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.


Monday, April 30, 2012

God, I’m ready… Then do it! Part 2

I was still sitting in my chair talking with God. I communicated, “Okay, I’m ready to do whatever you tell me to do.” An immediate reply came, “Then go do what I’ve already told you.” I asked, “What is it that you have already told me to do? I don’t remember anything remarkable, extraordinary, or impressive that you’ve asked me to do. I am failing to remember an assignment from you of any great importance. Help me. What am I missing?”

Then I was reminded and my understanding increased. I had forgotten something very important. Multiple times I had received the impression to love, pay attention to, teach, inspire, take greater interest in, sacrifice my time for, and be patient with my family. What? Right within my own home? Is that your request? Is that what you want me to do? O boy, that’s hard work!

I decided to start doing what the Lord asked.  With twelve children ranging from 0 to 18 years old, I am learning fast, and feeling a massive molding process. We learn at home and spend a lot of time together. I am being exposed to a variety of situations, tests, challenges, successes, joy, and absolute failure and intimidation. 

Some days are exciting and positive. Most of the children work together, focus, and accomplish much good and learning. Things just seem to flow, peace prevails, and the day passes pleasantly.

On the other hand, there are times, too many times, when brains just turn off, everyone wants attention at once, noise erupts, motivation dies, and daydreaming becomes popular. Things can be chaotic, confusing, and disorderly. Entropy ensues and things seem to fall apart. I can talk until I’m red in the face with little affect on the descending, sliding situation.

To remedy the state of affairs, everyone has to go outside, take a deep breath of fresh air, release energy, and try again. For me, it sometimes takes more than one breath of fresh air to cool down, re-group, and attempt my assignment again. The day sometimes seems to never end, and I fall exhausted into bed.

The Lord knows just how to work with me, shape me, and redeem me. He really knows what He is doing, but it’s hard! Is it worth it? Yes, I believe so!

Initially, God’s directions seemed to be insignificant and not a big deal.  Now I recognize that His proposal is actually my next step on my journey back to Him. I must be willing to hear His voice, trust in Him, and make the necessary sacrifices and changes, step by step. I must not second guess His communication or brush it off as being inconsequential. He knows His work and His glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, even me Moses 1:39.

God knows how to mold me as soft clay, and I must stay soft and remain moldable. At the moment, the way I am shaped and molded, won’t work in heaven.  Currently, I am not redeemed, and dwelling in the presence of a holy and just God would be miserable indeed. In fact, I’d feel better not being in the presence of God under a consciousness of my filthiness before Him. Standing naked, unclean, and unredeemed before the glory of God and the holiness of Jesus Christ will kindle unquenchable fire and not be pleasant. Mormon 9:4-5 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/morm/9.4-5?lang=eng#3

I am in an awful situation, merit being cast out and burned, and represent fruit not worth preserving.  My hope, however, is in Christ. He has offered redemption to all who believe in Him, even me. Alma 11:40 I have faith in Jesus and trust I will soon be redeemed by Him. I am confident that I am His divine work in process.

I must have confidence knowing I have done everything He has asked me to do to the best of my knowledge.  Men tend to mess up the whole plan and try to rearrange and distort the things of God, thereby sending me off on tangents. I must focus on Christ, no one else 2 Nephi 4:34.

I suppose after being true and faithful to His voice and instructions over a necessary period of time, He will give me the next step according to His perfect judgment and wisdom. As submissive and obedient children willingly sacrifice whatever is required, we will be offered further light and knowledge even until the perfect day when redemption and the fullness comes. “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 50:24

I believe a specific, sufficient, and perfect sacrifice is required in order to make a claim on eternal life and behold His face. I believe the Lord will ask me to make the sacrifice of things near and dear to my heart and require me to give it to Him. Then, I can receive the greatest gift of God D&C 14:7, the Heavenly Gift 4 Nephi 1:3, be redeemed by Him Ether 3:13, and obtain His promise of eternal life Mosiah 26:20.

I think it’s worth the sacrifices that may be required of me. Lord, help me to do whatever is necessary to obtain eternal life.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

God, I’m ready… Then do it! Part 1

I was sitting in my chair, pondering, and asking God questions. What lack I yet? What stands between you and me? I’m ready to do whatever you tell me to do. Father, what do I need to do to know thee? What is required of me to obtain a promise of eternal life? How can I get a promise, the everlasting covenant directly from you? Hebrews 6:13

God, I want to tell you what I’m sure you already know about me and ask some questions. I try to be a good dad and family man and keep the commandments. On the outside, it may appear all is well with me, but on the inside I feel so very much undone, unfit, and unclean Isaiah 6:5.

Is it possible I have just been going through the motions and following the precepts of men and have missed something vital? Have I overlooked receiving the rest, which you have to offer me? Matthew 11:28 Have I ignored your power to free me from sorrow, fear, and the hard bondage of Babylon?” Isaiah 14:3-4

I am lacking a lot, much of which I cannot obtain alone. I am asking for your help. I need mercy, forgiveness, and heavenly assurance of my status. I want to know where I stand with you. I believe Jesus Christ to be my Redeemer and friend with power to save. I believe in His sacrifice, atonement, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. 

I have heard witnesses and read the visions of others who know Christ and have been in His presence. I want to know Him myself independent of any other.  I know it is only through Christ I can be saved Helaman 5:9. What is blocking the path between Jesus and me? Perhaps, I am feeling much like the young man that asked Jesus similar questions.

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet”? Matthew19:16-20

I remember the words of Jesus, and I relate to the young man who had sufficient faith to ask. It is highly unlikely you, God, will give an answer, a test, or instructions to those who are reluctant to even ask D&C 103:31. We cut ourselves short when we lack faith to ask, are unwilling to hear, and demonstrate little desire to act. When we have a determination to serve you to the end, we will truly manifest it by our works D&C 20:37. When we draw near unto Christ, seek Him diligently, ask questions, and knock, it shall be opened unto us and answers will surely come. Matthew 7:7, D&C 88:63

The young man put forth the effort to ask.  He cared enough to inquire with a sincere heart and real intent. Jesus answered his question directly. “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” Matthew 19:21-22

The Lord knew this young man perfectly. What Christ asked him to sacrifice was exactly what the young man valued most. It proved to be very difficult to yield and give up his riches. He struggled to make this sacrifice to the Lord, sorrowed, and failed to surrender his possessions and lay them upon the altar. He forfeited eternal life for the things of the world, his possessions.

I am aware that sacrifice is required to obtain eternal life. When I make an acceptable and sufficient sacrifice unto you, I will not seek your face in vain. I will know you and receive a promise of eternal life. This was confirmed again to me when reading the Lectures on Faith prepared by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

“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 & 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.” Lectures on Faith 6:7 (Pages60-61)

It seems clear that in order to receive the promise of eternal life and to know that I am doing the things that are well pleasing in your sight, I must submit and be willing to sacrifice all that I possess, even my own life if necessary. Anything I possess or anything over which I have choice or control may be required. All things must be sacrificed to obtain redemption and the promise of eternal life. I must withhold nothing from you, God. You know the tests that will sufficiently prove me. I must be willing to make the required sacrifice when you ask.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And They Shall Fall Into the Pit Which They Digged

“For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored.” Alma 41:15 Or in other words, what goes around comes around.  If we really believed this eternal principle to be true, most of us would probably change our thoughts and actions for the better.  Even the self-interested would change.

Jesus taught, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 This isn’t just about being kind to others; we’re showing God how we want to be treated.  If we want good to come our way, we need to send out good. 

It’s the law of the harvest. Our words and actions are the seeds we plant. What kind of harvest are we preparing for? “Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.” D&C 6:33, Mosiah 7:30-31 

What are we choosing? 

. . . the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.

“Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.

“For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.” Alma 41:13-15

The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk - Aesop Fables

A Mouse, who had always lived on the land, and a Frog, who passed most of his time in the water, became friends.

The Mouse showed the Frog his nest and everything he could think of that was pleasant to see; and the Frog invited the Mouse to go home with him and see all the beautiful things that are under the water.

"Can you swim?" asked the Frog.

"Not much," said the Mouse.

"No matter," said the Frog; "I will tie your foot to my foot with a piece of this strong grass, and then I can pull you along nicely." The Frog laughed as he said this. He thought it would be good fun for him, but he well knew that the Mouse would not enjoy it.

When the Frog had tied the Mouse's foot to his own, they started together across the meadow. They soon came to the edge of the water, and the Frog jumped in, pulling the Mouse in with him.

"Oh, how cool and nice the water is, after the dry, hot land!" said the Frog, as he swam gaily about. But the poor Mouse was frightened.

"Please let me go," said he, "or I shall die."

"Oh, never mind," said the unkind Frog; "you will get used to the water. I just love it."

But soon the poor Mouse was drowned, and floated up to the top of the water, while the Frog frisked about down below.

Just then a Hawk saw the Mouse, and pounced upon it.

As he flew away with it the Frog was dragged out of the water, too, for he was still tied to the Mouse.

"Stop, stop!" cried the Frog. "Let me go. It is the Mouse you want."

"Come along," said the Hawk; "I want you both. I will eat you first, for I like Frog meat ever better then I do Mouse." In a few moments the Hawk had made a good supper, and there was nothing left of either the false Frog or the foolish Mouse.

Do you sorrow seeing the false Frog eaten by the hawk?  What about the foolish Mouse?

The Devil and his children are digging the great pit, which is designed to ensnare the people of the Lord. Can we see the pit?  Where is it?  What does it look like? What are we going to do?  Are we going to warn our family, friends, and neighbors? What if they mock and ridicule us, calling us a fool?  What if they falsely accuse us?  Should we stop sounding the alarm?

“And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.” 1 Nephi 14:3

“And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.” 1 Nephi 22:14

The irony is that the pit is going to be filled by those who digged it.  How do we know if we are part of this great digging effort? Can we rely on what men have to say?  Have we tied ourselves to a false frog? What is God telling us?  Are we awake?  Can we see the awfulness of our situation? Ether 8:24 Has He opened our eyes? 

Do we see that we are not redeemed by the vain conversation received by the traditions from our fathers? 1 Peter 1:18 What does it mean to be redeemed from the earth? Revelation 14:3 Are we looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ? Why did he give himself for us? Have we been redeemed from all iniquity? Have we been purified unto Him a peculiar people, zealous of good works?  Titus 2:13-14

“For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.” Alma 42:24 What does it mean to be truly penitent?  Why are the penitent the only ones who are saved? Doesn’t God love all his children?

Could the great pit be, not knowing what God truly expects of us?  Have we come before Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit? Have we been baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost? 3 Nephi 9:20 Have we been redeemed from the fall and brought back into the Lord’s presence? Ether 3:13  

Jesus asks both the Gentiles and the house of Israel to call upon the Father in his name. Great things have been withheld from both groups because of unbelief. He's asking us to rend the veil of unbelief, which doth cause us to remain in our awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind. What great things await those who come with a broken heart and a contrite spirit? Would you like to receive marvelous things, which have been hid up from the foundation of the world? What is God asking you to do? Ether 4:13-15 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Connections in High Places

The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. During the course of our discussion, she almost unknowingly shared a little catchphrase, “It’s so good to have connections in high places.” The words are brilliant and true, but usually misconstrued and applied wrongheaded.

Having connections in high places seems beneficial when you are competing for something that appears to exist in limited supply. Connections may give you the needed edge to acquire something you value. Connections in the world may put you in place of advantage and even eliminate someone more qualified than you. We are familiar with competition, shortage, not enough to spare or share, dog eat dog, and survival of the fittest. Where does all this come from?

Children learn early how connections seem to operate to their advantage here in this telestial world. Here are a few examples of the benefits of being connected with the “important people”:

Parents – I get favored, privileged, and what I want.

Teacher – I can get better grades than what I really deserve.

The "in group" – I have important friends, prestige, success, feel accepted, and fit in.

Spiritual leaders – I rise in the religious hierarchy, obtain influence, demonstrate authority, claim power, and receive praise.

Rich business owner – I get a great job, have more than enough money, and mingle with important people.

It seems like there are extra benefits in knowing or associating with key people who possess power and influence. This notion is taught a lot in this good old world in which we live. Connections are everything, right?

Maybe there’s a higher way to look at this, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:9.

Is there a higher connection? Higher authority? Is there a source “out of this world” where we can receive superior understanding, knowledge, and favor?

Symbolic ordinances are in place inviting us to receive the real thing, connect with heaven, and make binding covenants with God. Christ encourages us to seek eternal treasures that endure “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal?” Matthew 6:20

Do we have to compete with others for eternal life? Are there a limited number of heavenly seats? Or is there enough and to spare? Do we need to step on each other to reach the top? Or is this a call extended to all?

“Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.” Alma 5:33 There’s not just one place at the top with God.  There is a place reserved for anyone who wants to come.

“Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me” 3 Nephi 9:14.

Everyone who comes is received one by one. He is not a respecter of persons and cannot be tricked or persuaded to act contrary to eternal law. We are all invited to come unto Him under the same terms. He doesn’t play favorites and fully knows the intentions of our hearts.

What do you think it takes to receive eternal life? Is it worth connecting with Heaven? Would you like to connect with and know God? Do you see your eternal potential?

Telestial connections can offer temporary pleasure, satisfaction, reassurance, and success. The pleasures of sin are enjoyed for but a season. After that, they fade away, prove to be disappointing, and cannot save Hebrews 11:25. The telestial approach is vain and unproductive. As time passes, you become worn out, weary, tired, and exhausted having found yourself only running in circles. It’s like running on a useless circular treadmill that takes you nowhere. 

If we fail to build upon the Rock and His gospel and choose to build upon the works of men or the devil, our joy will only be for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and we are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. 3 Nephi 27:11

We will discover the enticing invitations of the world, the wide gate, and broad ways have drawn us away from God. If our eyes remain blind, ears deaf, and hearts hard, we will find ourselves lost, unredeemed, and still in our fallen condition. Destruction and death awaits many who fail to enter in at the strait gate; “for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it” 3 Nephi 27:33. Fruitless, wasted, and barren are those who are led away into broad roads, and they perish and are lost. 1 Nephi 12:17

Having a connection with the Most High God really does matter. The ways of God are higher, better, and superior to the ways of men.“ Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 God extends mercy, offers redemption from the fall, and bestows the promise of eternal life. He is the only One who can. Alma 38:9

Friday, April 20, 2012

Abraham – A Change of Residence

Our family has been reading about Abraham. We found a lot of information in the first few verses. Abraham lived in a society that had deteriorated to a low state of idolatry and sin.  Abraham saw that it was needful to obtain another place of residence. Abraham 1:1

“And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” Abraham 1:2

Abraham was a follower of righteousness and desired further light and knowledge. He did not avoid the truth. He did not stick his head in the sand and pretend it did not exist. He did not claim all was well in Zion (or in the land of the Chaldeans). He recognized the mess he was in and wanted out. He knew he had to change his residence. He was observing that most of society (family, associates, and peers) was taking the freeway to hell. He needed to take an exit, turn around, and return to heaven.

When he became aware of and obtained truth, he didn’t mutter, mumble, or think it was too hard to obey. He rejoiced in it. He put doubt in the back seat and proceeded forward with faith in God. He could plainly see that idolatry would get him nowhere of value. It hadn’t with his father or his acquaintances where he resided. Abraham was neither afraid nor hesitated to walk away from the false traditions of his fathers. He turned away from Babylon, faced God, and trusted heaven.

Abraham wanted and sought the word of God. He found that greater happiness and peace came to him as he sought for the blessings of the fathers. He wanted to possess greater knowledge, receive instructions from heaven, and to keep the commandments of God. As he faithfully did so, over a period of time, he became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

It is very uncommon in this world to find one like Abraham. Few sincerely seek and actually want the word of God. I suppose even fewer have enough faith to obey and personally live it. It seems strange for someone to receive revealed truth and then reject and refuse to live it.  It is rare indeed to find one who is willing to give up this life and make sufficient sacrifice to receive eternal life.

Does this mean I should take time out of my important and over-booked schedule to focus on the word of God? Am I required to sacrifice my habits of chasing money, my addictions of taking pleasure in the things of the world, and my thrills of earning a bigger and better lunch?  To come unto God, do I need to abandon some of these habits and addictions? Is it really necessary to personally study, learn, and apply the doctrine of Christ? Which shall it be? God or the world? Salvation or Damnation? Heaven or Hell? After all, I can’t serve two masters. Some argue and tell me otherwise, but the work of God and mammon simply don’t mix and can’t combine in one. Matthew 6:24

Am I supposed to calm down, soften my heart, find a peaceful place, and talk to God about it all? Am I expected to hear Him, receive revelation, and recognize the Holy Spirit bearing witness of truth? Should I follow it? Is it my obligation to conform to the Lord’s instructions? Would it be wise to surrender my traditions and opinions to God and be anxious to follow His ways? His ways are higher and better than mine, you know? Isaiah 55:9

Fighting truth frustrates our search for it.  Resisting light brings darkness and prevents us from obtaining more understanding. The Lord will never force us to value Him or His ways. It’s our personal choice.  He invites us to come and know Him.  He uses persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, and love unfeigned D&C 121:41. He is patient and His invitation is open to all.

Joseph Smith declared the following:

“This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye that Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest” TPJS, Page 149

“We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same” TPJS, Page 51. 

God is no respecter of persons Acts 10:34. He is ready to reveal further light and knowledge to anyone whenever he or she is ready to receive it. I believe that we must at least live the truth we already have and make sufficient sacrifice to submit to God and obey Him in all things that He may require. Many are called but few are chosen. Few live like Abraham lived, and therefore few will receive what he received.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Abraham Rejects the Traditions of His Father

The Preacher of the True Faith - Legends of the Jews

When Abraham attained the age of twenty years, his father Terah fell ill. He spoke as follows to his sons Haran and Abraham, "I adjure you by your lives, my sons, sell these two idols for me, for I have not enough money to meet our expenses." Haran executed the wish of his father, but if any one accosted Abraham, to buy an idol from him, and asked him the price, he would answer, "Three manehs," and then question in turn, "How old art thou?" "Thirty years," the reply would be. "Thou art thirty years of age, and yet thou wouldst worship this idol which I made but to-day?" The man would depart and go his way, and another would approach Abraham, and ask, "How much is this idol?" and "Five manehs" would be the reply, and again Abraham would put the question, "How old art thou?" -- "Fifty years." -- "And dost thou who art fifty years of age bow down before this idol which was made but to-day?" Thereupon the man would depart and go his way. Abraham then took two idols, put a rope about their necks, and, with their faces turned downward, he dragged them along the ground, crying aloud all the time: "Who will buy an idol wherein there is no profit, either unto itself or unto him that buys it in order to worship it? It has a mouth, but it speaketh not; eyes, but it seeth not; feet, but it walketh not; ears, but it heareth not." 

The people who heard Abraham were amazed exceedingly at his words. As he went through the streets, he met an old woman who approached him with the purpose of buying an idol, good and big, to be worshipped and loved. "Old woman, old woman," said Abraham, "I know no profit therein, either in the big ones or in the little ones, either unto themselves or unto others. And," he continued to speak to her, "what has become of the big image thou didst buy from my brother Haran, to worship it?" "Thieves," she replied, "came in the night and stole it, while I was still at the bath." "If it be thus," Abraham went on questioning her, "how canst thou pay homage to an idol that cannot save itself from thieves, let alone save others, like thyself, thou silly old woman, out of misfortune? How is it possible for thee to say that the image thou worshippest is a god? If it be a god, why did it not save itself out of the hands of those thieves? Nay, in the idol there is no profit, either unto itself or unto him that adores it." 

The old woman rejoined, "If what thou sayest be true, whom shall I serve?" "Serve the God of all gods," returned Abraham, "the Lord of lords, who hath created heaven and earth, the sea and all therein -- the God of Nimrod and the God of Terah, the God of the east, the west, the south, and the north. Who is Nimrod, the dog, who calleth himself a god, that worship be offered unto him?" 

Abraham succeeded in opening the eyes of the old woman, and she became a zealous missionary for the true God. When she discovered the thieves who had carried off her idol, and they restored it to her, she broke it in pieces with a stone, and as she wended her way through the streets, she cried aloud, "Who would save his soul from destruction, and be prosperous in all his doings, let him serve the God of Abraham." Thus she converted many men and women to the true belief. 

Rumors of the words and deeds of the old woman reached the king, and he sent for her. When she appeared before him, he rebuked her harshly, asking her how she dared serve any god but himself. The old woman replied: "Thou art a liar, thou deniest the essence of faith, the One Only God, beside whom there is no other god. Thou livest upon His bounty, but thou payest worship to another, and thou dost repudiate Him, and His teachings, and Abraham His servant." 

The old woman had to pay for her zeal for the faith with her life. Nevertheless great fear and terror took possession of Nimrod, because the people became more and more attached to the teachings of Abraham, and he knew not how to deal with the man who was undermining the old faith. At the advice of his princes, he arranged a seven days' festival, at which all the people were bidden to appear in their robes of state, their gold and silver apparel. By such display of wealth and power he expected to intimidate Abraham and bring him back to the faith of the king. Through his father Terah, Nimrod invited Abraham to come before him, that he might have the opportunity of seeing his greatness and wealth, and the glory of his dominion, and the multitude of his princes and attendants. But Abraham refused to appear before the king. On the other hand, he granted his father's request that in his absence he sit by his idols and the king's, and take care of them. 

Alone with the idols, and while he repeated the words, "The Eternal He is God, the Eternal He is God!" he struck the king's idols from their thrones, and began to belabor them with an axe. With the biggest he started, and with the smallest he ended. He hacked off the feet of one, and the other he beheaded. This one had his eyes struck out, the other had his hands crushed. After all were mutilated, he went away, having first put the axe into the hand of the largest idol. 

The feast ended, the king returned, and when he saw all his idols shivered in pieces, he inquired who had perpetrated the mischief. Abraham was named as the one who had been guilty of the outrage, and the king summoned him and questioned him as to his motive for the deed. Abraham replied: "I did not do it; it was the largest of the idols who shattered all the rest. Seest thou not that he still has the axe in his hand? And if thou wilt not believe my words, ask him and he will tell thee." 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jeremiah Rebukes Latter Day Prophets, Part 3

NOTE: We’ve included two different translations KJV & NLT from this point forward

What is the burden of the Lord?

 33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord.

Jer 23:33 "Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, 'What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?' You must reply, 'You are the burden! [fn] The LORD says he will abandon you!'

If someone asks, “What prophecy has the Lord burdened you with now?” How must you reply? Who is the burden?

34 And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house.

Jer 23:34 "If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, 'I have a prophecy from the LORD,' I will punish that person along with his entire family.

If anyone says, 'I have a prophecy from the Lord,' what will the Lord do?

 35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken?

Jer 23:35 You should keep asking each other, 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What is the LORD saying?'

Why should you keep asking each other, 'What is the Lord's answer?' or 'What is the Lord saying?'

 36 And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God.

Jer 23:36 But stop using this phrase, 'prophecy from the LORD.' For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

Why is everyone commanded to stop using the phrase, 'prophecy from the Lord'? Why does the Lord forbid the prophets to use his name to give authority to their own ideas?

 37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken?

Jer 23:37 "This is what you should say to the prophets: 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What is the LORD saying?'

What should we say to the prophets?

 38 But since ye say, The burden of the Lord; therefore thus saith the Lord; Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord;

Jer 23:38 But suppose they respond, 'This is a prophecy from the LORD!' Then you should say, 'This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, "prophecy from the LORD," even though I warned you not to use it,

Suppose they respond, 'This is a prophecy from the Lord!' then what should you say?

39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:
 40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

Jer 23:39 I will forget you completely. [fn] I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors.
Jer 23:40 And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.'"

What happens to those who use this phrase, "prophecy from the Lord," even though they have been warned not to use these words?

How will we respond to Jeremiah’s rebuke? 

“O, my beloved brethren, give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.” 2 Nephi 9:40

2 And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
 And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.
 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did exhort my brethren, with all diligence, to keep the commandments of the Lord.
 And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness.  1 Nephi 16:2-5

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jeremiah Rebukes Latter Day Prophets, Part 2

Who is going to punish the prophets? 

 15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.

Who does the Lord hold accountable for teaching the people profaneness? Is it because of the prophets that wickedness has filled the land?

 16 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.
 17 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.

Are the prophets speaking the words of the Lord? Why does the Lord tell us not to listen to these prophets? How are they making us vain? Would building a $5,000,000,000 shopping mall with upscale housing fit into this category? What if they speak smooth words and say all is well, ye shall have peace? Who is still despising the Lord, but is told that no evil shall come?

 18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?

Have any of these prophets been in the Lord's presence to hear what He is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? Where is the counsel of the Lord?  How does one get invited to stand in His counsel?

 19 Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

Why is it so important the people be warned instead of being reassured that all is well? If you could see a grievous whirlwind coming, would you just sit back and let your friends, loved ones, and others be swept away?

 20 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.

When is the fulfillment of this prophecy? Why does he say, “in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly”?

 21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

Have these prophets been commissioned of God? Have these prophets been speaking the word of the Lord? Why do they go on prophesying when the Lord hasn’t given them a message?

 22 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.

If they had stood in the Lord’s counsel, what would they have done that would have turned the people from their evil way?

 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?
 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

How close is God? Can anyone hide from the Lord or escape His all searching eye?

 25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

Have the prophets been speaking the word of the Lord? Do the prophets’ words fit into the category “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”? D&C 1:38  Or are they prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say?

 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

How have the prophets caused God’s people to forget his name? By telling these false dreams, how are they trying to get the Lord’s people to forget Him? How do they compare with their ancestors who worshipped the idols of Baal?

 28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.
 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

What’s the difference between chaff and wheat?  What does the Lord’s word do to the prophets?

 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
 32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.

Why is the Lord against these prophets who steal messages from each other, quote each other, and claim the words are from Him? Why is the Lord against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, 'This prophecy is from the Lord'?

What is the significance of the Lord repeating three times, “I am against the prophets”? Are the people benefited or injured from lies and false dreams? Are these prophets attempting to stand between the people and God? What does the Lord mean, “I am against the prophets”?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jeremiah Rebukes Latter Day Prophets, Part 1

Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets spake many things which are hard for people to understand. Why? “For they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.” 2 Nephi 25:1 Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others use the past events to prophesy the future.  Jesus when speaking of Isaiah’s prophecy said,  “. . . And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.” 3 Nephi 23:1-3 

The Jews understand this manner of prophesying. As gentiles, we might think that Jeremiah is only talking about the past. To help us along, Jeremiah tells us the timeframe for the fulfillment of this prophecy.  “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.” Jeremiah 23:20

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.

Who are the pastors that are suppose to feed the Lord’s people? What have the pastors been doing to the sheep?  What is the Lord going to do about it? What have the sheep been afraid of? How many people believe they are damned without these pastors and their teachings? When the Lord sets up shepherds, who feed and care for the flock, what will be the result?

 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.

Who is this king that shall reign and prosper? 

 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
 But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Does this mean that there will be a deliverance that is greater than when Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt? What is this vast latter day deliverance? Who will be delivered from whom? Who will come to the rescue?

Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.

What is Jeremiah experiencing? And why? Remember, he is seeing the latter days in vision.

 10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
 11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord.

Where has the Lord found wickedness? If the Lord has found wickedness in his temple, why does He still call it “my house”? Who claims to be a prophet in these latter days?  Who is the Lord talking about? What does He mean, “Their force is not right”? Are people going to individually be held accountable for following profane prophets?

 12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord.

What are these slippery ways in the darkness? What is the Lord going to do? Are prophets and priests allowed to lead people astray before they’re punished?  When is the year of their visitation?

 13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
 14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

What does the Lord think of the prophets? What evil hands are being strengthened? What does the Lord compare their wickedness to?

To be continued . . .  

Jeremiah Rebukes Latter Day Prophets, Part 3

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Persecution, then Respect, then Popular, and then Admiration

I found some interesting quotes from church leaders over the last 150 years or so.  They have different opinions about what persecution and acceptance really mean. Everyone has his or her own opinion.  See what you think.

 “When the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then; which I pray may never come.” President Brigham Young, May 31, 1857, JD4:327 

“The Lord says, ‘Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.’ Sometimes I have known the papers say this and that good thing about the ‘Mormons,’ and I have said, ‘What’s up? Are we getting wicked, that the world loves us?’” George A. Smith, First Counselor in the First Presidency, November 20, 1870, JD 13:297 

“The great change that has come about since the days of my boyhood in the general attitude toward this people is almost beyond contemplation or expectation. I can remember when I was the junior member of the Council of the Twelve, forty-eight years ago this month, that during my first trips away from home, almost invariably, wherever I went I found opposition. I found ill-will toward the Latter-day Saints. I found men so full of bitterness toward us that they said if they had their way the "Mormons" would be shut up in their tabernacle and the guns of Fort Douglas be turned upon them. Today, wherever I go I find the opposite feeling; I find good-will; I find kindness; I find readiness and willingness on the part of newspapers to give us favorable public notices. Anything we wish to say they are willing to print. . . . Today, we are getting very favorable publicity. . . . To have over three thousand newspapers; to have the Associated Press; to have the Hearst papers, and to have western papers—especially in Utah and in Idaho—the newspapers generally, give us such extended and favorable articles as this immense volume contains, is a cause of deep gratitude on my part and that of my associates of the General Authorities of the Church.” President Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1930

“Ours is the blessing to live in a better season. The terrible persecutions of the past are behind us. Today we are looked upon with respect by people across the world.” PresidentGordon B. Hinckley, October 5, 1996

“Those who observe us say that we are moving into the mainstream of religion. We are not changing. The world’s perception of us is changing. We teach the same doctrine. We have the same organization. We labor to perform the same good works. But the old hatred is disappearing, the old persecution is dying. People are better informed. They are coming to realize what we stand for and what we do.” Gordon B. Hinckley, October 6, 2001 

Now in the year 2012, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson is one of the 10 "Most Admired Men," according to an annual poll of Americans by Gallup.

Some of the church leaders quoted above indicate public respect or acceptance means apostasy. On the other hand, some believe public popularity, favorable notice, and publicity means righteousness and a better season. I wonder which is true?

We, as a church, are moving into the mainstream of religion, at least from the view of those who observe us from the outside. If we are moving into the mainstream of religion and following the trends of society, how could we possibly be teaching the same doctrines that Joseph Smith restored? How could we be living the doctrines of Christ and yet fit in so well with the world?

Is the church really the same as it was 180 years ago, or is it just following the world? Are we more accepted because the world is becoming more righteous? Or are we apostatizing from the truths that used to bring persecution?

What do we stand for now that causes the world to like us so much? If we are currently teaching the same gospel that Joseph Smith restored, why does the world admire us today, but persecuted the saints in former times?

Why was Joseph Smith hated, despised, and persecuted? Why was his life taken? Through all generations, why were prophets of God reviled, rejected, persecuted, or killed? The world didn’t seem to like Jesus either; even His life was sacrificed.

Why is the church more respected and well liked by the world today? Why has President Thomas S. Monson been chosen as one of the 10 "Most Admired Men," according to the Gallup poll? Does any of these trends seem to alarm or cause concern to anyone? Do we live the gospel of Jesus Christ or follow mainstream religion? How do we know? Are there any indicating signs?

Jesus declared, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also”. John 15:18-20 

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Lord Will Never Permit the Prophet to Lead You Astray?

I heard the Lord saying, “Where did you get this strange doctrine that I won’t allow a prophet to lead you astray? When did I declare such a thing? Where is it recorded? Wilford Woodruff said something of the matter, but that was his own opinion. When did I take away the agency of the president of my church? This is a test for him just as much as it is a test for everyone else. Have I taken any man’s agency away? Can’t you see examples throughout the scriptures where leaders of my church led people astray? David the prophet led people astray; Eli the prophet led people astray; Caiaphas the prophet led people astray; Noah the prophet led people astray. Why would you be given a different test than the rest of my children? What makes your dispensation so different than the previous dispensations? Am I not the same yesterday, today, and forever?” 

I heard the Lord calling Caiaphas a prophet instead of a high priest, and he also called Noah a prophet instead of a King. I wondered why. A point was being made. In 1955, we started calling the President of the Church the prophet. Up until that time they were just called the President of the Church. Joseph Smith was the only one referred to as the Prophet. We gave these presidents the title of prophet without expecting them to have the prophetic experience JSH 1:13-20, 1 Nephi 11-14, Mosiah 8:14-17. (That’s not fair or kind to do to any leader.) If we can call the President of the Church a prophet, then under those same rules any leader, who occupies the top position of a church that was originally set up by God, can also be called a prophet, even Caiaphas and Noah. 

The truth of the matter is that God wants all of us to be prophets. “And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” Numbers 11:27-29 Becoming a prophet/prophetess does not give us any right to usurp the authority or position of the President of the Church.  He has the leadership responsibility for the church. 

Where do we find the doctrine that says the Lord won’t allow the President of the Church to lead people astray? I can’t find it anywhere, and I’ve looked. The closest I’ve come to finding something is Wilford Woodruff’s statement, “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray.” [Emphasis added] (“I say to Israel” is omitted in Official Declaration 1, but you can read the original text in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2). In his statement, Wilford Woodruff does not give credit to the Lord for this promise. If anyone can tell me where the Lord establishes this guarantee, I would really like to know. A lot hangs on this belief. 

There are several that oppose the position, “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray.”

Apostle Charles W. Penrose declared: "President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect and venerate him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when 'Thus saith the Lord', comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill." Millennial Star Vol. 54 #12 p. 191
President George Q. Cannon expressed it thus: "Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an Apostle, or a President. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us.  When men and women depend on God alone, and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside.  They could still see that He is just and true, that truth is lovely in His sight, and the pure in heart are dear to Him.

“Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him and not in any man or men.  Therefore, my brethren and sisters, seek after the Holy Spirit and the unfailing testimony of God and His work upon the earth." Millennial Star Vol. 53 #43 p. 674
"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy." TPJS pp. 237-38
President Joseph F. Smith said, "We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never. What do they desire? That we may comprehend all true principles for ourselves;" Journal of Discources (JD) 16:248
Brigham Young said: "What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." JD 9:15
"How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves. That is your privilege." JD 4:368

"And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God who seeks for the redemption of his fellows would despise the idea of seeing another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favour of God; he would rather see him stand by his side, a sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their Presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves." Millennial Star, vol.14 #38, pp.593-95 

 "I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied.  I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, 'If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,' this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord." JD 3:45

"There are those among this people who are influenced, controlled, and biased in their thoughts, actions, and feelings by some other individual or family, on whom they place their dependence for spiritual and temporal instruction, and for salvation in the end.  These persons do not depend upon themselves for salvation, but upon another of their poor, weak, fellow mortals.  “I do not depend upon any inherent goodness of my own,” say they, “ introduce me into the kingdom of glory, but I depend upon you, brother Joseph, upon you, brother Brigham, upon you, brother Heber, or upon you, brother James; I believe your judgment is superior to mine, and consequently I let you judge for me; your spirit is better than mine, therefore you can do good for me; I will submit myself wholly to you, and place in you all my confidence for life and salvation; where you go I will go, and where you tarry there I will stay; expecting that you will introduce me through the gates into the heavenly Jerusalem

“.   .   . Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another's sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold sceptres of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course. Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer." JD1:312