Sunday, December 29, 2019

On the Second Comforter

In the last few days I've received a lot of correspondence about the Second Comforter.

Here's the myth:
Those from an LDS background believe some mixture of:
-If they see Jesus, they are assured of eternal life.
-If they are promised eternal life by someone, or imagine that they are, they will in fact receive it.

Here are the facts:
Joseph Smith used the phrase "Second Comforter" thusly:

After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands,) which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted, etc. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.
Now, what is this other Comforter? It is no more or less than the LORD JESUS CHRIST himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even he will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.150-1)
Here are some key facts:
-"Find[ing] your calling and election made sure" (having God say to you "thou shalt be exalted" REQUIRES serving God "at all hazards", or in other words, keeping all his commandments without exception.
-The Lord Jesus Christ can appear to individuals "from time to time".
-The Lord Jesus Christ can "manifest the Father unto" individuals.
-On his visits, the Lord will open "visions of the heavens" and "teach him face to face."

Here are some key take aways from the above quote:
-You can't live what Joseph described here until you prove that nothing can cause you to disobey God.
-Even after everything here has happened to you, you still have things that the Lord needs to teach you.

I would be very happy if:
1. We could all stop acting like having experiences with Jesus is some sort of stamp of authenticity. There is nothing stopping any yahoo from making any sort of claims. The proof is in the pudding. If following one's teachings fails to produce the claimed results, you can set them down as an imposter. We have so many imposters floating around because we seek teachers who tell us what we want to hear instead of testing people who call us to repentance by, you know, actually repenting.
2. We could actually repent of our sins and stop pretending that some church, ordinance, "covenant", trick, promise, book, or anything else is ever going to yield salvation. No one is saved by religious rites. Nothing you "get" will save you. Ordinances will not save you. Key words, signs, and tokens will not save you. It doesn't matter if you are Mormon, Catholic, or something else, the belief that somehow you can be saved through receipt of something is false. A priest's blessing, a temple ordinance, or anything else is utterly worthless if not accompanied with acquisition of and adherence to the character of God. In fact, it is worth less than nothing, because in convincing the person that they already have eternal life, it will permanently block them from doing what is required to get it!


STOP THINKING THAT AN EXPERIENCE WILL SAVE YOU. You actually have to learn. You actually have to repent. Repenting means actually ceasing to sin. You actually have to change.

You can't be saved without repenting--without actually learning about God's character/knowledge and actually putting it into practice in your own life. 
You will be saved just as fast as you learn more about God and actually do it in your life.

You are saved by who you become

Seek Ye This Jesus
The book "Seek Ye This Jesus" is all about developing an individual relationship with Jesus Christ. In writing "Seek Ye This Jesus," I thought I spent more than adequate time showing from the scriptures that you can't know God without first becoming sinless. The first HALF of the book is about nothing but repentance.

Somehow, even of those few who have bothered reading that book, many seemed to miss this point. I don't know that is possible. Here are just a few quotes.

In the chapter "An audience with Christ" (the first non-intro chapter) I wrote:
As wonderful as it is to see God, a visitation is only the beginning! Seeing God is still not the same as knowing God.
...
...seeing God is just the start of the relationship required to get to know God.
...
The rest of the chapters in this book describe the process of obtaining not only an audience with Christ, but a habitation with him. That process begins with an understanding of repentance...
After repentance, you are ready to learn how to interact with God in ways that you have only read about. You will come to understand how it is possible to come to know God while still in this life. You will comprehend what great things God has designed in this life for those who love him.
If you follow the instructions given in the scriptures on these topics, you will find yourself in possession of eternal life in the presence of God. 

In the chapter "Be Ye Perfect" I quoted these two scriptures:

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3)
…that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)

In the chapter "Line Upon Line" I wrote:
We know God to the extent that we can see and endure his glory. Although the Father dwells in unapproachable light, the Son can appear as he chooses—with no glory (as he did on the road to Emmaus), with all his glory, or anything in between. The glory we can endure is proportional to the glory that we possess. 

In the chapter "To Know Thee" I wrote:
The Lord Jesus said that eternal life is to know the Father and the Son.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
If you do not know God, you have not yet received eternal life. If you do, you have. The logic here is simple and clear. But what does it mean to know God? If eternal life means to know God, then what could be more important than first understanding what it means to know God and then coming to that point?
John taught that those who know God keep his commandments:
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2)
He equated keeping his commandments to being sinless:
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (1 John 3:6)
Book 1 describes the process of becoming sinless. While this is a prerequisite for knowing God, it is not a good descriptor for what it actually means to know him. Reconciling yourself to God through repentance makes it possible for us to begin the process of coming to know God.

No matter what experience you might have or imagine, you will never actually know God until you have become like him, and that takes a great deal of effort/time/work. Get busy!

(Consider reading this related post).

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Jesus is real

Today most of the Christian world commemorates the birth of Christ.

Jesus Christ was a real person. The Lord lived, died, and was resurrected. His one and only desire is that you encounter all the joy and happiness he offers to you through what he did, does, and will do.

Jesus is alive. I have seen him many times. I have seen the marks in his hands. I have felt the love he emanates. He has spoken to me and he has touched me. In vision, I have seen his scourging, and have seen him hanging on the cross.

You won't find the Lord in the traditions of men or in churches. None of them teach what you need to find him, and all of them teach things that will permanently prevent you from coming to him.

You will find him by finding his word and actually doing what it says.

If you would like a guided tour of the scriptures regarding this journey, I suggest reading "Seek Ye This Jesus."

Free pdf
Free audio
Amazon print
Amazon kindle


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Physical health and spiritual health

We live in an age of unprecedented wealth, at least in first world countries. We have (by far) more opportunity, more money, more time, and more information than any previous generation.

Are we wiser? Are we happier? Are we more helpful? Are we kinder? Are we more obedient to God?

We are none of these things. We are more foolish, more wicked, more selfish, and more covetous than any other generation in the history of this planet.

Human nature is evil continually. When you give a typical person more resources, all you do is magnify their ability to manifest the evil in their heart.

People are far more integral and consistent than some give them credit for. Our character is like a barrel of apples. You can have 99 good apples in a barrel, but if you put one rotten one in, it will contaminate and rot the rest of them. When someone is rotten in one part of their character, given enough time, it will tend to rot out the rest of their character.

Today I want to talk a little about how physical and spiritual health are related. I will just dance over a few topics here. One could write a whole book on this, but because I am busy on other more important things, I will leave it to you to expound these things in your minds on your own.

Forty percent of Americans are obese. Almost seventy percent are overweight. Why? Because if you give a natural man extra food, instead of eating better or feeding others, he will shove the extra food in his face.

I was a fat kid. I didn't understand that I had a few physical and mental circumstances that made it easier for me to be fat. What I did realize, quickly, was that being fat was not a good thing. I did not possess the tools for understanding how to keep my weight healthy. After half a lifetime of searching, I have found tools that make it possible to govern your weight. In retrospect, they are simple. However, there are probably a lot of people out there who could benefit from having them handed to them without having to search them out among the sea of nonsense. Because I did the work to search and try these things, I can give them to you so that you can have them without putting in all that work.

Do you see the spiritual connections here? People are spiritually fat because they do what everyone else does. They feast on the empty calories of information abundantly available in life. They are constantly learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. When individuals decide to exert great effort in seeking and obeying God, they can obtain truth and share that truth without price with those who have need it just as badly but are unwilling or unable to put in the necessary work to obtain it.

Starting from nothing

If you are spiritually starting from nothing, here is what I recommend you do: Carve out ten minutes per day. EVERYONE has ten minutes per day. Use the same time everyday. For me, early mornings work best. EVERYONE can wake up ten minutes earlier. Open your scriptures, and spend this time reading. Don't just read. Stop on every sentence, and ask yourself if you get what you just read. Ask questions like "why did this person do this thing here?" or "why did God do this?" or "why was this included?" or "how can this apply to my life today?" or "under what circumstances could I apply this?" If you don't understand a word, look it up. I recommend the 1828 Webster's dictionary. If you don't understand a sentence, go to www.biblehub.com and look up the same verse in many other translations of the Bible. Maybe look up the Greek or Hebrew on the same website. When you learn something new, write it down. When you can't seem to get the answer to your questions, write them down. Then pray and ask God. If he answers you, write it down. If he doesn't, keep and refer to the question so you notice when he answers you later. You will be absolutely shocked at the difference spending just ten minutes per day in the scriptures makes.

If you are physically starting from nothing, here is what I recommend you do. First, modify your eating habits. The principle advice I can give you is to think carefully about what you eat. How much you eat is far less important than what you eat, and what you eat (and when you eat) is far more important than what exercise you can do.

Losing weight. Your body stores sugar in your muscles and liver to the tune of 1500-2000 calories. While you have anything left in these reserves, you will not burn significant fat, and will not lose weight. The only way you will lose weight is by draining this reserves. The best way to do this is by fasting. If you fast initially to burn those calories, then make sure you keep your calorie intake low, you will burn fat very quickly. The fastest way to drop fat is to fast every other day until you reach your goal body composition. This is kind of extreme, and most people will not be comfortable with the costs.

Here's what I recommend instead. If you are overweight, start skipping breakfast. Eat absolutely no calories (solids or liquids) until noon every day, and stop eating by 7pm each night. This is not hard to do, especially if you take advantage of caffeine. If you want to maximize efficacy of caffeine, don't consume it past noon each day. If you dose it all day, you will get used to it and it won't work as well to fight the hunger pangs in the mornings. After a few days, you will get used to not eating in the morning. You will probably notice attention gains in the morning from not eating. It won't effect anything you do, really, even if you have a physically or mentally strenuous job. Drink plenty of water. Using only this method, you will reliably drop ~2lbs per week of fat. I lost 30 lbs using this method, and it was easy. It just takes time.

Calories and content. As you age, you need far fewer calories than you think. If you overeat, you will get and stay fat. Skipping breakfast will go a long way to fix this without unnecessary discomfort. Here is another important tip: Focus your eating on low-carb protein and veggies. I'm not saying that is all you should eat, but I am saying that should be the first thing you eat when you eat. You will find that proteins and fats and veggies fill you up to the point where you really can't eat anything else without making yourself sick. If you are a man, try to eat 100g of protein per day, and up that by 5-10g daily each week as you up your weight routines (see below) until you get to your body weight in grams per day. You will find it VERY hard to get to that amount eating only from 12-7 each day. That will help you stay away from things you shouldn't be eating, and you will be stuffed so you won't have to worry about being hungry. Some people love the keto diet. In my opinion, it is excessive, expensive, and overly complicated. You can get a dandy body composition without all that trouble.

Lifting. If you are used to doing nothing, the next logical step is not going full bore at a gym. Start small, and crush it. Here's what I recommend: Do 1 set of push ups, 1 set of sit ups, and 1 set of bodyweight squats. Do 5 reps of each, and repeat the cycle until you can't do any more of one of the exercises. If you need to, do the push ups on your knees, and if you need to, put your arms across your chest on the situps. Every day, add one rep to each set, then when you get up to 30 reps, add one cycle and cut all reps back down to 20.

You can do this every day until you get up to ~7 sets of around ~30 reps. You will be surprised at how fit you can get with this simple exercise routine. If you are happy where you are, great. If you want to go to the next level, you are going to need weights.

If money is tight, the best way to advance is to buy a used bowflex, which you can get for <$100. If you have money and don't enjoy the gym, you can start there and add weight equipment as your space and budget allows. To have a gym-equivalent home gym you will need a bench, a bunch of bars, a bunch of dumbbells, a leg press machine, a power rack with chinup bar, and lots of space. This is expensive! For most people, a gym membership is much more cost effective. If you live in a college town, one inexpensive way to build a home gym is to scour the classifieds at the end of each semester and buy out the graduating class. You can then resell the bits you don't need or want at the beginning of each semester at a profit and in this way build a home gym for free.

How to do this without offending your family. Don't try to get everyone in your house to do this. You can still eat "normal" dinners with the family, just eat a lot less. See family dinner as a treat not a meal. Have a little of everything, but realize your routine is what feeds you, not whatever happens to be for dinner. Kids have very different nutritional needs than adults. Don't subject your kids to this advice--it is unhealthy and cruel!

Advanced

To fulfill your spiritual potential, you really have to get to the point where you hit spiritual exhaustion every day. This may take you only twenty minutes now, but you can get to the point with practice where it takes hours per day. If you reach this point, you will find it difficult to spend sufficient time in spiritual pursuits and do what is required to stay alive and keep others happy. You may find the only way you can serve two masters is by sacrificing sleep. You'll have to figure that out for yourself.

Lucky for you, it is much easier to reach your physical potential. It takes less than an hour per day. Here is what works for me, you may find something that works better for you:

Weights. Every day I do 20 sets of a variety of exercises with weights heavy enough that I can do 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps, except arms and shoulder days, when I do around 15 sets. Here's my split:
Day 1: Legs: Hip thrusts, goblet squats, barbell squats, deadlifts, leg press, calf raises, lunges, leg curl, leg extension, stiff legged deadlifts.
Day 2: Chest: Barbell bench, dumbbell flys, dumbbell bench, dumbbell incline bench, dips.
Day 3: Back: lat pulldows, bent over row, bent over dumbbell row, machine rows, chin ups, weighted chin ups.
Day 4: Biceps: all manner of curls.
Day 5: Triceps: all manner of arms extensions.
Day 6: Shoulders: (Note: you really don't need heavy weights for shoulders. Go light and get the sets up to 20 reps each, you'll thank me later.) This is a very boring workout, and you have to focus your mind on the right muscles. Bent over reverse flys with pinkies out, repeated sets until failure. Bent over reverse flys with palms in, repeated sets until failure. Upright lateral raise palms down, repeated sets until failure. Upright rows, repeated sets until failure.
Day 7: Abs: (Note: I change up the order every time) Hanging sit ups, foot-anchored situps, bench situps, v-ups, reverse sit ups, crunches, laying on the floor oblique twists, planks, etc. (Youtube is your friend for ab exercises).

Eating. You'll need to get your body weight of protein per day if you are doing this workout schedule. If you want to be happy, find the easiest thing that works for you. Here's how I do it.

For maintenance, I eat about a cup of Greek yogurt per day with a LITTLE fruit or jam mixed in 3x per day. How much? 50g of protein worth. For variety or if I'm in a hurry, I swap out two scoops of unflavored protein power for one or more yogurt snacks. I eat a normal lunch and a normal dinner between the yogurt snacks. You can find full fat or fat free Greek yogurt. My personal preference is a 50/50 mix. Sometimes I will mix one scoop of protein powder into a cup of full fat Greek yogurt to get a 4:2:1 protein:fat:carb ratio, which works best for me. It makes it surprisingly creamy.

This might sound extreme, but by making this my staple, I eat literally whatever I want to for lunch and dinner, as long as I get ~25g of protein each, and stay very fit in the meantime. Sometimes lunch is a massive delicious sandwich and chips, sometimes it is a massive salad with two chicken patties, sometimes it is two McDoubles. I eat whatever my family has for dinner. I try to make sure I eat veggies with my lunch and dinner, but that doesn't happen as often as it should.

Supplements. There are all sorts of supplements on the market. I've probably tried them all. In my experience, the only things worth it are: multivitamins, extra c and d, and (for men) Boron, which drastically increases testosterone by freeing up bound testosterone in your body. Preworkout works, but it's not for everyone. Same with caffeine. That's it.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Understanding not the things which are prepared for them

The other day this scripture stuck out to me:

"Otherwise Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them." (D&C 78:10)

How often I have noticed this tactic of the devil. He blinds them to what they could be experiencing, convincing them that what they currently possess is all there is to have.

Consider blessings you are promised. If you aren't receiving them, question your means. There are only two possibilities: You are either not doing what God said to do, or God is a liar (or the scriptures are wrong, etc.).

What are some blessings that you might not even know are out there?

If you read JST Genesis 14 you will see a host of blessings that Melchizedek received. Among them are:
  • fear of God
  • the power to protect himself from dangerous creatures
  • the power to put out fire
  • being ordained by God himself, in person
These blessings are available as part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have you received them?
Additionally, these passage states that "every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven." (JST Genesis 14:30-32) Have you obtained that priesthood?

You can only answer yes if you have broken mountains, divided seas, dried up waters, put at defiance the armies of nations, divide the earth, stand in the presence of God, and translated. If the answer is no, then you still have some progress ahead of you.

Now the question: Why aren't you doing these things? Why have you failed to receive the promised blessings? Perhaps you do not have the priesthood you think you have. Or, perhaps you aren't living the way you are meant to. You should think about that.

What about simpler things? Jesus said certain signs would follow the believers. Are you a believer? Then have you healed the sick, raised the dead, etc.? If not, maybe your definition of a believer differs from God's. Maybe you aren't doing what you are meant to do. You should think about that.

Why do you find it hard to study the scriptures? Do you hear God's voice speaking to you when you read the scriptures? Why not? This is a blessing that is available for the taking. Maybe you aren't reading like you should. Do you divorce yourself of your preconceived notions? Do you approach scripture study as an opportunity for God to correct your false tradition? How many questions do you ask him in the process of reading? What do you do when you get a question? Do you pray? Do you then search out the scriptures to try to answer the question? Do you continue to think about that periodically until you get an answer? What do you do when you get the answer? Do you write it down? Do you teach your family? Do you forget? You should think about that.

What happens when you pray? The ancients heard the voice of God. They received angels and God himself. They received answers to their prayers. Do you? If not, why not? What were they doing that you were not? How were they praying? Did they focus on length, frequency, etc.? Did they pray as a chore? Could they distinguish routine gratitude with crying unto the Lord? You should think about that.

Are you saved? Christians tend to consider themselves members of the celestial. However, D&C 76 clearly describes that those who are worthy of exaltation are also worthy to stand in the presence of God. It is only these who inherit all things. If you are prepared to receive all things, then you should already be admitted into God's presence, as was Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. Have you seen Jesus? The faithful in all times did. If not, what did they do that you are not doing? You should read Lectures on Faith and think about that.

Have you been baptized by fire? Was that EVER recorded as a gradual process in the scriptures? No, it wasn't. If you haven't experienced this, why not? What is the difference between what you are doing and what the ancients did? This is a good thing to look into in the Book of Mormon. You should think about that.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Love your spouse unconditionally

For a long time now and at times at great personal cost, my behavior towards my wife has been perfectly reconciled to my best and most sincere understanding of God's character. This changed yesterday at approximately 4:15pm, when the Lord suddenly opened the eyes of my understanding and tied together filaments of things that he has been teaching me over the last month or so that I presumed were unrelated.

Men and women have the same needs: to feel loved, respected, valued, and heard. However, when it comes to the acts of the spouse in generating these feelings, there are major differences between the sexes and (typically more subtle) specific differences between individuals within the sexes.

For example, if a woman does not feel physically safe with a man, she will not feel loved by him, while the opposite question has no impact whatsoever on a man's feeling loved by the woman. As another example, a man will not feel loved by his wife if she is not sexually aroused by him, but a woman's arousal is generally dictated by how loved, respected, valued, and heard she feels.

Men and women are very different creatures. These differences are why Paul described the duties of husbands and wives separately.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5)

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3)

How did "Christ love the church"? He grew into having something to offer, then he continuously and consistently sacrificed himself without regard to how his sacrifice was appreciated, noticed, or used, even unto death. A husband is expected to have something to offer his wife that she doesn't have without him. He is also expected to be consistent and unfluctuating in his benevolent behavior towards her. His behavior toward her is meant to be completely independent of her behavior toward him. The Lord does not lean on us to be able to do what he does. Our inconsistency does not hamper his consistency. Who he is comes from who he is, not who we are. As Christ loved us first while we were yet sinners, a husband is meant to pour out every benefit he has the capacity to bestow to his wife no matter how she acts towards him. Christ was expected to be perfect and a husband is too. It is good for a wife to strive to do these things as well.

How is the church "subject unto Christ?" The church reveres Christ, cares about him, notices who and what he is and how much he loves them, and in doing so turns their hearts toward him. Wives love their husbands by doing the same. They regularly demonstrate their love by considering the circumstances of their husband and acting in ways that empower and support them. It is good for a husband to strive to do these things as well.

Unconditional love

We are to love our spouses as God loves us.

God's love for us has an indescribably "breadth, and length, and depth, and height":

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3)

As we learn more about God's love, we will be filled with it, and we are able to love others in the same way. The first frontier of our application of God's love is towards our spouse.

God loves us unconditionally, meaning his love for us is not dependent on our love for him.

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3)

Too often, we condition our love on how our spouse treats us. This is wrong, and will lead to severely diminished joy. We ought to love our spouses as if they were ideal in every way; as if they were Christ himself.

We should be relentless, tenacious, and limitless in our love for our spouse. They ought to feel cherished and ravished by our love for them at all times and in all places.

But what if my spouse treats me badly?

Why did Jesus treat Judas the same as the other twelve apostles, even though he knew his heart? Jesus loved him like the other eleven in spite of his heart.

God's word is abundantly clear on this subject: we must love our spouses independent of their treatment of us.

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5)

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5)

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matthew 5)

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4)

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15)

Friday, December 13, 2019

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench

There are many scriptures that refer to the end times servant, who is referred to by various titles and names.

It seems that anyone who refers to these verses is trying to make a claim that they are that person. Since there can only be one who is right, either all but one of those making this claim are wrong, or all of them are wrong.

Some people think that studying these verses will help them identify this person. In reality, the only one who will understand these passages to the extent needed to do that will be the person himself. There is knowledge available from God that can only be understood by those who walk through it. This is true, for example, of hell:

44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—
45 And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows;
46 Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof;
47 Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again;
48 Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation. (D&C 76)

These passages will be useful to the actual person, because like young Jesus, he will read of how and who and what he is and it will provide a path where through his faith in God's word, he can accomplish what he has been sent to do.

Regardless, a much more valuable use of these passages is unlocked as you realize that no matter who this person is, you will grow closer to Christ by becoming more like him. After all, just as Christ is the exemplar of a saved being, this person is the exemplar of a citizen of Zion. The 144,000 and all who receive them fully will become as he is, just as he is like Christ is (see John 15 where Jesus explains "the true vine.")

In the spirit of helping others attain the attributes of this person, I would like to explain one cryptic passage for you. I hope this helps those who are worn down and downtrodden by being betrayed by those they needed the most.

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. (Isaiah 42)

What does it mean when it says "a bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench?" I inquired of the Lord about this, and this is what he said:

He will carry his burden quietly and alone. He will not lean on any man, because in contrast to the weight he carries, they are as bruised reeds and smoking flax. Reeds are not strong when intact—much less so when bruised. Flax lamps make only dim lights, and when smoking they are out of oil and hardly provide any light at all. So will the help of man be to this servant, who can rely only on the Lord to help him in mining out the information from God that he must reveal. In spite of the total absence of assistance, he will not quit until he has succeeded.

In this life, we are given the tender mercy of having people we can rely on. Some people have devout siblings. Others have rock-solid spouses. Some have a parent or two they can lean on. Some have a stalwart friend.

The more truth you have, the more often those in your life will fail you. This failure will happen as you share and shine the light you have, unavoidably encountering an area where they recoil from the opportunity to improve. At that time, they will respond to your paying the price in extending to them by hurting you.

The end time servant, who acquires more light than any other person living, will have no person to rely on. Every single person in his life will betray him when he needs them the most.

We derive great peace and strength through our relationships in this life. The closer you draw to God, the more he will reveal that this kind of peace is fleeting and this kind of strength is weak. God--his character, his truth, and his word--is the only enduring source of peace, happiness, joy, and strength. While we can find his character, his truth, and his word in other people, by definition it will be less than perfect in everyone we meet until and unless that person has received all that God has to give and has his seal in his forehead.

The Lord knew this. Even when people chose to follow him, he withheld himself from leaning on them:

And He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts.] (John 2:25 AMP)

The more truth you have, the fewer people you will have that you can rely on. Rejoice when you encounter a man or woman of God who can support you with some semblance of his character, word, and truth. But beware the arm of the flesh, and take great caution in discerning between the two.

The fires of mortality are ever-present and, in our day, ever increasing. They will show of what work your principles and actions are. I implore you to pay attention to the fruits of what you consider to be truth, and wend your way ever closer to Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

How will you respond when the light shows the darkness that remains in you?

Every time light is dispensed, it reveals darkness. Every time.

When you turn a light on in a dark room, you see things you didn't see before. The light does not make things good or bad. Rather, it reveals details that were not previously known, and these details reveal what is good and what is bad.

People read John 3 and say "oh that's not me!":
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3)

Here's the thing. These people don't go around saying "I hate light!" How do they manifest that they prefer darkness to light? They hate having their deeds "reproved." They hate having their choices, actions, beliefs, and words questioned. They hate when others point out something better than what they do.

Most do not want to know. They prefer to remain in their previous blindness. They respond to the gift of light by squinting their eyes shut. They decide against the light because they do not like the evil it reveals in them. After the rejection of the light in their hearts, they make up reasons in their minds for what they have decided. These reasons rarely make sense. In fact, they typically are so inconsistent and illogical that even a child could pull them apart. But they don't see it themselves, because they have embraced darkness and lost even the light they had.

Some few love the light. They love when they are shown how they can be better. Some of them react this way for a while, perhaps for a few iterations of greater light. Very, very few will endure everything God shows them, step by step, until there is no darkness left. When there is no darkness left, you have eradicated all the barriers to receiving God's light in you. It is only at this point that your eye is single to the glory of God. It is only at this point that you have withheld nothing from God. It is only in this state that you can overcome all things and receive all things that God offers. It is only through this path that you can encounter what we all seek deep down inside: eternal happiness.

We can choose how we act, think, feel, and believe. We can't choose where those choices lead us. Where those choices lead us is predetermined and fixed by eternal law declared before this world was created. Almost everyone will receive far less than what they desire, because they are unwilling to walk the path that leads to the fulfillment of those desires. 

There is no fault in not knowing the way. However, everything needed has been provided in and through Christ who said he was the way. The fault comes in turning away from the way when it is offered to you because you think you know better than God. You think that it isn't really necessary to submit to his wisdom, mercy, and love. Perhaps you reject the gift because it comes in a wrapper that doesn't fit your preconceived notions. Regardless, for the vast majority of humankind, the judgment will contain the phrase: you received what you were willing to receive, though far greater things were offered you. Enter into the situation you have chosen.

Every time light is dispensed, it reveals darkness. You get to decide how you will react to that revelation. As long as someone is living according to the light they previously received, there is no way of knowing ahead of time how someone will react to greater light. The only way is to give it. This is part of the price paid by those with greater light. They continuously reach out knowing that almost all of the time their efforts will be rewarded with pain; hatred and persecution from those they loved. They do it anyway. 

The more light the giver has, the fewer the people who will accept their light. The more light the giver has, the more lonely they will be. But for those few who will rise up, they are the only way it can be done.

It is upon this hinge that all of salvation rests: how will you respond when the light shows the darkness that remains in you?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Dimming the light

Turning from what they know

We are accountable for acting in complete alignment with our most sincere idea of God's character as applied to our lives. Jesus atoned for the sins you do not know of, and while he provides the ability for you to be forgiven for every sin you forsake, he will not save you while you willfully rebel against him.

Dwindle in unbelief

You dwindle in unbelief when you reject something the Lord tells you. Rejecting just one thing the Lord tells you brings you out of alignment with God until or unless you repent. Furthermore, it makes it more likely for you to do something worse, because you are dimming the light inside you making it harder for you to see the right course of action in any given situation. Thus, turning away tends to be cyclical and not a once off.

King David provides an unfortunate example of what happens when we turn from what we know. Upon learning she was married, David should have left Bathsheba alone. But he didn't. He turned away from what his conscience told him. Doing so opened the door to greater sin, because it dimmed the light within him, making it possible for him to do more than he otherwise would have. David never would have considered arranging for Uriah's death if he hadn't first turned away from the spirit in seeking Bathsheba after learning she was married. 

Escalating warnings

All of us have access to the spirit of the Lord, which tells us the difference between right and wrong through our conscience. When we offend this often subtle source, we must rely on signs in this world to help us see where we have been foolish. Typically, these include awful afflictions and trials sent to us from a God that loves us enough to expose us to the consequences of our rebellious and foolish actions in hopes that we will repent. Most times, the rebellious will be blind to these afflictions, blaming them on others or pretending that they are just unlucky. This is called "kicking against the pricks." 

Sometimes, he sends human messengers to us in obvious and non-obvious ways to snap us out of our rebellion. While the spirit speaks in a still, small, easily-offended voice, God's servants have "faces like flint." They do not care who they offend. They pay the price, having exercised exceeding mercy beyond what the spirit can in obtaining and delivering God's word in plainness and boldness, in hopes that their intercession--which almost always results in rejection and persecution--will help the person who is persisting in rebellion.

Outward vs. inward repentance

Sorrow does not repentance make. Laman and Lemuel sorrowed deeply for their sins when severely chastised on multiple occasions. Did they actually change? They did not. 

People can choose how they react to an invitation to repent. Most ignore it completely. Some react with sorrow, but not because they love God more than they did previously. Rather, their reaction is driven by their desire to avoid the consequence of sin. They want to feel good, not be good.

This type of surface sorrowing is described in the scriptures as the "sorrowing of the damned":

10 And it came to pass that the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity, and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel the prophet; for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.
11 Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi.
12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long‐suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.
13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.
14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives. (Mormon 2)

Those who experience the sorrow of the damned may go through great lengths to feign repentance. When King Saul sinned in disobeying God's direct command to kill all the living things in the kingdom of the Amalekites, Saul tried to defend his disobedience by saying he had spared the best to give a sacrifice to the Lord:

17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?
18 And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?
20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.
22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.
26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. (1 Samuel 15)

A person's sacrifice does not matter. It doesn't matter if someone says they are sorry or weeps or does extreme things in response to their realization that they have sinned. What matters is if they are now willing to obey God. This is the only sacrifice that God is interested in: the heart of the person.

You can tell when someone is sorrowing but not unto repentance when they do not forsake their sins. They'd rather die than do it again. For example, the converted Lamanites who buried their weapons of war (see Alma 24). 

Real repentance is a matter of the heart. When a person really repents, they change their core. The truly repentant address the core issue. If their sin is caused by selfishness, for example, they stop being selfish. They fix the problem, not the symptoms of it. 

This manifests in all the outward behaviors that are in any way relevant to the core problem. When someone repents only at the surface level, they may chance a specific behavior or two, but you will see that their hearts are not changed because the same problem will continue to manifest in other behaviors. 

If someone's repentant behavior changes back once the external stimulus is removed, then they have not truly repented. If they repeat their sin in any way, they have not truly repented. 

Exercise extreme care with those who only surface-repent. Their hearts are not only still capable of the sins they previously committed, but they are now capable of worse sin. They have not only lost even more light through their willful disobedience, but they are under the false impression that they are better than they were previously while actually being worse. These people can continue flailing in the dark towards offenses that were previously unthinkable for them to commit.

What happens if they don't repent?

There comes a point where God stops trying to help these people and turns them over to the full weight of the consequences of their choices, a situation called "the buffetings of Satan" in the scriptures. When does this happen? When mercy ceases to benefit. This happens when, for example:

1. The person's prolonged behavior will break God's promises. For instance, the Lamanites who tried to kill Ammon were instead killed because God had promised to preserve his life.

2. When justice has built up to a point where it absolutely must be paid out if it is not be broken, such as when the continuous righteous obedience of the oppressed reaches critical mass. This happened, for example, when Abigails righteousness so exceeded Nabal's that God killed Nabal to both free her from his oppression and to clear the path for her to have a righteous husband (David). 

3. When the continuous and deepening wickedness of the person has caused them to remove themselves from the channels God could use to reach them, such as when the wicked cast out the righteous from their cities, cutting themselves off from the only source they have to hear God's correcting voice, having long ago offended his spirit to the point of being past feeling it.

Sometimes, the consequences of their choices include an ignominious death, as when Saul was killed in battle or Korihor was trampled. 

There is a point where it is too late

Many blessings have an appointed time and place. Sometimes, it is too late to go back to what you could have had.

The example of Saul is illustrative of time-constrained consequences. Saul was anointed king over Israel, but because of his disobedience and rebellion, he was deposed and replaced.

1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel...
3 ...And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude....
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. (1 Samuel 13)

Similarly, Saul sought the life of David, who righteously fled from him and would not fight back, and in doing so incurred the penalty of his own death. Saul repeatedly tried to kill David, who was not only innocent, but was also the Lord's anointed, and also repeatedly forgave Saul by not killing him when he had the chance and would have been justified. Ironically, David did not kill Saul because Saul was the Lord's anointed. All of these factors worked together to cause an irreversible decree from heaven: Saul would surely die due to his crimes and David's consistent righteousness. The Lord's justice could no longer be withheld.

Conclusion

No matter how blind you choose to be, there will come a day when you are shown in undeniable plainness how often God reached out for you, and you would not listen. You will see the price that has been paid for you by the Lord Jesus so that you could have a way out of your sins. You will see the price paid by his servants when they tried again and again to put the weight of your sin on their own backs to give you yet another chance to repent. You will be shown in undeniable plainness the blessings that were prepared for and offered you, but you would not. In that day, you will find yourself in a hell you have prepared for yourself, an awful jail cell of your own creation.

I implore you to inspect your life for willful disobedience and to purge it from yourself. Do not allow yourself to believe your own lies that your surface repentance is sufficient. Come to Jesus Christ will all your heart, might, mind, and strength, and be truly healed of your weakness through the things he will teach you. Expose all of your darkness to his light, and rejoice in the cleansing burning it brings.

Monday, November 11, 2019

God will visit his pure daughters

This morning I was crying to the Lord on behalf of women who are pure in heart who have been abused and cast aside. I laid out the case of these women: that they truly are treasures, having unconditional love, being the rarest treasure on this earth; capable of bringing unspeakable joy to men who love God and have discernment of good; worthy of every good thing in this life and in the next, but instead finding themselves in the worst of situations because of the evil men they married.

The Lord pointed out that some of these women knew better than to marry the men they did, and they have to reap what they sow. I said "yes, but there are those who did not know, who either were lied to or weren't adequately guided by their elders who should have known better. And some were equally yoked when they married, but either their husbands have degraded or the wives have advanced, and are now being persecuted by their husband, who should love them the most." I named some examples. He agreed.

As he filled my heart with their pain through the gift of discernment, I said, "Lord, look upon the hearts of your pure daughters. Look how even in the depths of despair they freely forgive their oppressive husbands. Look how they turn a blind eye to their faults and sincerely wish only to find a way to make it work. Lord, they will not ask for justice, they simply ask for love. Lord, I invoke your justice against these men, and in favor of these women. Surely something can be done."

He said:

There are several purposes to the situation my pure daughters find themselves in. By suffering injustice, these women are heaping onto their heads future blessings they know not of, joy and rejoicing that are beyond description. Part of that blessing is their acquiring a deep recognition and appreciation for the joys of future situations that they would not otherwise appreciate and therefore rejoice in, because joy comes from value. 
Nevertheless, my justice cannot be held back forever. Judgment is and will always be poured out when the situation no longer benefits. In some cases, the husbands will repent, and the wives will be filled with the joy of the fulfillment of their hope as well as the joy that comes from those who have interceded and atoned for the soul of another.
I have looked upon the tears of my pure daughters. Their hearts have not cried out to me in vain. A way will be provided for their escape from their husbands' oppression. A way will be provided to take them to the inheritance they have merited, of peace and joy and happiness greater than they have imagined. 
Until then, tell them to look to me in every thought, to cry to me with full purpose of heart, and to translate their trust in me into open-mindedness to see and recognize the way I provide to save them. I am God, and I will show them I am mighty to save. They are my sheep, and I will guide them out of their affliction as they trust in and obey me in all things. I will take them from their husbands who have received their reward and give them to another who will treasure them as I do and who will show them the love I have for them. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Love overflowing

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5)

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4)

The Lord recently gave me an analogy. He showed me a giant water balloon hitting a wall that had a pinhole in it. He explained to me how his love for us is endless, but we are willing to receive so little of it. We limit the love we receive from him through unbelief, disobedience, and by allowing the wickedness of this world to scar our hearts against hope.

God is love. When, as John said, you have come to the point where you "[know and believe] the love that God [has] to [you]," your pinhole expands to receive far more of his love, and you will know the truth and depth of the statement "God is love." It impossible for anyone to describe that to another person. This is why Paul said "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

When, as John said, you have come to the point where you "[know and believe] the love that God [has] to [you],"you will be filled with his love.  You will realize that to the extent that you have God's love in you, you have become like him, and through that love he dwells in you and you in him.

You will have no choice then but to love your fellowman with the same intensity as the love of God of which you are aware. At that point, you will learn about love more deeply.

You will now find yourself being the water balloon, and others being the pinhole. Only then will you really comprehend what John and Paul meant when they said "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," and that "we love him" only because "he first loved us." You will have almost all of your water splash down the outside of the wall instead of penetrating into those you give it freely to. You will have your heart broken into a million pieces, and because God loved you first, you will carefully pick it all back up, tape it together, and do it again and again and again. Every bit of love that makes it through the pinhole will be because you loved that person first, when there was no reason to other than the love of God that is inside you. And you will understand and value how the only reason you have that love is that God loved you first, too.

You will then understand to a much deeper degree how it is that Jesus Christ is the true vine that connects us to the Father, and that only through him can the love of the Father be shed abroad to all men. The love of the Father (meaning the love the Father has for us) is the greatest of all things, and worth absolutely any cost to obtain.

Note: I haven't written many posts lately because I am using all my time to move forward several books. I am still very diligently working through this, and I have no idea how long it is going to take. I can say that I'm up to about 900 pages of typed notes. I am working as fast as I can, but I took a break from that to write this post because I could not hold it in.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Scripture study: 1 Peter 1

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1)

QUESTIONS FOR STUDY:
What does it mean to be "obedient children"?

What does it mean to "fashion yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance"? Ignorance of what?

What does it mean to be holy "as he which hath called you is holy"? Who is calling you?

Peter says "the Father" "judgeth according to every man's work" "without respect of persons". What does this mean?

Gold is purified by subjecting it to fire until the impurities are burned out. Peter uses this analogy to describe the process of refinement believers must undergo here in order to inherit heaven hereafter. Why doesn't he just say that we have to admit we are sinners and claim to believe in Jesus if that is all that is required? Why does he instead say that we have to purify our souls through obedience? "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren...."

What does Peter describe as the "grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ?"

Why is it "grace" for the Lord to resurrect people? How can it be "grace" if obtaining an "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" depends on the individual passing the "trial of your faith" by being "obedient children"?

Why does Peter say that only those who "have purified your souls in obeying the truth" are "born again"?

Why does Peter say that being "born again" means to be founded on "the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." What does Peter say the word of God is (verse 25)? Why is anything else like "grass" that "withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away?"

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Scripture study: 2 John 1

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR STUDY:
1. What does it mean to love someone in the truth? Why will that love be with those who have known the truth forever?
2. What does John mean when he says "Grace be with you"? How would John define grace?
3. What does John mean when he describes these people as "walking in truth"?
4. What does it mean to "walk after his [God's] commandments"?
5. Why does John explain that loving one another means to "walk after his [God's] commandments"?
6. Why does John equate "confess[ing] not that Jesus is come in the flesh" and walking not after his commandments?
7. What does John indicate would cause these believers to lose "those things which we have wrought"?
8. What is a "full reward"?
9. What is required to receive a "full reward"?
10. What does it mean to "hath not God"?
11. What does it mean to transgress?
12. What does it mean to abide not in the doctrine of Christ?
13. What does it mean to have "both the Father and the Son"?
14. What would it indicate if you have neither the Father nor the Son?
15. Why do you think John cautions the believers strongly against associating with those who teach things contrary to the doctrines he lays out here?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The (free) audiobook of "The Glory of God is Intelligence" is out

1. The audiobook is available. There is a link in the right sidebar of the blog to where you can download the files.

2. The preparation of the audiobook resulted in a few edits to the text. Most of these were grammatical. I'm not aware of significant content changes off the top of my head. Still, I've updated the print, pdf, and kindle versions of the book.

Enjoy!

Note 1: Please join me in offering prayers of thanks to Cindy, who spent an ENORMOUS amount of time carefully voicing, recording, editing, and re-recording this audiobook, in addition to all the professional equipment she used to do so. She did this without accepting a cent, and in doing so has  provided a huge service for all of us.

Note 2: This book is easily one of the most important ever written, and certainly the most important to be written in a long time. If you haven't read it, you are insisting on walking through life blind when a light has been provided to guide your way. I am not saying this to pat myself on the back, but as a way of testifying that a dispensation of God's mercy has been given in this book. I solemnly say that where much is given much is expected. If you haven't read it, I hope you will at least listen to it. It isn't meant to be processed all at once, but read through, then re-read from time to time.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Music has a strange power to articulate deep emotional knowledge

Almost without exception, I prefer to avoid "worship music." This is because, like religious art, I find that most media is devoid of the depth of emotional connection I feel in my spirit life. In other words, when I see a picture of the Lord or listen to a "Christian song", it fails to get deep enough to resonate with the level of emotions I feel. To me, it almost feels like mockery.

I profoundly enjoy music, though. One reason for this is that I find music that is worshipful to me in unlikely places. What do I mean by "to me"? I mean when I listen to it, it connects to segments of those very deep emotional pangs that exist in me, but that normally evade articulation and for which I find almost no connection in "real life." I know from experience that the things I think and feel are very different from those around me. That's ok. It is how it is meant to be. But it does make me feel either like the only crazy person on this earth, or the only sane one. Either way, it's a lonely road.

These songs provide me companionship by stirring my spiritual memory of a higher plane of existence, and they bring me great joy.

These songs draw me to Jesus, because they celebrate and expand on some aspect of his character and some aspect of our interaction with him in that regard.

Some of these songs are empowering, and make me feel like a warrior general riding into battle to free the oppressed.

Some of these songs resonate with my love for all mankind, stirring my soul away from waxing cold, and calling me to just keep going, no matter the opposition.

Some of these songs remind me that there is a great deal of beauty, even in this fallen world.

Some of these songs focus my attention on the goodness and trustworthiness of God--that he truly is the anchor that roots all those who are willing to lose their lives to find life in him.

Some of these songs remind me of the permanent, indescribable satisfaction that one realizes upon finishing this mortal life having toiled with all their heart, might, mind, and strength for the benefit of others.

I wish we had more musicians who had not only musical talent, but the spiritual experience (knowledge?) that they could translate into sounds and words.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

To live with God, you must actually repent of your sins

I saw a post on social media the other day that deeply disturbed me.

It said something like "Jesus forgives and saves everyone."

It is astonishing to me that anyone who proclaims to believe in Jesus would believe this statement, which is completely opposite to everything he taught.

John the Apostle, perhaps the person in the Bible who knew him best, said:

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1)

If you believe in Jesus, you will act, think, and desire as he did and does. If you do not act, think, and desire as he did and does, you do not believe in him.

If and only if you become the person he teaches you to be, he will save you. This is how he saves you.

Forgiveness of past sins is critically important, but it doesn't change your character. As long as you are the same character that committed those sins, you will commit them again, and as long as you commit them again, you can't be with him.

There is no darkness in God, and no unclean thing can dwell in his presence. As long as there is darkness in you, you can't be with him.

You *can* literally obey everything he tells you, and you *must* if you desire to be saved and live with him in heaven.

John said:
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

Like John, I say these things having "heard...seen with [my] eyes...looked upon, and...handled...the Word of life.

I have seen Jesus, I have spoken with him, and I have touched him.

He is real, he is resurrected, and everything written about him in the scriptures is true.

Do not be deceived by teachers who tell you that everyone will be saved, that you can sin and still live with him, and that it is impossible to keep all his commandments.

Those who possess these beliefs will never achieve the blessings promised to the faithful in the scriptures.

Friday, September 6, 2019

I implore you to stop taking your kids to church

I am taking a break from book writing to write this brief post.

Of my associates who are believers, the vast majority know of doctrines their sect espouses that deviate from their own most sincere idea of God's will and nature.

Of these associates, very very few have made the decision to stop attending the meetings of that sect.

I have brought up the consequences of continued association with organized religions. For instance, I made this video. I am going to be even more direct here, though.

Why do you go to church?

  • To worship? You can do that better at home.
  • To socialize? You can do that better outside of church.
  • To participate in ordinances? What reason do you have to believe that your church leaders have unique authority claims? Do you have a reason to believe that whatever they can do in church, you can't do at home?
  • To pay tithing? Are you saying you can't find poor people to donate to directly?
  • To be taught? Ah ha. Taught what?

The problem with church

It is easy to act as if there are no costs to attending the meetings of organized religions. But there is a cost.

Every organized religion is what it is because someone, at some point, decided to draw a box around God and say "anything outside of this is wrong, and everything inside of this is right." Otherwise, it would not be an organized religion. Organized religions are any faith institution whose doctrines are anything but "anything God has revealed, does reveal, or will reveal." Hint: this includes any named church, whether of the trademarked international varieties (ex. Baptist, Pentecostal, etc.) or one offs (ex. "First Bible Fellowship of the Whatevers").

What is the cost of organized religion? You get all the things they got right, but you also get all the things they got wrong. Because every single one of these institutions teaches that they are the exclusive arbiter of truth, and that everyone else is wrong, anyone who grows up in their box will associated the gospel of Jesus Christ exclusively with the faith claims of the organization. This is really bad, because every single one of them subscribes to doctrines that are limited in accuracy or just downright wrong. And you know this.

The good does not outweigh the bad

Many argue that in spite of the bad parts, the good parts are worth the cost. I have yet to find an argument in support of this position.

For instance, many say that without churches, who would preserve scripture? History suggests that individuals--not churches--have been responsible for the preservation of scripture. In fact, most of the time, it was organized religion that posed the greatest threat to their preservation--typically by persecuting the very men responsible for the preservation of scripture. In the modern context, it is absolutely absurd to claim that you need churches to obtain scripture--long available in the public domain free from copyrights of--you guessed it--organized religions.

The argument that the good is worth the bad is non-scriptural. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said that you can't put new wine in 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)

He was saying that you can't build a solid structure on the foundation of apostate organized religions. In his day, this referred to the Pharisees. In our day, it refers to every organized religion.

Protestant churches are just as incapable of leading one to salvation as the Catholic church: a dead tree cannot produce a living branch, no matter how pure the intentions of that branch. Not even Mormons, who claim the gospel was revealed anew through Joseph Smith, can claim they are free from apostasy, as their modern religion is almost completely different from what Joseph Smith preached.

How can you know that at least some of the doctrines taught by your church are false? Well, it's quite simple. Read the scriptures, and compare what you are taught in church to what they say. You have to be careful, because their indoctrination has constrained your ability to read literally more than you imagine (you will notice this once you stop going and the fog of tradition wears off). 

To help you even further, you can compare the works of those in the scriptures with those of your teachers. Jesus said:

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16)

Is there a case where any of your teachers in your organized religion demonstrate any of the fruits Jesus demonstrated during his mortal ministry? Are the sick healed, or merely prayed for? Are the blind made to see, or merely subjected to stale Sunday school lessons? Are the deaf made to hear, or merely vacuously present during hymns of praise?

What, exactly, are your teachers' credentials? Have they been redeemed by God, witnessed by the Lord coming to them in literal fashion? Have they heard the voice of the Lord? Have they been in his presence? Has he taught them things not revealed since the foundation of the world? Have they been taught things from the scriptures that no one else seems to know? If their credentials are merely selection by some man or group of people, or some college degree, perhaps you should reconsider setting them up as your teacher.

Do you have any idea what Jesus was talking about when he used the phrase "blind guides"? This would literally mean those who purport to lead people to a place they themselves have never been. According to Jesus, they do not both arrive at the destination. Instead, they both fall into a ditch.

If all you are getting from church attendance is some other person's opinions about what the scriptures mean, or worse, recitation of one or more traditions made up by some man or men as if it were God's word, what is stopping you from getting at least that much at home?

You will get leagues closer to heaven by using the time you would have spent at church crying to God that you are a sheep with no shepard and begging for guidance than you will spending another minute listening to blind guides. 

There is not a single organized religion that is worth attending. No, not one.

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (Isaiah 29:13)

But aren't Christians commanded to attend church?

Some cite scriptures which they say indicate that God expects them to attend the weekly meetings of an organized religion. In reality, there is no such scripture. Christians are commanded to meet with other Christians, yes. Nowhere does this say that you must regularly attend your local congregation of whatever named sect you have subscribed to. You can fulfill this commandment (and do so more fully) by studying the gospel together as a family on Sundays, inviting and/or accepting the invitation of others to meet as groups in homes, free to worship God according to the dictates of your conscience instead of having what you believe dictated to you by some arbitrary person who does not know God any more than you do.

You will be held accountable for taking your children to church.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

God will hold you accountable for the consequences of leaving your children in church. And there will be consequences. And there will be consequences.

Think for a moment of the spiritual disposition of kids who grows up in your church. Don't think of the kids 20 years ago. Think of the very last kid who turned into an adult, and the one before him or her, and the one before that. Of the three:

  • How many have the tools they need to build a successful family?
  • How many are making wise life decisions (spouse, career)?
  • How many have a testimony of the truth that is strong enough to withstand the challenges of today?
  • How many have a personal relationship with God that will carry them through tough times?
  • How many keep God's word at all times and in all places of their own volition?

If you are honest, you will have to admit that instead of building on what good might exist within the traditions of your sect, the children growing up in it:

  • Respond to the first adult challenge of their faith by becoming atheists.
  • Indulge in sexual and other sins as soon as they have the opportunity to do so.
  • (or) Drink so deeply of the traditions offered them by the sect that they cut you off as an apostate.
Remember, God will hold you accountable for every consequence in the lives of your children from your decision to keep them in church.

Oddly, many of my associates who keep taking their kids to church choose to home school their children precisely because they understand that it is neglectful for parents to do otherwise when they have the choice.

If you would not entrust the temporal education of your children to those whose views of right and wrong deviate from yours, why on earth would you do so with the spiritual education of your children? Why would you take great pains to avoid outsourcing the temporal education of your children to others while outsourcing the spiritual education of your children to others?

Perfect loves casts out all fear

There isn't a single person who can honestly say that every single thing their church believes is right. They WILL, however, make all sorts of excuses for how that is alright, including but not limited to: "yes, some people believe that, but the church doesn't actually teach that," or "yes, but that isn't vital to salvation," or "yes, but the good outweighs the bad." These are all lies, and you know that. The real reason you don't face these things head on is not because you sincerely think you are doing what God wants you to do, but because of fear.

Should you be scared of doing what God's still small voice is telling you is right? No. God has never ever given you a reason to hesitate in trusting him. Any doubt you have is a result of your belief that you know better than he does.

As someone who was publicly excommunicated from an organized religion for doing what is right, I know every reason you have to fear leaving your church. I've experienced it. I've risked my marriage, my reputation, my friends, my religious identity, and my years of service. And it was all worth it.

You can't have everything God wants to give you until you are willing to give everything you have to him.

Stop being a coward. Either believe in God and do what you know he wants or stop pretending you do.