I promised I would leave my blog “up” until I was shown the error of my ways.
Well, today I got “schooled”.
A friend of mine (he would prefer to remain unheralded) drove down this morning from Bakersfield (a round-trip of about 480 miles!) to spend a few hours with me. (Just a few hours! And this was his second visit in the past month or so! Talk about a faithful hometeacher!) We talked about my blog, about being filled with light and perfect love (something I haven’t experienced in a great while), and following the Lord. His inspired message moved me to tears.
He quoted several passages of scripture (as angels are wont to do) and gave a sermon I have never heard before in Church. (He is keen to recognize who “has” the Holy Ghost and who has not been converted. The carnally minded cannot receive the message I am about to share with you.)
The “gist” of that message is this: following the Lord requires forsaking everything else. Everything. Let me find and quote the applicable passages he shared with me. I’ll begin with The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (from Section One, 1830-34, p.43) on the principle of avoiding disputes:
“Let the Elders be exceedingly careful about unnecessarily disturbing and harrowing up the feelings of the people. Remember that your business is to preach the Gospel in all humility and meekness, and warn sinners to repent and come to Christ."
Note what ought to be the focus and substance of our “message”, given in those last eight words.
“Avoid contentions and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds, who do not desire to know the truth. Remember that ‘it is a day of warning, and not a day of many words.’ If they receive not your testimony in one place, flee to another, remembering to cast no reflections, nor throw out any bitter sayings. If you do your duty, it will be just as well with you, as though all men embraced the Gospel."
The carnally-minded cannot teach – or receive -- the things of God, for such things can only be made known (and be understood) by the Spirit: thus “if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach.” (D&C 42:14) For good reason the things of the Spirit are called “the peaceable things of the kingdom” (see D&C 36:2).
“Be careful about sending boys to preach the Gospel to the world; if they go let them be accompanied by some one who is able to guide them in the proper channel, lest they become puffed up, and fall under condemnation, and into the snare of the devil. Finally, in these critical times, be careful; call on the Lord day and night; beware of pride; beware of false brethren, who will creep in among you to spy out your liberties. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; let your light shine, and show yourselves workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Apply yourselves diligently to study, that your minds may be stored with all necessary information.”
This was (and is) wise counsel from the Prophet.
My friend followed up these teachings by quoting the Savior Himself (from Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the New Testament; see Luke, chapter 6):
20 Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are they who hunger now; for they shall be filled. Blessed are they who weep now; for they shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you who are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you who laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 But I say unto you who hear my words, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you.
28 Bless them who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.
29 And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.
31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.
32 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
33 For if ye love them only who love you, what reward have you? For sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what reward have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.
And, again, lest I be tempted to find fault with my neighbor or seek to correct him:
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?
42 Again, how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote which is in thy brother's eye.
Have I come back into the Savior’s presence, in the flesh, in this life? No, I have not. Am I yet like the Savior? No, I am not. Then what have I to offer another? Am I not as “blind” as the next man? Yes I am. Do I have faults? I do. As many as the next guy. (And perhaps even a few more!)
How, then, can I undertake to correct another in his faults? Or steady the ark?
Not until I am purified, filled with light and perfect love. And, even then, I must be as my Master, and do His bidding, not my own, and speak His words, not mine.
Consequently, I must “wait upon the Lord” to receive.
This blog, originally, was meant to be a place where I could “speak my mind” about worldly things. Then it became a place where I could seek the Lord’s mind. Then I began to seek the Lord again.
I still seek Him. But anything I might say here can only be a distraction for others who are coming unto Him. I can’t afford to let myself get in the way of that.
He has already given His word elsewhere. It is found in the scriptures. We ought to spend our time there.
As “Geoff” recently wrote at Latter-day Commentary:
I’m tired of the rhetoric and speculation, the “lo here” and “lo there”, the sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, of “I think this” or “I think that.” I’m sick of scribes and pharisees. I want to eat and drink directly from the waters and tree of life, to hear directly from God or His true messengers, or true servants, ones who know as surely as they know that they live and the power of the Holy Ghost affirms it like fire. If you are one of these, please share what you can share. True messengers and servants try to teach others how to make the same direct divine connection as they have.
2 Nephi 32
3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.
Nephi inspires me. 1 Nephi 10-15. He saw and heard and knew Christ and witnessed him. Anyone like him inspires me by their testimony of the truth, no matter who scoffs or point their fingers in scorn. I want to fall down at the Tree of Life and partake of the fruit of eternal life and love of God.
Maybe this is why Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days. I’m not sure blogging and reading books, unless they are the words of Christ, is going to get any of us closer to where we want to be, except perhaps to increase our own desire to see, hear, and know for ourselves. Alas, there is no shortcut to further light and knowledge. We must commune with God to learn what only He can teach, the things which surpass all understanding and would not be lawful for us to tell each other.
Are we mighty and strong and chosen? More than likely we are unbelieving, proud, wicked, ignorant, stiffnecked children who need to humble ourselves in the dust. “Because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love.”
Peace and love to you all. May your compasses point true.
With that, I make an end of this blog and wish everyone well in their efforts to come unto Christ. As I depart, I am particularly sorrowful for the way I handled myself with regard to my (former) bishop and stake president. Had I followed Jesus’ words above – or even D&C 42:37 -- I would not have allowed contention of any kind to occur between us. If a perfect stranger can ask us to walk a mile with him – and the Lord encourages us to go with him twain! – then I could have said, “Sure, bishop! Whatever you say!” He wasn’t asking me to sin. He was just asking me to shut up. And maybe even take down my blog. (I’m still not sure if that's what he was asking.) At the bare minimum, I needed a little “quiet time” anyway…and a lot of time in the “gym” exercising humility. (Something I’m about as familiar with as a set of dumbbells!)
I mean, really, what do I have to share with you all? If it’s not from the Lord, what value is it? How enduring is it? How eternal is it?
It is not. It would, therefore, only be something “built on sand”. A “great and spacious building”, as it were, “high and lifted up”. The pride of the world. And the vanity thereof! But vacuous, nonetheless.
I put my Church membership on the line. I should have put myself there – in the service of others, submitting to others, doing the will of others (so long as it did not require me to sin). Being submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love – I recall these are all the qualities of a child…qualities I sorely lack.
Contrary to what I imagined, I was in no way “fit” to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And that was entirely my fault.
For now I can do no better than what has been done to help anyone else come unto Christ. (I have a lot more “coming unto Christ” yet to do!) My actions and words perhaps hindered some from their enjoyments in the Church. I unnecessarily contended with him whom the Lord…and, yes, I believe the Lord placed Chris Risenmay and Matt Morris in their positions as leaders in His Church…I contended with him whom the Lord set in place to do His work.
What could Bishop Risenmay or President Morris be justified in saying about my words written on this blog? They could have said (and they did say, though I did not believe them) that my words might weaken the faith of some who read them. (And they were right. I have sensed and “heard” the whisperings of the adversary, trying to get me to become an “accuser of the brethren”. He has sought to stir up contention in my heart, to harden my heart against the Church, its members and leadership. And I know this is Satan’s doing, not the Lord’s. Therefore, I strive to repent while I still can!) The bishop and stake president could have legitimately inquired of me as to whether the Lord had asked me to write the things which I wrote. (And they did ask me…and I had to acknowledge that He had not; that I wrote what I understood to be the truth of my own accord, according to my own understanding.) And they legitimately and authoritatively (as I understand things now) could have said to me (and they did say to me, more or less): “Then take them down. They are disrupting the work of the Church, as directed by the leaders of the Church, whom the Lord has appointed and whom we support and sustain”. I should have heeded their “counsel” – because I am (or was) a member of the Church. And I wanted to remain so.
I let my will – and not His (or theirs) – be done. And the Lord’s supernal message is that He came as a servant, not a master! The servant never tells the master what to do! – unless he is invited to do so by the master.
I have been “telling people what to do” my entire life! And it has gotten me nowhere good. I have been very wrong in doing so. Very wrong.
To those who are yet LDS and who are aware of my (current and former) standing in the Church:
I humbly…and I don’t use that word vainly…I humbly acknowledge that my pride and arrogance, my personal impatience and dissatisfaction with many things (but mostly with myself…behold the power of projection!) fueled by my pride and arrogance enabled me to place my needs, will, and wants above those of others, including those of the Lord (and the leaders of the LDS Church). To a great extent, this same “attitude” spilled over into my personal and professional life, causing contentions in my home, (principally in my relationships with my children, but also with my wife). When the Lord says “give to him who asketh”, He means “do what others ask of you to do, whatever it is!” – as long as what they ask does not compel you to sin or (knowingly to you) enable them to sin.
What they might do with what you give them – or whether they are “justified” in receiving what you have to give to them in the first place (unless you are commanded otherwise) -- is none of your concern.
That’s the amazing part. We are all beggars! Would you like to have God “judge” you “unworthy” of having your petition granted? Then judge not your brother or sister. Give willingly! Give generously! Give whole-heartedly! And give in secret. For God shall then give to you openly. That is what the Lord has taught us. Who can receive it?
Is doing your daughter’s chore for the day (at her request) a “sinful” demand? No. Would her watching you do it for her “spoil” her? Perhaps. Would it teach her to “get away” with something? Possibly.
But it also might teach her what is true, unselfish, Christ-like service, something she may very well need to see (repeatedly) before she “believes” it, or recognizes the “benefits” thereof (beyond just getting “something for nothing”). Doing that kind of service for her (or for anyone!) also happens to be something I am (frankly) sorely deficient in.
You see, the alternative to doing Christ’s will – which is unlimited in its scope and capacity to serve others – is to do one’s own will (or someone else’s will), which invariably comes with a host of restrictions, conditions and limitations attached. “I will do this, but only if you do that,” etc. It becomes a “barter” system, a “tit-for-tat”, equity at law and all that. Keeping score. The economy of Babylon…with all the grievances, grudges and offenses attached thereto, given and taken for our lack of being perfect (which none of us are), invariably condemning us to this state of things forever…unless we willingly “walk away” from it all and live like Christ.
For Christ would have none of this (or that!). He kept an “accounting” that was exceedingly simple: “It is better to give than to receive.” Lose yourself in the service of others. Better yet, lose yourself.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:35.)
There are better “translations” of that statement by Christ.
There was a people known as the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. They buried their weapons of war for peace, once they were converted unto Christ. They chose to “give” rather than to “receive”. What were they willing to give when asked? Everything. Would they give the shirts off their backs to perfect strangers, even to their enemies? Yes. All of their shiblums? No doubt. How about their very lives? Yes, remarkably, even those, too.
When their enemies came upon them, intent on destroying them, the converted people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi knelt down and called upon God in mighty prayer and willfully died rather than contend, fight, or take the life of another. They would rather die than offend God, or violate His holy word by “receiving” rather than “giving”. They willingly “gave” their lives, not only for Christ, but to Christ. And thus, when they died, they died in the joy of Christ.
Can anyone argue that they were not “the children of the Highest”?
Who wants to see God? I do. What must we do to please Him? I have no doubt (now) that we must follow His commandments given in Matthew 5-7, Luke 6, and 3 Nephi 12-14. (These New Testament verses are even better “translated” in the Inspired Version of the scriptures.)
Christ’s words mean different things to different people – even different things to the same people at different times of their lives. For me, the words above now mean to “shut up” and “stop contending”. Stop “showing off” what I know and stop “speaking my mind” (when what I should be doing is listening to the mind and will of the Lord and doing that!).
I had to be “humbled to the dust” to “hear” this message. It is the message the Lord wanted me to hear now because He loves me. And whom He loves, He chastens. (See D&C 95:1.) It is a message I will have to put into practice daily – by serving my wife, my children, my students and my neighbors – to make sure I learn it well.
I want to add – and I hope I am right in saying this – that it doesn’t matter if the Church is “true”. (For all I know, it is.) It doesn’t matter if the leaders of the Church are inspired, or even good men. (For all I know, they are.) It doesn’t matter if there are, or have been, mistakes made. (For all I know, there are, have been, and will be.) It simply doesn’t matter.
Because all that matters is that I come unto Christ, receive revelation from Him and do His will. If I do, He will save me. If I don’t, it won’t matter. Nothing else will matter.
God is an Eternal Being. That “eternal” quality pervades and suffuses all that He touches.
I want Him to touch me!
I publicly apologize to Bishop Chris Risenmay and President Matt Morris and to the entire stake high council of the Palm Desert California Stake for my offensive, contentious spirit, my pride and arrogance, and my refusal to submit to “counsel and correction” when offered by – yes, I’ll say it – by my priesthood leaders.
The Lord was meek and lowly. He could pass unnoticed in a crowd (even a crowd intent on killing Him!). The words He spoke in the Sermon on the Mount were the same words He gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai (words the people were unworthy to receive) and to Mahonri, when He showed Himself unto him. If Jesus were to appear to us, I do not doubt that He would repeat many of those same words and add thereto.
More will be gained by putting into practice those words than by reading all of the words found on all of the blogs written by all of the bloggers – including Denver Snuffer! -- about the subject of coming unto Christ. For by doing His will we will become more like Him. He will be with us, even as He will be in us. And if He is in us, and we are like Him, we will finally be able to see Him as He is, even our Father who is in heaven.
Because I have no more to say at this time I bid you all adieu.