He Shall Give You Another Comforter


request-baptismI had expected to spend this Saturday in what I anticipated to be an all-day project for work. About a half hour into the project, it became evident I needed to be onsite to accomplish the many required tasks, thus I turned to pondering and study instead.

I began to ponder a running text dialog with a long-time reader. He seemed agitated, troubled and bothered by something that, to me, seemed perfectly clear and with which I was at peace. It had to do with the physical feelings that accompany The Comforter.

Personal Knowledge

I will not quote any scriptures. I simply wish to share my own thoughts and express gratitude to the Lord for teaching me over a lifetime of experience of the reality of the Holy Ghost, and how I experience his influence in my heart and in my mind.

I know when I am being taught by the Lord. Ideas flow into my mind that lead to faith in Christ. They are often accompanied by feelings of comfort and peace. On occasion, the power of the Holy Ghost upon me was so strong as to cause me to be overcome.

Physical Sensation

Yes, I mean with emotion – that sweet peaceful feeling that all is well in spite of the turmoil and trouble around me. The feeling, for me, is both physical and emotional. In others words, the phrase “burning of the bosom” has real significance to me.

There is a tangible warmth in my heart, in the area of my chest that is stronger when I pray, study, serve, bless or participate in an ordinance such as the sacrament or a baptism. I know what I am describing is common to many people, but not to some.

The Presence of Christ

My friend becomes agitated when I try to explain that I have had this gift, and yes it is a gift, for about as long as I can remember. The physical sensation of warmth is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of vibration in my spirit and of an aching in my bones.

I have written previously about being in the presence of Christ, and knowing it. I have heard his voice declare his love for me and ask me to do things that I simply would not have thought to do on my own. I felt free to not do the thing and still feel loved.

Spirit of Revelation

I was also shown what would happen if I did the difficult thing, and knew He would comfort me to endure the consequences of following the prompting. He has been true to His word. There is no doubt I am lonely and yet, I am not. He abides with me.

Does this make sense? I’ll tell you why I think this is so. It is because I exercised faith, was baptized, and believed the Lord’s promise that the Father would give me another comforter. This is the doctrine of Christ: to believe, to be baptized and receive.

Receive The Holy Ghost

Receive what? Receive the comforter. I know I am writing with very simple and basic statements. This is not new to most people who will read this, but to my friend, who has not been baptized, it is agitating. It is not a difficult concept. It simply takes faith.

I don’t want to make this long. With my friend, he keeps wanting to focus on the physical. I guess if you’ve never felt it before, it can be difficult to accept and believe. But the Lord promises we can feel the Holy Ghost before we are baptized if we ask Him.

Baptism is the Gateway

How else could the missionaries do their work? The Lord fulfils His promises. He sends the Holy Spirit to bear record of truth. If we are asked to do something that leads to greater faith in Christ then He will bless us in some way that we each will understand.

How can it be any clearer? Once baptized, simply obey what the Lord said: “Receive the Holy Ghost.” He is real. The Comforter is real. And yes, sometimes, many times, most times for me, I feel a physical sensation of warmth in spite of what others say.

A Constant Companion

My friend, I hope you will read this in the spirit it is intended. I mean you no harm. I have only words to persuade. But when I speak or write the truth, as I have here, God will make it known unto you in plain and simple ways so you can understand it.

God bless you my friend. I know you are desperate. You have told me so. I know you are lonely. You can have The Comforter as your constant companion. I am nearly sixty years old and still continue to feel the sweet peace from this wonderful gift of God.

Loss and Loneliness

I am sorry for your loss. I do not know what it is like to be alone or not have someone I can turn to when I am hurting. I am so, so very grateful to my wife for her loving companionship, but the peace I feel from the Holy Ghost surpasses all understanding.

I forgive you for lashing out in anger and pray God’s love to be upon you. Go get baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. Show the Lord you are serious. Baptism is the sign He recognizes. Once you take that step, I promise you your life will change.

Talking With God

How do I know? Because you are so serious when we discuss the subject. I know you are searching. I know you want this. Prayer is so much easier when the Lord gives you the words to say. This too is a part of the Gift of the Holy Ghost – Inspiration.

My friend, I pray for you every night. I pray you will focus on the things that are important and repent, which means to simply discard the false beliefs you hold in your heart about what God requires of you. He simply asks you to love and trust Him. Shalom.

Therefore Shall a Man Cleave Unto His Wife


sealing-room-altarOn September 13 2014, I submitted a letter of resignation from the LDS Church to my local leader. I had thought long and hard about my decision and confirmed it in prayer several times. What I did not do was to tell my wife in advance of my action, but I think she saw it coming. If you understand what the LDS Church teaches about temple marriages, you will agree with me Carol is indeed a wonderful woman.

For those who don’t know, the LDS Church teaches the most important thing a man and woman can do in this life is to marry in an LDS Temple and remain married throughout their mortal lives. Carol has the advantage in this situation. She did not resign from the LDS Church, therefore, it is believed and taught she will be given to or allowed to choose any worthy man who remains faithful in the kingdom of Heaven.

I, on the other hand, am damned forever, according to LDS doctrine, unless I repent, renounce what I have done, subscribe again to the baptismal requirements, am baptized again as a member of the LDS Church, and eventually, after a long period of probation, have my temple blessings restored, a process which requires authorization from the First Presidency or the highest leadership of the LDS Church.

Traditions of Their Fathers

SaltLakeTempleNightI have detailed this previously, but to summarize, Carol is a fifth-generation member of the LDS Church. On the other hand, my family are converts from the 1960’s, with only two out of the eight considered active today, my parents having passed on in the last decade. They had informally left the church earlier. Tradition is a powerful influence in Carol’s spiritual life, which I believe I understand and deeply respect.

Sometimes I am simply amazed at the depth of Carol’s love of the Lord and tolerance for me. If you can put yourself in her shoes for a moment, I’m sure you can understand the loss she has suffered. On ward temple night, she goes alone. She knows I partake of the sacrament using wine. The very idea of wine in her home has deep personal repugnance, her grandfather having lost his legs and died as an alcoholic.

She often comments, wondering aloud really, why those who leave the church are so vocal in their comments about how anyone could belong to such a deluded organization. It hurts her to hear or read such material. She has seen it firsthand from some of the people I have chosen to associate with in various fellowship groups. I feel similarly about some things said by LDS members and Church leaders.

Study, Ponder, Pray

libraryfrontroom.jpg

I still attend our main church meeting with Carol each Sunday. She asked this of me and I still dearly love so many of our friends we have associated with over the years. It is difficult at times to hear what I now consider subtle innuendos and even outright lies from the pulpit (I don’t attend classroom activities), from good people who have NOT studied things out and are simply repeating what others have said.

I considered myself an orthodox Mormon for all my life. I served an LDS mission at age nineteen. I met my wife through the LDS Church Young Single Adult program and married in the temple shortly after. As is fairly normal, I served for over twenty-five years in various teaching and leadership positions and did my best to make my private worship practice something that would give me spiritual strength each day.

I am a computer professional and spend almost all day every day on the Internet. It is a part of my job. When I take breaks I would go read what others were writing about the LDS Church and participate in the ongoing dialog on many of the blogs and chat groups. I like to consider myself well-read, or at least I can say I have contributed a lot of money to Deseret Book over the years in building my well-stocked library.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

ezekial-chariotThe subjects of my blog were almost always on my mind for eight years. I thought about, studied about and wrote about the basic history and doctrines in a manner I hoped would be helpful to those who were serious about learning more about the LDS faith. Of course, as anyone can tell you who has done a serious study of Mormon history, the LDS Church white-washed, covered up and lied about much of it.

I have been pondering the idea of seeking re-admittance to the LDS Church. Why would I do such a thing? Mainly to strengthen my marriage. “Don’t do it for me,” Carol says. She is right. So I continue to ponder, pray and study. My greatest desire is to do the will of the Lord. We each have spiritual gifts. I like to think I have at least some sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. In other words, I hear His voice.

This is not a unique claim, one that has certain requirements of course, but is highly sought after by most members of the LDS Church I know. If a Mormon says to you, “I don’t want to hear the voice of the Lord,” I would translate that to mean, “I don’t want to do what I’m afraid I might hear,” Likewise, it is, or was, a long-time aspiration of faithful Mormons to come into the presence of the resurrected Lord.

Receive the Second Comforter

carl_bloch_the_christThis idea – embracing the Lord as a mortal – is a hot topic of debate today, at least among those who think it has significance. Some have told me, “It doesn’t matter. Just endure to the end and all will be well.” Did we not at one time teach it is worth any sacrifice to embrace the Lord while yet in this life? That’s the debate: Should we seek to come into the presence of the Lord? Or simply endure to the end?

Those who quote Joseph (and I’m certain I’ve shared this quote a dozen times on this blog), are looked upon by most as being quacks. The correlated material found in the LDS manuals today does not include this doctrine of seeking an audience with the Lord. This is the main doctrine I studied for two years before I decided I didn’t want to be part of an organization that almost NEVER brought this up.

“Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him,

“Potshots at the Brethren”

quorum-twelve-april-2016“and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”  TPJS, 149-151

Well, actually, there was much more to my decision that this. I met with my Bishop for a year to discuss my concerns. I was serving in the Stake Presidency at the time. He didn’t seem to have any problems with my questions. I figure he just accepted such things as part of my private gospel study. One time I quoted a General Authority saying we needn’t be concerned with this specific doctrine. My bishop reacted.

I won’t say he was upset. He’s a good man in control of his emotions. His statement, as I recall and recorded it, is that I was “taking potshots at the Brethren.” That got me thinking. Why is this doctrine so divisive? Is it not desirable? Does it not motivate? I will say, without a doubt, the idea of coming into the presence of the Lord is a thousand times more motivating to me than the idea of regular temple service.

Teaching the Word of the Lord

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingI want to have the Lord abide with me. That is the promise of the Second Comforter. I will do anything asked of the Lord to obtain this goal. It befuddles and amazes me when good brethren in my High Priest group told me I was wrong to bring this subject up, that enduring to the end is ALL that is required. That was the last time I attended a High Priest Group meeting. It seems their minds are made up forever.

I am saddened by the reports I read of husbands writing they will no longer be participating in some of the online groups that are out there – the ones Elder Ballard said in which we should be involved. I have also made that decision. I do not comment on the blogs anymore and I rarely write one. The reason given? The wife holds the upper hand. Divorce is threatened. “You teach correlated stuff or you’re out of here.” * See my comment below. This is NOT quoting Carol but was shared by an online friend in sorrow.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife. He has a responsibility to lead his family in righteousness. It is a sad thing we have relegated that responsibility as to what we believe to those who write the correlated doctrinal manuals that are used in the LDS Church today. The word of the Lord should come from God and the head of the family, not from some committee writings.

 

Your Bill Is Coming Due.


PaymentDueThroughout this post, the JST ( http://centerplace.org/hs/iv/ ) is made use of instead of the KJV.

If you agree that Jesus spoke the words attributed to him in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible, and if you agree that by entering into the waters of baptism you have entered into a covenant to be obedient to him until the end of your life, or if you have partaken of the sacrament, then you have witnessed unto God, the Father, that you are willing to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Moroni 4:3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

JST John 14

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

If you love Jesus, keep his commandments.  You love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and he will bring the Father to you.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

The visit spoken of is literal, and in this world.

D&C 132

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to [my] glory.

22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

Remember, the idea that one receives Jesus in one’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.  To receive Jesus therefore means to take him into your home, or to embrace him physically.  If you do not thus receive him in the world, then you do not know him, and you do not receive exaltation.  If you thus receive him in the world, then you know him, and will receive exaltation.

Putting it all together, you love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and you will take him into your home, or embrace him physically.  If you thus receive him, he will bring the Father to you, and you will receive your exaltation.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

If you do not keep his commandments, you have no promise of any of these things.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 [W]hen we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

So what are the commandments of the Lord?  For brevity, here is the shortest version.

JST Luke 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These teachings are repeated three times throughout scripture.  Three times.  Thrice.

 3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Are you keeping these sayings of Jesus?  Are you performing them daily?  Are you giving to every man that asketh?  Are you lending to all, not hoping to receive again?  Are you returning reviling for reviling, or are you patiently enduring abuse?

These are, after all, the things you witnessed unto God that you are willing to do.

And, remember further, great promises are offered to those who both do and teach.

JST Matthew 5:21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever breaks the least of these commandments, and teaches men to do likewise, are promised they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, while those who both do them and teach them are promised they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

JST Luke 14

25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He meant it.  And do not think to claim that by your loyalty to the prophets and apostles of the Church, or any others, that you can bypass the requirements Jesus has set.

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

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

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

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

So likewise if you keep not his sayings, even while claiming loyalty to prophets, you are as salt that has lost its savor, a covenant people claiming Jesus for king yet not obeying the king’s laws, and therefore are covenant-breakers, good for nothing but to be cast out.

Those who teach you that you owe less to the Lord than you have covenanted to do are the unjust steward, who will be sharing lodging with you in everlasting habitations if you agree with them (see JST Luke 16).  Time is short, and your bill is coming due.

Therefore, do not procrastinate the day of your fulfillment of your own words, covenants, witnesses, or agreements, but begin today to keep the commandments of the Lord that he delivered by his own voice to his people, that you may be accounted faithful in all things.

 Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain [bring into your home] strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

And who knows but that the angel in disguise might be the Lord himself, seeing if you are one of his disciples.

The Second Comforter


JesusRedRobeJST John 14:15-24

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

What are his commandments? What are his words? What are his sayings?

The Paths of the Lord

JST Luke 6:20-49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends and Family

JST John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

JST Mark 3:28-30

28 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or who are my brethren?

29 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

30 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Calling and Election Made Sure


SpeakingWithTheLordI have been enjoying the dialog on Nate’s post, “The More Sure Word of Prophecy.” It has caused me to ponder the title phrase we often use to describe the sure feeling of knowing we have been sealed up unto eternal life, of knowing God’s love for us and His promise we shall come into His presence to dwell with Him forever. It is a sweet, peaceful, wonderful feeling.

Read Nate’s post for his comments on hearing the voice of God, and the importance of names, both of God and our own. Nate shares a personal experience in which he was called of the Lord, by his name. What a wonderful thing it is to realize the Lord knows you and knows your name. The idea of hearing the voice of God is found in Peter’s teachings, quoted here for reference:

2 Pet 1:16-21

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

“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: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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 Promises are Available to All

As I pondered that other phrase, the Lord reminded me of a recent request from another reader to provide feedback on a chapter of his forthcoming book – no name yet – that deals with this very subject of having one’s calling and election made sure. This is not a phrase that we use much in or out of the LDS Church these days, but it was once understood more clearly than we do now.

Peter clearly understood. He used it in 2 Pet 1:10 – “…give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall…” Who wouldn’t want that kind of promise, to never fall? Obviously, we would want to desire and understand the requirements to receive such a promise, for how many of us have experienced the opposite feeling of failure?

It’s best to read the preceding verses to understand what Peter meant by “these things.” It’s a nice checklist, for those who like such things, of what we must do or to which we must give diligence in order to make our calling and election sure. These verses tell us what the calling is that we have been given, and helps us understand what it is that we elect to do to receive glory.

2 Pet 1:2-8

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We Have Strayed From the Doctrine

We are called to glory and virtue. We elect to accept the calling when we do those things listed in these verses. This doctrine has been expounded by some of the great theologians of our day, such as Bruce R. McConkie, Marion G. Romney, LeGrand Richards and Joseph Fielding Smith. Actually, those were some of the theologians of my day. This doctrine isn’t taught much in the LDS Church any more. In fact, many LDS members consider it one of those mysteries to avoid.

Joseph Smith said the following about this doctrine in DHC 5:388-389: “Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure,”  and “After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins, and receives the Holy Ghost, which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.

“When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints,” and finally, “…I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy.”

This Doctrine is Intended for All

One of the difficulties of those who advocate “Follow the Prophet,” is they may not believe they can obtain this blessing for themselves. I have heard them say such a blessing is reserved only for the fifteen men who lead the LDS Church. This is false. I’m not saying it is a simple thing to obtain this promise, but I am saying it can be done, even by the least of the Saints, of which I am one. Even though I have left the LDS Church, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a Latter-day Saint.

Having one’s calling and election made sure is not the same as receiving the Second Comforter. It is also not the same as the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost. It is not the same as accepting and taking advantage of the Atonement through repentance. It is actively seeking to do the will of the Lord, accepting every test, no matter how strange or unusual it may seem, and doing what the Lord asks. I have often shared my example of being asked by the Lord to quit my good job.

The Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Sometime between that test in February of this year and what I consider the most difficult test, being asked by the Lord to resign my membership in the LDS Church, I received the promise of having my calling and election made sure. I did not even realize it until recently. You may think it is some grand and glorious event, and for some, it may be. But for me, it was a simply a quiet whispering of the spirit, in a moment of prayer, confirming I had received the promised blessing.

A few years ago, I purchased a book entitled, “The Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The author wished to remain anonymous and so used the name of Elliaison. You can still purchase the book at the website, www.elliaison.org. On page 60 and 61 is a very simple test one can use to determine if they have had their calling and election made sure. When I first took the test a few years ago, it was made clear to me I had not yet obtained the desired promise I sought.

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

As I was reviewing my friend’s chapter on the subject for his forthcoming book, he referred to a post in LDSFF entitled, “The Fastest Way to Make Your Calling and Election Sure.” It was then I remembered the booklet I had purchased that includes the same instructions. As I picked it up, a voice whispered to me, “Tim, you don’t even need to do the test. You already know.” I did it anyway. I knew. I just didn’t know I knew until I confirmed it with the Lord through this test.

I thought back, seeking greater detail on when it had occurred so I could pinpoint what I had done to obtain the blessing. I concluded, both through pondering and by asking the Lord for confirmation that it was sometime after the last meeting with my Bishop on August 24th and the day I resigned from the LDS Church on September 13th. Those four days between the Mesa lecture on September 9th and the day I resigned on September 13th were agonizing for me.

Then Shall Thy Confidence Wax Strong…

One part of me was screaming out, “How can you possibly resign your membership in this church to which you have given so much over so many years?” On the other hand, the spirit of the Lord was rehearsing that scene over and over in my mind, “This day is this commandment renewed in your ears.” I knew the Lord wanted me to be baptized. I wasn’t going to try to hide it from anyone. If it was the right thing to do, then I intended to tell the world about it on my blog.

Once I realized I had obtained the promised blessing, my prayers took on greater confidence and meaning. The feeling of being a partner with God became stronger. My desire to counsel with Him in all my doings became more profound. I found His interest in my activities, my concerns and my desires to be more acute. Perhaps it was that I had become more sensitive to His feelings, which had always been there, just beyond my level of appreciation. Life became more fulfilling.

Let No Man Come Between You and God

When I was a member of the LDS Church I would have thought to myself, “You had better go and check this with the Bishop or some other person of authority in the Church.” I pondered why I had that desire and had lived with it for so many years. It is wrong. I realize that now. It kept me from trusting the Lord. It was offensive to the Lord. It kept Him from revealing more things to me. The Lord has given me a great blessing. No man can ever take that away from me now.

I was born of the spirit when I was seventeen. I received visions from the Lord at that same young age in which I saw my life unfold before me. I have witnessed the fulfillment of part of those visions. I do not doubt the other parts will come to pass in the near future. I have now obtained the promise of Eternal Life in which I rejoice. My calling and election is made sure. I am now engaged in obtaining the promise of receiving the Second Comforter. It can be done.

I am a Witness It Can be Done

Why am I sharing this? I share this because I searched for many years in my youth and early service in the LDS Church for others who had obtained the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises. Perhaps I didn’t know anybody who had received such blessings, they weren’t sharing them, or they weren’t happening. It could have been a combination of all three. I’m now aware of dozens who have made their calling and election sure. They have shared their stories with me in private.

I share my witness in public because that it what I have offered to the Lord – my blog – and He accepted. I hope if you read this and wonder if such a blessing can be obtained that you will think deeply and carefully about what the Lord requires. The whole process is one of proving trust. Can the Lord trust you? If He asks you to so something that goes against all you think is logical or reasonable and yet you KNOW it is from the Lord, how will you respond? Ponder it.

There is Always More to Obtain

I know I have hardly begun to scratch the surface of sealing my connection to Heaven. I know there is much more required of me. I desire to see the face of the Lord. I desire to enter into His presence in this life. I desire to embrace Him, to converse with Him face to face as one man converses with another. I know I have much to do to repent, to change and to do before I can obtain that blessing and other spiritual gifts the Lord has promised me. Promises motivate me.

I know the Lord cannot lie. I have heard His voice. It is real. He has declared His love for me. I have been consumed with His love on occasion. He has asked things of me I cannot share. Not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t have the words to explain. Any attempt would be meaningless. As a wise man has said on several occasions, “You can’t claim to be anybody until you have accomplished the work the Lord sent you here to do.” I am nobody. Follow Christ.

A Multitude of Voices United as One


LargeChoirSome of you know I dedicated this blog to the Lord earlier this year. Prior to that time it was just another Mormon-themed blog. After that sacred moment in prayer, it became, at least for me, a consecrated effort to help fulfill the purposes of the Lord. I pray about every post and ask the Lord for inspiration in what I write, that it may be uplifting, helpful and encouraging to others.

Latter-day Commentary Now a Group Blog

Last month, Latter-day Commentary celebrated seven years as a solo blog by adding its first guest editor. Thus, it was reborn as a group blog. I imagine you’ve heard the expression, “the spirit pressed upon my soul.” That’s what’s been happening to me over the past little while. I have felt a constant impression to improve the blog by adding the voices of other contributors.

Competing with the Mormon Group Blogs

I have long resisted the idea, feeling no desire to compete with By Common Consent, Times & Seasons, Mormon Matters, Millennial Star, Mormon Mentality, FMH, Mormon StoriesWheat & Tares, Segullah and so many others. This doesn’t even include all the LDS Facebook Groups, especially The Hub, or the large religious themed blogs with Mormon contributors.

A few Boring Technical Details

One of the things I disliked about the free hosting service on WordPress.com was the inability to add any plugins. If you’re a WordPress blogger, you know how important plugins are. It requires a plugin to give readers the ability to edit their own comments, which I have now done. The only alternative is to make someone an editor. So I moved the blog off the free site and onto Bluehost.

Content AND Discussion Both Required

Yet even after I moved the blog, I could not shake the impression that maybe, just maybe, there are others out there who might want to join me in creating and sharing posts. Perhaps they have their own solo blog but would like a larger readership. Besides interesting content, a good blog needs SEO, design through themes and widgets, and time to read and comment on other blogs.

There are no Guarantees of Permanence

Because I believe the day will come when society breaks down and Babylonian commerce is no longer the driving force of this world, a blog is a temporary tabernacle. The threat of losing the Internet and electricity seems foreign here in America. Yet, the possibility of such loss is real. Thus the repository of my thoughts and your comments will always be of a temporary nature.

Blogging as a Personal Growth Process

Of course I hope such a catastrophic event will not happen in my lifetime, especially since I feel so unprepared both temporally and spiritually. In the meantime, my focus on writing and sharing in this blog as a vehicle for growth and change, has been a major blessing in my life, one which I desire to increase. In other words, I would like to have more people participate in blogging here.

An Open Invitation for Authors

In connection with this transition to a more robust version of the WordPress platform and the migration to a new hosting company, I hope some of the regular readers here will be desirous of sharing their own writings from time to time. Latter-day Commentary has a solid base of several thousand regular readers, many of whom consistently contribute with amazing, engaging dialog.

Non-exclusive Content is Welcome

Maybe you already have your own solo blogs. You don’t have to abandon that. I simply want to invite you to join with me in building a site where readers can feel safe and can connect with like thinkers in several key areas along some common themes. There is no commitment to how often you share something – one a month or several each week. It’s the dialog that makes a blog work.

A Blog is Not a Forum – It’s a Platform

Themes include the writings and lectures of Denver Snuffer, Current Events in the LDS Church, and discussion of deep gospel doctrine subjects such as Born of the Spirit, Calling and Election, Second Comforter, Visions, Dreams, Spiritual Gifts, Visits from Angels, Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon, Mormon History, ancient scripture, Last Days, the Building up of Zion and more.

United in Becoming a Zion Community

Maybe this is all a dream. To me, it’s a vision I have long held in my heart. I have seen the day when thousands upon thousands of consistent daily visitors come to Latter-day Commentary to learn about and discuss gospel principles that have one goal – to lead them to that meeting with the Savior in this life. I make no bones about it. That has become the focus of my life these days.

An Open, Self-Governed Community

Teach correct principles and they will govern themselves. I’m aware there are several other online communities, mostly forums, where like-minded people hang out. Many of them are private because the contributors are concerned their participation would not be understood by their family members, ward members or their priesthood leaders. I prefer open participation.

You are my Zion Community

In other words, I want to get to know you, to share with you in your spiritual growth. I don’t have a community. I attend Sacrament meeting with my wife each week, then go home and have my own sacrament, accompanied with gospel study and prayer. It is the highlight of my week. I won’t say I have entertained angels, but the worship service has been sacred and powerful to me.

And Their Numbers Were Few

I know communities have been organized and are doing well in the Utah, Idaho and Arizona centers of Mormonism. I’m aware of some in Colorado, Washington and a few back East. For some reason, there simply aren’t many here in Southern California who are close enough to meet on a regular basis. I’ll be traveling to Oceanside in a few weeks to meet with a community there.

Passing the Angels that Stand There

I’m looking for readers and authors who are not afraid to share their spiritual journeys. I want to read your stories of discovery, how you learned what the Lord required of you and how you met that intense commitment. Even though it is deeply personal and private, there are common steps we must go through to advance on Jacob’s ladder. I help you, you help me. We advance as one.

Coming into the Presence of the Lord

I know many of you are serious about coming into the presence of the Lord. I know some of you have already done so. I am aware of nearly a dozen now. This was unheard of just a few years ago. Maybe this has always been happening but individuals were forbidden to share. The saying is that by sharing, it cheapens the experience and breaks the trust between you and the Lord.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

Why do I feel different about that? I always have. If I come into the presence of the Lord, I want you to be the first to know. I want to share with you how it worked for me, the steps I had to take and what I had to do in order to qualify for this supernal gift. I’ve shared it before and I’ll share it again. One thing that changed for me in a big way since my baptism is hearing the Lord’s voice.

Sharing Spiritual Experiences

I’m a little naïve in how I share my experience, as evidenced by Daymon’s cute little response to my last post. That’s alright. I don’t mind. I know it sounds a little hokey. People just don’t talk about hearing the voice of the Lord. The common response is, “you’re crazy,” or “you’re hearing your own thoughts or the voice of devils.” I have received dozens of private emails like that.

Walking With the Lord Each Day

Yet the more I study and the more I pray, the more I ask to know, the more I hear His voice. I can tell you it is real. He is real. I feel like I am walking with the Lord every day. I feel He is patiently waiting for me. He is guiding me along, helping me see where I need to do better in this area or that, mainly in being more loving and kind to others. Long-suffering is real for both of us.

Openness is Enabling and Powerful

Such openness and desire to share seems foreign to so many in the LDS Church. The constant focus is, “keep it to yourself.” My friend Log observed how happy I have been since my baptism. He said I was clearly acting oppressed before I resigned. I had not noticed it. I thought I was trying to fit in, to conform, to be just like everyone else and stick to the correlated material.

Opposing Views are Welcome

I have dozens or regular readers who have been with me since my early TBM days where I was defending the orthodox interpretations of scripture and history. I know Zion consists of those who are of one heart and mind but we’re not there yet. I know I have a long ways to go. I have always appreciated opposing viewpoints. If you’re not a fan of Denver I invite you to join in.

Persuasion is a Tool of the Lord

We all know contention is of the devil, but there is nothing wrong with reading a good argument and using persuasion to help others see the benefits and blessings of a certain point of view. I’ve read thousands of posts and essays on hundreds of blogs and forums over the past twenty years since my early days in participating in online Mormon mailing lists originating on BYU servers.

Come Join With Me on the Journey

What say ye? Will you join me? WordPress supports multiple levels of participation: Contributor, Author, Editor and Administrator. I’ll retain the Admin role for now. The editor role is very powerful. I hope to add more trusted editors who can contribute their own posts and moderate the dialog. Sometimes it can get a little out of hand in the space of a few minutes of discussion.

Communities Can Be Online

I invite us each to focus on coming onto Christ. Mighty prayer, offered in faith, will get the attention of heaven. Many prophets worked alone by necessity – Abinidi, Moroni, Ezekiel – but we live in a day and time when we can connect via the Internet even though we may be far apart. Will you join my community and help me build it up with the purpose of preparing for Zion?

Unite our Voices on Common Ground

Come and join. Even if you are totally opposed to all things Denver Snuffer has written, that’s okay. We have the common ground of coming unto Christ. We have the common ground of the Book of Mormon, of the revelations and prophecies of Joseph Smith and the common ground of prayer, worship of a loving and kind Father in Heaven and of a hope for salvation from our sins.

How to Get Started

If you’ve never commented here before, I’ll set you up as a contributor where I review and then release your posts. If you’re a regular reader / commenter I know, I can add you as an author. You can then post whenever you want. I only ask that you write in such a way as to invite dialog. Eventually I hope you’ll have so much fun with the community that you should be an editor.

Friends to Encourage and Help You

Salvation is an individual thing. We pass through the veil only one person at a time, usually in the privacy of our own home. It is a sacred experience. The road can be long and hard. The Lord requires obedience, sacrifice and consecration. Disciples of Christ place Him first in their lives. Once you enter into His presence, your ability to bless and lift others is magnified and sanctified.

An Assignment From the Lord

This is my assignment. I have received it from the Lord. He has asked me to do this. He has prepared me for this. A lifetime of working with and supporting technology is no coincidence. This is my offering to the Lord, which He already accepted. I invite you to share this ministry with me. I take great delight in sharing my journey and reading of your successes in return.

The Time Feels Short to Many

God bless us all. We do not know how much time is left to take advantage of technology to work together in building Zion. Many of you have told me of dreams and visions where you know, as do I, that the time is short. We feel pressed in the spirit that something is on its way. The Lord has sent His messenger to prepare the way. There is work to do in preparing for Zion among us.

One of the Definitions of Zion

And there were no poor among them. I like to think that means not just those who are no longer poor as to the necessary things of this world, but also no poor in spirit. Each of us is at different levels. But ones thing in common is our covenant to help and lift each other. Don’t come to the blog to fight and argue or prove a point. Come here to help others understand the truths of God.

The Blog Will Go On

I’ve said enough. I’ll just throw this out there and see how you respond. If nobody cares to be a guest blogger for a day or two, that’s okay. I’ll keep pressing forward. I find great joy in the experience. My every day is spent pondering on what the Lord would have me focus next. I learn best by sharing. If I can’t teach a principle then I haven’t learned it. Thanks for helping me learn.

The Facebook Group Goes On

If you prefer the dialog that takes place in private on the Facebook group, that’s fine too. If you’re not a member, just ask to join. Wonderful conversations take place there each day. There are about 225 participants there. The most readers I’ve ever had in one day here is about 6,000. The majority do not comment. That’s okay. I appreciate the visits. I hope they learn something.

Tim Malone, Camarillo CA – tmalonemcse at gmail.com, 818-257-0513 (text first)

Looking Beyond the Mark


HebrewTav1It the LDS Church today, we often hear the phrase, “Looking Beyond the Mark.” Those who read the scriptures know this comes from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. This is a uniquely LDS phrase, not found in the Bible. Jacob was teaching the people about Christ, who, of course, is the mark in question. Keep that in mind. Christ is the mark, not the LDS Church.

Anything that causes you to look past Christ for salvation is looking beyond the mark. Anything that takes you away from coming unto Christ is looking beyond the mark. Anyone who stands in between you and your Savior can cause you to look beyond the mark. Anything, any system, any person or any church that purports to be able to save you is deflecting your view from the mark.

From this verse, sermons have been preached, lessons have been written, actions have been justified and individuals have been condemned. Ironically, when someone focuses on coming unto Christ, and doing all within their power to respond to the promptings of the spirit, others may perceive them as engaging in a gospel hobby, accusing them of looking beyond the mark.

Here is the verse in question:

“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)

Elder Cook spoke about this subject. He said, “Today there is a tendency among some of us to ‘look beyond the mark’ rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths, engage in gospel extremism, seek heroic gestures at the expense of daily consecration, or elevate rules over doctrine. Avoiding these behaviors will help us avoid the theological blindness and stumbling that Jacob described.”

Most Apostles Understand the Doctrine

Elder Cook got it … sort of. I like the phrase “maintain a testimony of gospel basics,” but I’m fairly certain he would not discount these words from Joseph when he said, “I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.” (TPJS, p 299)

Roy Doxy, when he was dean emeritus of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University taught this important doctrine in the July 1976 Ensign. This one article alone answered so many questions for me back when I preparing for my mission. I have treasured it and wondered why we have not had more articles, talks or lessons like this in our correlated instructional material.

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/07/accepted-of-the-lord-the-doctrine-of-making-your-calling-and-election-sure?lang=eng

The reason I think Elder Cook understands this doctrine is because he clearly points out the mark is Christ. It is only the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of Christ that saves. Elder Cook concluded, “One of the great challenges of this life is to accept Christ for who He is: the resurrected Savior of the world, our Redeemer, our Lord and Master, our Advocate with the Father.

“When He is the foundation for all that we do and are, we avoid the theological blindness that results from looking beyond the mark, and we reap the glorious blessings He has promised us. ‘Come unto me, ye blessed,’ He tells those who follow Him; ‘there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father’ (Enos 1:27).”

Source: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/03/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

The Doctrine Has Been Watered Down

Elder Dean Larson spoke on the same subject back in 1987. He used a sports analogy to describe the importance of staying within the circle, which he called the mark. Although He noted the importance of faith in the redeeming role of the Messiah, he said the mark was wisdom and prudence, equating it to a circle of fundamental gospel truths, providing a basis for that faith. I wish he had been as plain as Elder Cook in stating Christ is the mark to whom we should look.

Source: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

For a good, although lengthy analysis of the phrase, Paul Y. Hoskisson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, published an essay in 2007 that includes the classic symbolic themes and metaphors of gospel hobbies, sin, pride, wealth, and strengths that become weakness (see Elder Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU, June 1992). In other words, anything that distracts from the target, or the mark of Christ, is to be avoided.

Source: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selected-articles/looking-beyond-mark

From Matthew Faulconer’s blog, “Feast Upon the Word,” we read:

“…looking beyond Christ could mean a number of things. It could imply that one is looking to be saved by actions, ordinances, or even associations with other people, rather than looking to the atonement of Jesus Christ for salvation. One reason it may be easy to look beyond the mark in this sense is that it is easier to gain an assurance of our salvation through a tangible feeling or action rather than a quiet voice or a small feeling that takes time to understand.”

Source: http://feastupontheword.org/Jacob_4:1-18

Some Doctrines Take More Study and Thought

Elder Oaks offered the following in a BYU Idaho devotional 7 Nov 2006:

“My second subject of wisdom concerns looking beyond the mark. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Jacob described a people who ‘despised the words of plainness, . . . and sought for things . . . they could not understand’ (Jacob 4:14).  He said this caused them to fall because when persons are ‘looking beyond the mark,’ God takes away plainness and gives them what they sought–things they cannot understand.

“We see this today. For example, some persons write General Authorities asking when we will be returning to Missouri or how we should plan to build up the New Jerusalem.  Others want to know details about the Celestial Kingdom, such as the position of a person who lives a good life but never ever marries.

“I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. What I do know is that persons worrying about such things are probably neglecting to seek a firmer understanding and a better practice of the basic principles of the gospel that have been given to them with words of plainness by the scriptures and by the servants of the Lord

“If we neglect the words of plainness and look beyond the mark, we are starting down a path that often leads to a loss of commitment and sometimes to a loss of faith. There is enough difficulty in following the words of plainness, without reaching out for things we have not been given and probably cannot understand.”

Source: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2006_11_07_Oaks.htm

Seeking the Second Comforter IS the Mark

I think that’s enough detail from words of prophets, apostles, general authorities and scriptural commentary to make a point. I won’t get into the other common definition of the mark, as found in Ezekiel 9:4-6. It is the mark or anointing placed in the forehead of suffering saints who sigh and cry for the sins of those in their cities. The mark is placed there by their attending angels.

The point is this: Seeking to enter into the presence of the Lord in this mortal life is NOT looking beyond the mark. It is NOT a gospel hobby. It is NOT gospel extremism. Seeking to receive the Second Comforter is NOT something of which we need to repent. It is something we need to do. It is not spiritual blindness. It is having one’s eyes opened. The Lord is not saddened by our efforts in this area, even when they are misunderstood and result in being disciplined by others.

I suspect when scriptures or doctrines are understood differently by individuals, the tendency is to say the other person is suffering from “blindness [that] came from looking beyond the mark.” It’s a polite way of throwing one’s hands up in the air, saying, “You don’t get it, do you? Why can’t you see it the same way I do? Oh, I get it. You’re blinded. You refuse to see the truth.” With such thinking, they go on their way, feeling secure and justified in their own conclusions.

Discussion versus Contention

That’s a sad way of relating to others. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to understand the other’s point of view? I confess I have been guilty of impatience in relating to others, both in person and here on my blog. For that I apologize. I love discussion, but abhor contention. I am a witness that contention causes the spirit to withdraw. So does taking offense. I’m preaching to myself here.

Most of my readers know I have withdrawn my membership from the LDS Church. I’ve tried to share my reasons why. I’ve had my share of public and private dialogs and conversations about my decision. Most have tried to be understanding and kind. I appreciate that. I don’t endorse my path for anyone unless God tells you. I received that confirmation as the best for my situation.

If I come to regret my decision, feel I’ve made a mistake and desire to be readmitted by baptism to the LDS Church, I must receive approval of a representative of the First Presidency, this even though I was not placed under formal probation before I resigned. This is understandable. In my blog, I have been clear I felt the Lord sent a servant with a message from outside the hierarchy.

Concluding Thoughts Going Forward

I seek to come unto Christ. I made a decision to be baptized in a manner that is slightly different from the way it is done in the LDS Church today. I also decided to participate in the sacrament in a slightly different manner from the way it is administered in the LDS Church today. Finally, I practice an order of prayer learned in a sacred place that I feel brings more power into my life.

I like to think I have kept all the good things I had in the LDS Church. I have disagreements with the manner in which the church is trying to control those who blog as a way of learning things. I am certain of the path I have chosen. Much like Brigham Young, I studied it for years before I acted. I take that back. I acted the first night I read the message. I prayed and asked God about it.

I recognize what I have done is unusual, different, unorthodox and certainly not the path that is accepted by the LDS Church. Thus, I resigned, knowing I would eventually be excommunicated. Why? Because I will not, I cannot deny what I have learned through study and prayer. Many claim I have been deceived. Perhaps. We shall see. I thank you for your prayers in my behalf.

 

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