Wednesday, July 23, 2014


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?

I cannot.

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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bright beginning

I was told there would be a “bonfire” and I was conducted to the place of burning.

There I saw telephone-pole-sized posts, holding up wooden pallets, like platforms, stacked high into the air. These “racks” were packed, every nook and cranny, with countless packages great and small, wrapped in plain, whitish paper neatly tied with simple string. I understood they were to be the fuel for the fire.

What a waste! I thought. Who would go to all this trouble?! What a stupid celebration!

People came, laying down their packages, leaving empty handed. I saw one frail, old man, bent down with years. He looked to be Japanese. He shuffled into the complex and carefully placed his package, almost prayerfully, among the many others on the pyre (as if it were an altar). Then, just as quietly, he shuffled away. I marked the spot where he laid it and dared to retrieve it after he was gone. I wanted to know what was in it. What had he left behind to be burned?

His package was neither big nor small, merely “average” in size. It was carefully wrapped and tied like the rest. I couldn’t read Japanese, but somehow knew that the writing thereon was his name, written with tears. I untied the string and carefully bent back the wrapper.

What I saw filled me with revulsion!

In this bundle were many letters, like the kind a serviceman might write to his family back home in time of war. On top were photographs. The first was a black-and-white image of a woman (or what was left of her). She was naked, impaled vertically on a long wooden spike, bound hand and foot with barbed wire. Unspeakable atrocities and agony etched her face. She was cruelly tortured before her merciless murder.

This man, I was given to know -- this frail, old, gentle-looking man -- had been her captor and tormenter. He had defiled her…before he killed her. This was his record! This package represented his sins! He gathered them together here and now, acknowledging every one, placing the greatest, the most heinous, on top, closest to heaven, where it would not escape God's view.

I now looked around in amazement, with new understanding. All of these packages! All of these burdens! They were the sins of world!

This wasn’t a celebration. It was a funeral! A mourning! A wake! A putting to death of all that was vile, filthy, cruel, and violent in the world! Here was murder, rape, villainy and evil of every kind, sorted and represented in simple packages, left behind by remorseful men and women, to be obliterated by fire.

To be purged.

To be purified.

And, perchance, to be forgiven.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The purpose of this blog

Surely a blog is an "ego trip" for some. (Who doesn't enjoy being listened to? Or read?) I began this blog years ago, thinking to leave "bread crumbs" to my children and friends (and the "world at large"). It was my "public lament" for the downfall of this great nation, my "witness" that I saw and heard but, nonetheless, could do little to stop its descent into chaos and ruin. 

Because "most people are idiots" (MPAI), as Vox Day has observed. (That explains a lot.)

This blog was my soap box.

Now it has become my podium. It is my "link" with that cyber-community of saints who inhabit the blogosphere. It is my only outlet, for now, to have a "fast and testimony meeting" with those who won't ridicule or reject my words. (Oh, I'm sure there are many out there who still can and do! But they aren't compelled to listen to me anymore!) 

Truly, this world-wide web is a modern "Urim and Thummim". In it, you may find what you're looking for.

This blog "rivets" me to my witness. It holds me accountable for who I am, what I say and what I do. It is also my opportunity to fulfill the commandment, once having been warned, to warn my neighbor.

And it is a chance for me to stand corrected.

It may be of interest to some to know that I have not deleted -- or rejected -- from this blog any comment. (Except for a personal inquiry made by a former student just trying to contact me, which I probably should have left up anyway, just so I could say "I've never deleted anything!") That is remarkable to me. Every comment has been respectful and on point. No spammers or trolls have soiled these pages with their tripe. No one has ever condemned me or challenged anything I have to say here (that I recall). With tens of thousands of visits, I find that strange. (Not that I'm encouraging anyone to start a new trend here!)

And, curiously, no leader of the LDS Church -- or member of my ward that I know of -- has ever "stopped by" here (or even at my house!) to make a comment or offer correction to me. (Boy! These people take "excommunication" seriously!) Yet I know they read this blog. I find that very strange, too.

But I'm getting off point. 

I just wanted to say this blog has become my "comment in church or Sunday School", now that I don't have one to participate in. It's my exercise of the right to speak up and be heard, to share what I know, to engage in dialogue with others of like mind and heart, and to invite counsel and correction from others (that consists of something more than just "shut up").

Thank you for giving me the chance to associate with you.

Finding Everything

A true friend asked me yesterday: "What is wanted? What do you want? What are you looking for? What are you finding?" This is my answer:

I am finding peace.

I want to be more serviceable to my wife and children; to not raise my voice in anger; to be kind and light-hearted.

I want to do right by the two tenants (angels?) living in my house who tempt me at every turn to turn them out (for not paying rent, etc.). If ever two angels were to come, disguised as fools and vagabonds, these two would be them! But what few opportunities do I have to give to those who ask? Or to not turn out my brother that he perish not? These two would be living on the street otherwise. I feel compassion for them.

I want to know God as my Father and Brother and Friend, face to face; to do His will above all else; to hear Him and see Him and touch Him. I am crying unto Him daily for that purpose...and I have faith that, according to His timetable (and my preparedness), He will answer me. I prayed ten thousand prayers (no joke!) to receive the wife and children that I now have. (And, obviously, He answered me!) Perhaps He (I) will require ten thousand more to receive Him.

I am tempted with popularity, fame, and the ego strokes of rubbing "success" in the faces of those who despised and rejected me. But this is a fool's game -- Satan's domain -- for God does not honor such. (That is why I confess my sins openly, to keep me humble.)

Fortunately, I am not blessed with the gifts and talents that might bring me such "rewards". I am able to quell my pride with the knowledge that I have not yet received my heart's desire: an audience with the Savior in the flesh; to have the heavens opened to me as they were to Isaiah and Nephi, Alma and Mahonri; to be a priest, patriarch and prophet to my family; to have power in the priesthood, by faith in Jesus, to work miracles, to do His will, and to be of service of others. Lacking that, of what do I have to boast? I am but a worm. Even if I were to have what I want, what would I be then? Nothing. I remember my captivity and my sins and know that, only in Christ, by His grace and power, I am (or will be) saved. Of myself I am nothing.

Christ comes in consolation, to be of comfort to those who are otherwise comfortless. He is the Second Comforter.

He comes in the dark of night (and early morning) when He finds you there, bending down, searching, seeking for His body, with tears streaming down your cheeks.

He comes when you are gathered together with fellow believers in worshipful song and prayer to Him.

He comes when you are about His business.

He comes when you are in chains, in prison, held in derision and scorned, mocked, persecuted, maligned, misjudged and cast out, even by your friends.

He is the "consolation prize" when you have given up or have lost everything you have and are because of Him. Only when you're willing to lose everything are you ready to receive Everything.

It wasn't until Mary thought she lost her soul that she found her Life.

So I must -- for now -- be content with what I started with: the desire to be more serviceable to my wife and children; to not raise my voice in anger; to be kind and light-hearted.

For there is a way to Everything. And it begins with the first step.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is wanted?

I didn't realize I wasn't, essentially, alone. I thought the "movement" (if you can call it that) was a just a few "cranks" (like myself) being unfairly targeted by a rogue few who were "fulfilling their callings" by purifying their "stewardships" of perceived infidel "prophet-wannabes" rising up as Korihors to mislead the flock.

I never imagined that the LDS Church was systemically flawed.

Denver Snuffer is obviously at the tip of the spear. But he is not alone. Others have added their "second witness". And the list is growing.


A recent letter detailing the "whys" and "wherefores" almost perfectly frames the issues. (Thank you, Sister Allred, for your inspired contribution.)

I want to add that, for many of us, we have come to this conclusion independently. Unless the evil one is now going around telling people to come unto Christ, meet and embrace the Savior in the flesh, receive vital, saving ordinances from Him, be taught by angels and enter into the presence of God the Father -- and, consequently, some proceed to do it! -- then I'll go out on a limb here and say, "Yup! This is the work of the Lord!"

We don't have time to waste arguing over whether we know this Church is true.

We need to come unto Christ.

Vacation Plans

I will be attending the talks to be given in Las Vegas and St. George later this month. I hope to meet many of you there. It will feel good to be among friends.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who saves us?

I just finished reading Denver Snuffer's Ephraim talk. It's no better or worse than the others. (They're all great!) 

I believe Denver has been ministered to by Jesus Christ and bears an "authorized" message from Him. I was greatly saddened when he was excommunicated from the LDS Church, for apostasy, last September.

I likewise believed George W. Pace (my former stake president at BYU) when he wrote his book back in 1981 claiming to have met Jesus. I was greatly inspired by his words -- in part, because, by that time, I had experienced the Lord for myself (in spirit) and wanted to know Him more (in flesh). I therefore sought to "come unto Christ".

But then I read a talk given at BYU by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (while I served my mission in Chile, in 1982). In that talk Elder McConkie all but denounced Bro. Pace by name and condemned those seeking to develop a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. Elder McConkie's sermon virtually destroyed Bro. Pace's reputation and confused the hell out of me! (My missionary companion, Elder Thompson, and I used to read Elder McConkie's book Mormon Doctrine to each other as "bedtime stories"! Now that wonderful book is, strangely, out of print.) Bro. Pace was released from his calling as stake president and students dropped his classes. I was there (as a returned missionary). I saw what happened. I remember. I could not reconcile Elder McConkie's message and the wonderful inspiration I received from Bro. Pace. I also could not reconcile the "excuse" I heard Elder McConkie proffer for giving that talk. (His secretary was related to one of my friends, and she told me that Elder McConkie said he meant Bro. Pace no harm. She said he was speaking about some other sect, not Bro. Pace; that Elder McConkie wasn't even aware of Bro. Pace's book! But I found that claim too fantastic to believe.) Still, I revered Elder McConkie and cherished his own testimony of Christ offered a few years later, just a few weeks before he died (of cancer).

I believed, as a freshman at BYU, the testimony of my religion professor, Avraham Gileadi, who invited (allowed) me to be the first of his students that semester to teach his Book of Mormon class (for 25 minutes!) on the subject of "receiving personal revelation" -- using the Book of Mormon as my proof text! (That experience was a "spiritual highlight" of my life!) I was later visited by the Savior in a dream, which I recounted to Bro. Gileadi as we sat together in the Harold B. Lee Library. Bro. Gileadi was a tower of spiritual strength and insight to me, humble and meek. I was greatly surprised, therefore, that he, too, was excommunicated from the LDS Church for apostasy. (To be clear, that action was later reversed and expunged from his record.)

I have met Tim Malone, author of the blog Latter-day Commentary. He is also very humble and meek. He has tried to faithfully serve both God and Mormon, but, even now, his character and testimony are being weighed in the balance, threatened with excommunication if he doesn't keep quiet. (He is not keeping quiet! :o)

Several times I've been offered "grace" to be mentored and inspired by those who have met and known the Savior, or who have wanted to know Him. I've felt a strong impulse to join them. But then I've been turned away into filthy waters (mostly by Church members!) or I've let myself be "diverted off course" by (of all people!) Church leaders who have insisted that it "isn't necessary" or "it's not our place" to strive to meet and know the Lord (contrary to all scripture!). 

You can go a lifetime in the LDS Church nowadays and never hear a sermon about coming unto Christ in this life in the flesh. You may never hear of someone recounting their experience of seeing His face or of their aspiring to do so. Ironically, it was that very message -- the testimony of Joseph Smith and the First Vision and the witnesses of the prophets in the Book of Mormon -- that first attracted me to the LDS faith. I just assumed that, since those witnesses were true (so my spirit testified), the Church also must be true, even today.

A year ago last May I happened upon Denver Snuffer's blog. (A fortuitous event!) Having "tasted" somewhat of his teachings and finding them "delicious" to me (like the words of Joseph Smith), I endeavored to read all of his blog from the beginning. As I did so, the Holy Ghost bore witness to me, time and time again, that he taught the truth. For several days and nights that season, sleep fled from my eyes and eating became a chore! His words were a window into heaven and a light unto my soul. In a way, they were my words -- like a song faintly remembered of words sung in childhood. Denver's words were "familiar" to me, distillations of my own thoughts and experiences. He brought context and focus to what I previously only faintly perceived or somewhat suspected, but didn't dare admit. He "reminded" me of what I should be doing and courageously told the truth. He taught by the power of the Holy Ghost, which brought all things back to my remembrance.

Because of Denver's ministry, I began to draw closer to Christ, to repent more earnestly and conscientiously of my sins (especially the "small" ones, like getting angry or being impatient with others or being unkind and selfish). I began to offer more fervent prayers and became "re-acquainted" with that same Spirit that first guided and attracted me to Mormonism. I began to feel again the Spirit whispering to me "God is here" in the things which Denver was teaching. 

My temple attendance increased. I became enthused again with doing genealogy and temple work, mostly for the holy "focus", personal "purification" and family "centered-ness" that worship in the temple encourages. I became even more careful to read the scriptures diligently with my family each day. I was living a "Mormon" life better than at any time in my life. In fact, it was starting to come "easy" to me. And my focus was changing. I was focused on being -- and becoming -- not a good "Mormon", but a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I was happy again.

After several months of study and contemplation, I got "caught up" to the "present" in Denver's blog. I read his last post just as he faced excommunication from the LDS Church for what he taught. The timing was perfect. I "experienced" with him the pain and loss of that decision and expressed to him my sincere condolences and dismay.

Little did I know that I would soon be sharing with him more than just my commiseration!

Because I believed Denver's teachings were important -- even essential! -- I shared them with others whom I loved (stalwart members of my ward, other LDS friends, my bishop and stake president, etc.). By and large, what I shared was rejected...and, ultimately, so was I. My excommunication occurred seven months to the day after Denver was rejected and abandoned by the LDS hierarchy.

I believe Denver is telling the truth -- just like I believe Joseph Smith, Nephi, and Moroni were telling the truth -- for the simple reason that I have experienced many of the things that he has experienced as well (but to a lesser extent by me). Why would the LDS leaders not see that, also?

Why, also, would I doubt Denver's words? His testimony of Christ rings "true" to me -- right down to the color of Christ's clothing! -- because have seen Him! (And that other guy, His nemesis, the impostor.) 

Still, I would like to meet Him, in the flesh, in my flesh. Denver says it's possible. (Denver says he has!) But I won't, I suppose, unless and until I'm willing to do all things He asks. Even if it's painful. Even if it's inconvenient or unexpected. Even if it kills me...or the "life" I otherwise might "crave" -- like sleeping all night uninterrupted, without making a warm bottle of milk! Or changing a diaper!

Does my confidence in Denver's testimony mean that I don't doubt myself? Of course not! I doubt myself all the time!know I am flawed, feeble and failing! I have a life-long track record of being an abject failure! 

So why would I be any different now?

Because, as Denver has reiterated, Christ considers me (all of us) His "mission" to "rescue", "redeem" and "exalt"! I am (we are) His "work" and "glory"! Thus, who am I (who are we?) to stand in His way, refusing to do His will? 

Doing so, we only hurt ourselves.

I can't imagine wanting to do this whole "mortality" thing again! 

Coming here truly is "condescension" on a cosmic scale. (Pampers, puberty, poverty and pain!) But maybe it's a necessary condescension -- either to save ourselves or to help save another. I know I would come here again -- and again and again! -- for my children's (or my wife's) sake -- and endure it all, if I could help them progress. (Maybe I have.)

Many years ago I was shown in vision my receiving my "mission call" prior to this life, to come to earth. (It was an unexpected revelation, and I didn't understand it at first.) My "call" -- rather than elicit a shout for joy! -- was an event that inspired great sadness and disappointment for me, even anger. I was upset! Wasn't I "qualified" for more? 

Selfish me! 

I was not shown all the details in my vision. But maybe others needed me here, too. I have to wonder. All I have ever wanted -- my whole life! -- has been to be a dad and to bring these children into this world! That has been my calling. That has been my purpose. 

And refinement. And proving. And the chance to glorify God by professing His name, receiving His grace, and doing His will. That has been my "mission". It doesn't seem like much (to the world). But it has been everything to me. And to them. It is what I was "born" to do. How else could they live? Or be saved?

God knows best.

I know He is patient. According to Denver (and what I've understood by the Holy Spirit, revealed decades ago) He will let me failworlds without end. (He already has! He has showed me many worlds!) Why should I not "awake and arise" now and come back into His presence now and cast off now and forever this "having forgotten all"?

He is faithful to fulfill His word. If He says (by a true prophet) that He wants to save me now -- and is willing and able to make that happen now (I do not doubt that He is), why should I doubt Him? Why should I not let Him? Denver says He's ready and willing to save me! In fact, He's more anxious to see me brought back into His presence than I am anxious to get there! Denver says God is making the offer now! And I believe Him! (And him!)

The last time that offer was extended and rejected, 170 years ago (with Joseph and Hyrum's murder), the heavens were sealed and the opportunity was withdrawn unto the third and fourth generation. For my children's sake, I do not want to let this opportunity pass by unaccepted.

It would be wicked and faithless of me to do so, to let doubt rule my heart any longer. "What God hath cleansed [or is willing to cleanse], that call not thou common [or unclean]." (Acts 10:15.)

All this time, all these years -- even as I stumbled and fell! -- whenever the Lord revealed things to me, as I read His words in scripture, He was speaking to me! When I prayed and received thoughts not my own, He was speaking to me! When I saw Him in dreams, when I heard Him teach, when the Holy Ghost fell upon me and filled me with fire and marvelous knowledge, greater than I could communicate to others, He was speaking to me! I heard His voice! And, except on a few occasions, I didn't even know it was Him!

My father has heard Him, too. He has heard His voice, calling my dad by name. I know he has heard Him, for my dad has told me so. I know my father has spoken the truth because I have heard His voice too. He loves us. And we have a mission to perform.

If my dad had not heeded the Lord's voice when He spoke to him, I would not be alive today. And neither would my dad.

I once erred, because I was taught the precepts of men. But a true prophet is now teaching the things of God. And I hear God's voice again.

I don't know how I stayed in the LDS Church for as long as I did. I loved the Church. I was willing -- and able -- to keep all of the Lord's commandments, "worthy" to hold a temple recommend. My love for the truths Joseph Smith taught and for the many fine teachings I received from those who succeeded him as President of the Church, as well as those appointed to "watch over" me, persuaded me that "the Church is true" and that I should trust in the Church (and its leaders) to "save" me. (Consequently, I also trusted in polygamy and false doctrines taught by false prophets -- and all the attendant whoredoms, temptations and follies those evils inflicted on the saints and me!) While I knew and was blessed by many good and faithful "shepherds" in the Church, I also knew enough of men to know that no man was capable of "saving" me. I knew I needed to be saved by Jesus Christ alone...or I could not be saved at all.

Just as an aside, when I was 9 years old (in fourth grade), the Spirit of the Lord whispered the following words to me as I rode my bicycle at the top of my street:

God is love.    God is joy.
God loves every girl and boy.
If you believe that God is true,
God shall hear and answer you.
But if you sin upon His Son,
God will tell you not to run.
For He'll forgive and then
forget and God 
will love you 

Mind you, I did not come from a religious family. (We didn't even own a Bible!) I memorized those words and recited them to my mom and my fourth grade teacher. (They didn't think much of my poem! And I thereafter kept it to myself!) I admit, it's no Shakespeare! But it was the voice of God spoken unto a nine-year-old boy's mind who had little, if any, religious instruction. I see now that it was the voice of God speaking unto me.

The realization that only Jesus could save me led me to put my LDS Church membership on the line. To stay a member of the Church, all I had to do (it was suggested to me by those 'in charge") was denounce the truthfulness of Denver's teachings (or at least refrain from sharing them with others) and testify that the leaders of the Church alone, solely and uniquely, had all power (or "keys") given to them on earth (by God, they claimed!) to "save" me, without any further involvement personally by Jesus Christ!

That I could not and would not do. It ran contrary to everything I knew to be true; to everything I had experienced: from the first moment I called upon God in mighty prayer (as a nine year old, and discovered from Him that my mother would bear another boy, my baby brother!) until today.

It was imagined by them, I suppose, that -- if all went as "planned" -- I would appear before my Maker (for the first time, most likely) at Judgment Day, "pre-approved" by them to enter into His rest, to enjoy a celestial existence with them...But only if I did whatever they told me to do and only if I received all the "authorized" ordinances from them and was still in "good standing" with them before I died! To be clear, in their mind my eternal salvation rested in their hands! Make no bones about it...or else!

I was urged by these "leaders" to reconcile myself to the probability that, despite my best efforts and earnest desires -- and certainly contrary to what Denver has taught! -- I would not be meeting Jesus any time soon...because none of them (none of these men) had ever done so. Nor had anyone else they knew! They taught, therefore, that Jesus "hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men" (2 Nephi 28:5). Surprisingly, they were willing to excommunicate me (and anyone else!) who taught otherwise! (Few, if any, of the early Latter-day Saints would thus be allowed to be members of the LDS Church today, much less teach Sunday School there.)

What does that tell you about the current leadership of the LDS Church?

I believed they had the "authority" to administer legitimate ordinances. I never doubted or disputed that. But when they claimed that Jesus was not involved; that He could not, nor would He ever use anyone but them to do His work...I knew this could not be true. For I knew otherwise, by personal experience. He had ministered to me. And when I tried to testify of this in Fast and Testimony Meeting, they repeatedly shut me up! There were simply too many examples in scripture of Christ doing otherwise, too many testimonies delivered, both ancient and modern, to conclude that Christ would ever give His power to others alone to do His work. He is our Savior! LDS leaders could rightly claim they were guided by God's Holy Spirit. (For many LDS and non-LDS people are!) But inasmuch as they denied the personal ministry of Jesus Christ among them, even to me, I knew the truth was no longer with them.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit bore witness to me that Denver spoke the truth. What else could I do? Deny that witness? (The Church leaders "revealed" themselves by how they treated -- and continue to treat -- Denver and me.) 

Having now read his talk on Christ, I am even more thoroughly convinced that Denver is telling the truth.

I pledge to not let this opportunity pass me by without giving it my all.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Snuffer talks of Christ

I don't know if this talk will be of any use or interest to you. But it is to me. And I thought you would appreciate reading it. (I didn't make it through the first page before saying to myself "I want to know more!") I hope you feel the same way.

I have read all of the talks previous to this one. (This is number 7.) They appeal to an LDS audience and require an LDS perspective to fully appreciate. But this one, I'm confident -- I've only read the first page! -- is applicable to all. 

The next one, I imagine, will be even more so.

I share it with you in love.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Upon this rock I will build my church...

Do forgive the pun (in the title). It was irresistible. (I'm sure Rock would be appalled.)
"I will give you one of the keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man [or woman] who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent will apostatize as God lives." - Joseph Smith
An LDS leader or two has thrown that quote in my face (briefly) this past year. I've never understood it. It didn't make sense to me...until last night, when I read Rock Waterman's comment about it on his own blog

I'm going to "steal" that comment and re-post it here, because it's "buried" so deep in Rock's comment section (#246, or something like that) that I'm afraid some will miss it! It deserves to be read. (Not that I'm augmenting his readership any by linking to it here! He gets over 100 times the web traffic I do! And most of my traffic comes from him!) If he complains, I'll take it down. But here it is:
I confess to growing weary of seeing people offer that quote of the prophet warning the Brethren not to find fault with the church, as if he was telling the church they were on the road to apostasy if they found fault with the leaders. 
Joseph Smith did say that alright, but it would be pretty arrogant of him if he was referring to himself and the other leaders as being beyond criticism. 
Unlike many members today, Joseph Smith KNEW what the word CHURCH meant. He always used it the same way the Lord used that word in D&C 10:67. 
He NEVER used it in the corrupt terms we have come to use it today. 
To Joseph Smith, "church" meant the members, the general community. "church" IS NOT THE LEADERS. "The church" is ALL of us. 
That statement was part of a speech the prophet delivered that goes on for 8 pages in The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and if it is to be understood, it should be read in context. He was giving parting warnings to a very small group consisting of new members of the Twelve who were about to embark on missions, and a handful of Seventies, warning them to be humble and not think themselves above the common members simply because they now held positions of prominence. 
Normally I would sustain my firm rule and delete the post...that was left only by someone who chose to call himself "Anonymous," but because there have been several responses to that post already, and because this statement of the Prophet's is frequently trotted out and presented without any context to the rest of his speech whatsoever, I have left it here so that I could respond to it. Too bad that commenter didn't leave his real name because he or she deserves to be humiliated for misquoting the prophet of God. 
If you want to read that quote properly, you must disabuse yourself of the modern interpretation of "the church" as being the leaders of the church, and read it the way the prophet intended his words. 
Substitute either the word "members" or "community" where Joseph has used the word "church" and you'll have the proper meaning of what he is saying. 
"That man [among you, the Twelve Apostles] who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the MEMBERS, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly that man is in the high road to apostasy, and if he does not repent, WILL apostatize, as God lives."
Joseph Smith did indeed say those words, and he did give that warning to the church hierarchy. I believe his words. That warning to the Twelve is further evidence to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet, for he accurately described the hubris that would operate among our present crop of leaders. 
I am witnessing the truth of the prophet's words being fulfilled before my eyes.


I was originally excommunicated for preaching “false doctrine”. My wife says “That’s not true! They excommunicated you because they don’t like you! (She was just trying to make me feel good, I'm sure.) Maybe she's right. No leader of the Church has ever bothered to “spell out” the “false doctrine” I allegedly taught or show me “an increase of love” after I was “reproved”, so that tends to support her position.

No matter. I believed (and wrote on my blog) that the “fulness of the priesthood” spoken of in the scriptures was to have everything necessary to come back into the presence of God, even the Father, and live, and that this opportunity, as the scriptures declare, was “lost” or “taken away” from the Church (see Doctrine and Covenants 124:28). I have since been introduced to more information that supports that conclusion (somewhat).

Those acquainted with LDS temple ordinances are familiar with “washing and anointing”. A less familiar ordinance, however, is “the second anointing”. This ordinance is reserved only for those deemed to be the most faithful and, likewise, is administered in the temple. (Jesus instituted this ordinance on the eve of His death when He washed and dried His apostles’ feet, saying “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” – John 13:10.) The prophet himself or a member of the Quorum of Twelve administers this ordinance today.

According to a modern participant, the recipient is first anointed bodily, as in the original instance, with oil while being blessed, then the administrator washes and dries the participant’s feet. In a separate, private ceremony, the anointed one’s wife (this ordinance is only administered to couples) later repeats this washing and drying of her husband’s feet, then lays her hands upon his head and blesses him. (Yes, the power of priesthood is fully conferred upon husband and wife at this point. They are "priest and priestess" and become as one.) You will recall that Jesus’ feet were so washed and dried by a woman prior to His martyrdom. This ordinance is said to make one’s “calling and election sure”, sealing the couple up to eternal life.

This, I imagine, is an ordinance by which all who will be gods are bound together in love. It’s the reason why “the anointed” in the Church are so loyal to each other and never "speak evil" of one another – but, if needful, say “let the Lord judge between me and thee” – for they are “one” in time and eternity. If there be any heaven at all, it will be a heaven of Christ’s creating and it will be populated by such as these. For if we condemn each other, we only condemn ourselves.

Those so anointed and washed are pronounced “kings and priests of the Most High God, to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.” They become eligible for godhood and receive in this ordinance all of the rights and privileges pertaining thereto, including the sealing power, the right to bind and loose, to command the elements, to have the heavens opened, and so forth. Brigham Young taught that those receiving this ordinance “have received the fulness of the Priesthood, all that can be given on earth."

LDS scripture declares that, those so sealed cannot fall short of exaltation, unless they sin unto death, which is to commit the “unpardonable” sin and shed innocent blood (or commit murder) or deny the Holy Ghost, which is defined as utterly turning away from and denying the very existence of God, after having known Him, and His power, after having tasted of it (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19; 76:30-39).

As it happens, one Thomas Phillips, a former stake president in the LDS Church, received this ordinance, fell away from the faith, and then wrote about it. His faith was broken for reasons I outlined earlier: questions asked but not answered, “deficiencies” found (or imagined) in LDS scriptures, history, or leadership, etc. While Bro. Phillips no doubt did many marvelous works in his ministry (and had much success and received many blessings and evidences of his faith), he apparently never came unto Christ. Otherwise, how could he ever deny his testimony? (I do not believe, therefore, that Doctrine and Covenants 76:30-39 applies in this case.)

Bro. Phillips had an exchange with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (and this is where the true power of the devil is exposed). Elder Holland (surprisingly) responded to Bro. Phillips’ letter with empathy and compassion (while not at all addressing any of Bro. Phillips’ concerns…much like the brethren, in my case, who presided over my excommunication). Bro. Phillips took offense, got angry and voiced his frustration repeatedly in an acrimonious and insulting response to Elder Holland’s (non-)reply.

This is the “fruit” of concealing truth. We certainly don’t have all the answers. (I don’t, do you?) But I do have faith. And I believe in Christ. What good does it do to speculate – and add misinformation to the mountain of errors already erected by those who have misjudged and jumped to conclusions? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem reasonable (to me), however, to throw out everything just because one does not know something! The best we can do is strive to “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts: be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us] with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

In that spirit, I offer the following:

I do not know but I imagine that most “anomalies” in the Book of Mormon are misinterpretations (mostly on our part, some by the authors, and a few by the translator); that the Hill Cumorah (where the great battles were fought and the golden plates were not buried) is in Chiapas, Mexico, not upper state New York; that most “swords” used were really clubs sporting razor-sharp obsidian slivers; that “horses” were lamas, beasts of burden, or remnants of the ancient Equus ferus (now extinct), which succumbed to hunting, warfare, famine or disease long before the Spaniards arrived with their own “elk-dogs” to sit upon; that “chariots” were litters, a class of wheelless vehicle, a type of human-powered transport, used to carry people; that “barley” was something similar to what we know now (but too difficult to pronounce in English); that eight boats built like barges sailed across an ocean, with brilliant rocks ensconced in either end, and an air shaft, from top to bottom, constructed at each midsection, allowing hatches to be opened inward, for air to be exchanged, and for waste to be evacuated; that a globalized storm and localized flood befell a central American plain, lifting a very large boat filled with many animals and eight people upward and down river to an ocean never before seen, convincing every survivor that the entire earth was flooded, when only a millimeter or more of  moisture (in some places) fell upon the planet; that spiritual death did not enter this world (for the umpteenth time) until Adam and Eve partook of a fruit or a seed or a substance or an activity that changed their bodies forever, making them mortal and thus susceptible to physical death (as well as procreation); that only those who were accountable were killed (or saved) in the flood, as the record shows, while all others (including aquatic, avian and terrestrial animals, including human "innocents") were spared and “ignored” both in the record and as far as God’s judgment was concerned. I can believe that life – even human life -- has been introduced to and extinguished from this planet many times over its long history; that each time the Gods have reintroduced “man”, They have ministered to him; that this earth is Deity’s “playground” and “nursery” and that we, as its occupants now, are here that we might have joy; that the mixture of man’s seed upon this earth is but a combination of all those divine “races” who have come before; that the Bible is but the latest anthology of a fallen race of humans. There have been others. (And there will be more.)

My faith is not challenged or shaken by the Kinderhook plates. I know that Joseph translated one of them – relying upon a single character resembling a mark he saw in the Egyptian Grammar and Alphabet created (by “reverse engineering”) from his translation of ancient Egyptian papyri (which he presumed would work here, too), demonstrating both Joseph’s sincerity and his naïveté, that he believed he was translating an ancient record using “keys” given to him. He did not claim to translate them by divine means.

I can believe that what we have today of the Egyptian record is not all there was, as described in Joseph’s day; that Abraham did not write these documents, as claimed, but that he wrote a document, of which these records were, perhaps, but illustrative; that Abraham took these (or others like them) with him “home” to show his family of his sojourn and experiences in Egypt, of lecturing Pharaoh while sitting upon his throne, etc., receiving these parchments as gifts. I can believe that these writings of Egypt meant to Abraham something very different than what they mean to us, or even to the Egyptians; that they were nonetheless useful to him – and Joseph translated that.

I can believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees and didn’t know what he was seeing; that the “vision” unfolded to his mind over many years; that when Moroni appeared to him, Joseph was “caught away” into a different dimension, even as Nephi was as he sat and pondered the words of his father (but I do not know). I can believe that the same spirit that fell upon Lehi and Nephi fell upon Joseph Smith, Sr., and Joseph Smith, Jr., by which they all dreamed the same dream and saw the same vision of the Tree of Life. (I have actually known a young boy who had this vision, too…and described his experience with vivid details not included in our current record.)

I can believe that modern polygamy was ordained of God…or not; that God does not preoccupy Himself excessively with such things; that those who choose to be polygamous deserve it; that God prefers monogamy but that, sometimes, situations and circumstances require otherwise; that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and others until today have been alternately inspired and deceived, right and wrong, righteous and wicked, authorized and profane; and I praise God that I have been able to learn from their mistakes, discern light from darkness and choose the better part (for me and my family).

I believe that almost all true prophets in every age have been subjected to rejection for delivering their message, for their imperfections, their impertinence, their arrogance and brashness, their meekness and mildness, their mistakes, and their failure to comply with the edicts of men…because they serve God and Him alone. Prophets do not always speak that which is pleasing to men, but they do speak that which is pleasing to God. And -- except when they are lying or slacking or are deceived themselves – they speak the truth. (A prophet, after all, is but a man unless he is acting as a prophet.) By their fruits ye shall know them…not by their calling, their status, standing, or station, not by their hereditary right, etc. This privilege is given without father or mother, beginning of days or end of years. It does not come by man, or by the will of men, but by God. The truthfulness of a prophet’s words is discerned by the witness of the Holy Ghost and by the fulfillment of his (or her) prophecies in the flesh. Many a prophet went to his grave “esteemed as naught” because his words were not yet fulfilled. Others “fell”. Still more were rejected. Even Christ was imagined to have occupied each of these categories before He was killed.

I can believe that the current leaders of the LDS Church all have nominal authority, if not power, to administer the rites and perform the duties of the modern church, as outlined in scripture. I can respect, support and sustain them, despite their failures and limitations (which I prefer not to focus on). I have met several of them and know of many of them. I have respected all of them and have been inspired by most of them (even the “least” of them) and pray for their welfare and success. That being said, they can still all go to hell, as far as I’m concerned, if they fail to come unto Christ or if they foolishly presume to prevent others from doing so. Even apostles, both ancient and modern, have fallen away and have gone astray. Do not trust in the arm of flesh!

That being said, I can have faith in the ordinances of the LDS Church. Their power is what we make of them. The righteous live by every word of God, by faith, in a world of signs and symbols. Men and women work, repent and believe because they have faith. What they do is a reflection of that faith. Ordinances are but expressions of faith. I believe that “saving ordinances”, legally instituted and lawfully and faithfully administered, have power to transform lives. When Bro. Phillip’s wife knelt and washed his feet in love, tears streaming down their faces, I’m sure that that ordinance had power to grant eternal life, by the power of Christ, if they persevered in faith. Like any marriage vow, a covenant with God is only valid if it is kept.

And if it is kept, it is truly unbreakable.