Building Bridges – A Letter to Catherine

bridge 4There has been some discussion lately in the social media circles that I follow about building bridges.  These are bridges that would help bridge the gaps between “free range” Mormons (that’s such a great name, Charlotte) and traditional Mormons, and between Mormons and Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical Christians.  I don’t think it’s an accident that such discussions are taking place.  I think it’s a natural progression.  At first, there was mourning.  Now, perhaps, the time has come for healing.

Today was my last day of work.  I’m not sure how this is supposed to affect me.  I’m sure it will sink in as the days go by.  Will there be mourning?

At my last customer assignment, there was a lady (and I do mean “lady”) who was born in Ghana (West Africa) who just shines.  She’s very sweet and “bright”, and we made a connection right away.  When I told her about my impending “retirement” and subsequent adventure, she started asking questions.  Ultimately, she said she’d like to read my blog.  Well, I couldn’t just spring all that on her without at least some sort of an explanation as to the paradigm from which I write, so I felt to offer a more in-depth introduction.  The following letter was the result.  After I wrote it, I realized that this was my first attempt to put the afore-mentioned spirit of healing into action. Therefore I share it.  I hope and pray there will be many more letters like this – letters of explanation, understanding, and invitation that will flow between people who choose to love Christ and/or to love and respect each other in spite of their differences.



Thank you for your kindness and encouragement.  Everyone in the world wants to feel special, and you have a knack for making others feel special.  That’s a talent that I, also, seek to nurture.

Per your request, I’m going to share several of my blog posts below, but before you read them, I should provide a little context:

I’m very “Mormon” – even though I’ve left the LDS church.  Why do I say this? Because almost all of my writing, and the motivation behind what I’m doing after I retire, has to do with my religion – which boils down to a powerful belief in, and desire to become one with, Christ.Moyie River bridge

How are Mormons different from other “faiths”?  Well, besides the culture and jargon that are immediately recognizable to most Mormons, (but which will likely be misunderstood by most everybody else), theologically we believe that the world has been given scripture other than the Bible – namely the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.  I firmly believe that these writings are the word of God and therefore scriptural.  I give them the place of scripture in my life.  They witness mightily of Christ, but they are not just duplicates of the Bible. If they were a duplication of the Bible, there would be no need for them.  Some may say that they contradict the Bible.  I have not found that to be the case at all.  Since they’re not a duplication, and if they don’t contradict, that implies that they supplement the Bible, and that, in turn, implies that they teach things about God and Christ and their relationship with man that may not be readily discerned by reading the Bible alone.  In other words, they expound and expand on doctrines that are perhaps less clear in the Bible than they are in these other scriptures.

One of those doctrines has to do with Zion.  The bible talks about Zion a lot, but few understand what Zion really is.  Most people think that Zion refers to Jerusalem.  Although the Lord attempted many times to establish Zion “in the tops of the mountains”, mostly with the Israelites and later the Jews, they always rebelled and tried to do things their own way – so Zion was never established.  Well, actually, that’s not true.  These other scriptures – the Mormon canon – make it clear that Zion was established at least once – and that by a descendant of Adam named Enoch – who is mentioned fleetingly in the book of Genesis, chapter 5.  The “Zion”, or city, that he established was actually taken by the Lord into the heavens. “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Crazy, I know – but I believe that somehow this actually happened.

bridge1So – what IS Zion?  Zion is a society where all things are had in common, and the inhabitants are “pure in heart” (think about what that really means for a minute), with no guile, no jealousies, no fears.  I am including a talk I gave last spring that addresses this.  Utopia is probably a word that would give you an idea of what I mean by Zion, but Zion is really much more than that.  Furthermore – the post below about sacrifice suggests that anything we depend on other than Christ (consider the lilies) prevents us from becoming one with Him.  I personally believe that in Zion we will not be dependent upon anything but Him.

I further believe that Zion is at the heart of the entire history of the relationship between God and Man – from Adam and Eve to the present day.  If you read the Bible in this context, the doctrine fairly leaps from the pages.  The Lord has essentially kept saying, “This is what I created you for – try it, you’ll like it“, but we keep saying, “But it won’t work” and we turn our collective backs on Him.  This rebellion is the result of our unbelief – our lack of faith. The Bible calls this having “stiff necks”. Isaiah is especially good at describing how this dynamic affects, even to this day, the man-God relationship.

I believe Zion can work. I believe it MUST work, before Christ will return to this earth, because He must have a place to come to, and He cannot come to the world as it is.   It will take extraordinary effort – humility, charity, faith, trust, righteousness, purity, virtue – all the great virtues from 2 Peter 1:5-7.   I further believe that He will call people to build Zion in these last, final days before His return – people who are willing to try despite the chorus that is constantly shouting “It can’t be done”.  Well, I’m willing to try, and that’s what I’m going to go do – I’m going to try to be part of His glorious effort – the effort that has been millennia in the making, but which has been repeatedly frustrated by the hard-heartedness of men.bridge3

Utopian?  Yes, but, you know, I’m 62 years old and I’ve lived a pretty ordinary life – a very ordinary life.  I finally have the opportunity to do something extraordinary – truly extraordinary (even risky – if you measure by the standards of the world) – and if we’re successful, we will make history – eternal history!  If I were to turn away now….

Some might say this sounds prideful or elitist or – well, all kinds of things that suggest that I’m setting myself up above others.  That’s not the case.  I’m just grateful.  Grateful for the ability to hear His voice.  Grateful for good health.  Grateful for my precious wife whose desires are right in alignment with mine and those of the Lord.  Furthermore, I’m grateful that somewhere in this heart that was for so many years hardened against any such possibilities, was found (or placed) a reservoir of courage such that I am now willing to say, “Yes – I’ll go”.  Yes, I’m excited and joyful and fearful and humble and rejuvenated and crazy and peaceful all at the same time.  I’ve never felt so alive!  (Well, actually – I’m reminded of the hope and joy that accompanied my marriage to Diana.)

A couple of other things about Mormons…the scriptures, taken as a whole, make it clear that Christ wants a very personal, powerful, living relationship with us – even to the point of actual in-the-flesh visitation(s).  The LDS church has begun denying this, which is one of the reasons I am no longer a member.  The church has started saying we don’t need to seek that personal powerful, real relationship – that it’s dangerous.  I don’t buy that.  It actually might be dangerous, but it promises to be oh, so worth it.  There are no churches on the earth that teach this, but that is what I seek.  To seek after this – to ask, seek, knock – is to make Christ come alive in our lives.  He’s no longer just some spiritual, almost mythical, God in the heavens (wherever that is) who is mostly hands-off but who we think is going to judge us when we die.  No – He’s real…a real friend and confidant who loves me and wants me to become just like Him.  I know Him more intimately than I ever thought possible, even though what I know is miniscule compared to what He has promised I can learn.

Moyie River bridgeSo – off I go.  It’s an adventure that most of the world will call crazy, but that’s ok.  I’m finally going to truly live life – the life I was created to live.  I’m going to fulfill the measure of my creation (that’s some of the Mormon “jargon” I mentioned above).  By the grace of God I’m going to try to lay hold of all the spiritual gifts that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14.  I’m going to seek to become one with Christ as He expounds in the great intercessory pray of John 17.  I’m going to seek to know Him, and receive the eternal life that He promises to those who truly believe. (John 17:3).

Before you choose to read any of my blog posts – you need to have this context.  Otherwise they will make no sense at all.  They may still not make any sense.  However, if they do, if they somehow strike a chord of familiarity, then I encourage you to approach Jesus Christ in prayer.  Ask Him what you need to do to truly know Him.  If you ask with a pure heart, truly desiring to know, I promise that He will answer you.  I do not promise in what manner He will answer – that differs from person to person and situation to situation.  However, if you believe, He will answer – I promise He will.

I would love to hear back from you.  If not – well, c’est la vie, and I hope you find great joy in your life.




D&C 132…Marriage, Polygamy, The Sealing Power, and the New and Everlasting Covenant

D&C ImageAnd he said unto his servant: When I will; go ye straightway, and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you;

And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom. (D&C 101:60-61)

In D&C Section 101:43-62, the Lord gives Joseph Smith a parable of a nobleman in his vineyard, who commanded his servants to set up watchtowers that they might detect, from “afar off”, enemies coming to destroy His vineyard.  In the parable, the servants neglect to build the watchtowers and the vineyard is destroyed.  The nobleman then calls another servant and gives instructions that a place might be prepared for said lord to come.  When questioned as to when his coming might come to pass, the nobleman responds as quoted above, in essence: “Keep my commandments, and I promise you will be blessed”.  Repeating verse 61 with emphasis:

And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.

In the Joseph Smith story, Joseph quotes the angel of the Lord as, in turn, quoting Malachi 4:5-6, but differently than what we have in the King James version of the Bible (emphasis mine):

Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers (clearly as a result of having the promises made to the fathers planted in their hearts). If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

This scripture is commonly interpreted as pointing to the sealing of families as family units for the eternities and is used as inspiration for genealogy work and doing temple work for the dead.  There is indeed justification for that in the words of Joseph (D&C 128:17).  It seems that, to some, this actually represents the sum total of their understanding of the sealing power.  In this post I hope to present an interpretation of the sealing power that will lead to a greater understanding of this particular gospel mystery.  In doing so, I intend to demonstrate that this sealing bond is not accomplished by sprinkling magical fairy dust upon families and thus declaring them sealed, but is actually the result of their common obedience to God’s law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant.

Sealing Authority – Sealing Power

I think most of us would agree that even if an ordinance seals blessings upon us, the realization of these blessings is conditional upon our faithfulness.  The wording of the LDS sealing ordinance of marriage itself makes that quite clear.  No matter how righteous the sealer might be, he does not bring about the sealing.  Only the Holy Spirit of Promise can do that, as made clear in D&C 132:7 (emphasis added):

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

We cannot ignore the role of the “medium of mine anointed” – the sealer – in this process, but how is his role manifested?  What, actually, does the sealer have to do with it?  A clue may be found in D&C 68:8-12 (emphasis mine):

Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, acting in the authority which I have given you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

 And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.

 And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.

And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man;

And of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life. Amen.

This seems to suggest that even for those to whom this power of sealing up unto eternal life is delegated, in this case Lyman Wight, Orson Hyde, Luke Johnson, and William E. McClellin (D&C 68:7), the Father must bear record that the recipients are to be sealed before this delegated sealing power has any authority.

Denver Snuffer, in his priesthood talk given in Orem, UT on November 2, 2013, suggests that this sealing power – that mentioned in D&C 68:12 and pertaining to sealing unto eternal life or damnation – is of the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood, and that there are 2 other types of sealing power – 1) that given to a dispensational head and 2) that type, most rare, that carries with it the authority to control the elements.  You can read more of this discussion here on page 16 of the pdf version, and continuing in greater detail beginning on page 34.

The point to be made here is that I do not believe the sealing power, no matter the type, is something that is in the hands of men.  It is a blessing from God, and as with all blessings it is conditional upon obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated (D&C 130: 20-21).  I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that if the sealing power has the potential to seal up unto eternal life, or to control the elements, or to bestow “all that the Father hath” (D&C 84:38), then we’d probably better be prepared to keep ALL of His commandments.  That’s pretty much a “risk all to gain all” proposition if I’ve ever heard of one.  I also don’t think this is something we can just summarily surrender to “others”, assuming that someone else will come along with the authority to administer this great blessing.  Of course, we can’t “aspire” to it, because the Lord will choose whom He will choose, but I think we have an obligation to prepare ourselves to receive “all that the father hath” and, in doing so, make sure that, if the Lord chooses us, we are prepared to answer the callIn other words, “would that all my children would be sealers”.

Re-examining D&C 132

In order to illustrate that the sealing bond is a product of our obedience and of our obedience alone, I propose a different reading of D&C 132 – different from the way it is commonly interpreted – beginning with verses 1 through 5 (emphasis mine):

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.

Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

The common interpretation of this section of scripture is that the Lord is speaking throughout on the topic of the principle and doctrine of having multiple wives and concubines.  However, what if, in verse 3 He has actually expanded His focus beyond the scope of Joseph’s specific question?  What if, in verse 3, the law he refers to is a law under which the doctrine of many wives and concubines may be justified and by which it might be governed, and not the law of having many wives and concubines?  What if this new law, the new and everlasting covenant, actually has little to do with marriage, but more to do with recognizing and receiving the over-arching law of the universe – the law of righteousness – to which law we must be obedient if we are to “have a blessing at my hands”.  What if this new and everlasting covenant is actually simply the law of the gospel, the law of Heaven, to which we must be obedient if we are to gain exaltation?  Let’s interpret further verses in this light – verses 6-8 (emphasis mine):

 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

 Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

No mention of marriage here.  I love how He says this new and everlasting covenant was instituted for the “fullness of my glory”.  What is His glory?  How about, “That all His creations would be obedient and fulfill the measure of their creation?”  What is the manifestation for us of the fullness of His glory?  Is it perhaps that we might be one with Him?  If we are to be one with Him, we must be in harmony with His law…we must be obedient.

Then, He speaks of “covenants, etc”.  Are these legal terms –the “contracts, associations”, etc. – really referring to contracts between men, or are these associations with Him?  In other words, I can’t see how He could be talking about a corporate charter being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  Again, however, no specific mention of marriage here.  He does go on to say instead that His house is a house of order.  How is order established and measured?  I would suggest that this order derives from obedience to the law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant – and the resulting dissemination of blessings in accordance with obedience to that law.  This is His “order”: we obey, and He blesses us with all that He hath.  Pretty simple, but also pretty “all in” – pretty absolute. (Is that an oxymoron, as in “almost absolute”?)

I won’t quote the next few verses.  It is not until verse 15 that marriage comes up again…after all, this was the topic of the opening question.  In verse 15, the Lord makes it clear that marriage falls under the guideline outlined in verse 7 – “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, etc”.  Such a marriage, which was not by Him or His word, “which…” He declares in verse 18 “…is my law” (His word is His law), is to be of no effect after the resurrection.  Why of no effect?  Because the participants did not obey His law.  What is His law?  The law of the new and everlasting covenant.

What is the new and everlasting covenant?

In section 131:1-4, Joseph records:

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

This statement clearly points to the “new and everlasting covenant” being a covenant of marriage, and is certainly the source of confusion as to the nature of this “new and everlasting covenant”.  I don’t know why this definition of this order of the priesthood is placed in parentheses, and it is so contradictory to all other definitions of the new and everlasting covenant that I find it highly suspect.  Furthermore, I found the following quotes which totally support this claim, derived from my own studies and prayers, that the doctrine of celestial marriage is simply a component of the new and everlasting covenant:

Joseph Fielding Smith (Quorum of the Twelve)

What is the new and everlasting covenant? I regret to say that there are some members of the Church who are misled and misinformed in regard to what the new and everlasting covenant really is. The new and everlasting covenant is the sum total of all gospel covenants and obligations. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:156)

Now there is a clear-cut definition in detail of the new and everlasting covenant. It is everything—the fulness of the gospel. So marriage properly performed, baptism, ordination to the priesthood, everything else—every contract, every obligation, every performance that pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise according to his law here given, is a part of the new and everlasting covenant. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:158)

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

“The new and everlasting covenant” is the fulness of the gospel, and the gospel is the covenant of salvation that the Lord makes with men. It is new because it has been revealed anew in our day; it is everlasting because it has always been had by faithful people, not only on this earth but on all the earths inhabited by the children of our Father. (Brigham Young University, 6 November 1977)

Todd Christofferson(Quorum of the Twelve)

The scriptures speak of the new and everlasting covenant. The new and everlasting covenant is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrines and commandments of the gospel constitute the substance of an everlasting covenant between God and man that is newly restored in each dispensation. If we were to state the new and everlasting covenant in one sentence it would be this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus explained what it means to believe in Him: “Now this is the commandment [or in other words, this is the covenant]: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20). (Ensign, May 2009)

In verses 16-17, the written revelation states that, even though someone did not abide His law, they may be resurrected as “angels…without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not Gods…” Why?  Because they weren’t married?  Perhaps, but I maintain that it is more likely because they did not obey His law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant.  They did not obey the fullness of His law in order to receive the fullness of His blessings.  It seems clear to me that this “law” extends beyond marriage.

Serious Blessings

Next, in verse 18 – 25, we get to the meat of the matter.  I quote (emphasis mine):

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

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

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.

 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.

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.

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

Whoa!  These are some serious blessings!  …exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads…and some serious conditions!  Still, I don’t see any reference in this to the marriage itself being the law…only that if you are married and obey His law, then that marriage will be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, and the participants in the marriage are sealed up unto eternal lives!

Role of the Lord’s Anointed

However, there remains this matter of the medium of the Lord’s anointed.  I quote again from verse 7:Joseph and Hyrum

(and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred)…

And then from verses 45-49 (emphasis and clarification mine):

 For I have conferred upon you (speaking of Joseph) the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.

And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.

And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless I will bless, and whomsoever you curse I will curse, saith the Lord; for I, the Lord, am thy God.

And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.

For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.

Let’s return now to D&C 68:12, which I quoted above (emphasis added):

And of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life. Amen.

How is it, then, that the Father shall bear record to His anointed that this couple is to be sealed up unto eternal life?  It must be by revelation, right?  How else is His word – His law – received and understood?  Any of you who have been sealed in the LDS Temples – if you even knew the sealer, do you really think that he had any inkling of whether or not the Lord had born record that you should be sealed up unto eternal life?  Do you think He prayed beforehand to determine whether or not he had authority to perform this sealing?

It is very important to point out also at this point that there is no evidence that this sealing authority can be passed from man to man.  I believe this is a modern construct, is not of God, and qualifies as a philosophy of men.

It appears that the medium of the Lord’s anointed has been abused in our day, just as the authority to baptize, to lay hands on for the receiving of the Holy Ghost, and ordaining to the priesthood have been.  The sealer or ordinance administrator must, in my mind, receive a witness that this ordinance is authorized by the Lord.  This authority cannot be passed on by man. A nod must be given here to Denver’s assertion that the dispensational prophet’s sealing authority can be preserved and passed on through ordinances that have been perfectly preserved once establish by said dispensational head.  You can read of this in the same talk mentioned above.  I cannot see any evidence of this in the scriptures, but I cannot say he is wrong or that the evidence does not exist, only that I haven’t found such evidence in the scriptures.  Regardless, in our day, as Denver correctly points out, the ordinances have been changed.  Furthermore, this process of seeking the Father’s “bearing record” is no longer practiced.

Time for Some Clarity

Now, back on the topic of marriage.  Is this sealing up unto eternal life (re: back to verse 18 mentioned above…”if a man marry a wife…”) conditioned on the fact that couple was married, or on the fact that they were obedient to the law – obedient enough that they were sealed up together, as a couple unto eternal life by the Holy Spirit of Promise?  Is the new and everlasting covenant a covenant of marriage, or a covenant of obedience – of living in harmony with God’s law?  I think the Lord makes this very clear in verse 22 (emphasis mine):

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.

Let’s skip forward to verse 28, where the Lord says:

I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.

This doesn’t sound like he’s talking about the law of marriage at all, let alone plural marriage!  Do we really think the “law of my Holy Priesthood” is limited to a doctrine of marriage?  Surely we can agree that the “law of my Holy Priesthood” may well include but is certainly not limited to marriage covenants.

Given that we have established that we are not talking solely about marriage here, but about obedience – if we have, in your mind, established this – the rest of D&C 132 takes on an entirely new tone.

Speaking of Abraham, David, Solomon (beginning in verse 29) – it’s not so much about them being married to multiple wives – it’s about them being obedient to the Lord’s commandments – given by revelation, either to them directly, or to Sarah, or to the Lord’s prophet (Nathan).  Their obedience to His law is not so much that they married multiple wives, it’s that He told them to marry multiple wives (for whatever reason) and they were obedient to His word – to His commandment.  Verses 29-32 (emphasis mine):

Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.

Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

This promise is yours also (speaking of Joseph), because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

Bear with me, now!  He has not in the least associated Abraham and his works with wives and concubines.  He has, however, associated him with receiving revelation, and commandments, and promises that are sealed unto the eternities.  Then he even declares that these promises are Joseph’s, but not conditioned upon any marriage – marriage is not even mentioned – but simply upon obedience to the law (“…by this law”) – the law of the new and everlasting covenant.

Finally, in verse 34, the Lord says that Abraham was commanded to take Hagar to wife?  Why?  To fulfill the promises?  What promises?  The promise that his seed would be as innumerable as the stars:

God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. (D&C 132:34)

It says “Because this was the law…”  What law?  The law of plural marriage? or the law of the new and everlasting covenant, which law (…all things) Abraham received by revelation and commandment…for him! (verse 29)  Then, just to make sure we’re not confused into thinking that this obedience is only to some law of plural wives, the Lord throws in a reference to Abraham sacrificing Isaac – also clearly an act of obedience to His law.  Boy, I’m sure glad that commandment wasn’t interpreted as a universal law being applied to all men everywhere and being required for exaltation as was the “doctrine” of plural marriage!  There goes the promise of the seed!

Plural Marriage Justified?

I must now address the verses that do seem to reference plural marriage, namely verses 61-64:

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

These scriptures certainly do seem to condone at least the possibility of plural marriage, but only “…as pertaining to the law of the priesthood”, which we have already established is not limited to marriage, but is totally about obedience to and support of the Lord’s word and His law.  In other words, if a man and women are commanded by His word to live plural marriage, it is allowed.  I still do not, however, see any indication that it is commanded except on an individual basis.  Neither do I see that such marriage is a requirement for exaltation.  Instead, it is the obedience to the commandment to “…multiple and replenish the earth, according to my commandment”, for which purpose they are “given him” that qualifies them for exaltation.


Based upon this analysis of the scriptures, I suggest that this section (D&C 132) has been sorely wrested in support of the doctrine of polygamy, and that any belief that the doctrine of polygamy was or is a general commandment and a requirement for exaltation is false!  I further suggest that the sealing doctrine itself is based wholly on compliance with and obedience to the law of God.  It is indeed effected by the power of the priesthood, which is, in turn, exercised solely based upon the principles of righteousness, but that righteousness must be inherent in both the sealer (whether a man or the Holy Spirit of Promise) and the recipient of the blessing.

Brethren and Sisters.  I’m sorry this is so long.  Thank you for bearing with me.  These things just unfolded before me, and I had to keep peeling back the layers. It began early on a Sunday morning when I started processing the idea that the real power of sealing was not held by designated men and delegated to other men, but it is held by us – the sealed – and it is based upon our obedience to the law – the law of the new and everlasting covenant – the law of God, the law of the universe, the law that governs all things.  An ordinance may indeed be involved.  A human may indeed be involved.  But the ordinance is only an invitation, and the human only has authority upon having the record born to him from the Father.  Record of what?  Record born by the Father of our obedience – our harmony – with the law.  What law?  The law of the new and everlasting covenant.

If I may summarize the results of this inquiry:

There are indeed been men who have been entrusted with the sealing power – the authority to bind in Heaven that which has been bound on earth.  Moses, Nephi (son of Helaman), and Joseph Smith are clear examples.  However, there is no evidence that such sealing authority can be passed from man to man.  It must come directly from God.  This sealing power may well exist among men on the earth at this time, but such must be revealed by the Lord at a time and in a manner to be determined by Him and Him alone.  It must exist, however, for without it, without the authority to bind each of us to Him, the earth must indeed be “utterly wasted at His coming”.

This sealing in Heaven as it is on earth may indeed be symbolized through an ordinance, but the sealing itself is based solely upon our faithfulness…our obedience to the law of the new and everlasting covenant.  This sealing can also be solemnized (sealed) directly by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  Man may initiate it, but it does not require a man.  IF man initiates it, and he was not previously prompted directly by the Lord, through His word, then it must yet be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  Such sealings are not limited to marriage.  The possibilities are as unlimited as the Lord’s will for us.

D&C section 132, which is commonly interpreted to command or at least justify the practice of plural marriage, (today it is limited to a doctrine of eternal monogamy) actually commands nothing more than obedience to the word of God…even the law of the new and everlasting covenant.

I now share the scripture – one of my favorites – of a conversation between the Lord and Nephi, son of Helaman, in Helaman 10:4-7 (emphasis mine):

 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.

Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

Nephi was given power even over the elements.  Why?  Because the Lord knew that “thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will”.  So it must be with the exercise of any sealing power.  However, that sealing is ultimately conducted by the Holy Spirit of Promise.  The sealer is simply obedient enough himself that he can receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit of Promise, giving Him authority to exercise His power to bind in Heaven what is bound on earth.  Without that authority, any sealing he pronounces is ineffective.

I propose that we ultimately hold the sealing power, just as the brother of Jared held the power over the veil.  It is activated through our faith in and obedience to the law of the new and everlasting covenant, which obedience entails submission, humility, and charity – the absolutely sincere seeking of, and submission to, God’s will for us and for His children.  We must become as the dust of the earth in that these very elements submit to His will simply because they know of His perfection, and they have no desire to rebel.  So it must be with us.  Under these conditions, we cannot be denied, or God would cease to be God.  It is under these conditions that we can return to live with Him, to be one with Him.  It is under these conditions that we might partake of His glory and receive of His fullness – even all that the Father hath.  It is under these conditions that what is bound on earth shall be bound in heaven.


Preserving the Restoration

I did not write the following. I am thankful to have been asked to post it on this blog by the author, who has asked to remain anonymous, because this is not about him – it is about the message.

This is a very important letter to the world – as important as any proclamation that has preceeded it, regardless of the source. It will either be received as truth by the “…humble followers of Christ”, or it will be rejected at their peril. I personally implore you to respect what is said below, at least enough to investigate and seek the truth for yourself.

Now – the word of the Lord unto all who would truly seek Him…


TODAY a monumental choice faces every Latter Day Saint. At the heart of this decision is whether to stand with Jesus Christ and His Gospel, as taught in scripture, or to capitulate to the corruption of a lost and deceived world. (Revelations 12:9).

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED about how the LDS Church is responding to a host of doctrinal, social, moral, financial, and political issues, and if you are willing to seek out and live a true fullness of the gospel, (D&C 20:9), then please know the light of the original Restoration remains available through prophecy, scripture, revelation, and the tutoring of the Holy Spirit. (Moroni 10:5).

A CAREFUL REVIEW of doctrine and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith reveals that many human errors have occurred during the past 185 years of church history. This spiritual tragedy highlights the essential need for every Latter Day Saint to now differentiate between eternal truth and religious tradition. (D&C 93:39).

THE BOOK OF MORMON specifically warns that when a culture becomes prideful, wealthy, and dependent on the arm of flesh, (2 Nephi 4:34), that the fall of that particular people will soon follow. (Ether 2: 8-12). Scripture also confirms that in the last days the word of God will be “transfigured,” (Mormon 8:33), and that the once “Holy church of God” will become polluted. (Mormon 8:38). Sadly, today is also the day when the tares again “choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness of apostasy.” (D&C 86:1-3). Those honest enough to apply scripture to themselves, the Mormon culture, and the world at large, understand that we as a Gentile people are in the process of rejecting the fullness of the Gospel. (D&C 45:28-30).

REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE WORLD, and the world of religion chooses, let it be said: The hand of the Lord remains outstretched still! (Isaiah 5:25). At this time every Latter Day Saint is invited to re-learn and re-claim all that has been lost, abandoned, and distorted, since the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (D&C 43:10). In response to these deficits, a growing Remnant now shouts HOLY! HOLY! HOLY! is our God! For He is the Great Messiah! The Master of the storm, and the sure Rock in whom we will trust! He is THE CHRIST, who even at this very moment beckons unto all, “Come Unto Me” that you might receive the same truths, powers, ordinances, and priesthood, once offered to the early Saints.          Thus, today is the day of choice:  God or man, Truth or tradition, Zion or Babylon?

UNDER THE HAND OF GOD a great and marvelous work is now spreading across the land. This movement involves a broken and flawed “few,” (2 Nephi 28:14), who are actively committed to Preserving the Restoration, that Jesus Christ and His angels may yet ”gather the elect” (D&C 33:6), and establish a literal Zion upon the earth. (Moses 7:60-62).

FOREMOST IN THIS SPIRITUAL CRUSADE is an unyielding commitment to the Holy One of Israel and the process of receiving salvation in Him. There is no church to join, and no leader to follow. This “strange act” (D&C 101:94-95), is not the “apostasy” some imagine it to be. For in reality, the truth is never apostasy, and all that God commands is law. (3 Nephi 15:9, Romans 10:4).

LET IT BE KNOWN that except for our impending destruction, “the times of the Gentiles” is fulfilled. (D&C 45:26-30). The opportunity for us to repent and receive a true fullness will soon be forfeited. What follows will include mass destruction and great sorrow. (Matthew 24:6-35). This prophesied cleansing will begin upon the Lord’s house, first among those who profess to know His name, but have not known Him. (D&C 112:23-26). Thus, every Latter Day Saint who seeks Zion upon the earth, (D&C 45:68) and Celestial Glory in the eternities to come, (D&C 133:12, D&C 76:50-70) is now required to repent by differentiating between eternal truth and the false philosophies of men mingled with scripture. (2 Nephi 28:9-32).

THE LORD’S INVITATION is specifically for you. For even now, in this very moment, if you will listen to His voice, He will speak directly to your soul. Listen to your Savior. Listen to your soul. Fear not, and go forward into the work of reclaiming the light of the Restoration. For now is the day of your salvation, and if you will follow Him, He will lead you into the fullness of Eternal Glory. (D&C 76:70). Come…come my friend, and through His grace, enter ye this day into the rest of the Lord. (Matthew 11:28, Moroni 7:3).


THE INVITATION AT:  ReclaimtheRestoration.com


Come Unto Me #6 – A Little Divine Trickery

Moyie River valleyIt was late February of 2015 when the Lord began preparing me to quit my job.  I’m 62 years old, I’m in no way, by conventional measures, financially prepared for retirement, and I had planned on working another 8 years before even considering retirement.  Gradually, though, over the following 2 months, the idea of retiring early became more palatable.  I was gently prepared.  My fears slowly dissipated.

On March 13, His word was:

“You are in my hands.  Do not fear.  Love your job while you have it – while it is the season.  It is not yet time.  You will know.  Do not even ask me.  You will know.”

On April 24:

“Fear not – I will guide you and care for you.  Consider the lilies of the field.  I do not make idle promises, and this is my promise unto you.  I told you you would know when it was time to quit your job.  That time is the end of September.”

Two days earlier he had prepped me with:

Know that I need you to help bring about my strange act.  You must figure out how to liquidate your assets on Labor Day.    It is good that you buy a mobile trailer to live in.

Further communications that went un-recorded in my journal (my bad) made it increasingly clear where we were going and what we were going to do.  Prayerful requests by both Diana and me brought multiple confirmations.  We were off to Idaho!  Within 3 weeks we had found a beautiful, white (no decals or paint) used 5th wheel RV that we bought for 65% of its blue book value, and a reliable truck with minor body damage that lowered its price.

This past week, we took our 5th wheel RV and truck to our new home in the rural Idaho panhandle.  We haven’t “moved” yet, but we took that time to at least get that part of the move accomplished.  After we arrived, got the RV leveled out, and felt a bit settled, I went for a walk.  It was about 7:00 in the evening.  The sun was starting to set.  I wandered through the wooded part of the property and found my way to a steep overlook.  475 feet below were a river and a railroad track with a train snaking its way noisily through the canyon.  Around me were multiple species of both deciduous and conifer trees.  The grass in many places testified clearly of wildlife, probably deer, having made their bed there on multiple nights.  The air smelled clean, crisp…invigorating.  I was suddenly filled with joy as the realization of what was happening swept over me.  My dreams, dreams of a home with forests and wildlife and canyons and rivers, were coming true.  I found a stump, knelt down, and vocalized a short but sincere prayer of gratitude.  It was just me, the trees, the fresh air…and my God. Moyie River dam

That night at about 3:00 a.m., I walked outside, looked up at the stars, and within 5 seconds saw a falling star.  If you’ve read my conversion story, you know that this (falling stars) is a personal sign between the Lord and me.  I took it again as His sign of approval and assurance – not only for me, but for Diana and me as a couple – that we were where He wanted us.

So, I sacrificed.  You betcha.  I sacrificed a bunch.  I sacrificed my job.  Diana sacrificed her participation in a local gallery.  We’re selling our home at a significant discount to our son.  We sacrificed our future financial security (now – don’t laugh!)  We’re leaving our neighbors, our kids, grandkids, etc. to go do what the Lord has asked us to do.  Pretty significant sacrifices, right?

Well, I actually wonder if we really sacrificed anything at all.  You see, we took our retirement funds and invested in property.  We’re taking the equity from our home and paying off the RV, truck and mortgage.  We’re moving to a part of the country that is as beautiful, in its own way, as any habitable place I’ve ever been to ( I don’t consider the Grand Canyon habitable – just beautiful).  We’re probably going to learn, along with several other wonderful families, to farm, build, hunt, prepare food for long term storage, etc. We’re going to try to live Zion. We’re going to start a new life.  In our early 60’s, we’re suddenly filled with optimism, energy, purpose, enthusiasm, peace, and…love.

So, how much did we really sacrifice afterall?  I’m beginning to think that the Lord allowed me to think I was sacrificing and being obedient because that was the only thing that would motivate me to take these extreme steps – to get up off my butt, break out of my comfort zone, and take a risk.   I’m beginning to see this whole experience in a different light.  Instead of, “My son, I need you to sacrifice all things for me so that you can do my work”, it’s playing out more like, “Look, my son – I love you so much!  If you will just do these things, if you will trust me, look what a wonderful life you can have!  The dreams you’ve kept under wraps all these years can come true!  Again – trust me, relax (He says that to me a lot).  Put yourself in my hands, follow my guidance, and I will bring you joy, joy, joy!”

Moyie River bridgeOh, sure – we’re committed to spending the rest of our lives doing our part to build the Lord’s Zion.  There really is no “plan B” as far as that goes.  We’re going to be financially limited for the rest of our lives.  Diana has yet to acknowledge that she may not get to see the next James Bond or Star Trek movies – at least until they come out on DVD.  On the positive side, we’re going to have to use our talents – music, art, etc. for a real purpose.  We’re going to have to work – hard – to survive.  We’ll probably lose weight and return to our former slim, trim younger selves!  Furthermore, the Lord said above, “I don’t make idle promises”, and He has made some pretty amazing promises, the fulfillment of which is solely based upon our faith and obedience.

My first promise to God – some 18 years ago – was that I would “seek to know” Him.  I think this past week He showed me a really sweet, loving – even slightly capricious side of Him – if God can be called “capricious”.  It was like he had played a lovely, gentle private joke on me.  He had tricked me into doing something that I’ve always dreamed of – making me think I would be sacrificing for Him, when in reality, He was just loving me – loving me in a way that only my Heavenly Father (and Mother? and Savior?) could do.  I think now I know Him just a little bit more intimately now than I did before.  I think, as a result, I’m a little bit in awe of His loving nature.

The scriptures often paint a picture of a vengeful God of judgment, one who calls for the destruction of entire cities; strikes individuals dead for dishonesty; unleashes famine and war on a disobedient people; or promises eternal hell-fire and damnation to individuals who willingly and knowingly rebel against Him.  I do not embrace that image of God.  I’m much more worshipful of a God who, simply because I make a sincere, if forever imperfect, effort to know Him, follow Him, and emulate Him; and strive daily to bring about His Zion, concocts this plan to entice me to follow a path that He knows is going to enrich my life beyond anything I ever really thought possible – and He tricks me into doing so.  With His plan, dreams would come true that I had given up on long ago.  Yep – this is the God I know.  This is the God I worship.  This is the God I choose to emulate and to share with others…a God of love, a God of patience, and maybe even a God who can be just a little bit sneaky.  Today, I share this image of my God with you, and I do it in the name of Jesus Christ.  Can I get an Amen??!!!


Save Two Churches Only

LDS Salt Lake Temple

LDS Salt Lake Temple

“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:19 – emphasis mine)

“Can we stop at that little fabric store?”  “Sure, sweetie – I just hope I don’t get sick.  You know I’m allergic to fabric stores, very much the way you’re allergic to hardware stores!”  I received that look that has become so familiar – the look that manages somehow to say, “That’s really stupid, but kind of funny, but you’re not going to get away with it anyway”.  So, we stopped at Auntie’s Fabrics just off of Highway 2 way up in the Idaho Panhandle.

I had heard that there was a large Mennonite community in the area – several thousand by a couple of accounts.  When we walked in, I could tell by her prayer cap that the owner was Mennonite.  After scoping out a few crafty knick-knacks and making sure Diana had found the fabric room, I took the opportunity to ask about their church.  I learned that they were very conservative, that they try to avoid being “of the world” and to live by the teachings of the Bible.  As we talked, I mentioned the power that I believe is missed by all churches.  I talked about Christ’s desire to be one with us; that He desires a personal relationship with us, even an “appearance in the flesh”.  I’m learning to speak more boldly in my old age.

As I said these things, I could see a veil come down and walls go up.  Her eyes narrowed, and her face took on a flinty countenance.  It was clear that she was going to have none of this nonsense.  It was counter to what she had been taught all her life.  It was counter to her interpretation of the scriptures.  It was counter to her culture, and she was not going to listen to anything that contradicted those things.  After all, it can’t be true if it’s inconsistent with the teachings of “the church”.

A Mennonite Church

A Mennonite Church

Hours later, I pondered this experience, and reviewed in my mind the look on her face.  The thought came to me that there comes a point in every religion, every church, where the culture and dogma sort of take over. They become more important than the Savior; and when that happens, the church becomes destructive.  Let me explain:

It wasn’t very long after I was baptized into the LDS church that I came to the conclusion that the purpose of all churches is to help the individual draw closer to Christ.  Furthermore, any church that does more or less than this is not fulfilling its mission, and cannot be the Lord’s church.  I would even take this idea a step further and say that this is the very definition of the “save two churches only” teaching of 1 Nephi 14:10:

10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

What I learned from talking to my Mennonite friend was that she was imprisoned by the culture and dogma of her church.  It gave her comfort, direction, and focus but it also enslaved her.  If asked who they worshipped, she would surely say, “Jesus Christ”.  Yet when presented with the invitation to truly know Him, she wouldn’t listen or entertain the idea.  After all, it hadn’t been taught by the elders in her church, and if she did entertain the idea, she would probably be rejected by that church.  She could lose her family, her business, her home, etc.

I personally know a family, who were devout LDS, for whom this exact scenario came about.  As they began exploring scripturally-supported concepts that they believed would bring them closer to the Savior, but which were not condoned by the LDS Church, they were excommunicated from the church.  Their sin?  They held the sacrament in their home and were re-baptized in a personal, private service.  As a result, they were literally rejected by their family, they lost their business, and they are in danger of losing their home.

Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris

Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris

Now, what was it that caused this great evil to befall this family?  Do we really think the Savior disapproved of their sacraments or their ceremony of re-dedication to Him?  I suggest that it was the fact that they had crossed the cultural dogma that defines the LDS Church.  Am I picking on the LDS Church?  Oh, no!  I don’t need to!  Most churches or religions fall into this particular pit of darkness.  I’ll name a few…the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Amish, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists…Jews, even Muslims (especially Muslims), etc.  The greater the discipline and conformance required of the members, the more likely excommunications or ostracizing (even “shunning – even death”) will come about if a person ventures publicly outside the lines.

Evangelical churches seem to minimize this phenomenon – at least to a certain extent – because they are loosely organized, and each congregation is pretty much free to develop their own culture.  Excommunication is a non-issue, because people aren’t baptized into the church.  They’re not officially “members with benefits”.  They just show up, participate, support, etc.  There are no “rolls” so-to-speak.  These churches are not immune, however.  If I were to “show up, participate, and support”, and bring my Book of Mormon – you can be sure I would be asked to participate just a little less.  Why?  Because their dogma includes the idea that scripture is limited to the Bible and “…we have got a Bible” (2 Nephi 29:6)

These churches – all of them – seem to feel the need to protect themselves.  They set up walls constructed of their culture, doctrine, scripture….in short – dogma.  The less structure and dogma there is, the less there is to protect, but it’s still there, or there wouldn’t be a church.

As I recalled the face of that Mennonite sister it became clear that there comes a point in the evolution of every church when the church becomes more important than the object of its worship.  When that happens, the church becomes an idol that stands between the individual and the Lord – the exact opposite of what it should be.  When that happens, it has become the church of the devil, because it is no longer the Church of the Lamb.  It becomes a tool in the hands of satan to keep us from receiving the fullness of the gospel.  Thus, “there are save two churches only”.

I recognize that communities need to define common beliefs and values.  If they didn’t do that, they would not be a community.  Of course, that brings up the issue of how the community responds to those who rebel against those common values?  What does the community do to protect itself, to protect its very definition?  I don’t know the answer to this question.  Perhaps a more important question is, “How will Zion be bound together?”  I believe Zion will be bound together by the Holy Spirit.  It alone has the power to teach the values, or the will, of Christ, and to teach it in such a way that each individual receives it clearly.

It is clear to me that all churches I am aware of have fallen prey at least somewhat to the phenomenon that I’ve described.  None are immune.  The bigger they are, the more profound the impact.  If we are to be members of the “Church of the Lamb”, if that church is to thrive and hold influence on the earth, its members must learn to keep sacred that conduit between the individual and the Lord              , so the Lord can teach without the individual being bound by the flaxen cord of church dogma.  We must further learn to be guided by the spirit, minimize judgment, and eliminate unrighteous dominion.  Until we can do this, there shall be “save one church only”, and it will not be the Church of the Lamb.


Come Unto Me #5 – “If You Want to Kiss the Sky…”

And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.  (D&C 84:38)

eternal marriageWriting what I want to share today is risky.  There is the possibility that some will read and think that I am exalting myself or “rushing the pass”.  I hope I can convey what I believe is a very important message while, at the same time, easing any such concerns.

If you’re like me, you’ve grown up being keenly aware that there is a presence in the world known only as “they”.  Today, as I was driving in the early morning hours, I found myself thinking, “Wow, they’re really doing a lot of work on this road”.  How many times have we heard or thought, “They’re probably going to raise taxes”, or they will do this, or they did that?  This they entity is very powerful, gets a lot done – for good and for evil – and greatly influences our lives.

Of course, they is really the Highway department, or gas companies, or commodities traders, or the government, or oil companies, or the Illuminati or something similar, but the point is that behind they are real people and forces, shadowy and mostly poorly understood, that exert their influence on our lives.

When I was a member of the LDS church, I recognized a “they” entity.  Its behind-the-scenes identity was the Corporation of the President, or the “Brethren”, or General Authorities, or individuals, committees, departments, etc. in the Church Office Building, but they were responsible for many things, including printing scriptures (a great service to the world), building temples and conference centers and meeting houses and libraries, etc.  They received revelation for the ward, or the stake, or the church, or the world.  I could rely on them to guide the course of the good ship Zion, and I trusted that they were doing so by inspiration from the Lord Jesus Christ.   I knew intellectually that someday – probably in the next life – I could receive “…all that my Father hath…”, but it wasn’t a reality to me.  The reality for man was that they would receive that, but probably not me.

Well, I’m no longer a member of the LDS Church.  Neither are many of you.  There is no longer any they for us to rely on.  We’re out there on our own, in our little row boat, navigating the vast seas, with nobody else to make decisions for us.  We chose this course, because we believed – we took action in faith – that we could and should receive all the guidance we needed directly from the Lord.  Some of us, perhaps, rely a little too much on guidance from individuals such as Denver Snuffer, but if we do, we are making a mistake.  After all, Denver’s message is ultimately, “Receive your guidance from the Lord.  Search the scriptures, pray, live righteously, choose the right, and receive Him”.

I can’t help but think about the courage, innocence, and sheer honesty of the young Joseph Smith, who looked around at the religionists in his world and decided, “You know, I’m going to ask God Himself what the truth is.  After all, He told me that if I lack wisdom, I can ask Him.  I think I’ll do just that!”  Isn’t that what we’ve all done, to one extent or another?  Did we not say to ourselves, “There’s something not right about the religionists in my world, and I’m going to set off on my own – disembark from the Good Ship Zion – and seek to know God, just as He has commanded me to do.  I don’t think I can trust those who set themselves up as a light (no – not even Denver), because, if I do, I’m only living on borrowed light.  I have to receive my own light, and I’m going to go to the Lord and find it”?  Isn’t this what Joseph did?  Don’t you think He would be proud of us, or at least empathetic?

Ok, so there is no more “they”.  It’s just us.  Yeah, we’re forming a community on line and locally, with occasional larger gatherings like the Grand Mesa Reunion, but at the core of all of this is the idea that we cannot rely on the arm of flesh (no – not even Denver) and that we must each receive our own instruction from the Lord.

There’s a potential problem with this – one that we must recognize and overcome.  There is much work to be done!  Zion must be established in the tops of the mountains.  Miracles must be restored to the earth, including healing and raising the dead and command over the elements.  The fullness of the priesthood must be received. Angels must minister.  Preparation must be made for “Elias” and Elijah to return and restore the Lord’s order.  Temples (at least one) must be built.  There is no “they” that is going to do this.  It has to be us!

I’ve mentioned before that history tends to elevate those who created it.  We think of Oliver Cowdrey and Brigham Young and Emma Smith, or of Moses or Isaiah or Elijah or John the Beloved as being larger than life.  Well, folks, I’ve got news for you.  None of these men or women had any idea who they were to become in our eyes after 3000 years or even 150 years.  They were just men and women with righteous desires just like we are.  Sure – they may have been fore-ordained for a great work – but they still had to rise up and do that work.  I do not believe that they knew, when they were making the choices that would determine the course of their lives and alter the course of history, that they were fore-ordained for such.  And how many who are or were fore-ordained for a specific task choose not to fulfill it?

Brothers and sisters, WE must rise up and become the noble and great ones of our day – of the millennium!  WE are the ones who had the courage to stand up as Joseph did and set out on our own, in our little row boats, to seek God!  We may not all be transfigured and introduced by the Son to the Father.  We may not all see “all creation” in one sweeping, timeless vision.  We may not ever be visited by angels, or heal the sick, or raise the dead, or change the course of rivers (actually, I expect that we will, but for the sake of argument…)  We may not lay a single brick of the New Jerusalem, but we must prepare ourselves to do all of these things.  If we do not believe that we can receive all that the father has, then we are saying, in effect, “Father, I am willing to serve thee – courageously, faithfully – but only this much”.  We must ask, seek, and knock on every door that the scriptures reveal to us, and seek every gift and every power that the Lord offers us.

We must ask, seek, and knock for the fullness of the priesthood, and for every gift, power, and responsibility that comes with it.  We must ask for the power to heal.  We must ask for the power to raise the dead and command the elements and to prophesy of future events unto the blessing of His children and the fulfillment of His plan for them – for us.  We must seek to become so trusted of the Lord that He says unto us:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Helaman 10:4-5)

You know – it may not be the Lord’s will that we will receive all things in this life, but the failure to become a fully empowered servant cannot be because we didn’t ask, or because we waited around for “them” to receive these things.  What kind of condemnation would that bring upon us?  Of course, we must wait with patience until we are prepared, but we must ask the Lord to prepare us, and then we must pray always, and seek always after His righteousness, that we might indeed be prepared to receive these greatest of gifts.

If you’re like me (and you probably are), you’ll quickly find yourself saying, “I cannot do this by myself.  I am too selfish, and too weak, and too fearful…but I know that through you, by the power of the gift of your atoning sacrifice…all things are possible”.  You will submit yourself to His grace and mercy.  This is as it should be, but we cannot allow knowledge of our imperfection to limit the power and authority and effectiveness with which we serve.  We must gain that perfect testimony that “through you, I can do all things” and we must believe it.

Brethren and Sisters, the Lord is going to need many Josephs and many Emmas in order to bring about Zion.  Enoch didn’t build Zion, the people of Zion built it.  They were of one heart and one mind, and that heart and mind was one with the Lord!  Joseph couldn’t build Zion.  He needed a population of Josephs and Emmas, of Hebers and Vilates to build it, but the community of their day didn’t have that.  The Saints wanted them to do it all, and it didn’t work.  I cannot tolerate the thought of Zion being built by them.  I want it to be built by me…and you and you and you and you…by us!  In order to do this, we each have to take the personal responsibility to be willing to build Zion all by ourselves, then have the charity to share that responsibility with all who desire to join us.  We each have to seek after the power and authority of God…seek after “all that the Father hath” and then wait patiently while He grants unto us that portion that will enable us to serve Him according to His will.

When it comes to building Zion, there is no they, there is only us!…an “us” who have opened themselves to receive the fullness of the priesthood, to become one with the Savior, to be fully empowered servants who serve according to His will and who are not limited by their individual unbelief.

After all this, I close with a quote from the band U2, their song “Mysterious Ways”.  I hope it alleviates any of the concerns that I mentioned at the opening of this post.  I also think it nicely summarizes the entire message:

“If you want to kiss the sky, you’d better learn how to kneel (on your knees, boy!)”


To the Valley View 9th Ward – a Love Story #2

Gundersen Lane Chapel

Gundersen Lane Chapel

I saw Katy Robbins hobbling across the street yesterday afternoon.  We had just parked our new home – cleverly disguised as a 33’ fifth wheel – on Colt Haven circle, where it is to stay for two weeks before we take it into the wilds of Boundary County, Idaho.  She, in turn, was walking off the stiffness from the half-marathon she had run earlier in the day.  My heart warmed at seeing her, simply because I like her and her family.  She also reminded me of the relationship that we had up until a couple of months ago with all the members of the Valley View 9th Ward – a relationship that brought Diana and me great joy over the course of 17+ years.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Katy’s father, Bruce Gundersen, riding his lawn mower down Gundersen Lane.  At first, I thought it was John Gundersen (yes – it’s not called “Gundersen Lane” for nothing), but quickly realized that the lawn mower itself was much larger than John’s, so it had to be Bruce. I walked towards him, and he could probably see my smile from 50 yards away.  We greeted enthusiastically, and I was genuinely glad to see him and chat for a few minutes.

We miss our friends in the Valley View 9th Ward.  We really do.  Even though we’ve officially left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and thus no longer attend meetings, we have not left Christ, we have not left His gospel, and we have not, in our hearts, left our friends.  Yes, we’re going to be moving away very soon, rarely to return, but we will never forget you.  Mary Louise Wilson is our Utah “Mom”.  Kirk and Kris Gundersen will be life-long friends (hope I’m not being presumptuous).  Kent and Colleen Smith, likewise – Kent, who performed our wedding ceremony, will always by “my Bishop”.  I’ve probably already named too many names – for fear that someone might feel slighted because I didn’t mention them specifically.  Well, the list of people in the VV 9th who have had a significant impact on our lives is too long to even try to list.

Many of those have died and left this earth, but not our hearts and memories.  George and Shirley Grover were sooo kind to us when we first moved into the ward – inviting us more than once to partake of their holiday celebrations.  Orson and Effie Gundersen “adopted” us into their family, and we hope to never lose that honor. (Guess that made us “Gundersens” too.)  I still remember the adoption ceremony.  Effie was sitting in a folding chair on Kris and Kirk’s lawn.  We were introduced, and the pronouncement was made.  As usual, when Effie pronounced something, it was done. (Let it be written, let it be done).  Who were we to argue?  Oh, how we loved that matron of the Gundersen clan!

We bought our house from Bing Jacobs, who became a respected friend.  I will never forget the time that he stood on our front porch, and recounted the day that he and his wife had returned from the grocery store, and she, having grocery bags in both hands, lost her balance, falling backwards onto the sidewalk.  She never came home again.  The intimacy of that moment, him being 92 years old and sharing that most painful of memories with me…well, I will never forget it.

So, my friends, I want to take this opportunity to testify one last time of my love for you.  I would not be the person I am today if not for you.  Your kindness, encouragement, and pure love will never be forgotten.  In marvelous ways you exhibited over and over again the charity of Christ.  In fact, you were an instrument in the Lord’s hands in bringing me to Christ.

I know you’re probably confused about the decisions we’ve made.  Mercifully for us all, all truth will be known in the Lord’s time.  If I may, I’d like to bear my testimony one last time.  It hasn’t changed a lot, but it has gotten so much more real – made real, perhaps, by sacrifice:

Jesus Christ lives.  He not only lives, He knows you and you and you and me.  He desires to abide with us – yes, abide with us. (John 14:23), and to manifest Himself to us. (John 14:21)  This is not a metaphorical promise – but it is very real.  For this to be possible, we must submit our will to His.  The Bible testifies of this.  The Book of Mormon testifies of this.  The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price testify of this.  The Lectures on Faith testify of this.  My own personal revelations testify of this.  All are scripture– some for the world, and some more personal, but all are scripture.

Joseph Smith is the prophet of this restoration.  He saw God the Father and Christ the Son.  They and other heavenly beings, the very powers of heaven, came to him and taught him, that he might, in turn, teach us.  What did he teach?  He taught that Christ lives, that He knows us, and that it is His desire to abide with us.  Furthermore, he taught that we, each and every one of us, must approach the Savior personally if we are to seek the light of truth.  (1 John 2:27).  He taught that we are not to trust in the arm of flesh. (2 Nephi 4:34) but we are to seek diligently the very face of the Lord (Psalms 105:4, Ether 12:39-41).

Furthermore, Joseph taught of Christ’s love, and I speak as another witness, one among so many, of that love.  Even the very 2-edged sword of His word is edged in love, because if we do not live in harmony with the laws of the universe, which laws bind it together and were created, in love, by the Father Himself, we can never abide with Him, either in this life or in the next.  We’ve already established that he wants us to abide with Him, and He with us.  The intimacy that He desires is beyond words.  It can only be felt by the spirit of revelation.

Finally, I share the following quote from the Prophet Joseph:

“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! … (Teachings: Joseph Smith, Chapter 22, Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths)

Diana and I offered our love to you over the past 17+ years.  You received it, and returned it in kind.  We will be forever thankful for that.  We continue to offer it, even if it is from a distance, both geographically and emotionally.  That love is real, and I hope you will continue to receive it.  May the Lord bless each of you in all that you do.  May your lives blossom with joy, and may each life bring glory to our Savior – even Jesus Christ, He who alone stands worthy of such glory – and that by His ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.  I speak these things with a heart full of joy, testifying and witnessing of Him, of His name, and of His eternal plan for each of us, and I do so in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.


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