Monday, June 30, 2014

On True Messengers

I read a post today on a forum I go to probably far too often. There was a note of sadness in it. There was a feeling of, "This is serious stuff. I've made my choice, and the choosing was not easy."

I feel the need to post my reply here, as well as on that thread:

I feel your pain, MegaManToo. It is a rough road. A painful thing. Any who are aware of what Denver teaches seems to be put in a position of choosing, of discerning if he is a liar and a charlatan or if he is bona fide.

One thing that is certain is that if Denver is a liar (about seeing the Lord, and about saying what the Lord wants Him to say), he certainly should be ignored and he will surely be damned to hell.

If, however, he is telling the truth, it behooves us to know that, even if what he says is painful.

Pruning out false beliefs can be excruciatingly painful. Attempting to discern who is telling the truth can be frustrating or confusing.

Following our trusted traditions is probably what most will do who hear of Denver. Doing otherwise puts a person in peril of their standing in the church. It may create cognitive dissonance. It most surely will put us at odds with family, friends, and our wards and stakes. It will, no doubt, lead to the sacrifice of all things.

PtHG was a painful book, but Denver makes very little in the way of damning comment (if any). Mostly, he quotes from original sources. His conclusions, as I understood them, were that Christ's hand was still over the church, that the Gentiles were (and have been since BY's time) fulfilling what was said and prophesied in the Book of Mormon.

But if Denver was/is a true prophet, a true messenger, what will happen to those who have figuratively "shot the messenger"? Is Christ's hand still over the Church in that case? Or just over the church (the humble followers who seek Him still, who do not know there is a true messenger around)?

If "by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same" is true and Denver is a true messenger boy, is it not a serious and grave thing to have cast him out?

All of this is serious. Dead serious. Not that Denver is important in and of himself. He is not. It is the message. The message offends. It divides. It causes anguish of spirit. It creates "bad feelings" (remember Laman and Lemuel? They had bad feelings about what Nephi taught them, also).

And if Denver is lying. If he is a messenger from the devil, from darkness, he ought to be ignored. He ought to be cast out.

Our eternal salvation lies in the balance when it comes to anyone professing to have a message from our Lord. We ought to take it seriously, just like your post above mine did. I can tell that you feel the import, the weight of knowing if he is a liar or not.

End of my post.

Is it not true that we have eternal decisions to make here? Is it not true that Christ said he came to divide? To bring a sword? Is it not true that He will require the sacrifice of all things? Is it not true that most true messengers where not men in authority, but ordinary men outside of established hierarchies?

Discerning true messengers from false ones is vital to the next plane of existence. From my understanding it changes our projectory for the rest of eternity.

So, how do we do it when it is so painful? How do we know we are not following a "Harmston" or a "Jeffs" or "Korihor"?

I would submit this:

Study scriptures.
The Book of Mormon was one long run-on sentence when it was given to the printer. E.B. Grandin's assistant was saddled with the task of typesetting the book. He had no idea where God wanted the punctuation, but he had to do something. And he did the best he could.

Putting a colon after "these are the words of my father" when it was obvious that the words of the father preceded that sentence is one example of where he didn't quite get it right. But he made the text make a whole lot more sense than it would have otherwise.

So, I would recommend reading the book with the understanding that the punctuation may be different than what you see there.

Who are the Gentiles? 
I suggest reading the book as if you, the reader are a Gentile because, in most cases, it is true. If you have been told that you are of Ephraim in a patriarchal blessing, remember that Isaiah (and it is quoted in the Book of Mormon) prophesied that "Ephraim will be broken that it be not a people" (see Isaiah 7:8 and 2 Nephi 17:8). That would explain why we can be both.

Pride, knowledge, and all that stuff.
I would recommend putting away all that you think you know. Read the book, and pray, as if you were brand new to it all. Put away all you have been taught. Trust that the Lord loves you and would not lead you away into darkness and hell if are are humble and sincere. Be humble enough and brave enough to recognize that it is possible that you don't know it all.

Warm fuzzies versus "bad feelings"
If we read something or hear something and get a "bad feeling" - maybe anger, maybe shock or discombobulation, maybe fear, maybe revulsion - it might be useful to search for the root of that.

Contrary to what we are taught, the Spirit does not give us warm fuzzies if something is from God and "bad feelings" if it is from the devil. A whole lot of people didn't have warm fuzzies when Jesus was preaching - or Stephen (remember him? He was the guy who was stoned while Saul held the coats of those who were doing the murder) - or Abinadi - or Nephi - or Lehi - or Isaiah - or Noah - and on and on we could go.

Joseph Smith said that the Spirit communicated with us by giving us pure knowledge. That is not the same as warm fuzzies or feelings of darkness, as far as I can tell. Those nice feelings and bad feelings are telling us something. It may or may not be what we think.

Prayer, prayer, and more prayer
I would suggest being honest as well as humbling oneself to the dirt. "This scares the hell out of me. Help me understand what's true," is actually an appropriate prayer if you're really feeling that way.

God said He would send a great division among the people. Well, He has done it and is still doing it. There is a tremendous division in regards to what truth might be. And the division seems to be splitting along the lines of "follow the brethren/prophet, they/he can never lead you astray" (this fits all the offshoots from Joseph's day) versus, follow Christ only. If you follow a man, you will be damned because men are not perfect, no matter how true of a prophet they may be.

And the crack, as it enlarges, includes those who are not pleased with the LDS Church building malls, owning thousands upon thousands of acres of lands, leaders driving nice cars and getting great perks, mission presidents having a pretty dang high standard of living, among other things.

The time is shortening for those who are part of the restored church. Truly, the Lord has set His hand a second time to give us a second chance after blowing it in regards to building the Nauvoo temple and encouraging a prophet of God to go to his death (haranguing him into destroying a printing press that he knew would cause his demise, then guilting him into turning himself over to those who would end up killing him).

Whatever you decide, whoever you decide to give heed to, I would recommend serious and ponderous thought. And I wish you well. I pray for you. Not that you will believe as I do, but that God will lead you in the paths of righteousness, and that you will be found at the last day to be on the right hand of the Father.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Testimony of Jesus

I have a testimony of Jesus. I wish He had one of me. Perhaps I am too cowardly, too self-centered, too vile. But I still have hope.

My hope is in Christ. He is my best friend. I have seen Him in several dreams, and in one meditation. I have yet to have what I consider a genuine vision of Him (one of those experiences wherein one is not sure if one is in the body or out of it - and it is so real that even 40 or 80 years later, it is as if it happened yesterday).

I am cowardly. I have spent most of my life in fear. Fear of other people. Fear of the devil. Fear of the pain they could cause. Experience is a great teacher. When one has been reviled and persecuted as a child simply because one exists, one learns to take one's aura and draw it inward, emotionally curling into a ball and becoming quite invisible for one who has a physical body.

Things began to change. I began to connect with Christ. I began to have courage, bit by bit. I still consider myself cowardly. But there are some things I am no longer afraid of.

Where is my testimony of Christ?

It is found when He rescues me. When I see followers of Christ coming to my aid through prayers and in concrete ways. When I see that I am more patient, less vile than I used to be, more prone to let people be whatever they are, even if they are unkind to me.

It is found when I finally begin to see what the tokens and the signs in the temple mean, and begin to realize that we should not be taught how to correctly pray only to be forbidden to pray in that manner. What spirit is it that forbids a man or woman to pray?

It is found when I realize that I have nothing of value to say on my blog because it is all my own opinion and most likely not even true. It is found when I am humble enough to admit I was wrong, that the information I shared wasn't exactly right.

It is found when a true messenger from God gives a call to repentance and, instead of being offended because he does not preach the current "safe" doctrine, I am led to fall on my knees - as I realize that not only am I a sinner, but that the Lord's arms are open wide to receive me.

It is found when Christ heals me of wounds that have festered for years, some of them most of my life.

It is a difficult path to follow the Savior.

The religious may persecute you. They will warn you to stay away from the true messengers of God because they honestly believe that those messengers will lead you to hell.

You may lose your spouse, your family, your children, your parents, your friends, and your church affiliation.

You will begin to disconnect from your old thinking until you no longer have common ground with those who still live and believe the way you used to.

I can say that I used to be a Pharisee of the highest order. Tats, multiple rings in one's body, drinking, smoking - any who did them was bound for hell. I was prideful and arrogant but did not know it. Like Amulek, I knew but I did not know.

Now, I see myself as a sinner. I see myself as darkness in comparison to Christ's Light.

I wish I had a testimony to give you - a testimony that I have seen Christ and that I know, actually know, that He lives. But I can't. I don't consider dreams to fall under the category of knowledge. Or daydreams. Or meditations.  I am very strict in my interpretation of what consists of an actual knowledge of Jesus Christ.

But, you know what I CAN do? I can pray for you. And for me. I can pray that our hearts are softened. I can pray that God helps us with our trials and fears. I can pray that the devils and darkness have absolutely no power over us if we have even one tiny speck of willingness to escape. I can pray that we see Christ and are redeemed from the fall. In this life.

So many people on the Internet have such awesome posts. Occasionally, I think I am one of them. However, I am under no illusion that this post and the last one are some of them. I see myself lacking in understanding. I see myself still far too fearful. I see that I do not have the knowledge, the real hands-on experience, that one needs to be able to adequately preach and teach and testify.

But I love Christ. And I recognize His words. And I know the Book of Mormon is extremely valuable in our earthly journey, and that it is a more complex piece of work than most of us have ever imagined. And I know that if Joseph translated the book, it means he had the gift of translation. It does not mean he was a prophet (though I believe he was). It does not mean he was perfect. It does not mean those from Brigham on down were prophets. It does not mean "the church is true." Those are all logical fallacies.

I love Christ. I love my heavenly Father and Mother. Somewhere in my soul I know that. Somewhere in my soul is the person I was before - the valiant and courageous daughter of God who came down here for a reason, and who chose to stay here for a reason after I had been invited home about 2008.

God lives. And I hope somewhere in this scattered rambling, this nattering, there has been something of value to someone - and that these two posts I made today were not made just to satisfy my own vanity (or insanity). If I deem them useless in the future, I will probably delete them. But for now, I will allow my ramblings to stand.

Random Thoughts

I don't get online much. I don't have Internet right now. I do check on things with my phone, but it's a big hassle because my phone has decided it doesn't like the Internet much. So, here I sit at the library, wanting to say something profound. Either bear with me or jump ship now. <grin>

I warn you that this is a very rough draft and may make very little sense.

I've read a lot of threads on my favorite forum that are talking about people who are being called in by their bishops. Some of these seem to have been instigated from the Saving the Saints Committee. (I have a difficult time remembering their name. Torturing the Saints, Spying on the Saints, Protecting the Saints. There is a real name out there somewhere.) Some are being called in because a friend or relative tattled on them to the bishop. Sometimes the person him/herself was very honest when they spoke to a bishop, and the bishop figured their concerns or interpretation of the "word of wisdom" was a sin.

I halfway wonder why my turn isn't coming up. Am I not obnoxious enough (or honest enough) on the Internet? Perhaps I've not posted enough lately. Perhaps it is because I have moved recently and the spies don't know where to find me.

Let me be very plain here:

1 - I believe the current doctrine of "Follow the prophet; he cannot lead you astray," to be a doctrine of devils. I came by that opinion because D&C 76 said that those who dwell in the telestial kingdom (which it says is hell) contain those who follow prophets (whether "true" or not), but who failed to do something important. I'll let you have the joy of searching the scriptures for yourself. You've got the section number. That's all you need. That, and an open mind connected to God.

2 - I believe that the current doctrine of the poor giving to the church even if it means they go hungry, naked, are kicked out for not paying rent, and so forth is a doctrine of devils - and the poor giving to the rich is preached against in several places in the Book of Mormon (the Isaiah verses are a good place to go. Mormon 8. Or you can just read the book, looking for where it is warning us, the latter-day saints/Gentiles about our wickedness and how we have polluted the holy church of God).

Some people in third world countries cannot afford to pay money to the church, some of them suffer so much so they can give - and for what? So that the Brethren can have a new Avalon every year or two? So they can write on cotton rag paper instead of on ordinary paper like the rest of us? So they can throw a big birthday bash or eat expensive lunches at work (COB) that lesser mortals working there are not allowed to eat? So that the church can build malls, buy up Florida and church history lands, keep up their expensive hunting retreats?

3 - I fear a hierarchy that cannot recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd, Him who they profess to follow - Him who they pretend to claim to have seen (in flowery language that they have to know the masses will take as, "He saw Him!!!!" when, it reality, it is language that does not come out and plainly say, "I know He lives, for I saw Him. I touched Him. And this is what He said ...") when He speaks through a servant of His own choosing.

I say "fear" because a group of men who profess to know the Lord, who profess to have His power and authority and to hold His keys who cannot recognize Him whom they profess to serve, even to the point of casting out that servant He has sent,  are dangerous indeed to those whom they teach the mantra of, "Follow the Prophet. Follow the Brethren. We cannot lead you astray. It is impossible."

4 - I believe we are meant to be redeemed from the fall in this life. I believe we are meant to return to the Lord's presence here. I believe that Joseph never intended to restore an institutional organization. I believe Joseph gave in to the demands of men, who wanted a New Testament church (as they supposed it to be).

5 - I believe that the cursing in the D&C was never lifted. I believe that when we lost the fullness, it was never given again. I believe the fullness is to see the face of Christ and receive Him as the Second Comforter. I believe that we (the pioneers - I say "we" because their blood flows in my veins) did not finish the Nauvoo temple in a timely manner. The proof is in the fact that we were scattered and driven, and suffered horribly, and went after false doctrines (perversions of what Joseph had been attempting to teach).

6 - I believe there is hope for us yet. I believe that Jesus Christ is, right now, holding His hand out to us, begging us to listen to Him, to hear the painful truths He is trying to tell us - through the Book of Mormon, through the servants He is raising up to tell us that all is NOT well in "Zion". I believe we Gentiles are being given one last chance. And it is the last. After that, it will revert to the Remnant, to those to whom the Book of Mormon promises it will go to after the Gentiles (us) reject the fullness of the gospel.

Next post to offset this: My testimony of Christ.