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Weep for Zion for Zion has fled

It may as well be a dream.  It involves our collective slumber.  We get pictures in our head when we are taught some truth and presume that the picture is accurate.  Then after we have repeated the “truth” often enough, we go on to believe the picture must be all-inclusive.

Once we’ve arrived at that point, the truth no longer matters. Our minds are made up. We’ve decided the answers, and no further evidence will be considered.

This certainty is reinforced when more people reach the same conclusion because they share the same picture in their head. You get together with others and testify that you are all in possession of the truth; not only the truth, but ALL of the truth. Before long every one of the group can pass a lie-detector test about the truth as they explain it.

As a result, this herd is incapable of ever seeing the picture differently. They cannot open their minds to the idea that their picture is skewed or off. It is most certainly incomplete.  It is, in fact, so far short of the whole story that when any part of the remaining, missing information is shown to them they are certain it is a lie.

It is painful to part with our suppositions and the traditions we hold dear.  It is painful to admit there may be much more of the picture we have not yet considered, much less seen.  It causes anxiety and fear. So much fear in fact, that when it comes to “eternal truth,” people literally put their lives in jeopardy if they denounce the falsehoods of the herd and proclaim the truth to those whose peace of mind and self-identity is tied to the incomplete and misleading picture they believe holds all truth.

Latter-day Saints are not immune from this process. We have wanted a complete, well defined statement of our faith since the time of Joseph Smith. We crave an “orthodox” faith so we, like the Historic Christians, can proclaim what is true and right and what is error and heresy. It gives us security. It is false security, purchased at the price of closed minds. It gives us hope. It is false hope, based on the foolishness of the deluded.

As we water down even further the true principles of what our faith contains by requiring Relief Society and High Priests to labor over a Gospel Essentials Manual as the sole fodder for our spiritual fare, we strain every particle of solid food out of the diet. The remaining gruel is so thin, lacking in substance, that we become universally malnourished. Yet in that emaciated state, as our bellies distend from the bloating of starvation, we all proclaim how well fed we are. Our bellies are swollen!  We have enough of the word of God!  We need no more of the word of God!  All is well!  Better than well, we prosper in the land of promise!

When you surrender your superstitions and arrogance and read the scriptures for the first time with an open mind, they will astonish you. They will condemn you. They will demand you repent, open your heart, and receive more. They will offer you the bread of life, a living fountain of revelation from which, if you draw, you will find not only sustenance, but also the capacity to recognize that there are those who are starving.


We still weep for Zion; for Zion has fled.

Try reading Alma Chapter 13 and take LITERALLY every word there. Don’t bring any pictures in your head and read them into the text. Forget every popular and correlated notion ever spoken about the priesthood for a moment and just look at the words. You will be shocked.  If you can bring yourself to do that, then read the Book of Mormon again. It was written for our day, testifying against us. A former group of inhabitants who failed and were destroyed wrote their best advice and sent it to us.  We are the ones being warned. We are in a great deal of peril. Our church, if the Book of Mormon is true, is filled with corruption and priestcraft.


Or, on the other hand, just chant that “you know (insert the subject of choice here) is true” and throw about the “name of Jesus Christ” as you do.  It is a tried and true mantra, which when repeated often enough, can dull the senses and reinstate the slumber we are so often wrapped.  So relax.  Hum to yourself a hymn and you will soon be back asleep.

Weep for Zion for Zion has fled

It may as well be a dream.  It involves our collective slumber.  We get pictures in our head when we are taught some truth and presume that the picture is accurate.  Then after we have repeated the “truth” often enough, we go on to believe the picture must be all-inclusive.

Once we’ve arrived at that point, the truth no longer matters. Our minds are made up. We’ve decided the answers, and no further evidence will be considered.

This certainty is reinforced when more people reach the same conclusion because they share the same picture in their head. You get together with others and testify that you are all in possession of the truth; not only the truth, but ALL of the truth. Before long every one of the group can pass a lie-detector test about the truth as they explain it.

As a result, this herd is incapable of ever seeing the picture differently. They cannot open their minds to the idea that their picture is skewed or off. It is most certainly incomplete.  It is, in fact, so far short of the whole story that when any part of the remaining, missing information is shown to them they are certain it is a lie.

It is painful to part with our suppositions and the traditions we hold dear.  It is painful to admit there may be much more of the picture we have not yet considered, much less seen.  It causes anxiety and fear. So much fear in fact, that when it comes to “eternal truth,” people literally put their lives in jeopardy if they denounce the falsehoods of the herd and proclaim the truth to those whose peace of mind and self-identity is tied to the incomplete and misleading picture they believe holds all truth.

Latter-day Saints are not immune from this process. We have wanted a complete, well defined statement of our faith since the time of Joseph Smith. We crave an “orthodox” faith so we, like the Historic Christians, can proclaim what is true and right and what is error and heresy. It gives us security. It is false security, purchased at the price of closed minds. It gives us hope. It is false hope, based on the foolishness of the deluded.

As we water down even further the true principles of what our faith contains by requiring Relief Society and High Priests to labor over a Gospel Essentials Manual as the sole fodder for our spiritual fare, we strain every particle of solid food out of the diet. The remaining gruel is so thin, lacking in substance, that we become universally malnourished. Yet in that emaciated state, as our bellies distend from the bloating of starvation, we all proclaim how well fed we are. Our bellies are swollen!  We have enough of the word of God!  We need no more of the word of God!  All is well!  Better than well, we prosper in the land of promise!

When you surrender your superstitions and arrogance and read the scriptures for the first time with an open mind, they will astonish you. They will condemn you. They will demand you repent, open your heart, and receive more. They will offer you the bread of life, a living fountain of revelation from which, if you draw, you will find not only sustenance, but also the capacity to recognize that there are those who are starving.


We still weep for Zion; for Zion has fled.

Try reading Alma Chapter 13 and take LITERALLY every word there. Don’t bring any pictures in your head and read them into the text. Forget every popular and correlated notion ever spoken about the priesthood for a moment and just look at the words. You will be shocked.  If you can bring yourself to do that, then read the Book of Mormon again. It was written for our day, testifying against us. A former group of inhabitants who failed and were destroyed wrote their best advice and sent it to us.  We are the ones being warned. We are in a great deal of peril. Our church, if the Book of Mormon is true, is filled with corruption and priestcraft.


Or, on the other hand, just chant that “you know (insert the subject of choice here) is true” and throw about the “name of Jesus Christ” as you do.  It is a tried and true mantra, which when repeated often enough, can dull the senses and reinstate the slumber we are so often wrapped.  So relax.  Hum to yourself a hymn and you will soon be back asleep.

Have a joyful Saturday

I have a dear friend whose daughter is getting married this month.  I look forward to driving out to the wedding.  We’re planning to take my wife’s Mini-Cooper and leave the top down.  A day’s worth of driving to and from the wedding is about as delightful a thing as I can imagine at the moment.  I don’t care if we’re driving at night, the seats have electric heaters and the stars overhead are as interesting as the daytime sky. More so in fact.

The greatest things we possess are our families and friends. They matter. They can endure to all eternity. Nothing will come with us from this fallen world other than the friends and family we acquire, the lessons we have learned, the covenants made with and ratified by the Lord, and the kind acts we have done.  Everything else will dissolve back into the dust of this world.

Have a joyful Saturday.  Do something kind for someone who dislikes you.  Do something generous for someone who loves you.  Go to bed tonight knowing that if this day were the one day chosen to judge your character that it is your best. Make the day holy by the way you live, the words you speak and the thoughts you entertain.

Heaven is stirred and Hell itself is shaken when even one soul lives such a day.

“Power” or “Authority”

In the church we have a regular system for ordination to give someone priesthood authority.  It requires the candidate to be interviewed, found worthy, recommended by the presiding authorities (Bishop or Stake President) to a congregation who sustains the ordination before it is performed.  The ordination takes place by the laying on of hands, is recorded, and a certificate is issued to the one ordained.
 
In contrast, the Lord’s ordination among the Nephites required only His word to be spoken, and power was conferred:
 
“And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.” (3 Ne. 11: 20-22)

 

It is interesting that the word used in His conferral of priestly right was “power” and not “authority.”  Consider the difference.  Consider what it means for the Lord to speak unto a man and tell him that he has “power” from the Lord.
 
Is there a difference between having the “authority” to baptize, as we spread it about in the church today, and having the “power” to baptize as conferred by Christ?  If there is, then what is that difference?
 
Good questions to ponder.  Particularly as you consider President Packer’s timely reminder of the general lack of power in the priesthood of today’s church in his recent General Conference address, “Power in the Priesthood.” 
 

“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.)