Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another Casualty

With so much going on, and the comfort I have felt in the face of it, this blog post has been put off for longer than I intended. I'm not really sure where to begin. I'm not really sure how to explain all that has happened with me.

I think I'll start with Amos.


Amos was an Old Testament prophet that, like all the other prophets before and after him in the Old Testament, foretold the destruction of Israel. He lived among an idolatrous people, people who followed after prophets, who, rather than declaring repentance among the people, prophesied lies of peace. These were the prophets the people were mostly listening to. 

And who was Amos?

When Amos was told to stop prophesying his inconvenient prophecies of destruction, this is what he had to say about who he was:

Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land. Amos 7:14-17
Amos, as it turns out, was just an ordinary herdman, until the Lord called him to prophesy against his own people.

As I read this several weeks back, I couldn't help but see how God is really unchanging. I am nothing like Amos. I am not a prophet/ess, or anything like that. But I was called by God to bear testimony, which I describe briefly here, and which I have done on this blog. I claim His authority to do this, since it was given me to do by Him. I offer no apologies for that, only for my imperfectness in doing it. No one is more aware of my weaknesses and failings than I am. I sought nothing in writing this blog but to lead people to have faith in Jesus Christ, and show there is a need for repentance. And I felt inadequate for this task. But I was reminded that it is by the weak and simple that God accomplishes His work.

Like Amos, my task was not met with acceptance.

So I guess that begs the question, do we still believe God calls us personally to do things? Has He changed that? Does he change?

Some backstory and a why for those who don't understand

I began this blog with very safe topics. I would have been fine keeping the problems with what we teach now to myself forever (in fact I would have preferred it), were it not for something that occurred in August of 2014. As I sat in fast & testimony under the direction of the Spirit to just listen to what was being said, the Lord also interpreted two dreams for me I had been pondering over and not understood. He tied it all together in one great heap of understanding, that showed to me I had a choice: I could speak up and warn the people around me of what was going on; or I could keep the peace, and carry as much of the blood/sins/iniquity of the people on me as the ones who were responsible for causing it in the first place.

Testimony of this principle can be found here:
Behold I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. Therefore they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads. D&C 88:81-21
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. Ezekiel 33:6
Having a personal witness of this principle, and a personal reason and responsibility to speak up, I began this series of posts, and later came others that were equally disliked including this one. The most offensive ones are the same ones I was prompted to write. I have been called a wolf in sheep's clothing because of this, which is ironic, given my post about the topic.

I am not anti-mormon. I never was.

I am pro repentance.

I have done what I've done out of a process of repentance and trusting in the Lord and His guidance for me. I fully believe that the only way to the Father, is through the Son. I fully believe the Book of Mormon is true, and Joseph Smith the true prophet of the restoration.

But the church has a problem when it favors the commandments of men over the commandments of God.

I have been accused of losing my testimony in the church and the brethren, despite my explanations that, this is not what has occurred. I have only gained and strengthened testimony in God and His ways since I set out two and a half years ago to do that very thing. But there's an interesting thing that happens when you have a sincere desire to learn what is true of the Lord. He'll tell you, and you'll realize the things you were mistaken in. He'll show you your unbelief in the form of things you assumed had to be true, that weren't quite. You'll realize there was a bigger picture you couldn't see before. And how truly wise and amazing God is. His ways are greater than you understood before. He is unchanging. And you won't miss those unbeliefs that hedged you up, and held you back. You will be strengthened for letting them go.

An unbelief to let go

I'm embarrassed to admit how long it actually took for me to believe what God kept telling me, through witness after witness, scripture after scripture. Months. I really had a dependence on the brethren being it. I really adored and wanted to put my trust in them. I relished General Conference. I waited with bated breath for their "special witness" testimonies at the end of their remarks, fully believing that every one of them met with Jesus face to face, and knew Him as I had always desired to.

But again, I had pled with the Lord to teach me His principles with an unshakeable certainty, so I could weather the spiritual storm I felt I had been enduring. And so, He brought to me the words of His messenger today, a messenger already cast out by his stake at the behest of a certain member of the 12, with an appeal denied by none other than the first presidency. I compared words and appearances of this messenger with the ones that appeared behind a pulpit every six months. In appearances the brethren were looking favorable, but in words...

There's a good reason truth is called a sword. It cuts right through you, to the core of your soul, and shows you your error, which nothing but turning to God and crying to Him for forgiveness can cure.

In words, the messenger's were the ones God testified of to me, and there was a stark contrast between what he was saying, and what the ones I had been depending on were saying. They weren't artfully said, they weren't silver-tongued, they weren't flattering, they didn't testify of him, they pointed instead to only Him, to God, to His Son in a purity that has been lost. They were scripture, and I'm not saying it the way we say everything the brethren say is scripture. I mean, he was teaching scriptures. He didn't insist we needed to follow him. He insisted on Christ, and his knowledge of Christ was intimate in a way we do not know in this generation. In a way we need to regain again.

And months after realizing this, but insisting in my mind that all must still be good with our leaders, I finally came with a question before the Lord as I sat in the temple one night. I wrote this in my journal and will finally share it now, because it is my testimony. It is my witness that I mentioned at the end of this post here.

Saturday 12/21/13
It's just past midnight, and I just got home from cleaning the Oquirrh Mountain Temple for the second night in a row. Tonight I was pondering in prayer and in my heart whether I should sustain the leaders of the church this next conference or oppose them. I was conflicted because when I think of the brethren or look at them I see good men, who I think are trying to do their best, so I couldn't without good reason think of opposing them, but tonight while waiting in the Baptistry for my cleaning assignment, the answers came to me. It began by my wondering if this was becoming an issue because of their recent articles that make them into hypocrites in my opinion (in saying that the past leaders erred in judgement, though they teach that as current leaders they cannot lead us astray). I said a prayer asking God if I should sustain Thomas S. Monson as a true prophet, and felt a No. I asked if I should sustain the 12, and felt a No. I asked if I should oppose, and felt a Yes. I told the Lord that if I were to do this I would like to know, Why? And so the answer came: 
It is because they were offered a chance (through the witness's words, excommunication, and appeal) to finally accept the fullness of the gospel for the church, having the evidence before them that the church rejected this in the early days too.  It was their chance to rectify this, and instead they rejected it, again and for the last time as a church. 
By doing this they have sealed the church's fate, and make themselves a stumbling block for the members, preventing them from the fullness of the gospel as well (which is to see/know Jesus Christ and the Father, John 17:3).
Therefore, by sustaining our leaders this next conference in April, we are accepting their decision, and condoning the rejection of the fullness, which is rejecting Jesus Christ himself. That is why I must oppose, or else seal my fate to theirs.
I later found confirmation of this principle in the scriptures, which I wrote about in the first post of this blog. Amazingly enough, months after I recorded this in my journal other witnesses came forward testifying of the same occurrence in April 2014.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2 Corinthians 13:1
Still, me being me, I found myself at the temple a month or so later, again with a prayer in my heart. Again wondering, Lord, how could it be so? Specifically I was asking about President Monson. I kept insisting in my heart this couldn't extend to him. That it had to be some kind of misunderstanding, so that this sweet old man could still be golden in my eyes.

The scriptures say that God reasons with us as one man reasons with another. I know that this is true. He has a way of helping you understand why something is true, before just handing you the answer. He'll show you scriptures, he'll ask you questions, to get you the understanding you desire. So as I sat again in the temple with this question, he asked me a different question, "Can a prophet of God reject the word of God, and remain a prophet of God?"

Well, logically... no. He can't. One of two things must be the case: either the prophet isn't a prophet of God, or the word isn't the word of God. God had been patient in confirming to me (repeatedly, of course, because I kept asking) that it was His word and His message. He had shown me through scriptures, through prayer, through study. And the only thing holding me to the first ideal was my traditions, my desire for it to be so, my unbelief.

And so, I finally decided to believe the Lord.

But they can't lead us astray, right?

Yes, that's what they keep saying. And if it were true the scriptures would verify that. An unchanging God would have consistent examples of it. There would be precedent. Let's go over what the scriptures do have to say about the matter.

As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. Isaiah 3:12
The ancient and the honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Isaiah 9:16
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgmentIsaiah 28:7
O Lord, why hast thou suffered us to err from thy ways, and to harden our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. JST Isaiah 63:17
Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients. Ezekiel 7:26 
Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Ezekiel 13:2-3 
They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The Lord saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; Ezekiel 13:6-10 
And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken. Ezekiel 22:28
Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. Ezekiel 34:9-11 
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matt 15:14 
And let us not forget Annas and Caiaphas who held (and had held) the equivalent calling of the president of the LDS church, that of high priest, were the ones that determined Jesus Christ needed to die (Matt 26:3-4).
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. Jeremiah 23:16-17

How many times will we hear and accept the vanity of being called a chosen generation? So many generations and chosen people before us believed similar things. So many of them failed to live up to those things.
O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice! Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea and in his own name doth he call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd. Alma 5:37-38

Here is the truth. God offers us choices and invitations. God honors our agency, from the least person to the mightiest. He has always allowed us that agency, whether we go astray, or whether we follow Him. He has never in any generation taken that choice from us. He is unchanging.

The only safety is and ever was in following Him, for ourselves, as every true prophet did from the beginning of time until now.

That we can not be lead astray by our leaders is not His doctrine. What vanity is it that allows a person to believe they are incapable of erring in their calling? What vanity is it that teaches their followers to believe it? Who is the source of vain teachings? It is not God. It is someone else. Someone who wants us to lean on something other than God Himself, and thereby mislead us. This is idolatry, and is not scriptural, or from God. History and scripture show He does not teach this. So if someone is teaching it, you can know from where that doctrine came.

This is what Joseph Smith taught on the matter:
"If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an impostor...Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches.” Times & Seasons Vol 5, pg 490

Whatever we teach or are taught needs to be consistent with the scriptures. It can't operate separate from them. It can't take precedent over them, while contradicting what they teach.

I wonder how long those who tell us they can't lead us astray will continue to forward revelation that God does not claim as His own, and require the members to abide by it.
The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Jeremiah 23:20-22
I wonder how far it will go, and how opposite to the scriptures it will have to be before no one buys into it anymore. It has already happened, contradicting Jesus' own words given to us in purity in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon. My guess is that it will continue, and get worse. My hope is that as it does, more people will see it for what it is and turn to the Lord with whole heart.

When the people of Israel realized they were in error before God, they would call a solemn assembly, wearing sackcloth and ashes. They would gather together, mourn, and repent as a people. Instead of this, our leaders can't admit fault, so it is spun by the PR department. It is covered, or blamed on someone who came before and is long passed, who can't defend themselves. There are no apologies, or corrections for what they say, even when it's wrong. There is only room for excusing it, covering it. This is not godly.

The path of the prophets was meant to show us our path. As Adam, Abraham, Joseph of Egypt, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Lehi, Nephi, John the Baptist, Christ, Peter, Paul, John the Beloved, Alma, the brother of Jared, Moroni, and Joseph Smith came to know God for themselves, so are we to do the same. A wise man has said that religion is meant to be personal. It is meant to be repeatable. They came to show us by example what we ought to do. We can't receive the same outcome they did by following a lesser path. We can't receive Celestial blessings by following a Telestial law.

You want to show your children what makes the Book of Mormon so important? Show them Nephi's journey to knowing the Lord. He gave the most plain and precious parts of that in the very beginning of the book, step by step, until he enters into the presence of Jesus Christ. Teach them to do the same for themselves.

Teach them what the beginning of Lehi's dream means:
...for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. 1 Nephi 8:4-10

The man robed as an authoritative figure, who bade Lehi to follow him, led him into a dark and dreary waste. It wasn't until he prayed for deliverance from the Lord that he was able to witness and partake of the fruit of the tree of life. As it was for him, so is it for us.

Just as Lehi was taught, so did Nephi learn and understand, teaching the same principle to us:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. 2 Nephi 4:34
Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. 2 Nephi 28:31

Our willingness to sacrifice in service to the Lord will show how pure our hearts are in following him

The choice to follow God is the choice to do it at whatever it will cost you.

I've heard it said in Sunday School before that we aren't asked to sacrifice a lot as members. It's not that hard. That may be true of the church. It is not true of taking up your cross and following Jesus Christ.

So said Joseph Smith in Lecture Six of the Lectures on Faith (aka the Doctrine part of the Doctrine and Covenants):
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; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of 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 and offering, and 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.
To follow what I had been taught, and what I have previously described I was instructed to do required me to make choices, each one involving a sacrifice. Each one was difficult.

We call good evil and evil good

The problem with adding the precepts of men to the word of God, as well intended as they may be, is that we cease to recognize what is good as good.

Ask any child what they should do in this situation (which turned out to be my own situation): God has directly told you to do something, but people who claim to be called of God are telling you to do the opposite. They tell you that what God told you to do is wrong. Which are you required to do?

It seems obvious, doesn't it?

You always do what God has asked you to do.

And there's scriptural precedent for it, which I wanted to add but is too long to put here. Please read it, 1 Kings 13, paying attention to the JST which clarifies that the prophet did not lie to the man of God.

But we have forgotten this simple truth, and have substituted policies of men for judgement, which leads us to err. Which leads us to misplace our trust.

The Pharisees did the same thing in Jesus' time. How many times did they accuse Him of trespassing the law when his disciples picked corn from a field when they were hungry on the Sabbath, when he healed on the Sabbath, when He sat with publicans and sinners, when his disciples ate bread without first washing their hands, again and again and again? They missed the signs because they were fixated on a set of corrupt rules. The plain and precious truths of their faith had been replaced, which Jesus pointed out to them, and they hated Him for it. The ones that should have recognized Him, did not.

Is it any wonder He ceased to accept their version of baptism and their authority to perform it?
Then said the Pharisees unto him, Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law? But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law. I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing. For when that which is new is come, the old is ready to be put away. JST Matt 9:18-21
This is strikingly similar to the answer I got when inquiring of God about getting rebaptized. Because this church, its leaders, and, where applicable, its people have in essence rejected the word of God (as I described in my witness above). A new baptism is required, which as it turns out is the same as the old baptism in 3 Nephi 11.

Show your willingness in following the Lord, show Him you do not reject Him or His word. Come to the waters of baptism.

I will say, that it is mind-blowing the opposition that rears its head when you begin the journey of knowing God for yourself. When the degree of righteousness increases, so will the opposition. It will come from what seems like all directions. It will come from sources you never expected. It will appear and feel insurmountable at times. But do not fear. There is no amount of darkness that can overcome the light that is God, that is truth, love, and good. God will make a way for your escape. Put your trust in Him and He will deliver you.

Another Casuality

A family member of mine, shared this video with me a couple days ago. I found it remarkably applicable, considering a scripture I will share afterwards, that this phenomenon is occurring in other faiths. Thousands of Mormons have been rebaptised now, as I have also, because we felt the need and the call to show the repentance in our hearts, because we felt the need for a renewal.

We call this evil?
And, again, I say unto you, go ye into the world, and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues. Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you. JST Matt 6:25-26
Synagogues, churches, places of worship, these are the places people should know better, and yet these are the places where true followers of God are cast out.

I count myself one of the latest casualties of this time honored tradition of man.

It is happening on a larger scale than just me in our church. A much larger scale, so much so that I am a cliche at this point. This wonderful post I came across today describes exactly the problem with this: When Ye Shall Cast out Righteous from Among You.

The Lord is my comfort

I talked earlier about sacrifice and about being given the choice between doing what God gave for me to do, and what others were insisting I do. What I haven't mentioned yet is what occurred last summer when I made my choice about who to follow and acted on it.

There is this knowledge that occurs as spoken of by Joseph Smith, again in the Lectures on Faith:
...we next proceed to treat of the knowledge which persons must have that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation. 
This knowledge supplies an important place in revealed religion; for it was by reason of it that the ancients were enabled to endure as seeing him who is invisible. An actual knowledge to any person that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God, without which no person can obtain eternal life. It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing (not believing merely) that they had a more "enduring substance" (Heb. 10:34). 
Having the assurance that they were pursuing a course which was agreeable to the will of God, they were enabled to take, not only the spoiling of their goods and the wasting of their substance joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1). 
Such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; for such has been, and always will be, the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God, against the pure and unadulterated religion of heaven (the only thing which ensures eternal life), that they will persecute to the uttermost all that worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will, and drive them to such extremities that nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven, and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God. 
For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge; realizing that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. 
For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God.
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; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of 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 and offering, and 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. (Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6)
The extent of everything that has been laid up on that altar is known only to me and God. And no one will know. Some were put there of my own choosing, and some were the choice offered me by others. I will say that my character and reputation were hard enough to let go. I used to care a great deal what other people thought of me. I had to put that aside when I began this blog.

On a mountain that particular sabbath morning in summer that I mentioned at the beginning of this section, I received a promise from God. Two days later I witnessed the sign He said would come to confirm it to me (the particulars I have not shared with anyone, nor do I plan to in the knowable future). Because of this I know my standing before Him. And I know that God keeps His promises. No one can change, or take that from me, despite what they may think. No one can thwart a promise of God.

This occurrence is not widely understood, but by a few in the church anymore. It can be studied in 2 Peter 1:10, and in the words of Joseph Smith (which I have quoted in other posts), who encouraged all to receive it.

What the...what?!

I have been comforted and even joyous in the Spirit of God that has been with me to this day. He continues to show me I am not alone, just as He promised. He continues to shed His love on me. I do not lack for temples (I did mention the mountain), I do not lack for sacraments (I partook of the sacrament every day for 4 days before I was misjudged and cast out, and I partake of it still in the way the scriptures dictate), I do not lack for garments (would you rather wear the symbol, or the thing it actually symbolizes?), and apparently I do not lack for gifts of the Spirit.

As I said a prayer in my heart a few nights ago, something occurred that has been occurring for months that I couldn't account for, and had been dismissing until this point. I asked God about it (since I was in the middle of a prayer) and understood that this was a gift of the Spirit. Sure enough, I remembered this particular thing being listed in Moroni's list of gifts of the Spirit and those accounted for in the D&C.

Hence, my heading for this section... It took me by surprise, and I felt a bit silly when the answer came. It was pretty obvious, now that I look back.

God is so good. I thank Him for His goodness and His ways. I will trust in Him.

The Message

I add my witness again that God is speaking to us now, to restore again the restoration. To take seriously the things that were given to us through Joseph Smith the prophet. To call us to repentance and turn us back to Him, away from our unbeliefs so that we might have real faith in Him once again.