A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Tribute to Jesus

As I listen to Karen Carpenter's "Top of the World", 
I think of the joy Jesus is in my life.  
This is a tribute to him.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Book of Mormon Has a Message For the Latter Day Saint Gentile

In the title page of The Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon identifies the three groups of people the book addresses. “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.”

In order to receive the message of the Book of Mormon meant for us. it is important to recognize which group we identify with. Am I a Lamanite? Am I a Jew? Or Am I a Gentile?

Book of Mormon Title Page

An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi

Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

TRANSLATED BY JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.

The prophets of the Book of Mormon saw our day and know exactly who they are addressing and what message each group needs to hear. These identities stay consistent throughout the entire book.

Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. Mormon 8:34-35

How does the Book of Mormon serve each of these three groups?
  • To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.
  • To the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.

It was foreseen that the house of Israel would be scattered among all nations. It would follow that all the nations upon the face of the earth would be blessed by this bloodline.

Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual; for it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations. 1 Nephi 22:3

With this understanding, Mormon continues to distinguish the Gentiles from the House of Israel in his writings. Notice even when the Gentiles receive the fulness of the Gospel, they are still called gentiles. In the Book of Mormon, receiving the Gospel does not seem to change a Gentile into an Israelite.

Yea, even my father spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive tree, whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.

Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.

And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer. 1 Nephi 10:12-14

The gentiles are given the hope that if they repent and return unto the Father, they shall be numbered among God's people; but still the record does not show that their identity changes when they accept God's offering and protection. What is the difference between being numbered among them and becoming one of them?

And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father. 3 Nephi 16:12-14

If Joseph and the people attending the dedication of the Kirtland Temple have already been baptized, why did Joseph still identify the members of the church and himself as Gentiles? Joseph Smith reiterates these distinctions between these three groups of people in his prayer.

Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.

But thou knowest that thou hast a great love for the children of Jacob, who have been scattered upon the mountains for a long time, in a cloudy and dark day. We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; And the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David; And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father.

And cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten because of their transgression, be converted from their wild and savage condition to the fulness of the everlasting gospel; That they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed, and cease their rebellions.

And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee. D&C 109:60-67

Just as the gentiles were allowed to go through and tread down the seed of Nephi's brethren,

And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten. 1 Nephi 13:14

the house of Israel shall go through among the gentiles, and shall tread them down. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. 1 Nephi 13:42

But if they [gentiles] will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel. 3 Nephi 16:15

Which specific group of Gentiles is Jesus describing in this verse? Who has been called to be the salt of the earth?

When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men; They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. D&C 101: 39-40

Which group of Gentiles were called with an everlasting covenant?

What is this group of Gentiles doing? What have they rejected? What will the Father do?

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. 3 Nephi 16:10-11

Who is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ? What does it mean to reject the fulness of the gospel? What does it mean to receive the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision. D&C 76:14

As Gentiles we have the opportunity to be numbered among God's people but it requires us to repent and return unto God. We too must seek the face of the Lord and receive the promise of eternal life.

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; D&C 93:1

And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. D&C 39:5

And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life. D&C 101:38

Individually, we each must make the choice.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Don't Need to Pay a Man to Receive Blessings From the Lord

About five years ago, I learned that I don't need to make a payment to men to receive blessings from the Lord. Up until this time, I paid more than 10% of my earnings to the church of my fathers.

In my religious culture and family tradition it's that wonderful time of the year when people report on how much money they've given to the priests. If it isn't at least 10% of their income, they are judged as unworthy and denied “the Lord's blessings”.

But this is the Lord's truth. “Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” 2 Nephi 9:50

It is very common among churches to ask the congregation for money to support the priests. This is what the Book of Mormon has to say about priestcraft:

And he (Nehor) had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. Alma 1:3-5

But Alma said unto him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction. And thou hast shed the blood of a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance. Therefore thou art condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law. Alma 1:12-14

Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor. Alma 1:16

Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price. Alma 1:20

Here is another excerpt from the Book of Mormon which juxtaposes the free offering of Jesus Christ with priestcraft.

For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. 2 Nephi 26:23-29

Giving money to the priests is not part of Jesus's temple recommend questions. Giving money to the priests will not bring forgiveness of sins or make you worthy before the Lord.

. . . there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Mormon 8:32-33

God has asked us to give alms to help relieve the burdens of the poor. This is how it is to be done:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:1-4

What is the reward of men? What is the reward of God? From whom do we seek our reward?

Why have we turned things upside down? Since when has giving money to support the priests and the building of spacious buildings become noble, righteous, and a condition for worthiness?

And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding? 2 Nephi 27:27

I suspect if head high priests preached only for the love of God and the reward He gives, their motives would be more pure and not governed by their pocket books.

Note: In the LDS church, those at the local or low level are not paid. They are the ones doing the paying. Those at general or high levels are paid.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cry Unto the Lord

Over the last few years, I've thought a lot about what it means to cry unto the Lord. In the last few weeks, I have received greater understanding.

First, what does it mean to cry?

Cry (verb):
  • shed tears, especially as an expression of distress or pain.
  • shout or scream, especially to express one's fear, pain, or grief.
  • say something in an excited or anguished tone of voice.
Cry (noun):
  • a spell of weeping.
  • a loud inarticulate shout or scream expressing a powerful feeling or emotion.
  • a loud excited utterance of a word or words.
  • an urgent appeal or entreaty.

This kind of emotion cannot be faked or forced when communicating with the Lord. It's something that comes from deep within the heart.

When I no longer cast blame and judgment and am unwilling to make excuses. When I no longer am the victim but willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon me (Mosiah 3:19). All that is left is the pain of a broken heart. The defense mechanisms I set up to protect myself from the pain are gone, and I cry. I pray continually by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. (2 Nephi 33:3)

What kind of heart cries because of the pain of others? What kind of heart free-falls totally trusting in God? What kind of heart cries unto the Lord in all things?

Moses 7:49 And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?

Moses 7:54 And it came to pass that Enoch cried unto the Lord, saying: When the Son of Man cometh in the flesh, shall the earth rest? I pray thee, show me these things.

Moses 7:58 And again Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest?

Moses 7:45 And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?

Moses 7:50 And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.

1 Nephi 2:16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

1 Nephi 2:18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.

1 Nephi 17:7 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord.

2 Nephi 4:30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

2 Nephi 5:1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren.

2 Nephi 26:7 O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just.

Enos 1:15 Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.

Mosiah 23:28 Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would spare them, and their wives, and their children.

Mosiah 29:20 But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.

Alma 37:36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Alma 34:27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

Alma 18:41 And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people.

Alma 15:10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.

Alma 38:8
8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.

Alma 43:50
50 And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; and they fled even to the waters of Sidon.

Alma 43:49
49 And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.

Alma 14:26
26 And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

Ether 1:37
37 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they were not confounded.

Ether 2:22
22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

Ether 6:7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.

3 Nephi 1:12
12 And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:

3 Nephi 3:15 Yea, he said unto them: As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers.

The list of scriptures goes on. The soft heart, the broken heart, the heart that cries to God is heard by God. “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” 2 Nephi 2:7

Our culture teaches us to harden our hearts, fight for our rights, defend our position, make a mock of our brother, seek our own self interest, and war one with another.

Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. Ether 4:15

The Lord really does know how to fix things. Let us soften our hearts, cry unto the Lord, and love each other.    

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Give You My Burden. I Am Thy Servant.

As I struggled with a challenge that was out of my control, I heard the Lord speak these words, “Give me your burden.”

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22

As my burden weighed heavily upon me, I yearned for relief. I handed my burden over to Jesus. Now it was his problem not mine. He asked for it, and I was willing to give it to him.

I still felt the burden in the coming days. I asked myself, “What attachment do I have to this burden? Why do I want to hang on to it when Jesus said he would take it? What can I do? What do I do with all the pain and ramifications of the situation? Even though I can't fix the problem, there must be something I can do to redirect my focus and attention.”

But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. Mosiah 7:33

This mantra came to mind, “I give you my burden. I am thy servant.”

I repeated these words over and over. I prayed for strength to truly let go and let God handle the problem. God inspired me with things to do and ways to see things differently. I did what he asked without attachment to the outcome.

His light and intelligence began to give me a deeper understanding. I felt His love, hope was restored, and I experienced the miracle of the atonement.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (emphasis added)

Light (noun):

  • the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.
  • understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment.
  • spiritual illumination by divine truth.
Light (verb)
  • provide with light or lighting; illuminate
  • make (something) start burning; ignite
Light (adjective)
  • having a considerable or sufficient amount of natural light; not dark.
  • of little weight; easy to lift.
  • easily borne or done.
  • gentle or delicate.
  • free from worry or unhappiness; cheerful.

God has enlightened and illuminated my understanding, unfolded a mystery, ignited my spirit with the fire of his love, made my burden easy to lift, has been gentle with my feelings, and given me happiness. Yes, His burden is light!

I gladly give Him my burdens. It is my privilege to be His servant.