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A More Nimble Servant

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light – Matthew 11:30

A facebook friend mentioned recently that she asked the Lord, and I paraphrase, “why this has to be so hard”, and He responded, “It doesn’t”. I believe that.

When I was a child, I didn’t have a very close relationship with my father. That’s just the way it was; just the way He was. He died at a relatively early age, and I have long since recognized that he was just being who he was, that he didn’t know how to be any other way; and I look forward to the time when we are able to embrace, accepting each other, loving each other, for who we are, not in spite of who we are. One of the things I remember was that, if we ever worked together on something, like fixing the car, he had little patience for letting me do things and figure things out myself. He took over the work, and “working together” quickly devolved into me watching him do it. As a result, any time I participated in such a project, it was either out of guilt because I knew he didn’t really want me to help but he asked me anyway (his guilt), or resulted in guilt because I couldn’t ever be good enough. Aren’t families great?

This morning I prayed, asking the Lord to help me become a “more nimble servant”; to teach me, guide me, etc. I asked ( asked of myself, really) how this instruction would manifest itself, and I quickly realized that it would be the exact opposite of my instructional experiences with my father. I understood that the Lord’s instruction would be very hands off, with guidance and insight offered, but not imposed. This, of course, leaves me in a situation where I need to be aware of when my thoughts, actions, and feelings are counter-productive to my desire to become a more nimble servant. In other words, I need to be open, inviting correction or instruction, and receiving it willingly. Otherwise, the instruction may well go unnoticed, un-received, and unproductive; and my sincere, even passionate desire to become a more nimble servant is likely to go unrealized.

So, I’ve presented two concepts early on in this essay. First – Christ’s way is easy. Second, I need to be constantly aware of and sensitive to the Lord’s instruction, because it will never be forced upon me.

I think these two concepts are actually integrated with each other. In other words, if I can learn to be constantly aware of and sensitive to the Lord’s instruction, not throwing up roadblocks to that instruction, His way will indeed be easy, and His burden will be light. As awareness of this truth came to me this morning, I continued to pray and, as so often happens, little bits of knowledge and understanding started coming together into a knowable truth, kind of like the atoms of Captain Kirk and Spock being reconstituted in the transporter on the star ship Enterprise – they existed before, but had yet to be organized (or re-organized) into a recognizable form.

Here’s that recognizable (I hope) form. If I’ve invited Christ to abide in me, and I hope to have Him honor my invitation, I need make sure my carnal manifestation, my body ,my temple, His abode, is a place where He is comfortable abiding. That doesn’t mean it has to be perfectly clean all the time, but it has to be comfortable enough that His hope for a fruitful harvest is greater than any discomfort I might inflict on Him from time to time. To put it another way, my thoughts and feelings need to be as pure, smooth, uplifting, and light-filled as possible if I am to be considered a gracious host.

As I have pointed out so many times before, the scripture D&C 67:10 comes to mind:

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 stripyourselves from jealousies and fears, and humbleyourselves 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.

There are conditions in this scripture that may not apply to me or you or to this particular topic, but I choose to grab that meaty phrase, “…strip yourselves of jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me…” and hang on to it ferociously. I choose to adapt it to myself, to my own life, and to believe that, whether I’ve been called to this ministry or not (let’s not forget, of course, that D&C 4 makes it clear that if we have the desire to serve, we are called), this scripture is a key to removing the elements of my carnal nature that might make His abiding in me uncomfortable. I choose to think that this stripping yourselves, etc. describes the rejection of pride, and that there is a strong correlation between rending the veil and seeing the Lord’s face, as specifically promised in this verse, and having Him choose to abide in me, instructing me in how I can become a more nimble servant. I choose to think that if I can fulfill this requirement, rejecting jealousies and fears, and along with that pride and all of its base manifestations, the windows of heaven will indeed open up to me, and the separation between me and the Lord, and between me and you, can indeed be healed. I choose to believe that the veil will be rent, and that the Lord will manifest Himself to me in whatever way He, in His loving wisdom, will choose. I choose to believe that in doing these things, I offer to Him an invitation that, as with the brother of Jared, He is unable to refuse.

Ok, so where’s the easy part? If you’ve thought much about it at all, you realize, as I do, that stripping oneself of jealousies and fears is nowhere near easy. It’s not even in the same universe as “easy”.

Well, I think I have a clue. The secret to this being easy lies in adopting a personal “zero tolerance” policy – zero tolerance for any thought, feeling, emotion, or especially action, that is not peaceful. Yep, here we have a pretty simple standard. We need to be peaceful (can you say “peaceable followers of Christ?). I figure you’re all very much like me. We KNOW when we’re engaging in thoughts and feelings that are not Christ-like, that are not born out of charity. We KNOW when we have thoughts that generate from and perpetuate contention, or seek to control others. We just need to implement a zero tolerance policy for these things.

Upon the death of President Monson, there were a lot of things posted on facebook about Elder Nelson’s impending ascension to the top spot in the LDS Church. Some of those things were not particularly nice. Sarcasm, criticism, and a mocking tone were readily apparent. And this was among us who supposedly have risen above such things – those of us who proclaim to be seeking Zion. Of course, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon (no pun intended – really!) to know that such expressions of disdain and disrespect for another human being, or an organization of human beings, are not going to get us, either individually or collectively, any closer to being ready for the Lord to bring again His Zion.

If I want my journey into His presence, however His presence manifests itself, to be fulfilled; if I want Him to be so comfortable abiding in me, instructing me, on how to be a more nimble servant, then I need to learn to be very, very quick to reject these things as they almost inevitably pop into my consciousness. The more diligent I am in rejecting them, the more hope, even confidence, Christ will have that abiding in me, in spite of the occasional discomfort I might inflict upon Him, will bear sweet fruit. Furthermore, the more I practice rejecting them, the more sensitive I become to them; the more uncomfortable they will be for me, too, and, of course, the more I will become Christ-like. You see, I think these thoughts, fueled not by charity, but by jealousy and fear and pride, are the real sins that we must repent of – the sins that Christ cannot look upon with the least allowance. These thoughts – the precursors of any action – are the things that separate us from Christ and keep us from recognizing, let along carrying out, His will. This is one of the key messages of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Christ sought to instruct us how to go about fulfilling the two great commandments.

It occurs to me that I have not yet defined what it means to be a more nimble servant. Well, actually, I have. A “more nimble servant” is one who does not have to think hard in order to determine what the Lord’s will is because it has become instinctive for them; the Lord’s will has become part of their nature; because this more nimble servant has stripped himself (or herself – more likely herself, actually) of the thoughts, feelings, emotions – the jealousies and fears and pride – that separate us from Christ, and hide from us His true nature, and thus His will. To know Him (john 17:3) is to have eternal life, is to be one with Him, is to be free of these pollutions that prevent us from ascending to the realization of all that we were created to be.

In my prayer this morning, as I said, I prayed that I might become a “more nimble servant”, a servant who doesn’t need to stop and think about whether I’m doing the right thing or not, because not only is the Lord comfortable abiding in me, but my own nature is such that His will is my will, His nature is my nature. I have no illusions about the process of becoming a more nimble servant. There remain many pollutions that must be cleansed before these conditions will have prevailed. I have to begin with brutal honesty, addressing my fears, my resentments, my judgments and prejudices before Him. I think He can handle the honesty, offered in humility, but not deception. I think nothing will more certainly drive Him from me, and damn this process into fruitlessness, than deception.

Still, I have faith unto action. I have no control over how the baptism of fire is (or was) manifested unto me. I have no control over how the Lord chooses (or chose) to manifest His promised comforts unto me. But I have control over the things I mentioned above; and I have faith in the concept that if I can purify myself, thus opening myself up to His instructive wisdom and purifying love, I can fully receive every promise He has ever made – and those promises are many. And you know what? I don’t care about the promises themselves. I really don’t. I care about the fact that He has offered them, and that he paid a great price for the privilege of offering them, and I simply cannot tolerate the thought of leaving these gifts on the table, simply because I am too fearful, or jealous, or prideful, or selfish to honor them.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Why in the world should it be difficult for us to invite peace to rule our thoughts? Why is it not easy to become a more nimble servant? Christ says that we are to take upon us His yoke. His yoke is free of jealousies and fears and pride. If we take upon us His yoke, it will be easy. We know. We have the ability to recognize. This is in our control. On this we can exercise faith unto repentance, and then unto action. We just need to adopt a zero tolerance policy for anything that tweaks or dims that light of Christ within us. If we do this, then we can become one with Him, His sons and daughters…His more nimble servants.

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What if…

The following is the result of years of study and pondering and learning from the scriptures as well as, most recently, the books “A Course in Miracles”, “The Aquarian Gospel”, and Max Skousen’s discussion on Moroni 7, among countless other inputs along the way, including 20 years of prayer and teaching from the Lord. What I have discovered is that these sources, some of them canonized and some not, do not contradict each other. The non-canonized sources do, however, often shed new light, providing a new perspective on the canonized scriptures. This new light and perspective can be perceived as being in contradiction of how we have been told to interpret the canonized scriptures, but the correlation between all of these sources, canonized or not, is, in my mind, readily apparent when all are taken together. This essay, then is the result of me questioning the traditional interpretation of the canonized scriptures as manifested in most all widely accepted Christian bodies of doctrine. In other words, this is me questioning the “…philosophies of men, mingled with scripture”.

There have been some few among us who seem to think that because I share and discuss these things, I have mastered them or fully implemented them in my life. Such is not the case, and I have never claimed that it was. I’m just trying like everyone else to reach a little higher every day. Continuing on, then:

What if…

What if, when The Lectures on Faith teaches that it is essential that one acquire “…an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will”, it actually means that the course of our life is by default according to God’s will, and that we must gain knowledge of this truth if we are to gain eternal life?

What if, again from Lectures on Faith, having a “…correct idea of his character, perfection, and attributes” reveals not a judgmental, rules-based God, but a God filled with love and charity; a God who is forgiving, understanding, patient, and kind; a God whose “perfection” extends to His creations and who, in His love, did not create beings who were destined or even likely to fall short of the “measure of their creation”?

What if gaining this knowledge of God’s true character, and of the fact that our “…course of life…is according to his will” is what is meant in John 17:3: “and this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God…”? (emphasis mine)

What if, in thinking that we can or must force, or will, or discipline ourselves (and others) to choose to be good, and righteous, and loving, we are actually denying our own endowed nature, denying His nature, and creating a society that contradicts the very nature of God’s creation?

What if truth is that we are perfect as we are. What if truth is that the path we are pursuing is always as it should be – that even in the event of what appears to be rebellion against God, we are merely Gods learning what it means to be gods? What if truth is that we are all saved, and we will all eventually learn to be like Christ, to be Christ, because such is the measure of our creation?

What if, even though we say we desire peace, we really don’t know what to do with it, so we tend to sabotage peace in our lives. What if we actually fear peace because, without some sort of opposition or contention, our ego – the natural man – would no longer be able to control our lives; the ego could no longer validate its necessity or existence? What if this is at least part of what is meant by “the natural man is an enemy to God” – an enemy to peace, addicted to fear and opposition?

What if we’ve been lied to for millenia? What if “commandments”, as we perceive them – a checklist of dos and don’ts – represent a “lower law” for those of us who desire to be told what to do and what not to do; who are still clinging to the original lie that knowledge of good and evil makes us as the gods? What if commandments are for those of us (all but a very, very few of us) who don’t understand simply that He awaits, only needing for us to recognize Him for who He really is – our friend, our brother; indeed the prototype of the saved man because HE discovered the truth and embraced it, even glorified it? What if love is the only truth, and all else represents lies and illusion?

What if the principle of sacrifice is a lie? What if we only think we sacrifice because we place value on something but still choose to relinquish it to the cosmos? Would Christ really even ask us to sacrifice something that had real value – eternal value? What if, instead, we recognized that anything that is not eternal has no real value, and losing it, or giving it away, is really no sacrifice at all? What if sacrifice is an illusion, or what if sacrifice is merely an exercise in learning to recognize those things that have true value? What if, even worse, sacrifice far too often degrades into an attempt to bribe the Lord, to force Him to accept us, to redeem us, to sanctify us – all by giving up something whose value was illusory in the first place?


What if the
only things that have value are things that, if we give them away, we still have them; their presence has not been transferred, but instead has been multiplied? In other words, if I give you something, and I no longer have it, then it does not have true value – it’s value is carnal and ego-driven. If, on the other hand, I give you something – share something – and I still have it, then that thing has value. I speak of things such as knowledge, love, and kindness. Unfortunately, the same thing applies with things of what we might call negative value. If I give you hatred, or lies, or fear – I still have them, but now you have them too (if you choose to receive them) and their presence has still been multiplied.

What if “partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” is a metaphor for establishing standards against which WE are able to judge ourselves and others; thereby perpetuating a separation between ourselves and God (when we judge ourselves against God we create or perpetuate separation), and between ourselves and others (judging ourselves against others, whether favorably or unfavorably)? What if we cling to this method of judgment because we think we we are in control of how it is applied? I repeat from above; what if Satan lied to us when he said that, having knowledge of good and evil, we would be like the Gods? What if having all that knowledge of good and evil, and applying it, actually just separates us from God?

What if partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil sows the seeds of Comparison that guarantee that we will never ascend to a state of peace and love because we will always be separated from God and from each other?

What if Comparison leads inexorably to Competition, which leads likewise to Contention, which results in exercising Control over the choices, actions, and lives of others, or, conversely, surrenders control over our own sacred agency to others?

What if these “4 C’s” comprise a perpetual cycle that ensures that we will never be able to abide the presence of God, because we remain sinners, polluting each others’ agency, acting in the absence of love; sustained by fear, relying on our knowledge of good and evil rather than the grace and goodness of God…forever incapable of obeying the two great commandments – Love God and Love your Neighbor? What if, furthermore, these forces – these “4 C’s” – are the antithesis of God, completely contrary to His nature? Can we then ever, as long as we cling to these things, have a true understanding of His “character, perfection, and attributes”?

What if, while Jesus was a man, he discovered, acknowledged, nurtured, and glorified the Christ within Himself, (thus becoming Jesus Christ or Jesus the Christ, receiving grace for grace) and that the way in which we become one with Him is by discovering, acknowledging, nurturing, and glorifying the Christ within us? What if the binding unity that we seek – oneness in Christ, even being of one heart and one mind in Zion – is actually that very Christ within us?

What if “Christ” is the love of God, or the power, the goodness, the perfect nature of the universe; love, integrity, righteousness; and Jesus the Christ was gloriously the first man who discovered and, in turn, manifested that Christ in mortality, showing us the example of all that we are created to be – again acting as the prototype of the “saved” man? What if salvation is actually the result of discovering and manifesting the Christ within us?

What if “Faith in Jesus Christ” means to have faith that this man, Jesus, was who He said He was, that he did what He said He did, and that He showed us what we must do, indeed can do, if we are to know Him and become one with Him and thus fulfill the measure of our creation and have eternal life? What if this is what is meant by “…If you love me, keep my commandments”?

What if forsaking the 4 C’s and glorifying the Christ within us is the ultimate meaning of repentance? What if everything else is just fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and is either only good as a stopgap measure to lead us to true repentance, or as a sure-fire way to prevent us from every arriving at true repentance? What if repentance is recognizing who we are, rejecting the lies perpetuated through the tree of knowledge of good and evil; seeking to accept everyone else for who they are, where they are, and ceasing to fear; and ceasing to fear because we have faith in the very nature of our loving, perfect creator?

What if this harsh, judgmental, competitive, contentious world that we live in – a world largely defined by our competitive relationships with each other, is itself an illusion – an illusion created by us – by the ego or natural man – in order to perpetuate the ego’s existence, creating opposition as a tool to ensure our individuality and separation (the ego)? What if we are participants in our own damnation or separation from God, and we don’t even recognize it?

What if, as one begins to transcend these principles of babylon, of our fallen nature, of life lived clinging to the knowledge of good and evil, we get really lonely, because no one understands us? What if our relationships with people start to seem shallower and shallower, because there’s just no way we can explain what we’re learning, and how we’re trying to live our lives? What if we begin to sorrow in our alienation? What if we begin to discover that only Christ understands us, because He’s been there?

What if, as we begin to truly repent, we start to come across people, each one like a new, bright star in Christ’s constellation, who do understand, and who are learning the same things? What if this happens very slowly, because such people are very rare, but when it does, you are immediately attracted to them, simply because they understand, and nobody else does, and because they, too, have discovered that Christ is the one that truly understands (because He’s been there), and that they, too, now truly know Him, because they, too, have a correct understanding of His “character, perfection, and attributes”, and have begun to discover the Christ within themselves.

What if Zion is actually an organic gathering of these people who have truly repented (forsaken these “4 C’s”) and have exercised faith in the Christ in Jesus and within themselves; a gathering of people who, as a result, truly know Christ (…all shall know Him) and have ascended or transcended this fallen existence into what we might call translation or a terrestrial state; a gathering that happens naturally,, simply because it’s a lonely, lonely world when nobody else understands you or the forces that define your existence?

What if this is all the Lord’s plan? What if this will all unfold perfectly if we will simply love Him and our neighbor, as He has commanded us, and otherwise let Him do His work? What if the Lord really means it when He says, as He has told me multiple times, “Trust me. Relax.”?

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Marriage, Mutuality, and Oneness in Zion

Diana and I have been traveling for the past month, largely visiting family. Since we moved up to North Idaho, and don’t really have money for plane tickets like we used to, we drove. A lot. Salt Lake City, LA, Phoenix, Salt Lake City.  I’ve stayed abreast of most of the goings on with the Statement of Principles. I’ve had thoughts and opinions, but have largely been pleased that most of the things I might have to say had already been said before I even got around to adding my voice. This is a good thing – a very good thing. There are so many good, talented, well-spoken, well-meaning people among us. It’s great to see.

However, there is one thought that I think is very important, and which I don’t think has been expressed among us – at least not in the way I have constructed it in my mind. I would like to share that thought today.

Zion will be like a marriage – although one without benefits except among monogamous couples joined by God. I think herein lies the secret of achieving mutual agreement. I think herein lies the secret to becoming one even while we are clearly individuals with individual personalities, talents, dreams, hopes, fears, etc.

I consider it to be the greatest blessing of my life to have the kind of marriage I have with Diana. One of the defining characteristics of this marriage is the way in which we are united – the way in which we are one. We do not always agree on matters, but we always achieve mutual agreement. Then, when we do, there is rarely any “I told you so” between us.

You see, once we have agreed (after honest and open discussion) on a course of action, even if we initially disagreed, we move forward together, in unity, trying to insure together that the agreed upon course of action results in the desired outcome.  We don’t seek to prove that one or the other of us were right, subtly seeking to sabotage the decision that we initially disagreed on.  Actually, we tend to rejoice when one of us is proven to have been correct.  Every such experience makes us stronger and more confident in our combined wisdom and ability.  And if the chosen course of action eventually is proven to not have been ideal, the other is quick to admit their error, and bow to the gained wisdom of the experience, seeking together a new course.

In our marriage, there is no fear of the others’ success, only rejoicing. There is no jealousy, only love and sacrifice. Pride – usually exhibited by me – is quickly recognized and extinguished by honoring the wisdom of, and the need for, humility between us. Anger can no longer flourish, because we so quickly recognize the pain it causes, and how quickly it can destroy our oneness – which oneness we have learned to cherish greatly.

I pray that many of you will recognize this type of relationship in your own marriage. I describe this, though, because I think this is what the Lord is leading us toward in preparation for Zion. This is the ultimate goal of all marriage covenants, whether it be between two earthly individuals (and Christ, of course); or between an individual and Christ; or between a covenant people and Christ. This type of sociality is the goal of the scripture project and its capstone, the statement of principles. If we can learn to come to an agreement, even if we initially disagree, and sincerely and energetically work together to bring about the best possible outcome of that course of action, without harboring any anticipation of an “I told you so” moment, should things not work out as desired; this is the oneness that the Lord seeks. It’s all in our hearts. It’s the difference between a faithful bride and a prideful, adulterous one. Do we seek individually to be right, or do we seek for the best possible outcome of our mutual agreement, no matter how imperfect we might initially and individually think it is?

Even a majority decision can become mutuality if we can work and live this way together. If one is participating in a council or committee meeting, and all voices have been spoken and heard, and a decision is made by majority vote – mutuality is still attained when each member of the council says to themselves, “Well, we came together to decide on a course of action. We did so. Even though I don’t think this is the optimal course of action; even though I’m in the minority; I will still do my best to bring about its success, and if we experience failure, then we will have experienced failure together, and we will all come together again, having mutually gained the wisdom of the experience, and seek a wiser course of action – and we will seek it together!”

This kind of mutuality, this kind of cooperation, this kind of love, is the key to Zion. This is what the Lord is trying to teach us. It is a simple lesson, and it is one of the lessons that I am most grateful for in my life. The opportunity to learn this lesson with such a meek and wonderful person as my wife is just an added blessing. I must grudgingly admit that she has made it infinitely easier for me just by her nature. “Yes, sweetie, I know. You told me so.”

Can we each commit ourselves to making it easy for our neighbors to learn this lesson though our humility, our honesty, our selflessness, and our charity? Can we each be an example of this type of selfless love? Can we do this so that we might become one with each other; achieving unity and mutuality; while still extolling the differences that make us each a unique and, hopefully, complementary entity in the Lord’s universe? If we can do this, I truly believe we can become the covenant people the Lord has sought since the beginning. I truly believe we can achieve the mutuality that He requires of us. I truly believe we will be able to learn and apply the lessons that will bring about the oneness, the unity, the social and spiritual perfection, that must eventually define His Zion.

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The Covenant – Doubts and Assurances

As we prepare to leave for Boise today, I’m experiencing doubt. I’ve found in my life it’s not good to run away from things, especially fears, but it is better to face them. Why the doubts? Let me count the ways:

  1. There are some who talk about secret things they know about Denver and/or the inner circle that they won’t share (c’mon guys – that’s like saying, “I know a secret, but I’m not gonna tell you. Neener, Neener, Neener!)
  2. People whose voice I have respected in the past who are so vocal against this covenant idea. What’s their reason. Is it just fear? Some deep seated ego competition with the persona that we’ve created for Denver?
  3. The idea of an inner circle period. I guess that shouldn’t bother me. I have an inner circle that I communicate with – private things that I wouldn’t share publicly. It seems like a pretty natural development in any community. Am I just jealous because I’m not included in it?
  4. This whole John Doe thing – not because of John Doe, but because of how the rumor mill just shot sky high almost immediately. I’ve seen judgment and self-righteousness shoot out of control – accusers at every turn. Lots of “shake my head” moments. “WHERE’S THE LOVE AND FORGIVENESS?”What kind of people am I joining up with? Of course, here I am judging and accusing the accusers
  5. Things I’ve heard of others within our group who are equally inappropriate in their actions – ahh, more rumors.
  6. My own knowledge that I rely much more on personal revelation than I do deep scripture study. I rely on love, not rules. This is my strength. Is it betraying me at this stage in my journey?
  7. Awareness of my own fallibility in receiving revelation. Am I being told to do only what I want to do? Well not any more, because I’m feeling like I’m doing what I’ve been told to do by the Lord in spite of the doubts. In other words, I’m braving the hurricane, kicking and screaming, trusting my first revelation before all the opposition began swirling with such force. You see, this is a perfect conundrum – one so evident in the LDS church. “If you have doubts – that’s just opposition from Satan”. Sure to keep you in line, eh?
  8. We have created a cult of Denver. It exists. He may not want it. I and others may not want it, but it has happened. Is Denver secretly soaking this up and manipulating it for his own purposes? I’ve never met the man. How do I know for sure?

So – why am I not running away, screaming at the top of my lungs?

Well, let me count the ways:

  1. Nothing as amazing as the opportunity to be part of Zion is going to be easy.
  2. What is happening here is unprecedented. It has never been done. Searching the scriptures for precedence is fruitless. There may be patterns, to be sure, but we’re breaking new ground here. The limited prophecies that we have – what are they going to look like as they unfold? How can so many be so sure that this is not EXACTLY the way it is going to look?
  3. Despite all the railing about Denver and his possible motivations – this is NOT about him. It’s about each of us and Christ – learning of His nature (guess what – His nature is LOVE – CHARITY!) Regardless of what others may be doing to elevate Denver into a role created by us – I am not doing that. I do not want to do that. I only want to stand side-by-side – all of us together, to embark on this journey.
  4. What an amazing opportunity to learn charity! We have a group of people, each with their own particular brand of weakness and insecurity, each with their own manifestation of sin – including myself – who need to experience the pure love of Christ. They need to see it, they need to receive it, they need to give it. How is Charity made manifest? Through human relationships! I can have all the charity in the world in my heart, but if I don’t manifest it through relationships, it does no good. If I’m the only man in the world, and I go around giving love, is it really love? I don’t believe we’re going to start Zion in perfection. The Lord will mold us into Zion, and we have to start somewhere. Then we have to let Him do His work.
  5. I cannot believe that, if I am moving forward with the purest of motivations, even in the face of intellectual (not spiritual) opposition such as that swirling around us, Christ is going to condemn me or abandon me. Warnings have been voiced – “You will suffer! You don’t know how hard this is going to be! There will be trials!”. My favorite – from someone unwilling to move forward with this, “Let me know how that works out for you!”.
  6. There really is nothing in this covenant that I have not already committed to. It’s not a new thing – it’s just a shared thing.
  7. This people, this community, if nothing else, manifests hope. We hope for salvation. We hope for peace. We hope for Zion. We hope for love. We hope for redemption. We hope to see the Lord’s face, each individually. We hope to experience Christ walking among us. We who accept this covenant will move forward in faith. Lots of faith. Tons of faith. Hard faith.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Well, now there’s a scriptural precedent – one I can sink my own teeth into.

So, my friends. This post has been therapeutic for me. I feel much better now. I’ve had to type it in a hurry, so please forgive any clumsiness or lack of polish. As we move forward, let us do so in love, because love is the only manifestation of human endeavor that is eternal. Everything else is a temporary illusion. Faith and hope exist only to lead us to charity – the pure love of Christ. As we exercise this faith and hope, let us not forget the ultimate goal, and I hope and pray that we will soar on its wings.

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Denver, a Covenant, and a Community of Christs

What I am about to say today is pretty bold, but I think it’s important enough that I’m going to stick my neck out anyway. For me, these thoughts opened up a lot of understanding, and cleared up a lot of confusion.

In my mind, of the four questions included in the proposed covenant being offered this weekend, the most essential one is the third one:

Do you agree to assist all others who covenant to likewise accept this standard to govern their lives to keep the Lord’s will, to succor those who stand in need, to lighten the burdens of your brothers and sisters whenever you are able, and to help care for the poor among you?

This describes what I think is the cornerstone of Zion – having no poor among us. The paragraph could be restated as “Do you agree to have no poor among you?” If we can accomplish this one requirement, everything else follows. Being of one heart and one mind? Check. Christ walking among us? Check. Leaving babylon behind? Check. Knowing the Lord? Check. I repeat that this is my opinion – that having no poor among us is the ultimate goal, and if we can do all that we need to do to make this happen, all the other characteristics of Zion are either requirements for or results of this one component of the covenant.

Before I continue to the point of this post, I want to share a few foundational thoughts. The first is that poverty, or “the poor”, referenced in the above-quoted 3rd question, is not limited to those who lack money or temporal sustenance. It very much involves spiritual as well as temporal poverty. The individual who is struggling with thoughts of divorce is perhaps just as poor as the single mother who doesn’t have money to pay this month’s rent. The child who is trying mightily to understand the significance of baptism is just as much in need as the adult whose cell-phone is broken – a cell-phone which provides their most effective form of communication with friends and family.

Some have expressed their belief that we don’t need a group covenant, that engaging in such is presumptuous at best, and a strong man’s attempt to satisfy his own ego by creating LDS 2.0 at worst. I have struggled myself with these concerns. I don’t any more, because I now understand that you can’t have “no poor among us” without having a community – a group. My wife and I can have “no poor among us” simply by sharing a single bank account, and that’s a start. This way, at least, if we’re poor, we’re equally poor. In a sense, it is Zion, but it’s not the Zion that we seek; the Zion prophesied in the scriptures; the Zion to which the city of Enoch will return and among whom Christ will dwell. No, this Zion that we seek must be a community who have learned to have no poor among them. It can be no other way.

No poor among us is the ultimate goal for a heavenly society. It’s not just that everyone has their temporal survival needs met. It’s so much more than that. It’s the manifestation of the Pure Love of Christ. It’s exactly what a society would be like if it were populated by a thousand Christs. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what we must become – a community of Christs!

Finally, I believe that this covenant is a doorway through which we must step that will lead to having no poor among us, and ultimately to Zion. I believe that this covenant will call for us to become a community of Christs. I believe that anything less will be the farce that some have predicted.

All of which brings us to the subject of Denver Snuffer – or, more accurately, to the image of Denver Snuffer that we have created among us – and ultimately to the point of this post.

It is no secret that the image of Denver that is perpetuated among us varies from him being a knowledgeable scholar who opened many eyes to an alternative understanding of the narrative of the restoration to him being the Davidic servant – the prophesied “one mighty and strong”. In truth, he might be both and everything in between or he might be something else entirely. After all, the title is only applied after the work is done. One thing I can assure you, even though I don’t know him personally, is that Denver the man is just that – a man – a man with feelings, needs, fears, loves, weaknesses and strengths. Many of us have put him on a pedestal that he has professed not to have sought. I choose to take him at his word. I also choose to appreciate the service he has offered thus far in this journey, and to believe that he has honestly done the best he knew how to do given the task that he accepted from the Lord. I choose also to think that someone needed to offer a prayer for this covenant (if it was to come about – I don’t think a committee could have done it) and to receive the covenant itself by revelation, and that Denver was a very likely candidate to do that on behalf of the group. I choose to believe that this was a simple act of service, and I have no objection to the product of his efforts.

Now – the bold part. I think Denver’s role is going to change. I think it has to if we are going to achieve no poor among us. I think he has served faithfully, and many among us have responded to his service in the way the Lord hoped we would, but now – when we step through the door of this covenant, the dynamics are going to have to change. Having no poor among us requires an incremental change in the hearts of every single individual. It requires forsaking our love for and dependence upon (worship of?) material goods. It requires overcoming jealousies and fears. It requires looking upon others and seeing the Christ within us, and treating each individual as we would treat Christ. This is dramatic! Please, don’t just pass over what I just said. Think about it. We need to treat each other the same way we would treat Christ if He were standing in front of us! If we do this, we will necessarily become the community of Christs that is Zion.

We cannot look to another man or woman to help us do this. We can only look to Christ.

There is not a person among us, including Denver, who is prepared for this. Once we have accepted this covenant, we will all be on equal footing. All the scholarship and study in the world, no matter who you are, will prepare you for the change that we must undergo as a result of this covenant, as a result of committing ourselves to having no poor among us. No matter what strengths we have, no matter what weaknesses we have, no matter what deep, dark secrets we might be harboring that nobody else knows about…the leap from where we are today to where we must rise if we are to fulfill this covenant is so great that we must all rise together, or we will all fall together. We can no longer look to Denver the way we have in the past. We must stand side by side – all of us, sharing equal responsibility, carrying as much of each others burdens as possible – or “whenever you are able”. Denver’s burdens will be just as great as those of anyone else. To the extent that he is “able”, I hope he will seek to help lighten your burden, but we must be equally eager to help lighten his. I hope it is clear at this point that what I am saying about Denver applies to any who have evolved into a perceived leadership role among this community.

Please, I do not seek to denigrate or minimize anyone by saying these things. I do not seek to predispose anyone’s future. I just hope to heighten our awareness and perhaps provide a unique viewpoint of what lies ahead. I hope to encourage all of us to look to the heavens – high in the heavens, probably higher than we’ve ever looked before – to anticipate and seek after the glory that awaits us if we live up to this covenant. Miracles – even the greatest of miracles, that of oneness with Christ and with each other – await us, but our hearts must rise to the occasion. Ask, and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Honestly, this scripture suddenly takes on meaning far beyond anything I had understood before today.

I don’t know how all of this is going to play out. I don’t know how we will end up working together or what the mechanics will look like. The Lord will certainly lead us – if we will let Him. Some might consider these ideas to be too idealistic to become reality. To that, I respond, “Zion must be a miracle! It is a heightened state of existence. We cannot do it by ourselves. It can only be done through the hand of the Lord.” In the scenario I describe above, we must each individually seek to rise to this new level of existence. We must have this vision, and then, with the assistance of heaven, constantly compare ourselves – every thought, every action, every desire – to the standard offered – to the covenant we have entered into. Doing so will unleash the power of love, enabling each of us to ascend to Zion, and as a community of Christs, establish the heavenly society that truly has “no poor among us”.

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A Tough Confession

woman_caughtI desire to confess some things before you all, and I hope in doing so we will all look into our hearts and honestly assess whether or not we might be guilty of similar things.

I first heard about this whole John Doe affair many months ago. I was disappointed, but was also somehow, in a perverted way, lifted by knowing that someone whom I so respected was struggling with something that I personally did not struggle with (or do I?) I secretly, in my heart, thought, “Well, this needs to be remedied and he needs to be punished! He can’t be allowed to get away with this.” Even worse, I thought, “I’m sure when Denver hears of this, he will deal with it.” Of course, this was not my affair, and I didn’t say anything to anyone outside of my wife. I didn’t want to gossip, after all. But how many of my own personal sins and hypocrisy were exposed in those few thoughts?

Then, more recently, I heard about the council, and I heard more details than were publicly revealed. Again, I condemned John Doe in my heart for his transgressions. After all, here was a man who was arguably among the inner circles of this community, and I’m better than he is! (Wait, what inner circles?)

Then, I started hearing things about the council and the motives and personalities of the ladies involved. Oh, and the alleged behavior of Denver and Adrian and…Oh my – what IS going on? I began to switch my condemnation from John to the ladies on the council, especially the person who organized it. I did gossip – but only a little. The spirit of condemnation remained, even though I told myself that I was not judging, and I never said anything publicly that would suggest this spirit of condemnation that was in my heart. Even as I write this, I feel more and more condemned or ashamed of my thoughts.

During this whole time, I noticed yet another interesting phenomenon. I found myself anticipating eagerly the next development. Even though I didn’t participate publicly in the speculation, and tried to offer a voice of reason and non-judgment (“…just let it go. Nothing good can come from further discussion), I secretly was excited for all the salacious goings on. It was exciting, and it was stimulating to keep up with the latest news. I know – “get a life”. When nothing was happening, I felt oddly empty, looking for somewhere else to cast my gaze. It wasn’t long before those other opportunities were provided. It seems like there’s always some sort of soap opera going on among us.

Why am I saying all of this? First, I am truly ashamed, and painfully aware of this weakness in myself. It is hypocrisy, pure and simple. Second, I realize that this type of attitude cannot be allowed to continue if we are to be a loving, sharing, sustaining, covenant people who seek Zion.

I was recently puzzled to read that we humans will never find peace – the true peace of the spirit, the peace that passeth understanding, because we secretly don’t want it. If we have true peace, true harmony, true oneness, then we risk no longer being differentiated from each other, and we have a built in need – called the natural man – to be differentiated from each other, to be separate. I have written recently about this desire for separation, and, well, here it is popping up again. I couldn’t figure this idea out, really. What do you mean, I DON’T want peace, or that I even secretly sabotage it?

Well, now I think I see it. After observing my own thoughts and feelings in relation to this John Doe affair, I can see how I might actually be sabotaging peace, first in my own heart, and then among the community. I often share things in this blog because I think that, if I’m experiencing these things, then others likely are also, and maybe by baring my own weakness, I can help others recognize the same thing in themselves. In this case, I’m asking a particularly hard question. Do we really want peace among ourselves? Do we know what it even feels like? What if we truly had complete peace among us? Would we be happier? Or are we only happy when others are suffering or sinning more than we are, or differently than we do, or when their sins are exposed while ours remain hidden?

I have repented of this behavior, but I have no doubt that I will find myself repenting of this again and again. It is ingrained in us. It is the result of the jealousies and fears mentioned in D&C 67:10. It is the fall – characteristic of the fallen man and his separation from Christ.

I have repented of inwardly salivating over every little juicy bit of gossip that involves someone else’s failure or weakness or misstep simply because it makes me look better in my own eyes. I have repented of my tendency to agree with whoever I’m talking to and take their word as truth, and to switch my loyalties and trust with each changing of the prevailing wind of opinion or toward whoever is most recently flattering of my own ego.

Charity. The Pure Love of Christ. Without this we are nothing. Without this NOTHING that we do will be successful. Without this EVERYTHING we do will ultimately disintegrate into nothing. Paul made this so clear. Moroni made this so clear. In Charity is the power. In Charity is eternal life. Without it, everything will die. Here is the entirely of 1 Corinthians 13:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

On the other hand, WITH charity, we can access the power of eternal life.

My friends, we’ve got to step up to a new level of understanding of this if we hope to survive and not become just another flash in the pan as so many around us predict. If do not learn to eschew judgment and forgive liberally, we won’t even flame out, we will just go away with a sad whimper, leaving behind disillusionment and shattered faith, not because we tried to do the wrong thing, but because we were unable to grasp the depth and the power and the perfection of this existence that the scriptures call charity.

Now, before I get preachy (oops – too late), let me say that I do not proclaim in any way that I’m any farther along this path than anyone else. I’m just learning and learning, failing and failing, and then learning some more – every hour of every day. I see woeful failure, even hypocrisy, in myself. Still, I have this vision. I have this feeling in my bones that tells me that what I’m sharing with you is true. I recall Peter responding to Christ, upon being asked if the 12 would also leave Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. These words that extol charity ARE the words of eternal life (Not mine – Paul’s – or ultimately Christ’s).

I’m TIRED of carrying the burden of judgment of others. It is a heavy burden, the burden of death – one that willsurely kill me if I try to continue carrying it, because as long as I insist on carrying it, I cannot have eternal life. Reconsider Christ’s words in this context: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matthew 11:30. The yoke Christ spoke of is the yoke of charity. His yoke is His pure love.

Without charity, we will find ourselves with a government, whether formal or informal, that will fail, or that will govern through unrighteous dominion. Without charity, we WILL have a strong man, or we will disintegrate. Without charity, we will condemn ourselves to an eternal separation from God and from each other. Without charity, we will always have poor among us, and we will be constantly pursuing, but never realizing, the concept of one heart and one mind.

With charity, we will have Zion, and we well dwell as one in the presence of the Lord.

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Polluting the Love of Christ

I have come to recognize just today that I perpetually pollute my relationship with Christ. I do that by putting conditions on His love, and as a result I put conditions on my love – my love for Him and my love for others. When I do this, I can’t receive His love unless I am “worthy”, and I can’t love Him unless I am “worthy”. I then, of course, force myself to be worthy of the love of others, and I force them to be worthy of my love. This is all a lie, and believing this lie, living this lie, will prevent us from becoming one with Him. It will ultimately rob us of our salvation.

I feel like I have to earn His love by being obedient. Intellectually, I know this isn’t true, but emotionally and spiritually, even doctrinally, I impose this condition on Him – on US – every minute of every hour of ever day. The checklists that define most churches are extreme examples of this condition, but we can reject those checklists, as I have, and still not be free of this belief, or this form of unbelief – unbelief because we do not believe HIM – because we continue to put conditions on His love. It is a great irony that I actually think that by rejecting the checklists of the churches I am somehow closer to earning His love. In rejecting the checklists of the churches, I have done nothing more than to create a new checklist – this time one of my own making, but a checklist nonetheless. It’s just a different list of conditions. I’ve still put conditions on His love that do not really exist. I will even go so far as to say that we put conditions on our salvation that do not really exist.

You say, “but baptism is required for salvation!”, and indeed it seems to be, but what does baptism really symbolize? Repentance? Repentance from what? From transgressing against a checklist? So, we’re supposedly burying the old and arising a new person? What if it really means burying this old person who insists on having to earn everything in life, including someone’s love; and who insists on distinguishing themselves from others by perpetual judgment; who insists on creating checklists that qualify us for Christ’s love? What if arising means arising a new person who truly believes; who truly believes that love and peace is the default condition of this universe, and that, like intelligence, it can neither be created nor made…nor earned – it simply is. What a brilliant plan of Satan – the deceiver, or the spirit of deceit – to plant in our hearts that we must “eat our bread by the sweat of our brow”. How does this compare to “consider the lilies”? In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is calling us to redemption – to redemption from the fall, where we must earn our survival by the sweat of our brow. He is calling us to the redeemed state where, indeed, love just is, just as Christ is the I AM; where we can be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect, and where we can consider the lilies.

I don’t know how I personally am going to overcome this, but I know I must. I must stop competing with others in every thought – because, think about it, to compete I must judge. To compete I must maintain separation. If I have to earn Christ’s love, is that not competition? If I’m competing with Christ, or for Christ’s love, am I not perpetuating the separation? Do you think you do not suffer from this? I encourage you to look deeply, because I assure you that 99.9999% of us do. I don’t recall meeting the person who does not.

I know this – I have been shown a key to Zion. I have been shown a key to ascending from a telestial existence to a terrestrial existence. Is it really that simple? I don’t know that yet, but it is essential. Until I can learn to just love, without conditions; to receive love, without conditions; to BE love, without conditions; I cannot be part of Zion. There may be more that I have to learn, but until I learn this, everything else will be insufficient for me to exist in Zion.

Of course, I have to ask myself…have I not just created another condition? Have I not just begun another checklist? Is it now a condition that I place no conditions on love? I suppose I have, but that condition is the one condition that defines our true existence. All other conditions are distractions and illusions. This condition is the condition of truth. It is not a distraction, it simply is. It IS real existence. It IS intelligence. It IS eternal life.

This journey – this journey to “seek to know Him”, that I began who knows how long ago – keeps getting more difficult, more strenuous, and more challenging, but it is the only journey worth taking. I might be frightened at the prospect of Zion. I AM frightened at the prospect of Zion. None of us are ready. It is going to be painful and stressful and it will test most of us beyond our ability to endure. I suspect most will fall away, broken and disillusioned. But Christ’s love will endure forever regardless of what we do or become. And if we can learn to love as Christ loves – with charity – the pure love of Christ – unconditional love – then we can do it. Any other journey we might take will only result in death. Only a life of charity can be worth living…for eternity. That life will be, must be, fueled by love without conditions – love that just IS. God bless us all that we might seek this love; that we might receive this love without seeking to earn it; and that it might flow through us unto all the world.

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

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