Doctrine of Christ Conference Update


stgeorgearea

Doctrine of Christ Conference

March 18th – 19th 2017 — St. George, Utah, USA

The website at DoctrineofChristConference.com is being updated with the following information on February 27, 2017

About this Conference

The idea for this spring conference came after the September 2016 Boise Doctrine of Christ Conference where an amazing thing happened – people said they felt something entirely new and different there. For the first time, after so many years of hearing about Zion and reading about Zion, some of us found real hope that we really can learn to love each other enough to live together in a city of peace.

That’s what the Doctrine of Christ Conference in Boise gave us, and that’s what we pray that the St. George Doctrine of Christ Conference will become to those who gather there this spring. Every detail of what we have planned and sacrificed in order to make this conference happen is to invite our Lord to be present, again, and to feel that sweet spirit of fellowship that makes life worth living.

Who we are

We are a few friends and believers in the Doctrine of Christ as taught in The Book of Mormon. We are not a formal organization or fellowship.

This conference is non-denominational and is not affiliated with any organized religion. There is no specific group hosting this event – we’re all just individuals contributing our time and effort to make this happen. The heavy lifting for the web site, and technical help with sound and recording comes from some of the Boise folks who did it before and are kind enough to do it again so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We thank them sincerely.

Location

We chose Southern Utah for several reasons. One is for the sheer beauty of the place. Another good reason is the warmer spring weather in the Southern Utah area. But proximity to our friends in California, Arizona and Nevada was most important to us, since St. George is about halfway between them and our North Idaho and Canadian friends. Having this conference at the crossroads will, we hope, make it a little easier for those who were unable to make the drive to Boise. God brought us together, we want to stay together.

Spring break is a tough time to find room at the inn in this area. Hopefully, if you haven’t yet booked a room you can still find a place nearby in the surrounding areas of Mesquite, La Verkin, Hurricane, Cedar City, or Parowan.

Please make your reservations ASAP.

With what we anticipate being shared in the presentations at this conference,

and also the spirit which will attend it, we encourage you to expend any effort to come if you are impressed to do so, in spite of difficulty. There is a place provided on the website for you to request help, or to provide help for those who are requesting lodging, but please be aware that options are very limited. The organizers are few in number but will do what we can to assist.

The timing and the date of this conference

Spring Equinox is a time each year when light begins to overcome the darkness

of winter. This is the perfect time to gather again with old friends, to make new friends, and to rejoice in the light of new revelations coming forth in our day. The conference presentations of Saturday March 18th, and Sunday March 19th will provide a natural transition into the actual day of Equinox: Monday, March 20, 2017.

The planners had originally envisioned organizing a conference sunrise service at the Parowan Gap Monday morning, but have decided instead to focus all logistical time and resources on the speaking and Sacrament sessions of the conference. We leave it to individuals and families to create the Parowan Gap sunrise experience on their own. Maps of Parowan Gap and other interesting local areas will be available at the welcome tables at both venues.

The venues  

As we first contemplated organizing this conference and searched for locations, the impression came to go big or go home. We knew we needed to plan for at least a thousand people, probably more since general press releases will go out in Las Vegas, St. George and Salt Lake City.

There are many considerations for a group this size, especially for families with small children. The Cox Center for the Performing Arts seemed perfect. There’s seating for 1,200, an easy access location, good parking, clean accessible restrooms, and great acoustics for speakers and recording. There is a carpeted foyer for toddlers to roam, and piped sound and video to the foyer for any overflow crowd.

The Cox Center is on the campus of Dixie State University and therefore alcohol is not allowed on the premises. It’s a great place for speakers, but we found that there was just no way to do a conference Sacrament service there.

We wanted to be able to provide a place where the Sacrament with wine could be served, so we had to rent a separate “wine friendly” place. That’s the reason there are two venues. The Hilton Garden Inn was chosen because of proximity to Cox, and because the ballroom seats about 400. If needed, we can provide two Sacrament services, one after the other, to accommodate all of those who would like to take the Sacrament at this conference. The earlier Sacrament will start at 6:00 pm, and a second Sacrament service may be available at about 8:00 pm if there are those who were not able to take the Sacrament at 6 pm. Families with small children may want to attend the earlier Sacrament meeting. Although over 1,000 are estimated to attend, and the Cox Auditorium seats 1,200, we will only be able to accommodate 800 for Sacrament service, so please be prompt.

The Hilton charges a $5.00 per bottle (or per canning jar) “corkage” fee for any wine brought from outside, so we are asking that families please do not bring your own wine to this Sacrament meeting. All bread, wine and grape juice will be provided.

We have secured the Hilton from 8 am to 10 pm Saturday as a general meeting and gathering place. After the last Sacrament there will be time available for socializing at the Hilton until 10 pm. Although a welcome table will be available and there will be greeters there off and on during the day Saturday, the Hilton is not available to us on Sunday.

When we got the actual cost figures for renting The Cox Center for the Performing Arts and the Hilton Garden Inn we were nearly overwhelmed. We were trying to figure out how in the world we could possibly do this when a donor stepped up and provided the cash contribution which enabled us to secure both places under contract. Of course that person wishes to remain anonymous, but we hope that when he/she is sitting there in the audience surrounded by all of us experiencing the blessing of being able to witness this event, the magnitude of the effect of that generosity will warm the heart and soul of our donor.

There are significant costs associated with any large event like this. We’re not out of the woods yet and are doing our best to cover the remainder of the costs of the venues, all the Sacrament bread and wine for 800+ people, program printing, etc.

We could sure use your help to cover these costs. Anything you can contribute is needed. On the web page at DoctrineofChrist.com is a place to contribute, if you can. Please know that after basic conference costs are covered 100% of all extra funds will go directly to those in need of financial assistance.

Saturday morning baptisms

We have scheduled 9:00 am for baptisms at Ivins Reservoir, in order to allow time to get back to St. George, dress, eat lunch and make it to the Cox Auditorium for the start of the Saturday conference at 1:00 pm. But baptisms can of course be any day or time which you prefer.

There are other places around the area for living water baptisms. One warm springs pool is close by has a steep trail down to it. (See notes at the end for detail.) Maps and information will be available at the welcome tables, and from contacting the Born of Water web host directly yourself, which we encourage you to do if you have any questions. That link is listed on the website.

Ivins Reservoir is about 12 miles from St. George, and is easily accessible for baptisms at any time. It’s a public place, so there may possibly be others there, but that’s not very likely at 9 am in March. The water is quite refreshing (OK, really cold). There are no public restrooms but we’re planning for a tent to be there for changing and dressing. If you think you may want to be baptized, please bring your own extra towels. Someone with authority from Jesus Christ will be at Ivins Reservoir at 9:00 am to baptize you if you have not brought someone yourself. (There will not be anyone standing by at other baptism sites besides Ivins.) Information on how to get to Ivins Reservoir is posted on the web site.

The Speakers and the Program

After a lot of prayer, and our willingness to let the Lord indicate who the speakers should be – each one of the speakers became an obvious choice to contribute their particular perspective on an aspect of The Doctrine of Christ.

Their topics and speaking order will be listed in a later update. For now we have confirmed the following as speakers; Rob and Quintina BearChief Adolfo, Denver Snuffer, Karen Strong, Jeanene Custer, John Pratt, Chris Hamill, and Paul Durham. There may be others to come.

All conference speakers will be recorded, and their talks will be made available on the Doctrine of Christ Conference website at a later date. Where possible, transcripts of talks will also be made available. Denver Snuffer’s talk may also be available on his website in audio and transcript form at a later date.

All conference prayers will be by invitation. Various musical numbers will be presented, as detailed in the printed programs which will be available at the welcome tables. There will also be congregational hymns. Testimonies at the Saturday Sacrament meeting are by inspiration and invitation. Because of time restraints there will not be an open testimony mic at this conference, but hopefully the time will soon come when that is possible.

Although starting times of each session are fixed, as noted below, we have reserved additional time at both venues in order to make the ending times flexible enough to accommodate the spirit of whatever is being presented.

Please be aware that ending times may go over what is posted in the schedule.

Both Chris Hamill and Denver Snuffer will have Q and A time in the speaking schedule. 3×5 cards for writing your questions for both Chris and Denver will be available at the welcome tables. A submission button tor questions for Denver will be active on the Doctrine of Christ website shortly.

General Schedule

Saturday, March 18

9:00 am       Baptisms

                        Ivins Reservoir

1:00 pm –      Welcome and Saturday Conference Session

4:30 pm        Cox Center for the Performing Arts

Dixie State University

325 S 700 E

St. George, Utah 84770

6:00 pm-       Sacrament Meeting/Testimonies/Music/Social Gathering

10:00 pm      Hilton Garden Inn

1731 S. Convention Center Dr.

St. George, Utah 84970

(435) 634-4100

Sunday, March 19

9:00 am –      Sunday Conference Session

1:00 pm        Cox Center for the Performing Arts

Dixie State University

325 S 700 E

St. George, Utah 84770

There will be an additional information update to the Doctrine of Christ website about a week before the conference with more detail. With what we anticipate being shared in the presentations at this conference, and also the spirit which will attend it, we encourage you to expend any effort to come if you are impressed to do so. We sincerely hope you will come and we look forward to seeing you there.

With love, and in the name of Our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ,

The St. George Doctrine of Christ Conference

Organizing Committee

 

Invitation to Fellowship


logsblogWhat is it about climbing a mountain that helps you feel closer to the Lord? I’ve hiked up to the top of Mt. Pinos a few times now, each time by myself. Upon arriving at the top I found, or rather felt directed to a private place just off to one side and behind a fallen tree. To me, it’s a perfect spot for pondering and praying aloud. I went there again last Saturday and came home feeling absolutely wonderful. I’ve decided to make another visit next month on Saturday October 15th at noon.

mtpinosmapI invite you to join me if you’re anywhere near us in Southern California and willing to drive up the mountain. You can drive up to the end of the road, leaving about a half hour to walk to the top. It’s about two hours from my house in Camarillo, and is the highest peak sitting right on the line between Ventura and Kern counties. If you’re not into mountain climbing, show up at 3pm for sacrament meeting in the picnic area. You’re all invited. We have such a small group in Southern California, we hope you’ll consider joining us.

Click on the first image above for a link to Log’s Cabin blog and a little more information. We intend to enjoy the Sacrament together at 3pm and discuss the gospel. God bless.

Remember


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

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

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

Remember Christ

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

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

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

Strengthening One Another in Fellowship


HatchRockTwo weeks ago Carol and I travelled to Moab Utah for the weekend. We attended a conference of the Southern Utah and Colorado fellowships. We were asked to refrain from promoting it on social media, thus I wrote nothing in my blog. It was a wonderful gathering held at the Rockland Ranch (Hatch Rock) over two days with speakers from the various fellowships. I am so grateful to have been able to attend.

I am also grateful Carol went with me. I did not tell her much about it, nor especially did I mention that Denver might be there. Although Carol attended several of Denver’s lectures with me in 2014, and was especially complimentary of his lecture in St George on marriage, she is not particularly fond of the man. Perhaps it is because I resigned from the LDS Church after reading his books and attending his lectures.

On Saturday, I was asked to provide a short report of our fellowship activities in California, a difficult task since we are spread out so far up and down the length of the state, a few toward San Diego, a few here near Ventura, a few more in Northern California. I did my best – it was pouring rain – then sat down to enjoy the fine testimonies of others and they bore witness of how their various fellowships were blessing their lives.

And Their Number Were Few

FewInNumbersI have to ask myself, and upon receipt of a social email from Denver, I asked him, why so few? Why are so few willing to read the words he has written, or listen to the testimony he has borne of the Savior? He reminded me we are constrained by section 121: persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge… These are the tools of the Savior to persuade.

I also ask myself, after having served in the church for so many years, why was I unsatisfied? Why did I not feel fulfilled in my soul with a sense of purpose and meaning that should come from participating as fully as I could in what is proclaimed to be the true and living church upon the face of the earth? Was I not reading the scriptures or studying the gospel enough? I asked the Lord in prayer. That was not the case.

I want you to know I love the Lord. I wish I could tell you more of the things He has revealed to me, but He has asked me to refrain. I have hinted and tried to share as much as I dared in years past when He revealed them to me. I have been in His presence. He has encircled me about in His love. I have felt the reality of forgiveness from sins. He is quick to forgive. But there is so much more He would give us.

Correlation is Death to the Spirit

PriesthoodCorrelationLast week I attended a small gathering of our local fellowship – just five or six of us. We witnessed baptisms, partook of the sacrament and then discussed the gospel in a way that fulfilled my soul so much more as compared to sitting in a High Priest Group being fed the correlated lesson. And I was a HP Group leader. My point is the spirit is real and gives life but there is something missing in those correlated lessons.

I hope not to offend anyone. The LDS Church is doing a wonderful job, but something is lacking. I did not recognize it until a few years ago while serving as a High Priest Group Leader. There are many standard questions and equally standard answers. If your answer does not fit within the accepted nature of what is suggested in the manual, the brethren around you are quick to let you know. I speak from experience.

This should not be. Man should be free to speak his mind and expect respect and illumination from his brethren who share the same faith. Sadly, the correlated curriculum has destroyed that opportunity to be free with one’s thought and explications on the subject, quote or verses being considered. This is sad to me and is the very reason I refuse to attend Gospel Doctrine classes or High Priest’s group anymore.

A Loosening of the Tongue

start-a-blogBesides, as a non-member, the HP Group is considered a private meeting, is it not? I could be mistaken. My purpose of this post is not to rail against the tightly controlled structure of the LDS Church class meetings, but to write about the benefits and joys of fellowship among those who love you and feel the same about the Lord and the Restoration. For the most part they have been cast out or have resigned.

After witnessing baptisms in the living water of Ventura harbor, we sat on the grass a little inland, blessed and partook of the sacrament in the open air and under a bright sun. You may say that wine loosens the tongue but I tell you it caused those who partook to feel the love and blessings of the Lord. We do not drink wine to get drunk but to remember the Lord, his blood which was shed for us, and the life he imbues in us by so partaking.

We speak of what we write – three of us are bloggers – or what we read on various blogs. The gospel is discussed. The utmost importance of obeying the commandments, the reality of the Lord’s admonition to give unto the poor, without restraint. Tithing is to care for the poor, not to pay the salaries of the many General Authorities or build shopping malls.  I didn’t used to have a problem with that idea. Now it galls me.

Discussing the Gospel with Joy and Gladness

blogs-of-noteWe laugh. We joke a bit. We express love. We hug. We speak of deep doctrine and often speak of the foolishness of those who write on our blogs who have no clue what they are expressing, not having studied of contemplated the subject in depth. We are not perfect or scholars. We are each sinners as are all who have need of fellowship and the sacrament. But when we leave, we are uplifted and strengthened.

I express gratitude to my brethren and sisters who participate with me in our fellowship meetings, even though we do not get together as often as we like. I administer the sacrament in my own home each week after attending the local LDS Sacrament meeting with my wife. I pray with passion, I study the gospel, I write – either in my journal or here on my blog. I wish our fellowship could get together more often.

This will be short. I simply wanted to express gratitude for those the Lord has placed nearby – within a few hours travelling distance – and for their willingness to drive that distance here in the Golden state. I love you my brethren. You know who you are. I pray for you and your families. We share many of the same feelings about the LDS Church even if we currently attend the meetings or not.

God bless all the humble followers of Christ who desire to cry mightily unto him and to obey his commandments. I am so grateful for the Sacrament. I love my brothers and sisters who attend our LDS Wards, but derive so much more from our small fellowship, even if we sometimes only get together via the Internet. NOTE: If you wish to read or hear Denver’s address to the combined fellowships at the conference, you can find them on his downloads page.

Setting Up The Targets


youre-not-invitedI don’t live in Utah so I’m not used to hearing stories like this: My niece married later in life, and now has two lovely stepdaughters. Someone among the friends of the girls was having a birthday party but these two girls were not invited even though they play with the same group of girls or see them every day in school. The reason for excluding them? “Because you don’t go to church.”

Amazing. Does such judgement really exist among the hearts of the Latter-day Saints in Utah County? You know the girls obviously learned it from their parents. What a tragedy. Today, being Fast Sunday, I experienced a small taste of that exclusive attitude that permeates the LDS Church, even here where I live in Camarillo. Please understand I’m not blaming my local bishop.

When I resigned from the LDS Church last year I pointed out that according to the handbook I could now partake of the sacrament, whereas I had previously been forbidden to do so because the Bishop had restricted me due to apostasy. I made it clear I felt this was anti-Christ when I submitted my resignation papers. It was a key component as to why I had resigned at that time.

The Handbook Takes Precedence

LDSChurchHandbooks1With the change in Bishopric earlier this year I asked the new Bishop how he would feel about me bearing my testimony of the Savior, the prophet Joseph or the Book of Mormon from time to time. He said he would think about it. Today, he made it clear he would not allow it, even though all my life I have witnessed those investigating the Church [non-LDS] stand up and speak freely.

The citation is found on page 141 (2010) of handbook 2 which reads, “After the Sacrament, the Bishopric member conducting the meeting … then invites members to bear … testimonies.” He said he was going to have to stick to the handbook even though I had assured him I would limit my testimony to the Prophet Joseph, the Book of Mormon and my feelings about the Savior.

Again, please don’t assume I’m blaming my bishop for anything. The idea of marriage to the handbook is ingrained in “bishops-in-training” from the time they attend their first priesthood leadership meeting, usually as an Elder’s Quorum secretary or counselor. I never noticed just how powerful this indoctrination really is. It also permeated my service on the High Council.

No Apostates Allowed to Speak

BreadAndWineYet a person who is not a member of the LDS Church is not prohibited from partaking of the sacred ordinances of the Sacrament. On page 173 of handbook 2 (2010) we read, “Although the sacrament is for Church members, the bishopric should not announce that it will be passed to members only, and nothing should be done to prevent nonmembers from partaking of it.”

Isn’t it strange that what should be a decision made under careful consideration because the Savior so commanded, is relegated to one-line dismissal in the Church handbook, while one of the most important things a person can do to engender and encourage faith in others – to bear testimony of Christ – is prohibited out of fear that person might share something controversial?

When I first resigned we were preparing for the ward and stake Christmas programs, to which I have always enjoyed contributing each year. I was asked to not participate last year, which I thought rather odd, especially when we were always asking everyone to invite their friends and neighbors who were not members of the Church, to join us. The restriction was later rescinded.

Obtaining Power Directly From God

PassingHeavenlyGiftWhen I was first introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer by a former bishop who simply asked what I thought about “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, I posted my intention to read the book. One individual offered his assessments of the man with the following, “He doesn’t believe Joseph passed the priesthood keys on to anyone. He says they can only be obtained from God.”

I always thought that curious. This individual obviously felt there was something wrong with the way God controlled His priesthood power among men. If I remember correctly, Joseph taught that ALL prophets after Moses obtained the higher priesthood directly from God Himself. This has been a large portion of my study over the past few years – how power from God is obtained.

I have been asked – politely – by several people just how exactly I now differ in my religious beliefs. I assume they ask this so they can be careful with what kind of questions they ask me. I don’t know or understand why people are afraid of offending me. The one who did this the best was my high priest group leader (at the time). I love and appreciate him for his tactful manner.

Common Ground for Conversation

ProphetJosephSmithIn order to make it easy for those who ask me the question in the future, I’ll refer them to this essay. Maybe that will save them some time or potential embarrassment at having to ask the question. They see me attending church each Sunday – at least Sacrament meeting – as well as choir practice and ward socials. There’s always that slight awkward feeling of “what do I say?”

It reminds me of the three commandments of missionary work – steer the conversation toward religion, don’t talk about politics and for heaven’s sake, never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Here are a few subjects that we might find mutually interesting: 1) Something new you learned about Joseph Smith. 2) Some new aspect of doctrine that came up in your personal gospel study.

3) If you feel daring, perhaps we could discuss something from the Church Handbook, but, of course, that only works if you serve in a priesthood leadership position. Funny how that works. Members of the LDS Church are judged by what’s in the Church Handbook over and above what is found in the scriptures, yet they do not have access to this super-secret book. Why is that so?

Deep Knowledge of the Atonement

come-let-us-adore-himYou’re always safe to bring up something about the Savior. I love to talk about the Lord. But I don’t like platitudes which we seem to get so much of at church each week. Perhaps you could take a few minutes and read the chapter on the Atonement as found in the book, “Come, Let us Adore Him,” unless you feel it’s against your temple covenants to read anything but the Ensign.

In there you will learn how the Atonement came in waves – each one stronger than the previous. You might also learn the waves came in pairs. The Savior first experienced the feelings, guilt and suffering that those who commit the offense must endure because of their sins. The second wave imposed the suffering of those who are victim of these offenses. Now you know how it worked.

Please don’t be as the Pharisees who asked by what authority this knowledge is proclaimed. All truth contains its own authority. Don’t say, “Why, this isn’t taught by our modern day prophets and apostles, therefore I won’t accept or believe it.” Why is it so hard to believe that God could send another witness of his divinity and his mission in our day just as He did in sending Joseph?

What Do You Think Of Denver’s Latest Book?

preserving-the-restoration1I thought I was done with my blog. For eight years I wrote over 500 posts on the LDS Religion. At first, I did my best to defend the orthodoxy with which I grew up. Sadly, I was taken to task by many who did not like my version of orthodoxy. I began to dig deeper, I prayed with greater intent to understand what about our religion was important and exactly on what I should focus.

I don’t know if my former bishop (the one with whom I served as a counselor) feels he is an answer to my prayers, but there is no doubt in my mind the Lord sent him to me with that one simple question in the temple that day. I’m sure he doesn’t condone my action in resigning from the Church, but I continue to thank the Lord He had the courage to ask me that question that day:

“What do you think about Denver’s latest book?” My response ended the conversation. The Bishop walked away or someone else caught his attention, but that question stayed with me, along with my response, “Denver who?” For weeks the Lord kept bringing the name to my mind. I didn’t even know his last name. I now ask you: “What do you think of Denver’s latest book?”

 

Private Sacrament Meetings


fishers-of-men2One 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.

Tithing, the first step to Consecration


mormon-tithing5I used to diligently draw 10% of my income from my monthly paycheck and hand it over to the bishop. I knew I was doing the Lord’s will. I would encounter a sense of relief for doing my duty (as my paychecks got bigger, the sacrifice did as well), as well as a sense of peace for keeping the commandments. I didn’t think much about how my tithes were used. As far as I was concerned, it was the Lord’s to do with what He wanted, and He would direct His Church in the wisest and best uses of my funds. I also gave a generous fast offering (1% usually), and that was the end of my charities. I had very little to give for other endeavors after all of this, and I trusted the funds would be best used in Church hands. My mind was little engaged in such a task, other than in the satisfaction that I was being obedient.

Developing Charity

I have since adopted a different strategy for tithe-paying, under the Lord’s direction, with a little help from a great article on tithing. We give our tithes directly to the poor. We typically tithe at least 10% of our surplus income and sometimes more as directed. Under the old system, my wife had to work so that we could pay a gross tithe. Now, we have found that our tithes are more vibrant and fruitful. We find ways to pay our tithing that engage us with the Lord instead of making it a mindless habit. Such ways include helping a poor immigrant family we find on the roadside, paying to help a battered woman leave an abusive relationship, and paying tithes to local fellowship communities that distribute them through common consent. All of these methods have enriched our lives and made us feel more charity for the poor, and we have been blessed with an added measure of the Lord’s grace as we have done so. Furthermore, when we were paying under the old system, our mentality for our material blessings typically consisted of feeling grateful for them, feeling that our righteousness in our tithe-paying was earning us such blessings, and feeling justified in enjoying those blessings because we were full tithe-payers. Now . . . we still feel blessed, but we also feel burdened in a good way, we feel the burden of material wealth, even though we are not wealthy. We have noticed a marked decrease in covetousness of our neighbor’s wealth, his home, his status. We measure a dollar differently, for we can feel and touch the needs that dollar can do to lighten another, and we are much more careful at spending that dollar for our own needs.

Defining Down Needs

Which brings us to the next benefit. We are now searching to downsize our home, our vehicles, all of our needs, so that we can increase our surplus income,needswants so that we can afford to tithe more. I feel the Lord’s wisdom in this as we are slowly defining down what we consider needs. We want to have more resources so that the Lord can direct us in giving, the benefits thereof we have found to be energizing to our spiritual lives. We pray for the Lord to direct us and He has. The result has been an overflow of love and grace into our lives. Here are some concepts we are using to give:

Deny not the Beggar

 16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.” Mosiah 4:16-17

21202651_BG1We like to consecrate some of our tithes to those who we see on the street that are in need. We don’t care if they are panhandlers. We don’t care if they are going to spend it on booze. We care about giving them love. We look for people that need love, not money. We listen to Spirit and actively search out a giving situation. The money is just an excuse to go up and spend some time with them and give them a hug. Once the money is donated, it is their stewardship to do with what they want. It’s the love, not the handout, that has the potential to help change a person who is begging. Not to mention the fact that we take Hebrews 13:2 seriously:

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Giving in Communities

Giving in communities is where we will be able to bring Zion. In communities we have the capacity to bear one another’s burdens, helping lift a brother, become one in purpose, and have “no poor” among us. I have actually seen this occur over the past couple of months. My wife and I have occasionally attended a fellowship community called a “tithing meeting.” In this meeting, we take the sacrament to remember the Lord, but also to sanctify each of us to discuss solving each others’ needs. Here is how the meeting goes:

  1. Sacrament is served, along with prayers and hymns to bring in the Spirit of the Lord
  2. Tithing is collected. There are no slips, no receipts, you get no charitable giving deductions on your taxes.
  3. Everyone is given an opportunity to report needs. This has since been split into defining primary needs (typically food, housing, some health, etc.) and secondary needs (debt obligations, utility bills, etc.). Everyone is given the agency to define what is a primary and secondary need because individual situations differ.
  4. An account is made to the group, which assigns the funds first to the defined primary needs, and then to the secondary needs by common consent (no strong men here, in fact, I’ve seen mostly women in charge of the welfare effort). (In the meeting last week, all primary needs were met, and there was a handsome sum left over to cover some secondary needs.)

The potential for bickering, anger, resentment, abuse, finger-pointing all have the potential of undoing such a meeting. It was the reason primarily that Zion failed in the early church. So far, the meetings I have attended have gone smoothly, and I have seen an outpouring of love. But there is always potential for problems, and I’m sure some day these problems will arise. How does one deal with any of these potential situations:

  • People that attend only to take from others; they are slothful and rely upon others resources for their sustenance?
  • People that are more liberal in defining their own needs, while others withhold and sacrifice?
  • People who define their surplus more conservatively than others, and thereby, give less?

All of these problems will occur as some date. The question is, how do we handle them? The Church has set up rules in welfare (working, going to Church, callings, accountability of time) etc. that they exchange for the benefit of receiving Church welfare. In this new system, no such ability exists, and to be frank, people who have been on Church welfare (I was at one time in my life as a youngster) find it a little degrading. In this system, people are generally taught the principle of giving generously on one hand, and not taking from others if they need not, on the other. There will be a variety of applications and a variety of responses. I just assume that at some point, my gift will be misused, that there will be moments where the distribution is unfair and I have to be okay with that.

A Refining Process

Yes, people will misuse and mistrust. But when undertaken with the right heart, the process can be a refining one. For the giver, the process of giving, even under abuses, can remind one of how the Savior was abused, how HE was treated unfairly, how HE gave all that he had, even the most precious gift, and some took it for granted. For those that accept with a humble and glad heart, a gift given can strengthen the bonds of love. It brings the giver and the receiver closer in the bonds of a sealing-type of relationship, a Zion-like one. For the poor, receiving a gift given reminds us that we all must receive the greatest gift given, the gift the Savior gave us with his atonement for all of us, who are indeed “poor.”

new-jerusalem1Right now, this process represents another kind of practice for Zion. Eventually, however, when Zion is redeemed, and we repent enough to be considered in that great endeavor, all who participate will do so without any attempt to dig a pit or take advantage of a brother, or to withhold because of mistrust or vanity. Any who would attempt to enter such a place would find it impossible to do so. They will have to be redeemed in the cleansing fire of sanctification to be permitted such entry. They will have to be . . . perfected.

38 And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;

39 But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also;

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also;

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that wouldborrow of thee turn thou not away.

43 And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;

44 But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, andpray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.

46 Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled.

47 Old things are done away, and all things have become new.

48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect. 3 Nephi 12:39-48

Special Consecrating Circumstances

When we get to the point where we are willing to part with large sums of money, when there are a few rich after the manner of the world, that repent and undertake some of these challenges, they may want to consider some unique types of tithes and consecration of wealth that could truly lift this movement. Some of these may include:

richyoungruler

  • Helping the Saints to cancel debts and mortgages, which thereby increases their ability to donate more and extend grace to others and themselves
  • Purchasing simple homes or vehicles for the poor
  • Financing conferences and reunions to gather for the sake of worshiping the Lord and practicing other Zion-like efforts
  • Helping to construct a temple
  • Publishing reading materials or advertisements for missionary efforts

There are diverse ways and means one could consecrate their wealth to the efforts of the Lord, and it is between YOU and the Lord. I can only imagine the great sacrifice that would be to consecrate great sums of wealth, but then there must also be corresponding blessings. Remember the rich man in the Bible:

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mark 10:21

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