Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chutzpah

Are you familiar with the Yiddish word, "Chutzpah?"

(In case you're wondering how to pronounce it, it rhymes with foot-spa. The "C" is silent, and the "h" is in your throat.)

This is a word I learned growing up in St. Louis, where many of my friends were Jewish. Chutzpah means "audacity, gall, nerve, brazen guts." It can be interpreted as a term of admiration or derision, depending on the use. An equivalent slang term might be "balls."

We're all familiar with this scripture:
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. 
Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! 
Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! (2 Nephi 28:21, 24-25)
So it takes a certain amount of Chutzpah to publish a First Presidency Message titled, "All is Well."

Wo.

Say what you will about President Uchtdorf, but in my book, the man has Chutzpah.




Friday, June 19, 2015

All that Glitters, Part 3: Fool's Gold

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness. 
—2 Nephi 9:51

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

In Part One of this series, I said the following:
“Now, if the point is to become redeemed by our Redeemer—and it is—then what is Satan’s best strategy? Well, he’s got to keep that from happening. But since he cannot ever directly prevent us from seeking the Lord, he has to be much more subtle. He has to distract us by diverting our attention…he just needs us to procrastinate.”
It’s no surprise that the Adversary tries to distract us. In most cases, he doesn’t even need to be subtle about it. Those who have little interest in the things of God will find an unending supply of other pursuits to hold their attention. Our relative ease and endless information access, combined with a false and flattering religious tradition serve to keep most of us safely asleep.

Wolves come among us in sheep’s clothing, speaking soothing words to assure us all is well.
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21)
He must lead them carefully, so as to not awaken them, as they seek for happiness in all the wrong places, until it is everlastingly too late:
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. (Helaman 13:38)
Shhhh. Keep them comfortable. Let them sleep. All is well.

But What of Those who Do Awaken? 

Despite the Adversary’s best efforts, some few awaken anyway. They may actually read the scriptures and believe what’s written there. They may begin to recognize their desperate situation and need for redemption. They may notice the doctrine, ordinances, and practices no longer match scripture.

They may soften their hearts, open their minds, and cast away their unbelief. They hunger for truth.

Awake people represent danger to Satan’s kingdom, and he knows he must deal with them more directly. This is where his efforts become much more subtle. Rather than quietly slinking in the shadows to avoid notice, he switches to an entirely different tactic.

I call it the "false trifecta"

When people stop listening to the flattering voices and seek instead to hear the Lord’s voice, Satan gets his piece of that action by introducing as many strange, new voices as possible. By so doing, he hopes to take advantage of the open minds and willing hearts of repentant souls. He doesn’t care if your mind is open, as long as it’s open to him.

Those who come out of the various Mormon traditions face particular risk because they have likely spent their lives being told what to think, believe, and do, and have therefore never developed much ability to discern truth from error for themselves.

Satan exploits this perfect combination of openness, inexperience, and desire for knowledge by introducing his own counterfeit sources as if they were true. He slips in fool’s gold with the real gold, hoping you can’t tell the difference.

He knows you want to learn, and he's happy to help you do so, just as long as your learning is diluted.  Or deluded. He WANTS you to be "ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7)


Let’s examine some of his counterfeits—cheap knock-offs that attempt to look and feel like the real thing. Yellow and shiny, they are indeed, ensnaring the fools who mistake them for gold.

False Teachings

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is delicious and delightful. It fills the soul with joy. Naturally, having tasted of this feast, we want more. More knowledge. More understanding. More Godliness.

Abraham was 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…” (Abraham 1:2) Such desires are good and Godly.

Indeed, Joseph Smith taught, “I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.” (TPJS, 364)

And Alma said:
…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. (Alma 12:10)
And so, it is clearly good, right, and necessary that we learn the mysteries of God and Godliness. Because these things are “mysteries,” they will, by definition, be new to us. Learning the unknown gives Satan prime opportunities to insert his own teachings into the mix, hoping we will not notice.

Sadly, this approach is often successful. 

I’ve seen too many people awaken and begin searching for gospel knowledge, only to be seduced by errant ideas about the nature of God, the nature of man, history, mythology, metaphysics, the study of Lucifer, spiritual "shielding," invented ordinances, what they assume went on before this earth, or any of dozens of topics that become at best, distracting, and at worst, Hellish. Such teachings are not gold. They're fool’s gold.

Sadly, these new pet topics become gospel hobbies for some, or even obsessions, causing closed minds, hard hearts, and damnation. What’s the point of shedding an old unbelief only to accept a dozen new ones?

Fortunately, there is a defense against this particular attack. Remember the Book of Gold? The Book of Mormon contains record after record of those who found redemption in the presence of the Lord. It bears witness of what they believed, how they behaved, and the path they followed into the Lord’s presence. These elements serve to guide us.

But what is NOT stated provides important guidance as well. You will not find extensive conjecture about multiple mortalities, the identity of Satan/Lucifer, attacks by demons, a hollow earth, polygamy, conspiracy theories, Heavenly Mother, whether the pearly gates swing or slide, how to leave your body, or secret tricks to summon spirits.

The bread crumb trail left for us by those who walked the path back into God’s presence is sufficient for us if we’ll walk the same path. There’s no need to try every other forbidden path fork. Only one path leads to the tree of life, and only those who cling to the rod of iron will successfully navigate that path. Let go of the rod, and you WILL be lost in the darkness.

You can, and you will learn the mysteries of Godliness along the true path when you walk it with patience and diligence. But you will learn them from reliable sources. For myself, I can unequivocally state that deep, careful and inquisitive study of the scriptures, most especially the Book of Mormon, absolutely does open the mysteries to view. Stick with this source and patiently mine the claim. The gold is there.

False Teachers

The question of sources brings up the issue of false teachers.

I’ve noticed that the current movement to preserve the restoration attracts all types and all viewpoints. Certainly all are invited to come and partake of what the Lord freely offers. Satan certainly comes as well, to spread his fool’s gold around.

Some, who are knowingly or unknowingly influenced by Satan, come with the intention of seeking followers, setting themselves up for a light, and getting gain or praise. They teach mysteries and secrets, revealing hidden knowledge—not from scripture—but learned in other ways, and from other sources. Some claim their higher knowledge frees them from the “lower” laws given by God in scripture, and they become a law unto themselves.

Some claim the right or calling to teach such things, even seeking money or other gratification for doing so. Others exercise false spiritual gifts, issuing prophecy about the future, or offering to tell you about your past lives and identities, or your mission here on earth. Some even claim to be reincarnated important people, or claim special powers, standing, or callings. All profess to know tantalizing secrets they will very willingly reveal to impress you.

Do you have any idea how many men have come along over the years claiming to be the “one mighty and strong?” They were all deceivers. (Pro Tip: Anyone who claims to be the One Mighty and Strong—isn't.)

I’m reminded of the tactics used by proponents of “Spiritual Wifery” in the early LDS church. Men came claiming secret knowledge and authority, proclaiming a “higher law” of free love and unrestrained sex, and contradicting what is clearly proclaimed in scripture. Secrecy was the watchword, adultery was the result, and damnation was the reward.

Yes, there are actually people who do know the mysteries of God. And they don't share what they know:
And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. (Alma 12:9)
This ought to tell you something about those who are eager to share the mysteries they claim to understand.

Do you want to learn the mysteries of God? Learn them from God. Mine his word, labor in the spirit, pray and seek. Pay the price. He will open unto those who knock, and will give them His gold.


Of course, such an effort takes time, patience, and labor. Few are willing to give what is required. Few exercise patience in the face of promised “something for nothing” gratification. Few will keep up the sweaty work of digging and lifting when Satan waves fool’s gold in their face. Don't be a fool.

False Scriptures

As Mormons, we're very comfortable with the idea of new scripture. The anticipated coming of the “Sealed Portion” of the Book of Mormon, together with references to the Book of Enoch, Record of John, Book of the Lamb of God, Record of Joseph, Brass Plates, and others, all combine to give us a lively expectation of, and openness to, new scripture.

We WANT more books.

Combine that desire with an openness and hunger, and you end up with people who eagerly investigate, and perhaps too readily embrace, quasi-scriptural writings. Examples abound:

Apocryphal Ancient Texts: Most of these suffer from the ravages of mis-translation and intentional obfuscation. There are dozens, if not hundreds of these works floating around and garnering attention of truth seekers. Many are indeed ancient. And some may, indeed, contain some truth. Or falsehood. Want to risk it?

Modern Pseudepigrapha: The term "pseudepigrapha" refers to fake scripture, intentionally written to read like scripture, complete with references to actual scripture and narrative elements designed to fit within scriptural history. Want Hagoth’s back story? How about Lehi’s history? The 116 lost manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon? The Brother of Jared's record? It’s all out there for the asking. Or not.

The “Sealed Portion.” Oh yes, it’s available. In fact, there are lots of different "Sealed Portions" out there. They’ve been popping up for many years all over the world, buried in strange places, or even unceremoniously handed over by angels to willing "translators." None of them are the same, none are inspired of God, and none are true. But they all claim to be the secret, sealed portion of the most correct book on earth. In reality, they are Book of Mormon Fan Fiction.

False Revelations: Who says the D&C only has 138 sections? There’s no shortage of folks out there claiming to receive “thus saith the Lord” type revelations, and new volumes of scripture. They range from pedestrian to zany. If you miss the days of Joseph Smith dictating revelation, then this is the deal for you. As long as you’re not actually seeking truth, that is.

What do all of these pseudo-scriptural writings have in common? They distract from REAL scripture. In fact, to a believing truth seeker, with shovel and pick in hand, they become an almost irresistible attraction and time suck. There are thousands and thousands of pages of this stuff out there, ready to trap your mind and waste your time—time that could be spent mining far richer veins.

Some justify searching into these sources by claiming that there may be some flecks of gold in that ore, and that they’ll never know until they spend the time to dig it up, grind and process it. What harm could there be in looking, after all?

Here’s the trouble with that idea: It requires discernment. In fact, it requires not just discernment, but super-powerful, ultra-acute discernment in the face of very convincing fakes. Looking for gold in the Devil’s mine isn’t for amateurs. Remember when the First Presidency was taken in by the Hoffman forgeries? Is your discernment good enough to dance near that fire? (Hint: If you think it is, that shows it isn't.)


Just because you recognize SOME truth doesn't mean you're prepared to discern ALL truth. The stakes are high, and mistaking fool's gold for the real thing may cost you everything.

And you know what? Even if there is some truth in some of these non-scriptural sources, THEY STILL AREN’T SCRIPTURE!!! Why waste the time? We have ACTUAL records of ACTUAL people who walked the path to redemption. And we’re woefully ignorant of what has been given!!

Still Condemned

Given some of our current behavior, is it any wonder that only two years after its formation, the LDS church was under God's condemnation for treating scripture lightly?
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 (D&C 84:54-57)
Are you out from under this condemnation? Are you sure?

If not, you really don't have time to waste on false teachings, false teachers, and false scripture. Only a fool will spend his labor for that which is of no worth. Don't be distracted by fool's gold.

Many among us fervently hope and pray to see the full restoration of the gospel; to see the formation of Zion; to stand in that day when the Savior returns. Such hopes will remain mere dreams until we finally remember and take seriously what the Lord has already given. Until we do, Satan will continue to ravage the flocks, culling all the sheep he can.

God has already given us all we need to find Him. Isn't it time we took it seriously?


Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my words. 

—D&C 6:2

Saturday, June 6, 2015

All that Glitters, Part 2:
Ornaments of Gold

Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish. 
—Alma 31:28

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

In Part One of this series, we discussed the underlying message of the Book of Mormon—that we can, and should, come unto Christ, know Him personally, and be redeemed by Him. In this installment, we're going to begin examining the distractions that prevent us from coming unto Christ.

Of course, this world is filled with distractions. They're part of the test we face.

The fool’s gold of glamour and fashion, money and power, diversions, delusions, and a million interesting ways to occupy our time all vie for our attention as we're distracted by shiny things. If you have an emptiness within, Satan will offer you a broad menu of ways to attempt to fill it. But they are fleeting and ultimately disappointing. The hungry soul still yearns.

And so, to those who yet yearn, Satan offers a special course of false religion, built on deceit, half-truths and flattery. Rather than being pure gold throughout, like the Book of Mormon, such teachings are only ornamented with gold—attractive, even beautiful, but inconsistent and polluted. Such have been called the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

Or jewelry on a pig.

Let's examine Satan's shiny religion of flattery.

Nehor taught it:
And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. (Alma 1:4)
The Zoramites believed it:
Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. 
But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. 
And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen. (Alma 31:16-18)
And sadly, the Gentiles of the last days believe it in spades:
And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
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.
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:8-9, 21-22)
I’m very saddened to even have to bring this up, but here’s a current example of this devilish doctrine, posted just a few days ago on Elder Jeffrey Holland’s Facebook page:
What a terrific time to be alive!
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most certain, the most secure, the most reliable, and the most rewarding truth on earth and in heaven, in time and in eternity. Nothing—not anything, not anyone, not any influence—will keep this Church from fulfilling its mission and realizing its destiny declared from before the foundation of the world. Ours is that fail-safe, inexorable, indestructible dispensation of the fulness of the gospel. There is no need to be afraid or tentative about the future. 
Unlike every other era before us, this dispensation will not experience an institutional apostasy; it will not see a loss of priesthood keys; it will not suffer a cessation of revelation from the voice of Almighty God. Individuals will apostatize or turn a deaf ear to heaven, but never again will the dispensation collectively do so. What a secure thought! What a day in which to live!
—Jeffrey R. Holland, posted May 27, 2015
That’s right—Ye need not fear nor tremble. Enjoy your carnal security! If you just stay on the boat, you will sail inexorably to heaven! Unlike every dispensation before us, we’re chosen to be saved! It’s wonderful! It's destiny! All is well in Zion!

It pains me to point this out, but there’s not a shred of scriptural support for the idea that the LDS church cannot possibly lose revelation, forfeit keys, or fall into apostasy. There is no destiny declared from the foundation of the world for any church organization. There is no scriptural support for the idea that the Gospel and the LDS church are synonyms.

These flattering words come not from scripture, but from men seeking power and gain and control. Notice the bits of golden truth that ornament these false notions. Those who teach such false and vain and foolish doctrines are collectively known as the church of the devil. Repeated warnings about such falsehoods thunder forth from the pages of the book of gold.
And thus he cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21)
Contrast Elder Holland’s exuberant assessment with Moroni’s dire admonition:
Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
(Who do you think Moroni's talking to? The people of other churches who will never read his book? He’s talking to US! You and ME! The readers of his words!)
And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. 
For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. 
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? (Mormon 8:35-38)
A polluted church cannot redeem you. Only Christ can. Come unto Him while there’s yet time! The long night of darkness is coming; don’t let it overtake you unprepared.
Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. 
Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! 
Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! 
Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! (2 Nephi 28:23-27)
True messengers will always call you to repentance. Their message will bring you down into the depths of humility. (Helaman 6:5, 3 Nephi 12:2, 2 Nephi 9:42, Mosiah 4:11) It will drive you in desperation to Christ, who is your only hope.

If a message flatters you and appeals to your natural man, if a messenger tells you you cannot fail, if someone declares that all is well in Zion and that success is your absolute destiny...RUN!

And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words to his people.
—Mosiah 11:11


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Recording Baptisms


As people awaken, arise and seek the Lord, they become aware of His requirement for baptism. Thousands have now heeded the call, humbled themselves, and been baptized (or re-baptized) in the Doctrine of Christ, according to the Lord's pattern. (3 Nephi 11:31-35)

I rejoice that I am one of them.

Keith Henderson, who has taken on the immense burden of keeping a faithful record of those so baptized, has established a website where the names may be recorded in a permanent record. He is requesting that all 2014 baptisms be submitted by July 1st so that he can finalize the 2014 record.


Some may wonder about the need for recording names in a book; some may even reject the idea. My opinion is that it's extremely important to be baptized in the Doctrine of Christ and to have your name recorded. In fact, it's likely much more important than you or I realize.
It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it? (D&C 128:4)
There is a day of burning coming. An acceptable baptism, recorded in heaven, will be required of those who wish to survive that day. I urge all to come unto Christ, be baptized according to His pattern, and submit their name for recording. It's a simple request. But then, so was looking at the brass serpent. Some still refused to look because their hearts were hard.

Will you look?

If you believe the Doctrine of Christ, desire baptism or re-baptism, and don't have anyone to baptize you, please send me a private message in the "Contact Me" widget to the right. I'll do what I can to help.