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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.

The arm of flesh

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

When the church endorses something or some position, I do not think it is right to simply “fall in line” behind the statement without also thinking the same issue through and reaching my own conclusion.  The first question I ask myself is what the statement is, and does it imply a revelation from the Lord. 
I can think of two examples.  One was a public announcement that was heralded in the press. The other was the subject of a letter from the First Presidency read in sacrament meetings.  
The public announcement was regarding the housing and employment of homosexuals in Salt Lake City, using the force of government sanction to prevent an employer or owner of property from refusing to grant equal access or rights to homosexuals.  I’ve previously commented here in a critical way about that announcement.  This is an example of how I view things. 
Since the church’s position on the matter had absolutely nothing to do with revelation, and the church did not make any attempt to claim the position came through revelation, I do not believe it is immune from question or criticism.  Indeed, the defense of the policy to the press involved a public relations/opinion poll driven justification.  It was expected to “resonate on the basis of fairness” with all those in the middle, and only offend those at the two ends of the spectrum.  This is opinion gathering to inform a position, then announcing the position because of the results of opinion gathering.  It is what a politician or a marketing firm would do.  It is not at all akin to a revelation, and should not command my respect.  I am under no obligation to alter my view based on what the church’s opinion gathering has concluded.  If that were the case, then the church’s ability to control everyone’s thinking would be based only upon prevailing opinion at the moment.  This is the “tossed about by every wind” concern which Paul addressed in one of his letters.  (Eph. 4: 14.)  Shifting opinion is not revelation.  I am free to point it out, disagree with it, and explain my contrary view.
Another example is the letter from the First Presidency asking speakers in sacrament meetings to no longer ask those in attendance to open their scriptures.  No explanation was provided in the letter.  It was just an instruction to the Saints to no longer let sacrament meeting speakers tell those in the meeting to open their scriptures and read along. Perhaps it was as a result of someone being irritated by the noise of rustling scriptures.  Perhaps it was someone with a hearing aid, whose aid frequency was tuned to pick up the rustling so well that it drowned out the rest of the speaker’s voice.  Perhaps it was because the meeting got delayed and disrupted by the folks struggling to find their scriptures, and open them up to the relevant page.  I can’t say for certain.  But I did raise my eyebrows when the letter was read in advance to the High Council. 
My candid reaction to that letter was that it diminished the office of those who signed the letter by the petty micro-managing of opening the scriptures during a sacrament gathering.  I wondered in amazement that someone in the Church Office Building got the First Presidency to sign such a letter.  I wondered at how, with all that threatens us today, opening scriptures in order to read along in sacrament meetings managed to become so important that the First Presidency would write and send a letter worldwide to be read in the stakes and wards.  It was perplexity on stilts.
Beyond that my approach has been twofold:  First, I have NEVER asked anyone to open their scriptures in a sacrament meeting since then.  However, I have said in talks during sacrament that “I cannot ask you to open your scriptures and read along” in order to call attention to the policy.  I have also said, when teaching outside of sacrament meetings, that I was free to ask them to read along in their scriptures “because we are not in a sacrament meeting.”  I do this to call attention to the policy.  I think to call attention to it is to cause people to wonder at the pettiness and inconsequential nature of a letter from the First Presidency addressing the opening of scriptures in sacrament meeting.
These are just two examples.  There are many.  As I have said before, I pay very close attention to the church, what is said and done, and how relevant or irrelevant some position, letter, emphasis or program is in an absolute sense.  I try to take it all in and reach my own conclusions.  Looking at it all, I am quite concerned.  Faithful, tithe paying and active, nevertheless quite concerned. 
I believe if enough people were similarly concerned that eventually the “opinion polling” might obtain reasonable results.  That is, the top would hear about reasonable concerns and learn of reasonable opinions, and then promulgate policies and send out statements accordingly.  That, however, will require a great effort to call attention to the things that matter most, and clarity in pointing out the things that do not matter at all. We fret over trifles while things are burning down all around us.  I wonder how long it will take for the polling to inform the Saints of the fire burning around them.

A message of warning

The Jews thought themselves favored of God.  They trusted that the land they occupied had been promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They were the descendants of these patriarchs. The land had been promised to them. They had the priesthood, the temple, God’s promise and a true religion.  They knew nothing could molest their peace.
The Lord commissioned Zechariah to deliver this warning to them:
“Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.  Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.”  (Zech. 7: 9-14.) 
We can look at the Jews to whom this prophecy was delivered and see with clarity how they failed.  We can see through their false presumptions, foolish beliefs and evil ways.  We know how to correctly weigh them in the balance.
Imagine, however, if you lived among those people and shared their false presumptions.  Imagine that you believed, as they did, that they were chosen, promised that nothing would molest them.  Imagine you possessed a temple of God, true priesthood, and descended from prophets.  How would you react when a prophet came among you crying that you were wicked, oppressed the poor, the fatherless and the stranger?  Wouldn’t you think Zechariah was wrong while all of you were right?  How can a message from a single person hold an entire nation of people accountable for how they respond?
I suspect it wouldn’t be any easier for us to see our plight as it was for the Jews to see theirs.  I suspect our own harsh assessment of the failure of the Jews will be the very standard against which we will be measured in how we react to truth when it is declared among us.  I doubt we can distinguish between truth and error any better than they did.  But we pride ourselves on condemning them, and justifying ourselves.
The irony in all this is so thick you can hardly move.
How grateful I am to live at a time when there are messages received again from the Lord which can lead us to salvation, despite earth and hell, false messengers and fools, pretenders and charlatans.  Yet will the Lord keep His promise that before He does anything, He will commission a message of warning.  (Amos 3: 7.)

Why the occasional reminder (and she will probably do it again)

I can see my wife put up another reminder about the stuff I’ve written previously.  I can tell you why she did that.
Some folks presume that a brief post contains all of an idea that I have spent many pages setting out a full explanation for elsewhere.  They comment, challenge, criticize or contradict in a reply comment as if the whole of what I have to say about some topic is contained in the briefest of posts.  It is apparent that if the person had read what I’ve written elsewhere they wouldn’t be making the comment they make here.

An example is the plural marriage notion.  I’ve spent pages and given both history and scripture to explain what my explanation is for the position I take in the book Beloved Enos.  There are persons who are obsessed with the whole plural marriage subject, and very well may be practicing plural marriage.  My comments and views probably threaten them, because I do not believe it appropriate to practice plural marriage now that it has been banned by both the law of Utah, law of the United States, confirmed by the United States to be prohibited, and abandoned by the church as a practice.
The keys which allowed the practice are addressed at length in Beloved Enos, and it would be too long a discussion to take the subject up here.  I anticipated that there would be those who practice plural marriage who would read what I have to say, and so I addressed their concerns in that book.  So when they want to have a discussion about the topic, this isn’t the forum for that.  I’ve written my understanding before and it becomes apparent that the person(s) replying do not understand my position because they haven’t read it.
I think my wife as Moderator gets somewhat exasperated with these comments, because they are something which she necessarily has to read before putting up and seem so contrary to the intent of doing this blog.  I get vicariously frustrated as well as we discuss it.
I worry that some very good folks, with great comments, are thinking that their comments are not welcomed.  That isn’t true, of course.  What is true is that it is unfair and inaccurate to reach a conclusion about what I think or understand based upon the briefest of comments made on this blog.  The comments would need to be read in light of lengthy explanations provided elsewhere and fit into the context of what I’ve already explained, before it is fair to react as if you understand my position.  Some of you have taken the trouble to read what I’ve written and do understand a comment made here.  Some clearly have not.  Everyone is welcome to put a comment up in response to a post, but I’m not going to respond to all of them when the explanation is already provided elsewhere.
I hope that clarifies again the reasons behind the periodic reminders put up here.

Broken souls

I’m hoping to solve Ben’s perplexity (raised in a recent comment), and give all those who come here something to reflect on at the same time.
 
There are those who are kept from active church attendance because they have read something about history or doctrine which has alarmed and/or discouraged them. There are those who, because of their circumstances, are embarrassed to come to church. There are those who are poor and ashamed, or they are living with the heavy burden of sin and choose to stay away from our meetings. Perhaps they suffer from depression or anxiety, have addictions and feel unclean and unworthy.  
 
I have home taught or spent time with people with all of these issues, concerns and experiences, and more.  They stay away because they do not feel welcome among us.  Many feel judged, some feel like they just can’t abide hypocrisy, some are hurting and the church makes their hurt worse.
 
From the time I joined the church until today, I look for these people.  I volunteer to go and visit with them in every ward I have attended, in every stake where I have served, and across the Mission when missionaries have asked me to come help teach.  I was honored just a few days ago to meet with a man and his wife who are inactive, but who have a towering understanding of the church, gospel, its history, the scriptures and doctrine.  They have figured out a great deal more than either their bishop or stake president. As a result, I think the local church authorities are somewhat intimidated by their understanding, and the leaders cannot answer their questions.  It was, for me, a joyful visit and I hope to return again and talk with this wonderful Latter-day Saint couple soon.
 
I have met with people whose son committed suicide while attending a church-owned university because he was so lonely and isolated that his last desperate act was intended to end his life and rebuke those who had dismissed his pain.  I loved these people who spoke with me about their son’s life and death.  They possessed a sensitivity to the feelings of others which can only be purchased at the price of enduring great personal pain.
 
I have close friends who struggle with addictions.  Some of these people struggle with things so haunting, so terrible a force in their lives that rising each day to face the coming fight takes greater courage than I can even imagine.  They are acting in faith at every waking breath, as they fight against a foe I do not comprehend and could not face.
 
I have helped women whose husbands are esteemed as church leaders, but the husbands’ private actions are hellish and abusive.  Women who have nowhere to turn, because their husband IS the leader with jurisdiction over them.  No one will believe them because their “righteous” husband says they have mental or emotional illnesses. These women somehow manage to continue to serve their children and remain steadfast despite the hell they find themselves in.
 
It is not possible to set out all the different ways wherein the men and women I have met struggle.  It is a great privilege to know these people.  People whose insight into life and difficulties is far greater than I can begin to comprehend.  People whose strength is not even recognized, because others are too busy dismissing, belittling or judging them as “a thing of naught.”  (2 Ne. 28: 16.)
 
I have marveled at how very much these broken souls, these discouraged people, these victims of our judgments who we have discarded or neglected are the very ones with whom I feel the Lord’s presence and love as I have the honor of meeting and talking with them about the Gospel.  These are the ones He loves the most.  These are the ones with whom He associated during His ministry.  He associates there, still.
 
We have driven many of them away from activity in the church because of how we behave.  In turn, the Spirit does not dwell with many of the “righteous” and proud active Latter-day Saints because hearts have not been broken nor spirits made contrite.  We are made to think God favors us because we have worldly successes. We prosper. It is the successful, the financially well-to-do, the educated, the bank president, the lawyer and doctor whom we hold up as the model of a true Saint.  Read the resumes of those who are called to lead the stakes and missions of the church in each week’s Church News.  We draw from a very narrow social gene-pool to find those who serve. They come from among those who have the financial resources in place to spare the time it takes to serve. In the process we get a ‘Gospel of Success’ mentality, right out of one segment of the Evangelical movement.
 
I am NOT saying that nothing good can come from the Stanford Business School.  I am NOT saying bankers are damned (though they are in truth damnable).  I am not talking about them.  I am talking instead about those broken souls whom I know the Lord loves, but who are not among us because of our own pride and haughty attitudes.
If we were to flood the wards of Zion with those whose hearts are broken, who mourn because of issues that weigh heavy upon them, and who feel that there is nothing in the church for them, but who look to Christ to lift them from their torment, we would be enriched by their homecoming.  In much the same way as the Prodigal was worthy of a feast, but the resentful but faithful son who stayed behind was not, so also are the riches of eternity reserved for the poor, downtrodden and broken hearted.

We are the poorer because of their absence.  Our wards are not informed by hearing of their dilemmas and struggles.  We are not what we could be if we were to make such people welcome – throwing our arms open to greet them.  We do not hear their struggle to keep a testimony after learning about some serious failing of a past leader.  We are not informed, as we should be, in our meetings and discussions. 

This is a lamentation, and not an explanation.  This is not the fullness of the subject, but merely a hint of what I know displeases the Lord about us.  It is not my responsibility to define fully the Lord’s displeasure with us at the moment.  I can, however, assure you He is not pleased.  Some of what we think ourselves best for doing is not what He would want us to take pride in.  Our Lord’s heart is broken still.  His ways are higher than ours because He values the least more than do we.

 
I cannot say more.  But I am left amazed at the hardness of the hearts of this generation who claim they are the Lord’s.  Many, many will be told by Him to depart from His presence at the time of Judgment because they never knew Him.  They speak today in His name, yet they know Him not.  It would be better for them to not speak at all, than to toss about His name as the author of foolish, vain, proud and evil notions while claiming He agrees with such things.

Just a reminder – posted by the comment moderator (goddess)

The content of this blog presumes you are already familiar with Denver Snuffer’s books. Careful explanations given in the books lay the foundation for what is contained here. If you read this blog without having first read his books, then you assume responsibility for your own misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the writer’s intent. Please do not presume to judge Mr. Snuffer’s intentions from a single blog post if you have not first read his books.  His ideas and beliefs are not fully laid out in a four paragraph post on a blog.

Men’s hearts will fail them

Luke records Christ’s first public sermon that occurred after His baptism, temptation, wedding and commencement of the public ministry.  He read from Isaiah about the commission He had received from God to preach.  (Luke 4: 17-19.)  After reading the verses, He proclaimed that He was the fulfillment of those verses.  (Luke 4: 20-21.)
 
He expounded on the verses adding that not only were they fulfilled, but He pressed on to explain how He would fulfill them in comments that were unrecorded.  However, those who heard could not help but be persuaded at His gracious words.  (Luke 4: 22.)
 
He moved from these verses in Isaiah to add His own prophecy about what they would eventually do to Him.  You will tell me: “Physician, heal thyself,” He added.  (Luke 4: 23.)  He will be asked by them to do miracles among them as He will do in Capernum, but they will not be given such a witness.  He explains that not all of a prophet’s works will be put to display before all people.  That some will see Him, but only have the testimony of others to learn of His works.  (Luke 4: 24-27.)

They were indignant at His comments.  It filled them with wrath.  They thought they should be given the same signs, the same proof, of His claim to Messiahship as He would put before others.  (Luke 4: 28-29.)  However, He explained to them that He would be without honor among those closest to Him.   (Luke 4: 24.)

 
The attempt of the congregation to kill Him failed.  He departed and went among more believing people, who heard Him speak with power from heaven.  (Luke 4: 30-32.)
 
What an interesting commencement of His public ministry.  Telling the truth among those unprepared to welcome Him did them no good, persuaded no-one of the truth, and resulted in His forced departure.
 
What can be said of those who would cast out of their congregation He who was greater than them all?  They thought they were making a bold statement about their fidelity to their religious traditions, and holding fast to the truth.  Instead, they were cutting themselves off from the lifeline sent to save them.
 
Irony is not a strong enough word to describe this singular scene.  It would be repeated throughout Christ’s ministry among the hierarchy and leadership of His day, ultimately culminating in His death at their hands.  These were the only people who would kill their God.  (2 Ne. 10: 3.)  They were devout.  They were misinformed.  They were very religious, but entirely mistaken.

What happened on that first day of teaching was a microcosm of His entire ministry.  It is often the case that those who regard themselves as the “most religious” and “most correct” are capable of missing the truth sent to them by the Lord.  They prefer the Lord package the truth in one way, coupled with a written guarantee that the package will never fail them, while the Lord is always sending it in another, and requiring them to receive it when only their hearts can guide them into recognizing it.  It is little wonder, then, that our day is when “men’s hearts will fail them” because they fear, and trust not the things sent to them.  (Luke 21: 26.)

Blood crying for vengeance

I was asked about blood crying for vengeance from the ground.  The question was how this reconciled with charity or forgiveness.
 
Blood “crying from the ground” is not the same thing as a person crying out for vengeance.  Keep the context in mind:  It is the blood which was shed upon the earth which cries out for vengeance or fairness or retribution.  Something unfair has occurred, and the cry of the blood “upon the ground” is a reminder of the injustice of it all.
 
The ground is a reference to the earth, which has a spirit, intelligence, and is able to communicate if a person were capable of listening.  It is a female spirit, and she regards herself as “the mother of men.”  This earth is offended when the men who are upon her kill one another or engage in any form of wickedness upon her surface.  Below is her lament as she beheld the disorder and murder caused by that generation upon whom the flood was unleashed:
 
“And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?”  (Moses 7: 48.)

Even if the person whose blood was shed departed this earth forgiving those who made offense against him, yet would “the ground” cry out for vengeance because the earth has become filthy by reason of the killing which took place upon her.  She, as the “mother of men,” regards the killing of men upon her as an abomination.  She cries out.  She is offended.  She wants righteousness to appear on her, as has happened before.  She longs that it be brought about again.  When, instead of Zion, she has the murder of men upon her face, it is so great a lamentation by her spirit that “the ground cries out for vengeance” because of the atrocity.