Friday, October 12, 2018

Closing up Shop

I started writing this blog 8 years ago to jot down thoughts and impressions I had and as a place to just have sort of an online journal.  It's been a great thing for me and hopefully there has been some degree of truth shared on here.  I own all the mistakes.

It's been a great 8 years and it's time to close up shop as far as this public blog.  Thanks to the readers and those making comments.  Best wishes to each in their journey live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and seek and find Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  My faith remains as does my desire and hope to see Zion. 

-Taylor

Monday, October 8, 2018

Inspired Prayer - Study

In prep for a local fellowship to pray and seek God's will I put together a study on Inspired Prayers if you are interested. I found it helpful to go through scriptures and see which prayers worked, and what went into them. There are of course other examples but these stood out. I found a few themes which I put in bullets at the beginning.

These are just a few examples of inspired inquiries and below them a few things and patterns that stand out to me about each.

-Answers from God seem to most often come as a result of inspired inquiries. As opposed to vain repetitions, praying to be heard of others, praying without any intent to do anything about the answer received, praying and “fainting” as Nephi puts it “Pray always and not faint”. Faint = care so little about the prayer you either fall asleep or are otherwise distracted or maybe too faint of heart to exercise faith.


-Answers from God are often the result of a very specific kind of “labor”.  Not labor to see what everyone else thinks or what the internet has to say.  It’s a different kind of labor.  Labor which also includes differentiating between one’s own desires, will and thoughts, and God’s.   

-Arriving at the right question is important to getting an answer  

-Having the right heart, humility, meekness also seems to be key to asking the right question and getting an answer.  Often this involves intercession or petition in behalf of others.

-If the question and heart are right you almost don’t even get to finish the question before God answers.

1.       Folks, in general, have your skulls so junked up with the crap of the Internet that you don’t even have the capacity to labor (the way it needs to be labored) in order to solve the questions that need to be solved.  It is labor for anyone seeking to know God.  It is labor over the Scriptures.  It is labor always under the extreme difficulties caused by these parties of religionists who will speak in opposition to one another always contending, always claiming “Lo, there” when there is nothing “there” to offer.  He (Joseph Smith) was one day reading: “…the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads:  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” …   -40 Yrs in Mormonism Denver Snuffer 

-This kind of labor is more like pondering, studying scripture, assessing opposing views and considering them and coming to the right conclusion.

2.       Look at the next verse of Joseph’s account (verse 30): “While I was thus in the act of calling upon God…” While he was in the act of calling upon God! If you are in the right way with the right faith looking for the right answers, you don't even get to finish the sentence. God knows what you have need of “before ye ask Him.” (Matt. 6: 8) That's from the Sermon on the Mount. Christ tells you that. That horrible aching, the longing, the hollowness, the emptiness within you is what Christ is intended to fill. That is His purpose in coming to His temple.  -40 Yrs in Mormonism Denver Snuffer 

3.       Let me give you a description of the Prayer for the Covenant: It took months of pondering, testing, questioning beforehand, before I even dared to ask. The idea that presented itself to my mind was that Joseph’s prayer at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple was a pattern to be followed when some great event involving God was to take place. The House of the Lord was one such event in Kirtland but having a new volume of scripture was at least equally important to that. Therefore, a prayer to God asking for His acceptance was an idea that continued to press upon my mind.  

But it concerned me that the idea of my offering that prayer may be based on my own will, and not heaven’s. Before proceeding I questioned my motive, my desire, and why I would even ask. I was haunted by the continuing impression that it needed to be done and was required of me. Finally, when the idea could not be shaken from my mind I determined it was not my own thought but God’s beckoning voice telling me this was an obligation I needed to act upon and not suppress. I want you to think of Joseph’s description that says: “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of [my] heart. I reflected on it again and again[.]”  

Joseph did not act hastily when the impression came to him. He couldn’t shake it. It persisted. He reflected upon it again and again. I don’t know whether that’s days, weeks, or months, but I can tell you before the Prayer for the Covenant was offered, for me it was months because if it isn’t of God I have no right to step forward and do something. I ought not be volunteering for things of that nature. At length I determined that I should act on the impulse and therefore I ought to offer a prayer for the acceptance of the scripture. When I began to compose the prayer the content was provided by inspiration from Heaven and not my own words. It took me nearly 200,000 words to write a history of the Restoration from the time of Joseph to the present, in a book that’s fairly lengthy. The Prayer for the Covenant, coming by inspiration, only took a few pages and stated in more concise terms, more correctly the history of the Restoration from the beginning until now. The Prayer for the Covenant, the Prayer for the Scriptures, is not me being clever and insightful and succinct. The words were given, and the words are God’s view of what has happened.

There are those who have claimed inspiration on very important matters who make decisions quickly. Almost as soon as they finish a prayer asking for something they assume the first thing that pops into their mind is God’s infallible answer. I do not doubt that may happen. It has happened to me, but for the most important things I have found that careful, ponderous, and solemn thought and meditation over time produces God’s will and word with clarity that does not happen in haste
.
   Denver Snuffer-That we might become One fireside

-First impressions matter but seems like you can test them by not being in a hurry but instead letting time and labor and ponderous thoughts prove the answer.
-States he didn't dare to ask before pondering testing and questioning. Why is that?     

4     3Rd Nephi 9:4 (RE)
And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue without ceasing to pray unto him. And they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.

-Another example of prayer where the words the disciples of Christ pray are not their own but are given by the Spirit. TSC says they were in a circle, praying in unison. I don’t know if this means they were all speaking the exact same words like in the LDS temple or were speaking all at the same time but saying individual things. Not sure…

5. Ether 1:11 (RE)

O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee, for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the Heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee — because of the Fall, our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires. Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity and hath driven us forth, and for this many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness, but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock. And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man. Therefore, touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness, and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea. Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to shew forth great power which looks small unto the understanding of men.

-Recognizes his unworthiness before a Just and Holy Being.
-Recognizes weakness. No pride at all. No feeling better/superior than others
-Seeks to keep commandments they have already received. This is the basis for the prayer, seeking to obey commandments.
-Recognizes God’s mercy
-Confesses openly
-Soft heart
-Asks for mercy and pity and for God to turn away anger (which is justified and reasonable given the people’s poor behavior)
-Asks for specifics
-Intercedes for others
-Expresses faith in God’s power after having actually performed labor and done something. As contrasted to "taking no thought before hand save to ask".


6. Alma 13:10

And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord upon his knees, yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying, O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God, and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me? And I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.

-
“If there is a God”.  He’s uncertain about even basic things like God’s existence, yet even faith that tiny and fragile gets an answer.
-Willing to drop all sins to know God.
-Although not explicit, there’s a degree of “confession” in this prayer that confesses his sins and lack of knowledge. 


(Referring to the Alma 13:10 prayer ) Don't mistake me, I do not think it is necessary to physically engage in this kind of display. But when the display is an extension of what is in the heart, it is absolutely fine. But when what is in the heart is right, it doesn't matter how it's displayed, because God looketh on the inner man. This King was so overtaken by what he had heard, that he was not ashamed to prostrate himself in front of the foreign missionaries. He was not ashamed to cry out in the depths of humility. He didn't care who saw it. He didn't do this for to be seen. He didn't care that he was being seen. He did this because at that moment, that was what he was. He was seeking grace from the throne of grace.

It is not that you are brilliant and a shining light of knowledge to qualify you to know God. Instead it is what is in your heart. How has your heart been prepared? If your heart is open to receive, because it is broken, and your spirit contrite, then you are ready.  -Denver 40 years in Mormonism Talk 

7.   Nehemiah 1:2

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven and said, I beseech you, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keeps covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments. Let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open, that you may hear the prayer of your servant which I pray before you now day and night for the children of Israel your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against you. Both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments which you commanded your servant Moses. Remember, I beseech you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses saying, If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations. But if you turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them, though there were of you cast out unto the utmost part of the heaven, yet will I gather you from there and will bring you unto the place that I have chosen to set my name. Now these are your servants and your people whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, I beseech you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who desire to fear your name, and prosper, I pray, your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

-
Fasted, Prayed, Mourned for weaknesses and failures
-Petitions humbly, meekly,
-Intercedes for others
-Confesses openly the errors and sins
-Uses prior commandments (and desire to obey them) as basis to make petition

8.    Mckay’s inquiry prior to the Lord’s Answer to the SOP”

Denver, Some time ago you told me that once we agreed on a document you could take our document to the Lord and ask Him on our behalf if a yes/no vote in general conference (like the covenant in Boise) is sufficient for adoption? Today online we voted 189 for and 6 against adoption of the Lots Statement of Principles and the witnesses of the conference vote in Layton today estimated that 99% of the 376 attendees voted “for” and 1% “against” adoption. We do not want to be like the early saints and assume we have accomplished what the Lord required of us even as we fail. We would much prefer another chastening from the Lord if it gives us an accurate view of our standing on this assignment than to assume we got it done “by the skin on of our teeth”. (Orson Hyde) Please join with us in asking the Lord to accept or reject our effort to write a statement of principles and add it to our scriptures and inform us of our standing on this assignment.  McKay

-Interesting fact on this.  The reference he makes “some time ago” was a conversation where Denver did say he would ask the Lord about whether a vote for an SOP was sufficient for adoption.  Denver said he would, but only after/if there was an actual document to take to the Lord.  Appears he didn’t/wouldn’t ask as a matter of theory or philosophy, Denver would only ask as a matter of practical reality where there was an actual document in hand.  I found that significant.   Praying about theoretical things or praying to get an answer so as to relieve you of having to perform any labor doesn’t appear to work.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Right thing at Right Time

I had posted something a few days ago on the blog about the SOP and a proposal I had put together after discussing the issue with friends.  I made some edits the next day but eventually took it down because I increasingly felt corrected and that I was in the wrong.  As part of my own records, and part of my own need to be honest and forthcoming, even about my mistakes, I put that back up. 

I believe now that the correct course of action by someone seeking to do God's will can be one thing in one circumstance and be something different in another circumstance.  The circumstance and the context surrounding it matter.  It's not ok to discount the voice of the people and introduce competing proposals which had not gone through the same process that others had. And which didn't properly take into account the activities and votes most recently taken.  With that in mind frankly I've had to repent.  I may yet need to repent further but my mind has cleared and these thoughts are now coming into clearer focus. 

Opposition is part of the universe we live in. I believe we are charged by God with circumstances that require all of us to act in the presence of opposition. Meaning opposing forces. That is how I believe you show faith. That is what defines the character. It’s a matter of correctly identifying the force opposing God and then act in faith in spite of it; because it’s not going to suddenly go away with the next new idea.

I’ve reasoned it through and been diligent and prayerful in my studies and research of all that has gone on over the past year+. I’ve followed opposing views as far down each respective path as my time and circumstance permitted. Some views left my mind in darkness. Some views brought light. Some continually confuse me. Some views had great light and were very Christlike but were not the relevant (or plausible) group action at the present moment with where the topic presently stands. It could have been, but as we know this could have been done a while ago.

I see the body of believers has had many options some of which I really liked but which are now in the past.  So for me, the correct choice right now given all the votes and lot process and what happened in Phoenix is to go with the LOTS. This process showed equality and respect. I voted for that method originally and trusted the outcome to God. I still do although I admit I got distracted. After all that had happened and the prayers offered, we offered a reasonable and public method (lots) for God to show us His part. Each has to decide if worked. I believe it did. God can correct where we err. This stuff is living and changing. So right now with what I know, it’s Lots. When offered a chance I hope all factions come together.  None of this is about determining who belongs to a group.  It's a phase of showing our hearts and demonstrating our ability to come together and be one.  So if we stop worrying about which group we'll belong to, or what this Lots document will portray the movement as, and go back to the humility to look for and listen for God, then we have turned back to face God. That's what I'm hoping to do.

I have compassion for other views and see no reason why any need to depart or be upset if they don’t like the LOTS document.  We have a chance to show oneness of heart. We have yet to do or sustain or adopt anything that God can then work with. After a while that seems more and more unacceptable for rational and intelligent beings to stalemate long term when the assignment was a light thing that could have been done long ago.  I don't believe we honor God in such behavior.  So I support making a decision to come together and proceed and accept what follows from God.  The time is far spent.

I vote lots and vote to sustain. I seek harmony. Let’s come together at this next conference! Just doing that would be a step of showing progress in becoming of one heart.  Would the Lord rather us come together now? Or remain divided yet longer?  I believe we are being invited to come together now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SOP and Hearts 9-11-18

9/17/18 update:

I originally wrote the below on Sept 11th.  It was a proposal to help with the SOP effort and to asses my own heart.  I made some edits the next day (making it less of a proposal as I felt ashamed of having done so) but eventually took it down completely because I increasingly felt I had been and was in the wrong, and was being corrected.  However as part of my own records, and part of my own need to be honest and forthcoming I am putting it back up. 

I do not believe at the present time this proposal was the correct action when considering the broader context of the topic. I think the content and concepts are good, and are supported by scripture, but what I didn't adequately consider the recent happenings regarding this topic, the overall history, and and even what had happened in the last 6 months.  When I consider those things, the votes, the voice of the people which had been gathered, the below was not right. 

_____________________________________________________________________________

The Statement of Principles required in the A&C has been on my mind for many months. My friend Jeff Savage along with some other friends online had a discussion that may have potential.  he below is an overview of that discussion which many contributed to.

Read first: http://denversnuffer.com/2010/10/3-nephi-12-25-26/

The below are ideas to consider. Totally voluntary. It's a seed. See if it grows. If it does not, then feel free to dismiss it.

The way faith is produced according to Lectures on Faith is by Sacrifice. And the way Zion comes is by faith. I believe that will involve breaking down barriers and people's hearts via the actions and love you demonstrate towards them. Not fighting against them, convincing them, or insisting on getting your way. In the most extreme example, Christ submitted to wicked men to be killed. Did His death mean they had the victory? Did his submission mean they won and He lost? Everything changed with the resurrection when Christ's obedience to the Father actually ended up offering redemption for those very people if they would receive it. He is worthy, He has shown the way by example.

With those ideas in mind, the body of believers is at an impasse with the Statement of Principles assignment from the Lord in the A&C. There are as many positions as there are people involved and varying levels of disagreement. While voting may work, some may feel it discards or cuts off those who vote opposed. I cannot escape that thought.

I found insight in considering this alternate option. The central idea is to intentionally lay down any personal SOP preference, agenda, along with any disagreements, and instead to do something foreign to this world; which is agreeing to adopt whatever outcome those who DO disagree, settle upon. By “disagree” I mean folks who feel strongly that the outcome must be ___ or must not be ___. I’m intrigued by potentially agreeing with those who appear to be adversaries in this matter. Or perhaps appear to be the “least” among us. Perhaps “least” in terms of how much you respect them or think them worthy of your sacrifice. Or how “least” they appear based on their controversial acceptance of the covenant. We know that actions towards the “least” (as we perceive) in scripture are said to be done unto God. Christ’s Sermon asks this kind of thing of people.

Agreeing with a subgroup as described above will identify those, who for whatever reason, disagree with anyone or have any disputes about this current assignment or which document fulfills it. Those who have disagreements can meet in smaller settings without hundreds of voices. The rest could potentially agree to AGREE with their outcome as an act of respect and desire to be unified. This will solve the impasse but will take some serious heart to do.  This wouldn't be something to formalize for every single decision that has to be made.  But for this specific time and setting it seems to fit.

This is one possible way to show by our deliberate actions that our hearts are united, that we will become one and not dispute, and that we value all, including the “least” among us. And we value those who feel compelled to disagree by allowing them to do so. For me, at the present time, I’m not sure how else any of us plan to demonstrate these traits towards those who are to be brothers and sister. I guess we can find some other “least” or some other perceived adversary to agree with at some future time. But this seems like a really good chance to display what the A&C asked for. To recap, we voluntarily allow any to disagree and will submit to their conclusion in faith believing God can correct us as we demonstrate that our hearts are right. Does this put us at the mercy of those who “least” deserve it? Keep reading.

Observation suggests there are too many voices and opinions to make any meaningful progress right now. An idea such as this will create focus on those feeling strongly enough to disagree and allow them to conclude the matter. Imagine that. How backwards is that to how the world does business? Even if it came down to just 1 person disagreeing, we would have mutual agreement and can fulfill the assignment since all previously agreed to submit. This could potentially happen very quickly, and very peacefully. I desire peace. We have a chance to proceed in peace, and love, showing overwhelming respect and selflessness to each other. Demonstrating by our actions that we do not fall short of the beliefs we profess. I guess we can postpone demonstrating that we don’t fall short, but now seems like a great time.

Chris Hammil has recently explained on the scripture blog that he is no limiting factor in publishing of the SOP in the scripture set. It’s up to the body of believers. I personally like Paul’s v2 SOP document Adrian Larsen posted on his blog a few days ago. But I’d willingly drop that and submit to the result of any who find they have disagreements with each other regarding the adoption of an SOP document. This seems peaceful, meek, and follows the example of our Lord and His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount It seems opposite of froward. There wouldn’t be a need for further mass meetings, or large scale discussions, big votes, or hundreds of voices. It can be calm and humble and quiet. We can show by laying down our weapons and prostrating ourselves before any opposition that we indeed desire to keep the covenant more than be right.

To some this may feel like rolling over and giving in or giving up. To others this may feel like its empowering individuals who are opinionated to control the will of the many. To others it may feel like it sets a poor precedent for the future. Or perhaps worse this could risk not fulfilling the assigned SOP parameters as stated in the A&C. Or any number of things along these lines. So how could this possibly produce fruit? How could we agree to our opposition? How could we?

I guess voting majority would work. But as stated earlier that decision cuts off some folks. I’d prefer not to cut off but instead submit to the outcome of those who feel passionately about one document vs another. And then ask God to correct any errors the result may have. This would show by our works that this movement can be something worth informing others about. Without showing this example, some will not be able to understand. One of my online friends told a group a phrase I'll never forget. He said "You can't think your way into being of one heart, you have to love your way into being of one mind". I would rather show unity of heart and petition for correction on the particular details as the heart is by far the weightier matter. In my view.

I believe that humility in this will bear fruit. It can be seen as an act of obedience to God, not man, in harmony with the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. To love others who are seemingly opposed. It shows honor and respect to all our brothers and sisters and affords them the freedom to disagree. And with that freedom comes the understanding the rest of the body, with regard to this assignment, has agreed to adopt their decision. Because we love them and seek to become one with them. Is this not a step towards Zion rather than Babylon? Would this not soften hearts and be fruit worthy of preservation? Would this not show heaven we are willing to repent and leave Babylon and ALL its methods? Is this not a higher way than voting and cutting off those who vote contrary?

The Lord has said in the A&C that He would labor with us. I believe Him. I would like to act in faith and show by our works that we not only say, but DO as he has asked. Then He can correct us. If the result of this proposal is an insufficient/unacceptable SOP document, then we ask and rely on Him to correct us. Many have prayed together and meekly presented the dispute before the Lord asking for His part as we were instructed in the A&C. Usually the answers from God are already before us in scripture, it’s up to us to see it. If not now, when? When are we going to begin making covenants by sacrifice if not now?

So the logistics would go something like this: Those in disagreement and those opting to submit to their choice would interestingly be in agreement all of a sudden. They would not need to vote, discuss, or even talk about the topic if they don’t want to. Those who feel passionately the SOP must be X or cannot be Y can organize themselves until such point there is a peaceful solution. Based on true principles, without coercion, without force, and respecting the agency of all. Those who maintain disagreements are already passionate about the topic so it’s not likely to drag out as the ball is in their court. Enough has already been discussed on that Guide and Standard 1000 + page blog currently archived on the Restoration Archive site that there isn’t a whole lot more to say.

If those in disagreement mutually agree then we are done. If those in disagreement cannot come to mutual agreement by the next conference we do the Dances with Wolves thing (as related in a podcast dated 9/11/18 www.denversnuffer.com) and cast lots to identify a Chief and a Medicine Man and that individual, chosen by lots, gets to make the decision. We will have taken a step towards becoming one, while also demonstrating patience and longsuffering and persuasion. And yet still have a conclusion we can look to in the event there is another impasse among those who are debating. I don’t want to compel or coerce anyone to agree. I can’t think of a better way than this to proceed as nobly as the cause we seek. But perhaps more ideas like this exist. This is just one that has potential.

If we are not willing to take steps like this paper outlines then our claims to want Zion are empty and without evidence. So I'd like to create some evidence.

I could outline more logistics but the odds of people reading this often goes down the longer it gets. But you get the gist of how this could work. For me this seed grew. Not to say other seeds won’t grow too. But this is one that did.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Perish not

Alma 12:14  For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.

Similar thought from King Benjamin:

Mosiah 4:30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

King Benjamin says to “watch” and gives a list of things to watch.  Growing up I exclusively interpreted "watch" as “police”.  As in “police your thoughts words deeds etc…”  Because as Alma said, those things are potential condemners.  But what if we take King Benjamin's advice to “watch” but view it from a few other cultures point of view and see what it yields?  Say we go with the eastern philosophy of watching as in “observe”.  If our words and thoughts and works will condemn us then perhaps we should stop identifying with them. Maybe that’s what “watch” means?  Is to observe them but not identify with them.  All of us observe things on a daily basis which we are not necessarily participants of or identifying with.  But we observe them. 

Perhaps observing them creates enough distance between your identity and the thing that it frees you up to possibly identify with something else.  Like identifying with God’s word for example.  Seeking to become the fulfillment of God’s word just as Christ did. Since God's word is eternal that seems like a great thing to identify with and seek to fulfill. 

Continuing along those lines of being "freed up" by way of observing.  Identifying as, or unable to distance your identity from something almost suggests being possessed by or overtaken by it. Which is interesting in and of itself to contemplate. Being possessed by our thoughts or words sounds scary.  But what if we fall into that? Then we'd for sure want to start observing them.

If this approach holds true, avoiding condemnation would be a lot more simple than some belief systems have made it.  It would allow anyone to cast aside the nonsense easily and instead do the things Christ says to do.  Such as:

-Stop accusing other people*.
-Set a standard of judgement for others you yourself can pass. (Matthew 7:2)
-Stop identifying with crap that will condemn you (Alma and Mosiah verses quoted above) and see about identifying with the Word of God.

These aren't overly complicated or difficult.....maybe the Gospel isn't such heavy a burden after all.  Maybe it's within our power to perish not.

* I charged the Saints not to follow the example of the adversary in accusing the brethren, and said, “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours–for charity covereth a multitude of sins.  TPJS P193

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor of the Gods

Today is Labor Day and I've been thinking about God's Labor.

Both Genysis and the Book of Abraham describe the creation.  The book of Abraham uses the plural "God's" to describe the labors of the different creative periods.  "Period" could mean something like eon but the exact duration is not explained in scriptures.  God is also in the plural in Abraham which perhaps among other things reminds us that the image of God is both male and female.

And I, God, created man in my own image. In the image of my Only Begotten created I him. Male and female created I them. And I, God, blessed them..  

So Adam and Eve were created after the image of God, male and female.  But additionally after the image of the Only Begotten.  Which would then also be male and female.  How exactly the day of creation when man was organized occurred or over what time period has been on my mind today.

First a sidenote about sand, and then back to the creation.

To produce sand you literally have to begin with creation of a star, burnout of the star, an explosion producing the heavy silica elements which would not otherwise exist, and then a reforming of a planet from the stellar remnants. It takes billions, perhaps trillions of years and a whole round of creation and annihilation to produce a grain of sand. When you hold one in your hand, you are looking at something so ancient and so distant in its origin, that you are holding a bit of eternity in your hand. Indeed, you are holding a bit of a star. Hence the direct connection between the two analogies used with Abraham: sand and stars.

That certainly gives new meaning to the idea man was created from the "dust" of the earth.  That would mean part star.  How long have the God's been up to this labor?  It appears longer than our finite minds can fathom.  It makes you you wonder how long the people you live with or the people you see at the grocery store have existed.  Perhaps many eons.

And that bit about sand certainly gives the mind pause to consider those ideas in the context of God telling Abraham that he seed will be as the sands of the sea.  I can't speak intelligently about these things at present but I do enjoy pondering on them and letting my mind search out the deep things of God and the expanses of eternity.

Now another side-note about the veil of the temple and then back to the creation again.  Then hopefully it will all tie together. 

A number of fascinating legends regarding the veil of the temple have passed through Jewish, Christian, and even secular traditions.  Some of them are striking as they relate to ourselves and creation. 

The book of Exodus gives various instructions regarding the tabernacle and the veil, the colors, dimensions and other details.  What we do know is the veil was woven (Exodus 36:35).  Some traditions maintain it was “made by eighty-two young girls,”  The traditions hold that women traditionally made the curtain or veil.  A tradition from the Protevangelium of James (10:2) recounts a council of priests calling for the making of the veil for the temple of the Lord and reports that Mary herself had, as a child, woven the veil of the temple that was torn.  I really like this tradition.  Think of how a woman organizes and creates life in her womb.  This tradition of the temple veil fits so comfortably with what Mary, Christ's earthly Mother would do for the actual veil of Christ's flesh (Hebrews 10:20).  If this tradition is true Mary would have woven both the symbol and the reality that symbol pointed to.  In the same way Christ fulfilled in reality all the symbols the law of Moses pointed to.

I was doing some research and came upon this from Howard Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003) 238.   It says “[W]hen a needle accidentally pricked her finger, she was given a foretaste of the pain she would feel at the crucifixion".  “And the priest said: Choose for me by lot who shall spin the gold, and the white, and the fine linen, and the silk, and the blue, and the scarlet, and the true purple. And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took them, and went away to her house.”

Consider that the lot fell to Mary, the scarlet and the true purple.  So many symbols with weaving the veil, the colors, and the person.  So much meaning.  The above traditions and explanation can be found at this link.  It's dense reading but there are some great nuggets.
https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/49/49-1/JETS_49-1_97-114_Gurtner.pdf

Continuing with the creation, temple. and veil.  One of the titles for the Heavenly Mother is “The Great Weaver” because She formed unorganized intelligence into organized spirits becoming the Mother of All Living.  (Our Divine Parents: Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. 2018).

Consider this:  The Lord dresses you in plenty of ceremonial attire designed to convey symbols with meaning. But they are not an end, they are merely symbols. Six days of creation symbolized by six articles of clothing in the present temple rites. Each one of which can be associated with one of the days of creation. Therefore as you enter through the veil, it is as if the entirety of creation is redeemed in your person. You represent salvation for the entirety of creation. Because in you, should you be able to be rescued, creation itself continues. These are symbols. They communicate to the mind ideas. Ideas which are eternal. They are not ends in themselves.  (Be of Good Cheer, Be of Good Courage Denver Snuffer 9-10-13 Lecture 1 Boise, Idaho)

The days of creation symbolized by articles of clothing.  The clothing are things the temple participants don.  They already exist, and the instruction is to put them on.  What message could that possibly communicate to the individual?  Why put these things upon you?  Seems we're added upon in some ways.  Just taking one day of creation, dry land.  If man was made of the dust then just what is man made of if we think back to the contents of sand and how it came to be?  Wow, and to think some believe the Gospel to be boring. 

I wonder if at it's core these days of creation are a veiled reference to the Great Weaver's work, weaving intelligence together.  I don't know about the notion of reincarnation and returning to this earth as various life forms, but what does peak my interest is this idea of various intelligences being woven together by our Divine Parents.  We know that all things were created first spiritually before they were naturally (Moses 3:5).  What if the days of creation as we're taught in scripture and ceremony are telling us that we are made up of intelligences that we are taught about through a creation ceremony?  I pose this all as food for thought.  I have a lot of pondering and thought still to put into these ideas. 

With all the Gospel invites us to explore what a tragedy to be bored during Sunday worship services.  To never be allowed to ponder deeply, and only accept one certain line of thinking with defined boundaries and only able to rely on certain authorities with Church callings.   It just seems unacceptable to participate week after week, year after year in such "worship" of God.  I plan to do something about that.  Joseph said it well:

"How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads of babes; yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth. Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female; let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy"   TPJS P 173

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Quietness



The first letter to the Thesalonians in the New Testament has this:

But we beseech you, brethren, that you increase more and more, and that you strive to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you, that you may walk honestly toward them that are outside and that you may have lack of nothing.

The part in bold caught my eye.  What is it we are supposed to quiet?  Our voices?  Our minds?  Our worries?  Our spirit?  Our whole being?  It says “be” quiet.  As in a state of being. A possible synonym to quiet that may evoke other scriptures to your mind would be "still".  One translation is to "study to be quiet". 

Other cultures are better at meditating than typical Western culture.  Quietness of mind is not something ever taught to me by any education or religious instruction growing up.  Something central to other religious of the world was hardly mentioned in my own.  Prayer no doubt can comfortably fit as meditation.  But the rigid formula, repetitious words, and required posture I was taught growing up never fit as "meditation".  I find such calm still communion, pondering or meditation to be of great worth and now see it in the scriptures I believe to be holy writ (1 Nephi 11:1, Psalm 46:10, D&C 101:16, 1 Kings 19:11-12, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Psalm 1:2, D&C 84:85 to name a few).

I've found success calming my mind with the Ouummm thing typically associated to eastern chants or meditations.  The vibrating sound helps focus and calm my mind and body.  I often realize as soon as my mind is calm that I’ve been living too stressed, too preoccupied, and too busy.  I for one need time to calm down and live in the moment with faith.  There’s a whole bunch  of sounds everywhere that remind me to calm my mind.  Lawn mower from the neighbors, microwave, bathroom fan, car engine.  All the hummm’s remind me to stay in the present.  Inner quiet is something I believe was being taught in the letter to the Thesalonians.

I was recently reading old journal entries and found one from around 10 years ago.  I was sitting in the Jordan River temple parking lot talking with a friend after an endowment session.  I was single at the time, full of uncertainty, stressed about relationships, career, future.  He looked at me and semi sternly said “You need to relax, let go, and watch the Lord work”.  He said it with conviction that communicated it really was ok to relax and trust God more in my life.  Part of me was strongly hesitant to do this.  I had let my mind be anything and everything but quiet.  I had anything but stillness going on inside me.  It was more like turbulence on a plane flight.

Years later that phrase rings in my mind and reminds me to relax, be still and quiet, and trust God again and watch Him work in my life.  I can't remember if it was the same conversation but this same friend held up his hands as if to refer to the external world around us and said "it's all perfect".  I probably muttered something stupid about how life sure didn't feel perfect.

There's a scene in the movie The Last Samarui where Katsumoto is talking with Nathan Algrun (Tom Cruise) in a Japansese village.  It's springtime and they are looking at a blossoming tree with pink flowers blooming on it.  Katsumoto says to Nathan that one could spend a lifetime looking for the perfect flower/bud and it would not be a wasted life.  Fast forward to near the end of the movie where a battle has just taken place and he's been mortally wounded.  He is again with Nathan and sees a tree of the same kind as earlier in the movie off in the distance.  He has no doubts spent years looking for the perfect bud.  But in this moment he realizes, at the end of his life, that they were all perfect.  His last words with his dying breath was "perfect...they are all....perfect".  He realized something that enlightened him and comforted him during his dying moment. Perfection in what seemed imperfection.  Akin to the idea of the worthiness of seeing your unworthiness before God. It’s not a paradox once you get it.  


This conversation and movie scene have both been on my mind heavily the past few days.   Another worthwhile scene in that movie is when Katsumoto's son who has been observing Nathan for months in their village.  There's an ongoing sword fighting theme as Nathan is repeatedly beaten whenever he has engaged.  The scene is one where various people are learning to sword fight with practice wooden poles.  Tom  had been consistently loosing these sword fights for who knows how long, and had taken quite a beating numerous times.  At this point in his development the native Japanese character watches yet another failure and counsels him: "Too many minds".  Then references his opponents mind, the onlookers minds, his own mind, and says again "too many minds".  Then in simple accented English teaches the message: "no mind".  After which Tom finds silence in his mind and defeats (well technically a draw) a longtime foe in a sparing match with a singular zen mindedness. 

I think there is a lot to quieting the mind.  The outside world according to many belief systems is perfect.  The mind (mine anyway) cannot even tolerate this thought until it's quiet.  But what if it's true?  What if we have to quiet the mind to see the truth?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Guilt and Shame - Study

I wanted to do a study on guilt and shame and how they are used and treated in scripture. They both appear to be things that rob you of your faith. 

Guilt and shame are some of the first feelings (right after fear) described in scripture after the fall.  We often view guilt as an emotion, but that's not the only way it appears scripture.  In scriptures guilt is also used as in a legal status and not an emotion.  One is either guilty or innocent, etc.  Christ changes our status if we will repent and come unto Him.  However scriptures also seem to use both guilt and shame as feelings.

Psychology says that guilt is a feeling stemming from "I caused the problem".   It's related to how something has affected others. It's counter part, shame, is described as stemming from "I am the problem".  It revolves around self.  Feeling that you caused the problem brings what we call guilt where as you feeling as though you yourself are the problem brings feelings of what we call shame.  Shame often is accompanied by embarrassment or humiliation.

The first example is obviously the garden of Eden.  Whereas Adam and Ever were not ashamed of being naked, that all changed with the eating of the fruit.  Fear, guilt and shame showed up and caused them to want to hide from their creator, as if that were possible. Our attempts to cover ourselves and hide from God will always fall short.

An example of shame in this parable, found in Luke.  This shame appears to accompany embarrassment although the word embarrassed isn't used.  Needing to save face is related to this kind of shame.

Luke 9:5 (RE)

And he put forth a parable unto them concerning those who were bidden to a wedding, for he knew how they chose out the chief rooms and exalted themselves one above another. Wherefore he spoke unto them, saying, When you are bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room, lest a more distinguished man than you be bidden of him, and he who bade you, with him who is more distinguished, come and say to you, Give this man place, and you begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when you are bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room, that when he who bade you comes, he may say unto you, Friend, go up higher. Then shall you have honor of God in the presence of them who sit at a meal with you. For, whoever exalts himself shall be abased and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Jacob 4:2.  Uses both guilt and shame together.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts. Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die? For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire? Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets? And will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ after so many have spoken concerning him? And deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the holy ghost, and quench the holy spirit? And make a mock of the great plan of redemption which hath been laid for you? Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection which is in Christ will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?

The Book of Mormon obviously connects guilt with sin and uses the word in the context of God, often the "last day" or judgement bar where guilt is foretold to be awful for those experiencing it. But guilt is not just reserved for that day, it's used in present tense and also even used positively a few times.  Such as Enos having his guilt swept away because he had heard from the Lord and knew the Lord could not lie. In Alma they speak of God taking away the guilt in their hearts through the merits of His Son.

Other BOM uses of shame are being "ashamed".  This word occurs in Lehi's vision where people partake of the fruit of the tree in the vision but are later ashamed because of other scoffing at them.  That negative reaction to their choices produced shame inside them.  Moroni poses the question to the latter day audience of why people are ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ.

The A&C has this to say about shame:

Your visages have been so marred that your hardness, mistrust, suspicions, resentments, fear, jealousies and anger toward your fellow man bear outward witness of your inner self; you cannot hide it. When I appear to you, instead of confidence, you feel shame. You fear and withdraw from me because you bear the blood and sins of your treatment of brothers and sisters. Come to me and I will make sins as scarlet become white as snow, and I will make you stand boldly before me, confident of my love.

So what do we do about shame, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment?  What's the escape?

I found four ideas to consider in my study:

First:  The A&C says to come unto Christ and He will make sins as scarlet become white as snow and He will make us stand boldly before Him confident of His love.  So first is to come to Christ and find confidence in His love.  Coming to Him involves repentance, accepting His words, (whomever they come through) ordinances, and obeying His commandments.

Second:  Another idea to escape shame and guilt I believe is confession. Confessing sins, faults, admitting errors, and not hiding them in the dark.  Confessing to God at minimum, and others as appropriate. The idea of confession seems to be a scriptural path out and brings healing.

 -Proverbs  4:82 He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.
   -John 1:3.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
   -Jacob 1:24  "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

Third: Humility and meekness also appear to be paths that allow the individual to proceed forward.  Humiliation can lead to humility.  So we should let it. And be humble, because humility can proceed with a clear conscience.

Fourth: Letting go. The truth is that God forgives and forgets.  Appears God does not see any value or benefit in holding on to such things, so even He forgets.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (RE: 1 John 1:3).

Paul declared in Philippians RE 1:12: “Brethren, I count not myself to have laid hold of but one thing: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus.”

"How do I act toward mankind? If men intend no offense, I take no offense, but if they are taught and should have obeyed, then I reprove and correct, and forgive and forget." T&C 157: 58

God forgives and He forgets, and so must you.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Turn from Doubt and Come to Christ

I taught a Gospel lesson last week about turning from our doubts and coming to Christ. Below are some notes and outline from the lesson.

-Opening Questions: What is it you doubt when it comes to your own redemption, coming to Christ, and experiencing the fullness of the Gospel? Do you doubt yourself? Your qualifications? Do you doubt God? Your ability to follow God? Your ability to discern correctly?

-Repent/ance Definition from new RE T&C Glossary: This means “change.” It requires believers to turn away from the world and toward God. It is the change in life that follows from seeing things in a better, truer light. There is another, higher way to live available to everyone. But to move upward, people must make changes in their lives to incorporate more light and truth. By living a higher way, you are repenting. This process is not a single event. It does not happen once. It should happen over and over as we increase the light in our lives.1 It can be granted by God (Alma 10:4, 19:15; Acts 6:9). Repentance involves acquiring light and truth — meaning intelligence. Repentance is abandoning a foolish error, a vain tradition, or a false belief and replacing it with truth.2 Penitence is another way to describe repentance or the process of change and growing beyond sins limiting your happiness. It comes as you allow Christ to “succor” you through the power of the Atonement. Through penitence, people do away with the darkness in their lives and add light instead.3 The best definition of repentance is to turn away from all other distractions to face God.4

-Last sentience: The best definition of repentance is to turn away from all other distractions to face God.

- Doubt is one of those things both distracting and is counter to faith.
-Turning from doubt is part of repentance
-Doubts take energy.  Waste of energy.
-Doubt and faith cannot coexist according to lectures on Faith.

-Important: Turning from doubt does not mean some vague notion of “not questioning things”.

-In the LDS church when they say “doubt your doubts” it feels like they are subtly implying I shouldn’t question anything they teach or anything in or about the LDS Church. That is NOT what I’m addressing here.

-Doubt in today's discussion is talking about doubts as in insecurities, errors, misunderstandings, or inability to reconcile something regarding God or our life which prevents the confidence necessary to come to Him and actually receive the Lord. Whatever it is that causes lack of confidence in God to experience the fruits the scriptures speak of.

-Questioning things is normal and how we often get answers from God.  Which of course is healthy.

Quote: "In most cases it is our disrespect for ourselves that impedes coming to Him. We tend to think we aren't good enough. However, because He is quick to forgive sins, it really doesn't matter if you are not good enough. One of the first orders of business when you come into His presence is that He forgives you. He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but He has the capacity and the ability to forgive sin. Therefore although your sins may be as scarlet, He can, He will and He does, make you white as snow, no longer accountable for your limitations. Therefore you needn't fear, but you can approach boldly, our Lord."  -DS

What alienates us from Him is not our sins. He will forgive them. What we lack is the confidence to ask in faith, nothing doubting, for His help. He can and will help when you do so. -DS 

Lectures on Faith 3:20 (including a portion from the QA at the end of the lecture)
But secondly: Unless he was merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, long suffering, and full of goodness, such is the weakness of human nature, and so great the frailties and imperfections of men, that unless they believed that these excellencies existed in the divine character, the faith necessary to salvation could not exist; for doubt would take the place of faith, and those who know their weakness and liability to sin, would be in constant doubt of salvation, if it were not for the idea which they have of the excellency of the character of God, that he is slow to anger, and long suffering, and of a forgiving disposition, and does forgive iniquity, transgression and sin. An idea of these facts does away doubt, and makes faith exceedingly strong. Because of the weakness and imperfections of human nature, and the great frailties of man; for such is the weakness of man, and such his frailties, that he is liable to sin continually, and if God were not long suffering, and full of compassion, gracious and merciful and of a forgiving disposition, man would be cut off from before him in consequence of which he would be in continual doubt and could not exercise faith: for where doubt is, there faith has no power, but by man's believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, long suffering and slow to anger, he can exercise faith in him and overcome doubt, so as to be exceedingly strong. (3:20)

Lectures on faith predicts our doubts. Says mans weakness and liability to sin will be something the mind at some point will recognize and have to reconcile.

-The answer according to the lecture:  Believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, longsuffering and slow to anger. Those attributes in particular are noted in the context of having faith to overcoming doubt.  So as to be exceedingly strong.

-Once you live past like 20 it's not hard to see or sense the weaknesses and liability of us humans to err, sin, and make mistakes.  The lectures reference the "great frailties of man, the weaknesses of man".  This Lecture is accurate. It's written by someone who is not naive, nor vain, nor puffed up, nor blind. It's written by someone who can see clearly.

-Lecture 3 identifies fallen man, and then tells you what to do about it.

-Answer revolves around the nature of God and God's excellency of character. "An idea of these facts does away doubt "

-Revelation of God's character usually accompanied by parallel revelation (realization) of man's fallen state. Hence the lecture speaks of both in the same paragraph. Another example is Moses. He has experience with God and almost the next thing is what then become apparent, which is "that man is nothing". Yet an idea of the facts of God's nature sufficient to overcome doubt and make strong.

LoF 6:12
12 But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence, and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak, and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.

-Sacrifice isn't just one singular heroic act.

-Sacrifice can also be daily, hourly. A life lived, like a living sacrifice to God. It can be fun. It can be joyful.

-Sacrifice connected to consecration.

Part 2:

Q&A I had with a good friend who's testimony of Christ is one that has inspired me on a number of occasions. I posed some potential doubts to him and record his response.

Question: "I feel a lot of self doubt, I don't feel good enough, I sometimes doubt whether or not I read scriptures enough, or understand enough, am kind enough, or doing enough to qualify to come fully to Christ, what should I do to get past these doubts"?

Response: That statement is based on a misunderstanding of the character nature and attributes of God. They are misunderstanding just how much God loves them and just how much He is going to do the work of saving you. (Christ = Author and finisher of our faith)

"Your doubts are well founded and you shouldn't try to get past them. You don't qualify to come to Christ. That is why He came down to earth and that is why He will come down to you when the timing is right."

Question: "I'm doing everything I think I'm supposed to be doing as far as living the Gospel and trying to repent, but I don't see the fruits some people have, so it causes me to doubt myself or sometimes God and feel stuck, how can I move forward?

Response: "In my understanding, the essence of the gospel and living it are about being freed from guilt and shame as you try to be a practically decent person. So the bad news is we are cut off from god and will die. The good news is that we will be reconciled with God and live again. The fruits of that good news is that I can live my life with hope. Adding more practical skills in being a good person without having to get trapped in the guilt/shame cycle of never feeling like I will measure up. To me, that is the real fruit of the gospel. But this question too goes back to the misunderstanding of God's nature."

Conclusion: In the end it’s not which of the million doubts we happen to have given in to or surrendered to. It’s about what we believe and exercise faith in. Because we all have faith in something. We are currently acting consistent with faith in something.

-Take time to rest from your doubts. And let scripture and the Spirit of God show the truth.

-Lectures on Faith I believe contains the truth about God's nature and fallen man's weaknesses and yet shows why and how we can overcome doubt.

Analogy: Just as our physical body requires constant food and nourishment, so does our spirit.

-Overall health impacted by the quality of food you consume, so too with our Spirit.

Ending Quote:

"If we believe in the restoration, and take the faith seriously, we should be as willing to diversify our faith-structure as the LDS corporate structure has been willing to use tithes to diversify its portfolio. Just as they have branched out to own communications, publishing, farming, banking, retail, office, insurance, and real estate ventures in order to insulate the empire from failing if one of the side-ventures (the religion of Mormonism) fails, we should diversify and allow our faith to acquire enough independence to survive any disappointments coming from 47 East South Temple.

God did a work through the Prophet Joseph Smith that will continue on whether the RLDS, FLDS, LDS or UAB collapse into corruption, wickedness and financial ruin. We ought to be dependent on God and God alone for our hope to see the return of Zion and completion of the work begun through Joseph
." -DS

We can come boldly (because of God's nature) to the throne of Grace (Heb 4:6) God's nature is forgiving, kind, longsuffering, and full of compassion.  Which can overcome doubt. He can teach us, heal us. fill us with love, give us mercy and or whatever else we lack. He is the answer. Love is the answer. God is Love.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fruits and Words

Christ says in Mattthew 6:14 (RE)

Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by the fruit. And Jesus said, O you children of vipers, How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things. And again I say unto you that every idle word men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment: for by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

Christ connects fruit with words spoken.   Prophets provoke all sorts of anger and violence in scripture with their words.  So did Christ, but that doesn't mean their fruits were bad.

Our words will condemn is is a sobering thought.  For good reason we should measure our words before giving voice to them.  I don't think Christ's teaching above is referring to just the letter string of words pieced together.  I think the verse quoted above has reference to "words" as in the "message" you communicate.  With your words.  Jesus said "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks".  What comes out of your mouth is a reflection of the heart.  You could fumble over your words or be weak in writing like one BOM prophets and yet the message or fruit communicated could still be good.  Or on the other hand be like Sherem the Antichrist in the Book of Mormon. Sherem was “learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil” (Jacob 7:4).

As I was thinking about words it dawned on me you could take scripture and get out a dictionary and use the dictionary for every single word, and yet you wouldn't uncover the extent of what God was really saying in the passage.  Because the dictionary isn't the way to unlock scriptures full meaning.  I believe the Holy Spirit is.

Word meanings vary from culture to culture and time and place.  They evolve.  But one consistent trend is that words rarely acquire higher meaning.  Their meaning trends decidedly downwards.  Revelation can restore meaning, but for now consider this:

E. W. Bullinger was a biblical scholar and fluent in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and other languages. His study of language led him to this interesting conclusion: “It is a strange commentary on fallen human nature to see words thus changing their usage; for this change is uniformly in one direction; it is always a change for the worse. We never find a word acquiring a higher meaning! It is always down, down, down, like fallen and falling man himself, who thus drags down with him the meanings of the words he uses."

How, for example, did the change in the usage of this word “prevent” come about? [Bullinger had been writing of the word “prevent” and how in earlier English usage it used to mean “precede, go in front of, go before”]. It was because whenever one man got before another, it was generally for his own advantage, and to the hindrance, hurt, and loss of the other; hence the word came to have this new and lower meaning.

The same may be seen in apology, which was used of a defense, as in Jewel’s Apology (i.e., Defense) of the Reformation. But, because man’s defenses of himself are usually so poor, the word has come to mean a mere excuse. Our word censure was used simply of judgment, which might be favorable or otherwise; but, inasmuch as such judgments have generally proved to be unfavorable, the word is used today only of blame. Our word story was originally short for history, but because so many histories and stories are what they are [i.e., made up or embellished], the word has come to mean that which is not true. Cunning meant merely knowing; but because knowing people generally know too much, or use their knowledge to a bad purpose, it has come to have its present usage. Villain meant a servant of a villa, or of a country or farm-house. The house has kept its good meaning, but the man has lost it.
” E. W. Bullinger, How to Enjoy the Bible (Samuel Bagster and Sons, Ltd., London, reprinted 1970), p. 230.

The meaning of words deteriorates!  Easy to notice if you pay attention in 2018.  And it's almost always downward in meaning.  Which reflects the heart, as Jesus said above. 

Take "hope" for example.  It used to mean something that was likely to occur, but the modern English usage of “hope” actually implies a wish, or something desired which is very likely not to occur. For instance, one might say “I hope to go to the store today” when there is substantial doubt that they actually may do so.  "Hope" in some modern usage even gives room for an excuse for not doing a thing because it was only a hope after all, not a certainty committed to.

Hope as defined in the Book of Mormon, assisted by revelation, is the time period between when God gives a promise and the realization of the promise.  During that time the person has hope. But the promise is sure because God's word does not return void and God cannot lie.  So the hope is an anchor bringing the possessor of it joy and assurance.

I believe it takes revelation from God for the words to re-aquire higher meaning.  Often takes going back to the original meaning as understood before numerous generations of deterioration.  This is why I generally think were someone to read a document like the Answer and Covenant, and get out the dictionary and define each word they would not necessarily acquire The Spirit behind the words and thus not acquire the full intended meaning.  Or the fruits.  Our minds are often polluted, our hearts broken, and our interpretations are all personal and private to our own biases.  When scriptures teach that no prophecy of scripture is for private interpretation, (KJV 2 Peter 1:20) I have to pause and really consider what that means.  

The Holy Spirit can shed light on subtleties of words that a dictionary cannot.  Foreign languages do a good job of identifying that there are sometimes numerous differences between closely related ideas or concepts because that language may have 3, 4 or more words for one English word.  Because there are differences in meaning based on time, place, context, and intent that some languages explore more than others.  Dictionaries often do not and cannot account for a persons intent.  The intent behind words matters, not just the actual words used.  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Having seen many a disagreement over the meaning of a word I'm looking towards seeking God's intent behind words when He speaks.  Would not God's intent play a major part in how to interpret or define his words or fruits?  Would applying only mans dictionary not often result in misunderstanding?   

I am reminded again and again that we must read the scriptures as much with our minds as hearts, and that too under the influence of the Holy Ghost.  The dictionary cannot unlock certain things.  Only the heart can.  The intent and meaning of some words may even go contrary to what might initially show up in the dictionary or the synonym section.  It may contain a message so elevated, and communicate intent so pure and express love to a degree that we don't even comprehend what the message even was. We can't even take it in.  Instead it all descends to bickering with the dictionary as the lowest common denominator to win a battle. When the heart and the intent were what mattered more.       

I've heard it said that it takes revelation to understand revelation.  I believe that to be true.  I also believe God's words are revelation and that God offers fruit that is desirable above all other fruit.

Psalm 119:105 (KJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.