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.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Church Restored Through the Prophet Joseph Smith – Part 2

We are surely in an awful situation with threatening minefields lurking about. This is especially daunting with the realization that the gentiles are in a state of unbelief, under condemnation, without the fullness of the gospel, disconnected from heaven and, therefore, without power. This sounds similar to what Joseph was experiencing when he followed the admonition he found in James 1:5 and asked God which of all the sects was right and which to join. God answered his plea.

“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph Smith—History 1:19

Paul was describing the apostasy and perilous times of the last days and said, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:5

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to remember that despite the condemnation, Jesus still claims “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” to be his church in the last days, D&C 115:4 I am grateful for the preserved truths still available and the restored gospel offered today. It may call for additional sincere searching to find the original restored gospel and require personal sacrifice to live it. However, His church plays a very important role as the end of the world approaches. He watches over his church and blesses individuals who love Him and keep His commandments.

I am a firm believer of the gospel of Jesus Christ that Joseph Smith restored. When the accounts written prior to Joseph’s death are read, taken at face value, and carefully considered, one begins to realize that the church and its doctrines have changed dramatically. 

The outward appearance of the church looks more like mainstream religion, praise and acceptance from the public arena has increased, and some restored key doctrines (i.e., calling and election made sure, receiving the Second Comforter, and individual connection with heaven to obtain power) have been buried and are seldom taught anymore.  It may be a surprise and even a bit disturbing to some when they discover that modern Mormonism differs greatly from the church restored through Joseph, the prophet, more than 180 years ago.

Here are just a few of these restored key doctrines:

“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.” TPJS Page 150

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John14:16-18,21,23

“John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” D&C 130:3

“Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions--Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.” TPJS Page 150 

“That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” D&C 121:36

And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.” JST Genesis 14:27-29 

Does one have to connect with heaven in order to have the fullness of the priesthood? Does one have to be righteous to be able to use the powers of heaven? Where does the fullness come from? Who confers it? God? Angels? Prophets? Men? Others?

Are there people on this earth today that personally commune with heaven? Are there those who have obtained redemption and heavenly promises? Who has received an audience with Jesus Christ? Are there individuals living today that possess the fullness of the holy priesthood as did Joseph Smith, Adam, Noah, Enoch, Lehi, Nephi, Enos, and many others?

How about the rest of us? Do we believe we can see God face to face in mortality? Can this really happen today? Has it happened? Can it happen to common imperfect folk? Even you and me? Is it important to consider this promise from God? Does it matter? If it is available in mortality, how is it accomplished? What sacrifice is required? What is the path to be taken? Does the doctrine of Christ help answer these questions? 2 Nephi 31 How about Nephi’s account of his journey? Does it give additional understanding?

Nephi’s first recorded experience with the Lord is when his heart was softened to believe the Lord’s message Lehi relayed to the family. He didn’t rebel against his father, but went and made known unto his brothers the things which the Lord had manifested unto him by his Holy Spirit. 1 Nephi 2:16-18 Then he received stronger impressions. He listened. He obeyed. His impressions continued. He acted consistent with them. He was able to hear the Lord as he continued on the path. Angels ministered to him and prepared him to receive an audience with the Lord. For a sufficient period of time, he consistently remained true and faithful . After having been prepared and proven, he received an audience with the Lord.

After having experienced what it takes to come into the presence of the Lord, Nephi endeavors to show us the path.  At the end of his life, he again teaches the doctrine of Christ 2 Nephi 31. Seeing our response to his words, he is left to mourn and cannot say more. His utterance is stopped because of our unbelief, wickedness, ignorance, and stiffneckedness. 2 Nephi 32:6-7 

As I was reading these things, my heart was touched deeper than perhaps ever before. I am persuaded to believe and act in faith upon His promise. He personally ministers to all those who obey the laws required to come into his presence. D&C 130:20-21 

Jesus revealed the law, and it pertains to every soul. “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

Anyone can obey His voice and receive the attached blessing to see His face and know Him. It’s just a matter of who truly wants to. Who really desires to make the necessary and acceptable sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit? D&C 59:8 Who is willing to submit their personal will to obey His will? Luke 22:42 Who has sufficient faith to act upon the laws of God and put his word to the test? Who seeks eternal life and is willing to lay everything required on the altar, watch it burn, be cleansed, not look back, and partake of the Heavenly Gift?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Church Restored Through the Prophet Joseph Smith – Part 1

I value my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through which, gospel principles are taught, ordinances are performed, and much is offered to mankind.  I am indebted to the church for teaching me about Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins.

The church offers a place to partake of the sacrament. I can witness unto the Father that I am willing to take upon me the name of His Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments, which he has given me; so I may always have the Spirit of Jesus Christ to be with me.

I am grateful for organized religion, leaders who are called, and the opportunity to participate in fellowship with members. I acknowledge church leaders, who are sustained by common consent, are authorized by our sustaining vote, and have the right to direct the affairs of the church. Leaders have a tremendous task at hand. Sometimes they make wise choices and at other times make foolish ones.

I am an imperfect, flawed, and deficient human. I am in the learning process, ridden with errors, and seeking redemption. Leaders are human too. I appreciate their good faith, personal sacrifice, and desire to serve the Lord. I feel many are more capable to lead than myself. I sustain, encourage, and pray for those called to positions in the church. I do not question their right to lead and make decisions, even when I disagree with some of those decisions.

One of the most liberating doctrines taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found in the eleventh Article of Faith, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” 

That’s one of the beauties of agency. All members of the church are not required to hold the same viewpoint, think the same thoughts, or advance identical beliefs.  One person is not better than another. Everyone, who has not been redeemed from the fall, is lost and fallen.

We are warned not to worship one another, our self, or anything else, only God.  We don’t have to fit the same mold, look alike, or be someone else. Just be the true and real YOU. Freedom of thought, space to speak, and open enthusiasm to listen, carefully consider, and seriously study matters of question are very helpful in the process of obtaining additional truth and resolving doubts and concerns.

I believe whatsoever is spoken when moved upon by the Holy Ghost to be scripture, which is the will, mind, word, voice, and power of God unto salvation. D&C 68:4 I accept the commandments of God, His laws, ordinances, pronouncements, and the church He claims. The church possesses priestly authority to perform the ordinances of the gospel and holds the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel. I seek to understand and live the truths preserved in the temple ceremonies, respect the rites, honor them, and trust in God’s promises to me.

It is a blessing, indeed, to have his church restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I believe Joseph was called of God, translated the Book of Mormon, communed with heaven, and was chosen to restore much of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, who will carry it to the remnant of Lehi’s seed in this last dispensation. 1 Nephi 15:13

Joseph had the gift to be able to ask God a question and receive an answer. There was no guessing or relying only on best personal judgment concerning the questions and matters he encountered. He received answers from heaven and divine binding revelation from Deity. When God speaks, whether by His own voice or by the voice of His servants, we are held accountable. When Joseph spoke in the name of God, it meant exactly that, and none of his words fell to the ground.

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” D&C 1:38

As the head of this dispensation, Joseph revealed much light and knowledge, received the power of God directly from the source (God), possesses the keys of the kingdom, and offers the fullness of the gospel to the gentiles (us).

One hundred and sixty eight years ago today, Joseph was killed. In January 1841, he offered his life to buy additional time for the saints, hoping to persuade them and bring them into the presence of God so they could obtain Zion. God accepted Joseph’s offering and set up the contingencies for blessings and cursings. D&C 124 

Instead of taking advantage of this extra time, the saints rejected God and forfeited Zion. Joseph was taken from them, and they were cursed.  They were afflicted and driven into the wilderness without obtaining the fullness of the gospel.

This is a re-run of Moses and the children of Israel. Here is a series of posts for further reference. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it still under condemnation and the judgment of God has not been removed.  

“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.” D&C 84:54-58 

The key occupant (Christ) doesn’t reside in His condemned and defiled house, but watches it carefully and warns his people. He wants us to connect with heaven and come unto Him. Jesus loves us and pleads in our behalf, “Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” D&C 45:5 Mormon declared, “And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.” Mormon 3:2

We must take the messages from God seriously, recognize our awful situation Ether 8:23-25, and not treat lightly the things we have received. The Book of Mormon is a handbook to help us gentiles to avoid deadly minefields surrounding us and to bring forth fruit Jacob 5:77 meet for our Father’s kingdom.

To be continued . . .

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Climbing the Mountain – Reaching for God

Climbing the mountain can teach us many things about life and point us to God.  “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.” Moses 6:63

As we hike the mountain, we can look at and contemplate the symbols, types, and shadows God provides.  If we look with eyes to see, we can learn much of Him and our journey back into his presence.

Today is the Summer Solstice. It is a day of most sunlight and begins summer. To help us remember that all light comes from God, we decided to climb the mountain and celebrate this day with Him.  “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Each time we climb the mountain we learn many things that help us in our daily walk.  We’ve learned to take a notepad so we can remember the lessons of the day.  Writing our thoughts frees our minds to discover the next idea. We will share just a few of these insights.  

#1 It takes a Dad and a Mom to raise children.  Dad has much strength and bears a large load in the family while Mom carries and prepares bodies for the little ones.   In our home, the family wouldn’t function very well without Dad’s constant care. On the other hand, Mom’s weaker and well-worn body is essential in giving life.  Even after the baby is born, Mom is always near during the first year of the baby’s life.  Mother provides food, love, and emotional strength for the new baby.  

It’s been nine months since we climbed the mountain. Jennifer was 5 months pregnant with Emma the last time we made the ascent together.  Emma is five months old today.  We brought her along because she still needs her mother.

#2 About 15 minutes into the hike, Jennifer realized that she didn’t have her walking stick, so John ran back to get the stick. While Jennifer and Emma waited, a song of prayer came to mind.

In heaven they communicate with thoughts.  The voice is only used for singing.    The idea came to sing a prayer instead of speak it.  We discovered that when we sing our prayers it doesn’t sound vain or repetitious.  The more the words are sung, the deeper the meaning enters into our soul.  Here is a simple prayer and tune that came to mind.

Father in Heaven we thank thee for this day
For thy bounteous blessing each and every holy day

Father in Heaven we thank thee for this day
For thy bounteous blessing each and every holy day

Father, Mother we come to you today
Father, Mother into thy arms to stay

#3 Climbing the mountain is difficult and strenuous, but it is a journey to be enjoyed and cherished.  There is no need to rush to the top.  There are many beauties to take pleasure in.  When we are tired, we stop, rest, talk, and laugh. 

Jennifer is quite a bit slower than John, so John is designated as the scribe, and he writes down our thoughts and experiences.  John is nicknamed “Run – Rest - Write” and Jennifer is nicknamed “Steady Eddy”. 

Some might feel that they can’t make the journey quickly, so they give up.  It’s better to go slow and steady than to give up because we can’t go fast.”  Jennifer always makes it to the top of the mountain and back, even though it takes her all day to do it. 

As we tromp through the trees and brush, we walk single file. We enjoy the shade, and John leads the way.  On the barren hillside we walk side by side. We make the journey staying close together.

#4 About half way up the mountain, the slope gets really steep.  At this point, the mountain seems almost too difficult to climb.  It is so steep that when we look up, we see what looks like the top of the mountain.  When we get to what we thought was the top, we realize that the rest of the mountain was hidden from view by the sharp incline.  These pictures show two different inclines, one right after the other.  When looking at the first incline we can’t even see the second one.

When Jennifer was pregnant, John put his hand behind her upper arm and gave her extra strength to make this part of the journey.  Now that Emma is on the outside, he carries the baby and lightens Jennifer’s load.

This is so much like life. Sometimes it seems like we can only take one baby step at a time because the challenge is so demanding.  Even though we aren’t taking large strides, we gain the greatest elevation on the steepest slopes.  These are the times to keep pressing forward.  We still need to take the steps forward, and God sends help to strengthen us and make it possible.

In addition to having John’s help, Jennifer has a walking stick that she uses each time she makes this hike.  The stick is slightly curved.  On the way up the mountain the curve bows forward and is used to help pull her up the mountain.  On the way down the curve bows backward and helps brace her as she carefully descends the steep slope. John carries the stick when it isn’t needed.

In life as we look up, we think we see the top of the mountain.  When we get to what we thought was the top, we discover that much of the mountain is still ahead of us. We don’t see the beginning to the end. If we did, we might give up before we even begin.  As we tackle each obstacle, our confidence in meeting the challenge is increased.  We know what it feels like to climb, conquer, and obtain, and are willing to do it again.

As we look back to where we came from, we can see our progress. What used to be so high above our head is now low beneath our feet. We continue to look up and focus on reaching the top.  In the pictures, the yellow dot marks the top of the lower mountain that used to tower over our heads.


#4 The Kidron Valley runs along the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. To come off the mount and go up to the temple, you must first go down.  The Jews sing the song of redemption as they are going down because they know that the descent is part of the ascent.

What goes up must come down, and those who willingly go down will be lifted up. Those who exalt themselves will be humiliated, while God exalts those who are humble and have been humiliated for His sake. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

Christ made the great descent and ascended up on high. “He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;” D&C 88:6

The first time we ascended the mountain, we thought we were at the top when we reached the ridge.  We were tired. When we looked up and saw a higher peak, we realized our journey wasn’t through.  To reach the higher peak, we needed to walk along the ridge.  There are three peaks with a valley in between each peak.  To go up, we had to go down.

Once we tried to take a short cut and walk across the front face to avoid the ups and downs.  Walking sideways on the steep slope was much more difficult than walking along the ridge and taking the ups and downs.

It is also difficult to descend the mountain. We have to watch every step and keep our balance.  It would be easy to fall and tumble down the mountain.  It is hard on the feet and legs as each step is braced.  

There are many ups and downs in life. Each experience stretches us in different ways. It’s all part of our round trip.  

Forgiveness and Friendship

I’ve saved very few things from my childhood. I have one letter that’s about 35 years old.  My children were cleaning out a closet the other day and found it.  

When I was little, I had a very best friend who lived next door. We were born on the same day just one year apart. She was older than me.  We did everything together.  She would come over and help me with my morning work in the summer so we could play the rest of the day. We swam in her pool, played baseball, went to the park, tromped through the small forest behind our homes, flew kites, roller skated, rode bikes, and a hundred other things. 

We lived in Downers Grove, Illinois. She went to the Methodist Church with her family, and I went to the Mormon Church with my family.  Sometimes we would go to church together. 

We are both the sixth out of seven children in our families. We both also have a younger brother, and they are the same age.  One day our little brothers got in an argument about something.  I don’t remember what the argument was about, but I do remember we got involved to defend our brothers. 

Normally, when we had a clash, we’d be playing together again the same day. This fight was different.  I don’t know who was at fault.  Most likely we both had something to do with it. We both held a grudge for quite a while.  I don’t remember how long.  It might have been a couple of weeks, a month, three months, or even six months.  It felt like forever.  I was no longer on speaking terms with my best friend and was lonely.  She felt the same way, and decided to do something about it.  She sent me a large manila envelop in the mail. Here is a scanned copy of the letter:

To a good friend who is a great player who has good sportsmanship And a terrific partner for a team. Jenny.

To a good friend whose a good person to talk to anytime. Jenny.

Who is good at most anything

Who is a laugh when she sleeps over

And cheers me up ­ when I’m feeling down 

To a person who is smart and one of the most politest person around. Jenny.

To a person who tries to help as much as she can. Jenny.

To a kid who has a smile that would warm your heart! Jenny.

When we look at each other on this upside down – we will begin to laugh and can’t stop. Jenny

To a good friend who I’m trying to say I’m sorry. Mona  . . . Friends

I still remember the feelings I had when I received this letter.  I ran to my friend, and hearts were healed.  We never fought like that again.  Children have a great capacity to make amends and forgive. If only we could be a child again.

Jesus Christ tells us to repent and become as little child Matthew 18:3. We would be happier to be more like Mona, let go of our pride, and reach out to those we really do love.  Yes, we might have clashes and disagreements, but the little child within really only wants to love and be loved.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ward Campout

For several weeks the ward campout was announced at church. The children didn’t forget and reminded Mom and Dad of the approaching event. The children have fond memories of camping up at Cinnamon Creek each spring with other ward members.  They were so excited to go this year and were making plans. Over the years, people stopped camping and just came up to enjoy an awesome ward dinner.  This is the first year we haven’t camped.  We still call it the ward campout.

When the Friday before Memorial Day finally arrived, everyone managed to complete their daily jobs early enough so we could leave home shortly after lunch. We enjoyed a leisurely drive up the canyon.  The roads are paved for a short distance. Most of it is dirt road. The roads were in good condition and the scenery was beautiful.  We took many pictures along the way. 

The Porcupine Dam is full, and water is starting to fill the canals.  

Reaching the campground before many of the others arrived gave us the whole area nearly to ourselves. For several hours, we enjoyed the church owned Cinnamon Creek. It is nestled in a beautiful setting of trees, rivers, mountains, and streams and has all of the accessories – covered patio, restrooms, running water, cooking facilities, fire pits, camping spots, hiking trails, and pioneer handcarts.  There is a lot of water to play in and a whole lot more.

The river seemed to attract the children first. Skipping rocks, throwing big stones to make splashes, trying to cross in shallow places by walking on protruding rocks, or balancing on fallen logs amused us.

Mom watched as Jonathan found all of the different ways he could cross the river.  To his surprise, he fell in and got drenched. Joshua saw what happened to Jonathan and decided not to follow suit.

We pulled each other in pioneer handcarts and dumped out one or two in the process. I think that was on purpose.  The children loved riding and others wanted to push or pull. I personally was a little tired, but pushed anyway.

As people began to show up, we helped prepare for the meal and shucked corn. Many brought treats and deserts and everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner and awesome local entertainment. I think we were some of the first to sit down and eat.  


Chris Mortensen, is an amazing friend and has tremendous musical talent. He writes lyrics and music about everyday experiences.  His songs leave you thinking, uplifted, laughing, and entertained.   Friends and neighbors filmed this YouTube here in Paradise.  Music and lyrics are by Dale Major.  Performed by Chris Mortensen.

After dinner, we roasted marshmallows, made s’mores, and of course, played in the fire. We visited with friends, played with the children, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We were fortunate to have great company and fine food while being outdoors in nature.

Nature and the creations of God are serene and peaceful, and we tend to feel more calm, quiet, and still. It was refreshing and fun for all.