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.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When ye shall cast out the righteous from among you . . .

God's house is a house of order, and He works according to patterns.

And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations— Doctrine and Covenants 53:14

We can look into the past to see the future.

For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Moroni 8:18

The rise and fall of a society is so predictable if you can see the pattern. According to the pattern, we are either growing in light and truth or falling into apostasy.

And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. Alma 12:10-11

As far as I know, there are only two groups of people, that have lived upon the face of the earth that we have record of, who have not fallen into apostasy. The city of Enoch . . .

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion. And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed. And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever. Moses 7:18-21

and the people of Melchizedek

And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven. And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace. And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world; JST, Genesis 14:32-34

Let's look at what has happened in the past to help us understand what is happening in our day. The Book of Mormon explains what happens when people harden their hearts against the truth. There is a tension that builds between believers in Christ and unbelievers. The unbelievers are not content to allow men the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, allowing them to worship how, where, or what they may. (A of F #11) The unbelievers begin to exercise unrighteous dominion upon the believers and cast them out until there is an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked. Here's how the scriptures describe it.

But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared; now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand; but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword; and the time is soon at hand except ye repent. Alma 10:23

But behold, it is for the righteous sake that it is spared. But behold, the time cometh, saith the Lord, that when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction; yea, wo be unto this great city, because of the wickedness and abominations which are in her. Helaman 13:14

And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them. 3 Nephi 9:11

And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire. Doctrine and Covenants 63:54

While working on this, I received an email from a friend. It is relevant to this topic:

I've been studying from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith lately. Tonight, I read:

"I shall now proceed to make some remarks from the sayings of the Savior, recorded in the 13th chapter of His Gospel according to St. Matthew, which, in my mind, afford us as clear an understanding upon the important subject of the gathering, as anything recorded in the Bible."
I turned to Matthew 13 and read the parable of the wheat and the tares. The parables given in this chapter, Joseph taught, would help us understand the gathering more than anything else in the Bible.

I went back to the words of Joseph Smith and read on a few interesting things that I thought I might share. Joseph said:

"Now we learn by this parable, not only the setting up of the Kingdom in the days of the Savior, which is represented by the good seed, which produced fruit, but also the corruptions of the Church, which are represented by the tares, which were sown by the enemy . . ." (TPJS, p. 98)

And then, a few pages later:

"As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world; that is, as the servants of God go forth warning the nations, both priests and people, and as they harden their hearts and reject the light of truth, these first being delivered over to the buffetings of Satan, and the law and the testimony being closed up . . . they are left in darkness, and delivered over unto the day of burning; thus being bound up by their creeds, and their bands being made strong by their priests, are prepared for the fulfilment of the saying of the Savior - 'The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire . . .'"


"after the day of burnings, the righteous shall shine forth like the sun, in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (TPJS, p. 101).

An interesting thing is happening in the LDS church today that should put all of us on notice. People who believe in following Jesus Christ, believe in preserving the restoration brought to us by Joseph Smith, believe God can still talk face to face with each of us, believe in the Book of Mormon, believe we are still under condemnation for taking the Book of Mormon lightly are being cast out of the LDS church.

Apostasy is defined on the LDS.org website as follows:

"When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy."

The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel, so if people are going be judged as turning away from the principles of the gospel, it would follow that the Book of Mormon should be a key component in judging the matter.

He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants; Book of Mormon

But this criteria is not being used in the LDS church courts. A secret definition that appears only in the Church Handbook of Instructions Volume 1, is being used. This handbook is tightly controlled and only made available to certain church leaders. As used here apostasy refers to members who:

  1. Repeatedly act in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
  2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
  3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
  4. Formally join another church and advocate its teachings.
The secret definition says nothing about Jesus Christ or the restoration of the gospel or the Book of Mormon. It only makes reference to the Church and its current leaders. History shows us that every restoration (except the two mentioned above) ends in apostasy. So, if the Church is in a state of apostasy, people can actually be excommunicated for believing and living the gospel.

Behold, I say unto you that you shall let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures, and to preaching, and to confirming the church at Colesville, and to performing your labors on the land, such as is required, until after you shall go to the west to hold the next conference; and then it shall be made known what you shall do. And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen. Doctrine and Covenants 26:1-2

The Lord asked the leaders of the new church to study the scriptures, preach, confirm the church, and do all things by common consent. Secret definitions and rules are not to be used. We are to use the scriptures as our guide.

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.
11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.
12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.
14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish. 2 Nephi 28

This message is for us. According to the pattern set forth in scripture, when the corrupted Church casts out true believers in Christ, they are ripe for destruction (see Helaman 14:13). When the Church casts out people who are turning to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they confirm that they, the Church, have become the apostates.

23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.
24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him:
25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—
26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
27 And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?
28 But behold, saith the Lord of Hosts: I will show unto the children of men that it is yet a very little while and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest.
29 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
30 And the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
31 For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off;
32 And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.
33 Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.
34 But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.
35 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. 2 Nephi 27

The unfolding of events is in Lord's hands. The joy of the Lord is full to those who continue to trust in their God.

10 And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;
12 For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. 3 Nephi 12

The question might be asked? Why do you remain a member of this church if you see it's corrupt and apostate condition? The Lord works according to patterns and the law of witnesses is still in place. Those who remain until being cast out serve as witnesses as a testimony before the Lord God so He can come forth and exercise a righteous judgment against the ungodly.

9 And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.
10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
12 Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.
13 And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.
14 Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?
15 Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith. And the judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves? Alma 14 (see also Alma 60:13, Doctrine and Covenants 103:3, Mosiah 17:10)

These judges were cocky and confident in their actions and speech as they sealed their destruction, but according to the pattern they were destroyed.

2 For behold, the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah, and began to slay the people and destroy the city.
3 And now it came to pass, before the Nephites could raise a sufficient army to drive them out of the land, they had destroyed the people who were in the city of Ammonihah . . . Alma 16

According to LDS scripture, there is no law against a man's belief, and yet people are being cast out of the Church because of their beliefs. Those who are seeking the face of the Lord are being targeted.

Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds. Alma 30:7

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. Article of Faith 11

Here are a few testimonies of those who have experienced LDS Church discipline because of their beliefs. The pattern is repeating itself. For those who have ears to hear, there is still time to repent.

This is in no way a complete list. If you know of others who would like to add their testimony to this list, please post a link to their testimony in the comment section. I can update this blog post.

Denver C Snuffer: September 8, 2013 Court was scheduled, September 10, 2013 Denver was informed of decision
Disciplinary Council Letter & Appeal Letter: Appeal Letter
Decision of Council Letter: No Title

Brent Larsen: Feb 2, 2014
Appeal Letter: pdf link
Interview with a 70 for Appeal: pdf link

Emily Prentice: March 30, 2014
Source: Emily Prentice

Will Carter: April 9, 2014
Letter of Appeal: "Exhaling"
Letter Outlawed From LDS Property: "Exiled into Egypt"

Adrian & Tausha Larsen: October 12, 2014
Relevant Source: “Abuse and Favor in All Things” 

Brian Beckle: October 12, 2014
Letter to Stake President: pdf link
Source: Brian Beckle

Angel Cicero: October 26, 2014

Keith Henderson: November 2, 2014
Letter to Church : "Wresting the Keys Of the Kingdom"
Letter of Appeal: pdf link
Testimony At Denvers Last Talk (page 40): pdf link

Ken Jensen: January 11, 2015
Letter to First Presidency: pdf link
Letter from First Presidency: pdf link
Source: "Ken Jensen"

Duztin and Sarah Sorensen: Februrary 8, 2015
Disciplinary Council Letter: pdf link
Source: Sarah Sorensen

Jonny and Kari Durfee: March 6, 2015

Alan Rock Waterman: June 4, 2015
Source: "Yerrrr Out"

Garth and Melonie Turley November 2, 2015

Sarah S. January 19, 2016
Source: Another Casualty

Rob Smith February 11, 2016
Book: Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men: Tradition in Modern Mormonism Free Download

Louis Steiner Naegle May 13, 2016
Source: Excommunication of Louis Steiner Naegle

Outcome Pending

James Fargo

Anonymous Friend

Monday, January 25, 2016

True Believers in Christ - 2

With permission I post this letter from our friends . . .

November 2, 2015 
Dear Family and Friends, 

Let us start by expressing our love to all of you and that we are grateful for the friendships and love we have felt and for the influence for good all of you have had on our lives. 

We are writing this letter to personally reach out to those we love to give an opportunity to feel from us in our words where we are today. 

First and foremost we have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, that he saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ and spoke with them face to face. We know he was called of God as a prophet, seer and revelator at the head of this dispensation. We know he brought forth the Book of Mormon which contains the word of God and the fullness of the gospel. We are grateful for the truths contained in the revelations he received from God, among which are the “Lectures on Faith” (the doctrine) and the covenants which are contained in sections of the D&C which we have today. We also believe the inspired words given in the 13 Articles of Faith. 

It has been a blessing to have an account of the restoration printed, known as The Joseph Smith Papers, for us to study, so we can come to a better understanding of the truths restored though Joseph Smith. It is then up to each of us to take that foundation and build upon it individually and move us closer personally to Christ as we then continue to exercise our faith in what we have been given. It is a process. 

We are striving to live the gospel and love the foundation the church has given us and our family to progress and move forward on the path that will bring us into the presence of our Savior. We have given our lives to service in the church. We know and can feel of his love for us for the sacrifices we have made. Our testimony of the gospel and the scriptures remains strong. 

We have been taught that through the words given by several prophets we have specific warning for our time of the last days. They are Isaiah, Jerimiah, Ezekiel and Daniel to name a few. If they are warnings for us, then we need to read them as warnings for us, the church. In the BoM, the “Gentiles” spoken of are US! We are the ones reading the scriptures restored for our day, they are words for us. We started to read them with this in mind and have come to a new understanding, which has caused us to repent and desire to more closely study and ponder the scriptures that we may understand the warnings written for us and repent of our unbelief to have any hope of avoiding the pitfalls they spoke of. The Book of Mormon and D&C gives us, the church, clear warning of the last days and the state of unbelief and false traditions the church is in. This puts us in a position to be chastened by the Lord and put us under condemnation. 

D&C 84:54-57 “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.” 

We desire clear and pure testimony as the scriptures lay out from the leaders that we may have hope of the same and gain the blessings the gospel offers. We have a continued foundational belief that the heavens are open to all as Joseph taught, and to have hope of the same through hearing the leaders current, clear and strong testimony as the prophet Joseph gave us, that they, God the Father and Christ are real and we can speak with them face to face as Joseph and they in the scriptures have done. 

Joseph had this to say on the matter- 
"If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore, if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and a witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who says he is a teacher or a preacher of righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and by this key false teachers and impostors may be detected." TPJS pg 269 

We are trying to change our paradigms and traditions we held as truths and "philosophies of men mingled with scripture", to question all we held previously and to ask, to change our unbelief, to "help thou my unbelief", and better align ourselves with what we feel God wants us to do through the whisperings of the Spirit and not to question Him. Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation we have. He is the only one that will not let us down. 

Our path has taken us to the point where we were given a choice to follow our beliefs and understanding of the gospel truths Joseph Smith restored or face a disciplinary counsel and be excommunicated. We chose to follow the inspiration and answers from the spirit we have been given. We are willing to stand alone and ask questions as we study, seek and then take our questions to the Lord. He has given liberally to us as we ask and are patient. 

“We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) 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 would despise the idea. 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 any questions. When the 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 hearts to do wrong themselves.” – Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, Vol. 14, Num. 38, pp.593-595 

It is unfortunate that our testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the BofM and the Restoration are not sufficient. We are not allowed to remain in the church and continue to search for understanding and light that will lead us to Christ without also sustaining Pres. Monson and all apostles as a “Prophet, Seers and Revelators” by only us sustaining to them to such, and assuming they are like unto Joseph and have seen Christ and God the Father. We have been excommunicated for apostasy. We are content and will continue on this path to receive the blessings, Mercy and Grace from Christ through our own individual worship and search of Jesus Christ in the way we feel best, “according to the dictates of our own conscience”. 

We know this will come as a shock to you and we regret any sadness or hard feelings this may cause. Please forgive us if this offends you. It is not our purpose to "teach" or convert you to this path. We are not out to recruit, rather to just openly discuss and explain our feelings so no misunderstandings exist between us, that we may in turn still converse freely, openly, and honestly and remain friends and family. 

“As a means of coming to truth, people in the Church are encouraged by their leaders to think and find out for themselves. They are encouraged to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to such knowledge of the truth as their own consciences, assisted by the Spirit of God, lead them to discover. Brigham Young said: ‘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. … 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’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1941], 135). In this manner no one need be deceived.” – James E. Faust, “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” Ensign, September 1998 

We were meant and designed as spiritual beings to rise up, it's about realigning, rising up and becoming what we previously charted, promised and swore to return to and with integrity and purpose "become" who we are meant to be. The path will be different for each of us. It may not be comfortable. 

Each of us, in the way we are directed need to follow what we are given. The Lord needs us to be courageous and valiant even though it may be uncomfortable. Be Strong, Be courageous, and realign our will to His constantly, regardless of what that looks like. We desire to be firm and steadfast in our testimony of Christ and the gospel Joseph Smith restored. In the beginning of the church, it has been taught that the scriptures are our measuring stick for truth. God has allowed things to be magnified; made larger, to see better. Not changed, but magnified, just our sight to be clearer. We know what we need to change and what to repent of and are understanding more. The Lord will align us in the right way, and make adjustments when needed if our hearts stay pure and true. We are standing on the foundation of the scriptures, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Mosiah 5:5 “And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.” 

Can we be deceived? Absolutely! We are willing to take that chance. We are following what we have been given and allow you to do the same. It may not look like what we thought it would, or be the same path as most of you. It is our journey and walk with God uniquely tailored for us. We pray for each of us to seek and find Christ in the path He designs for each of us. It is the most important path we can walk in. 

With Love, 

Garth and Melonie Turley 

PS. This is NOT about Polygamy! We know there have been so many people leave the church only to fall into a group living polygamy. We believe we do not have a correct historical understanding of what Joseph Smith was trying to teach. We are NOT going in that direction, just to clear that up if there was any question!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

True Believers in Christ - 1

From my earliest memories I have always desired to be a servant for God on this earth and to be obedient to His voice and His commands and that living a life of obedience, sacrifice and service would garner me a place in the Celestial Kingdom. When I sinned I was devastated, I did not want to be one who had added to Christ's suffering. I met and married an amazing man from the midwest who loved Christ with all his heart, more than he loved me! We married in the Salt Lake Temple. We strove to be faithful to every word that proceeded forth from the Brethren as well as those we heard from God himself, but I am sure we fell short more often than not. We faithfully attended church, served in many leadership positions and tried to bring the best tasting food to ward potlucks. We raised our children to be faithful to Christ and in our naivete we thought this was manifested by being faithful to the LDS Church as an institution. We spoke often about the gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen, especially our children, we wanted them to grow up with the gospel of Christ as a living, vibrant thing. 

I was especially cautious of being deceived and doing anything against the handbook of instruction as I believed that the men occupying the chief seats in Salt Lake City were called of God. However, as I studied the gospel and discussed it with others (mainly my spouse and children) there were issues that I could not resolve, discrepancies between the scriptures and the Church as an institution. Assuming that the Brethren were much more spiritual than myself, and assuming that they had all been in the presence of Jesus Christ (on a daily basis) and could speak to him face to face, I put all of my concerns on a "shelf" and pacified myself with the idea that all would be answered in the next life. I saw things that were wrong in the LDS Church but attributed it to the members being in sin and error, basically "Israel gets what Israel wants"; never did I once entertain the idea that the Brethren were in error.

Several years ago I was studying Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 which states, "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" This scripture moved me, it gave me a hope that if I truly believed this scripture that I too could come back into the presence of the Savior, in this life! From that moment on I began studying and praying to know what the commandments were that I was not obeying. After all, I reasoned, there must be some commandment that I was not obeying because I had not yet come back into His presence and I wanted to!

About 4 years ago my husband was released from the calling of Bishop. From the first day I had conflict with our new bishop. I had been told something in confidence in regards to how he received the call to be Bishop that was disturbing and very upsetting to me. I felt that he had "stolen" the calling and conflict ensued. I was not kind to him. I am ashamed now at how I reacted to this man, I was not gracious nor forgiving.

Because of this conflict I prayed daily, sometimes throughout the day in regards to this matter of our new Bishop. Each time the answer would come, "the truth will set you free". It took me over a year to figure out that the Lord was trying to teach me that He is the Way the Truth and the Life and that by coming unto Him I would be set free. Once I understood this I began searching the scriptures and praying more earnestly to know Christ. During this same time a group of men in our ward were accused of some "apostate" behavior by a woman in the ward who had recently moved in. My husband was one of those accused. We were devastated. We had never done anything in opposition to the Church's teachings and were worthy of our temple recommends.

We began to be interrogated every couple of months by our bishop. Rumors began going around the ward, however, we were still completely innocent of the charges brought against us. We prayed often about moving but felt it wasn't the right time. We went to church every Sunday despite the abuse and being shunned by those we had served with, loved and called our friends for years. Eventually our bishop began to call in our teen aged children and interrogated them, wanting to know who we talked to, what we taught our children, etc. A counselor in the bishopric who felt that we were being honest about our beliefs and treated poorly by the bishop confided in us that the bishop had other ward members spying on our home and spying on us at church to see what we were reading, who we were talking to and who was coming to our home. Whenever a ward member was brave enough to come visit they were called in to meet with the bishop the following Sunday and interrogated as to everything we talked about. We were released from our callings. Eventually we'd had enough and went to our Stake President for help. There we learned that our Stake President believed the bishop and had gone to one of the Area Seventy for advice on how to deal with us; the Elder's response , "Bring in their wives, they'll rat out their husbands!" After crying in his office for 2 hours he never checked up on us again and continues to support the bishop in regards to dealing with us.

Throughout this entire ordeal we had prayed mightily to the Savior for deliverance and had some very sweet experiences with Him. Little did we know that He was going to truly deliver us in a way that we could not fathom nor comprehend. I began to ask the question, "what is so wrong with doing the things that we have been accused?", maybe a loss of temple recommend, but surely it's nothing so terrible that it requires excommunication. I began studying the scriptures in regards to the things we had been accused of doing some of which included questioning the Brethren and making and using wine for the sacrament. I chose to believe that the scriptures actually mean what they say. I no longer read them as a Mormon apologist, but as someone who wanted to learn truth from God. 

I began having my eyes opened to commandments in the scriptures which I was not obeying because the Church taught opposite of the scriptures, mainly partaking of the sacrament with wine (3 Nephi chapters 18 and 20) and baptism for the remission of sins in accordance with the Doctrine of Christ (all throughout the Book of Mormon but especially 3 Nephi 11). If I truly believed in the promise contained in D&C 93:1 then I needed to obey all of God's commandments. Now I was in a quandary, if I wanted to see Christ and in order to see Him I needed to obey all of His commandments then I needed to partake of the sacrament with wine and be baptized according to the Doctrine of Christ by one having authority and using the correct words (given in 3 Nephi 11: 25), however, these things are strictly prohibited by the LDS Church and doing such can result in a loss of a temple recommend and your very membership in the Church.

I also decided to believe that the Brethren actually mean what they say and not one of them has stated clearly that they have been in the presence of the Savior. I began to realize that I was an idolater, I had been doing the exact thing that Nephi warned us not to do in 2 Nephi 4:34 "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." I decided to no longer trust in the arm of flesh, but to trust in the Lord.

I want to see Christ. I want to know Him. I want to enter back into His rest. I want to be redeemed from the Fall and come back into the presence of the Father. I want to serve Him and to live
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. I want to be welcomed into Zion. I want to be His sheep, for His sheep hear His voice (John 10). I want to preserve what is left of the Restoration. Once I chose to follow Christ there was no more vacillating, I began to partake of the sacrament with wine and I was baptized according to the Doctrine of Christ. 

My husband joined me and we began to teach our children the gospel according to the scriptures and not as Mormon apologists. One of our daughters lost a fiancee over our new beliefs and we've lost our temple recommends and are in danger of being excommunicated. One of our son-in-laws has been threatened with excommunication. One of our children is getting married soon in the temple and she will have only one sibling with her. I have cried often over this, but through the loss of my temple recommend the Lord taught me that I had been an idolater of the temple. I am striving to not allow anyone or anything between me and the Lord. I have a hope and a belief in Him and am praying that my faith will increase enough that He can no longer be withheld from my presence (see story of Brother of Jared in Ether 3). 

I believe in Joseph Smith, jr. I believe that lies have been told about him to further the desires of evil and conspiring men; I have spent considerable time researching the topic of Polygamy and I believe that Joseph Smith, Jr was NOT a polygamist and that polygamy is an abomination (Jacob 2). I believe in the Book of Mormon. I believe that this book is precious and that the promise from Joseph that a man (or woman) can get closer to God by obeying all of it's precepts is true. I have been under condemnation for taking lightly the truths contained in that book, I am striving to overcome the blind and false traditions that have kept me from entering into the Rest of the Lord. The Book of Mormon is a guidebook to help each and everyone of us to practice pure religion, to obey the Doctrine of Christ and to have a very personal relationship with the Savior. The Truth, indeed, will set us all Free, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Him!.

My friend wishes to remain anonymous.  I appreciate her willingness to share her experiences publicly on this blog.