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Saturday, March 25, 2017

California dreaming

A new study published in Nature suggests that a large section of California could drop nearly instantly into the sea in the next large earthquake.

The significance of this study is that it shows that vertical drops are very much possible in that region during massive earthquakes.

God's warning to that region shows incredible mercy and patience. Scientists for as long as I've been paying attention have affirmed that:

  1. California will not drop into the sea during an earthquake--it is impossible.
  2. Large fissures do not occur as a result of earthquakes--it is impossible.
  3. Earthquakes cannot trigger adjacent faults--it is impossible.
  4. Very large earthquakes (mag. 10 or higher) are impossible.

Yet, scientists have in fact proven that:
1. There is a high probability that large segments of California will drop into the sea during an earthquake.

2. Earthquakes can cause large fissures in the ground. This should have been well known for a long time, as the New Madrid quake in the early 1800s caused large fissures for many miles which can still be seen, where water and sand exploded from the ground.

3. Earthquakes can trigger adjacent faults. (Check out the video halfway down this page)

4. Larger earthquakes than seen in recorded history are possible. This is due to the fact that previous calculations assumed only one fault triggering at a time. The energy of a quake is a factor of the fault length and displacement. If multiple faults trigger at the same time, the energy could be much larger than anything seen in the last 150 years. Other research suggests that earthquakes are probably correlated with the earth and sun's electromagnetic relationship, and recent changes to both mean a higher potential for more powerful and more frequent earthquakes than exist in our historic knowledge.

What to expect when you are expecting

Geoscientists have been consistently wrong about their assertions of what is and isn't possible. Why trust them when it comes to fatality estimates, particularly when they have a vested economic and social interest in downplaying risk? Imagine what would happen to their reputation, employment, and the local economy of these areas if they said that the >99% chance of a  large earthquake in these regions (yes, that is what they are saying) would cause millions of deaths?

Why are their estimates so consistently low? Whether talking about the Cascadia subduction zone or the San Andreas areas, their death estimates are in the low tens of thousands. Yet, they are expecting millions of people to be displaced. Why? Because their homes and places of work will be totally destroyed. Does that add up to you? Will tens of millions of people happen to be outside when the quake strikes and manage to get to high ground in the 15 minutes they have before the first tsunami hits? Will there be no additional deaths due to the lack of medical care for the millions of wounded, clean water, and food for months after the fact? Will there be zero deaths due to rioting, looting, and other malfeasance?

In 1906, there were 400,000 people living in San Francisco. The earthquake caused over 3,000 immediate deaths, with more from the fires that occurred afterward, which raged for four days. Even forgetting the inevitable fire that comes after gas lines are ruptured, and ignoring the fact that small wooden homes are much more resilient to earthquakes than large concrete buildings, using the same percentage for the modern population of San Fransisco, that would be 6,277 deaths. But that is just modern San Francisco, which is just 3 miles x 3 miles. Unlike in 1906, the Bay Area is now home to more than 7 million people. That's 525,000 deaths with the same percentage.

What about Greater Los Angeles, an area scientists predict will be hit by a big quake and which is also sitting on a bed of criss-crossing faults? 19 million people, 1.4 million deaths.

None of these figures factor in swaths of the land dropping into the sea, tsunamis, fires and violence after the quake, lack of food/water, etc.

Trust the Lord

The Lord has been warning people of the coming west coast catastrophe for a long time through dreams and visions. Recently, he was purported to have said that the trigger event for that catastrophe would be the United States turning its back on Israel. That happened just a few months ago when John Kerry orchestrated a UN resolution to divide Israel, and the US opted not to use its veto power to block it. It is time to get ready for this event. If you live in California, I would definitely consider moving if I were you.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Responses to St. George Conference and Thoughts on the Movement from Others

All:
After my post two days ago, I was contacted by at least half a dozen people from the Denver Snuffer movement expressing concerns about the new developments there. I have no desire to insert myself into this beyond what I have been told to do and discharged. My spiritual time is of great importance to me, and is being spent in a way that will benefit many more people than spending it on this issue. To balance my desire to remain aloof and the fact that the various Snufferite blogs (by definition) will not give audience to dissenting opinions, I will create this single post and add to it anything that appears reasonably well thought out and respectful. I would highly encourage you to provide your name with what you write, so that you provide people an opportunity to answer you. Rumors and gossip will not be posted. Entries will be given a heading. My email is 2robsmith@gmail.com.

A letter from a group of fellowships

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter on behalf of myself and a small, loosely-knit fellowship of believers who have been continually seeking Christ in this rapidly declining world. Those in my fellowship have maintained ties and associations with other groups gathering towards what we have believed is a common goal. We’ve enjoyed the felicity shared with these groups and have been greatly blessed by these associations.

We have all read and benefitted by the works of those vocal in this movement; namely that of Denver Snuffer. Obviously, against all of his initial pleadings otherwise, he seems to stand as the ensign or model figure in the awakening of those in and out of the Latter-day Saint community, re-centering our worship on Christ and none else.

A core of his shared message revolves around the need to remove any semblance of a “strong-man” organization, the need of diffused fellowships without any central control, and the woes and stumblings of the LDS church; namely their erred transition to a correlated structure over the past ½ century. We all agree with his observations and recognize both the failings of the LDS church as well as our need to put it and all other worldly organizations into proper perspective; centering our minds, hearts, and souls on Christ, leaving these secondary organizations in the periphery.

Yet the topics and grand announcement of a restoration scripture project made during this past weekend’s conference has raised a flag of warning and concern, as we perceived a great shift in Denver’s message and that of the collective conference. As he recounted the experience of how the project came to be it felt more like a retelling of an LDS church correlation committee meeting than one of a divinely inspired project of which we all are a part. Scriptures attaching meaning and fulfillment were all applied in hindsight while the committee's process became glorified in the re-telling.

The process reminded me personally of a quote made by Elder Russell M. Nelson when talking to BYU Hawaii students regarding the children of same-sex Mormon couples desiring baptism. This quote comes from the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation," Nelson, next in line for the Mormon presidency, told the faith's young adults in the first official explanation of the hotly debated policy's origins. "It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson."

Nelson explained that revelation from the Lord to his servants is a sacred process.

"The [three-member] First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively," he said. "And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord's will."

He said that protocol was followed when Monson, in 2012, announced lower minimum ages for full-time Mormon missionary service and again late last year with the new policy on same-sex couples and their children.

Another similar quote by the late Gordon B. Hinckley in 1994, wherein he talked about the process used when major action is taken by the church:

“I add by way of personal testimony that during the twenty years I served as a member of the Council of the Twelve and during the nearly thirteen years that I have served in the First Presidency, there has never been a major action taken where this procedure was not observed. I have seen differences of opinion presented in these deliberations. Out of this very process of men speaking their minds has come a sifting and winnowing of ideas and concepts. But I have never observed serious discord or personal enmity among my Brethren. I have, rather, observed a beautiful and remarkable thing—the coming together, under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit and under the power of revelation, of divergent views until there is total harmony and full agreement. Only then is implementation made. That, I testify, represents the spirit of revelation manifested again and again in directing this the Lord’s work” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 74–75; or Ensign, May 1994, 54, 59; emphasis added).

Much of Denver’s talk echoed this type of mindset and described model followed by the current LDS church. Here are some quotes from his talk, "Things to keep us awake at night” (transcribed from the audio). The bold words emphasize the similarity of the correlation committees process:

"As it turns out each group had faced essentially the same group of questions but they'd reached slightly different conclusions for good and sufficient reasons to them. But as they reasoned together....one group had concluded that the catechisms, the questions and answers ought to be eliminated ....one gave voice to the argument .....he found value in ....so as a consequence of that discussion ...one group was aware ....and the other group was unaware of that...and therefore they reached agreement that was the way it ought be done."

We don’t disagree on the premise of the scripture project. We are humbled and grateful for the hours of work each of those on the respective committees have donated to this great cause. Our concern lies in the following:

1) The committee members. We do not want to condemn or judge. Plainly said, we are concerned by the reputation of some of the members associated with the project from personal experience with them. It brings to mind the words of Alma to his son, when he said, “O my son, how great iniquity ye brought… for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.” (Alma 39:11). We have discussed this and feel to not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” However, if this project had been undertaken with common consent, we feel it would have started with the election of a committee instead of having a group of individuals take it upon themselves to work it out.


2) Denver concludes by saying: “Sustaining is planned to happen at the next conference after a chance has happened of a review of the material. This is necessary for the gentiles to claim they have accepted a covenant and a law (2 Ne. 30). Everyone is free to vote when we have reached the end of the line. And they're free to reject it. But if there is some small group who are willing to enter into that covenant, whatever that number is, that will be sufficient. And I hope those who remain opposed will allow those willing to enter into a covenant to depart in peace. Because we've allowed the LDS church or any of the other various sects of Mormonism to depart in peace. I hope that those willing to vote are likewise given the opportunity to depart in peace.”

This quote says that we have a vote, but alludes that to voice disagreement with the process demonstrates opposition and a lack of desire to enter into a covenant. Which is not the case. It feels like those who have concerns with the process aren’t being persuaded (D&C 121), but rather cornered into accepting things as they transpired as totally and wholly inspired. A brief paraphrase of the message is, “we’ve done this work. Accept it and be saved. Reject it at your own peril.” That doesn’t sit right with us.

Our group patiently waits upon the Lord, while filling our time with doing good and helping those around us. We are excited by the prospects presented in the conference and have petitioned the Lord for guidance in this matter. The result of that petition is this letter.

It is not our intent to criticize or complain; but to highlight some incongruities with the way it came about in direct contrast to many of the principles taught by Denver during his 40 Years in Mormonism lecture series, along with others who have been sharing similar concerns.

If you would like specifics on places wherein contradictory comments have been made, we would gladly work on compiling such. However, we felt it shouldn’t be necessary as all of those involved on the committees are most likely aware of these comments themselves.

Thank you for hearing us out as we all strive to come to a unity of the faith.

Signed

-A fellowship of believers

Leo Ebbert

In 3 Nephi, Christ declares his beautiful doctrine in stunning simplicity: "repent, be baptized in my name, and become as a little child”. He repeats it. This was given after warning them against disputations/contentions and preceding another stark warning:

"And whoso shall declare more or less than this and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil and is not built upon my rock, but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation and the gates of hell standeth open to receive such”.

My summary of Christ’s words might look like this: “Don’t dispute and contend, that’s not of me. What is of me? Repent, get baptized (in every way, not just water), and be like a child. Don’t try to turn my doctrine into anything more or less than this, that’s not of me.” The two warnings bookend his remarkable doctrine. We (myself included) violate those two warnings with dreadful consistency, disputing amongst ourselves on a regular basis and as a group, making changes to His doctrine.

Christ warns again after giving the people bread and wine. He tells them to do “these things” is to be built upon his rock. "But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation”. There’s that phrase again: “more or less”. Maybe Christ isn’t kidding. Maybe the repetition is because he knows how quickly we embrace more and cast away so we have less.

He expounds on his warning further by saying we have to “watch and pray always lest ye be tempted by the devil and ye are led away captive by him.” What is the temptation of the devil that Christ is warning against? The temptation to add to Christ’s commandments and to take away from them. That is exactly how the devil ensnares us. It takes very little and we are so eager to accept it. Christ is warning against “religion” essentially, the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. That is what men and devils offer. Christ is warning against setting aside his simple doctrine for more or less. Read Christ's words and then ask yourselves whether what is being offered through these conferences is "more or less" than what Christ declared. The answer apparently matters a great deal.

The day after Christ taught his disciples about his doctrine, the disciples gathered with a large body of people and "ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken, nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken”. These disciples seem to have taken Christ literally. How childish of them! Or maybe “childlike” would be a better word. They apparently weren’t willing to add, remove, or substitute one word from what that the Lord said. Is it any wonder, then, that Christ’s promise to baptize the disciples by fire and the Holy Ghost was vindicated almost immediately after these disciples taught in this way? They were encircled by fire, angels descended, and Christ also was in their midst in glory, ministering to them. Christ's promise came to pass!

The disciples went on to preach with incredible success after Christ ascended again to his Father, converting literally the entire land of people to Christ. The scriptures say that “as many as” the disciples taught and baptized by water were baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. Why were they so successful in comparison to us? Why do we lack so completely the promised fruit whereas it overflowed for them? Could it be our penchant for more and less?

Even despite the teachings of Jesus, the people were not initially above disputations. They disputed about the name of their church. The disciples called upon Christ for help in settling the dispute. Christ is exasperated by this. How could the people dispute over such a thing? Don’t they know they have to be called after the name of Christ? The Lord then gives us a way to know whether a body of believers is really His or not. A simple test. The first part is "if it be called in my name, then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel”. So the name matters. What do we call ourselves? The remnant? Little zion? Restorationists? The doctrine of Christ fellowship? Maybe the last one fits.

But there is another part to the test. Christ says "if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel, then will the Father shew forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel and is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you, they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh and they are hewn down and cast into the fire…”

Well that wipes out a lot of groups that use the name of Christ in vain. I don’t think many of us would dispute that the dead religions of the world lack the works of the Father and are filled instead with the works of men or the devil. Can we apply this test to our own fellowships? Can we apply it to the conferences? Can we apply it to the scripture project or the temple fund? Are those works of the Father or of men or of the devil? How do we know? The answers matter a great deal.

Christ prophesied to the people of Bountiful concerning we Gentiles. We’d be given chances to embrace His gospel in its fulness. He offered this hope concerning us: "For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.”

Christ’s hope was that we wouldn’t “harden our hearts” but instead “come unto [Him]”. Consider those phrases in the context of D&C 84 where the Lord says the Israelites "hardened their hearts" and thus were cursed to not enter His presence. Later in the same section the Lord says "whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.” What the Lord says next is well known to anyone acquainted with this movement--the infamous condemnation the Lord issued against the early Mormons:

"And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written”

It appears that Christ considers the Book of Mormon to be our covenantal scripture. And His hope for us is that we will remember it and actually do what He commands therein. I suspect if we did, the Father's works would be manifest among us.

How different might our fellowships be if we learned from the failures of the past…if we chose to not harden our hearts and instead come unto Christ through his plain doctrine. What if we decided not to reject the words of plainness? What if we decided not to demand religion? What if we ceased from the works of men and devils and waited instead on the works of the Father? What if we said no to more or less than what Christ asked?

How did the people at Bountiful succeed at establishing Zion? Did they gather funds for a temple? Did they petition for "governing principles"? Did they have a trademarked logo? Did they undertake a scripture project and demand a vote on it? How did the people know that those 12 disciples were really Christ’s servants? What fruit came when the disciples ministered? Did the people ask to see their certificate first? Did the people ask for the names of what mortals were vouching for them and their authority? Or were they judged on the fruit of their ministry? What was that fruit? Did the people bring about the works of the Father, the works of men, or the works of the devil? Is it coincidental that nearly the same pattern we see in 3 Nephi played out in the book of Acts, albeit with less success?

"And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost. And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written. And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another. And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them. And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ."

Mormon makes it sound so simple. What if it really is? We all must judge. As was once said, “the game is afoot”. I pray we may all be brought to Jesus.

From a Nonremnant Observer

Upon examining Denver Snuffer's recent new translation/revelation of the Testimony of St. John, I have noticed quite a few contradictions between it and the JST of John.

The contradictions and discrepancies between the JST/KJV, and TSJ (Denver's work) begin from the very first verse and are manifested throughout the entire book.

The terminology that Denver uses also seems very odd. It's nothing like the language structure of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, or the JST/KJV of the Bible.

While there is certainly new doctrine introduced in Denver's TSJ, it appears to replace existing doctrine rather than simply adding new information. Which is in stark contrast to Joseph Smith's translation/revelation of the Bible.

Joseph made minor corrections, which were sometimes very significant. He also added new information. Sometimes the information he added was small and other times he added a lot. He did not to my knowledge replace previous information with completely different information. Nor did he remove any stories. In Denver's TSJ the entire story of the woman taken in adultery is removed.

Some of the new doctrine in the TSJ includes the need to find and follow true messengers, having to see God face to face in this life to be saved, and Christ having progressed from being an ordinary man to Godhead.

All of these things are things Denver was previously teaching, based on his interpretations of the scriptures. In certain places these Denver doctrines appear forced into the TSJ.

There's also the issue of Denver essentialy inserting an account of the Savior having his hair cut as part of ending a Nazarite vow. The Savior being a Nazarite is not supported anywhere in the scriptures. The scriptures say he was a Nazarene (meaning from Nazareth).

Denver claims he was inspired to retranslate the gospel of John to replace the current JST version in the new remnant edition of the scriptures. Does anyone know why he felt a new translation was in order?

Also, if he truly did receive a revelation giving him a more correct translation of the Testimony of John, why is it now being included in the remnant Pearl of Great Price and not replacing the Testimony of John from the JST?

Feedback on my prior post

Hello Rob,

I have cc'd Denver on this email. 

There are some inconsistencies in your post, "We follow a man whom we call prophet". You struck from your original post somethings that are provable. For lack of time to cover all of them, re-consider two based on the following:

1. Your words:

You echo Denver Snuffer's claim that he did not form a church, and is not the leader of a new church. Why do you insist on setting up what he himself will not, and making him what he himself has refused to be? While I don't personally care whether or not someone starts a church, I find the claim inherently dishonest. While we can play Bill Clinton and redefine the word "church" to mean something other than what everyone considers it means, let's avoid the label and examine the facts.

Denver's words: 

Transcribed from the talk by Denver Snuffer, Things to keep us awake at night. 13 minute mark. (punctuation and emphasis mine): 

"Joseph restored the Book of Mormon as his first assignment. But he was required also to revise the Bible. Joseph referred to the revision of the Bible using the term, "the fulness of the scriptures". The Book of Mormon he called "the Book of Mormon". The revision to the Bible he called, "the fullness of the scriptures". In the minutes of an 1831 conference Joseph made this statement: "God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the church. Said the Lord would cut his work short in righteousness and except the church receive the fulness of the scriptures, they would yet fall."

"The fulness of the scriptures or the Bible he was then revising, has never been fully in print. Even the version that has been published by the RLDS church misses several of the revisions Joseph made. All of them and in addition, a handful of revisions that Joseph made orally during talks that he gave in the Nauvoo era, for the first time, are published in the new set of scriptures in the volume, the Old Testament and half the volume called the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. 

The fulness of the scriptures, without which the church would fall, are for the first time now available."
_________________________

A. Contrast with Denver's words spoken in Lecture 8 Transcript – A Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit (Given in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 25th, 2014), page 27:

"I'm not going to start another church, and I don't intend to compete with the Latter-day Saints, and I don't intend to overthrow them. That is God’s work, and it will be up to Him to decide how useful the various Mormon churches are to His purposes. But it is clear to me we do not need another church. The only thing we need are penitent people. The only thing we need are people whose hearts are right. If someone is here from a Baptist church, then go attend your Baptist Church. Go attend your Mormon church. There's good in all churches, but study the doctrines of the Restoration and get to know God, and then go and do what He would have you do."

Consider...

Joseph said that "God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the church. Said the Lord would cut his work short in righteousness and except the church receive the fulness of the scriptures, they would yet fall."

It is clear from Denver's words. He is calling this body of believers, and using scriptures to back his claim, a church. 

Additionally:

Joseph referred to the fulness of the scriptures as the Bible. Why has this scripture committee gone beyond the Bible and called it "the fulness of the scriptures"? 

2. Your words:

Everything that has the trademarked logo has been approved by this group him

Denver's words:

"An important step has been achieved. A new website titled “Born of Water” is now live. The website allows anyone located anywhere in the world who desires to be baptized to identify themselves. It is all confidential.

The website also allows those with authority to baptize to identify themselves in a confidential submission. Those qualified to baptize can then determine if they are able to assist someone in need of baptism. If they are able and willing to help, the baptizers can send a contact through the site to the one wanting baptism. This way those in remote locations will be able to receive baptism.

The logo on the site is shaped like two hands reaching upward, forming the image of a dove. The eye of the dove is a mark on the wrist of the right hand. The colors in the corners of the mark are the colors of the veil in the Tabernacle of Moses and Temple of Solomon. It is a trademarked, copyrighted and servicemarked registered image that is the property of Adrian Larsen. He alone can give or revoke permission to use the image that is his property."

The logo will appear on three sites: Born of Water, Recorder’s Clearinghouse, and for a time on this site to acquaint people with the logo. The logo is a way to vouch for a site’s privacy and safety. If the logo is authorized for use, the public can be confident it will not take them to a site of a hostile group, commercial enterprise or specious origin. It is a way to identify authenticity.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The parable of military obligation

There was once a man who joined the army. He had been told good things, and had a desire in his heart to serve. He was told that to join the army, he had to sign a contract that would span a considerable amount of time. At the time, that didn't concern him. He thought only of the positive points: serving his country, getting a good paycheck, getting free tuition, and getting a signing bonus.

When he shipped to basic training, he was surprised to find it wasn't as challenging as he expected it to be. While he did get plenty of exercise and training, he couldn't help think that he could have gotten in much better shape if he had taken the same 10 weeks to push himself at home. Almost immediately, he started noticing that while some of the policies in the army made sense, a lot did not. Many were clearly designed for the lowest common denominator, and he felt they slowed him down from what he could otherwise do. Others were clearly wrong. For the first time, he felt a little uncomfortable about having signed a contract. While what he saw in basic didn't repulse him enough to want to quit, it did make him wonder what he had gotten himself into.

After finishing basic training he went to job training school. As he was learning his trade, he kept thinking about better ways to do his job. Every time he tried to do something better than what the manual said, those in authority over him would correct him and tell him to do as he was told. At first, he figured they must know better than he does, as they had rank and he did not. Over time, as he got to know his sergeants better, he realized that they did not know better than he did. In fact, it seemed as if they had stopped thinking for themselves a long time ago. He wondered if there was anything they wouldn't do if they were commanded to do so by their superiors, no matter how wrong it was.

When he finished his job school, he was shipped to the middle east. There, he took part in many missions. As he considered the situation, he realized that what he had been told about the wars was very different than what was actually happening. He was not there to liberate these people, but to conquer him. He saw some of his friends get wounded and some die, and he wondered what they had given their limbs and lives for. He realized that whatever this was, it certainly was not defending his country.

He came home disillusioned and aloof. He found solace in the fact that he hadn't understood what he was getting into when he joined the army. He realized that he couldn't have known that he was being lied to. He realized that those who had signed him up might not have known that they were lying, although he knew some who clearly knew what they were doing was wrong but didn't want to give up their promised retirement, which brought them great comfort. When his contract was up, he rejoiced in his freedom. Never again would he sign away his free will. He refused to willingly reenlist, knowing that while God may be merciful for what he ignorantly did, surely he would not have mercy on him he reenlisted knowing the moral hazards of military service.

He realized that the best way to defend his country was to buy his own rifle, buy his own ammunition, and train his body, mind, and skills to do exactly what he intended.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"We follow a man whom we call a prophet"

Edit 3/23/2017:
I received a response from Denver Snuffer on this post, which was forwarded to him by a reader. I have appended his responses to the end of this post with his permission. I have struck out and added (in italics) to reflect the corrected points. I make no argument with anything Denver said in his responses, and find them to be humble and charitable, as all his correspondence with me has always been.

Edit 3/34/2017:
I added the questions/comments Denver was responding to in his second email after realizing that some of his followers will mistakenly think he was talking about me, when in fact he was talking about them.
=====

This post is exclusively written to the group that call themselves "the remnant" who are from the LDS background (many other non-LDS Christian groups call themselves the remnant as well).

First, I insert this post in its entirety:
There is still a lot of confusion about the mechanism of salvation. Though we read and understand that Christ and Christ only is the gateway to salvation, we still struggle to understand what that means.

What does it mean that Christ is the only way to be saved? Does it mean that we can use him to be saved like a man uses a hammer to build a house? Is he our tool? The scriptures suggest quite the opposite.

But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

A potter does not merely create but also finishes his works. If salvation comes through Christ, it comes through yielding our hearts to him--completely and fully. That is how he can finish us without violating our free will. Believing in him is not a practice of mere confession with the lips, but of yielding our hearts. And it isn't a vacuous, passive position.

You can't yield your hearts to someone you don't know. Knowing Jesus requires seeking him, and that requires exercising every mechanism available to learn more about him.

Salvation is an awfully individual affair. No one can seek Jesus for you, and no one can know him for you. Nevertheless, the Christian world spends all or nearly all of their religious effort trying to get to know Jesus through someone else. For most Christians, the time they spend in the audience of a pastor, priest, pope, elder, friend, or anyone else far exceeds the time they spend in the audience of God himself, in prayer or in solitary scripture study.

This presents a dilemma. On one end of the continuum, we have the option of locking ourselves in a room with the Bible until we meet God. On the other, we have the option of locking ourselves in a church pew until we meet God. It turns out that either option will result in the same fruitless experience (though I would prefer the former rather than the latter). Why? Because of how ministration works.

God lives in a glory defined by the laws he lives. Truth produces glory in and around those who accept and live it. The higher the truth, the more the glory. Normal people cannot go to where God is. As Jesus told the Pharisees:

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. (John 8:21)
In order to ascend to where God is, you have to live the law the God lives. This is true of any being: in order to ascend to the level of glory they enjoy, you have to live the law they live.

So how do you learn what those laws are? If it were as simple as reading the Bible, or finding a minister, we would have millions and millions of people ascending to where God is. How many people have you met who have been in God's presence in heaven? Where, then, is the disconnect? Clearly, only a very small minority of people have God's law. Or, as Jesus said,

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14)
So where is it to be found? Paul gives us a clue:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
How can you know a law unless you hear it? "...how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?" (Romans 10:14-15)

Scripture gives us example after example of how God dispenses truth. Every man comes into this world possessing a certain state of glory. God reveals truths to these people of the level that they already possess. In order to ascend in truth, we must encounter higher truth than we possess. This elevated truth very rarely comes from God himself, except in the form of the Holy Ghost confirming truth to us. Instead, we must a) seek out and b) accept the teachings of people who possess higher truth than we do.

Obtaining truth from God happens by degrees. Jethro provided Moses with instructions that helped Moses advance from where he was before he met him to where he was after he met him. Moses did not stop there. Moses continued to obtain more truths that Jethro himself did not know, and thus was able to obtain more glory than Jethro possessed. We are surrounded by Jethros in our life. If we recognize and sort through what they say that is true and what they say that is error, we can catapault ourselves closer to God in a much faster manner than if we were left to our own devices, much like a spaceship can use the gravity of a planet to slingshot to its target much faster than it could with its own engines. But making the error of making the true messenger our target will end in the same catastrophe of making the planet the target: crash and burn instead of upward progression.

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. <end previous post>

I write to draw your attention to the fact that you are based on the same LDS doctrine that you have claimed to reject: "We follow a man whom we call a prophet."

You would roundly deny that fact as an accusation, and rebuttal with the claim that you are focused exclusively on "the doctrine of Christ." I would ask you the following:

1) There are constant fruits that God gives for repentance. Where are yours? Can you honestly say that you are closer to God because of your doctrine than you were before? Are you more repentant than ever before, or are you simply looking for some new thing that fits the pattern the LDS church has trained you to look for?

2) There are several things that distinguish your doctrine from other sects: The consideration of Denver Snuffer's revelations and opinions as the supreme authority in doctrine, the requirement of having 7 supporting women to baptize, the organization of "fellowships", paying of tithing into fellowships, saving money for a temple, and the creation of new scriptures. Which of these tenets are authorized by "the doctrine of Christ" verse?

You echo Denver Snuffer's claim that he did not form a church, and is not the leader of a new church. Why do you insist on setting up what he himself will not, and making him what he himself has refused to be? While I don't personally care whether or not someone starts a church, I find the claim inherently dishonest. While we can play Bill Clinton and redefine the word "church" to mean something other than what everyone considers it means, let's avoid the label and examine the facts.

There is a tendency to hear this group described as communal. This is not true. "The remnant" is not a communal group, but a group of people seeking to correlate themselves.correlated by Denver Snuffer. Everything that has the trademarked logo has been approved by this group him. Normal people cannot call remnant conferences. When conferences took place at the mesa in Colorado and in Idaho Falls, though organized and attended by remnant folks, they were not listed on the conference website.

What about doctrines? Why are revelations from Is Denver the only ones recognized? Is he the only person receiving revelation? If so, wouldn't that indicate that his doctrine is incapable of bringing a person to the point of receiving revelation for themselves? Since revelations always come with the Holy Ghost, that would not be a good indicator. Suppose there are others receiving revelation. Why no mention of them? Why aren't there revelations going into the new publication? Why aren't there bloggers like Adrian Larson championing their every word?

You say that you are preserving the restoration. This is a claim worth examining [see here and here]. Yet, not one of your distinguishing doctrines came from Joseph Smith. Not one. The closest thing you have is the idea of a temple, but you a) disregard Joseph's accompanying teaching that the Lamanites will build it and b) disregard Joseph's accompanying teaching that only the righteous will enter Zion (it is not a come as you are and be perfected later experience). If your mission is to live what Joseph preached, why are you picking and choosing which of his teachings to live?

If your claim to validity is fidelity to what Joseph preached, how well do you emulate what Joseph taught? When Joseph preached, he 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." (Joseph Smith quoted in Hyrum Andrus, "Joseph Smith's Idea of the Gospel")

What fruits do you have that indicate you've got the restoration right? Where are the fruits?

Some people in the movement honestly admit that they have not encountered God. Others claim to be, because they have had some supernatural experience. People seem unable to distinguish between truth and error. They do not realize that there is opposition in all things, and that Satan is a great counterfeiter. They do not heed the admonition to judge a tree by its fruits. The clearest fruit is repentance. Because people are disconnected from God due to their lack of true repentance they rely on Denver and set him up as the Israelites did with Moses. Where is the focus on repentance? Where is the care for the poor (external to the hand-picked fellowships)? Instead, you have new ordinances, new rules, new scriptures, and a new building fund. Like the Saints in Joseph's day and the Pharisees in Jesus' day, you have swallowed a camel but omitted the weightier matters.

Those who have recovered and are living Joseph's doctrines surely should have the experiences he had. Which of you regularly entertains the Lord and his angels? Which of you walks with the power to heal the sick? Which of you ranges the earth to bless to Lord's children temporally and spiritually?

What is the true contribution of the restoration? If we had to boil it down to one thing, what would it be? In my view, it is the evidence provided by Joseph's connection to heaven that all men are capable of coming into God's presence if they can sufficiently break free of the false traditions of men, take God at his literal word, and seek him with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. This is also the lesson found in the lives of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others. The strength of a godly movement is its contribution in breaking down false traditions, not its construction of new ones. If it weren't for the false traditions, the Book of Mormon--an excellent tool in tearing them down--might not be necessary. Isn't is odd that those who focus the most on doctrines purportedly revealed by Joseph later in his life have failed to achieve the experiences he had as a young man without any of those?

If you claim to validity is not what Joseph preached, but new revelation from heaven, why claim that your validity is based on Joseph's dispensation? Why put new wine in old bottles? Are you seeking God, and evaluating each message from every purported messenger for his voice, or are you wholesale swallowing everything that comes from Denver Snuffer, or worse--that which you claim comes from him, but is orthogonal to his real message? Do you seek the voice that calls you to change, or the voice that asks for small modifications and offers the same social patterns you have learned to love in the LDS church? Do you accept Denver's teaching because the Spirit witnesses of their truth, or because you are impressed by his claims of heavenly visitations? There will be many prophets in the last days. Some of what some say will be true. Some of what they say will be false. All of what many say will be false. If you can't recognize someone claiming to be a prophet, why would you bother to determine if what they say is true or false? If you believe someone just because they claim to have gone to heaven, you are in a position where you would be fully deceived by the priests of Pharaoh and other servants of the devil who nevertheless worked much mightier miracles than that. Are you aware that men are constantly lured from the straight and narrow path by soothing messages and the drive for community, and that those on the true path will always be lonely outcasts who have successively left the consensus position?

I'm not really sure why people in this movement are so intent on insisting that they don't have a prophet and they aren't a church. They certainly regard one man (and only one man's) connection with God as superior to anyone else's. If that is not a prophet, fine, but it doesn't change what you are doing. They certainly control what events, practices, and doctrines define the group. That is correlation. If you don't like calling yourself a church, fine, but it doesn't change what you are doing.

If you are bothered by the fact that you are in fact a church and you do in fact regard a man as a prophet, then you should stop being a church and regarding a man as a prophet. If you do not have a problem with that, you should stop hiding the fact and publicly lying about it.

I want to state outright that I hesitate to write this post because it could be misconstrued as being directed towards Denver. He has always been kind to me, and I have no reason to think he isn't sincere. I take him literally when he has--multiple times--asked people to go to God, not take his word for it, and not set him up as someone special. While I recognize that most of what It seems that what is wrong with this movement comes from his sycophants and not him., he often contradicts his own words when he claims a dispensation, claims to be or allows others to claim he is the one mighty and strong, modify scripture without dictated revelation, encourages people to canonize his writings, and allows a small group of people to control the tenets of this group.

Denver, You have taken upon yourself everything that made Joseph Smith fail. You've raised up a mediator to serve as your god. people to whom you are a God, a people incapable of connecting with God directly. Instead of emulating what brought Denver a connection to God, you've made him your connection to God. Will your end be any different than the followers of Joseph Smith in his day? making yourself redundant, you've made them reliant upon you. Choose one or the other: be the strongman you claim to abhor or abdicate your claims to authority and return to teaching by persuasion and reason. You can't have it both ways. 

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First response from Denver:
Your latest post got forwarded to me. I responded and sent you a copy of my reply. Keep up the good work.

He does make good points; ones I have also made.

And it is incorrect that I have every claimed to be "mighty and strong" and equally incorrect that I have not denounced it.

The scriptures project was spontaneous and independent of me. I only learned of it when it had been completed, following over a year of work by two independent groups, neither of whom were called or asked by me.

The conferences are independently organized and I have nothing to do with them other than being invited to speak. I've spoken at several conferences that were not put onto the conference website--Moab for example. At that one I was likewise an invited guest.

I do not own or control the logo. That is another group. I cannot use it without their permission. They can give permission without consulting with me.

The concepts are good. The specifics that are suggested by Rob Smith are in error.

-Denver

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Second response from Denver:

[In response to my comment that those close to him are hijacking what he does, and asking why he doesn't correct them:]
...Human weaknesses abound. It is not always good to confront and condemn people. Sensitive egos can be crushed, and must be handled with care. Hard and arrogant souls can be unwilling to even hear what is said. Every soul matters to God, and we have to deal with others as valued sons and daughters of a Father who cares as much for them as for any of us. As Joseph commented, "only fools will trifle with the souls of men." So we can't trifle. We must be serious and cautious. Each individual will react differently because they have different needs.

I have found that over time people expose themselves and what is in their hearts comes out in full display. Sometimes it requires years. Since I have nothing of value to offer anyone, no position, no opportunity for advancement, and I hold no office, eventually the vain and ambitious tire of sacrificing to help things along. They go off on their own and gather their own following. I don't try to reclaim them (or their followers). I'm content with stating clearly what I have given to me from above, and let everyone choose for themselves how they respond.

[In response to my comment about the treatment I get from many of his followers:]
It is unfortunate that people hate others because of disagreement about religious views. It is better to have religious views than to lack them. Even if we don't agree on everything, I would hope people who agree on many things could find a way to rejoice in agreements, and be kindly disposed about their disagreements.

Oddly, I get treated better by secular ex-Mormons than by Mormons. They are more generous in their views. It is tragic to think that religion closes minds, but it does.

[Returning to original point:]
I've repeatedly said (not sure how many time now, but it is often) that I have no spokesman. I try to put everything down in a written and edited transcript to state what I mean and to cite scripture to support ideas that are confirmed by scripture. Therefore what anyone else says is not something I have ever advocated be taken as what I say.

[In response to my asking whether the mention of the new name is a claim that he is the Davidic servant:]
The disclosure of the new name was accompanied with NOTHING that promised I would accomplish anything. Nor was it accompanied with any claim it conferred authority. In the account I think it reflects poorly on me, and on my reaction, and great credit on the Lord. His cutting rebuke was given in mildness and shows the great contrast between a foolish and ungrateful man (myself) and a kind and patient Lord.

All my best;
-Denver

Monday, March 20, 2017

New wine, old bottles

21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
(Mark 2)

What is the cloth? What is the garment? What are the bottles? What is the wine? In what context were these parables given?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Matthew 8:19-20: The Son of man hath not where to lay his head


19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matthew 8)

In this passage, Jesus is getting ready to depart the multitudes on a ship with his close disciples. A man tells him that he wants to be his disciple, and wants to follow him instead of remaining behind (verse 19). Jesus provides a very interesting reply in verse 20. The man, a scribe, had spent his whole life in consummate religious practice. Beyond living what he supposed was the law of Moses with zeal, he spent an inordinate amount of time memorizing and copying the rules that comprised his religion. Now, seeing greater light and truth in what the Lord taught, he sought to swap out the Master for meta-Moses, while leaving the scaffolding of his religious understanding intact. He was looking for another religion that he could live in the same way as he had lived Phariseeism, but with modified content.

The Lord Jesus' reply is wonderfully rich. He is telling the man that not only will the content need changing, the system itself is faulty. When a man follows the Lord Jesus, he must let go of the idea of a static religion. The Lord brings his true disciples up from one understanding to another. Climbing the next step up a ladder not only requires placing your hand on a higher rung, but also removing your foot from a lower rung.

The scribe said he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he went, but what he meant was that he wanted to follow him to the next landing. He wanted to shoehorn the gospel of Jesus Christ into the framework he had learned in Phariseeism, but God will not be put into a box. The gospel is progressive, and true disciples must be willing to let go of past traditions and systems in order to move forward.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Power in the Blood

There is instructive symbolism in the blood of the Lord Jesus. Presently, the Lord does not have blood. His tabernacle is sustained by the spirit. When he was a mortal man, his blood sustained him. It was pumped through his body by his heart. The physical heart is a pumping muscle. When we talk about the soul, the actuating link between the body and the spirit, we call it our heart (and sometimes our mind). The soul is what causes the spirit to have dominion over the body. In our lives, we are meant to practice the subjection of our bodies to our spirits. Our eventual destiny is to live in a tabernacle fully sustained by our spirits.

When Old Testament priests conducted a sacrifice, they would splatter the blood of the sacrifice onto the person who brought it. What they were being shown was that the blood of Jesus Christ serves to cover their sins from the judgment of God. Justification is the forgiveness of sins. The Lord's blood paid for all the sins of those who will turn from them to him. The use of blood as an instrument of justification is ironic, given that Adam and Eve inherited blood through the fall as a consequence of their sin. The blood of every man save one is a symbol of their sin. The blood of the Lamb of God is the exception. In being the only blood unpolluted by sin, it is the evidence that all mankind can, in fact, keep God's commandments with perfect obedience. In this way, the blood of every man can be offered up as a clean offering to God if they repent and follow the Lord with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. In this case, the justification of the Lord cleans their blood from its sin.

Some speak of being clean from "the blood and sins of this generation." This is a blessing given to those who, having had their own blood cleaned from their own sins, have worked diligently to preach repentance to others. The Lord pays the price for the sins of all those who will repent and heed him, but those who do not must pay the price of their own sin. In the same way, saviors on Mount Zion bring salvation to those who will repent and heed them, but those who do not will bear the burden of their own sins. The preacher is free from the responsibility of the sins of those he preaches to. He is free from their polluted blood.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

All Prayers in the Book of Mormon

Here is a list of all recorded prayers in the Book of Mormon.

30 ...O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. (1 Nephi 4)

...O God, receive my soul. (Mosiah 17:19)

And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. (Mosiah 18:12)

And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them. (Alma 14:26)


And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. (Alma 15:10)

And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people. (Alma 18:41)

O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.26 And he lifted up his voice to heaven, and cried, saying: O, how long, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that thy servants shall dwell here below in the flesh, to behold such gross wickedness among the children of men? (Alma 22:18)

27 Behold, O God, they cry unto thee, and yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride. Behold, O God, they cry unto thee with their mouths, while they are puffed up, even to greatness, with the vain things of the world.
28 Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish.
29 Yea, and they say that thou hast made it known unto them that there shall be no Christ.
30 O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and infidelity shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul.
31 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people.
32 O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me—yea, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and also Amulek and Zeezrom, and also my two sons—yea, even all these wilt thou comfort, O Lord. Yea, wilt thou comfort their souls in Christ.
33 Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may bear their afflictions which shall come upon them because of the iniquities of this people.
34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. (Alma 31)

4 For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me.
5 Yea, O God, and thou wast merciful unto me when I did cry unto thee in my field; when I did cry unto thee in my prayer, and thou didst hear me.
6 And again, O God, when I did turn to my house thou didst hear me in my prayer.
7 And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me.
8 Yea, thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them.
9 Yea, O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries in the midst of thy congregations.
10 Yea, and thou hast also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by mine enemies; yea, thou didst hear my cries, and wast angry with mine enemies, and thou didst visit them in thine anger with speedy destruction.
11 And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son. (Alma 33)

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. (Alma 36:18)

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
12 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (3 Nephi 13)

And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 17:14)

20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.
21 Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words.
22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.
23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one. (3 Nephi 19)

28 Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.
29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them. (3 Nephi 19)

18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.
19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish. (Ether 2)

And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness? (Ether 2:22)

2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.
3 Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.
4 And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
5 Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men. (Ether 3)

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 4:3)

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 5:2)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Contacting Me

About twice per month I get emails from people I've never met before. Most times they just say something like, "hi, thanks for writing the blog, it helps." While I appreciate that someone is getting something out of this, other than just me, if what I wrote depended on human approval, I'd write very differently, or not at all.

Some seem to want to start an ongoing online conversation, and start emailing me all sorts of things asking what I think about them. It doesn't matter what I think. Beyond that, I can save you the time and fast forward to my response: Men are almost always wrong. Don't depend on men, there are no shortcuts to God, spend more time in the scriptures and prayer and less time reading/listening to others' opinions.

About once per month I get an email from someone inviting themselves to my house. I'm going to try to tell you why I won't reply to those emails, but I don't know how to do it without sounding high-minded or arrogant. I promise you that I don't feel I'm better than anyone. I am just a worm crawling around in the dust. There's nothing I've learned or experienced that anyone can't learn or experience by doing what I've done, and there isn't anything greater that I have not yet attained that anyone can't attain by doing what I haven't yet done. Visiting me won't help you do what I've done. That choice is simply yours to make. And getting to know me will actually hinder your ability to do more than I've done.

That being said, the Lord has been explicit in his instructions to my family regarding visitors. I'll spare you the details, but that's why I won't be replying to those emails. Whatever your goal is in visiting, you will better meet it in other ways. If your goal is to obtain further light and truth, go directly to God. Read the scriptures and pray more frequently or with more intent. If your goal is to fellowship with like minded people, there are many who are more like minded than we will be.

You don't need to know my email address, you don't need to visit me in my home, you don't need to know me better. You need to know God better. You need to know how to contact him. You need to visit him in his home. I can't help you with any of that. Only you can decide to do what is required to do those things.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Light Comes in Packets

A friend of mine recently wrote:
"I really appreciate your insight. It helps me in coming closer to the Lord. I am just not as articulate as you to express what I am thinking. I am trying to get closer to the spirit so I can be of service to warn of impending things as well. I feel them often, but like the Lord said to Hyrum, it's not my time yet, I need to learn more of His word."

The scripture my friend referred to was:
Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men. (D&C 11:21)
This morning I was waiting on God on another topic, when he used the open channel to call this conversation back to my mind. He then taught me something I had never before considered on the topic, though I feel quite stupid for not having thought of it before.

It turns out that God's word is not a binary (on/off) thing. It is progressive. What this means is that, while you can truly have none of God's word on a subject, what is far more likely is that you have some share of it. You can have a little, a lot, or anything in between. It comes in packets. You get a little, then a little more, then a little more. Even the biggest revelations are only partial in nature. To prove this, flip to any revelation in the scriptures, and see if you can raise a question on that material that is not answered there. You will be able to do that every time. Even the most amazing revelations are only partial packets of truth.

If it were God's will that no one ever preached the gospel without a fullness of God's word on a topic, it is unlikely anyone would ever preach the gospel, as we are fallen, broken, weak little creatures in a desolate, dreary world.

If you are waiting until you know everything about something before you preach it, one of two things will happen. Either you will never preach anything, or you will come to a point where you falsely believe you know everything about a topic, and you will fall into Satan's snare by ignoring anything anyone teaches that contradicts what you know about it without honest evaluation.

God calls upon the weak things of this earth to thrash those who think they are mighty. That is the pattern in scripture. Whether it is stammering Moses, or second-string priest Ezekiel, it seems that he has a ready supply of those weak enough to listen to him among rejects like myself.

We are meant to share what we have been taught, in abject humility realizing that others may know far more than we do on a topic.
...it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. (D&C 88:81)
 
It is not enough to keep the commandments. We must also teach them.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
When we are willing to share what we learn, the Lord gives us more. 

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (Matthew 25:22)
Just two weeks ago, I was waiting on the Lord when all of the sudden the spirit recalled a question I had asked a few days prior on the relationship between body, soul, and spirit. In a snap of the fingers, the Lord communicated to me pages and pages of information, that I hurriedly transcribed afterward. It was such a concentrated package of light that I knew it would take me many days to unravel it all. I was very grateful for that communication. A day or two after that, my wife asked if we could attend a friend's church. I am not the church type these days, as I avoid situations that constrain the way I worship God like the plague. She was shocked when I immediately said yes. When she asked, the spirit said, "You didn't think was for you, did you? They will ask you to speak, and this is your topic." Sure enough, when we arrived, the normally-always-present teacher was absent without notice, and they asked if I would be willing to share a few words. These experiences, though not daily occurrences, have been common in the years since the Lord taught me that those who are willing to share what he gives them will be blessed with more, and those who do not will lose even what they have.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5)
9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12)
Now, a brief note on articulation. I know a few people whose articulation puts mine to shame. While there are times when I feel the word flowing through me, most times I feel like I am squeezing frozen molasses from a clogged tube. I have to push, and push, and push to force my mind to access God, organize words and thoughts, and construct the right questions to get the next bit of information. Once I wrote an entire book in about a month, where every evening the Lord granted for me to write about a chapter. Most times, it takes me about four hours to write a page and a half. Those four hours are filled with prayer, reading, waiting, writing, rewriting, shifting to another area, and repeating the whole process. Most of the time the Spirit leads me to work on something other than what I want to work on, and what I want to work on has to wait until some other time. This is why I have about 150 blog posts in draft form, and at least 3 books being drafted besides the one that will come out next. It's not a magical process. It's the closest thing to Army crawling through a sand pit the size of central park. But every time I get around people, I cry in my heart, "Lord, look at your children! Where can they turn to learn more about you! They are surrounded by rubbish. They have no reason to believe in you. They are in the darkness, and there is no light." He says "if you want that to happen, there is only one way." Now, God doesn't depend on me for anything. He is raising up very many servants (the subject of an upcoming post if it ever gets done). But each of these servants has to decide whether to crawl through the park or not.

My friend said, "I am not as articulate as you." When God told me to write "Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men," I thought it would be rapidly injected into my head like "Commanded in All Things" was. When I got to working on it, I realized quickly that the sophisticated writing needed to lay out that material was far beyond my capacity. I prayed and prayed and asked him to find someone else. I said, "Lord, I'm not capable of writing this." He responded, "Get capable!" It was not comforting at all. What seemed like a reasonable task ended up being the hardest thing I've ever done. It took me about four years of hours and hours of hard work every week, mostly at night. Even the revisions took forever. Articulation is not a trait, it is a skill. If you want to preach the gospel, you need to learn it. You will always be limited in your capacity to bring people to God by your ability to persuade and explain. We don't win souls by smooth talking, but we can lose them by preaching poorly.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What happens when you try to follow God

 I wrote the following very early yesterday morning. It is part of the book I am working on, "Seek Ye This Jesus."
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It is important to understand how Satan and his minions respond to your attempts to walk with God. When you attract the attention of heaven, you also attract the attention of hell. Hell’s response is often not only more obvious to you than heaven’s, but also can seem to happen faster and to a greater extent. The reason for this is that the devil’s primary operating area is the body, where your perception is well-developed, while God’s primary operating area is the spirit, where your perception is under-developed. If your eyes were open to the spiritual realm, you would see how extensive, immediate, and mighty heaven’s reaction to your slightest walk with God can be.

8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15)

There are several ways the devil reacts to your attempts to come to God, and understanding the devil’s tactics give you power over him. First, he counterfeits what you seek. The easiest way to derail a seeker of truth is to provide them with some spiritual manifestation that surpasses their experience. The devil, having obtained great power and knowledge in the presence of God before his fall, can counterfeit almost anything that God can produce. He can give you impressions. He can speak to you. He can appear to you as an angel of light, and can even appear to you claiming to be God. He can work miracles. How, then, can you tell the difference between a spiritual manifestation of God and one of the devil? You must learn to evaluate truth not with your bodily senses, but by the power of the Holy Ghost. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5) When an experience comes from God, it is always accompanied by the Holy Ghost, which will create a sensation in your spirit that is completely distinct to anything this world has to offer, but is closest to what we call love. Do not understand this to mean that the Holy Ghost manifests as a feeling in the body.
Because this sensation is practically impossible to describe, the best way to learn to recognize it is by experience. Over time, you train yourself to recognize the Holy Ghost by taking note of the sensations you experience in the spirit in moments where you lived God’s word as found in the scriptures and as given to you in spiritual manifestations. Prior to the Lord Jesus’ first visit to me, I was visited by Satan, disguised as the Lord and claiming to be him. When he appeared to me, I was filled with bodily excitement at what I thought was happening. Quickly, I realized something was off. I noticed the lack of the Holy Ghost, which is a sensation have have come to be very familiar with. Then I connected to the Holy Ghost, realized this was Satan, and cast him out. Later, when the real Lord appeared to me, I sensed his presence immediately even before I turned and saw him. It was the same sensation I had always experienced, but in greater abundance than any previous time.
The Holy Ghost can have a sanctifying effect on your body when your soul heeds it, but it operates directly on your spirit, not your body. Always be incredibly wary of feelings and emotions in your body. For example, the subtle distinction between compassion in your spirit and passion in your body can mean the difference between working a mighty miracle of intercession and being tempted to use the Lord’s name in vain by seeking a blessing that is not his will to give. The lust of many men and women who pray for God to justify the desires of their flesh has been mistakenly called inspiration from God. Though God was telling them “no,” they could not hear because the volume of their bodies was so much louder than the voice of the spirit.
Without great discernment, many new and experienced believers have been led astray by spiritual counterfeits. Once Satan has enticed you with a demonic spiritual encounter, he can teach you false doctrine that will keep you busy with what you think will bring you to God, but what is actually keeping you from him. A great example of this is found in the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain is enticed by Satan to make an offering to God in a form other than what God had commanded.
      Another way to recognize counterfeit spiritual experiences is that they support staying as you currently are. True spiritual experiences are uplifting, but also paradoxically harrowing. When God reaches out to you, he rarely does so only to encourage you. More often, he does so to chasten you in love and invite you to progress further through ever-deeper repentance, abandoning sacred cows, accepting deeper doctrine, and taking on previously insurmountable challenges. God’s interactions with you will lead you to greater experiences with him and will change you for the better. They will subdue your natural man and lift you up by humbling you. Satan’s interactions with you will gratify your pride and make you feel like you do not need to change.
Counterfeit spiritual experiences are common, and you should be very careful to watch for them, but you should not fear them. Instead, you should regard them as a sign that you are on the right path. Satan does not send counterfeit experiences to those who are not a threat to him. It is better to let those people continue to believe there is no devil, that anything goes with God, or that there is no God. It is only when people repent and attempt to come to the Lord Jesus that Satan needs to send them spiritual experiences. This is reminiscent of how a military plane will deploy “chaff”—a confetti of metal pieces—to distract an incoming missile from its original target. The plane will not just randomly deploy the chaff. It waits until it is in imminent danger.
Similarly, Satan tends to employ other people to attack you when you decide to follow God. Satan has an incredibly large network of people on this earth who are within his power. When we think of the demon possessed, we think of very extreme cases. The vast majority of people who are influenced by demons are not even aware of it, because it is something that happens by degrees. In everything we do, we are enticed by God on the one hand, and the devil on the other. What the means is that practically every moment of every day provides us the opportunity to be an agent of the devil, even temporarily. This can come in ways we do not even perceive. I might say something that is totally innocuous to me, but triggers some unknown temptation in another. Of course, this can happen on a much larger scale and in less innocuous ways.
The fact that most people on this earth either deny God or refuse to come to him means that, for most people, heeding Satan’s voice is their default position. Does that seem an extreme statement? Perhaps you think that, were that to be true, we would live in a world where terrible things are done by normal people on a daily basis. While we are getting closer every day, we are not there yet. Such an expectation, though, is unrealistic under present circumstances. You will not see Satan’s power over seemingly normal but ungodly people until you try to walk with God. Consider a prison situation. The inmates seem to have a peaceful experience, mulling about all day. Sure, they are subject to a few rules, but as long as they keep them, everything stays orderly and calm. It is easy to ignore the power wielded by the warden and his associates until an inmate tries to escape. At that moment, all hell will break loose. The same goes with you when you try to walk with God.
The moment you set foot on that path, you will see just how many and to what degree people in your life are influenced by Satan. You will of course be ridiculed, mocked, cut off, and cast out for your religious beliefs. There is no place for men and women who love the Lord Jesus and are willing to do what he actually said in any modern Christian sect. It may surprise you to see just how much of a hold Satan has on people who spend so much time and money in what they suppose is the service of God. What may surprise you further is to see the reaction you get to those who have no idea of your spiritual life. People at work, school, or other associations will also make active attempts to trigger sin in you. This may come in the form of unfair treatment at work, severe persecution in spite of doing good things, inappropriate sexual advances, or any number of things that you’d never expect. Even your own family members may persecute you (Matthew 10:36). Satan is like the ultimate mafia boss. When you attempt to walk with God, he starts calling in his favors with those around you. And they hardly ever have any idea what is going on. This is spiritual warfare. The appropriate reaction is to fight it spiritually. Get on your knees and intercede for these people. Ensure your behavior in the natural is above reproach. React to persecution with kindness. Avoid even the appearance of evil.