the seeker persists in the journey, it will become clear that even the founders and the great ones of the belief system do not agree on all things. Hopefully the seeker at this point has begun to receive revelation and is developing his/her own relationship with God. Slowly their eyes are opened as they continue forward.

The next step in the pattern comes to a point where the seeker will cleave to THE ONE person that seems to have all the answers. THE ONE prophet, or pope, whether living or dead, who was or is guided by God. This will be THE ONE who was truly infallible because he/she was God’s voice, instrument, prophet, pope, king, or whatever the title may be. This also can come in the form of THE ONE book, THE ONE philosophy, THE ONE trustworthy source of Truth besides God.

golden-calf2If the seeker does not rest, and will truly endure to the end, at some point they will see that even THE ONE has things that are not true. This can only be done by receiving revelation line upon line on every subject that the one remaining idol has taught. Sometimes things outside of the one remaining idol are used as tools to help the seeker break the shackles.

It can be THE ONE book or idol that others have pointed too. It can be the Laotzis and the Buddhas and the Emmanuel Swedenborgs and the Apocryphas etc that point out truths that the one idol does not have and even teaches or has taught against, but the spirit will bear witness to.

golden-calf1Of course the last phase, and the only True Way is when the disciple learns to only trust in the Spirit of the Living God, the Spirit of Truth. When one enters this zone, Truth comes quickly from many avenues because the chains of idolatry have been broken. There is no damning limit to what the Spirit could tell you, because the only creed is Truth, wherever it may be found.

Outward authority never can exist to the true disciple, because the holy oil of God is giving truth to the inward vessel. The only things to conquer in this last phase are the devils and powers of darkness which will fight with desperation and fury. All of the powers of hell will be used to stop the seeker from becoming a holy disciple of God.

academic-idolatryAs one progresses from phase to phase in the escape of idolatry, the seeker will find less and less human companionship, but more and more association with the angels and righteous on the other side of the veil. Most are not willing to trade the outward forms of spirituality for the inward blessings of discipleship. To escape each phase, more strength is needed than to escape the last, and only the Lord can provide it.

food-as-an-idolIn each of these phases there will be many who will try to persuade you that you are in the right spot. You have made it to THE GROUP, to the elite, “you have escaped! This is the place!” the mortals and devils will call, yet the seeker must learn to heed the call of The Only One that matters.

Of course many would call the seeker a person that “picks and chooses.” They will call it a “buffet style” approach and call the wisdom of God foolishness. “You can’t just pick and choose!” will be the voice of the devil. “You can’t trust personal revelation!” They will say you must check it with all of the idols and if it doesn’t match up it must be discarded. Think deeper about some verses in Matt 13:41-50

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I pray God’s blessings upon each of us as we shed idolatry and falsehood, and come unto the Truth. Those who will not be cast into the furnace of fire will be those who have sold all the filth, who have cast all the bad away, before the coming of the Lord.

The Beginning Of Zion


isaiah-recording-revelationIn the beginning there were a handful of prophets, male and female, whom the Lord brought together. These prophets had come to the honest conclusion that they did not know a whole lot about things, but they knew the things that they knew by the power of the Spirit of God. Each of these individuals had deep desires to know of the mysteries of God. When they met they began to share what they had learned to each other. Often the other prophets would receive a confirmation of the truth of what another prophet shared by the Holy Ghost. Other times there was no confirmation, but the prophets would go pray to the Lord to learn if what another had shared upon a subject was true.

The prophets were always open to the fact that the other prophets could very well be wrong, and they only trusted something if the Lord confirmed it. At first answers came slowly, sometimes only after weeks of humble prayer, but after time the answers from the Lord came more and more quickly. These individuals did not look to any of the others for truth, but rather listened to the other’s revelations, and then took each thing to the Lord for their own confirmation. Often answers from the Lord were very surprising, and opposed everything that had been taught to the masses of people throughout the world. The wonderful thing though was that the Lord never told any of these prophets ANYTHING that conflicted with answers that He gave to the other prophets. They found the Holy Ghost spoke plainly, powerfully, and the same way in each revelation.

One day, a woman came to this group of prophets and said, I have been praying for some time to know if God lives, and finally I received an answer, this incredible power that I had never felt before as I was praying came and filled every part of my soul, and gave me a perfect knowledge that God does live, and God loves me. All of the prophets embraced this woman and welcomed her as a fellow prophet. This woman craved another revelation and desired to know if Jesus was the Christ. While she listened to the other prophets, she did not trust them, and they encouraged her not to, unless the Holy Ghost bore witness to her again in the same manner on any subject presented. For months this woman prayed and received nothing. Then finally the answer came by the Holy Ghost that Jesus was truly the Son of God, and He lived on the earth.

prophet-recording-revelationSoon, more and more prophets began to gather. The key ingredient to their gathering was the fact that they had learned to receive revelations for themselves, and did not put any trust in any other man’s words, either past or present. Only the Spirit of God was to be trusted. Each prophet was embraced as an equal, regardless of the amount of revelation that had been received, and all learned to be open to anything, because if they did not know the truth of any subject, and they knew they did not know it, then there could be no contention over what the truth of the subject was. They knew that it was pointless to debate, or set their hearts upon the answer being one way or another, if they had not received revelation on the subject themselves, and therefore there was no contention among these prophets. They learned the power of admitting to themselves that THEY DIDN’T KNOW, until they knew by the Holy Ghost, and they would NEVER teach something that they hadn’t received by revelation.

As these prophets gathered and grew in number, God delighted in giving them revelation, because He knew they would not go beyond what He told them. Sure they read and listened to all sorts of opinions and what others in the world had claimed to be truth, but nothing was ever received, not even one teaching, if it was not confirmed to the prophets as individuals by the Spirit of God. When the time was right, and they had proven they would never trust in men, the Lord began to pour out power upon these individuals, and miracles began to occur just as they occurred in the days of Jesus. No matter how much any of them knew, they were always one heart and mind upon the subjects that they did know, because the Holy Ghost would never lie or teach conflicting things. This is the beginning of Zion.

Can we see the beauty here? Is it right for the preachers of any religion to wait for people to feel the Spirit about one thing, and then tell them it means they need to accept a thousand other doctrines and teachings because of the one or two things they felt the Spirit about? Is it right to teach that people can get a testimony if an individual is a prophet, and if so, then they can simply accept everything that prophet has taught?

prophet-jeremiahJeremiah 23:

30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.

What do these verses mean, (by the way I do know these verses are true) when they warn about people stealing words from neighbors, and using their tongues to say “He saith,” or just as bad, “he saith.”

How often do people quote other’s purported revelations and use other men’s words, and pronounce them as truth, when the Lord has not spoken it to the individual sharing? I submit that I used to do it all the time, and thought I was doing the work of the Lord. As an LDS missionary I did it daily, and it was a grievous sin. I thank God for mercy and for His kindness in showing me that I knew nothing, and could only trust what He tells me personally. I know there are others learning this. The initial stirrings of Zion are taking place today, and many wonderful things are coming to those who will abandon their idolatry of men, and truly seek the Living God, and His Word, on ANY subject before accepting it as truth.

Power and Authority


power-and-authorityThere was a deacon in the Church some years ago who observed one family member abusing another family member. He commanded the abuser to repent and cited his Aaronic priesthood as authority for the order. The abuser declined to acquiesce to his request.

Question: What lesson should the deacon have learned from this?

Consider the account of the two prophets in JST 1 Kings 13.

Question: What lesson should we take from the example of the prophet from Judah?

Question: For what purposes do people cite authority for their words or actions?

Question: Which of those purposes pass the Golden Rule test?

Question: What exercises of power or authority are compatible with the Golden Rule?

Question: What is the power of God?

Question: What is the authority of God?

Question: What is the significance of a commandment from God?

power-and-authority-illustratedD&C 121, as well as Jesus’s teachings to his disciples about authority and power, are good places to start on these things. (Handy keywords to search Jesus’s teachings for: rabbi, master, benefactors, greatest, servant, younger)

My answers will probably be different than yours, but that doesn’t necessarily make me “right” and you “wrong.”

Representing Christ on the Earth


ComeUntoChMany years ago, Elder Scott visited a Stake in Layton Utah to discuss an ongoing problem in the LDS Church, that of priesthood leaders putting themselves between Christ and His children. It has been twenty-two years since that issue was discussed, yet it remains rampant today. You would think over the years such an important message would be standard reading for leaders.

Sadly, the practice is alive and well. When I began blogging back in 2007 I did so after a great deal of prompting by the Lord. He had been asking me for years to get involved in the online discussions about the gospel and the LDS Church. I hesitated, dragged my feet, made excuses and in general ignored the promptings until I could resist no more. The Lord asked me to blog.

Blogging an Expression of Faith

I make this point because I consider my blogging efforts to be an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ. I experimented with different ideas and directions over the years, but always checked with the Lord to see if I was going in the right direction. He would give me ideas on what to explore in my gospel studies then give me additional ideas when I shared my thoughts online.

That’s why when my Bishop called me in and questioned me about my blog posts, I felt a little confused at first. I double checked what I was sharing. I made sure I consulted with the Lord in prayer before I posted something and in general, went back over the things I had written to see if I could discover what it was that was troubling my bishop. I did not understand his concerns.

Going in Different Directions

With each additional meeting, it became clearer my Bishop saw only apostasy in my writings. I continued to ask the Lord to guide me. I fasted. I prayed many long hours. I sought counsel from others I trusted. While I still had my recommend, I attended the temple with a prayer in my heart that I be not led astray. With each prayer, with each temple visit, I felt the Lord was guiding me.

Yet my bishop persisted in expressing his concern I was wrong. Not only that, he decided it was time to prove his point by placing me on informal probation. I had to ask my stake president for clarification of the charges. Another meeting with the bishop brought forth the verdict: Apostasy. I was judged apostate in my writings. I was a threat to the community because of my thoughts.

Submission to Christ, Not Man

ChristMemberLeaderWow. I was floored. How could I be so misled by the spirit in what I was studying and writing? How could I be so “out of harmony” with the Brethren, as my bishop proclaimed? He said I was taking pot-shots at the Brethren. Again, I was flabbergasted. My desire had always been to help others come unto Christ. It remains that today. The Church can’t save us, only the Savior can.

I remember one particular scene in our interviews that shocked me to no end. “You’ve got to be more humble and submissive, Tim. You’ve got to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” I finally got it. He was saying I wasn’t being submissive enough to him. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “To whom?” I said, “You mean to you?” I could see my response had stunned him.

Unintended Yet Real Indoctrination

Now my eyes were opened. The Church meant everything to him. There was no other way to salvation than through the LDS Church. Now I saw the gulf between us. I used to think that way. I guess I had come a long ways. He was right. I could now understand his concern. In his eyes, I was leaving the path of salvation. God bless my good bishop for his loving concern for my soul.

I remember leaving one of our meetings a few months earlier. Carol had attended. This was right about the time I felt I had come to peace in my mind with how to answer the affiliation question from the temple recommend interview. As we left that night, I turned to Carol and said, referring to the bishop, “This man represents the Lord to us as far as the temple recommend is concerned.”

Coming Between God and His Children

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that or said that in priesthood leadership meetings. Never having been a bishop, I have never thought what hearing those words over and over must do to a man who is called to that position. Surely it must take a lot of humility to keep such ideas from going to your head. The LDS people place so much importance on the role of the Bishop.

There’s almost a reverential worship involved. This is not right yet it exists. I have seen it and so have you if you’ve been a member of the LDS Church for almost any length of time. General Authorities have taught it – “Your local priesthood leaders represent the Lord in your stake. They face the Brethren. They get their direction from the Prophet and the leadership in Salt Lake.”

The Church Cannot Save You

LackOfConversionThere seems to be a conflating with representing the Brethren and representing the Lord. It is that hierarchal structure thing coming into play here. In other words, the Brethren and the Church have come between Christ and His children. This also is not right, but it exists. You can hear it over and over each week in LDS meetings, especially in Fast meetings: “The Church is true.”

You can read what Elder Scott had to say about this problem in the notes someone recorded from the Layton Northridge Stake Priesthood meeting. Copies can be found on many Internet sources, but with the illustrations, this one on the Bare Record of Truth blog seems to be the best. I highly recommend LDS priesthood leaders read it, ponder it and pray about it, then ask a few questions.

Come, Follow Christ

Until the Sunday morning session of the October 2014 General Conference, I used to think the highest leaders of the Church understood this problem and were actively working to eradicate it. The three talks in a row about “Follow the Prophet,” made it clear the problem reaches to the very top. The Lord said, “Come Follow Me.” The LDS Church teaches with great emphasis, “Follow the Prophet.”

I think that’s when it became blatantly obvious to me the LDS Church had lost it. The highest priority taught today of “Follow the Prophet” has become a form of idolatry. The Lord is not pleased with this focus. It is obvious to anyone who has eyes to see. Cursed is he who puts his trust in the arm of flesh (Jer 17:5 or 2 Ne 4:34). You do not need LDS leadership permission to “Come unto Christ.”

Questions for LDS Priesthood Leaders

Am I teaching the members in my congregation to “Come unto Church” or is my focus to get them to “Come unto Christ?” Is following the prophet more important than following Christ?

As I listen to the testimonies on Fast Sunday, do I hear more declarations that “The Church is true” or do I hear more expressions of “I love the Lord, and here’s what He has done for me?”

Do I get in the way of the Lord and his children? Have I placed myself between Christ and the members of my ward? Am I encouraging loyalty and obedience to Christ or to the Brethren?

Am I blocking the path of my ward members as they grow in their relationship with Christ? Am I showing by example I know Christ and know how to part the veil to commune with Him?

Am I teaching the members of the ward how to establish their own link directly to Christ or am I encouraging an over-reliance upon the Brethren, or even too much dependence upon me?

Finally, have I taught members of my ward or stake that the Church provides salvation? Have I put the Church in the place of Christ? If so, what can I do to correct that terrible mistake?

Salvation is Through Christ

JesusRedRobeI know statements like what I am about to share are difficult for some to accept, but I share them anyway, knowing the source of my authority. The Lord asked me to write about this particular message today. He led me to it earlier in the week. I had read it years ago, yet the Lord wanted me to emphasize it again. It comes from a man in the highest leadership of the LDS Church.

The “movement” of thousands in response to the message delivered by Denver Snuffer is very troubling to both the local and general leadership of the LDS Church. Almost everyone, at least along the Mormon Corridor, knows of someone who has read or listened to the message Denver has delivered. Because they are troubled, they are excommunicating such readers in droves now.

A Remnant to Build Zion

Tomorrow, on this blog and others (see below), you will read an announcement concerning the Remnant. Ask yourself what you know about this. What did the Lord teach us about the Remnant? The Remnant has been described as “what is left of a community after it undergoes a catastrophe.” Are we about to experience a catastrophe? Wake up people, the signs are all around us now.

Zion was always intended to be built upon the mountain top (Isa 30:17) or the top of the high mountains (Isa 40:9). Zion will not be, cannot be and never was intended to be built up by an institutional church. It is to be built by a small remnant, upon a mountain top. The question to ask ourselves is this: “How can I assist the remnant to build Zion in the tops of the mountains?”

Rock Waterman / Pure Mormonism: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/

Adrian Larsen / To The Remnant: http://www.totheremnant.com/

Bret Corbridge / 77 Truths: http://www.blog.77truths.com/

Will Carter / In 200 Words or Less: http://in200wordsorless.blogspot.com/

Note: I will add my post Sunday after Stake conference.

Here is a link to a PDF of the flyer: http://3tcm.net/RemnantFamilyRetreat.pdf

Here’s a link to the reunion details: http://3tcm.net/Reuniondetails.pdf

RemnantFamilyRetreat

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