Monday, January 30, 2017

Muslim Immigration: Stacking the deck to fulfill prophecy

Who is the Remnant?

The remnant of Jacob consists of those alive today who are of the lineage of the house of Israel. These are broken into two categories: those who know they are of the house of Israel and those who do not. Historically, we have only a very small portion of information regarding which groups of Israelites went where. At the same time, at least some groups purporting to be Jews in modern times are actually descendants of converts to the Jewish faith, and are not of the house of Israel. That being said, the group of those who are of the house of Israel but are not aware is far larger than the group who are aware of their ancestry.

In the latter group we have many (if not all) Latin Americans, many (if not all) American Indians, at least 5% of "European" Americans, a great deal of Persians, and a great deal of Arabs.

At least some portion of Indians in the Americas (North, Central, and South) are descendants of Lehi, of the tribe of Manasseh, who came out from Israel around 600 BC. At least some are descendants of Mulek, prince of Judah, who came to the Americas around that same time.

"And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob;" (Mormon 7:10)

"...this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob." (3 Nephi 21:2.)

Because the Mulekites and Lehites mixed, many are from both Judah and Manasseh (this will be important). It is surprising to some to learn that a non-trivial percentage of those who think they are European also have the blood of Indians in them. This raises the possibility that there are, in the US and Canada, at least some people who are descendants of Ephraim (through their European heritage), Manasseh (through their Lehite heritage) and Judah (through their Mulekite heritage).

At least some portion of Persians and Arabs (inhabitants of modern day Middle East) are descendants of the Israelites (mostly the 10 tribes) who were taken from Israel by the Assyrians around 740 BC.
At least some portion of Persians and Arabs are descendants of the Israelites (mostly Judah and Benjamin), who were taken there by the Babylonians around 600 BC.
"And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth." (3 Nephi 5:24.)

The remnant are among the agents of the destruction of the Gentiles:

"Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you—lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver." (Mormon 5:24)

" 9 For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.
 10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
 11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.
 12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
 13 Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.
 14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
 15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
 16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
 17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
 18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.
 19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.
 20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
 21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
 22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
 23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
 24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
 25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
 26 And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
 27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name." (3 Nephi 21.)

"1 Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
 2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
 3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
 4 ¶And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
 5 And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
 6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
 7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.
 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
 9 Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
 10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:
 11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:
 12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
 13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
 14 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.
 15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard." (Micah 5.)

 14 And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance.
 15 And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—
 16 Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
 17 Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
 18 And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.
 19 For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it.
 20 And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
 21 And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel.
 22 And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you. (3 Nephi 20)

The state of the Indians
Native Americans are more alienated and united than they have been in over 100 years. They are almost totally disenfranchised. Generation after generation of government dependency would leave them in a very dangerous position should the government suddenly withdraw the massive amounts of welfare they give them, over and above the normal welfare programs.

The state of the Latinos
Though estimates vary, approximately 20 million people in the US are either illegal immigrants from Latin American countries, or are US-born children of illegal immigrants from Latin American countries. That is about 6% of the US population. While 27% of the US population is on welfare, 56.2% of Latin immigrants are.

Mexico's economy is in bad shape, but what little strength it has is due to trade (legal and less than legal) with the US. The Mexican GDP is $1,143 billion. The trade deficit with Mexico is nearly $60 billion. $50 billion dollars are sent from the US to home countries by illegals each year. At least half of that goes to Mexico. Mexican drug cartels make an addition $64 billion per year from the United States. If President Trump does what he has said he will do, more than 10% of Mexico's economy is at direct risk. If that doesn't sound dangerous, recall that Mexico recently had country-wide rioting because of a $0.90 increase in gas costs. Beyond quantitative damage, Mexicans are becoming incredibly angry at the proffered policies.

The Mexican drug gangs have brutally murdered over 40,000 people in Mexico in the last decade. Should they gain access to the United States, they would run roughshod over the populace. Meanwhile, what happens to the 20 million or more illegal Latinos if they become radicalized through, for example, threat of deportation?

The state of the Muslims

Millions of Muslim immigrants from Syria and other Mideast countries have flooded Europe. On 2 December 2016, the Daily Mail published a survey that said 50% of the UK's Muslims would not report it if they knew someone who was participating in terrorism. Pew research reported that American Muslims believed suicide bombing of civilians is acceptable. 1% said it was often acceptable, 7% said sometimes, and 5% said rarely (the last option, having the remainder, was never). In Muslim countries, the responses went up to 12, 23, and 25%. In other words, only 40% of non-US Muslims believe suicide bombing against civilians is unacceptable. And that is against civilian targets (the numbers would be higher without that key word). Government, military, or police targets are not civilians. In Sweden, 77% of the rape cases are perpetrated by male Muslim immigrants, who are just 2% of the population. Consider that Sweden is third in the world for frequency of rape per capita, with 63 per 100k in 2010 (it is worse now). Another Pew survey indicated that the majority of Muslim immigrants are not interested in assimilating to US culture, and are likely supporters of the implementation of Sharia law, which mandates the murder of homosexuals and the abuse of women. 

One of the best people I know is a lifelong Muslim, a Malaysian army officer who I met while I was in the Army and deployed to Malaysia. What is odd, though, is that this man was devout yet unorthodox. He rejected the violent aspects of Islam. He was even willing to discuss religion with me, a Christian, something that carried the death penalty in his country.

Doctrinally, the core tenets of Islam dictate that the world is to be converted by precept or conquering. Violence is intrinsic to the religion.

The fact is that one cannot both be a peaceful Muslim and a faithful Muslim. In other words, Muslims are only peaceful to the degree that they are not Muslims. The only peaceful Muslims are those who reject key tenets of Islam, such as the idea that homosexuals are to be murdered, adulterers stoned, and non-Muslims must either convert, pay a tax, or be killed.

If there were a group of Muslims who denounced violence and split off from the rest, it would be quite easy to argue for their admittance. Instead, we have data that shows that more than 50% support conversion by conquering. That is unacceptable.

Many Americans are opposed to allowing Muslim immigrants into the US, especially unvetted "refugees." Nevertheless, President Obama brought more than 15,000 Syrian refugees into the US in 2016. Many Americans are pushing against President Trump's recent ban of immigration from most Middle East countries (surprisingly, Saudi Arabia is still allowed).

Windows of Truth

Adam lived for over 900 years, meaning he was alive during all generations previous to Noah. Do you find it strange that nowhere in scripture (not even in the apocrypha that I am aware of) do we see any account of Adam preaching to his posterity? Isn't it strange that Enoch went on a mission to preach the gospel, despite the fact that Adam was still around and only middle-aged at the time?

Shem son of Noah lived for 600 years. He was alive both when Abraham was born and when Abraham died. He died well into Isaac's life. Isn't it strange that we have no record of his preaching to the people? Isn't it strange that the only record we have of him at all is his blessing Abraham (if you accept that Shem is Melchizedek), and that only after Abraham had completed so many of his experiences in life?

What were these people doing with their time? If they were preaching, why do we have no record of it? If they weren't, what were they up to?

I offered this question in prayer a few days ago, and this morning as I was meditating the scriptures the Lord revealed to me the answer to these questions, adding another layer onto some teachings on truth that he had given me over the last few years. The following will be condensed, but I hope to expand upon it in a future book.

When someone progresses in truth, the encounter higher blessings, but also separate themselves (to a degree) from those who possess lower grades or smaller quantities of truth. In order to progress to the level of law and glory (which are the same) that he possesses, the Father had to separate himself from the those of telestial and terrestrial glory. Though he has constant and total connection to them through the spirit, he cannot occupy the same space with them. Men also experience this, on a lesser scale, here on earth. 

As a man acquires more truth, his capacity to preach it to those of lower glory/law without revealing a degree of truth above what they can bear is diminished. For every degree of glory, there is a degree of glory at which interaction is no longer possible without unavoidable damage. Were the Father to appear to a terrestrial man, the latter would immediately be destroyed. Though I am not aware of a living man who has acquired enough glory to physically damage others, I am aware of several who have enough spiritual knowledge that interaction with them will cause those of lower levels of glory to permanently turn away from the truth. Perhaps this sounds far-fetched. Recall the example of Joseph Smith. He acquired sufficiently more truth than his fellows--his closest associates--that they turned from his best friends into his mortal enemies. They actually killed him. They murdered him because the truth he possessed was so much greater than they could bear. 

Adam separated himself from the people as he progressed up the spiritual ladder. Enoch (post-mission) did the same. Shem did the same. In each case, they resided in cities populated only by those who could interact with the level of truth they possessed without damage. At some point, the amount of truth you can obtain is limited by the spiritual state of those with whom you associate.

But, you ask, why can't those who have more truth simply keep their mouths shut? Because a fundamental principle of acquiring truth is to always stand for it, at all times and in all places. It is so fundamental that it is the covenant we make at baptism (though few keep it).

Much more could be said about this topic, and much more will be. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What Exactly Did Joseph Smith Restore? (Part 2)

(Part 1)

What do you get when you plant a seed? You get a copy of the same plant that produced the seed--unless you don't. Confused? Suppose you plant a butternut squash plant right next to an acorn squash. Everything will turn out fine until you go to plant your butternut squash seeds next year. You will get fruit that looks like acorn squash in shape, like butternut in color, and tastes like garbage! When seeds are mingled with external genes, they don't produce the same fruits.

The gospel is like a seed. Jesus taught:
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:5-6).

He also said:
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17).
If you live what is purported to be the gospel, and do not receive the same fruits in your life as the ancients did, as recorded in the scriptures, either your version of the gospel is corrupted beyond efficacy, or the gospel is not true. The gospel is true. Therefore, if you live what you believe to be the gospel, and do not receive the same fruits as the ancients, your gospel is not the real gospel.

Once, while preaching the gospel, Joseph Smith said:
If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you, and by this you may prove me to be a true servant of God. (Quoted in Hyrum Andrus, “Joseph Smith's Idea of the Gospel”).
If you live what is purported to be the restored gospel, and do not receive the same fruits in your life as the early saints did, either your version of the restored gospel is corrupted beyond efficacy, or the restored gospel is not true. The restored gospel is true. Therefore, if you live what you believe to be the restored gospel, and do not receive the same fruits as the ancients, your restored gospel is not the real restored gospel.

What do you get when you plant a 100 year old seed? Many seeds lose their efficacy in just a few years. Most of the time, you will get nothing. Sometimes, you will get very lucky, and a seed will germinate.

The short shelf life of religious truth is well known. There are countless examples of apostasy in the scriptures. Once God reveals truth from the heavens, it doesn't take long for other men to corrupt it. Why can't people get the fullness of the gospel from reading all of Paul's letters as we have them in the Bible? Paul's letters were written in a different language, in different culture, in a different age than we have today. We do not have all his letters in the Bible. We do not have perfect preservation of the original text of the letters we do have. Paul is not here to answer our questions about what he meant. He is not here to counter our false traditions that inhibit true interpretation of his words. There is a disconnect between Paul and us. Although he connected to heaven, that is not sufficient to connect us to heaven. There is too much time and distortion between us.

Which of the preceding arguments do not apply to the restoration through Joseph Smith? They all do.

What do you get when you plant a 100 year old seed that has been stored in a moldy basement all that time? You will not get a seed that sprouts. You will get a stinky mess. Nearly everything we have on Joseph Smith has come to us through corrupt channels. The fact that early leaders in all splinter groups intentionally made changes to suit their biases is well documented. Their histories are as much fables as not. Their traditions are invented. Their texts are changed, added to, and subtracted from. There are a few exceptions found in those documents published publicly and contemporarily. These include the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Moses. Everything else requires a situational understanding that simply is impossible given what has happened to the history.

The link between us and the gospel restored through Joseph Smith is broken. It has been broken by manipulated history, lost history, and false tradition. The only way to get it back is through revelation. In other words, the only way to recover what Joseph Smith was actually teaching is through a new connection to heaven. If that is required, what is the value of pushing a focus on the so-called restoration of Joseph Smith? Today, there is no such thing. What we call the restoration is either exactly what the LDS church preaches, which is corrupted beyond efficacy, or our attempt at picking at the additions, correcting the modifications, and filling in the gaps lost to neglect. 

If you want to live the teachings of the restoration, you have to go get them from God yourself. You can't get them from books about Joseph Smith. The best you can do is get them by reading the Book of Mormon which--in spite of the laborious efforts by some to show otherwise--is functionally equivalent in content as when first translated. This is a wonderful tool for those who have never been exposed to the LDS church or it's competitors. It's not so great for those who have been, because it takes incredible intellectual humility and honesty to pierce through the thick false traditions that prevent these types from reading the text literally.

If you want to live the teachings of the restoration, you have to go get them from God yourself. The problem with that is that the same false traditions (Christian or otherwise) that keep you from reading the scriptures literally also prevent you from living the kind of life (in prayer and practice) that connects you to God.

Luckily, the Lord is calling people all around the world to dispense these very truths. Not to create new churches (by whatever name they may be known), but to pierce through false tradition. They will deliver the tools required for an individual to break through the veil, make themselves redundant by raising people to see eye to eye, and then retreat back into the obscurity they came from.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What Exactly Did Joseph Smith Restore? (Part 1)

To what end was the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith? What exactly did he restore? The answers vary wildly. Some claim he restored authority: that heavenly beings were sent to him to pass to him authority that could then be passed to others. Yet the Book of Mormon warns against this idea:

And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; (2 Nephi 28:5).

Others claim that through Joseph Smith God restored a set of instructions capable of bringing a man into the presence of God (the so-called fullness of the gospel). In order for this claim to be true, Joseph must have both lived in an environment devoid of the experiences with heaven documented as co-occurring with true religion in the scriptures and delivered an increment over existing teachings that resulted in the renewal of these experiences. History shows that both occurred. However, some accepting this point take it further than substantiated by history. While Joseph was the instrument for delivering effectual teachings, such as the Book of Mormon, there were notable portions of his teachings that, rather than lead followers to experiences with heaven, had negative results. His focus on priesthood authority, for example, seems to be the genesis of the incorrect develop of and obsession with claims to authority by his LDS successors who, despite claims to possessing Joseph’s authority, failed to reproduce any of his fruits. A true messenger must always seek to become redundant. Joseph at best vacillated between this concept and emphasizing what he saw as an inalienable right to be the sole source of knowledge from heaven among his followers.

The claim that Joseph restored a set of instructions capable of bringing a man into the presence of God is not inseparably connected to the idea that Joseph’s contributions were uniquely capable of doing so. In other words, one can agree that Joseph’s contributions were effectual without concluding that all men must accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God in order to gain access to heaven.

It is ridiculous to think that the salvation of billions of people would be subject to the communications limitations of an obscure backwoods church. Although the LDS church is hardly obscure or backwoods today, and although their financial resources are more than adequate to preach the gospel to the whole world, the degree of obvious corruption to the original message makes the likelihood of connection to heaven through its message essentially zero. Imagine a typical scenario: an individual who has accumulated a lifetime of examples of false religion is accosted with a canned invitation by a 19-year-old boy who hasn’t even read the Bible. Suppose he listens, which is unlikely. He has to sit through a few hours of this boy telling him that God calls prophets today, and that there are modern prophets, only they don’t prophesy. Suppose he buys this, which is unlikely. Now he has to accept a set of arbitrary dietary rules borne of the prohibition movement as important enough to God that it will bar someone from baptism. In the unlikely event that he believes this, he will begin a full-time job worth of church busy work. In the unlikely event that he actually has time to read the scriptures, his interpretation of them will be controlled by the modern, false narrative he is constantly subjected to from church. In the unlikely event he decides to investigate what Joseph Smith actually taught, he will be confronted with many examples of institutional lies and will most likely conclude that God does not exist. If he makes it through all of that, he will still need to have the discernment to filter out the doctored history from the real history, and at that point might actually be able to discover and live the set of instructions provided by Joseph to bring a man into the presence of God.

On the other hand, if we are to take God at his word, God speaks to men everywhere. What would happen if someone chose not to accept one of the gospel authors as a true prophet? Nothing.

God programs redundancy into this world. He speaks to men, everywhere, and reveals all the same things he revealed to Joseph. The chief contribution of Joseph Smith was supposed authority. It wasn’t even his teachings, which have been largely corroded by manipulation and neglect. His principle contribution was to demonstrate that God can and does speak to men, and that men can indeed enter the presence of God.

If the restoration really happened, we ought to find other examples of similar theophanies followed by a flood of new revelation from heaven. We ought to see parallels between the things Joseph taught and the things these others teach, even if they have never heard of Joseph Smith. In Joseph’s day, this would have been impossible due to geographic limitations of information transfer. In the internet age, we have the opportunity to test the hypothesis.

It turns out that these people do in fact exist. Do you think that Joseph is the only one who has taught that heaven is a physical place in the universe? That there are many degrees of glory, that man is his own judge, and will inherit the highest degree of glory he can stand? That God dwells in everlasting burnings? That man can indeed come to the same level of glory as God? That the beasts in the book of Revelation are real creatures that lived on some other planet? No, he isn’t.

It turns out that God has blessed others with sufficient revelation to crack through the false traditions of Christendom that keep men from establishing an informational connection to God; from being taken up to the heavens.

I thank God for Joseph Smith because of the impact his experiences have had on my life in helping me connect to God. I also thank God that Joseph Smith was not as crucial as most Mormons believe—because if he was, there would be virtually no hope for the inhabitants of this world. Joseph Smith was not the true vine. Jesus Christ is the true vine. Anyone can connect to God—whether or not they have been exposed to Joseph Smith and whether or not they accept him as a prophet. Many of his teachings were wonderful extensions of the light and truth available on the earth at the time. However, any of us can learn any of them for ourselves if we repent, live the gospel, and are brought into the heavens ourselves. And if we don’t, than what good are his teachings, anyway?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Parable of the Palace, the King, and the Subjects

There was once a large kingdom roughly organized into several villages and surrounding farmland. In every district, there were certain subjects like helped pass the time during their long, arduous work in the fields by imagining the kinds of treasures the king had in his palace. One group of peasants endlessly talked about a golden ring possessed by the king. Another group fantasized about a beautiful woven tapestry that hung on the wall. Another group gossiped about a lovely chest of drawers that someone claimed to have seen long ago. Some peasants coveted these goods so strongly that they actually made crude replicas to possess for themselves. Some peasants marveled at these revolting caricatures, having never seen the real thing and thus lacking the discernment to tell the difference.

One day, the king announced that he had toured the kingdom and, moved upon by the poverty of the subjects, he was willing to grant each subject anything they desired from his palace. The peasants whipped into a ravenous frenzy. The requests quickly came pouring in, and just as quickly, the disappointment of the peasants mounted. Since none of them had ever set foot in the palace, they had no idea what the king actually possessed. They based their request only on the fables they had heard. Many were disappointed to hear that the item they had coveted their whole lives didn't actually exist. Others, whose fables had enough basis in reality to be mapable to a real object, were disappointed to find that the tapestry they had heard about was not so magnificent as they had been told, the chest of draws was quite smaller than they had imagined it, and the golden ring was actually made of copper.

But not everyone in the kingdom was disappointed. There was an old, destitute woman who made the best request. Her request to the king was very simple, but profound: She asked for the king himself, to become her adopted son. You see, the women realized that, being a peasant, she not only had no idea what the king possessed, but she also knew that, even if she had a full inventory, she did not possess the wisdom to know the true value of the king's possessions. By obtaining the king, she would both obtain access to all his material possessions, but also access to his wisdom.

We are told to ask our Father for blessings. But which of us has any real knowledge of what he has to give?

We do not know God (John 4:22). We do not know ourselves (Luke 9:55). We do not know what to pray for (Romans 8:26). We do not see the folly of what we do ask for (Matthew 20:22). Why do we pretend that we do know?

If we really understood the vast difference between God's knowledge and our ignorance, we would act very differently.

What better blessing can we ask for than to know him? What better approach is there than to humbly bow before him, admit our absolute ignorance, and beg him to impart of his goodness and wisdom to us according to his matchless knowledge and mercy?

"Oh God, your knowledge surpasses my greatest understanding. I know nothing. I will freely give away anything I think I know to know you more. Teach me, Lord. I have been true and faithful to everything you have asked of me. Send me further light and truth that I may worship you more fully and somehow bless others by imparting some share of your glory. I will not reject anything you ask of me or teach me. Father, show me what to ask for. I humbly await your instruction."

Sunday, January 8, 2017

To Whoever is Spreading Rumors

In the last 6 months I've gotten a few comments that have surprised me:

  • "Did you take a plural wife?" (at least 3 times from different people)
  • "I heard you proposed plural marriage to <name withheld 1>. Is that true?"
  • "I heard you took <name withheld 2> as a plural wife. Is that true?"

Because this is apparently established itself as a pattern, I'm going to write up my thoughts on the matter here so I can respond with a link instead of having to rewrite my thoughts every time.

First, what I find even more surprising than the content of these questions is that anyone would have the audacity to ask in the first place. Don't you know that gossip is a sin?

  • Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. (Psalm 101:5)
  • Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)
  • malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. (Titus 3:2)
  • At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. (1 Timothy 5:13)

The troubling thing about it is that I have yet to hear from the originator(s) of the rumor(s), only people further down the chain. At some point, one or more people spun up false statements and sent them out. To them I say:

  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
  • You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:16)
  • Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another, Or he who hears it will reproach you, And the evil report about you will not pass away. (Proverbs 25:9-10)
  • You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. (Exodus 23:1)

Now, none of what I have said so far has anything to do with the subject matter. Let's get on to that.

I have written extensively about plural marriage. My position on the issue is no secret. My reasons for holding that position are also no secret, and no one has yet to give me any good reason to change my position. That being said, I don't really care if people think I have more than one wife, am looking for more than one wife, have proposed to women after my first wife, etc.

But almost all of you think very differently about plural marriage. You think it is an abomination, a violation of God's commandments, a filthy affair, etc. Did you ever stop to think of the people you are hurting by coming up with or spreading accusations such as this? Not me, but the name withhelds above? These are good people, people that I know would be very upset to know their names are being associated with plural marriage.

While you may not care about vilifying me, you ought to think twice before hurting people that are not only innocent but would be horrified to be associated with plural marriage. It's one thing to insult someone who claims to be keeping God's commandments to them. It is another to drag someone into it who has nothing to do with it.

I know of at least two women who caught wind of their names being included in these false rumors. You really ought to reconsider your sinful behavior in starting and/or spreading these rumors.

Now, onto the third point I need to make. As I said, my position on this issue is no secret. Knowledge of whether or not I have multiple wives does not add to the discussion. Oddly enough, your perverse obsession with it is exactly what you (the anti-polygamists) are accusing people like me (who understand God's word to indicate it is something he has, can, and may command individuals to practice) of being guilty of, when the opposite seems to be the case.

For the record, as of today (8 January 2017), I have not ever proposed plural marriage to anyone. I have not asked anyone out on on any dates other than my one and only wife since we were originally engaged. I will not update this record, or answer any further questions about the issue. Don't ask.

It is kind of funny to me that people would assume that plural marriage is something I would rush headlong into. It took me over 100 first dates in four states before meeting and proposing to my wife. That huge labor was conducted as a single person with very little other responsibilities. I am married, have a very demanding job, an equally demanding farm, a lengthy list of books God has asked me to write, and a quiver of young children to take care of. I do not have free time. I live in a rural area in an isolated region. My social networks are saturated with people who think plural marriage is an abomination. How on earth a person in my situation would manage to even meet someone who wasn't instantly repulsed from the concept, let alone in find myself in a situation where enough time would be available to get to know and vet this person, let alone find someone who meets the requirements (given that the bar would be at least as high as it was in my initial search, if not higher) is a mystery to me. Nothing is impossible to God, but I would set the odds about equal with God raising up a son of Abraham from one of the rocks in my backyard. I'm not holding my breath.

Finally, I anticipate fully that one principle reason these rumors are being spread is to discredit the things I teach, which tend to chafe against the traditions we love so much.

How many wives I have or don't have doesn't give anyone license to dismiss out of hand what I write. Quoting from this post,

Teachings can be true or false. Teachers are neither.
There are several ways we can misunderstand the way this works. God makes use of vessels to do his work. Sometimes these are righteous vessels (like Isaiah), and sometimes these are wicked vessels (like Nebuchadnezzar). Most times, however, they are a little righteous and a little wicked (like Gideon, who did some things right and some things wrong). The righteousness of a man does not indicate that anything he says is true. The Bible is full of examples of true messages from God being delivered by men who were not worthy of emulation. On the other hand, the wickedness of a man does not indicate that a particular belief he has is not from God. The high priest who killed Jesus delivered a true prophecy (see John 11:49-51)!
We ought to assume that God will use anyone and anything around us to teach us all the truth we are willing to receive. We ought to prove all things, instead of just assuming something is false because it doesn't agree with what we currently understand. In fact, if we expect that there are things we do not yet know, and glory to which we have not yet attained, we ought to assume that the space between where we are and where we want to be will be spanned by new truth that will necessarily clash with what we currently understand, for if it did not, would we not already embrace it? We ought to avoid dismissing people out of hand because they believe differently than we do. Did Moses dismiss Jethro out of hand when he possessed truth that Moses had not yet heard? No. Rather, he proved all things, and found that much of what Jethro taught was useful to advance his own understanding.
Jesus himself was dismissed as wicked by the majority of people that witnessed his mortal ministry. Isaiah said that Jesus "hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2) There was nothing overtly obvious about Jesus' true role that would have caused people to listen to what he said. Instead, those who followed him did so on the merit of his message.
When we dismiss truth presented to us by our fellows, we are cutting ourselves off from the blessings God intends to give us. I have personally witnessed many occasions where someone I know has prayed for certain blessings or deliverance from God only to reject the person he sent to provide the requested blessings.
We should not look for true messengers, or disqualify messengers as false. We should not listen more to people (ministers, spiritual giants, popes, priests) we assume are righteous. We should not listen less to people we assume are wicked. Instead, we ought to try all things and hold fast to what is true.
By testing all things, you are relying on the Holy Ghost for truth, and not man, despite recognizing that God might be sending you new truth via association with other individuals who know something that you don't.
If people worked half as hard to read what I write as they do to discredit what I write, well, I'd have to write a whole lot less!

I hope that satisfies your lusty desire to pry into my life. Hopefully now that we got that taken care of, we can all get back to repenting of our sins.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The parable of the wheat berries

The parable of the wheat berries

There was once an enterprising homesteader who decided to start sprouting wheat for human and animal food. Wheat berries (wheat seeds), when sprouted, make an incredibly nutritious food when sprouted. The homesteader set up some bins in his basement. He soaked the wheat berries in water overnight, spread them in the bin, and kept them moist for the next two days, waiting for them to sprout. Unfortunately, they never did. Instead, they went moldy. He restarted his setup, this time adding fertilizer to the water. He was again met with failure. Frustrated, he gave up trying to sprout wheat.

What he did not realize was that cold temperatures in his basement prevented the sprouting. Wheat berries do not need fertilizer. They only need water. Everything they need to germinate is within them. Fertilizer can be helpful after germination. Before germination, it is only a waste of money, and can be a distraction if the farmer erroneously thinks that seeds that have not germinated are lacking fertilizer, instead of focusing on the only things seeds need: water and heat.

The gospel of wheat berries

 20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
 22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
 23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. (Luke 17:20-24.)

As Jesus said, the kingdom of God is within you. Why do we preach the gospel then? The primary purpose of preaching the gospel is to remove false traditions (including unbelief)--the damage that has been done by others. Armed with the scriptures, every able-bodied man or woman has everything they need to be redeemed from the fall. They will better learn to pray, repent, and live through the scriptures and asking God directly than they ever could from another person. There are no gimmicks, and there are no tricks.

Those who focus on gimmicks and tricks are wasting their resources. This life is precious. We have a limited time to progress through repentance. Side projects steal those resources away and stall out our progress. Gimmicks and tricks don't advance you with God. Until someone is redeemed from the fall, why should they worry about anything but repentance? What could be more important?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The parable of the flowers and kale

A gardener built a raised bed. In deciding what to plant, he had settled between two choices: ornamental flowers or kale. The ornamental flowers were what he liked. When in bloom, they would attract bees and butterflies. They would be beautiful to look upon. They would impart a lovely aroma to the air on warm, sunny days. But there was a downside. They would only be in bloom for a few weeks. Even during that time, the blossoms would close on cold or cloudy days. After blooming, they would quickly deteriorate, and provide no benefit for the rest of the year while still occupying a great deal of space in the garden.

The gardener wanted to plant kale. Kale would provide high nutrition leaves throughout the growing season. It would be just as productive in clouds and rain as it would on sunny days. It would allow daily harvest of its leaves without reducing future productivity. It would be productive the whole spring and summer. Not only that, if trimmed down and mulched the prior season, it would immediately spring up as soon as the winter snow melted, far before most other vegetables. It would also yield far into the winter if simple steps were taken to prevent it from getting crushed by snow.

The gardener liked the idea of ornamental flowers, but realized that kale was beautiful in its own right, and all things considered, only a short-sighted fool would choose the flowers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Parable of the Boiling Pot

A father set a large, lidded pot of water on the stove to boil and asked his kids to watch it. The kids almost immediately walked away from the pot and began playing in the living room. The water began to boil, but no one noticed. The kids continued to play. The lid began to rattle, but no one noticed. The kids continued to play. Eventually, the water spilled over, creating loud hissing sounds. The father returned and punished the children for not paying attention.

The disasters that will precede the second coming have already begun. Those who are watching the pot can see the water boiling. It has been a slow, steady process, causing changes that are imperceptible to most. Demographic groups have segmented. Violence has become a prominent reaction to societal displeasure. Several powerful groups have created a system to broadcast lies to manipulate the ignorant masses. A substantial portion of the United States relies upon government money to subsist. Riots are more prevalent than they have ever been. Child trafficking is occurring in shocking frequency among the elite. There is no future for those under 30. Our economy is in the worst shape it's ever been, and there will be no recovery. Jobs are being lost to automation. Food costs are skyrocketing. The quality of our goods has fallen dramatically. Most are not paying attention. They may begin to notice the waves of destruction when they reach the point of sudden, massive, obvious events, such as large earthquakes in populated cities, tsunamis in unusual places, large terrorist attacks, wide scale rioting, massive plagues, financial collapse, famines, wars, etc. Some will die when these events strike, and for them it will be too late to repent. With each successive event, others will finally wake up. Most will not.

Many question the idea of taking scriptural warnings of destruction seriously. They mock those who do. They say, "many thought the disasters of their day signaled the second coming." Their observation is true. Even Jesus' disciples thought that the second coming would happen in their lifetimes. Yet, have you ever noticed that Jesus did not correct them? It turns out that a correct understanding of our insignificance in this vastly unstable world is a wonderful motivator for respect for God. We ought to live every day like it is our last. We ought to prepare to meet God, familiarize ourselves with the scriptures, and take his word literally. 

And it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he said unto his disciples: Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work. (3 Nephi 27:33).