Weekend Conference In Southern Utah

Tonight I want to share something that may come as a surprise to some, but certainly not to all.  The interesting thing is, unlike the many times before when I have been constrained, I feel completely free in Christ to share what He has placed on my heart. The goodness of Christ compels me to be unashamed.

Setting:

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This past weekend was spent in the desert just south of Moab, Utah at what is known to some as “The Rock” or “Rockland Ranch.” The ranch is actually a unique community where some few families (diverse in religious nature) have come together to become a family of sorts. They take care of one another. They love one another. They grow together through good times and bad times. Simply put, they are a proto-Zion. A more detailed article of the ranch can be read here.

Event:

What exactly happened this weekend? Well, from Friday to Sunday, hundreds of like-minded people came together to fellowship. These people can be labeled, if you will, as seekers of truth and Jesus Christ (who is Truth itself) Diverse backgrounds were in attendance, to include: active, inactive, and excommunicated LDS, Fundamentalist’s Mormons, fathers, mothers, children, singles, couples, old, young, and I wouldn’t be too farfetched to say angels, too.

Details:

During this conference (that’s what these events are called), talks were given, prayers were lifted up, hymns were sung, and sacrament was partaken. I have to admit, I never know how these conferences are going to turn out, and this conference was no different. Nonetheless, as always, the main reason I attend is to fellowship and draw closer to my fellow seekers of truth and the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t say I am surprised that that is exactly what happened.

Talks:

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The main tent (out of a few) used to facilitate the conference.

 

The conference officially began on Saturday afternoon when a shofar horn was blasted for all to hear. Following the opening prayer and remarks, we heard from the daughter and son of Rockland Ranch founder, Bob Foster. The daughter, Anna, spoke first on the holy feasts of the Old Testament. I learned quite a bit. She was followed by her brother, Enoch, who talked about how the “two churches” in 1 Nephi 14 represent humility and pride. The Church of the Lamb of God is centered, in part, on humility. The church of the devil is centered, in part, on pride. I couldn’t agree more.

Both Anna and Enoch also gave us background on how the ranch came to be by their father. They shared the dreams, visions, and visitors which he encountered to make it all possible. We were left with the impression that the formation of this community was nothing short of inspiration of God.

On Sunday, among other things, we were blessed to hear from several others, to include an amazing woman named Kim, a power-house team Brian and Jennifer, and Denver Snuffer. My memory isn’t serving me well right now, but there were others as well.

Kim spoke about her journey with God and how she got to where she is today. It was inspiring. She is kind, hospitable, and funny! I can’t wait to see her and her husband again.

Brian and Jennifer’s talks were powerful. It needed to be heard. They are the embodiment of love, forgiveness, and second chances. They have had their struggles and victories (which they shared openly and freely) which inspired us all. I like to say the greatest advertisement for Jesus Christ is a changed life. The love that emanates from a once broken vessel is palpable. It’s the real thing. This is the best way I can describe their talks.

Denver spoke on many things, to include priestcraft, Zion, servants, and patience. A transcript is coming soon which I might post if prompted.

Hymns:

Oh man, here’s where you get me. Over the course of the weekend, we sang songs collectively and also enjoyed hearing individual musical numbers. One song I particularly enjoyed was Hymn #6 “Redeemer of Israel.” The lyrics, which were oh so fitting for our current situation, are shown below:

1. Redeemer of Israel,
Our only delight,
On whom for a blessing we call,
Our shadow by day
And our pillar by night,
Our King, our Deliv’rer, our all!

2. We know he is coming
To gather his sheep
And lead them to Zion in love,
For why in the valley
Of death should they weep
Or in the lone wilderness rove?

3. How long we have wandered
As strangers in sin
And cried in the desert for thee!
Our foes have rejoiced
When our sorrows they’ve seen,
But Israel will shortly be free.

4. As children of Zion,
Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near.

5. Restore, my dear Savior,
The light of thy face;
Thy soul-cheering comfort impart;
And let the sweet longing
For thy holy place
Bring hope to my desolate heart.

6. He looks! and ten thousands
Of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks! and eternity,
Filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.

I can’t explain the Spirit we felt. My friend Joe who sat next to me would testify of this. Needless to say, it was powerful. Heaven took notice . . . .

Sacrament:

Aside from the several private sacrament meetings which took place among the people throughout the weekend, a main sacrament was conducted Sunday morning. We were happy and at peace with the way in which we partook: The way in which the Lord instructed.

Wine and fist sized bread were prepared for all to partake (or grape juice if you preferred that.) As the sacrament was blessed, we all kneeled together (DC 20: 76)

Baptisms:

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Water hole atop the mountain

Unnoticed by most, baptisms (and rebaptisms) were preformed on top of The Rock. This picture is somewhat deceiving, but that water hole actually goes down quite a ways. It’s bigger than the picture suggests. The climbing of the mountain to be baptized was major symbolism in and of itself.

These baptisms were done unto the Lord alone as a sign of personal commitment to the Fathers will. I’ve been rebaptized myself. In the early days of this restoration, rebaptisms were more common than we think. If you notice in the Book of Mormon, baptisms and rebaptisms were done as the first fruit of repentance (Moroni 8: 25.) Do we not repent more than once? Do we not renew ourselves unto Christ many times throughout our lives? Something to think about . . . .

Friendships:

About this time last year I attended another large conference in Colorado. That conference specifically changed my life forever. The same things took place as this conference: talks, hymns, sacrament, et cetera. But that’s not what changed me. What changed me was encountering the amazing people who attended.

Most I only knew through Facebook, so it was a delight to finally meet in person. But, everyone I specifically got to know, were the most honest, genuine, courageous and loving people I have ever met in my life. I don’t say this to lift them up, but to be in awe of what God has done (and is doing) through his children upon this earth. These people were broken for the Lord. Their faces were a reflection of His evidential love in their lives. They craved raw truth, from whatever source it came from.

One specific night, I was at a certain fellows home where we all broke bread. Towards the end of the evening, I was talking with that guy for the first time one-on-one. Almost instantly, my heart connected with his and his with mine. We sensed the familiarity. It’s actually a gift God has given him, I believe.

As we talked, his testimony of Gods work in his life was exactly what I needed to hear at that time in my own life. I wept as I felt his pain and gratitude. I love that man. I love the Savior.

This weekend was a reflection of that wonderful night. My primary intention of attending, as I stated earlier, was to once again meet wonderful people and fellowship. As desired, I got to reconnect with old friends from Colorado and meet new friends in Utah. Love was present all throughout. No noticeable judgment was cast, hearts were softened, traditions were thrown down, and intelligence was gained.

I was fortunate to speak with men (now brothers) face to face, heart to heart. Some conversations lasted an hour or two, and they would have lasted much longer if not for interruptions. I believe hearts were knit and eternal bonds were formed. If these fellowships are even a sliver of what Zion will be like, then this is what I want in life.

Farewell:

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The Charity House, where the family I was with and I stayed.

 

I’m not a good news journalist, if you will, so forgive me if this write up was sorely inadequate. Maybe others who attended will chip in. Please do. But one thing is for sure: farewells are not easy.

I think most who attended this weekend would agree that we wished it went on longer than it did. It’s hard to leave when we had such a great time. It’s a tease, honestly. But that’s how it works. Until Zion blossoms, we are left with only drops of water on a thirsty tongue. We must press on. One day, I pray, we will live together everlastingly upon the earth with the Fountain of Water Himself.

Personally, just like the Colorado conference, I will soon forget all the talks, logistics, et cetera which were given and took place. Not that I am unappreciative (to be sure), but to me that wasn’t the most important thing. Again, just like the Colorado conference, I will never forget the way I felt. That was the most important thing, to me. Love is permanent. It’s an anchor of sorts.

I want to express appreciation to the family (you know who you are) who graciously hosted me this weekend. If not for them, I would not have been able to attend. My decision to attend was so last minute, and without hesitation or reservation, they took me in as one of their own. I am forever grateful. I love you.

I also wish to express appreciation to the Rockland Ranch residents who took us in onto their property. They did not originally expect so many people to attend, so I only wish the Lord to bless them double portion. God orchestrated this event and they were faithful to Him.

Conclusion:

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God is no respecter of persons. I know this. The only thing He longs for is faith unto a broken heart and contrite spirit. Not as punishment or amusement, but as a sign and token that we are ready to lay aside the world and embrace Him. For all of history, religion has been abused and used to take advantage of humanity. Slap God’s name on anything and it can be used for evil purposes.

Religion can be a source of pride and vanity. There IS, however, a pure religion with which God acknowledges, but it does not consist in what we think it does. Our best bet is to come unto Him in this mortal probation and receive promises concerning our salvation from His mouth directly. And with this knowledge, “go to” and bless your fellowman. Help them come unto the Lord as well.

This weekend was just what I needed. The fact that all kinds of faiths were present was a gift which helped enable us to cast off judgment and come together in Christ. You find this pattern in the Book of Mormon (4 Nephi 1: 1-3). This was pleasing to God, I believe.

We have just as much of an opportunity for Zion right now as has ever been presented to mankind. It’s hard to imagine that we are living in such a day, but nonetheless, it is true. We have a window of opportunity. Let us be broken for Him. Let us be faithful to Him. Let us connect to Christ so we can connect to others and become His Family together.

As a result of this past weekends conference, I feel more committed to Christ. I feel more committed to my fellowman. I feel more committed to my family. I am unashamed to practice Gods religion to the best of my current understanding.

I can’t wait for the next conference.

As my friend Nathan would say: Gratitude!

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Some Notes On 1 Nephi 8

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Many have written about Lehi’s vision and what it all means, so I will not being do that. This post consist of simple thoughts I had as I studied 1 Nephi 8 today.

8 “And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.”

This verse is about the result of Lehi being led into a “dark and dreary waste.” Why would Lehi pray for the Lord to “have mercy” on him if he was led by a true angel? It seems here that he wasn’t. Lehi even identifies the supposed angel who led him as “a man.”

It is also important to note that Lehi did not stop moving in his darkness. He “traveled for the space of many hours. . .”

10 “And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.”

  • “a tree” – Singular, One, no other.
  • “whose fruit” – Here Lehi shifts the focus from the tree to the fruit and I think that’s important. Both Lehi and Nephi (1 Nephi 11, 15) seem to make the tree and it’s fruit the end of the path. They don’t bother mentioning young unfruitful trees – even though they are trees to be sure. They emphasize that the tree which bears fruit is what matters (and there’s only one.) It isn’t until we read Alma 32 that we realize the growth of the tree is actually the path.
  • “to make one happy” – Again Lehi is focusing on the fruit and not the tree itself. You may have great wonderful moments that change your life forever as your young “tree” begins to mature. But apparently it is nothing compared to the happiness from the fruit which your mature tree yields when the process is complete. Also note that Lehi compares “happiness” here with “great joy” in verse 12.

12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”

  • “filled my soul” – What does it mean to be full of joy? Do the lesser experiences we enjoy through out the process give us only partial joy? Maybe in the long run, I suppose. Baptism of fire, administration of angels, etc are only temporary benefits to our salvation if our salvation is not ratified. Does partaking of this fruit involve ratification of something which enables a fullness/eternal and not a partial/temporary joy?
  • “my family” – The first people Lehi desires to partake of the fruit is his family. That is exactly as it should be and it’s what we should desire as well. Out of all the people Lehi saw in his vision, his family were the only ones whom he beckoned to personally. This may be because he didn’t live long enough to see the outstanding growth of his posterity, but nonetheless, the example he set is righteous. Your influence/ripple effect should start in your own home.

21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.”

  • “might obtain” – It is one thing to “press forward” and it is another to actually get on “the path.” There is only one path.

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.”

  • “end of the rod of iron” – What’s the “end”?
  • “clinging” – I picture this like a white knuckle type experience. It was their ONLY means of getting to the tree if they wanted it.

28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”

  • “fell away” –  When you know what the fruit of the tree is, falling away after having partaken of it is a big deal. This also shows that just because you have partaken of the fruit doesn’t mean you’re safe to kick your feet up. It also shows that the fruit is to be eaten in this life. “These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.” – DC 76: 79. I covered what the testimony of Jesus is in my last post.
  • “forbidden” – This almost seems to indicate that the person who fell away had knowledge of what the right path was – someone who had completed the path. Therefore, they KNEW what was forbidden from hindsight. Someone who hasn’t entirely finished the path doesn’t have a complete knowledge of what is forbidden or not. It was forbidden because they KNEW better.

31 And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.”

  • “feeling” – Feeling means they wanted to go towards the building. You’re pretty desperate to feel your way towards something which you cannot see. When you cling to something (v. 24) you’re close fisted. You’re tight and determined. When you feel your way towards something (v.31) you’re open fisted, loose and careless.

38 And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them.”

  • “keep the commandments” – This is what Lehi chooses to close his vision with. This is his final exhortation. There are so many reasons behind this statement, of course. One I would like to emphasize is through keeping the commandments we gain light and clarity. As John says:

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” – DC 93: 1

“He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” – DC 93: 28

 

* EDIT: Someone brought up a really good alternative to view verse 8. Instead of Lehi being led by a “bad” angel into darkness/confusion, he could have been led by a true angel into his awakening/awful situation. Every true angel or messenger’s message is about repentance. Real, raw, repentance. Perhaps, Lehi repented and cried for mercy because he became aware of his nothingness. Hence, he prayed for mercy in the dark and dreary waste.

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Testimony of Jesus

It is one thing to have faith and another thing to have knowledge. We are a religion of knowledge. By this I mean we are not a “faith only” religion. We seek the opening of the heavens and the fullest blessings God can bestow upon a mortal. We, like the ancients, can arrive to a state of having “faith no longer, for [we] knew, nothing doubting.” (Ether 3: 19)

Is this arrogant and/or unrealistic? Absolutely not. Will we never have to exercise faith again? Nope, that’s not the case either. The purpose of being a religion of knowledge is to draw closer to God by knowing what He knows. Joseph said:

“If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. I want to go back to the beginning, and so lift your minds into more lofty spheres and a more exalted understanding than what the human mind generally aspires to” – WOJS, p.349

Eternal life is to KNOW God and Jesus Christ (John 17: 3). In order to know Them, there are some things we need to have happen in this life. Don’t think of it like a check list. Rather, think of it like check points.

Below are a couple quotes from the Prophet Joseph which reveal some of those check points. I left all spelling and punctuation in the original, with the exception of my comments in the brackets.

“First to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise that is the testimony of Jesus” – WOJS, p.209

“To obtain this sealing [the Holy Spirit of promise] is to make our calling and election sure which we ought to give all diligence to accomplish.” – WOJS, p.335

“Make your calling and election sure go on from grace to grace untill you obtain a promise from God for yourselves that you shall have eternal life, this is eternal life to know God and his son Jesus Christ, it is to be sealed up unto eternal life and obtain a promise for our posterity.” – WOJS, p. 334

“It is one thing to receive knowledge by the voice of God, (this is my beloved Son &c.) & another to Know that you yourself will be saved, to have a positive promise of your own Salvation is making your Calling and Election sure, viz the voice of Jesus saying my beloved thou shalt have eternal life.” – WOJS, p.208

“After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands,) which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted, etc. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.” – TPJS, pp. 150-151

From the above quotes we realize the following connections:

  1. To be “sealed” we must obtain the Holy Spirit of Promise.
  2. The phrase “Testimony of Jesus” means we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
  3. We obtain the Holy Spirit of Promise when we make our Calling and Election sure.
  4. Our Calling and Election is made sure when God tells you, by His own voice, that you will have eternal life.

It kind of all sounds like the same thing, huh? Well, it’s not. But they certainly are all connected. Maybe one day I will break it all down and post about it. Others have, and they have done a better job than I ever will. So check them out!

But I do want to make one clarification.

When we read D&C 76: 51, we see the phrase “They are they who received the testimony of Jesus.” This is speaking about those who receive the Celestial Kingdom. Usually, we think this means having a testimony OF Jesus. I want to suggest that this is not the case.  Having a “testimony of Jesus” is not the same things as having THE “Testimony of Jesus.”

Look again at the quotes from Joseph. When we first received A testimony of Jesus, did we receive the Holy Spirit of Promise? Our Calling and Election made sure by the voice of God saying we will have eternal life? If not, then we did not receive the Testimony of Jesus.

But, we are to receive it in this life. In fact, Joseph (and Paul) also said this:

“And if any man has not the testimony of Jesus or the spirit of God he is none of his Christ’s namely And if not his he must be damn’d” – WOJS, p. 230

That’s a pretty hard kick in the nuts! (Forgive my humor) But, nonetheless, that statement is true.

If we continue reading in D&C 76, we find further evidence that receiving the Testimony of Jesus must happen in this life. Speaking of the those who receive the Terrestrial Kingdom:

“And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial . . . who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.” – D&C 76: 71-74

From the scriptures, the mouths of Joseph, Paul (and every true prophet for that matter), we see the importance of this matter. It is not meant to cause us fear, but instead it is to humble us. We need Jesus.

On my way into work this morning, I saw this beautiful artistry from our Creator in the sky.

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The horizontal line was a cloud. The vertical line was a single sunbeam arising from the sun. Although this picture doesn’t show it well, the vertical sunbeam appeared to be rising up endlessly. It had no end.

I again say we NEED Jesus. He is our endless light towards the Father, as this picture depicts. We need His grace, Atonement, and mercy. It is only in Him and through Him can any of our hopes of the afterlife be ratified. It comes from His voice. It comes by receiving the Testimony of Jesus.

 

 

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Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost

It is not correct to assume we receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost when hands are laid on our heads. Elder Bednar confirmed this here. It IS safe to assume, however, that if we have a desire to accept the Gospel and act upon its teachings, then we have some portion of the Spirit. Paul confirmed this here.

So how do we know if we have had this experience or not?

As I stated in an earlier post, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is felt. It is tangible. Just as you felt the water during your water baptism, you will likewise feel the fire during your fire baptism. This does not occur slowly over time. It is an event. You will know when it happens.

Below is Lorenzo Snows’ experience. Pay attention to the highlighted portions:

I was baptized by Elder John Boynton, then one of the Twelve Apostles, June, 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio. Previous to accepting the ordinance of baptism, in my investigations of the principles taught by the Latter-day Saints, which I proved, by comparison, to be the same as those mentioned in the New Testament taught by Christ and His Apostles, I was thoroughly convinced that obedience to those principles would impart miraculous powers, manifestations and revelations. With sanguine expectation of this result, I received baptism and the ordinance of laying on of hands by one who professed to have divine authority; and, having thus yielded obedience to these ordinances, I was in constant expectation of the fulfillment of the promise of the reception of the Holy Ghost.

The manifestation did not immediately follow my baptism, as I had expected, but, although the time was deferred, when I did receive it, its realization was more perfect, tangible and miraculous than even my strongest hopes had led me to anticipate.

Some two or three weeks after I was baptized, one day while engaged in my studies, I began to reflect upon the fact that I had not obtained a knowledge of the truth of the work—that I had not realized the fulfillment of the promise, “he that doeth my will shall know of the doctrine,” and I began to feel very uneasy. I laid aside my books, left the house, and wandered around through the fields under the oppressive influence of a gloomy, disconsolate spirit, while an indescribable cloud of darkness seemed to envelop me. I had been accustomed, at the close of the day, to retire for secret prayer, to a grove a short distance from my lodgings, but at this time I felt no inclination to do so. The spirit of prayer had departed and the heavens seemed like brass over my head. At length, realizing that the usual time had come for secret prayer, I concluded I would not forego my evening service, and, as a matter of formality, knelt as I was in the habit of doing, and in my accustomed retired place, but not feeling as I was wont to feel.

I had no sooner opened my lips in an effort to pray, than I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and O, the joy and happiness I felt! No language can describe the almost instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge, as it was at that time imparted to my understanding. I then received a perfect knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the restoration of the holy Priesthood, and the fulness of the Gospel. It was a complete baptism—a tangible immersion in the heavenly principle or element, the Holy Ghost; and even more real and physical in its effects upon every part of my system than the immersion by water; dispelling forever, so long as reason and memory last, all possibility of doubt or fear in relation to the fact handed down to us historically, that the “Babe of Bethlehem” is truly the Son of God; also the fact that He is now being revealed to the children of men, and communicating knowledge, the same as in the Apostolic times. I was perfectly satisfied, as well I might be, for my expectations were more than realized, I think I may safely say in an infinite degree.

I cannot tell how long I remained in the full flow of the blissful enjoyment and divine enlightenment, but it was several minutes before the celestial element which filled and surrounded me began gradually to withdraw. On arising from my kneeling posture, with my heart swelling with gratitude to God, beyond the power of expression, I felt—I knew that He had conferred on me what only an omnipotent being can confer—that which is of greater value than all the wealth and honors worlds can bestow. That night, as I retired to rest, the same wonderful manifestations were repeated, and continued to be for several successive nights. The sweet remembrance of those glorious experiences, from that time to the present, bring them fresh before me, imparting an inspiring influence which pervades my whole being, and I trust will to the close of my earthly existence.” (Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, p.8-9)

I testify this blessed event is true. Do not be overcome if you realize you have not experienced this. Let this consume your thoughts and prayers and seek it unceasingly. As the Lord has said:

“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” – 3 Nephi 12: 6

“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost. . . ” – 3 Nephi 9: 20

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East Coast Fellowship

Hello good people! I made a website for us east coast folks for fellowshipping purposes. Check it out, share it as you wish, and let me know if you have any suggestions for the site!

https://eastcoastfellowship.wordpress.com/

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Thy kingdom come

 “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6: 9-10

There is a Family in heaven that is united in purpose with our one common Father. The grand purpose of “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is to become an extension of that Family here upon the earth by our own adoption through Him.

Jesus came into our world and took upon Himself the same body we now possess. He overcame, showing us that we too can become Sons and Daughters of God despite our limited circumstances. His Atonement was gracious.

Eventually, when there is enough Family here, and they are living certain principles, they will be gathered and called Zion.

But I want to mention a few things. . .

Can you imagine lusting after someone of the opposite sex in heaven (say, an angel?)

Can you imagine wanting to sabotage someone in heaven due to jealousy (say, someone of higher “rank”?)

Can you imagine neglecting someone in heaven because you’re “more deserving” (say, a pre-earth spirit?)

If you can’t, ask yourself if you do these things here on the earth now. If you do, you’re probably not ready to be a member of His Family. These things must be done a way with before we can dwell with such Beings.

Zion and her temple will host those very same Beings we can’t imagine doing those things to. We must be prepared.

27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?

28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.

29 Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless.

30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?

31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!

32 Yea, even wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it!

33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.

34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;

35 Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—

36 For behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.

37 O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!

38 Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.” – Alma 5: 27-38

 

 

 

 

 

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Power of godliness

In response to young Joseph’s inquiry to “know which of all the sects was right, that [he] may know which to join” the Lord told him he:

“…must join none of them, for they were all wrong.” (JS-H 1:19)

And why were they all wrong? The Lord explains to Joseph it was because:

 “…all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS-H 1:19)

Within that one simple declaration, the Lord revealed seven (seven being the scriptural number for completion) reasons why the churches of Joseph’s day were all wrong. The seven reasons being:

  1. Their creeds were an abomination.
  2. Their professors were all corrupt.
  3. They draw near to Him with only their lips.
  4. Their hearts were far from Him.
  5. They teach for doctrines the commandments of men.
  6. They have only a form of godliness.
  7. They deny the power thereof.

Now, if you think about it, the order in which the Lord revealed these reasons is of no small consequence. Being the Master Teacher that He is, with each new reason, the Lord was pin pointing the heart of the matter. In other words, He was teaching Joseph the REAL reason why all the churches had gone corrupt: because they denied the “power thereof”.

Think of it like a cause-and-effect and/or ripple effect.

Why were their creeds an abomination? Because their professors were corrupt. Why were their professors corrupt? Because they drew near to God with only their lips. Why with only their lips? Because their hearts were far from Him. Why were their hearts far from Him? Because the professors traded the Doctrine of Christ for commandments of men. And why did they do this? Because they only had a form of godliness. And why did they only have a form of godliness? Because they denied the “power thereof”.

Here’s a simple visual I came up with to help explain this effect:

chart

So, if the heart of the matter was because they denied the “power thereof”, or the power of godliness, how important do you think this “power” really is?

The whole purpose of the Gospel is to reconnect man with God. If that’s the case, which it is, then is this “power” (which the churches in Joseph day denied) related to your connection to God?

I pose the following questions:

  • What is “godliness”?
  • What is “power”?
  • How is “power” linked to “godliness”?
  • How do you deny something, particularly “power”?
  • How do you accept something, particularly “power”?

To help answer at least one of these questions, here are two different sources that define the word “power”:

  • 1828 dictionary states that power is “Divinity; a celestial or invisible being or agent supposed to have dominion over some part of creation; as celestial powers; the powers of darkness.”
  • LDS Guide to the Scriptures states that power is “To have the ability to control or command that person or thing. In the scriptures, power is often connected with the power of God or the power of heaven. It is often closely related to priesthood authority, which is the permission or right to act for God.”

So, according to these definitions, “power” has to do with:

  1. Beings in Heaven, and
  2. A connection with those Beings in Heaven.

Therefore, I’d like to suggest to you that “the power thereof”, or the power of godliness, is not just an ability that you use, but also (and more importantly) an association that you have.

To help us better understand, try reading these verses and replacing the word “power” with “association”:

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)

“But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion; Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves; That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.” (D&C 76:113-118)

“That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” (D&C 121:36)

“…they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS-H 1:19)

Make sense?

In conclusion, The Lord was teaching Joseph on that beautiful, clear day, that the most important thing religion has to offer is an association with God Himself. It is vain to think otherwise. That’s why Joseph was to join none of them. How can a church be the Lord’s if it is not associated/connected with the Lord Himself? Furthermore, how can YOU be the Lord’s if YOU do not have an association with Him?

“I had found the testimony of James to be true- that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided. ” (JS-H 1:26)

 

 

 

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Some notes on 1 Nephi 1

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4 “For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.”

I see this pattern in scriptures all the time. The pattern is:

  • Prophets
  • Repentance
  • Destruction

5 “Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.”

  • “went forth”- Where?
  • “prayed unto the Lord”- What’s “unto” mean?
  • “with all his heart”- Does intercession/charity bring results? (1 Nephi 2:18-24, Enos 1:9-12)

6And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.”

  • “pillar of fire”- Does Christ have to come in fire? What about God?
  • upon a rock – Why would he be in front of a rock? Is this in relation to why he “went forth”?
  • quake and tremble exceedingly“- Does this always happen when you have a spiritual manifestation of some kind? Who else in scripture was left like this? What experience caused them to “quake and tremble“?

7And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.”

  • returned to his own house in Jerusalem“- Where was he before?
  • returned to his own house in Jerusalem“- Does his former location have to do with why he was in front of a rock?
  • upon his bed“- Was it morning, mid-day, or night? Does it matter?

8And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.”

  • overcome with the spirit“- D&C 76:116-118 helps us understand what this means.
  • carried away in a vision“- According to the 1828 dictionary, “Carry” means to “To bear, convey, or transport, by sustaining and moving the thing carried. In other words, he was transported/went somewhere in a vision.
  • he thought he saw God“- How can one THINK they saw God? Acts 12:9 might shed light on that.
  • he saw God sitting upon his throne“- Why is God always sitting? What’s that imply?

9And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.”

  • the midst of heaven“- Is “the midst” (middle) the same place God is when He is surrounded with numberless concourses of angels”? What does that tell us?
  • “the sun”- What does the sun represent? Does it have anything to do with Christ’s prayer in John 17:5?

10And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.”

  • the stars“- What do the stars represent?

11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.”

  • gave unto him a book“- Could this book be a type of Urim and Thummim?

12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.”

  • he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord“- Micah 3:8But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord , and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression , and to Israel his sin.”
  • he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord“- Ether 12:2And Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people, for he could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him.

13 And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.”

  • I have seen“- Seer, because he sees
  • thine“- Revealer, because he is speaking to them about them
  • many things did my father read“- Prophet, because he has the Testimony of Christ, who is the one who showed Lehi these things

14 “And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

  • thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish“- Did Lehi reach this conclusion based on experience? In other words, was this proclamation in response to Lehi’s intercession in v.5?

15 “And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.”

  • his soul did rejoice“- Commentator Brant Gardner had this to say:– “Seeing the destruction of the great city of Jerusalem was hardly a thing to make his soul rejoice. Lehi must have seen this in the larger context of the plan of God, and must have fully comprehended the reason why the destruction of Jerusalem was necessary. In verse 19 we learn that Lehi understood the plan of salvation (to the extent of the Messiah and redemption), and this is likely that which caused him to rejoice.” -Brant Gardner

16And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.”

  • and spake unto his children“- Take note. Lehi shared his sacred experiences with his children (and probably wife). King Lamoni and his Queen did the same thing (Alma 19:12-36). So did King Lamoni’s father (Alma 22:23).  It’s ok to be a witness and testify of the things you have seen. But the more important thing is to share the process more than your own experiences. Hence, Lehi was teaching his family these things ARE possible.

18Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.”

  • he went forth“- Denver Snuffer says in his Boise, ID talk: “Cowardice is largely predicated upon fear. Don’t be cowardly. Don’t be fearful. Fear is the opposite of faith. For goodness sake, you’re already in the battle! You’re already going to be overtaken. The fact of the matter is no one gets out of here alive. Live this life nobly, fearlessly. When you take the wounds that come your way make sure that they come to your front! Don’t let them shoot you in the back. Go about your life boldly, nobly, valiantly. Because it is only through valiance in the testimony of Jesus Christ that you can hope to secure anything. Not valiance in your fidelity to anything other than Jesus Christ. The fact of the matter is that faith must be based in Him, and in Him alone.”
  • and began to prophesy“- Chapter 1 may not be Lehi’s first time seeing the Son, but the word “began” does indicate this is when he first began his public ministry.

19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.”

  • also”- This seems to imply that there is a difference between the things “which he saw and heard” and “the things which he read in the book”. On the one hand Lehi has seen Christ and the Father, and on the other the Lord has shown him things via a book. He testifies of both, as a true prophet should.
  • “manifested plainly”- The 1828 Dictionary defines “manifest” as:

” Plain, open, clearly visible to the eye or obvious to the understanding; apparent; not obscure or difficult to be seen or understood. From the testimony, the truth we conceive to be manifest”

  • the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world“- This could mean one of two things: The effects/results of the Atonement, or it might mean the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. I say this because, to me, “the redemption of the world” means the return of a Terrestial Glory or the earth in its final Celestial state.

20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

  • “even as with the prophets of old”- “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth’ [see Hebrews 11:38], and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” – HOC 4:574
  • whom he hath chosen, because of their faith“- Whom “HE” hath chosen. God does the choosing.
  • “whom he hath chosen, because of their faith”- JST Gen 14 and 2 Timothy 2:21.

 

What would you add to these notes?

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Truth

truth-is-so-obscured-now-a-days-and-lies-so-well-established-that-unless-we-love-the-truth-we-shall-never-recognize-it

Truth:

  1. Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be; real state of things.” (Truth, English)
  2. Without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerity, sound, without spot, undefiled, uprightly, whole.(Tamiym, Hebrew)
  3. A primary particle of strong affirmation; yes: even so, surely, truth, verily, yea, yes.” (Nai, Greek)
  4. Reality. (Haqq, Arabic)

 

Feel free to take any of the words and/or definitions above and replace it with the word “truth” in the scripture verses below. It’s a fun exercise. I personally like the Arabic word “Haqq”, which means “reality”.

 

David says:

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” (Psalm 25:5)

Paul says:

“For men shall be… ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:2-7)

“Charity… rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”   (1 Corinthians 13:8-9)

Peter says:

“And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Nephi 2:2)

Nephi says:

“I glory in truth.” (2 Nephi 33:6)

Aaron says:

“And it came to pass that the Lord began to bless them, insomuch that they brought many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, they did convince many of their sins, and of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct.” (Alma 21:17)

Moroni says:

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)

Jesus says:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” (D&C 93:24)

Joseph Smith says:

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.”

“Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness. Woe unto you priests and divines who preach that knowledge is not necessary unto life and salvation. Take away Apostles, etc., take away knowledge, and you will find yourselves worthy of the damnation of hell. Knowledge is revelation. Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation.”

“It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound”

“When men open their lips against [the truth] they do not injure me, but injure themselves. When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.”

Some additional thoughts I had last night regarding truth:

  1. Search the scriptures (it’s where I’ll learn the truth)
  2. Learn to hear His voice (it’s how I’ll find the truth)
  3. Forget being popular (it’s when I’ll care about the truth)
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The Least of These

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read:

“He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.” (D&C 50:26)

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read:

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read:

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:36-38)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once said:

“The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth’ and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.”

Couple thoughts…

  1. I think the “least of these” is a title. They are someone ordained by God AND sent by Him, as D&C 50:26 states.
  2. These type of people are prophets (have heard the testimony of Jesus, from Jesus- Revelation 19:10), and they do not seek attention. They usually won’t get it anyway, because we can’t imagine prophets in prisons, caves, being naked, hungry, etc.
  3. I think we entertain these prophets unaware.
  4. I could be wrong.
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