Setting My House In Order


feedspot-latter-day-commentarySome recent changes in my life, most notably a change in employment to a lower stress environment, have given me a desire to pick up my pen again, or, in this case, to get back to writing in my blog, hopefully on a more regular basis. My first task was to clean up my blogroll. I was surprised to find so many of my early favorites are no longer blogging.

That caused me to do a Google search for “Top Mormon Bloggers.” My eye caught upon the second entry in the list, labeled “Top 100 Mormon Blogs and Websites for Mormons | LDS Blogs” which seemed a little redundant (Mormon blogs for Mormons).  Clicking on the link I discovered my blog listed as number 38 on the list. Who made up this list?

ldc-activity-oct-2018And how did I rank as number 38? I haven’t been blogging seriously for the last several years. I guess all those early posts, especially in 2014, and a history going back to 2007 counted for something in somebody’s list. In any event, I found the list fascinating. It provides a snapshot of what is being found online when searching for LDS-related stuff.

Not The Same Old Blog

Anybody who reads or has read some of my early stuff will immediately recognize a major shift in both my subject matter and my approach to blogging. I don’t think my tone has changed. I still desire to present interesting material in a way that is uplifting and helpful. I have no desire to find fault, criticize or belittle anyone or any institution.

In particular, I recognize that many of my subscribers are faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. Others are members in name only with many social and family ties to the church, while the majority of my current readers and my target audience, are former Mormons who still accept the Restoration in their lives.

By that I mean they, and I, accept the Book of Mormon as the word of God, accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God and are deeply interested in seeing the Lord’s work move forward in bringing about Zion in the latter days. Thus the continued relevance of my blog title, which is what I hope to pick up again, commenting on events of the last days.

The Ongoing Social Upheaval

hurricane-michaelAs I write this, Hurricane Michael has passed through Florida. I have no problem with those who say hurricanes and other weather events seem to be getting noticeably more severe. I accept it as a tenet of my faith that the earth will be in great commotion in the last days. The God of nature suffers. The earth groans under the burden of wickedness.

The economy seems to be in turmoil. On one hand we read of full employment and jobs that go begging for qualified people to fill them. I see this every day in my industry. I get dozens of emails each day soliciting my response to job opportunities for which I’m only remotely qualified. Yet the wildly volatile stock market lost over 800 points yesterday.

We just passed through a season of extreme divisiveness as we witnessed the addition of a new justice to the Supreme Court. Never have I witnessed such hatred expressed in our modern civilized nation. I choose instead to watch the Dodgers or the Hallmark Channel with Carol instead of the nightly news. The Hallmark Channel? Yes, I confess I enjoy it.

Statement of Principles

Many of my readers have witnessed a difficult journey taking place among those who accepted the covenant offered at the Fall 2017 conference in Boise. It was wonderful to enter into that covenant, which really is a big deal if you think about. The Lord once again has a covenant people upon the earth who are striving to prepare for Zion.

Yes, we’re a small group. If you go by the count of those who voted on the Guide and Standard in the most recent Layton conference, the number is less than 500. The Lord accepted the Guide and Standard and now there has been a proposal as to if we should include it in the scriptures. You can read more about that on the Scriptures Project blog.

Voting is open this Sunday, October 14th through next Wednesday, October 17th. I respect the position of those who opposed the Guide and Standard both for the content and the way it was created, from a group selected by lots. I like what the Lord said in accepting the Statement of Principles, that we have yet to learn how to work together in love.

Changes in the LDS Church

new-lds-church-scheduleI enjoyed watching the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this past weekend with Carol. I like the change to a two-hour block and the focus on a “home-centered and church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.” You can read more in Elder Cook’s explanation online.

I was especially intrigued by the apparent about-face in the idea of holding small study groups among members in the home. The wording was thus: ” … it would be completely appropriate for … members and others to gather in groups outside the normal Sunday worship services to enjoy gospel sociality and be strengthened by studying together … This would be accomplished informally by those who so desire.” I like that. A lot.

This is so different from what Elder Packer taught that meeting together in homes to study the gospel was a sign of apostasy. I never understood or agreed with that direction. Fellowship groups meeting in homes is the way the early saints studied the gospel. Although there were synagogues, the followers of Christ in New Testament times could not very well bring up the doctrine of Christ in the Jewish synagogues, now could they?

Building a House Unto The Lord

I apologize to those who may be confused by my apparent jumping back and forth between writing about changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my thoughts on what is happening in the so-called “remnant movement.” I don’t know if that’s a good way to refer to what is happening among those who have been re-baptized.

Even though I resigned from the LDS Church over four years ago, I continue to attend the weekly Sunday meetings, sing in the choir and participate in other social activities of the church with Carol. I enjoy the fellowship there but miss the fellowship in meeting with those who have entered into the new covenant by partaking of the sacrament with them.

Life goes on. We each have our challenges and opportunities. I am enjoying a new job, a new look to my blog and the possibilities that the future holds. Every day brings a new opportunity to serve others and to strive to follow the Lord’s direction to work harder to love one another. I am practicing how to disagree without being disagreeable. God bless.

Tim Malone, Camarillo CA – Latter-day Commentary

To learn more about why I took the action I did in leaving the LDS Church after a lifetime of service there, feel free to view the short, 30-minute Tim Malone story on YouTube.

Private Sacrament Meetings


fishers-of-men2

One of the quickest ways to get kicked out of the LDS Church is to participate in ordinances outside the order authorized in the Church Handbook. The Church frowns on people performing baptisms or holding Sacrament meetings without the Bishop’s permission. This restriction – this imposed control – was a contributing factor to my resignation from the Church almost a year ago.

I felt then, and still do, that not allowing someone to partake of the sacrament is anti-Christ. I had been participating in sacrament meetings that were not sanctioned by the Church. I also decided I wanted to get baptized again, a common practice in the early days of the LDS Church. Does it not strike you as odd, even evil, that an institution would forbid these ordinances of salvation?

When Christ visited the Americas in 3rd Nephi, one of the first things they did was to be baptized which, in the case of many, if not most, was a rebaptism. When one enters a new phase of life, especially spiritual life, it makes perfect sense to demonstrate that commitment through baptism. I am still amazed and disturbed the LDS Church considers this grounds for excommunication.

Spiritual Nourishment in the Community

fishers-of-men1Over the past year I have traveled great distances to be with fellow believers and share in the ordinance of the sacrament with them. Each has been a spiritual feast. Some I consider to be a highlight of my life. These sacraments in private homes and parks have fed my soul, brought peace and comfort to my heart and mind and helped me draw closer in appreciation to Christ.

This week I was blessed to participate in two such gatherings. For one I drove an hour and half after a full day at work to my old stake (LaVerne CA) to meet with friends in Claremont. We had a wonderful time in this act of fellowship talking of the gospel of Jesus Christ, hearing of each other’s welfare and supping on bread and wine blessed in remembrance of our Lord and Savior.

Today I traveled over the hill to my nearest neighbor in this new fellowship to strengthen a bond we had established nearly a year ago when we were baptized together in the Ventura harbor. We conversed for more than two hours about how things are going with this new movement, about our own efforts in coming unto Christ and what we see happening in the world around us today.

Significant Events in Sept 2015

In both these gatherings we discussed the widespread speculation that something major is going to happen next month, perhaps around the vernal equinox of September 23rd. There has been much discussion online of impending financial upset, which seems to occur every seven years. I think Rob expressed it best in Upward Thought: The World is Not Going to End in Sept 2015.

I shared this somewhere previously. It is a small sampling of interesting events next month:

1) Jade Helm 15 (7/15/15 to 9/15/2015)

2) The end of the Shemitah year on 9/13/2015 or Elul 29

3) An increase in speculation there will be a large economic down turn around this time frame

4) 9/14/2015 (Jewish New Year)

5) There will be a solar eclipse on 9/13/2015 as well

6) The fall equinox will take place on 9/23/2014

7) CERN tests taking place on 9/23 and 9/24

8) The last blood Moon of the four will occur on 9/28/2015

9) The feast of the tabernacles is also on 9/28/2015

10) Pope to Visit White House on 9/23/2015 (Day of Atonement)

He will then address Congress on 9/24/2015

And then on 9/25 he will address the UN

11) The French Foreign Minister said on 5/13/2014 standing next to John Kerry that “we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.” (500 days from that date is 9/24/2015)

12) There seems to be a large amount of movies, songs, media and other entertainment sources that are subtly pointing to the week of 9/21 through 9/28/2015 being a very significant / interesting week.

The Lord said he placed the stars and planets in the heavens to be signs for man. I don’t begin to understand how to interpret the ordering of the heavens next month. I enjoy reading the insights of those who have studies such things for years, some who have made it their life’s work. I am enthralled by new science discoveries that seem to vindicate theories of the Electric Universe.

A Few Personal Observations

fishers-of-men3To me, these sacraments are representative of tying the knots in the net that has gathered some of the most awake and insightful people I have had the pleasure to meet, most online, and many in person at the lectures. With you, I look forward to obtaining Denver’s new book as soon as it is off the press, hopefully a little later this month. I want to read the new and expanded material.

I feel like I have come through a recent difficult period in my life, another test of many tests. It amazes me how the Lord knows exactly what weaknesses we need to overcome. Lately, my test has been in dealing with the feeling of being overwhelmed. In my current employment we have grown tremendously over the past year. I have long needed to expand my small IT department.

I love being a mentor to those new to the IT field. Tech support is not an easy task. It can be a high-stress job with unrelenting demands from individuals who need help solving their technical issues. They don’t care how many other people are in the queue or how many projects you have to put aside to address their needs. It makes me wonder how God responds to our constant pleas.

Traveling to Minister to One Another

This will be a short post as it is late Sunday evening. I hope my life will get back to normal now that I have another individual on my team to share the burden. As I have discussed the needs of our growing company, my boss and I discussed the idea for a team of seven. It will be a few years before we get there, all dependent on growth. There’s something about a group of seven…

Because we are spread out so far here in Southern California, I have decided I need to make a greater effort to visit those who have been baptized or who have joined in our online efforts to share what we know to the fulfillment of prophecy happening right before our eyes. We know we are looked upon as outcasts and apostate by members of the LDS Church. I’m okay with that.

I consider the small groups here in Southern California to be small churches. In some cases it is only one of a family. If we include Northern California, we add a few more complete families. Interestingly, I count seven small groups in California right now. I admire those of you who are participating in groups there in Utah, Idaho and Arizona. God bless these churches as we grow.

Cry Mightily Unto the Lord


BrotherofJaredThe Brother of Jared took sixteen small stones to the mountain. We know they were small because he carried them in his hands. They were certainly smaller than an egg. Perhaps he had eight in each hand. When he came down from the mountain he had eighteen stones. The Lord gave him two more to be used by future prophets to read and translate the words the Brother of Jared would write of the Savior.

After the Brother of Jared cried unto the Lord in a prayer of great faith and sound reasoning, the Lord touched the stones one by one with his finger. The record does not say the Brother of Jared placed the stones on a rock in front of him as we see depicted in the painting by Arnold Friberg. I like to think he held them in his hand as he cried unto the Lord in mighty prayer saying, “Lord, see these stones…”

Assuming he held the stones in his hands, I wonder what that would have felt like as the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched them one by one. The Brother of Jared would have felt the pressure of the Lord’s finger as He touched each one of them. I also wonder at what point the Brother of Jared finally saw the finger of the Lord. Was it on the first stone or did it take sixteen touches before he could see?

Taught by a Servant of the Lord

This is an example of one of the things Denver Snuffer taught us this weekend. I have been a member of the LDS Church all my life and have never heard anyone teach the importance or significance of the phrase to “Cry Mightily.” I am not seeking to point out any deficits in the teachers or the material. This may not be a new idea to you. I can only conclude I was not ready to hear or did not understand before.

I have been praying unto the Lord all my life. I have been asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me from the time I was seventeen when I first entered into His presence. I fasted for three days once thinking the Lord did not hear me or doubted my sincerity. At the end of the fast he reminded me I had not yet been endowed. He invited me to return to my quest in a few years. Thus I continued to study and prepare.

After being endowed, I got busy with my mission. After being sealed, I got busy with building a marriage and responding to the demands of my career. I forgot about the Lord’s invitation. I think I would have appreciated a reminder from those who lead this church of the importance of completing the invitation of the Lord to come into His presence. For some reason it never came up again from our church pulpits.

Reminded of the Promised Invitation

It wasn’t until I was introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer and read Passing the Heavenly Gift that the Lord visited me again. It was on the night of 25 January 2012. I wrote to my Facebook friends a few days later I hadn’t stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to read a book in many years. I knelt in prayer that night and cried mightily to the Lord asking if the invitation I had received at age seventeen still stood.

He assured me it was an open invitation. From that day to this I have been living in a state of rejoicing and anticipation. Knowing the path I was on, the adversary visited me last year to discourage me. I saw him, or rather his minions with my natural eyes. It was not a pleasant or uplifting experience. It has been a mighty struggle these eighteen months to recover from that experience, walking daily with the Lord.

Even stranger than the opposition from the adversary has been the opposition from those who love me. I find it amazing so many friends have fought against the Lord in their attempts to discourage me from fulfilling my promise to receive Him. It is especially disconcerting to see those who should know better, oppose the Lord and even deny Him by claiming He doesn’t work the same way taught in the scriptures.

Do Not Hinder Members in Their Efforts

If you are a servant of Jesus Christ, you will not oppose his invitation to come unto Him. If you claim to represent Him, or claim to be authorized by Him, or that you hold keys from Him, I know you will not teach those who believe in Him and seek to follow Him that they cannot receive Him. That would be anti-Christ, wouldn’t it? Surely a key holder would not hinder members from crying mightily unto Christ.

I have been counseled to forsake the Lord by those who claim to be His servants. “Come off this path,” I have been told. “You are in the mists of darkness,” when I can clearly see the rod of iron in my hand. How can this be? “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” Surely a priesthood leader would not ask a member of the flock to not heed the shepherd.

Is it possible a humble priesthood leader, in his zeal to follow the handbook could be in the wrong? “. . . they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2 Ne 28:14). Does our handbook contain policies with specific instructions against praying as taught in the temple?

A Sacred Sacrament Meeting

On Thursday evening I met with a number of my fellow travelers who are on the same journey. A small group of some fifteen to twenty of my friends met to take the Sacrament and to teach and testify to one another about the reality of being called of the Lord to come unto Him. The handbook of the LDS Church includes a policy that forbids members from administering the sacrament without a Bishop’s permission.

As instructed in scripture, and in order to not change the ordinance, new wine – not grape juice – was used instead of water. We partook of unleavened bread, as a reminder of the Passover. We had loaves of additional bread, that we all could be filled as we met and talked about the Lord for a few hours. It was a sacred experience. We all knelt. I was honored to bless the bread. Nobody led or controlled us.

I don’t think I have been to a more sacred, uplifting and sweet sacrament meeting in my life. Tears were shed, especially mine, as I realized how much I loved my fellow Saints while I listened to them describe how difficult their journey to Christ was because of the persecutions of their leaders. Some had been excommunicated. Others left voluntarily because they were forbidden to worship in the Lord’s way.

A Meeting With a Prophet

On Friday evening Carol and I enjoyed dinner with Denver and his family. I’ve declared and proclaimed on my blog at least a half dozen times now my conviction, borne of the spirit after years of studying, pondering and praying, that this man is a prophet of the Lord. I have never said he is a prophet of the LDS Church, which some have misunderstood. Nevertheless, he is an authorized messenger of Christ.

I love how many people start their private emails to me writing, “I know something of this man…” and then proceed to share their fears – borne out of love for me – that he is no prophet. I promised I would report on my meeting with him. I specifically asked the Lord for this opportunity some six months ago. Just a few days later Denver called me, without any prompting from me, and asked for this meeting.

I had no desire to ask him anything. I did not want to interview him. I did not want to discuss doctrine. I simply wanted to feel of his spirit and see how he treated his family. I had spoken with the Lord several times about my desire to know the truthfulness of this man’s claims and to know if his witness could be trusted. After all, it’s not every day a man claims to have been visited by the Lord, at least not lately.

A Witness Confirmed – Again

I don’t know how many more times the Lord can tell me Denver Snuffer is His servant before I weary the Lord with my petitions. I do not need to ask again. The matter is closed. There is nothing anyone can say, there is no argument anyone can offer, there is no doubt in my mind. When the Lord tells you he has asked a man to deliver a message, then you reject that message at the peril of your own salvation.

If I haven’t made it clear before, then I do so now. I am a second witness the Lord calls men in this day to do His work. This prophet messenger did not and does not challenge the right of President Thomas S. Monson or the rest of the men we sustain as Prophets, Seers and Revelators to preside over this Church. Denver Snuffer is not claiming that authority. He is doing what the Lord has asked him to do for now.

I know this is a radical claim that causes anger in some people. I have received those angry emails and have read those angry comments on my blog. The only response I can offer is the same one the Lord gave to his disciples when He visited them in the Americas. Contention is the spirit of the devil. If you feel angry because of the message of Denver Snuffer to receive Christ, think carefully about the source.

Excommunicated for Being Visited by Christ

I am grateful Carol agreed to attend the lectures this past weekend. I am grateful she attended the sacrament meeting and the dinner with Denver and his family. I am also grateful she gave me time to meet with other friends in a private setting to discuss changes in the LDS Church over the past few years. She joined us later for dinner on Saturday evening for a wonderful meal and entertainment.

I hope I don’t embarrass Him, but I want to publically thank Will Carter, “Good Will,” for joining us that evening and sharing story after story after story of faith-promoting evidences of the Lord working in his life. I don’t believe I have ever witnessed a man more filled with faith than Will Carter, a man who wants only to do the will of the Lord and come into His presence. For this he was cast out of the LDS Church.

I once originally entitled a post about Max Skousen, “The LDS Church Excommunicates Those who Know Christ.” Because so many LDS members were offended, and told me so, I changed it to something less offensive but just as factual. I wish I had kept the original title. For me, the evidence continues to mount. In spite of claims to the contrary, I can almost promise you will be cast off if you say you have seen Him.

My Witness, My calling and Election

I have shared my witness many times of the reality we can be born of the spirit. I have born witness we can enter the presence of the Lord. I have testified He will converse with us through the veil. I look forward to the day when I fall on my knees to bathe his feet with my tears. I hope to embrace him, in the flesh, and feel the wound in his side and touch the nail marks in his feet and his hands – in this life.

Receiving the Second Comforter is a true doctrine. Having your calling and election made sure is a true doctrine. If you are a key holder in this church and fail to teach these doctrines, you are anti-Christ. You and I have the responsibility to receive these ordinances and to bear witness to others that they can and must receive them in this life as well. If not, we will be held accountable for not performing our duties.

God bless the men who we have placed in leadership positions in this church through common consent. I sustain the fifteen men who lead this church as prophets, seers and revelators. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. I sustain the local authorities I work with and pray for them every morning and night. God bless us to come unto Christ.

An Open Invitation to the Brethren

Yes, these words are directed at the men who lead this church. I am asking you to do your duty. If you have been in the presence of Christ, the only way you can help stem the tide of young people leaving this church in droves is to bear witness of Christ. Testify you have seen Him. If you haven’t, call mightily unto Him until he comes unto you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He works this way.

I know it is considered bad form to counsel those who preside over you. I am sorry if this offends you. I can only do what the Lord has asked of me. I know my words may get me cast off. You are welcome to exercise control and compulsion and domination over me by virtue of your priesthood but you know the results. Amen to the priesthood of the man who does not use kindness, long-suffering and persuasion.

And please stop perpetuating the myth that those who are excommunicated will lose their souls or at least their exaltation. This is false doctrine. You cannot remove a man’s priesthood and you know it. Power in the higher priesthood comes from God, not from man. I have associated with enough of my friends whom you have cast off to know they are happy, they love the Lord and are trying to please Him.

Amen to the Priesthood of that Man

Read the appeal letter carefully: http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/11/appeal-letter.html. Notice the use of the words, control, compulsion, dominion and Amen. I know all appeal letters are supposed to be read by the members of the First Presidency. I suspect they are not, but are simply delegated to the bureaucracy. If that happened in Denver’s case, I have to wonder whose priesthood was really lost.

Elder Perry Visits our Sacrament Meeting


We had a visit from Elder Perry to our ward in Camarillo today. He told us he was in town on one of the last days of a week-long series of meetings in California. He started in San Jose on Tuesday and had one more half day Monday in San Fernando. He has been meeting each day with the missionaries for a few hours and then with the Priesthood leadership of multiple stakes.

We were expecting a large crowd for the missionary farewell of the youngest sister of our bishop. I’ll bet she’ll always remember that she spoke on the same program as an apostle. When he walked in, nine year-old Whitney Peterson handed him a piece of paper with four questions. He delighted us by answering them candidly and directly. I paid close attention to what he said.

Four Questions for an Apostle

Her first question was “How many churches have you visited?” I think she meant different wards or stakes “You do the math,” he answered. “I’ve been doing this for forty years. We go out three weeks out of every month. We have five weeks off in the summer and two weekends off each year for General Conference.” I did the math. Without duplicates, that would be 1,320 churches.

Next, Whitney asked, “How many temples are there in the world?” He laughed as he replied, “I don’t know. I can’t keep track anymore.” Somebody apparently looked it up as he was talking and told him – 136. He told the story of president Hinckley going to Stake Centers while on visits to Mexico looking for properties large enough to accommodate temples to be built next door.

The next question was “Where do you live?” I expected him to simply say Salt Lake, but he told us he lived a half block north of the conference center and that he walks to work each day. He has a key to a side door so he walks the rest of the way through the tunnels to his office in the church administration building. Now I know how this almost 90 year-old apostle keeps in shape.

An Apostle’s Witness of the Savior

The last question was the best. “Have you ever seen an angel or the Savior?” I listened closely to hear how an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ would answer this question. He told a couple of stories. First, he described one of the weekly meetings with the twelve way back when Elder LeGrand Richards was still alive. The meeting had to do with changes being made in the temple.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Elder Richards said that President Woodruff had been there. When asked why, he said that Elder Richards was the only one of the twelve present who had attended the 1893 dedication of the Salt lake Temple (as a child). President Woodruff was vitally concerned with the temple that he had dedicated. To Elder Perry, this was a visit by an angel.

The 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood

He then told the story of the 1978 revelation that all worthy men could hold the priesthood. He said that there were only three of the twelve still alive who had been there. He described how President Kimball asked to be the voice in the weekly prayer circle and how he poured out his heart in petitioning the Lord for understanding of his will on what should be done on this issue.

He said that the outpouring of the spirit was so great that at the conclusion of the prayer they each went back to their offices without saying a word. They usually go have lunch together. Something sacred had happened. To Elder Perry, this was evidence the Lord had visited them in the temple. The next Thursday, President Kimball submitted the new revelation to the twelve.

The Savior Directs This Church

Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly. He said that the heavens only open on rare occasions. He spoke for a moment about placing our tent door toward the temple. He then closed by bearing testimony. He said, “There is only one man who receives revelation for all. This is not a man-made church. The Savior directs this church from above.”

“This is how he continues to reach out to each of us. There is an order and a system in place. Twelve are given the keys but only one may use them at a time. In the church there is order and uniformity. This provides absolute certain direction that comes from the Lord. I know without any doubt God lives and that the Savior directs this church.”

Come Unto Christ


What a wonderful day it is to consider together our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  I’m grateful to partake of the sacrament with you and to renew my covenant to remember him and to follow him.  I’m not sure that I really understood the significance of that covenant when I first took it upon myself at age eight.

I’m still trying to understand what it means to really keep that covenant each day.  Some days I do better than others.  Sundays are a joy to me because I spend them in activities that are centered on the mission of the church – to invite all to come unto Christ.  It’s during the week that I sometimes struggle to remember Him.

I suppose it’s a life-long pursuit, isn’t it? – To figure out how to really come unto Christ as we have been commanded to do. As Moroni taught, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness … love God with all your might, mind and strength …” – Moroni 10:32

Another Book of Mormon prophet taught, “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him …” – That’s found in Omni 1:26.

I think I understand Moroni’s instruction to deny ourselves of all ungodliness.  I get that.  It means to resist temptation and to do all within our power to control ourselves.  The Holy Ghost helps us with that task, by making it clear what is offensive to the Lord.  To me, knowing what is displeasing to the Lord is half the battle.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Like me, I’ll bet you’ve experienced that feeling when the spirit impresses you with an understanding that something you just said or did was not an especially good idea.  I’ve even caught myself saying, “Well, I’ll never do that again!” I then store those feelings somewhere where I’ll remember them in a similar situation.

I’ve always felt the Holy Ghost helping me with this growth process in my life.  I can testify that he is real and that he really does help us.  The Gift of the Holy Ghost is a treasure, one that I deeply appreciate and try to use each day.  In fact, I like to think that the Holy Ghost and I are good friends since we talk so much.

We have running conversations at work.  I tell God what I’m trying to accomplish and how I plan to go about doing it.  Then when I get stuck on some part of my task, I exclaim, sometimes out loud, “Now that didn’t work right, did it?  What should I do?”  And you know, impressions come to me to try a different method.

I have no doubts about the revelatory process.  It has become a very comfortable part of my daily life.  After years of practice, it has become second nature to talk with the Lord and to listen for his answers.  I don’t know if God has assigned a computer-savvy angel to work with me but I do know that someone is helping me.

I hope that you feel the same way and from conversations over the years I know many of you do.  Isn’t that a wonderful gift – to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost?  And it is because of the Sacrament that we are able to have that gift always.  How I love the Sacrament and the promised blessings to be found therein.

Offer your whole soul

It’s that second scripture in Omni that I’ve been pondering lately and trying to understand.  What does it mean to offer your whole soul as an offering unto the Lord?  I’d like to consider that with you today as part of my assigned topic to come unto Christ.  I’ll call upon Elder Bednar and President Eyring to help us along.

But first I’d like to share a story from Sister Nadauld who served as the Young Women General President a few years back.  You may remember this.  It touched me deeply at the time she related it and it still does each time I share it.  Although it is simple, it is a powerful story that introduces our subject in a touching manner.

Sister Nadauld is the mother of seven sons. Two of them, Adam and Aaron are twins.  When they were about five years old they were just learning to ride their bicycles.  Can you think back to those days in your own life?  I can, even though it was a very long time ago.  Of course having home movies helps my memory now.

As their mother glanced out the window to watch her boys, she saw the twins speeding down the street on their bikes going very fast.  “Perhaps they were going too fast for their level of ability because all of a sudden Adam had a terrible crash!  She saw him tangled up in a wreck of handlebars and tires and arms and legs.

“His little twin brother, Aaron saw the whole thing happen and he immediately skidded to a stop and jumped off his bike.  He threw it down and ran to the aid of his brother, whom he loved very much.  These little twins truly were of one heart.  If one hurt, so did the other.  If one got tickled, they both laughed.

“If one started a sentence, the other could complete it. What one felt, the other did also. So it was painful for Aaron to see Adam crash! Adam was a mess. He had skinned knees, he was bleeding from a head wound, his pride was damaged, and he was crying.

“In a fairly gentle, five-year-old way, Aaron helped his brother get untangled from the crash, he checked out the wounds, and then,” related Sister Nadauld, “he did the dearest thing. He picked his brother up and carried him home. Or tried to. This wasn’t very easy because they were the same size, but he tried.

“And as he struggled and lifted and half-dragged, half-carried his brother along, they finally reached the front porch. By this time, Adam, the injured one, was no longer crying, but Aaron, the rescuer, was. When asked, “Why are you crying, Aaron?” he said simply, “Because Adam hurts.”

“And so he had brought him home to help, home to someone who knew what to do, to someone who could cleanse the wounds, bind them up, and make it better—home to love.  Just as one twin helped his brother in need, so might we all be lifted, helped, even carried at times by our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

He feels what we feel

Sis Nadauld concluded her touching story by pointing our hearts toward the Savior.  “He feels what we feel; He knows our heart. It was His mission to wipe away our tears, cleanse our wounds, and bless us with His healing power. He can carry us home to our Heavenly Father with the strength of His matchless love.”

From this story I have come to understand better one purpose of the Lord’s mission, which is to heal us.  I have felt that healing power many times in my life, and again, it is activated most by my weekly participation in the ordinance of the Sacrament.  I still suffer the pains of life, but feel strengthened by his love for me.

Through a lifetime of experience, I have also come to understand very clearly another important part of the Savior’s mission.  He has cleansed me from the effects of my sins.  Although repentance is an ongoing process that I will use the rest of my life, I have felt the cleansing power of the Savior free me from the devil’s grasp.

There is no doubt that the effects of sin are real.  They have a very debilitating influence upon our spirits.  Sin keeps us from feeling good about ourselves and keeps us from feeling the Lord’s love for us.  He is also unable to bless us with the help that we need in this life when we participate in sin and do not completely repent.

I have long loved this statement from President Harold B. Lee that I first heard in my youth: “If the time comes when you have done all that you can to repent of your sins … then you will want that confirming answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted of you.”  I have felt this desire to know my standing before the Lord.

I can’t tell you how many times I sought an answer from the Lord to know if I had done enough to repent of my youthful rebellions.  President Lee continued, “In your soul-searching, if you seek for and you find that peace of conscience, by that token you may know that the Lord has accepted of your repentance.”  I love that!

I testify that we can have that promised peace of conscience that comes after doing all we can do to repent.  It is a real experience.

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

But it is from a powerful Fall 2007 General Conference address by Elder Bednar I learned something that opened my eyes to the need to do more than be cleansed from sin.  He took my understanding of the repentance process to a different level.  He introduced the idea by quoting one of my favorite scriptures from Psalm 24:

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?  Or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully.”  He then said, “Brothers and Sisters, it is possible for us to have clean hands but not have a pure heart.”  I had never considered that.

Elder Bednar then taught us so clearly, “Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better.”

“All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The infinite Atonement is for both the sinner and for the saint in each of us.”

Did you catch that last line?  It was an “ah-ha” moment for me when I heard it.  I knew the Lord could heal me and could cleanse me but I had not understood how the atonement makes me a saint.

I know that I am a child of God.  I know that he loves me.  I know that I can be and am happy when I repent and make efforts to put off the natural man.  I feel at peace with God when I fully accept the love Jesus offers me in bridging the gap between my efforts to repent and what is required to be fully cleansed from my mistakes.

But it is the purifying of my heart that has long eluded me.  I know I have a good heart because I am pained by sin and always want to do better, but the strength of the natural man is sometimes so great that it almost overcomes me.  I cry out in my prayers that I just don’t see how I can be the man that I know God wants me to be.

That our Hearts May be Purified

Do you remember what the people in King Benjamin’s day said after they had heard the words of the angel that he shared with them?  “… they all cried aloud with one voice saying: “O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified.”

I think most of us get it when we talk about receiving forgiveness.  We know it comes through the atonement of Christ.  But that’s not all that we can receive each week as we partake of the sacrament.  We can also have our nature transformed and our hearts purified.  Our desires to do good and to become a saint can be strengthened.

Do you ever find yourself full of the spirit on Sunday and saying, “I feel great!  I feel so close to my Heavenly Father and my Savior.  I know that they love me.  I’ve been spiritually fed and uplifted at church today.  I can do all those hard things that I know I should.  I’m going to be so much better this week.”  I have.

And then sometime during the week, after an exhausting day at work or an especially trying day with the kids or with the demands of others upon your time, you find yourself saying, “I just can’t do it anymore.  I’ve had it.  I just don’t want to do all the hard things that are asked of me.  It’s too much.  I can’t put up with all these difficult demands.”  What happened to that Sunday determination?

Well, that’s what Elder Bednar was trying to teach us – how to have our very nature changed so that our desires to do good are strengthened.  It is through the ordinance of the Sacrament that we come unto Christ, put off the natural man, and become a saint.  We can have our hearts changed so that we no longer desire evil.

But, and this is my concluding thought, we must offer to the Lord our whole soul in exchange for the purifying of our hearts.  For me, that means determining in my heart and mind before I partake of the sacrament that I am going to do whatever the Lord asks of me that week.  Wow!  That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?  Can I do it?

Must I do everything that I feel prompted of the Lord to do?  Yes, for me, that is what it means to offer my whole soul as an offering to him.  The Tabernacle choir sings a hymn that illustrates this so beautifully for me.  It’s called, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  The line that describes this process goes like this:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

May God take our offering and purify our hearts is my prayer.

Divine manifestations must have a purpose


One of the delightful parts of a stake temple night is the opportunity to be taught by a member of the temple presidency.  On one particular occasion many years ago, the Temple President felt inspired to relate a few stories that patrons had shared with him about spiritual manifestations that they had received while serving in the LA temple.  It was an uplifting and edifying session.

I was very impressed with what the Temple President spoke about that evening.  He related some very sacred experiences of visits from the other side of the veil from deceased family members for whom the work was being done.  He gave specific examples of what people saw, heard or felt that was evidence to them of the validity of this work and that it is accepted by their relatives.

A conversation with my Stake President

While preparing to leave the temple that evening, I conversed with my Stake President about the things the Temple President had taught us in our chapel session.  I had served with this Stake President for several years on the High Council and felt comfortable sharing heartfelt concerns.  I knew that he would carefully consider what I had to say before answering with thoughtfulness.

“President”, I said, “I’ve been coming to this temple since I was twelve years old.  In fact, I was six years old when I was sealed here to my parents.  I have many sacred memories of this place.  I was endowed here when I was nineteen and married to my sweetheart not too many years after completing my mission.  I have participated in several thousand ordinances here in this temple.

Sacred temple manifestations

“So why is it that I have never experienced any of these kinds of sacred manifestations that the temple president described?”  As I expected, he thought for a few minutes while we continued to change back into our street clothes after the evening’s temple work was completed.  After a moment, he paused, put his hand on my shoulder and then responded very slowly and carefully.

“Brother Malone, some people do not require manifestations to be faithful.  The Lord knows their hearts and knows what they need.  You apparently do not need any additional evidence that the work being performed in these temples is valid and acceptable to both the Lord and to those for whom it is performed.  Your years of faithfulness are proof that you know the work is true.”

The Lord bears witness

He was right, of course.  I didn’t need a manifestation to know that the work being done in the temples is of eternal significance and validity.  I had known that since I was a child and had never doubted it.  I thought about his response and realized that there was never an occasion when I attended the temple that I didn’t feel the warmth and comfort of the spirit of the Lord.

It was just another piece of evidence to me that the Spirit of the Lord is always present when priesthood ordinances are performed, especially in the House of the Lord.  I didn’t need any additional evidence because I had the constant companionship of the Lord each time I sat in an endowment session or knelt across the altar in a sealing session.  Yes, I knew the work was true.

To uplift and edify

I have the same kind of experience each week when I attend Sacrament meeting, and especially in a testimony meeting.  There is just something special about attending church each week and partaking of the Sacrament.  I just feel different by the end of the meeting.  I feel happy and feel that my burdens have been lifted.  It never fails.  I feel this strengthening each week after church.

This uplifting feeling is always the same whether I am conducting the meeting as a member of the Bishopric, or just sitting in the congregation as a regular member of the ward.  I love to hear members of my ward teach the gospel from the pulpit and share their feelings about the truth of what they have learned and have taught.  Sacrament meeting is always uplifting and edifying.

Testimony meetings

Last Sunday I sat in our monthly ward testimony meeting and thought about the different kinds of testimonies I was hearing.  The Bishop was short and succinct.  He bore witness of the five basic points of an LDS testimony and then sat down, inviting others to share their testimonies.  I got up and rambled a little bit about testimonies and then bore witness of the same five points.

As we progressed through the meeting, I noted that some members talked about experiences that demonstrated to them that the Lord knew them personally and that he hears and answers their prayers.  Others spoke about the trials through which they were passing and then concluded with assertions that they knew the Lord loved them would not leave them comfortless in their trials.

When we say “I know”

I listened very closely to each testimony waiting for the phrases “I know” and “I believe.”  I think I heard “I believe” maybe once or twice.  “I know” was used by the majority of those who shared their testimonies.  I know these people and know that when they say that they know that the church is true, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, they mean it sincerely.

I was listening closely because of recent conversation with readers of my blog about testimonies and what it means to say the church is true.  I now try to qualify what I mean when I say that by adding some additional phrases like, “because angels conferred priesthood keys upon the Prophet Joseph Smith,” and “because angels ordained Joseph Smith and gave him priesthood authority.”

Authority and the true church

You see, this authority thing is very important to me.  I’ve had a lot of dialogs with visitors to Latter-day Commentary about this very important subject.  I’ve tried to share with them that the idea of priesthood authority is one of the most important aspects of a church that claims to be the true church of Jesus Christ.  Ordinances of salvation require God’s authority to perform them.

That’s all we really mean when we say that we are the true church.  We are simply saying that angels came from the spirit world and gave Joseph Smith divine permission to do what he did in establishing the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth again in these latter days.  Of course, the idea that angels have visited man in our day is a very difficult thing for some people to accept.

Angels, visions and revelation

I have never seen an angel.  I have had no divine vision with my natural eyes.  I have never heard an audible voice from the spirit world. Yet I have never questioned that Joseph Smith saw God, was visited by angels, received revelations and brought forth the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God.  Some of my readers find it fantastic that I can believe Joseph was a prophet.

How is this possible?  On what basis do I stand and say “I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph was a prophet and that this is the true church of Jesus Christ with a prophet at the head today?”  If I have not seen God or Jesus, and was not there when Joseph brought forth the Book or Mormon, how am I a witness?

Divine manifestations must have a purpose

In all my years in this church, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who said to me, “Yes, I saw God.  He visited me and told me…”  I have never had someone say to me, “I was praying very earnestly one night and the Lord appeared to me to tell me that he loved me and that my sins were forgiven.”  I have also never heard anyone relate to me that they were visited by an angel.

Now perhaps you know people who have received such manifestations or maybe you have been the recipient of angelic visitations.  I think that’s wonderful.  I assume the visits had a purpose.  I guess I’ve never felt the need for divine manifestations beyond what I have already received when I was young as I prayed to know that the Book of Mormon was indeed the word of God.

We live far beneath our privileges

When I was seventeen I was extremely motivated to obtain a manifestation from God about my standing before him and to know if the Book of Mormon was what Joseph said it was.  I obtained both of those witnesses and a few more that the Lord felt were needed in order to help me fulfill my purpose in life.  I’ve been coasting on those manifestations for the past thirty-five years.

I’m wondering if I’ve been coasting too long.  Our former stake president, now serving as a mission president, often repeated this from Brigham Young.  He said, “[We] may have the Spirit of the Lord to . . . direct [us]. . . . I am satisfied, however, that, in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges.”  Is there more the Lord wants us to have besides what he has already given us?

Summary and conclusion

The Lord reveals himself to man when he has a purpose or a mission for them to perform.  He sends angels to instruct man and teach him about the work that he wants performed.  He sends his spirit to assure men and women that the work in which they are engaged is divine.  He gives gifts of the spirit to help us do his work.  For Joseph, one needed gift was the power to translate.

When I needed to know that the church and the Book of Mormon were of divine origin, the Lord sent his spirit and confirmed these things in my heart and mind.  Over the years, that same spirit has encouraged and motivated me to ever increasing faithfulness and obedience.  Is the Lord willing to provide additional manifestations, and if so, what is the purpose they would serve?

Speaking in church without fear


Unless you are in a leadership position, have recently moved into a ward or are about to move out of a ward, the odds of you speaking in Sacrament meeting in any given year are fairly slim. The exception of course, is if you reside in a small ward or branch where there are less than forty active adults to choose from. That’s how many a typical ward will go though in a given year.

Think about it. There are fifty two Sundays in a year. Two Sundays each month are used up with Fast Sunday and High Council speakers. That leaves twenty eight available Sundays. Five Sundays each year are used up with General, Stake and Ward conferences. One Sunday is the Primary program. That leaves twenty two Sundays where you are a possible target.

If you are in a typical ward, there are two youth speakers and two adult Sacrament speakers on those Sundays where the Bishopric chooses from the ward members. The themes on many of the Sundays through the year are predictable – New Year’s (goals), Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Pioneer Day, Thanksgiving and of course, Christmas.

Choosing a theme

Almost always, you will be given a theme by the member of the Bishopric whose month it is to conduct. Typically, the themes are very basic, such as faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, tithing, the Sabbath day, Joseph Smith, the apostasy, the restoration, the plan of salvation, revelation, prophets, priesthood, Book of Mormon, and the list goes on.

On a rare occasion the Bishopric member will feel inspired to give you a very specific theme such as, “How paying tithing helps us prepare for the temple,” or “How we can know the Book of Mormon is true through study and prayer.” If you’ve been a member of the church a long time, you’ve heard all these talks and given many of them yourself over the years.

An even rarer occurrence is to have the Bishop ask you to speak without assigning a theme. He may feel inspired to have you be the one to approach the Lord and decide what he would have the members of the ward hear that Sunday. This would be extremely rare. Even High Council speakers are assigned their speaking subjects by the Stake President or senior High Councilor.

How to prepare

My first piece of advice in preparing to speak is to thank the Lord in prayer for the opportunity to learn something new and to improve your talents through the speaking experience. Accept the assignment graciously, being sure to ask specifically how many minutes you are expected to speak and confirming the assigned topic. A typical sacrament talk is twelve to fifteen minutes.

The next suggestion I offer is to envision yourself standing and speaking at the podium. This is the key to success. Ask the Lord in prayer to help you see the event in your mind’s eye. See the reaction of the members of the congregation in advance as you are speaking. Imagine some of them nodding their head in agreement as you mention something that they have experienced.

Decide if you are going to use notes on cards or notes on paper. Some talented people use no notes. I am not one of those special people. I need something to get me started on each point I want to make – a quote, a poem, a story or a scripture. I usually put that on the top of each page and then a few supporting quotes or ideas down below it. My main points are one per page.

The prepared talk

I know people who can stand at a moment’s notice and give a fifteen minute talk without notes and without preparation. Sometimes their words are uplifting and edifying but sometimes they are simply rambling and general talking. This is not what we should do when we are assigned to speak in Sacrament meeting. I think the Lord expects us to prepare and to speak confidently.

There is nothing wrong with preparing your talk word for word if that is what you feel you need to give you the confidence to deliver it. However, you do yourself and the congregation a real disservice if you just read the talk word for word. Unless your delivery talent is exceptional and you make a living as a news announcer, please do not read your talk. We can do better than that.

I know, the General Authorities read their talks in General Conference. In fact, their talks must be submitted weeks in advance so that the translators can practice and be prepared to interpret them at the time of delivery. This also helps in the timing for publication. It really is a miracle that we receive the Conference talks so quickly. They usually arrive in less than six weeks.

Finding material

There is no way a member of the church today can say that they cannot find enough material to fill twelve to fifteen minutes of time. There is so much available on the church web site that the real problem is in sifting through it all and in finding just the right content. I will usually review what I have on hand in my own files and personal library before turning to the church web site.

I then divide my talk up into main points. Because I am an old man with poor eyesight, I use an 18-point type so I can see it easily without effort. I know from experience that it takes me about two minutes to go through a page of 18-point type. So I only have to prepare six to eight pages. Your introduction and your conclusion take one page, leaving you only four to six to complete.

Again, I recommend you do not read your talk, but if you feel you must, try to just read the first paragraph on the top of each page. With practice you can read and look at the congregation at the same time. I know that sounds impossible, but trust me, it can be done. That’s why I use the 18-point type. By the time you finish the first paragraph you can explain it in your own words.

What not to do

Please never start your talk by saying that you don’t enjoy public speaking. Just launch right into it either with the quote, story, scripture or other material that you have selected to introduce the theme. Put yourself in the congregation and think about it. That shouldn’t be hard. You have heard enough talks over the years to know that apologizing is simply not a good way to start.

You can start by naming your theme or you can let the story, quote or scripture introduce it for you. There’s nothing that a congregation likes more than a confident delivery. That comes from knowing that you are prepared. The Lord has said that “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” It can be very disconcerting to stand in front of your ward members to speak, but should not be.

The secret is to remember that you are speaking to people who almost all believe as you do and are there because they love the Lord and want to be edified and uplifted. I know that’s why I go to church. So put your fears behind you through preparation and prayer. If you are terrified, tell that to the Lord, not to the congregation. The Lord who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Summary and conclusion

There are numerous books and articles available to members of the church with advice on how to give a talk when assigned. In my opinion, they could all be summarized with this one piece of advice – let the Lord guide you in your preparations. This is the Lord’s church and I know that he is willing to help you provide the living waters that the members of your ward want and need.

Thirty years of speaking in the church as a regular member, missionary, bishopric member and high councilor has helped me grow tremendously. Besides teaching a Sunday school class, there is nothing I enjoy more than speaking in church. I know, that may seem very strange to some. The reason I enjoy it so much is because the Lord edifies me as I prepare and when I speak.

In other words, this is just one more piece of evidence to me that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. Ministers and teachers in other churches can be inspired but there is just nothing like speaking or teaching under the influence of the Holy Ghost which the Lord promises to all those who join his church, and receive that gift by the laying on of hands by his authorized servants.