Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Parable of the Tent

A family excitedly purchased a premium dome tent. They decided to try out the tent in their own yard. The night they intended to camp, they noticed very many pine cones on the ground. They spent the whole first night picking up the pine cones, and ran out of time to set up the tent. The next night, they began setting up the tent. Despite the apparent simplicity of the instructions, they struggled. The pictures seemed to skip necessary details. Through each step, the physical result made it clear that their previous understanding of the instruction was off slightly. Through experience, they managed to tweak their understanding of the instructions until the status of the tent vindicated their interpretation. 

After the tent itself was finished, the kids rejoiced. The father did not. He explained to the kids that they still had to put on the rain fly. This being a large, sophisticated tent meant that this final step was even more difficult a task than all the previous ones combined. After a struggle in getting it over the dome and rotated correctly (which included many trips around the tent to unsnag the many hooks that caught on just about everything), the fly was oriented correctly, and the many hooks and guy lines were secured. 

Finally, it was time to camp. As soon as the door was unzipped, the expectations of the experience began to collide with reality. The tent seemed more cramped than expected. Sleeping arrangements had to be shuffled. The ground was far lumpier than it had seemed before the tent was erected. This became a significant obstacle to falling asleep, as they had grown very accustomed to how their mattresses felt at home. All too frequently, just as you got used to the scenario, you would remember that you were confined in a sleeping bag and become very claustrophobic, waking you up completely. The father was awakened about every hour by a child's crying upon waking up in an unfamiliar place. In a half asleep, exhausted state, simple changes like being in absolute darkness without a flashlight became much magnified. This turned out to be a very different situation than expected. 

The children slept quite well, being much less used to normal life, but the father had yet to sleep. In exhaustion, the father stepped out of the tent for some fresh air. Suddenly, he noticed the broad expanse of stars, a much more marvelous sight once one had sat in absolute darkness for hours, allowing the eyes to become very sensitive. There were a few deep breaths to take it all in. It would take getting used to, but the father realized that the differences between this and normal sleeping arrangements were not annoyances--they were exactly what made it desirable.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Past feeling and kicking against the pricks

In the past few years I've had opportunities from God to get to know and pray for and help several individuals. In some cases, the potential of these people has been revealed to me. I see how their lives would be lived if they leveraged all their character-building opportunities and saw things as they really are.

The potential of any person is incredible, and it is merciful of God to keep it hidden most of the time. If we knew our own potential, we would be overwhelmed and shut down. If we know the potential of others, we would be filled with indescribable sorrow by watching them fail to achieve it.

When God gives me these glimpses, it gives me strong motivation to continue to try to help an individual until they openly reject my association. I cannot verbalize the sorrow I've experienced in watching them walk away from such richness of opportunity. Here is a leap ahead handed to them on a golden platter, and they throw it to the pigs.

The key factor of these types of situations is that the individual does not recognize what they are being offered. What does this mean? It means I must do it, too.

Why are we all so clueless? Why don't we know about our potential and seek to achieve it? We don't want to be saved, we just want to be left alone.

How many people desire to acquire knowledge, knowing that it brings both joy and pain? How many people want to become better, when it must include having their limitations revealed to them?

We don't desire these things. Instead, we have a very narrow set of expectations, and we don't care that we have artificially left out all the trouble that goes with those expectations. We spin up cotton candy realities, and live in constant misery with the coping mechanisms that we've developed to keep the negative consequences of a life of ignorance behind the curtain. Pretending there is a wizard of Oz may enable us to live in the Emerald City, but it doesn't kill the wicked witch. To actually fix the problems requires more truth--it requires venturing out onto the yellow brick road, becoming a more capable person through overcoming challenges, and losing a great deal of innocence in our world view. It's not all negative. We become much stronger, more capable, and capable of experiencing much greater joy.

Do you always know what God’s will is?

Moroni taught that it is possible to discern between good and evil as easily as we can discern between daylight and night:

15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. (Moroni 7)

Here is a question: do you know what is good and what is evil as readily as you know day from night? Do you know God's will as clearly as you know the difference between day and night?

If Moroni is right, and you don't, what is missing?

"You may know" and "you do know" are two different situations. Moroni is saying it is possible. How do you get to that point? Better said, why are you not yet at that point? What is keeping you from it?

All truth is available.

The Amplified Translation of the Bible gives this version of John 1:1:

1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.
2 He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God.
3 All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being.
4 In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men.
5 The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]. (John 1, AMP)

All light and truth pertaining to this domain is always available. The Lord emits all light and truth through the universe. It is all there, all the time, whether you and I recognize it or not.

The veil isn't a sheet that is either rent or whole. Instead, it is layered. Truth is eternal, meaning progressively expanding forever as you learn more of it. It's like a flooded bank. As you acquire truth, the water recedes, and you see things about yourself, the world, and the gospel that you had never before imagined. God graciously hides all but the minimum amount of truth from us at first so that we are not condemned by being exposed to that we do not yet have the capacity to obey. As soon as and as often as we obey what we have, he reveals more. Eventually, when our faith and trust in him becomes unshaken, we begin obeying what he reveals immediately when he reveals it. Though this does not mean he reveals all remaining truth in this sphere to us at once, it does mean that he can do it faster than before, because we no longer need to follow the alienation-repentance cycle each time he teaches us something new. Because we retain the spirit, we are able to learn more, faster.

The degree to which we recognize truth is the degree to which we obtain it. The degree to which we lack truth is due solely to the fact that we choose not to recognize it. We obtain truth through heed and diligence (see Alma 12). This means our efforts to seek and apply truth result directly in obtaining more of it. It is fully within our control.

So why don't we all possess all the light and truth God has?

We are all past feeling. 

We use the following scripture to rail against Laman and Lemuel:

Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder. (1 Nephi 17:45)
Ironically, we are much more likely to be like Laman and Lemuel than we are Nephi.

Laman and Lemuel were past feeling. What did that mean? Did it mean they were atheists? No. Laman and Lemuel made frequent mention of God. They claimed to believe in and live the law of Moses. What did it mean, then? Laman and Lemuel only recognized a portion of the light emanating from God. They did not recognize a great deal of what God was offering them. Put a different way, Nephi managed to gain far more light and truth than Laman and Lemuel in spite of the fact that all of them had equal access to the same light and truth.

We are past feeling when we fail to recognize all of the light and truth available to us.

An analogous phrase is "kicking against the pricks." Paul's conversion story is often used to illustrate this principle.

12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26)

Was Paul an atheist? No. He was an ultra-faithful Pharisee. What did it mean to kick against the pricks? Did Paul willingly rebel against what he believed was right? No. He faithful obeyed what he believed. He tenaciously, zealously obeyed what he believed. His "kicking against the pricks" consisted in choosing to ignore evidence that further light and truth was available.

Laman, Lemuel, and Paul all committed the same mistake. All three of them had been exposed to individuals possessing further light and truth than they had. Laman and Lemuel were assaulted by constant evidences that their father and brother possessed more light and truth than they did as evidenced by the miraculous experiences had by Lehi and Nephi but not by Laman and Lemuel. Instead of investigating the difference, they ignored it. Paul was surrounded by Christians who were demonstrating powerful gifts from God accompanying their heretical teachings of the Lord Jesus. Instead of investigating it, he actively persecuted them.

When you encounter someone with further light and truth than you have, you should investigate it further. What you will probably do, though, is persecute, ignore, or reject that person.

Spirit reminds us

Because he is gracious, God does not leave us wallowing in ignorance. He directly reveals things to you out of the blue, and he intentionally places people with more light and truth than you in your life. He could do this with fire and earthquakes and neon signs, but that would require him to exercise great judgment when it is ignored or turned away from. Because he is merciful, and because he knows we will fail much more often than succeed, God typically offers us further light and truth ever so gently.

An example of this is provided in the story of the brother of Jared. In this account, the brother of Jared is commanded to build barges to cross the ocean. Because the barges are sealed, he worries about how they will have light. He approaches the Lord with 16 molten balls he had made, small enough to hold all of them in his hands at once. He asks the Lord to touch these stones to make them glow. The Lord touches each one, and in the process the brother of Jared sees one of the Lord's fingers. This shocks the brother of Jared, because he didn't realize that the Lord had the form of a man, and because he understood that seeing the Lord was something that could destroy a man because of man's impurity.

The Lord graciously provided a little bit of revelation by preemptively showing the brother of Jared his finger. The brother of Jared responded by asking for more. He asked the Lord to show himself.

Any LDS-trained person knows this story very well. But they don't know the most important part of the story. Almost at the end of the chapter, this brief verse is given:

For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things. (Ether 3:26)

Apparently, at some point in the past, the Lord had told the brother of Jared that if he would believe in the Lord, the Lord could show him all things. We are not given the account of how or when this happened. I would not be surprised if it was a routine, uneventful story. Yet, this small gem inside of that exchange was sufficient leverage for the brother of Jared to obtain an in-the-flesh visit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is how the Lord usually offers us further light and truth: through slight, imperceptible exchanges that will fly right past us if we are not paying attention.

Nephi noticed and leveraged his father's prophetic dream to obtain a dream of his own. The brother of Jared leveraged the Lord's promise to show him anything to see the Lord. David leveraged the Lord's strength in helping him kill a bear and a lion to help him kill Goliath. The list goes on and on.

We can be shown these seemingly little things and choose to ignore them, or we can pay attention to them and work against our being past feeling.

One example of this in my life was when, as an LDS missionary, I met a spirit-filled man in a remote area in Chile. He had his own very small church. He agreed to meet with me, and we had spirit-charged conversations about the gospel. I gave him a book of Mormon, which he read, and which he testified contained the word of God. Yet, when he prayed about joining the LDS church, the Lord told him not to. When he relayed this to me, the Spirit told me that what he said was true: he really had prayed, and God had really told him no. I was completely perplexed by this, but I did not pursue it. I had missed an opportunity to come out of ignorance.

Another story came when I was praying about my brother's impending deployment to Iraq. He was headed there in the first wave of troops, and the Spirit had witnessed to me that he would be killed. I spent hours every night for weeks and weeks praying for his safety. Following the Spirit, I offered prayers that were very unusual for me. At one point, the Lord told me to stop praying about it. He spoke with an audible voice, and told me that everything would be fine. I didn't know what that meant, but I was filled with peace and stopped praying about it. A little while later, I managed to talk to my brother on the phone. According to his account (he is not a religious person), his platoon got into a firefight where he was saved from being shot by being shoved to the ground by angel. He was shoved down with such force that his foot broke. That day, dozens of his platoon were killed, but he survived.

I did not know it at the time, but these were prayers of intercession. I should have asked God about what made those prayers different, and how it all worked. I didn't. Instead, I went my merry, ignorant way for years and years before rediscovering intercession. That topic, which I now understand, is described in my recent book "Seek Ye This Jesus." By failing to investigate this topic, I wasted years of miraculous intervention in the lives of others, and incredible communion with God.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14)

God is gracious. When he reveals something to you, and you blow it, he will give you another chance to receive it. That is the good news. The bad news is what opportunities have permanently been lost, and that it can take weeks, months, or years to be offered to you again.

The Authority to Baptize

The LDS church, like the Catholic church, teaches that God can give his permission to men to do works in his name without his input. In other words, he makes men his agents, and they are free to do with that power what they believe is right. They believe that only priests have God's permission to baptize, and that ordination is required before a person can baptize.

The rest of the Christian world believes that the commission at the end of Matthew applies to the whole world. This would mean that anyone (men, women, children, believers, non-believers) can baptize anyone.

Both are wrong.

Priesthood is not a permission slip. God does not give his power to men to use independent of his will. There is no such thing as freelancing when it comes to God's power. It can only ever be used exactly as he would use it, and this requires revelation from him in every case.

Because of this, it is better to focus on God's will instead of God's power. The latter is never found outside the former, and many times the former is found outside the latter. In other words, there are many cases when God's will is to withhold, not to exercise his power.

The question, "do I have the authority to baptize?" is actually the wrong question. We really need to be careful about how we structure our prayers to God and how we frame our expectations of answers. In most cases where the person does have authority, the Lord can't answer the question as phrased. The answer "no" would be incorrect, and the answer "yes" would convey more than intended, as priesthood revealed to an individual from the voice of God conveys much more than the authority to baptize.

The correct question is "under what circumstances is a person authorized to baptize?" The answer is whenever a person is operating within the will of God. In the case of many miraculous events, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, moving mountains, turning away armies, quenching the violence of fire, etc., this is a case-by-case question that requires a connection to God to answer. In the case of baptism, the Lord has revealed his will, and it is generally applicable. In other words, any case where the circumstances are fulfilled lies within God's will, and therefore commands God's authority.

The circumstances where a person can baptize are that they:

  • Must have repented from all their sins.
  • Must be able to ascertain whether those they baptize have repented of all their sins.
  • Must know the proper form of baptism.

If you fulfill these qualifications, you are qualified to baptize. If you do not, you are not.

As you can see, these items can be transmitted from one person to another independent of the action of heaven. Rather than be dismayed or shocked by that, we should realize that God has very plainly explained these things, and made it plain that he wants everyone to come to him and be baptized. It is all meant to be very available.

But what about keys? The LDS claim that they alone can perform authorized baptism because John the Baptist came to Joseph Smith and conveyed authority to Joseph Smith, who transmitted it to others through modern times. According to the account, this authority included the ministry of angels. How many LDS Aaronic priests do you know (or any other LDS person, for that matter) who enjoys the visible ministration of angels? If laying on of hands was the effectual transmission of authority, those claiming it would also have the ministration of angels. Since they do not, why should anyone believe they have the authority to baptize by that same laying on of hands?

Does this mean that LDS baptisms are ineffectual? No. It means that if they are effectual, it is by some other means than authority received by the laying on of hands. If an LDS person, or any other Christian, fulfills the qualifications listed above, their baptism is valid.

As I describe in "Seek Ye This Jesus," the common understanding about keys as a permission slip to exercise God's power is not correct. Instead, keys are to know God's will pertaining to a situation. If you know God's will, you have the power to participate in its fulfillment. If you don't, you are just guessing, and you cannot exercise faith. It is faith that works God's miracles, not guessing.

The keys of the Aaronic priesthood are not received via an ordinance, such as the laying on of hands, though there's nothing wrong with the ordinance. Instead, they are received via instruction. Once the doctrine of repentance is understood, and the form of baptism is understood, one possesses the keys of baptism. The same goes for blessing bread and wine after the pattern the Lord revealed in the last supper. The same goes for receiving the administration of angels.

The keys of the Holy Order after the Son of God are not received via an ordinance, per se, either. However, the knowledge they consist of is acquired during that ordinance, which involves the Lord, among other things, telling a person that they have power to do the things enumerated in JST Gen 14. If the Lord tells you that you have authority from heaven to do something, it would be easy to claim at least part of the description of JST Gen 14, which is a very different thing altogether than the Aaronic priesthood.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Upon my house shall it begin"

Today I was led to investigate the following passage:

23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.
24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord. (D&C 112)

I was curious as to how the Lord would fulfill this prophecy.

I inquired of the Lord, and he answered me.

"Upon my house shall it begin" does not refer to a future event. The judgment described in verse 24 began shortly after this revelation was given. Verse 26 describes that it would be fulfilled upon "you"--the followers of Joseph Smith in Kirtland in 1837 when this revelation was received, who had professed to know the Lord's name but not known him, and who had blasphemed against him in the midst of his house--the Kirtland temple, the only completed temple in modern times that the Lord has ever acknowledged as his.

A reading of the history of Kirtland and the conditions under which Joseph Smith and a few of his loyalists were expelled will illustrate the degree of loss endured by the people after this revelation was received, as well as the degree to which they denied the doctrines revealed to them.

The "day" of wrath, burning, desolation, etc. has not ceased since then, and will continue to intensify until it culminates with the return of the Lord to this earth.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Eclipses and Little-known Faults

Interesting facts about upcoming eclipse:
  • The shadow will be 70 miles in diameter.
  • The eclipse is the first to be fully contained within the USA.
  • The eclipse will divide the nation in two.
  • The eclipse will trace the 1,700 mile "crack across America" fault.
  • The eclipse will occur 33 days before a once-in-7,000 years Revelation 12 sign.
  • It will happen 2,422 days or 346 weeks or 6.6 years from a second, criss-crossing eclipse.

Interesting facts about the 2024 eclipse:
  • It happens on the last day of the last year in the Hebrew calendar.
  • It traces through a second large fault running Northeast from the New Madrid seismic zone.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The interplay of God's attributes

One key to achieving an intimate relationship with God is knowing his will in many aspects of your life and the world around you.

Knowing what God did can't always accurately predict what he will do, since modern circumstances may vary from ancient ones, preventing direct application of what might be a peculiarly historical situation. Knowing why God did what he did, on the other hand, yields principles that translate to any time and any place.

While the scriptures describe much of what he has done, they do not necessarily describe why he has done it in immediately obvious ways.

When we study God's mind and will, we must also study his character. The key to understanding why God has done what he has done is to ask how his actions fulfilled aspects of his character.

God's character is rich beyond description. If we were to limit his attributes to, say, nine one-word descriptors, maybe we would say he is:

  • Patient
  • Meek
  • Loving
  • Kind
  • Knowledgable
  • Consistent
  • Just
  • Merciful
  • Good
Too many, having come this far, fall into the trap of looking at God in only one dimension of his character. To really understand why he acts the way he does, you have to look at all attributes at once.

The solar system consists of the sun and the planets. Each planet is different in size, mass, and orbit. The components of the solar system are all in motion. To understand the motion of each, you have to look at the effects of all. The sun is the governing body in the solar system, but it does not act independently of the planets. The sun alone does not explain the behavior of any one planet. 

In any situation, God's behavior is a result of all of his attributes acting together. His love is his governing attribute, but it does not act independent of, say, his justice. All aspects of his character are represented in everything he does.

If you want to learn more about who God is, study situations in the scriptures by asking, "how is this an example of God's patience, meekness, compassion, kindness, knowledge, consistency, justice, mercy, and goodness?" You will be surprised at the answers you receive, and they will draw you closer to him as you reconcile your own behavior to his perfect standard.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Paper, kindle, pdf versions of "Seek Ye This Jesus" are available

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Friends like Nephi

Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading through a lot of scripture. One book that I re-read was 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Nephi is such a rock-solid person. I couldn't help wishing that I could have a person like Nephi as a friend. Most people would not like Nephi as a friend. As someone who possessed real love, he would have striven to point out all your faults until you either fixed them or God told him to leave you, even if you tried to kill him multiple times. I rejoice in learning about my errors, so I love when I meet someone who knows more than I do and is willing to help me to where they are. It has happened many times in my life, and most of what I am today is due to the intervention of others.

As I got to thinking about Nephi, I realized that I in fact have at least 2 friends like Nephi. When I read the account, I realize they are just like him. Like Laman and Lemuel, most people never appreciate the Nephis in this world. Perhaps they expect someone to go around performing obvious miracles or spouting great, deep truths. It doesn't work that way. Most of the miracles they perform are quickly explained away, or are done in private, and the truths they expound are limited to the heed and diligence of those who are listening, which is usually quite low. The audience doesn't ask, seek, or knock, so the handles of new truth emitted constantly by these people are not followed through to the meat of the topic. They teach much, much less than they know.

Another thing about godly people is that they walk in almost constant sorrow. If you look at Nephi's reaction from the vision of all things (he saw everything that would happen to his posterity until the end of the world), it was sorrow. Most of us say we would love to have a vision like that, to see the Savior and see all these future events. For Nephi, it was a bitter experience. It's important to know why.

The lives of the wicked are filled with suffering. It's the natural consequence of their choices. The wicked choose to act in opposition to rationality because they opt to blind themselves to the truth. They do not see things as they really are, and therefore are hit by the components of their choices that they choose to ignore, like a man who likes the look of a rope and decides to carry it without recognizing or admitting that it happens to be attached to a tiger. He gets mauled all day long without coming to the realization that there is a tiger attached to his beloved rope. Instead of letting go of the rope, he goes about his life moaning about how unlucky he is because he gets mauled by a tiger everyday when few others do.

The lives of the righteous are filled with sorrow, but it isn't because of their choices. It is because they see things as they really are, and they are filled with sorrow for those who do not. It is their love of others that brings with it their sorrow for them. They see men getting mauled by tigers all day long, and they are already doing everything they can (including taking some of those maulings themselves) to help them, mostly without ever really benefitting them.

This was the experience of Nephi. He had seen this awesome, long, intense vision, which included seeing all the bad choices and subsequent consequences of his brothers and their posterity, and his own posterity. Then he comes to and finds himself back in his father's tent. And what does he return to?

1 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been carried away in the Spirit, and seen all these things, I returned to the tent of my father.
2 And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them.
3 For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought. (1 Nephi 15)

They were bickering about and against the breadcrumbs of truth their father had given him. Now, Nephi's entire experience came because he asked God to show him the same things his father saw. Instead of trying to experience the same things Lehi experienced, his brothers were arguing about it with one another. This is not the way to come up to God.

This filled Nephi with sorrow. He had been shown the destiny of his brothers, and now he was seeing it right before his eyes.

And it came to pass that I was overcome because of my afflictions, for I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall. (1 Nephi 15:5)

This is my daily experience.

After he overcomes his feelings and mobilizes, he tries to help them ask God. Instead, they decide to ask him. He gives them a good deal of truth, but reread his response to his brothers. Laman and Lemuel ask Nephi about the vision. Nephi did the same to God. Contrast God's answer to Nephi with Nephi's answer to Laman and Lemuel. Consider what Laman and Lemuel knew and what Nephi knew at the conclusion of each answer. Laman and Lemuel knew hardly anything. Why didn't Nephi reveal more? Nephi obeyed the law revealed in Alma 12, that God can reveal truth to us only inasmuch as we have heed and diligence--inasmuch as we desire more and have obeyed what we have received. Laman and Lemuel not only had a poor track record of obedience, they also weren't even really paying attention to Nephi's answer to their questions. Nephi dropped clues that he knew far more than he was saying throughout his responses. If you reread his answers and compare them to his vision, you'll see. Instead of asking follow-on questions to get more, Laman and Lemuel simply ignored the clues, and went on in their ignorance. Most of the times, we are like this, and that is why we don't notice the Nephis among us. Like Laman and Lemuel, we go on blissfully unaware of what others are experiencing, focused narrowly on our own low-slope progress.