“And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”

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

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

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

“For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas”

It has become very clear to me that there is an intangible and almost inexpressible difference between truth and error.
 
Satan quotes scripture to make a point in an argument with Christ, showing how he wants to justify his ends by resorting to scriptural/true principles.  (Matt. 4: 6.)
 
The accusations brought against Abinadi were scripture-based.  (Mosiah 12: 19-24.)  So were those brought against many others, including Christ.  Indeed, the most frequent accusation against Christ related to the commandment to “keep the Sabbath day holy” and Him healing on the Sabbath.
 
I can see how people are almost completely taken in by the use of scriptural arguments or scriptural language, when they have never encountered the Holy Spirit, not received light and truth from God, and have not accepted guidance from a higher source.
 
Those who have light, and who use what light they have to accept more light, are going to find their way.  Those who do not, and therefore, cannot have their path illuminated by a higher source, will be lost.  They will be unable to distinguish between truth and error.  Indeed, they will call good bad, and believe the truth to be a lie.  It is inevitable.
This is why no man can be the guide for another.  Everyone must stand on their own, acquire their own oil for their lamp, and stop leaning upon others to lead them.

I do not see that happening in any great numbers.  Instead, I see fools loudly and stupidly proclaiming that it is always guaranteed safe to be led by men as long as you are careful about the men you follow.

No man will save you.  No not one.  You either follow them into the telestial kingdom in wherein you presently reside, or you figure out how to get out of here.  (D&C 76: 98-101.)  Notice that these people followed TRUE or authentic messengers, yet they remain captured in a telestial existence for worlds without end.

 
They receive not the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy.
 
I see benighted arguments couched in the language of scripture all the time.  The clarity with which I can detect the errors made is not because I am smarter than other people. I am not. I can see clearly the difference between truth and error by the light given to me.  I can’t give that to you.  Only you can acquire it.  I can tell you how to acquire it.  But in the end, you alone will either follow the pattern and obtain the results, or continue to live in the dark.

Christ’s Ministry

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

Now, if you can take all that in, (and it is worth careful consideration to make sure you get the point) then you can begin to understand this statement recorded by Moroni about the visit between Christ and the Brother of Jared:
“And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites. And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.”  (Ether 3: 17-18.)

When Moroni wrote this it was nearly 400 years after Christ’s ministry to the Nephites. When he wrote this Moroni:
1.  Had the records of Christ’s ministry before him. 
2.  Had been personally visited by Christ.  (Ether 12: 39.) 
3.  He also had personally been visited by the three Nephite disciples who were there when Christ appeared and called them as His witnesses. (Mormon 8: 10-11.)
4.  Had the entire Jaredite record before him, including the portion that he would not translate due to its sacred character.  (Ether 4: 5-7.)

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

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

Be still and know that I am God

It is apparent from emails sent to the blog that some readers refuse to study carefully either the scriptures or what I have written.  I will make yet another attempt to explain some important distinctions.
There is a difference between testifying that some principle is true and teaching others how to follow the principle, and discussing details of personal experiences which are not going to be meaningful and are not appropriate. 
There are reasons why intimate details of temple ordinances are guarded by covenants they will not be revealed. It is true those covenants have been violated by many people. Some people have decided to reject what was offered, make themselves liars, and treat with contempt what should have been treated with care. All of that is between them and the Lord, with whom they made the covenant.  Their violation of a trust does not detract one bit from the power of covenants kept by others.
We are not responsible for how others behave when they receive something that ought to be treated as sacred.  We are all only accountable for how we individually treat such things.
It is appropriate for anyone to testify to the truth, that the Lord lives, and that He has and still does minister to men in the flesh. It is appropriate to explain that those blessings are predicated upon the same conditions for any person who will follow the law upon which such blessings are predicated. It is appropriate to explain what those conditions or laws are. It is appropriate to gather together in one continuous discussion the diverse elements scattered throughout the scriptures and put them into one convenient discussion of the whole. I have done that.
What is not important for anyone to know is the details of what goes on in a meeting between God and one with whom He deigns to appear. Joseph Smith for example remarked, concerning the First Vision, “many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”  JS-H 1: 20.
Repeatedly the Book of Mormon draws a line and says that things were “not lawful” for man to write.  See, e.g., 1 Ne. 14: 28; 3 Ne. 26: 16; 3 Ne. 27: 23; Ether 4: 1, Ether 13: 13.  A person who does not understand the difference between the line that must be drawn and why it exists simply is not prepared to receive with gratitude what the Lord is offering.
The riches of eternity are offered by the Lord to you and each of you directly. It does not come from learning “secrets” from someone else. It comes by following the path. You do not need anything more than a description of the path. Follow it. Until you follow it, the heavens will remain shut against you. As soon as you follow it, you will have the results you would like to have. 
Curiosity about sacred details that the scriptures repeatedly warn are not lawful to put into writing here in this fallen world, reveals an immaturity that should be overcome. If you want the details, learn them from the Lord. Directly. Without an intermediary. Teachers are commissioned by the Lord to reiterate the path by which they are to be obtained.  He does not send someone to do the work for you. Indeed, you either do the work for yourself or it remains undone – forever. 
It is clear that some who want the most revealed to them are the ones who have not yet read what I’ve written. You simply continue to ask and ask again. Study what I’ve written carefully and anyone will find it is all there. Several people have done so, and have received the promised results. But they took care and devoted careful, solemn and ponderous thought to the matters set out in what I have written. That is what the writings were intended to produce, and why they were commissioned to be written by the Lord. I know that the process is true, because I have lived it. I know that the descriptions provided in my writings are sufficient, because they have produced results akin to my own. You do not need more details from me. You need to take seriously what I’ve already written.  Actually, you don’t even need that. What I have written is taken from the scriptures, primarily the Book of Mormon. If you understood the scriptures you wouldn’t even need what I’ve written.  I have only been instructed in how to bring the process together in a convenient single narrative, building line upon line to a whole.
Careful, solemn and ponderous thought is what is needed. Not frantic, exasperated and impatient demanding that someone tell you something right now that will fix what is amiss in your life. Such frantic conduct is likely to yield nothing. 
I hope this aids in understanding what is appropriate and what is over the line. If you want to know all the mysteries of God, He is willing to reveal them. Not to the impatient, demanding and immature. But to those who develop a firm mind in every form of godliness, including patience, persistence, faith and sacrifice.  (Moroni 7: 30.)  These things are not won cheaply.  But they are won. 
I think the words “be still and know that I am God” are more than just an admonition to ‘shut-up.’  (D&C 101: 16.)  I think it is a formula. Let your anxieties pass over you. Leave them. Be calm. In the great calm of pondering over what He has given to you, you will “know” Him.  Therefore, if you would like to know God, then ponder deeply and meditate on the things He has already given to you.  (See e.g., D&C 138: 11; JS-H 1: 12; 1 Ne. 11: 1 and Helaman 10: 2-4.)  This is how Joseph Smith received the First Vision, Joseph F. Smith saw the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead, Nephi saw in vision the Lord, and Nephi son of Helaman would receive his calling and election.  I can’t give you a formula, I can’t recite any additional vision and I can’t tell you about any visitation I have had that will absolve you of following the process by which God has become known to all those who have come to know Him since the time of Adam.  All I can do is testify that the same path is open to everyone. But only on the same condition as it is available to all. 

Gifts come from God

Question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keys and assignments

….For the benefit of a worthy inquirer, who has the right to know:
_____________________________________
Keys are related to assignments given. When the church gives someone an assignment, they receive the keys associated with performing the assignment. For example, when an Elder’s Quorum President is called, he receives the keys to preside over the Quorum. With those keys the President has the large assignment (making the Quorum function) and is entitled to the smaller or more detailed assistance from the Lord to serve each quorum member’s needs.
If the President neglects his duties, despite the fact that the authority is conferred upon him, he lacks the power associated with the assignment. His keys become thereby wasted or lost.
Keys, however, are not limited to the church giving an assignment. When the Lord gives an assignment, commission or commandment to a person by His own voice, then the Lord similarly gives to the person the keys to accomplish the assignment, commission or commandment. By acting consistent with the duty devolving upon him, the man receives not only the larger assignment, but also the inspiration to accomplish the smaller or more detailed activities related to the assignment given to him.
An example from Nephi illustrates the point. Nephi was commanded to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 8.) Nephi needed direction and instruction to accomplish the task given to him. Since he possessed the keys to accomplish the work, the direction was forthcoming from the Lord as it was needed and as Nephi inquired to obtain it.  (1 Ne. 17: 9-10.)  In the process of asking and receiving direction as he fulfilled the assignment, Nephi learned other, greater things as well.  (1 Ne. 18: 2-3.)
Nephi saw in the assignment (keys) he had been given a direct relationship between fulfilling the assignment to build a ship and Moses’ commission (keys) to deliver Israel from bondage. He used Moses as an example to his brothers to justify how the Lord could assign someone as untrained as Nephi to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 23-43.)  It was an appropriate example. It illustrates how once the Lord gives an assignment to a man, the Lord entrusts the keys and provides the inspiration to accomplish the assignment.
Similarly, all the prophets who have been sent to warn Israel in any generation have been given the keys from God to accomplish their assignment. Even among people who no longer held such authority, the Lord would directly ordain those He commissioned during the Old Testament times.  (TPJS p. 181.)

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

Nephi’s brothers and the royal court of King Noah all learned that it simply wasn’t possible to terminate the mission of someone holding keys before they finished their assignment.  (For Nephi, see 1 Ne. 17: 48-55.  For Abinadi see Mosiah 13: 2-5.)  Of course, once the assignment given the man has been completed, they are as vulnerable to destruction at the hands of enemies as anyone else.  (Mosiah 17: 20; D&C 135: 4.)
When someone receives an assignment, and fulfills it with honor, they hold the keys of that assignment to all eternity.  (D&C 128: 21.)  They are expected to come to the great meeting when keys are returned to Adam and then, in turn, to Christ, preliminary to His return as the One whose right it is to preside over all things.  (TPJS p. 157.)
I suppose the best way to be invited to that meeting would be to obtain a key from the Lord, perform in strict conformity to the assignment He gives you, and become thereby entitled to return that key in the great assembly.
_______________________________________
….For the rest, I’m not sure if this post will have any meaning. 

Destroyer rideth upon the waters

A study by the Harvard Business School has concluded that government spending does not stimulate an economy.  It stifles.  You can read the study here:
 
This was not the conclusion the study was expected to produce.  It is not a welcomed study during a time when the whole commitment of the federal policy is predicated upon the opposite conclusion.  Simply put, we’re pursuing a course that won’t/can’t work.
 
It shows again, how foolish it is to trust in the opinions of men.  I’m utterly convinced that opinions are misleading.  I believe the scriptures counsel against using opinions as a basis for determining truth.
 
The Great Whore, which deceives the world, sits upon “many waters.”  (Rev. 17: 1.)  The definition of “waters” is given in verse 15.  (Rev. 17: 15.)  These unstable waters are the “peoples, and multitudes, and nations.”  It is again a reminder of the original blessing given to Reuben, in which instability is compared to “water.”  (Gen. 49: 4.)  Great wars, overflowing armies and unstable political movements have all been compared to a flood of water.  (See, e.g., Isa. 28: 2; Jer. 46: 8.)
 
Opinions of peoples, multitudes and nations are as “unstable as water.”  They flow, and ebb and move about in dangerous currents.  Finding an opinion and adopting it as the basis for a church decision or policy is a study in learning which cannot bring you to the truth.  (2 Tim. 3: 7.)
 
Before this latest study, it was common wisdom that government spending was NEEDED in order to combat the recession.  Now, it appears the solution will only mire the country in a more prolonged downward economic cycle.  Opinions were gathered carefully before the commitment was made.  Now, we have accepted only foolishness as our wisdom.
I have always thought the tools of industry have no place in a church which claims to be guided by inspiration.  To the extent the church elects to employ opinion polling and focus group gathering to inform its decision, it will reach the wrong conclusions, make the wrong decisions, and go backward.
Inspiration does not lie within the opinions of the great and unstable waters.  Indeed, the Destroyer rides upon the waters.  (D&C 61: 19.)

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was established to show respect to our war dead; those who died to protect the freedoms and lives of others.  Now it has become a “Hallmark” (as in the card company) day for florists and balloon shops to sell junk to decorate the graves of anyone and everyone.  It is now only a national day to remember deceased grandmothers and grandfathers.
 
Adding to the event does not make it better.  Instead, it changes the focus from those whose self-sacrifice and devotion to others is remembered, into a general day for the dead.  That’s too bad.  I wish the focus remained narrow.  Those whose lives are currently in jeopardy should know that should they pay the ultimate sacrifice of their lives the nation will honor them.
 
I lost ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War.  Two great-great uncles (Owen and Paul) died during the first weeks of the Civil War in Northern Virginia.  My father fought and survived D-Day, and served during the Korean War as well.  He died in the 1990’s, but is a veteran of combat and was honored at his burial by an honor guard and a flag-draped coffin.  I still have the folded flag presented by the honor guard to my mother.
 
There is someone in my home town who goes to my father’s grave and puts an American flag on it every Memorial Day.  I do not know who it is and have never been there during Memorial Day.  However, I know it happens and I appreciate that someone knows he served his country while under German fire.
 
There is a family tradition that one of my ancestors was in Valley Forge.  I have not been able to confirm that.  They didn’t keep good records, but after the nation was established it was possible for veterans to apply for land grants to honor their service.  Those who applied for land grants were better documented.  Still, I haven’t been able to confirm the tradition.

All in all we owe a debt to those who have given us freedom that we cannot repay to them.  Sometimes when I contrast the devotion of those who sacrificed, to the profligate use of the freedom we have inherited, it worries me that we are squandering what took so great a price to confer.  We owe more to those who died to give us freedom.  We have an obligation to preserve it and hand it down to others as payment to those who sacrificed their lives.  Instead we are more interested in government becoming a tool to create financial benefits.  Freedom is being purchased away from us using both taxes and debt.  When it is gone, you have neither the freedom sold nor financial benefits promised in the sale; as the recently failed Soviet Block has proven for all history.

Constitutional Forum

At the invitation of the American Heritage School, I am going to participate in a forum this coming Thursday.  The school is located across the street from the Timpanogos Temple.  The announcement reads as follows:
Community Forum, Thursday, June 3, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
American Heritage School, North Auditorium
736 North 1100 East, American Fork, Utah
Join us for our inaugural Community Forum, to be held this coming Thursday, June 3, at 7:00 p.m., free and open to the public. We have confirmed four very special guest panelists, including attorney and author Denver Snuffer, Marriage Law Foundation Director Bill Duncan, Professor David Moore of BYU Law School, and AHS Family Education Center Committee Member Larry Hilton. Come listen and ask questions on critical constitutional topics that are impacting our homes, communities, and nation. To have even one of these individuals for an event like this would be worthy of an entire evening. To have all four of them on a single panel is extraordinary and has the making of truly thought-provoking and life-changing experience. For more information on our panelists, please see below. The format for the evening includes brief opening statements by each panelist member, followed by open Q&A from audience members, on the three topics of “Sovereignty”, “Freedom of Conscience” and John Adam’s statement that the Constitution was intended only for a “moral and religious people.” 
 If any of you are interested in this subject matter, the forum is free to the public.
(I’ll be the one who hasn’t shaved recently.)

Developing Your Faith

I’ve been thinking on the different kinds of questions I get, and what those questions reflect about the one asking. There are two conditions that cannot be overcome by me or any other person by answering your question.  The first one is your insecurities. The other is your curiosity. Your insecurities about whatever is going on in your life will not go away because you received an answer to a question.  Your curiosity will not be satisfied by hearing a spiritual experience recounted by another person.

Insecurities are a result of a lack of faith. You deserve them. You have not acquired knowledge yet. You have them as a gift, as a warning that you have not yet received what you need. Nor have you developed faith yet.  I’ve given you a post that repeats very important and true doctrine from the Lectures on Faith.  It is a blueprint for how you develop faith.  I cannot do it for you.  Neither can Joseph or Jesus Christ. Faith comes from within you, developed by the same process through which every man who has ever had faith developed it. There are no shortcuts, no independent conferral by sprinkling something on you, and no method different than what has always been required. To the extent I am able to explain the process, I have done so in The Second Comforter.  If you are still insecure, then you have not done what that book teaches you to do.  Getting an answer from me, or from any other man, will not replace the hollow feeling inside you springing from the absence of saving faith.

The scriptures are filled with spiritual experiences and doctrine. Adding another account to those already there will not benefit you nor bring you closer to developing faith.  It will not fill you. That is why my experiences have never been told. (Only in my testimony of the truthfulness of what I teach have I touched briefly upon my experiences.) The focus of all I have done is doctrine. Teaching correct principles will allow you to both govern and develop yourself.

Asking for details from my experiences will add absolutely nothing to you.  Those experiences will only weaken you.  It will also weaken me.  It will make me seem more than I am. It will cause you to surrender to another the responsibility devolving upon yourself.  You will only err in thinking that having another “spiritual story” to retell has made you closer to the Lord.  It doesn’t happen that way.  Get your own spiritual experiences. Then, if you want more, keep them sacred. That is what I do. I teach principles. I do not reveal experiences.

I read many years ago about Abraham being the “friend of God.”  I read also in the D&C about the Lord calling some early Saints His “friends.”  As I reflected upon that word (“friend”) I thought about what it meant (“friendship”).  After pondering the word for many days, and observing the people around me, thinking about what I saw in society, and considered the sermons I heard in church, I reached the conclusion that there wasn’t a “friend” of God upon the earth any longer.

As I considered the conclusion, I thought about it from God’s perspective. What must it mean to a Heavenly Father who has no friend upon the earth. How must He sorrow over His children who have departed from friendship. The thought grew in me until I determined I would become the “friend” of God; not for my sake, nor for any benefit which may come to me because of it.  I thought of it only as a way to honor Him; to show Him that despite earth and hell there would yet be another “friend” of His upon the earth.

I have remained true to that determination from that time till now. It defines the choices I have made, the opportunities I have forfeited, the places I have been, and the doors which have opened.  I may not be much of anything in this world, but I do have a Friend whose love I value and whose companionship I cherish.  If I were to tell you all the details of that it would do you no good and would betray trust.

Asking about it is the clearest indication that you have misunderstood both the process and what I am trying to do to help others.

Answers to prayers

I was asked why it seems there are seasons when a person can’t get an answer from God. Even when they have previously had wonderful contact, revelation, insights and blessings, there are times when nothing is coming from God. It appears to be unrelated to faithfulness or activity. Why, then, does God remain silent from time to time?
 
There are multiple reasons why this happens. It IS unrelated to God’s love for the person.

The first and most common reason I have discovered is that you are already in possession of the answer. It was given to you by God and you have it, but you don’t recognize it. It would be better to stop asking for an answer and instead ask to be able to see what you have already been given.

The second reason is that you need to struggle and make your own decision first, then to petition to know if the decision is right.  It is not always appropriate to defer all decisions to the Lord. You must develop the capacity to make sound decisions on your own.  The Lord will, of course, ratify the correct decision and warn you about the wrong one.  But you need to develop the ability to decide first.  (D&C 9: 7-9.)
 
Another reason, and perhaps the least common, is that the Lord knows that in your struggle you will eventually reach the correct decision. He must let you proceed on your own because the process of important.  Even Abraham endured this process.  (Abr. 2: 21.)  After he made the decision and traveled to the border, just prior to his entry into Egypt the Lord returned to him and prepared him for what he would encounter there.
 
There are also occasions wherein the Lord has determined to give you the answer, but you are not prepared for what is coming.  Therefore, you are put through experience to develop. During this time, you are moving toward the answer that you are being prepared to receive. Once the preparation is over, the answer follows.  It is possible that so much transpires between the request and the answer that you forget it was your petition to the Lord that set things in motion. Nevertheless the Lord was working to give you an answer all along.
 
There are occasions where the answer lies before you, and your path will intersect with the answer in the normal course.  The apparent silence from the Lord is really the answer – Stay true and you will find it as you move along.  These moments are what develop necessary patience. We are tempted to show ingratitude when these happen, thinking that it was our own ability which secured for us the answer, instead of the mercy of the Lord. That is a mistake. 
 
The final reason is that you are mistaken about your worthiness or standing before God and you need to alter what you are doing. In this instance it is likely that you get an answer, but the answer is that you are in need of repentance or change. The change needs to precede an answer. Never ignore a warning that you are out of the way; it may be the kindest response of all.  Get your life in order first, then the answer you seek will follow.  Ingratitude to the Lord is often the first reason for needed repentance.
 
These are the reasons I have found for those seasons in which an answer is not forthcoming from the Lord.

Personal Revelation

On the 13th of November, 1835, Joseph was instructing, and made the following comment (which has been often repeated:

“[I]f God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves.”  (JS Papers; Journals Vol. 1, p. 98.)

This statement has been quoted as a basis to support the position that any person’s revelation should NEVER be shared with another person; other than of course a revelation given to the church president.  The statement needs to be understood, however, in light of later statements recorded by Joseph in the same volume of the JS Papers.


On page 170 Joseph recorded that “angels ministered unto them, as well as myself.”  A little further down on the same page:  “My scribe …saw in a vision the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion.”  Still on the same page: “The vision of heaven was opened to these also, some of them saw the face of the Savior; and others were ministered unto by holy angels, and the spirit of prophesy and revelation was poured out in mighty power.”


On page 171 Joseph recorded that those who were present “spent the time in rehearsing to each other the glorious scenes that transpired on the preceding evening, while attending to the ordinance of the holy anointing.”


On page 174 Joseph recorded that his brother, William, “saw the heavens opened and the Lord’s host protecting the Lord’s anointed.”


On page 182 Joseph recorded that Zebedee Coltrin “saw a vision of the Lord’s House– and others were filled with the spirit and spake in tongues and prophesied.”  Later on that same page, in footnote 361, this is included:  “Oliver Cowdery also recorded that ‘many saw visions, many prophesied, and many spake in tongues.'” citing to Oliver’s Diary for 6 Feb. 1836.


It is apparent that Joseph’s comment did not result in these early Saints not speaking of the manifestations they received.  Nor did Joseph exhibit any disapproval or concern about hearing of others speaking of their spiritual manifestations.  His comment, therefore, needs to be understood in the context of the overall manner in which spiritual experiences were experienced and shared among the early church, even within a couple of months of the statement used to justify criticism of any person saying anything about any manifestation they received.


Oddly, I do not think anyone should share anything with anyone else unless the Lord, who gives manifestations, directs.  When He does, then I think objections are made at the peril of disrespecting the Lord’s command.  (See e.g., Alma 8: 25; 3 Ne. 23: 9–where the Lord required some of what Samuel had said to be added to their scriptures which the Nephites had neglected to record.)

I am the Lord that smiteth

The people among whom Ezekiel lived were filled with sin; public and private.  The prophet was inspired to deliver a serious warning to them inasmuch as they could not learn by being taught correct precepts, but only by harsh judgment. His warning included this statement: 
“The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the Lord that smiteth.” (Eze. 7: 7-9.)
I had a few thoughts about why and how such “judgments” could be easily be poured out upon us, as well.
From drug abuse to carnality, we are less civil and more dangerous as a population each year.  If you would like to see the Lord “pour out [His] fury upon [us]” you only need to shut off the electrical power in Detroit or Los Angeles at night.  We are filled with the savagery that will bring about our own punishment.  When the electrical grid fails in larger metropolitan areas of the United States, it will be Americans killing Americans, without any need for an invasion by an enemy.  God will not need to send a plague upon us. We become our own plague because of our wickedness.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the New Orleans Police Department was unable to keep order, and the National Guard had not arrived yet, there were days filled with violence, rape and murder.  It did not take anything more than a brief lack of police authority before the population was plagued with criminal misconduct, violence and killing.
What more fitting a way to “judge thee according to thy ways?”  What more apt a manner for “recompensing thee for all thine abominations?”  It is our own choice to become our own undoing.  Amazing, really. 
Are our sins any less than that generation to whom Ezekiel spoke?  Americans have killed 40 million unborn (innocent) children.  Hitler, the great genocidal monster of the last century, only killed 6 million in his perversity.  We have selected the most innocent, and ended 40 million of their lives.  As Christ put it:  Truly we deserve a millstone hung around our necks and to be drowned in the depth of the sea for this wanton shedding of innocent blood. (Matt. 18: 6.)  
This great perversity is what we call a “right to choose,” thereby clothing an atrocity in the words of virtue. We call evil good and good evil, and never take time to notice we fulfill prophecy as we do so. (2 Ne. 15: 20, using Isaiah 5: 20 to describe us and our time.) Freedom of choice, right to choose, tolerance, diversity, open and free are all words implying virtue. They justify suppression of truth, sexual misconduct, killing innocent unborn and curtailing freedom of thought and expression. We are hardly able to recognize good from evil, because everything destructive or debasing, advocated by those addicted to a perversity, is called by them good. And any who oppose these abuses are called evil, intolerant, oppressive, haters and ignorant.
It should not surprise any of us if the Lord should shortly pour out His judgments upon us.  All it would take is a prolonged failure of the power grid and we would unleash on ourselves our own direful judgments.

Catch hold or cling

There are two different words used by Nephi regarding contact with the “iron rod” or word of God.  Joseph Smith translated the two words as “cling” or “clinging” for one, and “hold” or “holding” as the other.
 
The different word use raises the question of meaning.  If they meant identical things, then the same word would have been translated.  Therefore, there must be a reason for the different words.
 
Below are examples of the different words in the context of the record:   
 
 
  24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
      •  •  •
 
  30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

 
Some catch hold, then cling.
 
Some hold, then hold fast.
 
So the question becomes why the different description.  Both of these different approaches result in the persons reaching the destination, then partaking of the fruit.  But they are situated differently as they move along the process. Some are “clinging” and some are “holding” as they move toward their destination.
 
To “cling” implies something frantic, something charged with emotion, and something more desperate than to “hold.”  “Holding” seems calm, thoughtfully committed and more methodical than does “clinging.”  From this, I conclude that there are at least two kinds of people who will make their way to partake of the fruit of the tree of life in this world.
 
For one group, the process is unnerving, fearful and emotionally wrenching. They cling on despite earth and hell. They fight to retain their grip, and they make heroic efforts in the opposition they face. They cling because they cannot relent, cannot relax, and know they face peril as they live their lives daily. For them their hopes are kept despite all their fears. They cling because they desire more than the opposition can deter them.
For another group, the process is less emotional, but nonetheless filled with determination. They are not as charged with fear, but face what comes to them calmly and with the assurance that the Lord’s word is in their hands and will be a refuge that will bring them to eternal life.
 
I think there is another, more likely possibility, as well. There is not two groups, but only one. From time to time everyone faces moments of difficulty. The only way to stay with the rod is to cling. Then the seasons change, the storm relents, and calm returns. During those times when life improves, the person can continue to hold and move forward, but they have purchased the season of calm by the things they have endured in faith. Now they know it is only necessary to hold on, and all things will come to them.
 
I do not know of a life that gets lived without challenge, difficulty and seasons of despair. I believe all of us will at times be required to cling, and at others have the ability to hold the course. Whether it is the one season or the other, however, at the end of the journey you will lay hold on eternal life.  Press on.

O that I had repented

National debt is nearly the entire annual gross domestic product.
 
The banking crisis in Europe is threatening to spread, and the US has committed billions to help prop up the imbalanced European socialist-democracies.
 
The money supply is shrinking at a rate comparable only to the years leading into the Great Depression.
 
I am reminded of the Nephites when they were denounced with these words: 
 
“O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?  Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity. And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.”  (Hel. 13: 29-31.)
 
As our own riches become “slippery” so that we cannot hold onto them, I think we get a taste of what the Nephites were allowed to experience because they could not distinguish between those who taught the truth and those who merely led them about while blind.
 
The prophecy continued with these additional words of wise, and still relevant counsel:
 
“And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts. And then shall ye lament, and say: O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.  Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.  O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.  Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days. But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words!”  (Hel. 13: 32-39.)
 
As always, the Book of Mormon remains the keystone of our religion.  A person can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than through any other book.
 
I don’t think Joseph Smith wrote it.  I think he translated it.  I think it contains wisdom from an earlier, failed civilization that once inhabited this land.  I think their lessons should not be forgotten by us.  Because when we fail to learn them by precept, then we get to learn them by experience.  And some of their experiences were quite difficult.