Thursday, May 29, 2014

If the Way Was Easy, Why Would We Need a Comforter?

There Are Two Paths

3 Nephi 14:13-14
Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

One path is broad and easy. It's the one most people take.

The other is straight. It's narrow. It's the road few travel. It's a hard road. This is how I imagine it (so take it or leave it): before you are two paths. One is well traveled, lots of people are using it, and even vouch for it to you. It looks safe. It looks easy going.

And off somewhere to your right is one that is more like an animal trail. It is straight, though... straight up a mountain. There are cliffs to climb in some places. It looks dangerous.

It looks like hell.

There is someone who vouches for that one too, but the people on the other path avoid him because he looks kind of crazy, especially when he claims the narrow path is full of peace and joy. He also claims the guide that will lead you through this path isn't something you can see. Not at first. You just have to start and listen to it inside yourself. The rewards he claims are at the end are worthy of pause, but most just continue on the broad one because it makes more sense, because all their traveling companions are convinced of it too. Their reward lies at the end of the easy one. They know it because everyone else on the road with them knows it too.

You may see another person or two on the narrow path. You may not. This path is so narrow, that it can only fit one person at a time, and for that reason it looks lonely.

The first path is full of other people. It looks like a good time. With so many people, loneliness is far from your mind.

Though, the first path looks like hell and getting to the end of it may feel like hell, the end is Heaven.

Though, the first path looks like the obvious choice, it leads to Hell.

So which one do you take?

Why We Take the Easy One:

2 Nephi 28:21-22
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none--and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

If everything is fine how it is, then there's no reason to look outside our understanding or the road we're on, right? All is well! If I just follow the herd, I'll go where they're going! We'll end up there together.


...Well, yes. I'll all end up in the same place, but that place isn't where I wanted to go. Any time a thought like that comes to us, we ought to examine where it came from, and find the truth of the matter.

How We Enter Into the Gate of the Strait and Narrow Path:

Read the last 3 chapters of 2 Nephi for more understanding on that and read this post about how we should be thinking of the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost.

Remember: "...the keeper of the gate is the Hoy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name." (2 Nephi 9:41) We can only enter through Him.

What is Required of Us on That Path:

It would be nice if only a little sacrifice was required from us here or there, but the scriptures say otherwise.

ST Matthew 16:24- (JST Translation)
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.

Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come.

And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come.

Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

We are required to give up anything and everything of this world. Would Christ have mentioned that we should take up a cross, if it wasn't going to be hard?

Side note: We tend to think of keeping His commandments in such a linear way. Yes, they are the commandments He has given us in scripture and through His prophets, but it is also what He commands us personally through the Holy Spirit, etc.

All of the Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith should be read to better understand this subject, but I'll just quote a little of it below. (Another side note: I have a facsimile reprint of the original 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in which the Lectures on Faith were presented as the doctrine portion of the book, and the revelations which we currently use as the D&C as the covenant portion.)

Lectures on Faith, 6: 7-8,
Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.

Lectures on Faith 6:10
Those, then, who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled, through faith, to endure unto the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith; therefore, they cannot lay hold upon eternal life, because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do; and without this guarantee faith could not exist.

Think of what all the things the prophets of old had to sacrifice: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Lehi, Nephi, Abinadi, Alma, the sons of Mosiah, Mormon, Moroni, Ether, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, etc... Look at these people and the things, including their lives in some cases, that they gave up in order to do the Lord's will.

Unless we have done as they have, under God's direction, we will not inherit what they are inheriting.


The strait and narrow path is the hardest one to choose to follow in this life. It defies logic and human instinct.

If we enter in at the gate, we will not get assurances or comfort that it is the right way from the world or the people in it. But we will get it from God. His are the only assurances regarding our salvation we should be listening to anyway.

The other path is full of assurances and a false sense of security, but it will not lead us where we want to go.

It is not a comfortable path. That's why he has promised us a comforter along the way, and not just one, but two (John 14:16-17, 23D&C 88: 3-7D&C 130:1-3D&C 93).

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why it is so Important to Let the Spirit do the Teaching

I was asked to share my testimony of the scriptures in Relief Society last Sunday. This post will finish some concepts that were left unfinished.

An example of my inadequacies
I was given a very important learning experience a while back, that was both embarrassing and discouraging. I have it spread across several pages of my journal, and though I was tempted to rip those pages out, the Spirit lead me to leave them in. They were important to remember, my failures, and should remain right alongside my triumphs. And just as He has instructed me to share personal spiritual experiences, He has also prompted me to share my failings, both so that others may benefit.

Yes, I am ignorant (Hey, but so was Joseph Smith, so I'm in good company)

At the time, I was reading in the New Testament. Studying it (or so I thought) when I came to the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). I thought this parable was a good opportunity to stretch my spiritual muscles and determine it's meaning. I completely forgot that Jesus interprets this for His disciples in the verses following the parable.

I filled up THREE pages of my journal with what I thought this parable meant. I remember feeling so smart. The answers were coming so easily, made so much sense, and yet I kept altering them, having three separate versions in the end because each new one made more sense than the last. I remember how excited I was over all this. As the ideas kept flowing, I remembered thinking I got this, I got this. And in saying this within my mind, I later realized I wasn't allowing the Spirit to speak to me about it because I already had it. I even attributed my brilliant understandings to the Spirit. I understand so much! It must be the Spirit!


Yeah well, all my ideas were wrong, aside from one. The part that the adversary represented.

The Aftermath

I was so discouraged by this, by my own failure, my ignorance, that I put my scriptures away for longer than I should have.

I was so discouraged that I wondered how the Lord could love someone so foolish (though I knew that He did and does). I wondered how I could ever really achieve understanding if I was so good at standing in my own way.

The Note I Left For Myself

As I mentioned at the beginning, I contemplated ripping the pages out, then was leaning more towards crossing it all out. Instead, I felt impressed to leave them and left this note at the bottom of all my mistakes:

This whole dissection of mine of Matt 13 is evidence of my own foolishness. And will be left to remind me of my flaws and humanity.

I'm an Idiot. Teach Me.

Lucky for me, this whole thing was exactly the experience I needed to get past my own bright ideas, to push aside my own understandings, to let go of concepts I'd been taught by others more knowledgeable. It is the basis for this post here, and probably one of the most valuable lessons I've learned in my life.

The phrase above will sound familiar to those who were in Relief Society on Sunday.

This is the way I prefer to approach the scriptures now, as someone who needs to be filled. Someone who needs to be taught. Someone who doesn't already have the answers. Someone who can't even figure them out without the Spirit.

There is a quote from Avatar that I love that is relevant here. The naavi agree to teach Jake Sully because he isn't already full of his own knowledge, like the scientists that came before him were.

Moat: It is hard to fill a cup that is already full.
Jake Sully: My cup is empty. Trust me. Just ask Dr. Augustine. I'm no scientist.

It is because of this that they take him in and begin to teach him how to be one of them.

The Lord has said something similar to this:
2 Nephi 9:43
And whoso knocketh to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches--yea they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

2 Nephi 9:28-29
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailities, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

2 Nephi 26:20
And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.

Realizing that we don't have all the answers and letting go of the ones we think we already have, gives room for the Spirit to teach us.


Don't be a cup that is already full.

The scriptures we have, are given to us to try our faith (3 Nephi 26:9-11), and for good reason. Our modern way of thinking, our understandings, learnings, and wisdom, get in the way of the message the Lord is sending to us through His prophets, we get in the way of that message, but the Spirit can make them plain to us.

And if we open ourselves up to teaching from the source of all truth

We will be taught.

We don't have to be a scholar, or a scholar of scholars to understand the word of God.

We just have to listen the Spirit.

If you come to a passage of scripture that confuses you, use it as an opportunity to ponder, to pray, and let the Spirit bring understanding, until you get it.

The Spirit will make us God's scholar.

Final Note:

As I have presented above, I make mistakes. I do try to write these out as prompted, but I am human.

If I have spoken true, then the Spirit will be my witness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fill the House With Light

A Dream:

I had a dream a while back that was significant to me. It took some time before I understood it. I was looking out at the Great Salt Lake, but it looked like a regular lake and was located in a different part of the valley. There was something specific I was waiting for. The lake started bubbling with volcanic gases that were being released from underneath it. Some young boys in their swimming suits ran by to swim in it, and I stopped them, warning them that it was dangerous. They shrugged off my concern, and this made me question myself. I began to think, Maybe it's not dangerous, and I amended my concern to them, saying that they should ask their moms before going in.

I continued to wait by the lake. I'm not sure what if anything happened to the boys, but I think they jumped in and were fine. At this point I knew what I was waiting at the lake for. Someone I trusted had told me that it would all begin with the meeting of the gypsies. I knew of a meeting of gypsies that was supposed to start any minute at the lake. I waited and waited and saw nothing, though I knew they would be meeting there. I gave up and went to my house, that was across the street from the lake. It was really cold and dark inside. The gas fireplace had broken, and the electricity was out. There was a strange girl as well that wasn't supposed to be there. I was trying to figure out how we'd keep the house warm all winter.

What makes this interesting:

This may seem really irrelevant and boring at the moment, but I'll explain why it stuck out to me.

I was so busy trying to warn others, waiting and watching for signs, that I didn't even know what was going on in my own house. I didn't even know that I was completely unprepared for the coming winter.

Later, I discovered that my house in this dream, represented myself. I was too busy looking outward, at what was wrong around me, and things that might be happening, that I had no light and warmth inside myself. I was not prepared for the cold of the coming winter, and there was a stranger inside my house instead of the things that should have been there.

What's my point?

It won't matter what's wrong with everything around us, it won't even matter if the immediate signs of the end of the world are outside our windows...

if we aren't prepared for it...


We may have all the physical preparations for surviving a disaster or a zombie apocalypse, but if we aren't prepared spiritually, it will all be for naught.

Our houses will be without light and warmth.

Kind of like this:
D&C 93:32
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.

And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.

What's the deal with this light?

Jesus also spoke of a light when instructing the 12 disciples from among the Nephites.

3 Nephi 12:15-16
Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;

Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

What is the light I should be trying to gather within my house?

Jesus clarified this for us too, just five chapters later.

3 Nephi 18:24
Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up--that which ye have seen me do.

Also, D&C 6:21
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

D&C 14:9
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness.

D&C 50:24
That which is of God is light and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

D&C 84:45
For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Summary: Light = Jesus Christ = that which is of God = word of the Lord = truth = Spirit

Got all that?

Light is truth (which is the word of the Lord). That light can only come through Him, and if we continue in Him, we will receive more truth, more and more of the "word of the Lord," more light "until the perfect day."

I could sum up my dream with these scriptures:

D&C 84:43-47
And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves (my dream also felt like a warning about this), to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.

For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Sprit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.

And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.

We receive light by hearkening to the Spirit, and this is how we come to our Heavenly Father. So, by hearkening to Jesus Christ, who is the Spirit of truth (D&C 93:26), which we receive by listening to the Spirit, we are then lead to the Father. Some HUGE promises here.

How important is hearkening to the voice of the Spirit?

D&C 84:52
And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

If we're not of Him, and acquainted with His voice than we won't have a place with Him in the life to come. This is completely like the Parable of the Ten Virgins, now that I think about it.

D&C 45:56
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.

For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived--verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.

We must be wise, receive the truth (which is also receiving Jesus Christ, and the word of God, and this must be continually, not just a one time thing), and the Holy Spirit needs to be our guide.


So there it is, the way to fill our metaphorical houses with light.

We ought to find out if we hold the required light within ourselves, much as Enos did. We need to understand our individual standing before the Lord. See here and here if you are unsure of how to do that.

There's always a starting point. We need to make sure we grow from there. We have been given the tools we need in order to accomplish this. Everything we need to know, the Spirit will testify to us, if we will receive it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Baptism of Fire and The Holy Ghost: The Most Important Part We Forget to Teach

I was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder-day Saints, like so many people I know. I was baptized by my dad on the day I turned eight, and confirmed a member of the church. What I understood about this event then is not what I understand now.

I was missing a vital piece of understanding.

I know this is a long post, but it is VERY important, and I ask you to read it in its entirety.


Before I share my experience of receiving the Baptism of Fire and Holy Ghost, I want to go over some details.

According to the church handbook, this is how a confirmation is done:

Instructions for Performing a Confirmation

Under the direction of the bishopric, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders may participate in a confirmation. They place their hands lightly on the person’s head. Then the person who performs the ordinance:
  1. 1. States the person’s full name.
  2. 2. States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
  3. 3. Confirms the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  4. 4. Uses the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” (not “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”).
  5. 5. Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.
  6. 6. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
Link to the LDS Handbook on

We are told to "receive the Holy Ghost," but this outward ordinance isn't always when we do receive the Holy Ghost. It can be received at this time, and sometimes it is.

But the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, and the confirmation of the Spirit we receive in the church, are not one and the same.

Receiving one does not mean you have received the other.

Again, we are told to "receive the Holy Ghost." Until we continue on and do this, we don't receive our Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost.

So what is the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, then?

Time to dig into the scriptures!

This first example will show this happening at the time of baptism:

Joseph Smith History 1:73-74
"Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. we were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.

Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of..."

After their baptisms the gifts of the spirit were poured out upon them, and they both prophesied. They were filled with the Holy Ghost and in their salvation. The scriptures were opened to their understanding.

I felt really special on the day of my baptism, but I can't say any of this happened to me.

Something else that should get you thinking is that by this time, Joseph Smith had experienced incredible things. He'd seen Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and been ministered to by angels, but this moment...after all those experiences... is when he was baptized by fire. Just because we've also felt the Spirit and had spiritual experiences, does not mean we had already had the BFHG (Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost).

Another example is in Helaman 5:23-48 (I highly recommend you read this if not now then sometime today. It's too lengthy add to the body of this post)

A recap: The Lamanites in this scripture were entering the prison to kill Nephi and Lehi, who had entered the city to preach to them. Instead Nephi and Lehi are surrounded by a fire that doesn't burn them, while a cloud of darkness and fear holds the Lamanites bound. As they are captives to this darkness, three times a still small voice calls to them, and tells them to repent. They begin to pray until the darkness leaves, and when it does, they too are encircled about by a pillar of fire. They are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit entered into their hearts and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous things. After this they are ministered to by angels.

There was no baptism (as we think of it) involved in this example, and yet they still received the Holy Ghost.

Again the gifts of the Spirit were poured out with the receiving of the Holy Ghost. The Gifts of the Spirit come with the reception of the Holy Ghost. "...if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief."(Moroni 10:24) These things should be present. We should be experiencing them. (Gifts of the Spirit as outlined in Moroni 10: to teach the word of wisdom, to teach the word of knowledge, exceedingly great faith, healing, to work mighty miracles, prophesy, beholding of angels and ministering spirits, all kinds of tongues, interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues)

Also, repentance was not a process with steps involved for these Lamanites who were on their way to murder the prophets. Their forgiveness was immediate, and their lives and desires completely changed.

The hearts of King Benjamin's people were also changed by their experience after he preached the words of an angel to them.
Mosiah 5:2-3
"....because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. And we ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things."

Their joy (in the first two examples) was in knowing they were redeemed from their sins.

More examples of BFHG (Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost): 3 Nephi 19:13-14Acts 1:5&Acts 2:1-18

What is required of us to receive the BFHG the way those in the scripture did?

2 Nephi 31:13
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism--yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel."

3 Nephi 11:37
"And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things."

3 Nephi 9:20
"And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not." (I've shared the scripture of the Lamanites receiving the BFHG above, and though they certainly knew they had experienced an amazing thing, they probably didn't realize that this was the BFHG. I can to relate to this with my experience as well...)

We are required to come unto Him with real intent, repenting with broken hearts and contrite spirits, becoming as a little child,  and having faith. And when we do these things, He will visit us with a baptism of fire. We outwardly witness of these things when we are baptized by water, but in case we weren't quite there at the time of our baptism, it's not too late. We are still told to "receive the Holy Ghost" and we still can if we haven't already.

In reading these accounts has an experience come to mind for you? Have you had an experience similar to these? If so, you've probably been Baptized by Fire and the Holy Ghost.

If you haven't, seek for it.

If you aren't sure...pray to know of this for yourself. This is what I had to do. If you discover that you have yet to receive it, then ponder on the requirements above, figure out how you can meet them, and pray to receive it.

I've talked about how we ought to go before the Lord in prayer a little bit here: Getting It Right. Don't go in already knowing the answer. Go in as a fool that needs to trust in the Lord for the truth. See if what I have laid out about the BFHG is true.

When it happens you may "hear" a voice calling on you to repent, maybe an impression that you need to, maybe you feel you need to dedicate your life to Him with a sincerity you have lacked before, maybe you will feel you absolutely NEED to repent, to save you from the anguish that the knowledge of your sins brings. As long as it comes from a sincere, broken, and contrite heart, God will hear your call and purge you clean with a fire that scours the heart and soul, and then you may receive the Holy Ghost, not just in symbol...

But in truth.

My Witness

Like I mentioned before, I was baptized and confirmed at the age of eight. I've been blessed with sporadic dreams of a sacred nature, impressions, spiritual highs, and spiritual experiences all my life. I felt Him confirm His love for me in an overwhelming experience when I was thirteen. I received wonderful answer from the Spirit during times when I sought it: whether the Book of Mormon was true, the college I should attend after high school (BYU-I), whether I should marry the man who is currently my husband, among other things. I had done what I had thought was repenting many times as well.

But none of these were a my BFHG.

If I had realized what the BFHG really is before I had received it, I would have assumed I must have received it because doesn't everyone in our church already have it? I would have assumed my experience must just be different than how they described in the scriptures because I wasn't as special as they, and I must have received it already with all the witness of the Spirit I had experienced in my life before. I would've been wrong, though. Sometimes it's hard to accept things we thought were a given, aren't actually so.

The truth is we can have experiences with the Spirit without having it as a constant companion (D&C 130:23 A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.)

My BFHG came at the age of 29. I'm 30 now! That's less than a year ago.

What made this experience different than all others before was that, although I'd always been a good person and made good decisions, it occurred to me for the first time that my heart was not right before God. I was reading something at the time, not scripture, not spiritual even, when it hit me (and it really hit me). I was brought to a knowledge of my awful situation, the realization that even though I was good by the world's standards, I had fallen far short of God's standards, and had been too blind and ignorant to realize it until this point. I was harrowed up, grieved, brought to the ground by this realization.

My heart was broken.

My spirit was contrite.

I desired to change. I desired to be free of the darkness that had laid claim to me. I desired to live according to God's standard, and I desired no more to do evil.

In this state, I prayed to be forgiven. I prayed that I would remember this so I would never repeat the mistake again. My broken heart burned inside of me, and somehow I fell asleep that night. I had my first vision then (a gift of the Spirit). It was startlingly different than a dream. It seemed that I was awake, just transported to another place. I was very aware of myself, of my surroundings. It felt more real than being awake does. I won't share all of this vision, just that it held a personal warning for me that I found very timely, and imprinted a specific scripture into my soul. When I woke it was still there, and when I read a verse from the scripture that mentioned sins being forgiven, my heart and soul burned within me and the Spirit testified to me that this was meant for me at this moment. My sins were forgiven. I felt like a different person after this. My heart continued to burn as though a fire lived inside me for a week after this. The world seemed different too. It was more beautiful, more full of the evidence of God all around us. My heart was changed. At the end of this week I experienced a second vision, one that showed me why the scriptures speak of individuals (even righteous ones) being afraid when an angel appears to them.

I do read the scriptures with a greater understanding now than I ever did before this experience as well, but this has taken more effort and did not come immediately. Read this to know more about that.

At this time, I knew I had experienced something wonderful, but I didn't realize it was the BFHG until the middle of April. After that week the burning faded, and I didn't understand why. I had yet to understand what the BFHG really was, and when I did, I doubted this experience was it because of how it had faded. I didn't realize the burning part of it is a temporary thing. In answer to many of my prayers inquiring about this thing, I finally recognized it for the experience it was.

I'm not saying I'm perfect. I have definitely come to understand the need for continual repentance. I am far from perfect. If you're looking to find fault with me, you'll find it. This is simply my witness of the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost. Of what it is. That it is indeed a real thing and that we need to take the scriptures at their word.

Those who know me, know I don't like to draw attention to myself. I'd prefer to keep these things to myself, but the Spirit has reminded me that it isn't prudent or wise to bury such things (parable of the talents). So I am investing this experience in the people who will read this.

Why this is so important:

2 Nephi 31:17-18
Wherefore, do the things which i have told you I have seen your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy  Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

Until we have received this we have NOT entered into the strait and narrow path.

This is only the beginning of the process, an event that marks the beginning of entering into the path. Another post will have to go into later parts of the process. I'll just add here that I have had other such outpourings since this experience. It does not end with BFHG, but marks the beginning of more.

I share this, that any that have not yet received it will understand its importance and seek it for themselves.

Modern accounts of BFHG:

I've been given permission to share an individual's BFHG experience. There are links to others below as well. I wasn't going to share anything from this one at first because it is so personal, but then this person mentioned that I am free to use it because he has been told by the Lord to share. As I have been told this as well, it only seemed right that his should be on here as well. (The "..."s mark my editing. I have not changed any of his words, only taken out some personal details.)

...for most of my adult life I was only semi-active in the church... I got an infection in my leg (same thing that Joseph Smith had when he was a boy). I had to have three surgeries to completely remove the infection and repair the damage to my bone. When I was on the way to the hospital before the second surgery, the thought came to me - if I were to die on the operating table, would I inherit the celestial kingdom? And the answer I got from the Spirit was an emphatic NO. And I had the most horrible feeling at that moment. I prayed silently and asked for peace, and got some measure of it.

After I got home from the hospital, I determined that I was going to make some changes in my life. It took me two years to really work through those changes. I read a lot of books and tried to obey the commandments the best I could. But my mind kept dwelling on my sins, and I knew that more was needed. I finally came to the point that I was willing to do ANYTHING to repent. I told the Lord in prayer that I would do whatever was required and suffer whatever embarrassment or hurt was required. 

...I finally resolved after two years that I was going to approach the Lord in prayer and do whatever He told me I needed to in order to obtain a remission of my sins. After approaching Him a few times, I knew that I needed to confess some things to my wife and bishop, and I was willing to endure whatever humiliation and hurt had to go with it. Surprisingly, the results of this were far less than what I had anticipated. I thought my wife would be angry, and I thought the bishop might impose some penalties. But neither happened, and I felt so much better and knew I had done the right thing. When I spoke with the bishop, he told me that when I prayed, I would feel closer to the Lord. And I did.

After this, I continued to pray every day, sometimes multiple times per day, asking the Lord to forgive me of all my sins, or tell me what else I needed to do in order to be forgiven. I was willing to do anything He asked. Early one morning, I began my prayer, asking Him to remit my sins through the blood of Christ. I had barely begun praying, when I had the most overwhelming sense of love and joy flow into me. It was electrifying. Words cannot even begin to describe it. I cried with joy, the likes of which I have never before nor since experienced. Truly I had been forgiven. I knew what the baptism of fire was, and I KNEW with all my heart and soul that I had been washed clean from all my sins. It was the most joyous thing. Again, the words I'm using to describe it don't even begin to do it justice. I can say this for sure, if someone has experienced the baptism of fire, they KNOW it. When the scriptures describe someone being baptized with fire and not knowing it, it has to be because they do not understand what has happened. But there is no way an experience like this can happen to someone and they do not notice it.

I have often wondered about whether the BFHG can occur over a long period of time. We are taught this in church quite regularly, but I'm not sure I can see this in the scriptures. My own experience was like Enos or Alma the Younger. It was clear and unmistakeable, just as the baptism of water is clear and unmistakeable.

If I were to give any advice, it would be this - you have to be willing to do whatever the Lord wants you to do to repent. If you have to suffer consequences for your sins, then do it. If people will be angry because of what you tell them, you still have to do it. If you receive church discipline, it is worth it. But offer it all up to the Lord and surrender your will to His. He may or may not require you to actually suffer consequences. But you have to be willing to suffer them. If you ever think about the sacrament prayer, we witness to God our willingness to keep his commandments and take upon ourselves the name of Christ. We don't necessarily have to actually do it. But we have to be willing to do it, and actually do it if occasion requires it. The Lord knows our hearts, and if we are not COMPLETELY willing to do what He asks, then we can't receive this blessing.

In my case, I had committed plenty of serious sins, and had led a life that was significantly less than virtuous. And yet the Lord was willing to forgive me. If your life has been largely free of serious sin, and you truly desire to know if you have been forgiven, then ask the Lord in humble prayer. Ask Him to show you what you need to repent of. It may be something small or something big. But you have to lay EVERYTHING on the line for Him in order to obtain it. Trust me, the gift He gives in return is worth far more than what He might require of you.

...Listen to the Spirit and do whatever is asked, and you can receive this gift. I have come to understand that the Lord often gives us far more than we think He will, and He often requires far less of us than we think He does. Just ask Him, He gives to all men liberally and upbraids not.

Links to other modern accounts of BFHG:
Lorenzo Snow's BFHG
A New Tongue BFHGDoubt Not But Be Believing(This blogger has some great comments on how the gifts of the spirit you receive after/during your BFHG might be hard to recognize and how this is an event in a process)
A New Day Dawns: Faith That Saves (A post detailing how it is Christ we have to rely on for this, our devoutness will not achieve what relying on Him will)
The Rock of My Redeemer (A great post, the end of which is his testimony of things I have spoken of)

I'd like to offer a special thanks for those that offered up their experiences for this post.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Getting It Right

Hello! First post of a new blog.

I didn't expect or want this to be my first post, but I've been directed by the Spirit to begin with the scripture below. Apparently it's important enough that it merits the first posting. So let's dig in...

3 Nephi 28
34 And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day;

35 And it would be better for them if they had not been born...

Okay, so Context:

This is Mormon after compiling accounts of Jesus' visit to the Americas, and only the lesser part (3 Nephi 26:7-11). He was commanded to withhold the greater things until we believe these lesser things. But that's another story all together (one we yet have to live up to). Anyway Moroni is describing the 3 Nephites, about how they have ministered to him. He knows their names, but isn't allowed to share them. He knows that they will be among the Gentiles and among the Jews, neither of which group will know their true identity (as servants of God). In the Lord's due time they will minister to all the scattered tribes of Israel.

The verses I've included above get a bit broader. They aren't specifying just these 3 men who were chosen of God, but I feel I can safely say it applies to all God's chosen that He sends among us. Anytime God sends someone to speak His words to a people, these verses will apply.

Why this is important for us to know:

These are scary verses. They put the brunt of determining which words are the words of Jesus, and which people are His chosen on us. If we don't get it right it'd be better if we were never born.

No pressure, or anything.

...We just won't get into heaven because He is the gatekeeper, and if we somehow get it wrong and end up rejecting something from Him, He won't receive us.

Rejecting words that come from Him, is the same thing as rejecting Him.

Rejecting someone sent by Him to us, and therefore their message (which, remember, is His message) is the same thing as rejecting Him.

So this is a HUGE DEAL!

How in the world are we supposed to trust ourselves to get it right?

We could just go with whatever is popular.

We could rely on someone else to tell us the right answer, maybe someone we trust, like a coworker, friend, family member, or maybe that really successful guy we know, or wish we knew.

We could trust the culture or family traditions we've been born into.

We could just go with whatever the official stance of the organization we belong to is.


This doesn't seem like the kind of decision we should trust others to make for us, or even allow them to influence our decision.

We have to get this right for ourselves.

This mistake has been made before.

Luke 7 33-34John 10:19-21, Helaman 16:6, Moses 8:20

God's chosen have been rejected many times, even Jesus was said to have had a devil by His own people. If they could not recognize His voice when He was right in front of them, how do we expect to do any better?

Hint: Don't trust yourself.

2 Nephi 9:42
And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches--yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

Anything that we prize about ourselves, anything that fuels our pride, will get in the way of recognizing the Lord, His word, and/or His servants. If we lean upon these things in our understanding, if we lean upon these things in what we accept or reject, we are rejecting Him.

We ought to consider ourselves fools before God.

We are fools.

We need to go before God in prayer, not as the guy/girl who already has all the answers about what or who is right or wrong, but as the fool who wants to know the truth straight from the source, willing to abide by whatever the answer is... even if the answer turns our world upside down.

Moses 6:61
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.

The Spirit answers in truth. We need to seek it. And trust it. We owe it to ourselves to get it right. We owe it to ourselves to find out the truth for ourselves.

Otherwise we'd be just another Pharisee, rejecting Jesus because he didn't fit the expectations of the organization that claimed to serve Him, or the most strict followers of His law.

Why should you take my word for it?

You shouldn't! That's the whole point. Trust the Spirit. The more familiar with it we become, the more we recognize the Word of God when we hear it, whether it comes from a bum, a book, or some carpenter's son. Get a good understanding of His character and purpose by reading the New Testament accounts of Him. And of course don't forget the Book of Mormon, all of it really, but particularly His visit to the Americas.

If we do not realize we are fools yet, what might His message be to us now?


I'd be wary if your first reaction to this post was, I got that in the bag already.