“And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”

Every one of us needs to be challenged.  None of us should be complacent about how we live, the words we speak or write, and the thoughts we entertain.  If this blog does not stir you up and make you reconsider what you are doing and how you are living your life everyday, then it is a waste of time.  If I am not personally challenging you, then I am not worth taking the time to read.
It is a doctrine of the devil to tell you that “all is well.”  (2 Ne. 28: 20-21.) The obligation of any true messenger is to continually cry repentance. Satan employs ministers to satisfy itching ears with a smooth message.  (2 Tim. 4: 3.)  They lead people carefully down to hell.  The Lord commissions His messengers to deliver the opposite message. If I am really engaged in working for Him, then the words should challenge, even offend you.
Only fools think there are institutional prerogatives that entitle people to God’s favor.  There is no magic ordinance. There is no certificate that can be issued to you or your group, by any person or institution, that entitles you to enter heaven. It does not exist. Those who believe there is some institutional voodoo that will guarantee you entrance into heaven are sadly mistaken.
Assume for a moment that you have indeed been given by the Father the promise of eternal life, what then?  Are you entitled to rest while all around you the world is filled with unsaved souls?  (Alma 13: 12.) Does such a promise remain yours if you do not labor all your remaining days to cry repentance and bring others to the tree of life so they may partake?  Having entered into the Lord’s “rest,” does not the heir then owe it to everyone else they meet for the remainder of their lives to bring them with them?  (D&C 18: 15.)
There is no hour here when we are not in jeopardy.  (1 Cor. 15: 30.)

So when you read something on this blog or in a book I have written which challenges you, brings you up short, or makes you think that I may be speaking about you, then I have succeeded.  On the other hand, if you believe you are justified by what you read here, then you miss entirely the obligation incumbent on both of us.

We all need to repent. If the Lord has extended to you the promise of eternal life, then you have moved to another plane of growth and challenge. That great promise opens the door for you to struggle and grow in your comprehension of what He has done.  You still must learn how to exercise the new prerogatives given to you in the proper way. The challenges will not relent. We are designed for growth. It will not come to an end in this life. It is to prepare us for something far greater. (D&C 132: 20.)  We must become as He is to be like Him.  (1 John 3: 1-3.)

Christ’s Ministry

We have an account of Christ’s “ministry” to the Nephites beginning in chapter 11 of 3 Nephi and continuing through the 28th chapter.  During the ministry Christ instructed, performed ordinances, (including the sacrament) blessed, healed, taught from scriptures, provided prophecy, and extended the promise of exaltation to many, including the Twelve He called.  The full extent of what He did became so sacred that the account is interrupted and we are told that it was not lawful to put it into writing.  (See, e.g., 3 Ne. 17: 15-16; 26: 16; and 27: 23.)


Now, if you can take all that in, (and it is worth careful consideration to make sure you get the point) then you can begin to understand this statement recorded by Moroni about the visit between Christ and the Brother of Jared:

“And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites. And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.” (Ether 3: 17-18.)


When Moroni wrote this it was nearly 400 years after Christ’s ministry to the Nephites. When he wrote this Moroni:

1.  Had the records of Christ’s ministry before him.

2.  Had been personally visited by Christ.  (Ether 12: 39.)

3.  He also had personally been visited by the three Nephite disciples who were there when Christ appeared and called them as His witnesses. (Mormon 8: 10-11.)

4.  Had the entire Jaredite record before him, including the portion that he would not translate due to its sacred character.  (Ether 4: 5-7.)


When Moroni says that Christ “ministered” to the Brother of Jared “as He ministered unto the Nephites” this is more than just an appearance.  It is more than just a conversation, with the Lord showing Himself to the man. It is more than merely giving the man an understanding that He lives, that He is the Redeemer and Savior.  It would include the same kind of ministry as was had among the Nephites.


I believe the Lord’s ministry in any age is the same.  As the Redeemer, determined to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, (Moses 1: 39) it would only make sense that He would be determined to have those who receive Him be redeemed, promised eternal life, and instructed sufficiently to enter into their exaltation.  This is why Christ says that He and the Father will “take up our abode with” such men.  (John 14: 23.)  That “abode” is the Father’s House.  More plainly, it is the Father’s family.  It is to become His son, begotten by the Father.  Sonship requires initiation, and Christ’s ministry would include all the required promises, rites and teachings to allow the person to lay claim upon eternal life.

Gifts come from God

Question:

“In these days there are many holistic healing arts that area coming forward. EFT (tapping), angel therapy and readings, chakra work, Reiki, aura work, energy work, etc., etc. Are these gifts of the spirit? Are they gifts of the “right” spirit:) When someone is working with you on correcting old belief systems from childhood and they say they had a dream that might be relevant, should you trust that.? What do you feel about people who do angel readings? How can you discern so as not to be deceived or lead down an incorrect path. Many people who do this kind of work are not LDS…are they entitled to gifts of the spirit? Sometimes I have seen LDS people get involved with these modalities and leave the church or become inactive….others remain very faithful. I sometimes feel that people should be able to go to the source of all healing directly… Christ…. and bypass these types of healings. But then again, sometimes I think perhaps people need these modalities to help remove blocks of low self-worth and self condemnation that block them from going directly to Christ for feelings of unworthiness and believing that Christ can heal them. I remember Jeffery Holland in a conference of the last couple of years say, “Christ can heal you and he can do it now!” (not his exact words). Anyway, I have wondered about this for a long long time. I hope you give me your opinion.

First, as to gifts:
I believe there are “gifts” given (or acquired) by people which are based on real sensitivities or talents. I believe they exist as part of the talents brought into this life. Some people have talent to sing, compose music, or create art. There are those who have developed spiritual gifts.  There are many kinds of gifts, but they all come from God.  (Moroni 10: 8.)

Possession of a gift, however, does not mean a person will use that gift in conformity with God’s will or plan. If a person does not seek to follow the Lord’s will, they can be misled and use gifts for improper ends. People who fail to remain obedient, who begin to use their gifts to gratify their pride or to achieve their ambitions can drift away from the light and take others with them. Just because a person possesses a gift does not mean they live their lives in conformity to truth.  Nor does it mean they will not mislead you.  Proper use of a gift should show gratitude to and promote faith in God.  (D&C 20: 27.)

Second, as to modalities:
I do think that there are aids to faith that can help someone who is weak to still act in faith.  Modalities that focus thought, bolster confidence and assist in believing the Lord can heal can aid in the process. In the end it is the authority of God and faith in Him that allows good things to follow. It comes from Him. If an act helps focus thought and confidence in Him, then the act is worthwhile.

The problems creep in when the modality is regarded as an independent authority apart from God. As soon as a person begins to view God as uninvolved, or that they can control the outcome independent of God’s will, there is an opening for evil or deception.  Gifts were not intended to produce a monetary profit and should not be practiced for money.  (Acts 8: 20.)

Gifts belong to the body of believers and should be used to promote faith in God.  (D&C 46: 10, 26.)

Be still and know that I am God

It is apparent from emails sent to the blog that some readers refuse to study carefully either the scriptures or what I have written.  I will make yet another attempt to explain some important distinctions.

There is a difference between testifying that some principle is true and teaching others how to follow the principle, and discussing details of personal experiences which are not going to be meaningful and are not appropriate.

There are reasons why intimate details of temple ordinances are guarded by covenants they will not be revealed. It is true those covenants have been violated by many people. Some people have decided to reject what was offered, make themselves liars, and treat with contempt what should have been treated with care. All of that is between them and the Lord, with whom they made the covenant.  Their violation of a trust does not detract one bit from the power of covenants kept by others.

We are not responsible for how others behave when they receive something that ought to be treated as sacred.  We are all only accountable for how we individually treat such things.

It is appropriate for anyone to testify to the truth, that the Lord lives, and that He has and still does minister to men in the flesh. It is appropriate to explain that those blessings are predicated upon the same conditions for any person who will follow the law upon which such blessings are predicated. It is appropriate to explain what those conditions or laws are. It is appropriate to gather together in one continuous discussion the diverse elements scattered throughout the scriptures and put them into one convenient discussion of the whole. I have done that.

What is not important for anyone to know is the details of what goes on in a meeting between God and one with whom He deigns to appear. Joseph Smith for example remarked, concerning the First Vision, “many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”  JS-H 1: 20.

Repeatedly the Book of Mormon draws a line and says that things were “not lawful” for man to write.  See, e.g., 1 Ne. 14: 28; 3 Ne. 26: 16; 3 Ne. 27: 23; Ether 4: 1, Ether 13: 13.  A person who does not understand the difference between the line that must be drawn and why it exists simply is not prepared to receive with gratitude what the Lord is offering.

The riches of eternity are offered by the Lord to you and each of you directly. It does not come from learning “secrets” from someone else. It comes by following the path. You do not need anything more than a description of the path. Follow it. Until you follow it, the heavens will remain shut against you. As soon as you follow it, you will have the results you would like to have.

Curiosity about sacred details that the scriptures repeatedly warn are not lawful to put into writing here in this fallen world, reveals an immaturity that should be overcome. If you want the details, learn them from the Lord. Directly. Without an intermediary. Teachers are commissioned by the Lord to reiterate the path by which they are to be obtained.  He does not send someone to do the work for you. Indeed, you either do the work for yourself or it remains undone – forever.

It is clear that some who want the most revealed to them are the ones who have not yet read what I’ve written. You simply continue to ask and ask again. Study what I’ve written carefully and anyone will find it is all there. Several people have done so, and have received the promised results. But they took care and devoted careful, solemn and ponderous thought to the matters set out in what I have written. That is what the writings were intended to produce, and why they were commissioned to be written by the Lord. I know that the process is true, because I have lived it. I know that the descriptions provided in my writings are sufficient, because they have produced results akin to my own. You do not need more details from me. You need to take seriously what I’ve already written.  Actually, you don’t even need that. What I have written is taken from the scriptures, primarily the Book of Mormon. If you understood the scriptures you wouldn’t even need what I’ve written.  I have only been instructed in how to bring the process together in a convenient single narrative, building line upon line to a whole.

Careful, solemn and ponderous thought is what is needed. Not frantic, exasperated and impatient demanding that someone tell you something right now that will fix what is amiss in your life. Such frantic conduct is likely to yield nothing.

I hope this aids in understanding what is appropriate and what is over the line. If you want to know all the mysteries of God, He is willing to reveal them. Not to the impatient, demanding and immature. But to those who develop a firm mind in every form of godliness, including patience, persistence, faith and sacrifice.  (Moroni 7: 30.)  These things are not won cheaply.  But they are won.

I think the words “be still and know that I am God” are more than just an admonition to ‘shut-up.’  (D&C 101: 16.)  I think it is a formula. Let your anxieties pass over you. Leave them. Be calm. In the great calm of pondering over what He has given to you, you will “know” Him.  Therefore, if you would like to know God, then ponder deeply and meditate on the things He has already given to you.  (See e.g., D&C 138: 11; JS-H 1: 12; 1 Ne. 11: 1 and Helaman 10: 2-4.)  This is how Joseph Smith received the First Vision, Joseph F. Smith saw the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead, Nephi saw in vision the Lord, and Nephi son of Helaman would receive his calling and election.  I can’t give you a formula, I can’t recite any additional vision and I can’t tell you about any visitation I have had that will absolve you of following the process by which God has become known to all those who have come to know Him since the time of Adam.  All I can do is testify that the same path is open to everyone. But only on the same condition as it is available to all.

Keys and assignments

….For the benefit of a worthy inquirer, who has the right to know:

_____________________________________

Keys are related to assignments given. When the church gives someone an assignment, they receive the keys associated with performing the assignment. For example, when an Elder’s Quorum President is called, he receives the keys to preside over the Quorum. With those keys the President has the large assignment (making the Quorum function) and is entitled to the smaller or more detailed assistance from the Lord to serve each quorum member’s needs.

If the President neglects his duties, despite the fact that the authority is conferred upon him, he lacks the power associated with the assignment. His keys become thereby wasted or lost.

Keys, however, are not limited to the church giving an assignment. When the Lord gives an assignment, commission or commandment to a person by His own voice, then the Lord similarly gives to the person the keys to accomplish the assignment, commission or commandment. By acting consistent with the duty devolving upon him, the man receives not only the larger assignment, but also the inspiration to accomplish the smaller or more detailed activities related to the assignment given to him.

An example from Nephi illustrates the point. Nephi was commanded to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 8.) Nephi needed direction and instruction to accomplish the task given to him. Since he possessed the keys to accomplish the work, the direction was forthcoming from the Lord as it was needed and as Nephi inquired to obtain it.  (1 Ne. 17: 9-10.)  In the process of asking and receiving direction as he fulfilled the assignment, Nephi learned other, greater things as well.  (1 Ne. 18: 2-3.)

Nephi saw in the assignment (keys) he had been given a direct relationship between fulfilling the assignment to build a ship and Moses’ commission (keys) to deliver Israel from bondage. He used Moses as an example to his brothers to justify how the Lord could assign someone as untrained as Nephi to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 23-43.)  It was an appropriate example. It illustrates how once the Lord gives an assignment to a man, the Lord entrusts the keys and provides the inspiration to accomplish the assignment.

Similarly, all the prophets who have been sent to warn Israel in any generation have been given the keys from God to accomplish their assignment. Even among people who no longer held such authority, the Lord would directly ordain those He commissioned during the Old Testament times.  (TPJS p. 181.)

When the church builds a temple and calls a temple president the one called to preside over the temple is the only one who can organize and run the temple. He has the keys and should be respected. Anyone who has an assignment or keys conferred upon them, by the church or by the Lord, has an assignment that should be respected.

Nephi’s brothers and the royal court of King Noah all learned that it simply wasn’t possible to terminate the mission of someone holding keys before they finished their assignment.  (For Nephi, see 1 Ne. 17: 48-55.  For Abinadi see Mosiah 13: 2-5.)  Of course, once the assignment given the man has been completed, they are as vulnerable to destruction at the hands of enemies as anyone else.  (Mosiah 17: 20; D&C 135: 4.)

When someone receives an assignment, and fulfills it with honor, they hold the keys of that assignment to all eternity.  (D&C 128: 21.)  They are expected to come to the great meeting when keys are returned to Adam and then, in turn, to Christ, preliminary to His return as the One whose right it is to preside over all things.  (TPJS p. 157.)

I suppose the best way to be invited to that meeting would be to obtain a key from the Lord, perform in strict conformity to the assignment He gives you, and become thereby entitled to return that key in the great assembly.

_______________________________________

….For the rest, I’m not sure if this post will have any meaning.

O that I had repented

National debt is nearly the entire annual gross domestic product.

The banking crisis in Europe is threatening to spread, and the US has committed billions to help prop up the imbalanced European socialist-democracies.

The money supply is shrinking at a rate comparable only to the years leading into the Great Depression.

I am reminded of the Nephites when they were denounced with these words:

“O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?  Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity. And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.” (Hel. 13: 29-31.)

As our own riches become “slippery” so that we cannot hold onto them, I think we get a taste of what the Nephites were allowed to experience because they could not distinguish between those who taught the truth and those who merely led them about while blind.

The prophecy continued with these additional words of wise, and still relevant counsel:

“And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts. And then shall ye lament, and say: O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.  Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.  O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.  Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days. But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words!” (Hel. 13: 32-39.)

As always, the Book of Mormon remains the keystone of our religion.  A person can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than through any other book.

I don’t think Joseph Smith wrote it.  I think he translated it.  I think it contains wisdom from an earlier, failed civilization that once inhabited this land.  I think their lessons should not be forgotten by us.  Because when we fail to learn them by precept, then we get to learn them by experience.  And some of their experiences were quite difficult.

The arm of flesh

When the church commissions an opinion poll and then, as a result of that poll, concludes that some program or position is popular, or would be accepted by the Saints without complaint – and then adopt that position in a public statement – has a “revelation” been received? I do not think so. I think an opinion has been obtained, and a policy or statement has been adopted.  Therefore, I do not think there is one thing wrong with disagreeing with the policy or statement.

When the church endorses something or some position, I do not think it is right to simply “fall in line” behind the statement without also thinking the same issue through and reaching my own conclusion.  The first question I ask myself is what the statement is, and does it imply a revelation from the Lord.

I can think of two examples.  One was a public announcement that was heralded in the press. The other was the subject of a letter from the First Presidency read in sacrament meetings.

The public announcement was regarding the housing and employment of homosexuals in Salt Lake City, using the force of government sanction to prevent an employer or owner of property from refusing to grant equal access or rights to homosexuals.  I’ve previously commented here in a critical way about that announcement.  This is an example of how I view things.

Since the church’s position on the matter had absolutely nothing to do with revelation, and the church did not make any attempt to claim the position came through revelation, I do not believe it is immune from question or criticism.  Indeed, the defense of the policy to the press involved a public relations/opinion poll driven justification.  It was expected to “resonate on the basis of fairness” with all those in the middle, and only offend those at the two ends of the spectrum.  This is opinion gathering to inform a position, then announcing the position because of the results of opinion gathering.  It is what a politician or a marketing firm would do.  It is not at all akin to a revelation, and should not command my respect.  I am under no obligation to alter my view based on what the church’s opinion gathering has concluded.  If that were the case, then the church’s ability to control everyone’s thinking would be based only upon prevailing opinion at the moment.  This is the “tossed about by every wind” concern which Paul addressed in one of his letters.  (Eph. 4: 14.)  Shifting opinion is not revelation.  I am free to point it out, disagree with it, and explain my contrary view.

Another example is the letter from the First Presidency asking speakers in sacrament meetings to no longer ask those in attendance to open their scriptures.  No explanation was provided in the letter.  It was just an instruction to the Saints to no longer let sacrament meeting speakers tell those in the meeting to open their scriptures and read along. Perhaps it was as a result of someone being irritated by the noise of rustling scriptures.  Perhaps it was someone with a hearing aid, whose aid frequency was tuned to pick up the rustling so well that it drowned out the rest of the speaker’s voice.  Perhaps it was because the meeting got delayed and disrupted by the folks struggling to find their scriptures, and open them up to the relevant page.  I can’t say for certain.  But I did raise my eyebrows when the letter was read in advance to the High Council.

My candid reaction to that letter was that it diminished the office of those who signed the letter by the petty micro-managing of opening the scriptures during a sacrament gathering.  I wondered in amazement that someone in the Church Office Building got the First Presidency to sign such a letter.  I wondered at how, with all that threatens us today, opening scriptures in order to read along in sacrament meetings managed to become so important that the First Presidency would write and send a letter worldwide to be read in the stakes and wards.  It was perplexity on stilts.

Beyond that my approach has been twofold:  First, I have NEVER asked anyone to open their scriptures in a sacrament meeting since then.  However, I have said in talks during sacrament that “I cannot ask you to open your scriptures and read along” in order to call attention to the policy.  I have also said, when teaching outside of sacrament meetings, that I was free to ask them to read along in their scriptures “because we are not in a sacrament meeting.”  I do this to call attention to the policy.  I think to call attention to it is to cause people to wonder at the pettiness and inconsequential nature of a letter from the First Presidency addressing the opening of scriptures in sacrament meeting.

These are just two examples.  There are many.  As I have said before, I pay very close attention to the church, what is said and done, and how relevant or irrelevant some position, letter, emphasis or program is in an absolute sense.  I try to take it all in and reach my own conclusions.  Looking at it all, I am quite concerned.  Faithful, tithe paying and active, nevertheless quite concerned.

I believe if enough people were similarly concerned that eventually the “opinion polling” might obtain reasonable results.  That is, the top would hear about reasonable concerns and learn of reasonable opinions, and then promulgate policies and send out statements accordingly.  That, however, will require a great effort to call attention to the things that matter most, and clarity in pointing out the things that do not matter at all. We fret over trifles while things are burning down all around us.  I wonder how long it will take for the polling to inform the Saints of the fire burning around them.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers