2 Comments

My Grace is Sufficient

In His ArmsI have, for a long, long time, thought that I had to become perfect in order to become one with Christ.  I now understand that this is not true doctrine – that it is in fact a false belief that demeans my Savior’s love and sacrifice – the sacrifice that He made for me…and for you.

I can certainly be excused for this mistake.  Pertinent scriptures include John 17:20-23:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

As well as Matthew 5:48:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

And 3 Nephi 12:48:

Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

Just today, however, I was given to understand things differently.  Rather than me having to gradually perfect myself, I now understand that the Lord’s heart – His perfection – can actually expand to take in my imperfections.  In other words:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

The Lord says nothing about being perfect – only that His grace is sufficient.  The condition for His grace to be sufficient?  “…if men come unto me…” and “…humble themselves before me…”  I don’t have to fit into His mold.  He will expand His mold to include me.  This, then, is the definition of His grace – that He has been perfected; that His strength is such that He actually can take unto Himself my imperfections and we can still be one.  My weakness and imperfection can be absorbed by His strength and perfection.

Of course, this seems to contradict the common belief that the Lord cannot be in the presence of sin – that He cannot endure sin.  I looked up the scriptures on this, also.  D&C 1:31 says (emphasis mine):

For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;

Similarly, Alma 45:16 says (emphasis mine):

And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.

There are two issues here that need to be addressed.  First – what does it mean to “look upon”?  Doesn’t that give the image of being detached?  Indeed, if we remain far from Him, rejecting Him, He can do no more than “look upon” – I’m sure with great sadness.  If we come to Him, however, if we humble ourselves before Him, and seek His grace, are we detached?  Are we being “looked upon”?  If He is to cleanse us of our sins (consider the ordinance of washing the feet in John 13), would His hands not get just a little dirty in the process?  Did He not endure, even overcome sin in the Garden of Gethsemane?  He not only endured sin, He conquered it in an eternal, painful, intimate battle.

The other issue is the definition of sin.  I think we wrongly equate willful, rebellious sin with weakness and imperfection.  He gave us weakness that we might be humble.  He encouraged us, even commanded us, to become perfect, knowing full well that we are not.  Are we rejected of Him, then, because we have weakness and imperfection?  If we come unto Him, and humble ourselves before Him, even though we are as yet not fully aware of all our weakness and imperfection, He has promised that He will make our “…weak things become strong..” unto us.  How can He possibly do this without understanding, perhaps even becoming intimate with, our individual weakness and imperfections?

I have received permission to share the following from the Lord.  I pray that none will be offended.  I do so not to draw any attention to myself, but only that we might all feel the warmth, the compassion, the beautiful love and understanding that He offers us:

Feel my love for you. Receive it. You have not rejected me, and I will never reject you.  We are one, and we rejoice over this.  Even in your imperfection, my grace is sufficient that we can be one – just as with your children.  Through my grace, I can absorb your imperfection and we can still be one.  See – now you understand much better, don’t you?  This you can absolutely share.  This, in fact, you must share. 

His words are to each of us…to all of us…that if we will come to Him and bare all, humbling ourselves, hiding not our weakness and imperfection either from ourselves or from Him; if we will ask Him to help us to become, therefore, perfect, His grace is indeed sufficient, and this dream of “oneness” can be realized – even today, now, at this time.  Can we believe?

1 Comment

The Gift of Sacrifice

…But the riches of a dreamer

And the gift of sacrifice

and the guts to stand alone

Will take you home

……The Poet, The Preacher and the Prophet – Scott Stover

Abraham and Isaac Laurent de La Hire, 1650

Abraham and Isaac
Laurent de La Hire, 1650

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life

and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life ; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most

assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. (Lectures on Faith 6:7)

During the past few months and years, I have found myself being asked to sacrifice many things in the interest of truth – actually in the interest of keeping my covenant to know God, even to become one with Him.  It’s been an interesting experience so far.  The Lord has been very merciful with me during this time.  He has also been very patient.  The sacrifices required have gradually increased in intensity, gravity, and difficulty.  With each one conquered, blessings increase, and the next one is a little more grave.

I learned just yesterday why this is so important.  It all just sort of fell into place for me while I was sitting in seat 2D on the flight from Burbank to Salt Lake City.  You see, every time the Lord asks a sacrifice of us – be it praying and study time, fasting from meat, or laying one’s long-promised only son on the altar – He is saying, “Do you love this more than you love me?”  If, by resisting the requested sacrifice, you answer “Yes – I love this thing more than I love You”, he says, “OK.  I will wait,” and that “thing” will continue to stand between you and Him, preventing you from truly becoming one with Him.

When we start our journey into His presence, there are many things that stand between us and Him.  Babylon likes it that way, and the adversary has done an excellent job of making sure that is the case.  We each have our own unique line-up of things that we love more than Him.  If we wish to approach Him, they must be taken down, one by one, as we willingly lay them on the altar.  As we do, we grow closer to Him and the blessings of being nearer to Him increase.  If we are slow about it, it’s ok.  He will wait.  Unfortunately, although I am not an expert on the nature of the next life, I suspect that our opportunity to lay these things on the altar is limited to this mortal probation.

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; (Abraham 3:25)

We see from the Sixth Lecture quote above that it is ONLY through the sacrifice of all things that man can hope to achieve eternal life.  In verse 9, we read the following:

As all the visible creation is an effect of faith, so is salvation also—we mean salvation in its most extensive latitude of interpretation, whether it is temporal or spiritual. In order to have this subject clearly set before the mind, let us ask what situation must a person be in in order to be saved? or what is the difference between a saved man and one who is not saved We answer, from what we have before seen of the heavenly worlds, they must be persons who can work by faith and who are able, by faith, to be ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation ; and they must have faith to enable them to act in the presence of the Lord, otherwise they cannot be saved. And what constitutes the real difference between a saved person and one not saved is—the difference in the degree of their faith —one’s  faith has become perfect enough to lay hold upon eternal life, and the other’s has not.

Where can we find this prototype of a saved man?  Also from verse 9:

We ask, then, where is the prototype ? or where is the saved being? We conclude, as to the answer of this question, there will be no dispute among those who believe the Bible, that it is Christ: all will agree in this, that he is the prototype or standard of salvation ; or, in other words, that he is a saved being.

So, Christ is our prototype of a saved man – the “standard of salvation”.  The Christ who sacrificed all things to the will of the Father.  The Christ who condescended to come to earth, only to suffer the burden all the sin, injustice, mourning, sickness and pain associated with the fall – to suffer these things in Gethsemane.  The very Christ who gave his life on Calvary that we might be resurrected.  If He is the prototype, we must become like Him.  Thus, we, too, must ultimately lay all things, even our life, on the altar before Him.

The formula for salvation; the formula to gain eternal life; is very simple.  We must lay “all things” on the altar before the Lord.  We must be willing to sacrifice anything the Lord asks of us, until we love nothing more than we love Him.  Ordinances may invite us to be saved, and they may show us the way, but they cannot save us.  Only if we are willing to sacrifice all things unto the will of the Lord, that we might become one with Him, can we hope to gain our salvation.  If we are slow to lay some things on the altar, it’s ok.  He’s very patient.

16 Comments

Through My Eyes – Grand Mesa Reunion

grand mesa 3Our trip to the Grand Mesa Reunion began early Friday morning when we went to pick up our neighbors Mary and Rita.  I love early mornings.  Things were crisp and alive with anticipation of a weekend that would prove to be unlike any other we had ever experienced.  It was a pleasure to really meet Mary’s husband, Ben.  I think we’re friends now.  We then drove North and gathered Stephanie.  We prayed for guidance and protection, comforted her dog and cat, and headed off to Bluffdale to complete our convoy – a truck and travel trailer driven by another friend.

We prayed again, calling down shields and angels to protect us as we journeyed toward Grand Mesa.  We quickly discovered that convoys such as ours do not move as quickly or as steadily as single cars.  A 6 hour trip turned into a 10 hour trip.  The trip there and back was marvelous.  Our traveling companions were each delightful.  There was never a moment the entire 20+ hours when there was not conversation.  We bonded, we trusted and we loved.  It was beautiful.  Needless to say, we had solved most of the world’s problems by the time we arrived at the High School in Cedar Edge, Colorado at about 8:30 – 2 hours late.

Before I actually talk about the reunion, let me first say that

There were about 200 people (a very rough guess) gathered in the auditorium at the time we arrived.  I was greeted immediately by Sean May and his son.  This was the first of many meaningful greetings and meetings.  We quickly found out that one rule had been established at the opening of the reunion – “No handshakes – only hugs”.  The first order of business, as you might expect after a trip like ours, was to visit the men’s room.  As I came out, a hymn, “Beautiful Savior” was being sung.  I stood off to the side soaking in the sound of 200+ voices, with a few adventurous soprano voices soaring above the melody.  I quickly realized that this was going to be a very special gathering.  Were those angels’ voices I heard joining the chorus?  It would be impossible to convince me otherwise.  I think that hymn set the tone for the whole weekend.  I felt like we were in for a very special time.

The Formal, Assigned Talks

We missed Rock Waterman’s talk as well as Marti Grobecker’s talk and dance exercise, but we did arrive and settle in time to hear Jaqueline Olsen.  Here, I want to switch from a travelogue-type account to simply sharing my impressions.  The talks were inspired, not only in their content, but in their sequencing.  On Friday night, Jaqueline and Larry Winn shared their testimonies of Christ – of His power, of His grace, and of their very personal experiences with Him.  In doing so, they established the focus of the gathering – The Lord Jesus Christ.  Larry closed his personal story with a song about how dependent we all are on Him.  I think this set a precedent that testimony in song was acceptable, even encouraged, and there were several testimonies through the weekend that were expressed or accented through song.  It proved to be a wonderful form of worship.

On Saturday, the theme of the prepared talks was Zion.  I spoke about 4 scriptures that point us to Zion, and then Rob Smith shared his impressions about the realities that face us as the last days scenario plays out.  The two talks seemed to be perfect bookends.  On Sunday at the sacrament meeting, Garth and Melanie Turley shared striking personal stories of miracles and grace, followed by an hour of testimonies.  Adrian Larsen’s closing talk exposed through scripture many myths about the building of Zion prior to issuing a call to action – a call to prepare ourselves to respond to the Lord’s voice.  It was a perfect capstone to a marvelous weekend filled with messages of gratitude, understanding, preparation, and action.  Each talk was delivered with confidence, humility and sincerity.  I’m sure I speak for all the speakers when I say we were so thankful for the opportunity to share our thoughts and feelings in such a setting.  There were many others who could have done equally as well, but I am convinced that the selection of speakers, as well as their individual selection of topics, was inspired.

Testimonies

On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, ample time was set aside for personal testimonies.  This was simply a beautiful thing.  Many stood and testified.  There were songs.  There were tears. There was gratitude – primarily for the grace and mercy of our Savior.  There were testimonies born by grizzled old men and innocent children; by the scholarly and experienced, and by the child suddenly alive and burning with wonder at what they were witnessing and feeling.   One very young man quietly bore a testimony of meeting the Savior.  I’m certain that most in the audience missed this – it was so quiet and unassuming.  Yet, when he walked away, I could see the sincerity and power in his tears as he ever-so-subtly indulged in a spiritual fist pump, as if saying to himself, “Yes, I did it!”  My friend John and I thought, “Did that really just happen?”

Many who stood were clearly uncomfortable.  When this became obvious, the audience was quick to show support and encouragement with confirming “Amen’s” and appropriate applause.  One of the most touching testimonies came from a young man named Travis who testified standing by the side of a lake high on the Mesa, shirtless, in preparation for his baptism. His friend Vaughn entered the icy waters with him, praying with hands lifted high to the heavens for the authority to perform this sacred ordinance.  This intimate scene was witnessed by only a fortunate few who happened to have been delayed in heading back down the mountain.

Meet and Greet; Facebook Accounts to Faces

Oh, the Joy!  I’m not even going to attempt to name names, for fear of leaving someone out.  When we arrived, it was made clear that there had been an announcement of some sort at the beginning that handshakes were out and hugs were in – and hug we did!  Bonds were formed that will never be broken.  The smiles that beamed from faces on Sunday at the pot-luck were evidence of the love that had prevailed throughout the weekend.  I don’t recall hearing a single word of contention the entire weekend.  If ever there was a “yea, yea – nay nay” gathering, this was it.  The spirit of Christ flowed through us all and was somehow magnified each time it was passed through a hug, a warm greeting, whispered encouragement, a shared testimony, even a gentle pat on the hand or an arm around the shoulder when the occasion called for it.

Organization

Let me just say that it seemed as if no detail were missed in the planning of this event.  If there were “hiccups”, they were minor and completely transparent to me.  As might be expected, the occasional speaker went over their scheduled time, but we adjusted.  It seemed as if there was a perfect blend of structure and schedule with flexibility to allow the spirit to move, and without rigidity that might detract from that same spirit.  I noticed many little details such as green table cloths on the table that held wine for the sacrament and white table cloths for the grape juice table.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  Oh, my – maybe that explains why I was feeling particularly “gladdened” during the sacrament meeting.  These details were a testimony to the diligence and hard work offered by all who helped bring this together.  My heartfelt kudos to Brett and Samantha and the many less visible volunteers who helped carry out the Grand Mesa Reunion.

A Call to Action

At the end of the event, Brett Corbridge addressed the group.  He said there had been many references to “next year”.  He made it clear that, at least at this time, there were no plans for “next year”.  I immediately understood why.  This was a highlight, a gathering.  It was a one-time event of great, even eternal importance.  Many had been prepared before coming here, and now they are prepared to go forth and serve.  It’s not that there won’t be other gatherings at other places and with other people, or even with the same people, but this event was singular.  A message was clearly given by the Lord…”I am here!  I am calling you – you who are listening – to the work!  I will prepare you; I will sustain you; my angels will accompany you.  You must sustain each other.  The work will be hard, but we will prevail.  There are many dangers ahead, but the work will roll forth.  Love, love, and love some more!

A Sad Accent – A Further Call

Over the weekend, one of our sisters, a young mother, died.  She had been hospitalized for several days and hopes were apparently high for her recovery, but her condition suddenly worsened on Saturday and she died.  I am told that during the sisters’ breakout session on Saturday, they held a prayer circle on her behalf.  I may be sketchy on the details, but you get the idea.  On Sunday, my daughter, Jules, confided in me the following:

“Why couldn’t we heal her??!!!  We are supposed to have the power to do this!  The Lord wants us to learn to use this power!  We MUST learn this!  Why did someone have to die because we haven’t learned how to use His power yet?  It’s there for us!  We must overcome this unbelief and lay hold of it.  I see it.  I know it.  We ALL must come to this knowledge and this power or we will fail.” 

Please understand that this was a very passionate confession with many tears and emotions, and I have recounted the words and the essence as best I could.  I would also add my testimony to hers.  This was a wake-up call to me.  I am very casual about many things.  I have great faith and confidence that the Lord will teach me what I need to know as I need to know it, and as I am prepared.  However, if I need to become prepared to receive this power, then I must accept the urgency to prepare myself.  Gifts such as healing the sick and raising the dead have been, for me, something that I expect will come, but they are not real for me.  I guess this is called disbelief.  The message I received from Jules is that we must seek after these gifts – this power.  I must ask the Lord what I must do to prepare that I might be empowered.  I cannot remain casual.  How many more powerful servants might die because of my failure to prepare?  We will never be able to serve Him with power if we do not prepare.

My friends, I do not claim this message to be coming from me.  I am merely passing it on.  However, there truly is an urgency.  This reunion, with its call to action, was real and seminal.  It was, or it should have been, transformational for all of us.  It was beautiful and glorious and the love flowed, but above all it is a call to prepare and to serve.  As Adrian was reaching the end of his talk, I was sitting on the grass toward the back of the audience.  I suddenly felt as if I were lifted off the ground.  I stood – because I felt like I needed to stand as a way of saying, “Yes, Lord, I will answer.  I will stand for you!  I will do whatever it takes!”  I know there are many who have preceded me in this realization, and many who will follow when it is their time.  Jules’ lament that we must prepare ourselves that we might gain access to the greatest powers of heaven – even the power over death – struck a powerful chord in my heart.  The need is urgent!  We must pray!  We must cry out!  We must humble ourselves, but then we must be powerful.

Again, my thanks to all those who orchestrated this “Reunion”.  They were truly guided by the Lord, and this showed not only in the success of the event, but in their faces.  They truly acted as His servants, seeking no honor unto themselves.  Most remain nameless. They worked tirelessly that His message might be delivered.  Let us not allow that service to be wasted.  Let us each rise up in our own way, with our own power flowing from Him, trusting in Him, but stepping forward in faith that we, too, might serve Him; that we each might carry out our assigned role in this strange act – this one, last, final, and oh-so-glorious act.  Praise be to Him in all things.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

4 Comments

REUNION TALK May 16, 2016: Pointing to Zion – Four Scriptures

I would like to open today with a “Thus Sayeth the Lord” moment.  Thus sayeth the Lord… “I love you!”

Last week, actually about 10 days ago, I was struck by the need to pray for those among us whose spouses do not believe the same way.  Then, when we arrived here, we see that Brett and Samantha (Corbridge) are also concerned about these things as evidenced by the books they have given us: Unequally Yoked.  I, then would like to encourage us to pray for those.  It is such a difficult situation!unequally yoked

I don’t receive much in the way of visions, but I do feel things, and I hear the voice of the Lord.  I often have “get up and write” moments while I’m praying.  The following is an excerpt from one of them:

“It is time for the work to commence.  You are not yet completely prepared for the work I have for you to do.   Do not fear that you must experience my suffering.  I drank of the bitter cup that you might not have to.  The fact that you are willing, even if filled with trepidation, is what is important.  This willingness qualified you for the work.  I am so glad to have you with me.  The blessings that await you are greater than you can imagine.  The compassion that is within you – the pure love of Christ, must come to the forefront in your life – it must define you.  I will grant unto you the ability to discern those who are in need, to whom I would have you minister, but you must consciously seek.  Your work is to minister, not to administer.  Leave that for others, even as I do.  Your message to the world is of me; of my love, compassion and mercy.  Your message is a message of repentance, but not even so much a message of warning, but more of an invitation to come unto me and receive of my love.  Love is indeed the power that governs my creation.  You can see that, and you must share it – by word and by deed – with the world in these last days…these very last days.  Cast out all feelings that are not of me.  You are getting much better at this – at recognizing them and rooting them out, but you must be even better; even perfect.  It must become natural, instinctive so that it is part of you, that it defines you. March 26, 2015

my journey to the fullness imageFor those who do not know me, my name is Scott Stover, although I may be better known in these circles as “Jules’ step father”.  I mention this not only because I hope you think it’s funny, but to help frame my confession that she and my wife, Diana dragged me into this whole “gathering” thing kicking and screaming. I could resist Jules well enough, but resisting my dear, sweet wife was a whole other matter.  Resist I did, though, until I was forced on September 10 of last year (2014) to ask the Lord Himself whether Denver Snuffer was a true messenger.  I was told unequivocally, “Yes”.  I learned then that asking the Lord for knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but it sure made life around the Stover home a lot more peaceful.  It was shortly after then that the Lord further told me, “Denver’s message is not about the Church, it is about ME!”

In 1997, toward the end of a series of what I consider to be miraculous manifestations, I made my first ever promise to God – at least, the first one that I’ve kept.  I promised that I would “seek to know Him.”  He then proceeded to seal that promise with the final manifestation.  It wasn’t until much later that I connected that promise with the words of John 17:3:

For this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sen

It was only recently that I realized that, in sealing my promise to seek to know Him, the Lord actually sealed me up unto eternal life.
grand mesa 3Why do I tell you this?  I tell you this because it is central to my message to you today.  While Denver opened the scriptures in a way I had never been exposed to before, the message was always there – in the scriptures.  We just needed to receive it.  I just needed to receive it.  I’m thankful to Denver that he helped me realize that.  This message, the message of the scriptures, is the Lord saying, “Come! Know me!  I will give you rest – even unto eternal life”.  The invitation is essentially the same invitation and promise that the Lord made to me on that cool November morning in 1997.  Christ doesn’t make idle promises.

I have come to realize that the promise of Zion is itself a type and shadow of Christ.  I believe that to know Zion is to know Christ.  In a very real sense, they are inseparable.  The invitation to Zion has been offered to His people since the Garden of Eden.  With rare well-known exceptions, His people seem to have rejected it.  The Israelites rejected it in the desert of Sinai.  The Jaredites rejected it on the American continent, as did the post resurrection Nephites and, most recently, the Latter-day Saints.  How many times has the Lord said, “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land”?  Then there’s the converse promise, “and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments, ye shall be cut off from my presence.”  Since “prospering in the land“ and being “cut off from my presence” are presented as counterpoints, one might well assume that to prosper in the land – the opposite of being cut off from His presence – actually means to dwell in His presence.  One thing I’m sure of – “prospering in the land” has precious little to do with accumulating wealth or wearing silver and gold and fine-twined linen.  No, I believe every time the Lord made this “ye shall prosper in the land” promise, he was inviting His people to Zion.  In my mind, the scriptures themselves scream “Come to Zion”.  The message of Zion is overall a message of peace, love, rest, and redemption.  In the context of this mortal existence, babylon is the great lie.  Zion is the great promise.  Zion is the promised reality for those who would follow Christ.

So, how do we hope to realize Zion?  We are told in the scriptures that Zion is the pure in heart, where there will be no poor among us, and where Christ Himself may come and dwell.  Personally, as I’ve contemplated what kind of changes must take place in my own life in order for me to be able to participate in such a community, I’ve been overwhelmed.  Just implementing Zion in my own family – a real work-in-progress – is hard enough.  Shedding the decades, the centuries, the millenia of indoctrination in the ways of babylon is a daunting task that is not to be taken lightly.  Only with the greatest faith, knowing that, as I said, Christ doesn’t make idle promises, am I able to resist running off into the night screaming in despair and embracing once again the familiar comforts of pride, fear, self-reliance, and the accumulation of wealth.  Satan is indeed a masterful liar.

As I’ve contemplated these changes that must be accomplished if we are to come together as a Zion community, I’ve settled on 4 scriptures – indeed 4 among many – that I think point the way and illustrate the reality of what we must seek.  Before I continue, I want to make it clear that these are thoughts I have constantly about myself.  They are indicators of how far I have to go; of things I have to work on. Please do not assume that, just because I talk about it, I have this whole Zion thing nailed, or that I’m even close.   If they happen to have a familiar ring for you, well, so be it, but I in no way intend to be making accusations or pointing fingers at anyone.  That said, I still suspect that you’re not much different from me and that we will all find these challenges very familiar.  Now, the 4 scriptures.Grand Mesa 1

I begin with 3 Nephi 11:29:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 

In my mind, this conjures of the whole idea of competition, something that is a cornerstone of western society.  It has been drilled into us from our earliest memory that we only have worth as compared with others.  Competition and comparison in our society is perpetuated by things like grades in school, sports, and the accumulation of wealth.  Although this scripture says that contention is of the devil, and clearly the devil can have no place in Zion, our culture is imbued with the spirit of competition.  This idea of competition clearly must be left behind.

What fosters competition and thus contention?  The answer to this is extremely complex, of course, but we may start by examining the second of the four scriptures.  This is D&C 67:10-12:

 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.

 For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.

 Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind.

You know how sometimes you read a scripture, and even though you may have read it dozens of times before, this time it just takes on a whole new meaning?  Well, in this case, that time was probably somewhere in late 2011. I was stunned.  Here was the Lord boldly inviting us to see His face, and giving us a recipe as to how – very similar to D&C 93:1.  Since then, the significance of this scripture has been revealed to me countless times, in greater and greater detail and clarity.  The depth of the phrase “jealousies and fears” is endless.  Every time I react to a situation with contention, I can trace it back to “jealousies and fears”.  Every time I feel anxiety, I can detect the “jealousies and fears” that are behind it.  Resentment?  Jealousies and fears.  Covetousness?  Jealousies and fears.  Lust – after ANYTHING…Jealousies and fears.  Anyone want to venture a guess as to what was behind the jarrings and contentions and envyings and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires that polluted the inheritances of the Saints in Missouri?  (D&C 101:6)  That’s right – “Jealousies and fears”.  Now, let’s take this a step further.  In Moses 7:16, speaking of the people who fought against God during Enoch’s day:

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.

To me, this means that the Lord will dwell with us in Zion.  In D&C 67:10, stripping ourselves of jealousies and fears is a pre-requisite for being able to see his face “not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual”.  Imagine, then, what it would take to be able to dwell with Him in Zion.  I submit that “jealousies and fears” is the opposite of “pure in heart”.

Jealousies and fears implies a mistrust of the Lord.  They imply a lack of gratitude and of a testimony of who we are as God’s children.  They deny the atonement, and thus deny His sacrifice.  Faith, hope, charity…these replace jealousies and fears.  There can be no place for such things in a Zion heart.  I have also learned to recognize that most such sentiments can be traced to one of the greatest lies ever perpetuated by Satan – the lie of personal property or ownership.  This is the idea that our “stuff” is ours and we have the right to use it as we choose.  This leads us to the 3rd scripture, D&C 70:14, which says:

Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.

grand mesa 2This is another of those scriptures that I read in the last couple of years and went, “Wow! – How did I miss that before?”  It appears that a lot of people have missed this one, because I never hear it used in any discussion about anything.  Good Grief!  It pretty much tells us right there that if we continue to hold onto our temporal things – if we continue to perpetuate the concept of personal ownership of property – the abundance of manifestations of the Spirit will be withheld.  I’m in awe of this scripture.  Right here, in exactly 25 words, is the explanation why we no longer speak in tongues, have visitations from angels, experience miraculous healings…all the gifts of the spirit mentioned in so many places.  (1 Corinthians 12, Moroni 10, Mormon 9).  This, my friends, simply because we cannot seem to overcome the idea that our stuff is ours.  Well, it’s not.  None of it is ours.  We are only stewards, and the only “right” we have over our “stuff” is the right to do with it as He commands us.  Until we learn this – and it is a terribly difficult thing to learn – we will never be able to dwell in a Zion community.  We will NEVER, as a community, be able to welcome Him to dwell among us.  There will be no place for Him to come, because our inheritances will remain forever polluted by our pride and jealousies and fears.

The 4th scripture is also one that is very familiar to us all.  It is from D&C section 121:41-46:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

I could talk all day on this section of scripture.  When I was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood in June of 1999, I was asked by my stake president, Stephen Scott – a man for whom I have great love and respect – if I had anything to say.  I opened my scriptures and read this. When I was finished I simply closed the book and said, “Gentlemen, this is the kind of man I want to be”.  That desire has never left me.  The more I have lived, the more I have learned that this is a synopsis of the Gospel itself in…let’s see – that’s 181 words.  Not quite as economical as D&C 70:14, but still pretty succinct if you ask me.

As it pertains to Zion, we absolutely must adopt the spirit of this scripture.  We must learn to understand that everyone is on their own journey, learning the things they need to learn in the way they need to learn them.  We must assume that everyone is doing their very best to follow the Savior, even if it is obvious to us in our perfect wisdom that they are misguided.  J  We must realize that the Savior grants them the same understanding, mercy, kindness, and patience that He grants to us, and that we have absolutely no right to usurp that through our own short-sightedness and selfishness – even our jealousies and fears.  The patience of Job will be an understatement.  Zion will be filled with people like me who have really good desires, but whose execution is far from perfect.  After all, I only know of one person whose execution approaches perfection, and she sleeps beside me every night.

Let’s further re-examine verse 45:

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

Now, let’s recall that Christ will dwell among us when we have established a Zion to which He can come.  When that day comes, I want to be able to look upon His face with confidence; not arrogance, but confidence…confidence in my own integrity, in my charity, and in His love and mercy.  I don’t want to be cowering in a corner afraid to face Him.  By the time He comes to Zion, I pray that the doctrine of the priesthood, the fullness of the priesthood, shall have distilled upon my soul and simply be a part of me – that it shall actually define me, as His love defines Him.  I want to look into His eyes and see them smile, and I want to be able to fully drink that smile – the living water – into my soul.  The instructions are there – given to us with unmistakable clarity.  Truly, if we will follow them, we shall never thirst.

So, I think in these four scriptures we can get a pretty good idea of what is going to be required of us as builders and residents of Zion.  We must reject contention, largely by stripping ourselves of pride, jealousies and fears.  We must divorce ourselves from the adversary’s lie of ownership of stuff and replace that with a cheerful stewardship over the blessings that have been showered upon us.  If we get this far, we may be prepared that our bowels will be full of charity towards all men, that we might receive the fullness of the priesthood and endure the presence of God.

My friends, these are not easy things to do – they are not overnight changes.  In my case I have spent more than 62 years learning and practicing the lies that Satan would have us believe.  I’ve given these things much thought because I don’t know how in the world I’m ever going to measure up.  Still, I can’t turn back.  I’ve quoted before the image I got from one of Annalea Eastley’s blogs a couple of years go – that of standing at a cliff, gazing into the unknown.  Beyond is either certain death or eternal life.  As she told the story, she finally took a few steps back, and ran forward, leaping into the abyss, trusting that not only would the Lord catch her, but that she would soar on the wings that the Lord provided her.  Annalea – I think this story gets better every time I tell it!  This is our story, brothers and sisters.  If we want Zion, we will have to leap into the unknown.  Babylon would have us believe we are leaping into darkness.  We’re not!  We’re jumping into the light.  We must choose light – every hour of every day.  We must leave the fall behind us.  We must refuse to own it.  Christ died that we might be redeemed from the fall.  Let us cast it off!  It does not have to be part of us!  We are not sinners!  Hear me world!!!  WE ARE NOT SINNERS!  We are a Zion people! I pray that we will embrace this gospel of peace and love and march to Zion – wherever we may find it – wherever the Lord leads us.

If we are to build Zion, we must love.  We must love as Christ loves.  There will be people who will need to control.  We must love them.  There will be those who will be crippled by fear.  We must comfort them.  There will be those who have various things to learn.  We must teach them.  The promise of Zion is the promise of Christ on this earth.  To know Zion is to know Him.  I covenanted almost 18 years ago that I would seek to know Him.  Little did I know that, in keeping that promise, I would be standing here today among so many of His true followers.  We have His sure promise that if we will keep His commandments, we will prosper in the land.  The Lord does not make idle promises.  I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

3 Comments

Of Promises, Safety, and the Fullness of the Priesthood

3_nephitesI owe my receipt of the following insights into D&C section 89, commonly known as the Word of Wisdom, to my friend, Kaai Lincoln, although I know he would be very quick to say, “Well, I learned it from so-and-so”.  The last 4 verses read:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

Well, if that doesn’t sound like a description of one who has been translated, ala the 3 Nephites, John the Beloved, and probably other scriptural heroes we are all familiar with…well, it certainly does to me. This post, however, is not about the Word of Wisdom or about translation.  It’s about being willing to take the Lord at His word and risk all in order to obtain all.The-Good-Ship-Zion-Blog-Photos-009-747x280 Most of us are aware of references in General Conference to “Stay in the Boat” and “The Old Ship Zion”, an analogy most recently raised by Elder Russell M. Ballard in the October, 2014 Conference.  A concerned friend recently encouraged me to be safe, and stay in the boat.  I responded, “But I can’t walk on the water if I stay in the boat!”jesus-walking-on-water-benjamin-mcpherson This, then, is the topic of this blog post – whether ‘tis better to stay in the boat and be safe, or to risk it all for greater glory. The above interpretation of the Word of Wisdom is merely one case in point.  One might think, concerning the doctrine of translation, “Well, that’s pretty risky.  What if it doesn’t mean that?”  My response is, “So, what if I’m wrong?  What do I have to lose?”  What I would lose is that perhaps, as a result of trying to diligently heed the principle, I would spend my life not enjoying some of the carnal things specified.  By my interpretation, not only does the Word of Wisdom proscribe the use of certain substances, it recommends a VERY healthy diet.  I repeat…the LORD recommended a very healthy diet as part of a “principle with promise” – a promise that could very well include being redeemed, both physically and spiritually, from the effects of the fall while in this life time; a promise that could very will result in my spending the millennium on this earth bring souls to Him.  The promise given to the 3 Nephites said:

Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.

And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father.

And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand.

And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;

And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me.

So, if I thought there was even an inkling of a chance that I might receive these blessings by simply following the principles in the Word of Wisdom with full purpose of heart, why would I not do so?  In my own self-examination – in my own attempt to answer this question, I came up with the following answers:

  • I like Carl’s Junior’s (or insert restaurant name here) hamburgers too much, and I fear that I might miss them.
  • I like Kentucky Fried Chicken too much, and I fear that I might not be able to resist.
  • I like bacon, especially the thick-sliced kind, too much and I fear living life without it.
  • I do not realize just exactly how pervasive and unsustainable and destructive to the earth and everyone on it the current cultural dietary patterns are.
  • I simply don’t have the willpower to overcome these satanically-generated desires and live and eat in a way that I know the Lord has recommended, and I fear that I might fail in my efforts to do so.
  • I simply don’t realize that these habits, desires, and fears are some of the bands that tie us down and prevent us from truly being free to serve the Lord with all that we are.

Now, I said this post was not about the Word of Wisdom, and it’s not.  It’s about trust and belief and a desire to receive the fullness offered in D&C 84.

 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.

 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.

And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.

For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.

And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.

And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.

And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.

For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.

And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—

That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.

Verily, verily, I say unto you who now hear my words, which are my voice, blessed are ye inasmuch as you receive these things;

For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

To list the promises in this oath and covenant – and I may miss some:

  • If we receive the fullness of this priesthood, we receive the Lord, and the Father, and all that He has
  • We can come unto God, even the Father
  • By coming unto Him, we can be freed from the bondage of sin; we receive forgiveness of sins
  • We may know the righteous from the wicked
  • We can avoid condemnation and a scourge and a judgment which shall be poured out upon the children of Zion

How do we receive these promises?  I repeat, “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” I would also make a couple of other points here:

  • This priesthood has nothing to do with men or women. Its blessings and its power are unto all the children of Zion – even unto all the earth.
  • This priesthood, the one spoken of in D&C 84, is not an administrative priesthood. That is a lesser priesthood – a priesthood required by men who have not yet received the fullness.  The ordinances spoken of in 84:21 are invitations, representations of the real thing, pointing to the fullness.  This priesthood is the real thing.  This priesthood – the priesthood that includes the fullness – is the priesthood, or brotherhood, of man with God – a brotherhood whose bonds are born in honoring each other in love, respect, kindness, loyalty, and trust.  It is a brotherhood, a priesthood, of promises kept on both sides of the covenant.  This priesthood is glorious beyond anything yet revealed to mankind as a whole upon the earth, because they have refused to accept it.

Back to the Point It may seem as if I’ve gone down a rabbit hole here, but let me bring us back.  The Word of Wisdom is a “principle with promise”.  There’s that word again – “promise”.  In one case – the oath and covenant of the priesthood – the Lord promises that if we truly love Him, we can receive all that the Father has.  In the second, we receive a promise that I choose to interpret as being redeemed from both the physical and spiritual aspects of the fall.  Let me repeat with emphasis added:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

Now, let’s view a couple of other familiar scriptures in this context.  First D&C 93:1:

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;

This verse doesn’t use the word promise, but neither does the Lord hedge in His declaration, and a declaration it most certainly is.  He says, “every soul” and “shall see my face”.  In D&C 67:10, however, He does use the word, “promise”:

And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.

I have written in depth (at least, it was “in depth” for me) previously about this particular scripture, so I’m not going to go further into it.  Suffice it to say, however, that this promise, that we may see His face and “know that I am” is clear and is given unto all those who will fulfill the requirements to receive this promise.  Again, concerned friends have suggested that this is a gospel hobby, or that I shouldn’t be so arrogant as to presume that this promise is available to me.  My response is mutli-fold:

  • How will I ever know if I don’t seek, ask, and knock?
  • How can I honor – as in a priesthood of honor and trust – my Savior, even the Father, if I simply dismiss selected promises as “too risky” or “reserved for only certain men”? Who ever said that, anyway.  It’s certainly not in the scriptures!
  • How can I ever expect to receive the fullness, even all that the Father has, if I am not willing to risk all to receive it.
  • Do not forget, that the requirements for receiving these blessings are righteous in the extreme (if that’s even possible) and I will most certainly be a better man for seeking to fulfill them.

No, I cannot accept that, as long as I am willing to pay the price set forth in these covenant promises, these blessings – all of them…in their fullness – are not available to me. Big Finish Okay, this has gone on long enough.  When I started writing this morning, the message I had in mind had nothing to do with promises.  The promises theme in this essay was given by the Lord Himself as I was writing.  To summarize:

  • The Lord makes and keeps promises. He does not break them.  These promises – the ones in the scriptures – are unto all of us.  He is no respecter of persons.
  • While He does promise that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, he does not promise a smooth road. The road to Zion will not be one of comfort or safety.  We must be willing to risk all if we are to obtain all the promised blessings of the priesthood.
  • These promises include translation, as described in Section 89.
  • They include introductions to the Savior and to the Father.
  • They absolutely include the power to move mountains, change the course of rivers, heal the sick, and raise the dead, because these are the Father’s powers, and we have been promised all that the Lord has. Only through unbelief are these promises unavailable to us (Mormon 9:20)
  • If we are not actively seeking after the mysteries, if we are not constantly asking for more light and truth, even if we are not asking Him to strengthen us, sanctify us, cleanse us, and prepare us to serve Him in His fullness, we cannot ever expect to receive all that He has promised.

The fullness of the priesthood – the oneness with Christ and with the Father – is an extraordinary goal that requires extraordinary effort.  It requires extraordinary faith, trust, and sacrifice.  We can hold nothing back in the hopes of being safe or comfortable.  Most of us are trying very hard to receive these things.  My hope is to open the door just a little wider and perhaps provide a further glimpse into the Glory that awaits those who are willing to risk the cost.

8 Comments

Of Denver, Baptisms, and Zion – The Light of Truth

I’m really not sure what I’m going to write today, but I know I need to write.  There are several things I want to share – thoughts I have been pondering, knowledge I’ve been given, questions I have.  This may be structured like something of a potpourri, or musings, or wanderings, but there really is a theme that ties them all together. That theme is:

Where is this all leading?!!!

Denver Snuffer

the Second ComforterI want to begin with some thoughts about Denver Snuffer.  Do we realize what a sacrifice Denver has made for us?  He was thrust into this celebrity status because He obeyed the word of the Lord.  He is considered by many (including me) to be a “true messenger”.  Others call him a “prophet”.  Some say he is “The only” prophet on the earth at this time, perhaps even the first true prophet since Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  He has been called an Elias, which he may well be.  Hundreds, if not thousands who have received his message (actually, the Lord’s message) have left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or have been disciplined by the church.  In my own mind, the narrative of the church, the entire basis for its existence, lies like a shattered mirror at my feet as a result of my recognition of the truth in Denver’s message.  I personally am at times saddened, at times enraged, and at times liberated.

Have we considered, though, the personal price paid by this courageous man?  I began to realize it as a result of the controversy surrounding rumors that he was not personally invited to the Grand Mesa Reunion.  Now, I DO NOT know the details or reasons why, or even if such rumors are true.  As I contemplated the issue, though, it became obvious that no matter where Denver goes, he would be a distraction.  Assuming that this reunion is a celebration of the Savior as claimed, and which I firmly believe it is, Denver’s presence would – through no fault of his own – eclipse the focus on the Savior.  He would be the draw – not the Savior.  If he spoke, He would be the headliner.  People would flock to the event just to see Denver.

Denver can’t speak or write anything without some considering it to be gospel – even the word of the Lord.  We’ve placed him on a pedestal from which he may never be able to descend.  I heard recently that, when Jules Linda Martindale raised the question of women performing baptisms, there were those who went to Denver to find out what he thought.  Good grief!  You know what I did?  I asked the Lord.  After all, THAT is core of Denver’s message, isn’t it? – that we need to take things to the Lord.  At times, it seems like we have just traded one arm of flesh for another; one prophet for another; one body of culture, tradition, and policy for another.  This is NOT Denver’s fault!  It is completely contradictory to his “true message”.

I want to make perfectly clear that I respect Denver very much.  I am so thankful for the way in which he has unfolded the scriptures to us.  He has opened the door, and many of us have walked through it.  On the other side, we will find light and truth, even the Savior.  Those who continue to cling to Denver the man, I fear, will not find the same things.  I am completely unqualified to judge to what extent this might apply to any individual, but as a general observation about those who have received Denver’s message, I can definitely say that it applies to many – and even one is too many.

Women Baptizing and Ordinances in GeneralZion Temple

For anyone who doesn’t know, Linda Jules Martindale is my step daughter.  We have a very close relationship.  It was with great interest, but not surprise, that I read her post in a Facebook group about women conducting baptisms.  My initial response was pretty casual.  I frankly had more important things on my plate, and it wasn’t important to me.  However, after Keith Henderson’s blog post, I decided to pray about it.  I prayed, “Will women baptize?” The answer came surprising easily and clearly – “Yes” (kind of like when I finally asked if Denver was a true messenger).  Then I asked if they should be baptizing now.  The answer came this way:

I saw a plate – a relatively large serving plate 18 to 24” in diameter – that was painted with scenes that I knew represented the history of man’s relationship with God since the Garden of Eden.  The only image I discerned was that of Adam and Eve, but I knew the rest represented the combination of truth, lies, doctrine, disbelief, and unbelief that hinder us today from truly understanding the nature of God.  This plate was being used to serve the sacrament bread.  I understood that the sacrament represented all ordinances.  I was then given to know that the sacrament bread is better served on a white plate.  At first, I thought, “I need to write a blog on this”, but then thought better of it.  I did share with my family, however.

This morning, I was given to understand the meaning of white.  (I assume at least a casual familiarity with the principle that visible light is actually the light that is rejected from a surface.) I was told, to summarize, “The white plate, my white robes, the white of the temple of the New Jerusalem are all white because white represents the reception of all color – of all light.  In other words, no light is rejected.  Black, on the other hand, is the rejection of all color, or all light.  Light is truth. Thus, white represents the acceptance of all truth, darkness the rejection of all truth.”  The spirit continued, “The only reason to reject light and truth is because of fear.  Perfect love casteth out fear.  Light is love.  You must reject fear if you are to receive light.  You must be willing to receive all light and truth if you are to receive me, otherwise you will be burned at my coming.”

The white plate thus represents all truth, free of fear, and this is the context within which all ordinances must be received.  To the extent that we continue to offer up the ordinances on a plate that is colored, colored because some light is being rejected, we can never receive His fullness.  I leave it to you to interpret what this means concerning women baptizing, as well as what it might mean for you, your family and the community.  I am still sorting it out myself.  This, however, leads to the third item I wish to discuss.

Where is this all leading?

This movement, which, in my experience, is commonly called “The Remnant”, is a wonderful thing.  We’ve cast off many of the false traditions of the past in favor of the scriptures and personal revelation.  We look seriously toward a gathering of Zion – with all the personal and social changes that are requisite if such a society is to ever become reality.  We are at least trying to reject reliance on the arm of flesh as counseled by Nephi in his great “Psalm of Nephi”, more specifically 2 Nephi 4:34.

I’m on board, enthusiastically, with love, compassion, understanding and sustaining of all those who would gather to Zion.  However, sometimes it seems that, as I said above, we are just trading one tradition for another, one prophet for another, one set of commandments for another – keeping the ones we like and rejecting the ones we don’t.

Monument ValleyDiana and I were driving in Southern Utah (or maybe it was Northern Arizona – I forget) last December when I said to her, “You know, I just sense that there is so much more to this gospel.  I don’t know how I know, I just do.  We haven’t even scratched the surface”.  I believe Joseph was really trying to restore this fullness – including the missing parts – but the restoration was hijacked by those who needed a church, complete with the traditions of the past 2000 years – 2000 years’ worth of traditions, mind you, that had yielded diverse churches built up onto themselves to get gain.  The restoration, as others have already declared, was interrupted.  We get to start it again.

We get to question all things. We get to go to the Lord and ask for the ministration of angels and personal visitations from heavenly beings and healings and tongues and baptism by fire and all the miracles that we have been promised since the beginning.  We get to receive counsel directly from the Lord.  In order to do this, though, we still have to shake off false traditions.  I don’t know how to do this, and most certainly not how to tell someone else how to do it, but I know that if we don’t figure it out, we’re just going to have a different version of what we had before –  and we will once again be bound in chains we formed ourselves, prevented from receiving the fullness by pride and fear.

I’ve already ‘fessed up” my relationship with Linda Jules Martindale, so I can share openly that I think maybe she’s onto something in her blog, “Journey to the Fullness”.  She’s not another Denver.  She’s not to be followed, but if we don’t learn from each other as well as from the Lord, we will never progress to the principles that will be required if we are to establish Zion and receive of the fullness of the gospel.  There are many of us who have been given knowledge and understanding that will lead us to Zion, and we must share and learn freely and openly.

I also want to publically thank all the Saints who failed to establish Zion while Joseph was alive.  I want to thank those members of the 12 who “apostatized”, as well as those whom I think hijacked the restoration.  I want to thank them for showing us that ordinary men and women can do spectacular things, even if they are spectacular failures.  I want to thank them for falling prey to jarrings and contentions and envyings and strifes.  Through their sacrifice, they have laid out a blueprint for us today – a blueprint showing us very clearly what pitfalls we need to avoid!  If we fail this time around, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.  You know – I can’t help but think that those good people who struggled and failed (did they really fail?) are actually cheering for us to succeed this time.  I think they’re cheering in hope that their efforts won’t have been in vain.

Where is this all leading?  I honestly don’t know, but I do know that we cannot afford to just recreate what has been created before.  Even considering the Cities of Enoch, Salem and the post resurrection Nephites – this has never been done before.  Never before has this combination of circumstances existed on this earth, and never before has a group of Saints like us been called to do something so extraordinary.  We must break out of the chains that have bound us and reach for the heavens!  We must seek earnestly for pure, white truth – the truth that rejects no light.  We must cast aside fear and jealousies and receive the fullness.  We must take our Savior at His word and believe His promises.  The glory that awaits us is beyond our imagination.  Again, I don’t know all the secrets or the how-tos, but I am learning to see the future with greater and greater clarity.  It will be realized one step at a time – often into darkness where the light has not yet been revealed.  Still, I believe Him.  He has promised.  The Lord does not break promises.  Oh, the Glory that awaits us!

8 Comments

….In the Bones of My Soul

Somethin’s happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear…

……Stephen Stills, 1966

I feel it in the bones of my soul.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  Something’s happening, and it is of eternal import.  The prophecies are legion pointing to this time – the time when society will collapse and the void will be filled by chaos, roving bands of bandits, foreign troops on U.S. soil.  Satan will laugh with perverted joy.  In the midst of this devastation will stand a remnant…a remnant of the House of Jacob:

But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;

And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.

And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.

And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst. (3 Nephi 21:22-25)

This is Zion.  The light shining in the darkness.  The city of the pure in heart, where all things are held in common, and where there are finally no poor among them.  This is the City in which Christ will “also be in their midst”.

I’ve noted before that people in general, and Latter-day Saints in particular, are really good at believing in miraculous things that have happened in the past, and they’re really good at believing in miraculous things that will happen in the future, but not so good at recognizing miraculous things that are happening in their day.  I work very hard at overcoming this weakness in myself.  I really wonder how we will respond when the prophesied tomorrows become today.

Now I could spend a lot of time and energy chastising the world for the unbelief and disbelief with which they fill their lives.  I could point out vociferously that I doubt many will recognize the fig leaves being put forth (Matthew 24:32) because they are too caught up in babylon.  I could lament how the abundance of manifestations have long ago ceased (D&C 70:14); how we have forfeited the gifts of the spirit because of our unbelief; and how the days when “the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches” is clearly upon us.  (Mormon 8:28) I could even wonder openly if we are so caught up in following the prophet that we forget to seek the face and will of the Lord Himself.  I could declare with all the passion of my soul that, in case you missed it, “All is not well in Zion!”

However, I’m not going to do that.  I’ve, frankly, already played my card quite economically, in one relatively short paragraph.  No, instead, I’m going to spend my time declaring to you that the time of the fulfillment of prophecy is here.  It is now.  I just know it.   I know it in the bones of my soul.

The Heavens are open.  Angles are prepared to manifest themselves unto those who still have the faith to seek heavenly manifestations.  They want to teach us.  They want to come to us.  The Lord wants to teach us to heal, and speak in tongues, and cast out spirits.  Last, but not least, He wants each of us to have a Brother of Jared moment.  The trick is, that we must have the desire, the belief, and then the faith to ask – not to consume it upon our lusts, but to enable us to become better, more powerful, more confident servants unto Christ.

I know in the bones of my soul that the 144,000 – those who are to…”administer the everlasting gospel” and “…”bring as many as will come to the Church of the Firstborn” are being sealed unto their calling at this very time “…by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth”.  I know in the bones of my soul that many are being prepared to gather to Zion, but first they must strip themselves, with the Lord’s guidance, of jealousies and fears and pride and especially of their worldly goods; that they may become as the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field – humble and dependent upon their Savior; partaking of the bread and wine of His sacraments – even the water and bread of life – that they who believe may never again thirst; that they may never again hunger.

How did we think we would know these things when they come?  How many of us even think about it?  Do we really expect the Brethren to do this for us – to tell us when it’s time?  What good does that do us anyway?  Do we get closer to Christ by waiting for someone else to tell us that it is time to follow His voice, to turn completely to Him?  Do we really think that one day, there are going to be quiet letters on church letter head sent out saying “sell all your worldly goods and gather to Zion”.  That’s not how it’s going to happen.  That’s now how it is happening.  No one “becomes” Zion in that scenario.  Frankly, I cannot imagine the Lord working that way.  He is no respecter of persons.  The changes that must come upon us must be voluntary, based upon our own desire for righteousness.  Only the still, small voice can call us to Zion, so we have to be willing to listen.  We have to be willing to change.  We must ask, seek, knock, in fervent prayer, and we have to be willing to shed the trappings of babylon and turn only to Christ for our protection, our sustenance, our salvation.

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. (Alma 37:6)

Let me close with my testimony of the Savior.  I am nobody, but He is real.  He lives and He loves, and through Him, in the light of that love, I am powerful, but only in His service.  He longs for a place where He “also will be in their midst”.  That place does not yet exist on the earth. (Actually, there are quiet places – homes, hearts, mountains and meadows – that He has been known to frequent.) He wants a very personal relationship with each of us.  He wants us to turn completely to him, with a broken heart and contrite spirit, unlike the Israelites who, after the destruction of Sennacherib’s army (Isaiah 37:36-37), said,

The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. (Isaiah 9:10)

He is the Holy One of Israel, the keeper of the gate, and He employeth no servant there. (2 Nephi 9:41).  He implores us to “Come unto Me”, and He awaits with arms open for us to do so.  This is no figurative invitation.  It is literal, and if we fail to take it literally, in this mortality, we do so to our own damnation.  Words cannot describe how I know Him – the depth of the knowledge and the love.  No man can tell you how you can know Him.  Each journey – into His presence – is a very personal one.  Only you and Him – at the veil.  It can be no other way.  As you seek Him, you will know. It is His promise that I declare.

Yes – the time is now.  It has been prophesied for millennia.  The leaves are on the fig tree.  The angels are awaiting the word.  The Heavens are open.  I know it in the bones of my soul.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers

%d bloggers like this: