For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.
The unexpected nature and structure of the efforts to gather funds for the temple may look strange at first. But I believe there are good reasons behind the decisions that have been made. And, as Isaiah noted, one of the hallmarks of the Lord’s work is its strange appearance to us before we fully understand it.
So let’s start by trying to understand the Isaiah verse I quoted in the header, above. The reference to the valley of Gibeon refers to the Lord fighting Israel’s battles and destroying their enemies as Israel gathered to their promised land (Joshua 10:10-14). Our Lord is mighty to accomplish His work and He keeps His promises.
Interestingly, the reference also speaks of mount Perazim, which harks back to the Lord’s offer to provide the fulness of the priesthood to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, their rejection of His offer, and their loss of the opportunity to receive the fulness. (Exodus 19:17-25 and D&C 84:23-25) In this case, during their travels in the wilderness, had the Israelites accepted the Lord’s offer, Mount Sinai would have been an acceptable temporary substitute for a temple.
The Lord made the same offer to restore the fulness of the priesthood to the LDS church at Nauvoo, with the stipulation that a temple was required for the Lord to visit and personally restore the fulness. (D&C 124:28) The church failed to complete the temple in time, and the fulness remains lost to this day.
So I find it interesting that the Lord’s act is called strange, in relation to His efforts to gather His people, remove their obstacles, keep His promises, and come to His temple to restore the fulness.
Therefore, if we find the current efforts strange, we ought to take comfort that this precisely follows the pattern of scripture.
I’ve met and spoken with the three women who have organized the effort to collect funds for the temple. I believe they are the genuine article—which is to say, I believe they are honest, sincere, and committed to doing the Lord’s will. I believe the effort to gather funds is as safe in their hands as it could possibly be in the hands of mortals. They’ve been given a far more difficult task than we likely realize.
A Pile of Rocks
I’ll talk more about this situation, but first, I’d like to set the table by taking a look at a familiar scripture story through new eyes. Let’s talk about the brother of Jared’s situation with the barge lighting problem.
Jared’s brother, Mahonri, had built barges before, and knew how to do it, but in the past they had been primarily used to cross smaller bodies of water. The command to use the same barge design for long-distance seafaring highlighted how unsuited the barges were to cross the ocean. The two biggest problems were air and light.
The Lord explained the solution to the air issue (and it may not be what you were taught in Sunday School) but He didn’t provide the solution to the light issue. Instead, the Lord told Mahonri the solutions that would NOT be acceptable: Fire and windows.
Now, consider this—in the pre-electric age, what other light sources were there besides fire and sunlight? It seems the Lord specifically forbad the only two possible solutions, knowing in His wisdom, that both would result in disaster.
This left Mahonri to wrestle with the problem and do the best he could to find an “impossible” solution—ultimately taking it to the Lord for approval. And what was his solution?
Would that be the first idea you had? Have you ever considered how absurd that must have looked? How strange? How long do you suppose Mahonri wrestled with the problem? How many other ideas did he investigate and ultimately reject? How the heck do you get light without fire or the sun? And perhaps the biggest question of all: Why didn’t the Lord simply tell Mahonri how to solve the problem, like He had with the air?
Have you ever noticed how beaten Mahonri was when he finally took his rocks to the Lord? (Ether 3:1-5) Have you considered his humility? His brokenness? His desperate acknowledgement of his unworthiness? How he begged the Lord not to be angry with him for his weakness? How he pleaded for pity—because he was, after all, pitiful. How inadequate his pile of rocks must have seemed before the God of heaven!
All this man had to offer was rocks and groveling. But he was now a different man than the one who initially built the barges. It was the wrestle with the problem that changed him, and prepared him to be redeemed.
And thus, having been prepared by the LACK of commandment—and the LACK of revelation in the face of a very real temporal need—when he finally went before the Lord in abject humility and brokenness, he was brought into the Lord’s presence and redeemed from the fall.
The Lord immediately accepted Mahonri’s proposed solution—the rocks—and intervened with His power to turn them from inadequate stones into the perfect solution to the problem. But that was just a pretense for Him to do what really needed to be done. The Lord wanted the prepared man redeemed from the fall, and he used the man’s struggle to accomplish it. The point of the exercise was, in the end, to accomplish the Lord’s work.
A Pile of Money
Now, with that background, consider how one might go about gathering funds for a temple, when given the task by the Lord and told to go figure it out. On the surface, it sounds rather simple, and no doubt we could all think of some simple solutions. Trouble is, the more the solutions are investigated, the more thorny the problem becomes. Here are some issues:
Fund Raising: this activity is heavily regulated in most states, and requires compliance with state laws in every state where funds are to be solicited. If you do it online…well, that pretty much covers every state. And if you break state laws in any state, you open yourself to lawsuits, penalties, and even criminal charges. Raise your hand if you want to be personally on the line for that…
Taxation: So it turns out the government likes to tax income. Who knew? If money comes to you in such a way that it counts as income…well, kiss half of it goodbye. Do you want to risk losing half the sacred funds to taxes because your solution isn’t structured properly?
Liability: A large sum of money could create an attractive target for the greedy or disgruntled. Would you want to be the one who loses the sacred funds you failed to protect?
Ownership: Under our legal and economic framework, the funds must be owned by a person or an entity. Any business entity, like a corporation or a non-profit, is a creation of the state, and therefore only exists under the control of the state. It is subject to regulation, and even dissolution by state action—if the state creates it, the state can dissolve it. In the case of non-profits, if the state affords an organization tax-free benefits of operation, they also control almost every other aspect of the organization through a vast array of regulation, including what can be done with the funds and property when the time comes to dissolve the non-profit. Zion and the temple cannot risk future conflict and control for mere expediency in the ease of collecting money at the present.
On the other hand, a person, who cannot be dissolved by the state, becomes personally liable and accountable for all activities involved in the collection, handling, and dispersement of funds. There is no way to shield the person, their family, their other assets, or their reputation from any difficulties that arise from the effort. Risk is present with either form of ownership.
Past Abuse: Many who are interested in donating to the temple fund have also suffered past abuse, both financial and ecclesiastical, by churches and church leaders. Any solution that appears to repeat that abuse is immediately suspect. Though a “church” is the most obvious solution to the problem, it is the least desirable. Forming a church is out of the question.
Target Audience: How to put this delicately? The so-called “remnant” movement includes intelligent, outspoken, opinionated and often passionate people all with varying levels of understanding. While many will respond with gratitude and kindness, ANY effort WILL be also criticized and attacked by those who are eager to find fault. Obviously, this complicates any proposed solution.
Every “simple” solution, including opening a bank account and telling people to donate to it, forming a corporation, a non-profit, or a church, triggers one or more of the above difficulties, ultimately subjecting the fund to inordinate opposition, losses or risks. The three women, who were tasked with this effort by the Lord, spent many months and substantial amounts of their own money consulting multiple attorneys and accountants regarding various possibilities. Ultimately, the problem proved MUCH more difficult than it initially appeared.
And while the solutions they’ve proposed may look like common rocks, I believe the Lord can work with these solutions and touch them to make them exactly what they need to be. Each has unique strengths that help accomplish the task at hand.
Many have asked questions about the two funding routes, and though I’m no expert, I’ll offer what explanations I can.
1. The GoFundMe account
This approach has the advantage of simplicity. It complies with fundraising laws, allows anyone to donate in seconds, and due to the laws associated with gifts, it can aggregate the funds in such a way as to prevent taxation. It’s actually a very good solution, as evidenced by the thousands who use the service every day for all sorts of purposes.
Of course, this simplicity comes at a price, and GoFundMe takes 5% for providing the service—which I think is reasonable for what they provide. An additional 3% (approximately) is taken by the credit card processing, which is typical for accepting credit cards. So in the end 8% of the funds go elsewhere and 92% go to the temple, which is an issue to which some have objected.
I’m not a financial expert, but I do know that it is lawful to give money to anyone you choose and you can do so without any tax consequences to yourself if you keep your gift to no more than $14,000 per year ($28,000 if married). If you find the GoFundMe fees excessive, then there’s nothing stopping you from sending a check directly to the woman behind the fund. It may take a little ingenuity on your part to figure out how to get it to her, as there is no address, but where there’s a will there's a way. In such a case, 100% would go into the fund, with no processing costs. If you do that, I recommend including a “gift letter” stating that the money is a gift, donated to a cause you believe in, with no exchange of value or services rendered to you in exchange for the monetary gift. This letter gives added protection from the money being classified as income.
2. Tree of Life Creations
Quintina BearChief-Adolpho, a full-blooded Blackfoot First Nations member, has an established business on the Siksika Nation Reservation, through which she can accept gifts in exchange for providing services to members of her tribe. Located, as it is, in a sovereign nation, the business receives favorable protections and eliminates taxation and regulation. If you read her website carefully, you’ll note that 100% of the funds gifted will be consecrated by her to the facility to be built. This approach has clear advantages due to its unique situation. Her family has other sources of income, which allow her to give complete consecration of the gifted revenue received in exchange for the service provided by her business toward this objective.
My personal opinion is that the Lord’s hand is in each of these approaches, and that promises made to the fathers thousands of years ago—promises the Lord has kept in miraculous ways—have paved the way for these solutions to be available for these perplexing problems. If you search scriptural prophecy carefully, you may likely encounter delightful discoveries about these efforts.
I do believe each of these solutions complies with applicable law, while brilliantly solving the regulatory and taxation issues that appeared to be insurmountable problems, now leaving only the problem of criticism, about which little can be done. People must be free to oppose and criticize the Lord’s work in every age.
By the way, I hear other solutions are also being considered, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see other options made available as the Lord’s strange work progresses. Through it all, remember nobody is getting paid, and 100% of what makes its way to the fund will go to the temple and grounds.
The Lord accomplishes His work by small and simple means. If you’re looking for something grand, powerful or polished, you may miss the mark. Seemingly, there’s nothing but a gossamer thread tying these present efforts to the eventual construction of a temple and the establishment of Zion. Many things could go wrong, and there’s no end of ways to fail.
Therefore, it takes faith to get behind this effort. And this is as it should be. If it were so obvious and so superior to opposing ideas, it would be easy to do the Lord’s will, and would require no faith. But this situation is the opposite. Only hindsight will ever validate the faith it now takes to donate to this effort. The temple and Zion are, at present, nothing more than desires and hopes. I understand how hard it is to stake your money on what appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream. This is why faith is required.
Now that I’ve explained how I view this effort, I’m next going to take a crack at answering some of the questions that have come my way. Remember, as with what I’ve already written above, I don’t speak for anyone else, so these are my own answers based on my own opinion.
We can start with the following list of questions.
- Where will the temple be built?
- Does this mean it will be in Canada?
- When will the construction start?
- Who will build it?
- How will it be built?
- What will it look like?
- Who will own the land?
- Who will control the expenditures?
- Who will enter the temple once it’s complete?
- What if the economy crashes and renders money worthless?
- And so on…
The answers to all of these questions, as far as I know, remain to be seen. Until there is a more detail given by God, these will remain largely unanswered. The present effort only deals with gathering funds against that time. Nothing in the current effort compels any particular answer to any question I've listed above. I’m as excited as you are to have the answers to these things, and until the answers are given, it’s best not to assume anything. The Lord’s work is often surprising, and will likely not unfold in the way we expect.
I doubt Nephi had any idea he would eventually build a ship until he had been waiting patiently at the beach for years. Then, when the time was right, the Lord gave details and showed Nephi how to proceed. Likewise the Savior, who was prepared and eager to start His mission at age 12, had to patiently wait a further 18 years before the time was right.
Until more light is given, we are left to act in faith on what light we have. It will certainly take patience.
“Who will receive the commandment when it comes? How will I know it’s from God? I won’t follow a man!”
Yeah, I feel ya. But Enoch managed it somehow. Ask yourself how that happened. Was there a prophet/teacher among them? Did he provide the revelation needed? Did they “follow” Enoch, or did they “follow” the word of the Lord revealed through Enoch? If you believe a man is sent by the Lord and speaking the Lord’s word, does “receiving” that word constitute “following” a man? This is worth considering. The Lord has a pattern He uses in these situations. We would do well to recognize and expect that pattern—and realize that He works through mortals.
Denver Snuffer has repeatedly spoken and written about the need for a temple in Zion. I believe he is speaking the Lord’s word in this matter, and I have good reasons for why I believe so. I also believe the scriptures support this effort. But that’s a large subject for a separate post.
In the end, I believe it’s crucial to be able to hear the Lord’s voice, so you can ask Him and receive His answer.
“What do these women know about building a temple?”
I don’t know. But that’s beside the point; they’re not building a temple. They’re gathering money, and they know how to do that. We still don’t know who will head up the building effort, or who will participate in construction. If you want to be involved in building the temple, I suggest taking that desire to the Lord and qualifying to be one He calls.
“Why is it just these three women? Why don’t I get a say in this? I really, really want to be involved. Am I not important?”
The best I can tell you is that the Lord calls who He will call and He is not a respecter of persons. Each of these women received a witness from the Lord that they are to do this work. So they shouldered the burden and got to work, sacrificing their time, money, reputations, and peace to accomplish what the Lord has asked of them. Doing the Lord’s work has no glamour or fanfare. It’s usually a difficult slog, filled with challenges and criticism. It’s nothing to be envied. I’m sure it has already been harder than any of us can appreciate, and I, for one, have no desire to join them and be saddled with the labor and difficulties that come with such an assignment.
If you’ve ever worked on a committee or in a group, you know the larger the group, the more exponentially complicated the effort becomes. I see wisdom in handling the fundraising through a small group like this.
As for who is “important” and who is not, it’s perhaps natural to assume there are “big” people and “little” people—but I don’t think that assumption comes from the Lord. He is no respecter of persons, and cares more about your heart than your position. He calls specific people to do specific tasks for specific reasons, so it’s best to be content with what He has allotted each of us. (Alma 29:3)
Those who desire most to be in charge or important are often the least prepared to do what the Lord wants done. How many prophets, when called of God, have responded with “surely, not me!” I think we’re all well advised to remember the Lord’s counsel that the greatest in His eyes is the one who is the least and the servant of all. (Matthew 20:26-27) I don’t envy these women, though I do feel a great deal of gratitude for them. Remember, “envyings” were one of the factors that destroyed the last attempt at Zion (D&C 101:6).
“But the Lord hasn’t issued a commandment. We shouldn’t do anything until He does!”
Every time I encounter this idea, I nearly get whiplash from D&C 58 leaping to mind:
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward…But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned. (D&C 58:26-29)What would have happened if Mahonri had not worked to solve his problem and taken that solution to the Lord? What if he had waited for a command, explaining exactly how to solve the lighting problem, and expended no effort of his own? And what about the countless other scriptural examples that could be cited of those who proceeded in faith, not knowing beforehand the things that they should do? (1 Nephi 4:6)
I’m truly bewildered by the idea that this effort belongs in a separate category from all the other things you and I do in faith every day, without a command from God. Today I did dozens of things God didn’t specifically ask me to do, as well as some things He did. And likely, so did you. Why does preparing for a future temple require a commandment above and beyond the indication that the commandment will come, paired with the common sense and reasoning ability God has given us all?
Look, nothing happens until mortals DO something. The temple won’t build itself, and the land and building won’t be paid for by magic. We’ve been repeatedly told the command is coming. Do we really need the Lord to command us to prepare for the commandment? If we can’t accomplish anything without being commanded, how will we ever become godly?
If you know you have a future large expense, you save for it. You save for your kids’ college, your retirement, a home, a major purchase and so on. Why? Common sense or commandment?
“You rob the poor by saving for a temple.”
I explained my take on “robbing the poor” in my last post, but some still raise this objection. As I noted in my prior post, using care for the poor as an excuse to thwart the Lord’s work was a Satanic objection offered by Judas Iscariot. Can we stop repeating him?
But there’s this:
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. (Moses 7:18)I don’t believe Enoch’s Zion came as a result of having no poor among them. Rather, I believe the opposite—that the reason there were no poor among them because that they were one with God in heart and mind and righteousness. Naturally, they were also equal in earthly things.
I also note that there were no poor among them. It does not say there were no poor in all the world. Rather, it narrowly confines the elimination of poverty to what existed among the small cadre of those called Zion. Perhaps there’s a lesson here about realistic expectations and not running faster than we have strength.
“But this doesn’t fit my current understanding of scripture or my preferred set of unbeliefs.”
Yeah, I sympathize. Seriously, I do. They don’t call it the Lord’s “strange” act for nothing. When I think about it, none of this fits the beliefs and understanding I had 5 years ago. Had you told me 5 years ago I would be an excommunicated Mormon, watching prophecy unfold, and preparing for Zion in my lifetime, I would have absolutely sworn you were mad. But I’ve learned more since then, and my beliefs have changed. Who’s to say yours won’t as well?
“But you don’t need a temple! All you need is Jesus!”
I believe you’re confusing individual redemption with the establishment of Zion. Yes, our Lord can and does personally minister and provide what individuals lack. He can and does redeem individuals from the fall, and he does it without an earthly building. But Zion is, by definition, a group. If you confuse group accomplishments with individual promises, you fail to understand WHAT great things the Lord intends to do and HOW he intends to do them.
My last blog post was an attempt to lay out what I understand about it, but in the end, we all need to know much more than we do now. It will take a significant effort in study and prayer to begin to understand what the Lord intends. Saying you just need Jesus is, frankly, an excuse for ignorance of the Lord’s work. Why not set aside the easy answers and seek instead to understand the prophesied marvelous work and wonder? It’s happening.
Remember, our Lord is a Man of Covenants. To know Him is to covenant with him. The LDS church fell under condemnation by 1832 for taking such things lightly. (D&C 84:54-58) At what point will we begin to take seriously the responsibilities devolving upon us?
Though some may disagree and even oppose, I believe this effort is the beginning of the foundation of Zion.
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these [women], and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
That I may proceed to bring to pass my act, my strange act, and perform my work, my strange work, that men may discern between the righteous and the wicked, saith your God.