What To Do With Your Treasures


my-treasure-is-in-heavenI am hesitant to publish this post, but feel persuaded by ponderous and solemn thought it may do someone some good, even if it’s only me. It has been on my mind for quite some time, possibly even years, perhaps ever since I first met my friend Jared (Log) whose focus is clearly on the Sermon on the Mount. I am comforted by this scripture, which gives me courage to write and share:

Fools mock, but they shall mourn. And my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness. And if men come unto me, I will shew unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble. And my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me. For if they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will shew unto the Gentiles their weakness.

Source: Ether 12:26-28 (LE) or Ether 5: Sentences 35-51 (RE)

Gentiles Must Repent

tenth-article-of-faithI am a Gentile. I feel my weaknesses. The natural man (Mosiah 3:19 LE) is strong in me in spite of my efforts to subdue those natural tendencies. The Lord has clearly shown unto me my weaknesses. I am humbled by my own nothingness in this Telestial state and by my ever-present mortal frailties, always before my eyes.

I glory in the grace of my Lord unto me, for He is kind, long-suffering and gentle, patient and full of love unfeigned. He persuades me to desire his righteousness and to seek after holiness. He teaches me to repent. In fact, He has never ceased in the enticings of the Holy Spirit for me to put off the natural man and become a Saint.

Treasures on Earth

Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Source: Matt 6:19-21 (LE) or Matthew 3, Sentences 83-85 (RE)

the-rich-young-rulerCouple this instruction from the Lord with these words of counsel to the rich young man, who, the scripture reports, went away sorrowing, for his much wealth. I also wonder very seriously if what I have laid up in store will vanish away as the slippery treasures of the Nephites in their days of wickedness. (Hel 13:31-32 LE)

Sell All That Thou Hast

If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Source: Matt 10, Sentences 34-35 (RE) or Matt 19:21-22 (LE)

I think those scriptures provide sufficient background for what I desire to share. I am in a conundrum. I have worked all my life to lay up for myself treasures on earth, as in the Great American Dream, in preparation for my retirement. Now I am confronted with the understanding that in order to become individually qualified for Zion, I must sell all that I have and give to the poor. Or have I misunderstood?

Provide For His Own

worse-than-an-infidelConsider these words: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22 LE) and “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken.” (D&C 83:2 LE).

Also, “…if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim 5:8) “And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown; and let him labor in the church.” (D&C 75:28 LE)

As I have pondered and prayed about these scriptures, I have felt impressed that all I have is given me to take care of my family, especially my dear wife, whom I love with all my heart. Yet I desire to enter into a covenant to build up Zion. What am I to do? I also desire to contribute to the building of the temple and helping the poor.

Zion Established for Protection

IndependenceTempleSignIn the spirit of prophecy and revelation, backed up by many scriptures, Zion is to be established before the Lord returns. It is established specifically as a place to provide a refuge from the deterioration, collapse and eventual destruction of this and all other nations. We will want to gather there. It is a specific place and from everything I have read it is in the tops of the mountains and not in flat Missouri.

I very much desire to go to Boise for the Conference in September with the intent to cast my vote and let my voice be heard. I want to enter into the covenant offered by the Lord with the anticipated benefit of obtaining the right to dwell here in this land in safety and to assist the remnant of Jacob build the Holy City in preparation for the return of the Lord before that Great and Terrible Day of Destruction.

The Gathering May Soon Be Upon Us

zion-place-of-refugeNot to get too personal or share too much information, most of my long-time readers know Carol and I do not see eye to eye on this subject. In fact, she was quick to point out many years ago the end result of the path I have chosen to follow, that of believing the scriptures in regards to the literal gathering of the house of Israel and the believing Gentiles who desire to assist them is NOW.

I do not see things unfolding in the orthodox viewpoint of the LDS Church in this manner. They provide no timeline. From everything I have observed, teachings about the gathering have been watered down until they are meaningless. The standard teaching of gathering in the Stakes of the Zion, interpreted to be the LDS Church, is bland and without any requirement of sacrifice. I hope that’s not harsh.

Behold, I Come Quickly

CityOfZionI believe we have an opportunity NOW to open the heavens and to call down the Powers of Heaven to join us. Specifically, I am convinced the return of the City of Enoch is nigh at hand, and, as we know, the Lord has made that His abode forever. That is why I desire to gather to Boise for this conference. I believe for we who enter into and accept this covenant, things will begin to move very, very quickly.

Because Denver has stated it will be years before the people become fully ripe in iniquity, I have decided to forego my plans for retirement. I have been seeking new opportunities and am very close to deciding between several prospects that will likely result next week in multiple offers of long-term employment. Conceivably, I will work in another twelve years in order to build up more treasures on earth.

A Few Questions In Conclusion

doctrine-of-christ-boise-Sep2017I’m still seeking definitive answers to a few questions: Must one be there in person at the Boise Conference as a sign in order to demonstrate a desire and willingness to enter into the covenant and obtain the promised blessing of protection? What about those who simply cannot attend due to distance and travel expense? Will there be some arrangements made for streaming the conference over the Internet? [Edit – Yes]

Once the covenant is accepted by the Lord and by those who desire to enter into such a covenant, I am convinced an announced gathering place will shortly be forthcoming. That is a big deal and will cause all kinds of opposition. I have to answer for myself if my plans to spend most of my energy to labor in this world is the best thing for me and my family. Nobody can answer this for me but the Lord.

Reality of These Prophesied Events

restoration-scriptures-infoAm I alone in these thought and questions? Have any of you pondered the reality of what we will be called upon to do once we accept and enter into this covenant? Am I missing the big picture or is it clearer to you how things will come to pass after the conference this September? What are your plans in regards to how you will respond to an announcement of a gathering to a specific place? Am I way off?

I’m not trying to create division. I desire unity. Carol says she doubts she will live more than a few more years. I disagree. While none of us can predict with any degree of certainty how long we will live, in my conversations with the Lord, I have seen myself participating in many of the winding up scenes in my mind’s eye and in the dreams of the night. In most of them, gratefully, Carol was by my side.

An Invitation to Dialog

Your thoughts?

 

Determining Your Mission in Life


JacobBlessesSonsFirst of all, YOU determine your mission in life. Nobody else can do it for you. YOU decide what you want to do with your life. YOU decide what it is that God would like you to do with your life. If you feel God would like you to be a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then you be the best damn member of the LDS Church you can possibly be.

If you feel God wants you to become an expert on LDS Church History, then by all means, do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Obviously you’ll want to be balanced in your pursuit. We all have a regular life – you know, work, school, family, sleep, church, social and the like. But if God has given you a desire to pursue something and you feel it is right, then give it your heart.

Don’t take crap from anybody who tells you how wrong you are to be focused on something that gives you pleasure and provides you with enjoyment. Especially beware of well-meaning people who want you to adopt their modus operandi in life as yours. Just because they can’t understand what makes you tick, doesn’t give them the right to tell you how wrong you are for your focus.

May God Bless the LDS Church

For example, on my last post, a well-intentioned individual decided to let loose with all kinds of advice that apparently works well for that person in their life, but is so full of judgement and fear I could hardly read it without laughing out loud. I won’t name the reader. I value their comments and they are welcome to post them as they please, but it was so, so very wrong for my situation.

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingI love the LDS Church. Always have. Always will. It has a special and sacred mission. It was established by divine mandate. It was led by the Lord for many generations. The hand of the Lord prospered the LDS Church and just about everything it did. No matter how many ways the imperfect leaders and members messed it up, it always came out on top because God blessed it.

The Lord is still blessing the LDS Church, the members and the leaders. They are sustained by the prayers of the faithful members. I continue to pray for them, every night, by name, and ask the Lord to bless them in their work. I pray for those who are sick. I ask the Lord to join my faith with the faith of millions of members of the LDS Church all over the world praying for them.

How You Judge Reveals You to Others

I was a member of the LDS Church for over fifty years. I continue to attend the LDS Church. I love the local leaders and pray for them each night. I enjoy listening to the counsel of these leaders and see the hand of the Lord upon them. There is no doubt they have prayed for the help of the Lord to magnify their callings. They are blessed according to their faith and prayers.

speaking-in-churchPlease don’t judge my motivation as to why I write about the LDS Church. Don’t assume to know what makes me tick. Don’t think you know what my mission in life is. Don’t proclaim I have a fixation with the LDS Church when you have no right to proclaim any such thing. You have no idea what my mission is. You don’t know what the Lord has shared with me about this.

Just because you are offended by any mention of the LDS Church doesn’t mean I have to stop writing about it. You don’t have to read my blog. Go elsewhere. What you’ll find here are good things about the LDS church, the leaders, the programs and the much good accomplished by the LDS Church. I don’t care about the cost of City Creek mall. I gave my tithing willingly. So there.

Seek to Find Common Ground

My desire is to minister to the good people of the LDS Church. I am most familiar with the inner workings for the church, having served in a local leadership capacity for over twenty-five years. I have no desire to tell, persuade or convince anyone to leave the LDS Church. There is too much good in our local wards and stakes. I look forward to my continued association with my friends.

josephsmith.jpgYou don’t know my mission. I am not here to shake anything up. I am here to bless and bring attention to good things wherever they may be in the LDS Church or in the culture or in any one of the many Mormon groups that claim to be part of the restoration movement. If you know and love Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon then you and I have a lot in common.

I love the LDS Temples. I wish I could go. I miss attending the temple. The LDS Church has not done me wrong in any way, shape or form. They have gone out of their way to be nice to me, to see to my spiritual needs and to truly befriend me as best they can. Nobody is perfect. No leader can be everything we think they should be. The burden we put on local leaders is so very unfair.

Seek to Strengthen Your Marriage

I pray for the success of the mission of the LDS Church. I pray for the continued success or the missionaries, local and foreign. I pray they will be a good example and not mess anything up. They are young and inexperienced. I am so grateful they are blessed with good and faithful mission presidents and mothers who look out for them. Some were my missionary companions.

EldersBookOfMormonIf you choose to leave the LDS Church out of your life, that’s your prerogative. It will be a big part of mine until the day I die. The LDS Church has a mission. I intend to watch it fulfill that mission. I will never be a member again but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a friend. I am married to one of the most dedicated, faithful, loyal and protective members of the Church in all the world.

I have watched her become stronger in her beliefs, her practices and her prayers. She is studying the atonement of Jesus Christ and shares with me her observations as she reads. Carol reads the scriptures every night before she goes to bed. I’m more hit and miss in reading. I tend to spend a lot of time on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the scriptures – the days I work from the home office.

Your Mission Is Not My Mission

Your claim that I have a fixation with the LDS church is wrong. Your statement I am looking backward not forward is wrong. Your claim I must forgive the LDS Church is erroneous. Your proclamation that I am full of judgment and fear more likely applies to your own life, not mine. People tend to see in others what is most bothersome in themselves. I suggest you repent of that.

new-heavens7You ask why I feel the need to talk about the LDS Church now that I have resigned. Has it ever occurred to you maybe that Lord wants me to write about the LDS Church? Have you thought maybe the Lord and I have discussed this and have come to the conclusion my best work can be done by reaching out to those like me who have been faithful all their lives but have questions?

You don’t know me. You never will. Nobody can. My family doesn’t know me. My wife doesn’t know me. The only person who knows me is God. He and I talk every day, all day throughout the day. We discuss the challenges I face. We talk about solving problems together. We laugh about the silly things people do and say. We cry together about misunderstandings and injustices.

Come Place Your Name in the Temple

recorders-clearinghouseWe cry together about the calamities that are coming upon the earth. We discuss ways we can do more to reach people to warn them without sounding like a fool. We mourn for those who judge me and my friends because we are so adamant the Lord is actively moving among the good LDS people in a way most of them don’t recognize. He is finding a few here and there who will listen.

There are thousands who have heard the message of the messenger He sent. Yes, thousands. I wish more people would come forward and record their names on the register. Do they just not realize how important this is? This is the list of names to be presented to the Lord in the temple when He comes again. My name is on that list. Is yours? Why haven’t you sent it to be recorded?

You advised me to let go of the Church soapbox. Sorry. If what I write offends you, don’t read my blog. This is what I know. This is how the Lord works with me. Maybe he works differently with you. I honor that. You can best serve your creator by honoring the choices of others. Don’t pretend you know what is best for another. Only God can tell them that. God reveals missions.

 

Investigating Mormonism Today


Note from Tim: This is a guest post from a long-time investigator of Mormonism. He and I have been conversing about having prayers answered. He had so many good questions on the subject I suggested he write them up for general discussion on the blog. He agreed. I hope you will be kind and consider his sincerity.

Some Shall Be Cast Out

Christian-UniversalismI have studied Christian Universalism much of my adult life. I believe or hope God wants to save all His creations. I don’t want to believe some of God’s creatures will be eternally and irrevocably cast out into a state of unending torment as we read in the Book of Mormon:

“… in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord; Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation.” (Hel 12:25-26)

I would like to believe the Amalekites were right when they said, “…Behold, we have built sanctuaries, and we do assemble ourselves together to worship God. We do believe that God will save all men.” (Alma 21:6) It seems to me Helaman also wanted to believe it: “…I would that all men might be saved…” (Hel 12:25.)

A Difficult Doctrine to Accept

JosephSmithThis idea of being cast out is much more clearly taught in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants than anywhere in the Old and New Testament. This has made it very hard for me to believe these scriptures and thus, to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet.

There are things he said and taught – things I can read in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants – I don’t really want to believe are true.

Does that mean I don’t have a sincere heart? (Moroni 10:4)

Is this why I haven’t received a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon?

Maybe, I don’t know.

I only know I pray every day, and I sometimes get very confused.

Investigating Mormonism has meant not only looking at your scriptures, but looking inside at my own feelings, and outside at things that could be promptings.

What Do You Consider a Prompting?

If I sneeze, could God be telling me that what I just said or what I just heard or read someone else saying is true?

If I accidentally bite my tongue, could God be telling me what I just said was a lie or untrue?

If something I read online contains spelling errors, could God be telling me that it contains more serious doctrinal errors?

And even if such things mean nothing of themselves, what if they seem to mean something to me at a given time?

Does that make it a prompting?

I seem to get mixed signals, and don’t know how to interpret them, but then, maybe I have OCD. Has anyone here ever seen the TV show, Monk?

So Many Questions I Want to Ask

Muhammed-GabrielWhen you communicate with someone online, and you think it’s possible they actually could be sharing something they were taught by the Spirit, what questions would you ask them to help you decide?

For example, if Muhammad were alive and claiming here online today he was given a divine revelation by the angel Gabriel, what would you ask him to know it was really Gabriel who came to him?

We are told to prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good. (1 Thess 5:21) If he said Gabriel shook his hand, how would you interpret that in light of D&C 129? Did Gabriel visit Muhammad?

Likewise, when you make claims online that you have received revelation, what should I ask you so I can know for myself? Is it okay to ask you how you received revelation?

Is it okay to ask you specific details about where you were, what you were doing, and if praying, what questions you asked and how exactly you knew it was God who answered you?

Teach me. So many Mormons talk about revelation and testimonies and such and yet, I can’t seem to duplicate the process no matter how hard I try. What am I doing wrong?

 

A Paean to Scripture


scripturesWriting was a gift from God given to mankind for the specific purpose of recording his words and transmitting them down through the generations. As the sex drive assures the survival of the race even when love is dead, so also the gift of scripture preserves a witness and a record of God through the dark times when there is not faith to receive the living word. Scripture extends the memory of mankind for the words of God, and serves as a catalyst for revelation.

With these things in mind, let us consider 2 Peter 1 (New International Version [NIV])

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Prophecy of Scripture

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The King James Version (KJV) of 2 Peter 1:19-21 reads as follows.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of 2 Peter 1:19-21 reads as follows.

19 We have therefore a more sure knowledge of the word of prophecy, to which word of prophecy ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light which shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts;

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scriptures is given of any private will of man.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

In 2 Peter 1:19-21, we see that Peter is telling his readers that until they have the sun rise in their hearts, speaking of a spiritual endowment, they would do well to heed the living prophets and apostles who were eyewitness of Christ and his glory. And he reminds them that the prophets in the scriptures didn’t make stuff up or spout off on their own interpretations of things, looking to push opinions disguised as facts upon others, but spoke as moved upon by the Holy Spirit.

Now, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible is interesting. Joseph once said “God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the Church. The Lord would cut short his work in righteousness and except the Church receive the fulness of the scriptures that they would yet fail.” (TPJS p. 9) He was referring to his translation of the Bible. And the Church in fact did not receive the JST. It is preserved by our brethren, the Reorganites.

Not all that is called scripture is scripture – after all, sometimes people write things which are, in fact, their own opinions, and not something that they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost to speak or write, even if those writings subsequently get canonized. Moroni 7 teaches us to search in the light of Christ, to judge things for ourselves by what actions the teaching motivates, in conjunction with inviting to love God.

Moroni 7:12-19

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

Again – does it invite you to do good, and to believe in Christ?

18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Inviting to do good, while also persuading to believe in Christ, is a key by which teachings may be evaluated in the light of Christ, or the voice of the Spirit in our hearts and consciences. Teachers, and teachings, which are directed at altering beliefs while encouraging no good works, or perhaps even discouraging them, are vanity to me, and seem to fail the test Mormon is describing for good things – because there is a third, unmentioned class of teachings – those which be of men who are giving their opinions on things which they know not, or even which they know by revelation but have not been commanded to publicize, and thus they speak without the power of the Holy Ghost and fail to edify. It isn’t enough that the Spirit gives one knowledge – that is, it isn’t enough that one teaches what one has been taught by the Holy Ghost – the Holy Ghost must also move one to speak, and then power attends. There is no sin in rejecting a powerless teacher or teaching.

After all, the Lord did say: “Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.” (Mark 9:44, JST) Truth doesn’t have to be qualified with a quote. Quoting scripture is a way we can speak about things we don’t know, but surely believe. If we were limited to speaking only of what we knew, silence would reign. Nevertheless, honesty requires strictly demarcating what we know from what we merely believe. And the scriptures are a way to learn about things we don’t know yet, to get an idea that there’s more out there than what we’ve experienced, and quoting them is also a way to express things we do know, but someone else said better than we could.

2 Timothy 3:14-17, JST

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 And all scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

And we’re back where we started. The scriptures invite to believe in Christ, to love God and serve him, and to do good. The scriptures are a gift to us, and we would be wise to search them in the light of Christ, praying always, and doing good, until the sun arises in our hearts.

Method, Means, and Message


MissionPresidentsI had an interesting experience recently while at church. I live in a part of the world where the church has been developing very slowly and the branches are quite spread out, so a visit from the mission president is a rare and treasured event. A couple Sundays ago he came to our branch and requested that we give him the third hour for a special combined RS/PH lesson.

I want to preface this by saying that I have had several opportunities to interact with this president and his family on a personal level over the past few months, and they are wonderful people, and a breath of fresh air to this area. They engage with local members directly in a way that I have never seen before, and have done a lot of valuable training and teaching. I appreciate, support, and sustain this man as a leader.

Lack of Scripture-Based Teaching

However, as much as I respect and appreciate him and his work, I can’t bring myself to agree with his lesson in our branch. He led a discussion about missionary work, what it takes to be a member missionary, and different ways to do missionary work as a member. The entire hour, not one verse of scripture was referenced. (Not counting John 3:16, when it came up on screen while they showed us the new Christmas video.) There weren’t even any references to scriptural missionaries like Ammon or Paul, or quotes from early Church leaders. There were only references to Preach My Gospel and several modern GA quotes.

Living Oracles

josephsmith.jpgI have a few related thoughts I’m going to string together here, and I apologize in advance if it seems a bit disjointed. As I write this and think about the merit of the scriptures versus the words of modern church leaders, the quote from Brigham Young comes to mind: “I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” What is a living oracle? It is a prophet, rather like Joseph Smith. Brigham would certainly have been referring to Joseph or anyone who had the same gifts: a true prophet, seer, and revelator. Think about it: Joseph, from his own mouth, spoke into being the entire Book of Mormon and most of the Doctrine and Covenants. He also demonstrated the ability to “correct” existing scripture as he prepared the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and revealed many new and brilliant things throughout his lifetime. I believe that what Brigham was saying was that if all the “books” he referred to somehow were to go missing, he was confident that Joseph, or someone equal to Joseph in spiritual gifts, could replace them.

That leaves us with the question of whether modern Church leaders qualify as “living oracles” and Joseph’s equal, and therefore authorized to replace or override scripture. I know people have differing opinions about the prophetic gifts of our leaders today, but I doubt any of those leaders would claim to be Joseph’s equal when it comes to spiritual and revelatory gifts. In fact, I think we would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Church who would claim that modern general conference talks, say, are more valuable to our spiritual welfare than the Book of Mormon.

Relative Merits

That said, let’s consider some of the different ways we receive Gospel teaching. I propose that all forms of Gospel teaching can be placed on a continuum according to their source. At one end of the continuum you have the word of God, as spoken from His own mouth or by angelic messengers, as recorded in the scriptures and the revelations received through Joseph Smith. (Arguably much of the scriptures don’t fit that definition, but I am comfortable putting all scripture very close to that end. I would also put personal revelation at this end of the continuum.) Somewhere along the continuum you have prophetic teachings and messages based on actual words of God as received from Him. But then we run into a bit of a problem: we start having general authorities quoting each other, which removes the message one step farther from the actual word of God. Then you have lesson manuals and other Church publications, which, even if they deal directly with scripture, more often than not are attempting to teach topically and usually take verses out of context (“proof-texting”), and those also use the GA quotes liberally, sometimes even using quotes of quotes to make the matter more complicated. Regurgitated and heavily edited talks and articles are worth a mention here, too. Also, many of these latter articles and lessons don’t even define authorship clearly; they could have been written by any committee or employee in the Church Office Building, so their divine/prophetic source is even more dubious. And then, lastly, you have the local teacher or speaker using the lesson manual or the talk to deliver their own form of Gospel teaching to the “end user.”

Regardless of what you think the relative merit of these various kinds of teaching is, can we agree that there is a continuum, and that we generally are spending too much time at the wrong end of it?

My point is that with each iteration, we get farther and farther away from the actual voice of God. I hope it is clear to all of us that the “philosophies of men, mingled with scripture” are inferior to the words of God, whether from His mouth or by the voice of his angels. Each iteration I described above adds a little more philosophy and uses a little less scripture. Frankly, even this article of mine is my philosophy, mingled with nothing, actually, because I haven’t even quoted any scripture yet. You should treat it accordingly: with interest (I hope), but also with discernment.

When I hear a presentation that ignores the scriptures, uses only contemporary quotes and sources, and borrows liberally from modern marketing techniques, I have to wonder about where it fits on my continuum, and to what degree it is “true.”

Means, Method, or Message?

gospel-messageHowever, the lack of scripture-based teaching paled in comparison to the real problem: the entire hour, all we talked about was the various means and methods of delivery of “the message”—we never even specified what “the message” was! This, in a nutshell, represents on a small scale what I believe is lacking from the church in general: presentation has become far more important that content. Many may argue with me that this isn’t true, and I will concede that probably no one has an actual intent to make the method more important than the message. But look at the evidence: in the Church, a vastly disproportionate amount of time is being spent planning, discussing, training, evaluating, praising, and extolling the way “the message” is disseminated, administrated, correlated, and controlled, compared to the amount of time repeating, understanding, and expounding the actual message, or anything even remotely close to it. Maybe we all assume that we already know the message, so the only thing left to learn is how to share it?

I don’t want to find fault with our leaders, who have heavy burdens to carry and are doing the best they can. But things seem to be going in the wrong direction. There is no one to point fingers at. I personally think it’s the natural consequence of having a complex administrative structure where the organization itself has gained its own momentum, carrying others along with it, despite their best efforts to do what’s right.  Like any other large organization subject to the laws and methods of operation common in the world in which it exists, it has to ensure its own survival, and the tendency is always to do it the way the world does it: sophisticated marketing. And so the message entrusted by Christ to His disciples to personally deliver to the world gets lost in the noise, because the organization as a whole is trying to act as a united force, and somehow in the effort to have us all speak with a united voice, we forget what we were supposed to be talking about.

Let’s try to remember, shall we?

The Message

What is this mysterious “message” that everyone mentions as if we all understand it, but that nobody ever defines? It’s not all that hard. Jesus himself only needed a few verses to explain the whole thing. The best explanations I know of are both in the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 31, and 3 Nephi 11. You know the formula: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end.

That is the most common definition, but I believe we usually oversimplify the final step, obscuring what it means to endure to the “end.” I would like to pose a question here: what is the “end” we must endure to? Is it the end of a period of time, such as this mortal life, a dispensation, or final judgment? Or could “end” refer to a specific purpose or goal, the way we use the word in the proverb “the ends justify the means”? If “end” can refer to a goal, then is it tied to a specific time and/or place, or does it refer to the completion of that goal, regardless of where or when it happens?

According to Nephi, the “only and true doctrine” (v. 21) is repentance, baptism, receiving a remission of sins by the Holy Ghost, and speaking with the tongue of angels, doing everything Christ did with faith in him, and eventually receiving a personal promise of salvation from the Father. In this definition, “end” refers to the fulfillment of a very specific promise, an event that is not tied to any time or place or condition other than us completing the initial steps ourselves.

Christ-TeachingChrist also explained what His doctrine was, and prefaced it with a warning that he was giving a clear definition to prevent disputations. (Yet, somehow, we have a whole book of Mormon Doctrine—in conflicting, disputation-inducing editions, too!—that contains all sorts of things Christ didn’t see fit to include.) Christ’s definition also contained an explanation on the importance of witnesses, perhaps because the end goal of the gospel in his definition includes all three of the Godhead bearing witness to us.  His formula is to repent and become as a little child, believe in Christ, and be baptized in the name of Christ. The “end” result is that the individual will be visited with fire and the Holy Ghost, and receive a witness by the Holy Ghost of the Son and the Father, and eventually the Father Himself will bear witness.

That is pretty serious stuff.

Milk before Meat

Another thought that keeps coming to mind as I write this is the injunction to give milk before meat. In my mind, the “milk” of the gospel is this, extrapolated from the scriptures discussed above: if I (and you, and every one of us) truly repent of my sins, having faith in Christ, and am baptized, I will be filled with the Holy Ghost, and if I continue to press forward in faith, I will eventually come unto Christ in the flesh and gain for myself a sure knowledge of Him and the fact that he has saved me. In other words, the “milk” of the gospel is a general understanding of the end goal, which includes spiritual gifts, the ministering of angels, and a personal manifestation of Christ to each individual who has prepared himself/herself. The “meat” of the gospel, I believe, lies in the HOW, because how we get there is too difficult for us to comprehend at first.

Lest anyone try to tell me that personal visitations and witnesses are meat, not milk, let’s look at the uses of that phrase in the scriptures.

The Three Instances of Milk vs. Meat in the Scriptures

1 Cor 3:2—Paul tells the Corinthians they are not able to bear meat, because they are “yet carnal,” because they idolize their Gospel teachers, instead of laying their foundation on Christ. This, incidentally, is the chapter where we learn that we are God’s temple, where God’s Spirit is intended to dwell; does it get any more up close and personal than that? “Therefore, let no man glory in men.” Get back to the milk—faith in Christ, not in leaders—so that God can come dwell in you.

Heb 5:12—In a chapter about the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, which implies personal audiences with God (see D&C 84:19-22), Paul also mentions how Christ learned “obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:8-9). I believe this is an oblique reference to “meat,” because if Christ learned obedience by suffering, and we must learn to obey Christ…therefore we must suffer as well. But that would be meat, and is left for another day, and therefore Paul returns to “milk,” and the following chapter is about the basic principles of the Gospel and enduring patiently to “obtain the promise” (Heb 6:15), which is when God swears “by himself, saying, surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee” (Heb 6:13-14). So we read again: having your calling and election made sure, if I may call it that, is MILK, not meat.

D&C 19:22—A revelation about repentance and what to preach: “And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:31). The first half of this chapter, verses 1-20, talks about the opposite end of the spectrum: what happens if you don’t take that first step of faith and repentance. Despite the harshness of those verses, I believe they are also counted as milk. It is a warning about the importance of progressing in the gospel, and the importance of finding peace in Christ in the midst of your struggle to repent (v. 23), and “that you may enter into my rest” (v. 9).

A final thought: I absolutely agree that we don’t need to be teaching “meat” in church. However, considering the points above, and what God and his prophets considered appropriate “milk” teachings in those contexts, are we even teaching “milk” at all?

Authority vs Means

Back to missionary work and the means of spreading the gospel. Christ didn’t give his missionaries the same kind of training that we give ours. There was no discussion of technique, approach, or how to “bring the Spirit.” Christ gave them His word, His message, and told them who to go take it to. The power lies in the message itself, and God takes responsibility for its success. See D&C 50:21-22: “Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”

The preacher’s only responsibility is to preach under the direction of the Spirit and to teach the right message. The listener is either going to respond and receive, or not—that is no longer the preacher’s problem. There is no correct “method,” because God, by the Spirit of truth, is moving the word from the preacher to the receiver. That’s it. How can the preacher truly work under the direction of the Spirit if he has some acronym he is trying to fulfill, or a video he wants to share? You don’t need a M.E.T.H.O.D., the newest inspirational video, or a technique to set the right mood—you just need to deliver the message you have been given, and make sure you are delivering it at the behest of the Spirit.

It seems to me, therefore, that there are two things we each need to do to prepare, if we want to be “successful” missionaries: first, we need to get the message and make sure we understand it. Second, we need to be able to follow the Spirit. Any other study or preparation will distract us and end up making our task harder.

My Testimony

I better put my money where my mouth is. I wrote this article because I felt it was something that needed to be said, and shared. Yes, I believe the Spirit prompted me to write it and I have felt that guiding influence as I decided how to phrase my thoughts.

I prefer to say “believe,” because I personally don’t “know” much yet; I’m only at the beginning of the Gospel path. But this is the message and the doctrine that has awakened my soul, that makes me feel the most joy, that makes me see most clearly. Everything else I have ever heard that claims to be doctrine pales in comparison to this Gospel. I believe it is true, I do my best to follow it, and I am trying to share it with those around me and redirect conversation from less important philosophies of men to these fundamental truths.

I believe that no message is more important than the true Gospel, the one and only doctrine of Christ. And that Gospel is nothing more or less than the teaching that we must repent and come unto Christ, witnessing our faith through baptism, then continue towards Christ until we receive the promise of eternal life and God witnesses to us that He will receive us home to Him.

Seeing the Lord Jesus Christ


JesusChristDelParsonTo start off I want to thank Tim for following the Spirit. He has received the assignment that he claimed he received. I know it. He knows it. Many wonderful things are happening in the world right now, and many wonderful things are happening in the hearts of individuals. This is where Zion is built, right within the hearts of God’s sheep.

I have felt impressed to share some things that I learned for my own spiritual progression in the past. Many of the things that I have received by revelation concerning certain scriptures may not directly apply to you, but in the small chance that they do, I am glad to share.

Quick, ask yourself, “Why do I want to see Jesus Christ?”…..What comes to mind? Was an answer available immediately? Why do most people want to see Jesus? Seriously, I mean what is it about seeing the Lord that is so intriguing? So many rumors, so many claims, so many people who would love this opportunity, and yet at times we must ask if our hearts are in the right place. I would have to guess that a great many people want to see Jesus Christ to “consume it upon their lusts….”.

Yes, I said it. A lot of people really want to see the Savior because, well, it would be so awesome! Who wouldn’t want a quick peek at our Redeemer? Just to be surrounded in His glory would be amazing. Melvin J Ballard saw the Savior in a dream, and said that he would do ANYTHING to make it back to the presence of the Savior. Many in near death experiences relate that just to be in His arms and feel the unsurpassed love He has is the greatest feeling imaginable.

With these thoughts in mind, I would like to delve into the scriptures and point to some things that I learned about coming into the presence of the Lord, and what the purpose of such an encounter might be.

2 Nephi 32
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

First off, a teaching that many are learning at a rapid rate, and that is that in order to see our Savior, we must follow the Holy Ghost. We must obtain the Holy Ghost, and trust in His voice in all things. There is no teaching here to trust in any man. We have heard this a lot lately, and it is beautiful to see many people waking up to this fact, but the meat of these verses that I want to focus on is in verse six. Notice that Nephi doesn’t say “…and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you. And when he shall manifest himself unto you, the things…”. Nephi put in a key that is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to this whole process. He stated unequivocally that the visitation he was talking about was “in the flesh”.

Then he explained that when Jesus does come unto us “in the flesh”, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do. There it is. The purpose of a visitation from our Savior is to receive higher commandments, higher truths, and then observe to do them.

Wait a minute! Hang on….. just before this Nephi stated that “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, wherefore they speak the words of Christ…”. Also Nephi said that the Holy Ghost “will show unto you all things what ye should do..”

In countless occasions in the scriptures, we learn that God speaks to individuals by the Holy Ghost. The spirit of revelation is real, the voice of the Lord is real. God can speak plainly to us by the Spirit. We can receive commandments by the Spirit, the very scriptures we read were given by the guidance of the Holy Ghost . So what exactly does Nephi mean that when Jesus appears IN THE FLESH, that “the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do…” Why would we need such a visitation in order for Him to tell us anything? We know right after this Nephi was told by the Spirit to go no further… The Spirit stopped his utterance, and he was left to mourn…

I want to testify that I know that the reason for this is something that God wants revealed to many of His chosen people in this day. The laborers must know, so that they can be prepared to go forth “armed with power”. I pray that I can relate this plainly and in the Spirit, and that a few of the readers might be pierced to their very souls, and learn of God’s desire for them to prepare NOW, so that He might appear to them “in the flesh.” There will be no 144,000 sent, no mighty and strong one raised up, without the truth of these things not only being known, but also being experienced by those chosen vessels.

Let us start with the beginning of the process of being “sent”. In Hebrews 5:4 it is written that “no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God.” The young Samuel heard the voice of the Lord calling him by name “Samuel…” . When Saul was visited by the Savior, the first words spoken to him were “Saul, Saul!…” (His name was called twice, we will come back to this).

Alma 10:6-7 “Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God…. As I was journeying to see a very near kindred, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said: Amulek, return to thine own house…..”

From the Doctrine and Covenants, “behold, ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect, for mine elect hear my voice, and harden not their hearts…”.

So a question that we all can ask ourselves, have we been called? Have you heard the voice of the Lord’s spirit calling to your spirit? Even now we can bow our heads in reverence and listen… Listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. Be still. He will call your own name. We must learn His voice and recognize the call. I know many have heard, and many more will….

“Many are called, but few are chosen….”

How many in times past have heard the voice of the Lord and turned away? How oft have I done it in times past? The answer to my own soul is “Way too many.” I have acted a little like Jonah way too many times. (Sorry Jonah). Man that guy takes a lot of heat. He was actually called, and chosen, and was perhaps one of the best guys around, but he just happened to run away and get swallowed by a whale (or a big fish)!

We each have reasons of the flesh that keep us from hearkening to the voice of our Redeemer; pride, unbelief, fear…it could be anything. The Savior taught that thorns and weeds can choke out the word, a hardened heart, or the wicked one can come steal the word away from us in a variety of ways. We must press forward, feasting on the words of Christ, and not turn back from the call. Again to the scriptures…

Hebrews 3:15 “…To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

So Paul is speaking to those who have heard the voice of God.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Paul sees fit to reiterate this over and over again in Hebrews. Jesus Christ is the Redeemer! He prepared the way. He paid the price! Our sins are happily forgiven when we look to Jesus! We can look to God in boldness and great faith. There are so many occasions when people begin to pray in faith, and they feel the closeness of God, and then a sin or weakness comes to mind and faith is lost. We are our own biggest critics, and this is just what the adversary wants. We think of all of the reasons why Jesus would not appear to us, and we think of all the reasons why we are unworthy, and find ourselves in despair. In reality this is nothing but a lack of faith. Did Christ atone for us or not? The debt is paid. The deed is done. To think that it cannot work for us FOR ANY REASON is denying the power of God. It is like if someone paid off a giant house for you, and you refused to enter it because you felt too poor to live there. The house is paid off, it is in your name, so why not enter in?

Hebrews 6: “4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

God wants us to realize, that once we have truly tasted of the heavenly gift we seek, and know certain things and have been given access to certain powers, that there is no turning back. What we are asking for is not something to take lightly, and God will not give us such a thing unless we understand the commitment involved.

17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. – Hebrews 6

Here is another key. Paul teaches us again that we can trust in God’s promises. What promises has He given you? Have you obtained a promise that Christ will appear to you? Have you asked God if He will? Go get the promise! If God tells you anything by revelation then He has sworn by no greater! God cannot lie. His word is Truth. Have faith to lay hold of the promises we have been given. We cannot rely though on other’s promises. We must obtain our own.

In Hebrews 9 Paul teaches us of the tabernacle of Moses, which is a shadow of heavenly things. The first he called a “worldly sanctuary”. This was after a veil was parted, where one would enter in and reach the candlestick, the table, and the shewbread. One was introduced to the presence of the Lord (symbolism of shewbread). The Spirit has taught me that this can be likened to us being born again IN SPIRIT. When we receive the Holy Ghost, and a remission of sins, we are CHOSEN. We have the opportunity to receive in the flesh (if faithful) the things which have been given to us in the spirit.

Many people since the beginning of our earthly existence have obtained this worldly sanctuary. We are reborn unto God and He places a new spirit in us. Our spiritual desires are changed and we walk with peace and joy (most of the time). The problem here is that being born spiritually does not change are bodies. We still have to war against the flesh and we continually have to be reborn spiritually and plead with God daily for forgiveness. There is something greater, and not only something greater but also something absolutely necessary for redemption!

3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; -Hebrews 9

I could paste the whole of Hebrews which I highly recommend studying, but suffice it to say that Paul is teaching that before the coming of Christ, the way was not open for people to enter the “Holiest of all”, save for the high priest, once a year.

Because Christ came and obtained the resurrection, the way is now available for all men and women to enter the Holiest of all! Not only speaking of entering a room in a building on earth, but entering the heavenly sanctuary and coming into the presence of God in heaven. He tells us so many times to have a full assurance of faith, and to not waver. Jesus has done the work, and we need to believe it, and then hearken to His voice until we are lead into His presence.

Paul speaks of testators, and how if we truly want to be chosen and sent, we must be willing to lay down our lives if asked. In fact we must be willing to do anything we are asked! Do we really want this? It seems many people want to behold the Lord, and then come back and continue on with normal life. They do not want to be sent to the Lamanites, or to Ninevah, or to the people of a variety of false religions, or anyone. Who wants to be ridiculed and rejected, and spit at? Do we really want to to “take up our cross?”. Sadly, many people have good desires, but God can see that many also would stumble and fall, if they were chosen for too much, too fast. On the other hand, there are mighty spirits of incredible potential, who have no idea of the power of God that will be placed upon them.

This post is getting long, and this is the first time I have written for a blog. I will continue in a week or two with this line of thought. So far everything that I have mentioned above applies to us seeing Christ in a vision or a dream. We can have these experiences, and they most likely will come before Christ appears in the flesh, but these experiences, although they can be very edifying and uplifting, are not enough. They do not redeem us. In the next post I want to share what I have learned about what people sought after and obtained in the days of Peter, James, and John. It used to be common (ok maybe common is not the right word) for men and women to overcome the elements of the flesh. People became HOLY. They obtained the High Priesthood and saw the Lord “in the flesh”. This power of redemption has not been on the earth for a very long time. Some have gotten close, and God could have blessed many with these things, but many of these blessings have been reserved for this time of the earth, for the times of refreshing, and the restitution of all things. The angels in heaven rejoice for the things developing on the earth!

What is the source of this latest Mormon rumor?To finish I feel impressed to share a dream that I had years ago. The dream began with me sitting across from Thomas S Monson in an office. “So you have a mission to fulfill!” he said. I nodded silently and felt happy to be sitting across from the president of the church. He then pulled a wad of cash from his back pocket and reached it out towards me. “You know that if you don’t go on this mission you can become rich…” he continued.

I smiled and slowly pushed the money back. “President, you know that to a man of God money is meaningless.” I responded. He smiled and the scene immediately changed. I stood in front of a great white temple with gold doors. I knew I was in a heavenly realm and was filled with light and peace. I reached out and touched one of the doors and I KNEW that Jesus Christ was inside of the temple.

I was filled with the spirit and reached out to the handle of one of the doors to walk inside. I had all the confidence in the world to open the door and go see my Savior, but just before I opened the door, Thomas S Monson appeared in front of me. He smiled warmly and said. “Don’t go in to see Him, I will bring Him to you!”.

I woke from the dream immediately and knew it had deep spiritual significance for me. At this time I was an active member of the LDS church and I had studied the second comforter and the second anointing and what others had suggested. God had told me that I would “enter the Holy of Holies” and see the Savior.

I thought for some time that this dream meant that I would be called by the first presidency and receive the second anointing, at which time the Savior would appear. I thought it meant that Thomas S Monson had the keys to bring me into the presence of the Lord. What do you think?

Get Serious About Gospel Study


How many hours a day do you spend studying the gospel? OK, how many minutes? Hmmm, let’s break that down. Would minutes per week work better for you? And no fair counting the time you spend sitting in church meetings or reading blogs that discuss the church. I mean time spent in the scriptures and asking the Lord to help you understand well enough to teach others in an intelligent way the doctrines you find there.

If you’re like me, your gospel study time is nowhere near what you would like or know it should be. When I was preparing for my mission I spent hours each day reading scriptures and various commentaries on the scriptures. I wanted to know what I would be teaching when I went out there to present the doctrines of the kingdom of God. I miss those days. I felt immersed in the spirit then and knew the Lord was pleased.

Fast forward thirty-six years. I’m an old man in my fifties. I’ve spent a lifetime of service in various callings, enjoying each one with the learning and growth that came with them. My calling right now is easy – stake auditor – and I have no serious demands on my time other than what is expected of any other computer guy who supports a small business with about 100 computers and a dozen servers. No big deal.

A Gospel Study Plan

There are two parts of gospel study that make it work for me. First is the discipline of a schedule. If I don’t have a set time each day where I know I have nothing else planned then the work of reading and writing is just not going to get done. Notice I said writing. For me, gospel study without taking notes, summarizing or writing out conclusions about how it can be applied or taught is really nothing more than reading.

Not that there’s anything wrong with reading. But at my age, I need to move beyond the basics of reading. Like most of you, I’ve read the scriptures dozens of times. I’m familiar enough with what’s in them that when someone quotes a scripture in a talk I can usually find it with the flips of a few pages or the scrolling of a few screens. Reading the scriptures and pondering them is certainly a good use of gospel study time.

I guess it’s the teacher in me that feels the need to prepare outlines, collect quotes, compare commentaries from different authors and gather everything I can about specific subjects. I’m not a scholar but from what I understand about the scholarly process, the idea is to become an expert on some aspect of the gospel and then to advance the body of knowledge with individual insights that add to the understanding of others.

Purpose of Gospel Study

But of course, that may be the wrong way to undertake a serious study of the gospel. Take a step back and ask yourself what is your purpose in reading and searching the scriptures. What do you hope to accomplish? What will be the end result of years of pondering and study? Do you want to come across as a “know-it-all” in the gospel doctrine class? I don’t. What I want from my time is pure and simple. I want to receive revelation.

The second required part of my personal gospel study plan is inspiration. If I don’t have some goal or vision or idea of what I want to learn or discover in exchange for the investment of my time, then I struggle with the natural man in me, the inner child that needs a reason why. Let’s face it – self-discipline is not fun without a reward. I have found over the years that I need to reward myself for the work of study.

My reward, and this is personal so it may not appeal to you, is to take what I have studied and present it to the Lord in prayer, asking for a confirming witness that my conclusions are correct. Because I have invested the time in study, it’s as if I give myself permission to talk to the Lord in a language that is beyond my own natural ability. It feels as if the heavens open. There is a real closeness to the Lord that is undeniable.

Inviting Revelation

There is something about the language of scripture, particularly as found in the Doctrine and Covenants that brings the spirit of revelation into my heart and mind. It is especially powerful when read out loud. After completing a study session, I’ll retire to a private place where I can sit and read a section of the D&C out loud, as if I were acting as voice for an assembly found just on the other side of the veil. It is powerful.

I then kneel in sacred prayer. I find that if I have completed my preparations satisfactorily, I am enabled to exercise sufficient faith in prayer – and I pray out loud – to call down the powers of heaven upon me. The words just seem to flow. I know what to pray for and even how to phrase it. I am able to report to the Lord what I have studied, what I have learned and conclusions I have reached about truth and its relevance.

For me, the process works best when I am confirming what someone else has taught or claimed to be true. I confess I have received very little personal or “new” revelation through this process although there are times I can say with absolute certainty that the Lord has given me something sacred that is meant just for me. I then write it down. I do the same when I have a dream that I know has come from the Lord.

Sharing Revelation

This is a sacred process. If you have not experienced it you may think it unusual or strange. I can tell you it is different from the way the world teaches we should study and gain knowledge. The difference is in the addition of the elements of prayer, revelation and a confirming witness of the Holy Ghost. I have been taught and have believed from my youth that a testimony is built with both study and sincere prayer.

I am impressed by those who know history or who know how to explain a doctrine well in an expository manner. But I am more impressed by those who know how to take that knowledge and nurture or build the testimony of someone else. Knowledge of the truth shouldn’t be like a club to be wielded in a challenging or threatening manner. What you gain from heaven should be used to uplift and strengthen.

If the Lord gives you light and truth through your efforts in study and prayer then it should be sweet to you and to others if you are directed to share it, especially in a teaching capacity. To edify means to bring a focused clarity to the mind and a confirming, sweet witness to the heart. If it does not edify when shared then it is not done in the Lord’s way. Even a call to repentance has a comforting spirit to it.

My Personal Motivation

There’s a reason the Lord commanded us to study and search the scriptures. The primary song “search, ponder and pray” teaches us that the responsibility to know the Lord and his ways rests squarely upon our own shoulders. Nephi’s lament that men will not search knowledge was meant for us in our day. We are the gentiles that need to come unto Christ through a deeper knowledge of the doctrines of the Book of Mormon.

The Lord isn’t trifling with you or me when he commands us to repent and to cast off the chains of the adversary that bind us. The Holy Ghost will inspire you with exactly what you need to do to remove the condemnation from your own life. I know that I must repent and am grateful for the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon that helps me through that process. I have a long way to go and hope the Lord gives me time.

I intend to get serious about my gospel study in a way that I have not done for a long time. I intend to recapture the spirit that accompanied me as I spent hours each day in gospel study while preparing for my mission. While I may not be preparing for a mission, I am preparing for an audience with the Lord and intend to be prepared when that day comes. I also intend to have that audience while yet in this mortal life.

The Invitation

How about you? How are you doing on your preparations to meet the Lord? Are you motivated and do you spend the time required to know what He expects and needs you to know before He can reveal Himself unto you? How much time do you spend in gospel study each day? Are you consistent? Are you discovering new things, immersing yourself in the scriptures and coming to understand the voice of the Lord?

I invite you to join me in getting serious about studying the gospel. Make it a higher priority. Be aware of the natural tendency to think that you have learned enough. Believe that the Lord has so much more that He wants to reveal to you. Be willing to pay the price through study and prayer. If you are already serious and consistent in your studies then I congratulate you and pray for the Lord’s choicest blessings upon you.

I promise you that the Lord will reveal great and marvelous things to those who make the effort in this life to receive them. I have tasted just enough of those promises that I know I want more. I have been immersed in the light of truth and the sweet comforting spirit of the Holy Ghost on many occasions after study and prayer. I want more. I want to know the mysteries of Godliness that he offers to share with each of us.

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