Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Correspondence: In what way does the Lord tell you?

From time to time I get emails that say something like this:

When you say " the Lord told me to post this video" or "the Lord told me to write this blog".
In what way does he tell you? Do you actually hear his voice?

Here is my generic response:
I get these questions from time to time. In my experience, the purpose of them is to evaluate the truth of what I say. As least, that is the reason the person thinks they have in mind. In reality, in my experience, these people have actually already made up their minds, and are seeking to justify their already made up minds.

Regardless as to how he tells me this or that, if I tell you, how could it benefit you? Suppose it was some "small" revelation. Many great things came from "small" revelations. Look at how Gideon destroyed the Midianites or Lehi successfully avoided the destruction of Jerusalem. If it fails to pass your arbitrary and uninformed criteria, then you will reject something that is true for all the wrong reasons.

Suppose it was some "big" revelation. In this case, you may still reject it, in which case you will be cut off from the benefits of living it until you repent. Or, perhaps worse, you could believe it solely because it passes your arbitrary and uninformed criteria. Then you will believe what I have taught simply because it matches your preconceived notions and traditions, and would make you an idolator.

If you search the scriptures, you will find that there isn't one time when the Lord instructed us to evaluate the merit of a putative new truth by analyzing the manner in which it was received. We are told over and over again that neither the vessel (the messenger) or the manner matters. We are given clear instructions on what does matter.

I've taught extensively on this process. Here is a one paragraph summary. The first level of this is answering the question "could this be true?" Are there obvious rational inconsistencies? Has the teacher been able to support the lesson with scriptures? After the initial sniff test, you actually have to test the teaching through your own works. If you do it, what fruit follows? Do you become a better person? Are you more like God? Do you know him better? Are you more resilient to the vicissitudes and evils of life? Do you see and understand more of reality? Are you better capacitated to love and help others? And so on. John 7:17, Alma 32, etc.

The Lord speaks to me many times daily, and he does it in all the different ways he did it in scripture: through visits, voices, visions (awake, natural eyes, spiritual eyes, asleep), bursts of understanding, etc. He uses them all, and they are all equally valid when they come from him. It is not given to you to evaluate my manner of receipt. What is given to you is the responsibility to independently evaluate each item based on the criteria that God has taught you to use.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Correspondence: Request for prayer

I woke up at 1am this morning and had received an email requesting a miracle for a family member who had been in an accident and was going to die. I wrote back saying:

You haven’t given me much information to go off of. I prayed for him, but I don’t know the circumstances. It is very hard to ask God for something when you don’t have a reason to believe that things should be different than they are. You have to make a case that his intervention would lead to improvement in a spiritual sense. If you can make a case for that I am glad to take as much time as is needed, if it isn’t too late, to do all I can. 

When we ask anyone to pray, we ought to understand how prayer works. If we simply say, "so and so is suffering, please pray for them" we are openly mocking God, because we have left him and his will completely out of the situation. Without sufficient detail, how can the person being asked to pray do anything except offer a wish to God, as if he were some sort of genie? And why would God pay any attention to a particular person above another in such a case? Do you know why the Father responded to Jesus' attempts to heal others? It wasn't because Jesus had magical powers. It was because Jesus knew the Father's character better than his fellows, and his awareness of unseen causes enabled him to secure otherwise unseen effects. Anytime anyone does any miracle, it is based on this same exact principle. It only makes sense to ask someone to pray for something if you believe they have more awareness than you do. Even then, if you don't give them sufficient information to interact with their awareness, it is like having a factory and expecting products to be made without providing any of the necessary raw materials. God has never, ever worked an arbitrary miracle. In every case, his actions conformed perfectly to his character, which does not change, and from which all his power derives.

Prayer is not a means of changing God's mind on something. It is a means of changing the situation so that God's perfect will lines up differently. The question that must be asked is "why would <requested action> benefit the world more than <current situation>?" God does nothing save it be for the benefit of the world. You have to have a reason, and relieving suffering is an insufficient reason.

God is much more willing for us to suffer than we realize. In order to understand miracles of healing, one must first understand the role of suffering in the gospel and reality. There is opposition in all things, and the greatest happiness can only be experienced in conjunction with the greatest suffering. Physical suffering is one vector for fulfilling this requirement. On the micro-level, physical suffering tends to be very beneficial for:

1. Revealing limitations in the beliefs and actions of the individual and others.
2. Encouraging gratitude and humility beyond what the person would otherwise experience.

There are many other situations where physical suffering is beneficial to the individual, and God should be sought in every case, asking what possible benefit the person might experience through continued suffering.

When is it God’s will to heal someone? When it benefits:

1. When it will lead to greater obedience and diligence in the life of the person and witnesses. Miracles are needed to give a reason to believe the teacher, but that isn’t a blank check. Type and form of miracles must be tied to the message of the teacher. Jesus healed all types of sick people to a) show he had power to forgive sins, b) show he knew the Father’s will and did it.
2. When the person has already extracted all the learning they will from the situation. Note: Alleviation of suffering is irrelevant, until or unless this is true. No one will be healed while they are still learning from the situation.
3. When the target or other people sincerely believe God and their present understanding of God suggests it is God’s will.

Healing is just one type of miracle. All of God's works work in the same way, according to the same principles of cause and effect. If you are going to ask for a deviation from how things are at the moment, you need a reason, and that reason has to be based on God's character. If it isn't, your requests will be in vain.

We are told that miracles happen according to faith. One definition of faith is learning more about and from God and acting according to it. Far too often, we act like Jesus is Santa Claus and religion is just sitting on his lap making wishes. We need to get off our butts and learn more from and about him if we want to experience greater things from him.

I have written a lot on this subject in "Seek Ye This Jesus," and if you haven't read it, I encourage you to. You'll find links for free audio and pdf versions, as well as Kindle and print versions, in the sidebar of this blog.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Correspondence: Does the journey seem hard?

I received this email today:

"I have been reading your blogs and watching your videos, and It seems that each time I read / watch another, you raise the ante, making it nearly impossible for me to even grasp the possibly of eternal life, much less attaining it. If Job put a cap on his eternal progression, as you indicated, what does that say for the rest of us? I have [done a lot to come closer to God]. Though these things were big issues, your presentations clearly make them innocuous to me. I am trying to get the courage to lay everything on the altar, but your teachings seem to keep it just beyond reach. Any thoughts that you think might be helpful?"

Here is what I would say to anyone with similar comments:

We VASTLY underestimate what is required for eternal life. We also VASTLY underestimate the power of God to get us there.

The Lord has explained plainly that EVERYTHING is required to obtain all his has. Anything less is insufficient. There is no other way:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14)

The good news is that ALL of us are capable of doing what he asks us to do.

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10)

We have to be honest with ourselves. If we fall short, it is only because of our choices. It is only because we are manifesting what we REALLY desire, which is less than what he offers us.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Unlimited happiness and unlimited sorrow

A single man, no matter how productive, can only do so much by himself. If he turns his labors to inspiring others, his limit of contribution will expand to include the amplified works of those he inspires. If he can show them, in turn, how to inspire others, his contribution becomes unlimited. Likewise, as long as your sense of happiness is derived from what you alone feel, your happiness will be limited--finite. When you learn to rejoice in the joy of others, your happiness becomes unlimited. It is THE way you achieve unlimited happiness--there is no other way. With that vicarious capability comes the necessary opposite--you also feel the sorrow of others. If you have understanding that exceeds theirs, you will feel commensurately greater sorrow, because you will be aware of all the things they are doing and not doing that detract from their happiness. They may be lumbering along in blindness to the fact that they are about to encounter some awful things that they could avoid if they just put their trust in truth. You will feel all the pain of what they have not yet experienced, plus more because you will know it could be avoided. For you, it will be as if it is already occurring, even if it is a future event.

I have been subjected to all types of grief, pain, and sorrow throughout my life. I am no stranger to it. Some people are overcome by negative feedback from others. Intense hatred will be levied on you quite early on in your attempts to live according to what God has revealed to you. If this is a block to you, you won't get very far until you overcome it through trust in God. Some people are overcome by physical pain. It is a rare case that a man or woman of God gets through life without acquiring permanent thorns in the flesh. If this is a block to you, you will only be able to come up so far before you quit. Some people are overcome by emotional pain--depression, anxiety, sorrow, etc. In my experience, this type of pain can exceed physical pain in intensity. It seems to take more emotional pain to kill you than it does physical pain. I have spoken about depression and anxiety before--these are effects with known causes and they can be cured by addressing them. Sorrow is a different ball of wax.

The greatest pain I am aware of is the pain of knowing someone's potential and seeing them act contrary to it. And the more understanding the observer has, the greater the pain is.

I once asked the Lord why he had opened my eyes to see the potential of others. He said so that I would do more in attempting to help them fulfill it than I would if I only saw was what others saw in them. The reverse pendulum swing comes with it: a depth of pain and sorrow for them that is impossible to describe. This creates an interesting cycle. On the one hand, I try with all my might to help them. On the other, the harder I try, the more it hurts. Guess how many have lived up to their potential since the Lord opened my eyes to this? But I just keep going.

Success in life is not measured by how many people listen, or to what degree, but rather whether or not we do all we can to acquire and attempt to share what we have been given. It is what we give and not what is received that matters.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Correspondence from posts on relationships and gender roles

I've gotten some feedback on the posts and videos I've created on the topics of relationships and gender roles.

Four women have contacted me with gratitude for writing these things. They are older women who have observed these things over a lifetime of experience in their lives and the lives of their children and (in some cases) grandchildren. They said how they wish that younger people knew these things, or that they knew these things when they were younger. Some have lived through divorce and death of spouses, some have had very long happy marriages. I have encouraged these women to go and teach their wisdom to young people. I hope they do. One younger mother also said she appreciated these things.

Two men have contacted me saying they appreciate these videos. One told me an interesting story of how he was discussing this material with a friend of his who shared with him the fact that there are a lot of people who are very upset with this material, and are disparaging me on private message groups. He said he had wondered why I kept mentioning that, and he had no idea that I had such a big group of people that hate me. Several of the previously mentioned women also said some variant of "you must have a death wish."

One woman contacted me with a mixed reaction. She said:

I’m a woman and the love/hate I feel towards some of your posts draws me in, sparking interest in why I feel the way I do when I read some of what you write. It is interesting to both bristle at something and yet want to improve so I keep reading and looking inward to what I need to uproot! If something I read bothers me, I want to know why I had that reaction to printed words. It can be a good exercise!
....Has [the Lord] told you women need this wake-up call and told you to write it?
I ask because I recognize my own disappointment with men who ignore God, lack a connection with Heaven and are ruled by their eyes and their penis perpetually, to the heartbreak of their wives who scrub, do laundry, home school and grow older and less desirable compared to the fresh crop of 18 year olds every year willing to expose their bodies for money....It is beyond soul-crushing. I don’t believe most men understand how deeply they have hurt their wives by their constant obsession with physical appearances (while their bodies are spared the wreckage of child bearing) and allow their lusty desire to forever wander elsewhere....
I appreciated this email. I don't know this person. As with most of the correspondence I get, it's the first I've ever interacted with them. But I was touched by how much she had thought about these things, and her obvious reverence for the Lord.

I responded:
...I teach what the Lord tells me to teach. I hate this topic, and much prefer the other things I’m working on. But as I am working on them, when he speaks to me, I stop what I’m doing and write it out and make videos before returning to what I was doing before. If I don’t do that, he can’t keep speaking to me.
I want to remind you that guys are often told what they need to work on. If they get a pass in life, they certainly don’t in what I’ve taught. I’ve told men that more than 25% will never be worth marrying, many more will never prepare themselves to be worth marrying, and most who are simply aren’t cutting it. I’ve told men their role is to be a priest—to actually be holy and actually have a relationship with God and I’ve described just what experiences that entails. They know how rare these things are. I’ve also told them that the responsibility for their whole family sits squarely on their shoulders and that they are alone on facing the chaos of life.
Meanwhile, my simple message to women is that the inherent value you get for free with youth has an expiration date, and is meant to be replaced with character and service, things that are much more valuable than looks. To me, that is a very much easier pill to swallow, and the fact that so many hate me for saying so is a greater evidence of my being right than any argument I could give.
Men should not be led by physical attraction. They should not indulge in the sin of lust. A man should acquire sufficient wisdom to desire and highly value the traits I described in “A woman’s purpose.” Few do, and few women bother developing them. 

I share that interchange here in the event that other people have a similar question.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"to take away our reproach"

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. (Isaiah 4:1)

What is their reproach?

16 Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,
19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
21 The rings, and nose jewels,
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.
24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground. (Isaiah 3)

Modern women and men foolishly define the the value of women through their looks, and include in the equation what makeup, clothing, plumbing, etc. contribute. When the Lord corrects the haughtiness (overinflated view based on illusion) of women by removing makeup, clothing, bathing, hair, etc., women and men will be forced to calculate the value of women based on their character and their contribution.

In that day, their character will be evident because in hardship our true selves are revealed. In that day, their contribution will be evident because in a primitive environment no one holds the illusion that men and women are interchangeable.

The generations that come after that one will be raised with a correct understanding of the value of women: They will understand that while their good looks are valuable assets in the attempt to attract a quality husband, they are fleeting and short-lived. They will understand that their long-term value is a function of the following attributes of character that, unlike their looks, they are not born with, and need to actually work to develop, namely the ability to:


  • Beautify (improve the appearance of)
  • Enliven (make more entertaining, interesting, appealing)
  • Enhance (improve, make more valuable)
  • Excite (cause feelings of enthusiasm and eagerness)
  • Enrich (improve or enhance the value of)
  • Uplift (improve the spiritual, social, or intellectual condition of)
  • Gladden (make glad)
  • Mollify (calm and soothe)
  • Pacify (bring peace to)


Women will also remember (as our society has forgotten) that children are critical to their maximal improvement and happiness in this life. The value of children is obvious in a primitive society, where survival depends on having children to share the work as you age and care for you in your late life.

The reproach of women in that day will come because women will snap into a forgotten awareness of these things. They will seek to provide value, and will realize that the most significant way of doing so is through having children. Unfortunately, most men will be dead from war and other causes.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Poll from a friend

All,
A friend of mine is trying to better understand feminine qualities and has asked me to request the following:

For each attribute below, will you please write an example of when a woman (any woman) in your life has helped you by using her God Given attributes to:
1. Beautify
2. Enliven
3. Enhance
4. Exite
5. Enrich
6. Uplift
7. Gladden
8. Mollify
9. Pacify
you in your life?

Note that she might use these in a blog, so please keep them unidentifiable. Please send responses to me at 2robelephant@gmail.com but replace elephant with smith.

Thanks,
Rob

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A woman's purpose


A while ago, I undertook a deep dive into masculine purpose, and wrote this. In creating that document, I benefited from three books that were useful at least in part in accelerating my thinking on the issue. 

For some reason (probably because our modern sensibilities make meaningful discussion on the topic taboo), there are no such books I could find on the female side. I don't know why no one has bothered doing so before, but here is a draft version of a document for female purpose.

=========
I have a higher purpose in life, one that transcends the daily. My mission in life is to beautify (improve the appearance of), to enliven (make more entertaining, interesting, appealing), to enhance (improve, make more valuable), to excite (cause feelings of enthusiasm and eagerness), to enrich (improve or enhance the value of), to uplift (improve the spiritual, social, or intellectual condition of), to gladden (make glad), to mollify (calm and soothe), and to pacify (bring peace to). The greatest recipients of my gifts will my husband and children, in that order, and within the home. The success and reach of my mission will be rate-limited by the resources (principally time and money) at my disposal, and therefore choosing and sustaining a productive husband is the most important action.

I am a queen. My being a queen depends upon my husband. The king does not need an equivalent partner, he needs a complimentary partner. The king distills, the queen dispenses. The king plants the seed, the queen grows the seed. The king provides the thread, the queen weaves the tapestry. The king creates a protective space, the queen creates and fills the space. I receive his power and love by appropriately appreciating who he is and what he provides, seeking his wisdom, and learning what he teaches me through his explicit teaching and implicit example. I love my husband by opening myself completely to him (communicating the fullness of my heart, my hopes, my worries, my joys, etc. in complete and unrestrained honesty and trust), becoming one with him through treating him as an extension of myself, and adopting our joint decisions, desires, and perspectives as my own.

I am a mother. I do what I do because I choose to benefit others without regard to what I receive in return. I am able to focus my attention away from self-gratification and onto others. I create, sustain, and enrich life. I manage the predictable aspects of the family, such as the daily and weekly home responsibilities. I take primary responsibility for the nurture and education of my children. I channel and direct the chaos of children into safe, productive, and beneficial directions within the bounds of the world my husband has created and with the resources my husband provides. I do what I can to advance these things in the children of others.

I am a magician, seeing potential in people and things and making it a reality through my actions. I see the potential in my husband, my children, and others, patiently providing the time and attention necessary to nurture their potential into realization. I see through illusions to how things really are, and I can foresee how they can actually be. This includes myself: I accurately and honestly know myself. I correctly gauge the content and abundance of my worth and my faults. I seek and rejoice in learning and correction. I spend appropriate time and effort in watching what I eat, exercising, sleeping, dressing, and grooming. As I age, I will take ownership of the responsibility of passing my wisdom to younger women.

I am a lover. I am affectionate with my husband and children. I am emotionally, physically, and ideologically intimate with my husband. I create fun experiences and make daily life more enjoyable by magnifying experiences and conversations through my presence.
========
I also just recorded a video on what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman. You can find it here.

Some have commented that I tend to be harsh on women.

The truth is reality is harsh. It is equally harsh to men and women, in different ways. Anyone who is serious about honoring their commitment to witness of Christ at all times and in all places must adopt his purpose, one dimension of which is preparing people to deal with reality to a greater degree than their current awareness allows.

While today's society does little to cushion the harshness of reality for men, it goes through great lengths to cushion it for women. Modern women have many sources of illusion to paint over reality with, and almost all of them do.

The last days judgments do one thing, primarily: they expose the world to a greater measure of reality than we were previously exposed to. The effect of this exposure is very different for men and women. You can read about this all over the scriptures, particularly in Isaiah. What happens when men are exposed to the reality of human nature? For the most part, they die. They are killed and enslaved by captors, disease, and famine. What happens to women? They will have a much worse time, because their modern delusions are much more extensive.

Anyone who believes in truth must adopt the cause of helping people prepare for what is coming. You can't help people by lying to them.

Friday, May 10, 2019

How far will you go before you quit?

One way you can define "trust in God" is by what you are willing to suffer before you act out of alignment with your best understanding of God's character. In short: what does it take to make you blink? How far will you go before you quit?

One way of thinking about the gospel of Jesus Christ is as a system designed to gradually expose you to greater degrees of awareness of reality. When you die, you will be exposed to all of reality pertaining to this sphere. This experience for most will be one of the types of hell described in the scriptures. They will be completely and suddenly exposed to a vastly more extreme reality than they were prepared for. Those who have lived the gospel here will be more prepared, and those who have overcome all things through Christ here will only experience increased joy there, as they will have already integrated the increased reality into their intelligence/belief system/character/understanding/desires/habits/knowledge/etc.

God's purpose, then, is to expose us to the greatest degree of reality possible while in this life. How much we accommodate his purpose is determined by how far we will go before we quit.

Paul's description of this life in Romans 8 differs a bit from how I imagine most describing it. Pay attention to how he characterizes life as generally awful:

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)

In the gospel of Paul, the puppy dogs and rainbows don't really come until after you die. You are going to be "killed all the day long," slaughtered, subjected to infirmities, and worked against by death, life, angels, principalities, powers, height, depth, creatures, etc. The world is trying to kill you--spiritually at least, and many times physically, too. The more you are exposed to reality, the more awful experiences you will have.

The good news, of course, is that the good wins out, the good is greater than the bad, and while everything bad here is temporary, everything good is not only permanent, but will be multiplied eternally after you die.

Unfortunately, most people--almost all people, probably including you--quit before God is finished working with them. They willingly act, desire, or think contrary to their best understanding of his will. Or, in the midst of the fire, they beg him to take it away or end it.

You should never ask God to take an affliction away. You should beg him instead to teach you the knowledge you lack to overcome it.

There is no limit to what a child of God can endure through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He has overcome all things, and inasmuch as we lean on him, we will do the same. The way we do this is by trusting him enough to endure the situations he ordains in his perfect wisdom and love. He can only teach us what we lack by exposing us to the consequences of what we lack until we decide to trust him unconditionally. Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered, and we do too. There is no other way.

Too many find false relief in reading the scriptural accounts of people like Job and saying, "I'm so glad that God does not put me through something like that." I have some bad news for you. Job quit. He turned away from God when God showed him the limit of his trust in him. We don't have the complete story in the Bible, but if the account there is all there is to say, Job's eternal progress is capped at the level of trust in God he showed, which was short of unconditional. Job relied on friends, family, health, and wealth to trust God. When these were taken away, he stopped trusting God. Instead of saying, "Lord, this is really hard, but I know you love me, and I trust you," Job complained. He asked God to end his suffering.

Job is not the only example. Search the scriptures and look for men and women who cracked under pressure. Those who quit when it got hard. You'll find that even though righteous people are very rare, almost all of them quit when it gets hard. They almost all have limits.

The single greatest predictor of your progress in life will be what it takes to make you quit. Those who refuse to doubt God, no matter the circumstance, overcome all things. Nothing can keep them from the love of God, no matter how bad things are in the moment.

For everyone else, they have their reward: eternal limitation due to their limited trust in God. He cannot give them all he has, because they would not receive it, and they could not appreciate it even if they did. Instead, they are given what they desired, which is less than that.

Enough rope to hang yourself

Because of technology and cheap energy, we have the lowest cost food in the history of the world. Never have so many people been fed by so few farmers. What do we do with such a boon? Everyone is obese!

We have the best-funded medical system the world has ever seen. What do we use it for? Are we saving lives? Not really. We are treating the effects of eating too much, exercising too little, and killing babies. More than half of Americans took a prescription drug in the last 30 days. Everyone is addicted to something, it seems. More Americans die every year from opioid overdoses than died in the Vietnam war.

Today, every single person in the US can attend college. Instead of leading the world in innovation and productivity, the United States is cranking out an unfettered quantity of underemployed baristas. Why? Because given unprecedented access to education, young people prefer majors that end with "studies" or traditional majors for which there are no jobs, in spite of the fact that there are unprecedented shortages and excellent wages for many other fields. So, these folks leave school with an average of $35,000 in student debt that they will never pay off.

Welfare programs are designed to funnel our enormous economic surplus (defined as what is more than absolutely necessary to live) to those who would otherwise suffer. However, look at what it actually does. For more than 20% of the population, it is more profitable to be on welfare than it is to work, and that number is increasing fast. The child support/family court/welfare panoply has changed the face of marriage. Realizing that the system is overtly stacked against them, men are increasingly opting out of marriage. More and more men refuse to marry, and some even refuse to date, and that number is increasing very quickly. Men realize that they don't need a relationship to have sexual fulfillment and that in a world of no fault divorce, child support, and alimony, it just isn't worth the overwhelming risk (50% of marriages end in divorce, of which 70% are initiated by women, and which almost always means child support and alimony from the husband with little to no cost to the woman).

Birth control has allowed families to plan when to have babies and how many to have. What has this marvel brought us? A lot of bad things. Did you know that hormonal birth control completely changes a woman's mental health, including her ability to feel happy, to pair bond, what kind of man she finds attractive, and what sorts of things she seeks in life? The ubiquity of birth control is a factor in the spike in use of antidepressants as well as the divorce rate (short version: women on hormonal birth control are attracted to beta males, get married, go off birth control, and suddenly hate their spouse). Birth control has driven the increase in the number of sexual partners people have during their lives. In 1970, 80% of women had two or fewer premarital sexual partners. Today, it is fewer than 39%. People have, on average, around 10 sexual partners during the course of their lives. It is important to note that the odds of a woman getting a divorce go from 5% to >20% if she has had one premarital sexual partner, 30% if she has had 2. Why? Because a woman's ability to pair bond and be happily married are strongly coupled with her having a minimal number of serious relationships prior to marriage due to oxytocin and vasopressin patterns in the brain. Women are not biologically wired to have more than one serious relationship. [Sidenote: for men, the negative effects don't kick in until around 7 partners]. Prior to the pill, a combination of factors led to rational sexual behavior in women. They sought a stable, successful, strong male partner to avoid the financial and social risks of unmarried sex. Without these guardrails, women have had ample opportunity to display their baser motivations. Modern women view their pre-30 years as a time to "have fun" with men. The development of this cultural change has been accompanied by a significant and consistent decline in female happiness since 1970. Millennial women have embraced hook up culture, and use Tinder to compete for the top 20% of men. They don't mind that these same 20% of men are sleeping with 80% of the women. They don't care that these men do not pass their standards for marriage. They aren't looking for a husband or a father for their children, they are looking to have "fun".  Consequently, the number of men who have no partner keeps going up, and is currently 3x the female rate (these numbers were equal in 1970). And what are these men doing with their lives, since they have no societal guard rails encouraging them to increase their earning potential and otherwise improve themselves? Video games and porn!

The internet has brought unprecedented access to information into the hands of all, essentially for free, and in a small enough band of time that most people alive were adults when this was not yet the case. Anyone remember encyclopedias? And what are we doing with this? Are people self-training for vocations that were previously reserved for only the select few? Are people inventing things like never before? Are people improving themselves by studying the works of great minds? For the most part, the internet is used for social media, Netflix, video games, and porn. We have rewired our brains for short term dopamine hits, killed our concentration ability, and ruined our ability to having meaningful, real relationships.

I can go on and on, because this is the pattern you will see in every aspect of modern life: God has given us unprecedented resources, and we are using them to fulfill the wicked intents of our evil hearts.

1 And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
3 And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. (Helaman 12)
Too many mistakenly believe that when the end comes, it will be through supernatural means. They think God will unleash some miraculous judgment with magical and spontaneous wrath. What they don't understand is that so much of what is happening and will happen is simply the natural result of our proclivity towards evil being manifested in unprecedented ways, not because of God's judgment, but because of God's blessing in giving us more resources than we've ever had. And what do we do with those resources? We fulfill the vain imaginations of our evil hearts. Look around you, you will see it everywhere. And that is just what you see. There are much worse things happening that are hidden from your sight.

This is all exactly according to Satan's plan. He is a liar from the beginning, and the lie that he pushes is that there is some other way than what God has ordained. That you can have sex outside of marriage without negative consequences. That you can eat anything anytime without negative consequences. That you can go to school for anything you want and be in the same situation as those who study wise majors. That you can indulge in any and all things on the internet and not pay a price. That you can do anything you want and someone will save you from the negative consequences of your actions. It doesn't work that way.

God does not have to send some magical event(s) to wipe this promised land clean. All he has to do is expose us to the natural consequences of our actions. All he has to do is give us some rope, and we will hang ourselves. Our heads are already in the noose, and we are standing on a very wobbly chair.