Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Lives and Deaths of the Prophets

Today marks the 176th anniversary of the deaths of Hyrum and Joseph Smith. Every June 27th, I feel a sense of loss and sadness, not only at the deaths of the prophets, but also at what has become of their legacy. 

Their deaths were brought about by those who at one time had been their friends. Today, many who claim to believe their teachings also accuse them of gross wickedness. When the angel told Joseph his name would be had for good and evil, it foreshadowed something so bizarre and ironic that it's almost unimaginable. 

Our Lord said: “A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 3:6, NC)

Those who claim to be the country, kin, and house of Joseph lavishly expect to fulfill prophecy. They have, unfortunately, fulfilled this one. An ignominious distinction, to say the least. 

A week ago, there was a conference held in honor of the 200th anniversary of the First Vision and the beginning of the restoration. All the branches of the restoration were invited to participate. It was a wonderful, uplifting, positive event, and I’m very grateful to have been there and participated. 

Here’s a link to the website where the conference recordings can be viewed:



And here’s a video of the talk I gave at the conference:



When God begins a work among men, he sends those who are ordinary, unremarkable, and un-notable. Those he calls are universally uncomfortable with the responsibilities he gives them. They are crippled by doubts about their own abilities and faith, and left to conclude the only way anything good can come of their efforts is through the might of the one who sent them. This is as it should be, and as it always is. The farm boy from New York, the Carpenter from Galilee, the fisherman from Bethsaida, the Pharisee from Tarsus, the Lamanite on Zarahemla’s wall, the Nephite on his garden tower, the brothers in prison surrounded by fire, and the brothers in prison surrounded by gunfire. All found themselves in situations and with responsibilities they did not seek, and would have gladly relinquished if it were possible. All were hated and threatened and many paid with their lives.

Few ever recognize those who God sends. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it. I would add, many there be that reject it, even while sure they are right. 

200 years ago, an unremarkable and uneducated farm boy met God face to face as the ancient patriarchs did. Ten years later, he published what may be the most remarkable book in the history of the world. Fourteen years after that, he was murdered by the conspiracy of traitors. Those who knew, and who know Brother Joseph are left to mourn. 

One of the most important things we can learn from his life is that God’s pattern yet remains unchanged. He calls upon the weak, makes himself known to them, empowers and sends them with his message, and they are generally rejected and cast out by fools who think they know better. 

If it happened again, how would you recognize it? 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Joseph’s Marvelous Experience: Lessons Learned from the First Vision

“The gospel of Jesus Christ has always been meant to teach mankind the correct character, perfections, and attributes of God in order that they might have the faith necessary to part the veil for themselves and enter back into His presence. Restoring ascension theology was Joseph’s greatest gift to mankind. In order to make the fiery ascent back into the presence of the Lord, we must seek further light and knowledge from those who are sent from the presence of God to teach us.”

—Whitney Horning

Last weekend’s Restoration Conference was a great success. A particularly important paper was presented by Whitney Horning, who considered and expounded the message of the First Vision, as reflected by the various written accounts of that event. I’ve attached a PDF of that excellent paper here for those who wish to read it.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Joseph Smith Restoration Conference 2020




I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me...When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said (pointing to the other), This is my beloved Son; hear him.
—Joseph Smith, Jr. 


2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the encounter that has come to be known as Joseph Smith's First Vision. Two hundred years ago, in the early spring of 1820, a young boy took the message found in scripture to heart and sought an answer from God. The event that followed would forever change the history of the world. The heavens were opened and God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph in answer to his humble prayer. This event marked the beginning of a new era of restoration, in which God once again speaks to man. 

We are excited to celebrate this world-changing event by inviting the various branches of the Restoration to come together in remembrance of the First Vision. We look forward to hearing from a variety of speakers speaking on the First Vision and other topics related to the Restoration. 

Please join us this year for the third annual Restoration Conference held on Saturday June 20, 2020 in Meridian, Idaho!

You can find complete information, as well as recordings of previous conferences at the official site: 


We welcome live participants! Please RSVP at the site above to let us know you are coming. 

We also plan to livestream the conference this year. Check back here, or on the site above, for the broadcast link on the day of the conference. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

COVID-19 and Repentance

Here are some thoughts Ive been mulling over recently, regarding repentance.




Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sacrament Prayers

And the church did meet together oft to fast, and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus. 
—Moroni 6:2

Our scriptures teach that we should “meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.” Though many of us currently can’t meet together, we should still avail ourselves of the opportunity to take the sacrament often. 

To assist those who, like my own mother, currently can’t gather with others to take the sacrament, and who don’t have someone available to perform the ordinance for them, I’ve linked to recordings of the blessings on the bread and wine below. 

Blessing on the Bread:




Blessing on the Wine:



I sincerely hope we will all be able to meet together again soon in our fellowships and families. But until then, at least we can observe our Lord’s command in this way. 

Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you. And this shall ye always do unto those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me, ye shall have my spirit to be with you. And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things, and if ye shall always do these things, blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock. 
—3 Nephi 8:7

Sunday, April 12, 2020

First Fruits

Wherefore, beloved, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Mashiach, his only begotten Son, that you may obtain a resurrection according to the power of the resurrection which is in Mashiach, and be presented as the firstfruits of Mashiach unto Elohim, having faith and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifests himself in the flesh.
—Ya’akov 3:3

Today, the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of the Messiah. This event is steeped in Christian traditions and gentile understanding, and in recent history has become mostly secular. I think it’s important to consider the actual events of the resurrection in the context in which they happened, and without the gentile baggage we overlay upon these events. In this post, we’ll use the Stick of Joseph to shed light on the events surrounding the resurrection of Yeshua.

Good Thursday

Christian tradition holds that Yeshua was crucified on a Friday, now called “Good Friday” in commemoration. This tradition is born of a misunderstanding regarding the sabbath. The New testament informs us he was crucified on the day of preparation before the sabbath, and that his body was removed from the cross and hastily placed in the sepulcher before sundown when the sabbath began (see Mark 7:29, Luke 13:25-26, John 10:15-16 NC edition). Because the sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, the Christian tradition selected Friday as the crucifixion day. 

This is problematic, of course, because scripture also makes it clear he arose on the first day of the week, which is Sunday on the Hebrew calendar (Luke 14:1 NC) and that it was the “third day” since the crucifixion (Luke 14:2 NC). Attempting to make the period from Friday to Sunday into three days has resulted in some rather strained interpretations and odd explanations. Common sense tells us if the crucifixion happened on Friday, then Saturday was the first day since the crucifixion and Sunday was the second day, not the third. 

The key to solving this mystery lies in the various sabbaths (plural) recognized by the Jews. The weekly sabbath is always Saturday, which begins at sundown on Friday. But there are also sabbaths that happen only once per year. These are annual holy days, also called sabbaths, but are tied to the Hebrew lunar calendar, and therefore may fall on any day of the week. One such day is the 15th of Nisan, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, also known as Passover. The 15th can fall on any day of the week, but it is a sabbath because it is a holy day.

It so happened in the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion that the 15th of Nisan fell on the 6th day of the week, Friday, and the regular weekly sabbath followed the next day, Saturday. Therefore, there were two sabbaths, back-to-back, that week. Thus, we see that Yeshua was crucified on the 14th day of Nisan, a Thursday, and laid in the tomb before sundown. Friday—the first day of Passover—was the first day since the crucifixion, and Saturday—the weekly sabbath—was the second day since the crucifixion. Sunday then followed as the third day, and the day of the resurrection. If Easter Sunday is to recognize the resurrection, then it should be “Good Thursday,” rather than Good Friday, when the crucifixion is commemorated. 

Indeed, when properly aligned with the events of those days, we find breathtaking correlation and perfect fulfillment of every type, shadow, and prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role. His death during the preparation and killing of lambs was exquisitely timed, as was his resurrection.

The Stick of Joseph also teaches concerning this three-day period: 
And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease — for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater, nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours — and then, behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land…. And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning, and howling, and weeping among all the people continually,… (3 Nefi 4:3, 5)
Then at the end of that time:
And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to split, and the dreadful groanings did cease,… (3 Nefi 4:10)

The Stick of Joseph agrees with the New Testament scriptural record in recording that Messiah arose the third day.
And he shall be called Yeshua HaMashiach, the Son of Elohim the Father of Heaven and of earth, the creator of all things from the beginning; and his Mother shall be called Miryam. And lo, he comes unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith on his name. And even after all this, they shall consider him as a man and say that he has a demon, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead. (Moshiyah 1:14)
First Fruits

At the time of Yeshua, the first offering of the first fruits occurred after the sabbath of the Passover. On this occasion, the priests took the first barley from the field and offered it before the Lord as an offering of the first harvest of spring: 
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When you have come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for you. On the next day after the Sabbath, the priest shall wave it. (Lev. 11:4 OC edition)

This offering took place on Sunday in the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion, after the back-to-back sabbaths had passed. This was necessary because the act of harvesting barley constituted work, which was forbidden on the sabbath (Ex. 18:10 OC). Therefore, the priests harvested and offered the first fruits on Sunday that year, on the day of the resurrection. Yeshua was the first fruits, or the first resurrected soul, presented before God as an acceptable offering. 

This is amply attested to in the Stick of Joseph, where we read the following: 
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of Elohim, except it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Mashiach, who lays down his life according to the flesh and takes it again by the power of the spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto Elohim, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men, and they that believe in him shall be saved. And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto Elohim. Wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. (2 Nefi 1:6)



The above table lays out the days, the count, and the events associated with the timing of the resurrection. 

In Zenos’s allegory of the Olive Trees, the Lord of the vineyard seeks to preserve his tame olive tree specifically so that he “may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself” and “lay up fruit thereof against the season unto myself” that he “may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.” The fruit in this allegory represents redeemed souls, rescued from sin and from death by the power of the resurrection of Messiah. Thus we see that he—Yeshua—was the first fruits unto God, and that he presents to his Father all those whom he redeems. 

Thus, First Fruits Sunday, or Easter Sunday as Christianity calls it, is not merely a celebration of  Messiah’s resurrection. It is an expansive invitation for all to come unto him through his doctrine, become cleansed and redeemed, and become his first fruits, worthy to be presented to the Father. His victory over death would be hollow indeed if it did not bear any fruit other than his own resurrection and return. His work and his glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all who are willing to receive. (Gen. 1:7 OC)

As we ponder the life-altering meaning of Messiah’s victory over death and hell, may we remember that victory was always meant to be expressed in us. WE are to be the fruit in which he can rejoice. 

And the firstfruits of repentance is washing by immersion. And immersion comes by faith unto the fulfilling the mitzvot, and the fulfilling the mitzvot brings remission of sins, and the remission of sins brings meekness and humility of heart. And because of meekness and humility of heart comes the visitation of the Ruach HaKodesh, which Comforter fills with hope and perfect love, which love endures by diligence unto prayer until the end shall come, when all the k’doshim shall dwell with Elohim.
—M’roni 8:5 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The End, Part 8: Sword of Justice

And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city, therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand, and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart. And he said unto them, Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart. And behold, he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people. 
—Helaman 5:2



Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


The term “sword of justice” is unique in scripture. It only appears in the Book of Mormon/Stick of Joseph, and in no other scriptural source, and it appears there, in some form, 8 times. Interestingly, it always appears as a warning to the wicked, though it is used to warn various groups at various times.

We first encounter this term in 1 Nephi 3:17, where a great and terrible gulf that divides the children of men is defined as “even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God and Messiah who is the Lamb of God…” The justice of God, which divides the wicked from the righteous is associated with the large and spacious building of Lehi’s dream—which is something I’ve written about before. Justice divides those in the building from those at the tree of life. (1 Nephi 4:5) This is a general warning to all humanity.

In Helaman 5:2, Samuel the Lamanite warns that the sword of justice would fall on the Nephites if they did not repent and believe in Christ. He associates his warning with the glad tidings declared to him by an angel, but rejected by those to whom he preached. This is a warning to the Nephites specifically, regarding their acceptance or rejection of the Messiah.

In 3 Nephi 9:7, the Savior takes up the same warning, this time directing it to the Gentiles of the latter days:
And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent, it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the gentiles.
In 3 Nephi 13:7, Mormon takes up the same warning to the latter-day Gentiles:
And when ye shall see these sayings coming forth among you, then ye need not any longer spurn at the doings of the Lord, for the sword of his justice is in his right hand. And behold, at that day, if ye shall spurn at his doings, he will cause it that it shall soon overtake you.
Mormon continues the line of thought by discussing those who oppose the Lord’s work and specifically his efforts to recover the lost sheep remnants of Israel:
Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor of any of the remnant of the house of Israel, for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn. Therefore, ye need not suppose that ye can turn the right hand of the Lord unto the left, that he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 13:8)
This is something about which I’ve written before as well. Notice that the sword in the Lord’s right hand is associated with justice, destruction, and separating the wicked from the righteous. Also, notice the specific time when the sword of justice will hang over the Gentiles. It is in the latter days, when the gospel has come to the Gentiles, when they have the Book of Mormon, and when its message is directed to the scattered remnants of Israel. In fact, the entire passage deals with the restoration of scattered Israel, and the warning is to those who interfere with or oppose that work.

If the Book of Mormon is any indication, you DO NOT want the Sword of Justice to fall on you. It is associated with “almighty wrath” (Alma 25:2), “heavy destruction” (Helaman 5:2), “utter destruction” (Alma 27:10), and “eternal despair” (Alma 14:18). These are not idle words.


This brings us, of course, to Moroni’s mic drop. As you’re no doubt aware, on March 18, 2020, an earthquake occurred near Salt Lake City, which caused the angel Moroni on top of the Salt Lake LDS Temple to drop his trumpet. Much has been made of this event, and the rather obvious symbolism of the angel now being unable to sound his trump, lacking a message to share, and so forth. In my opinion, these are all very valid interpretations.

But I’d like to discuss yet another take on this event. First, consider the following information, which was shared with me by my friend Marv Bateman:

Moroni’s trumpet on all versions of the temple statue is generally angled upward quite sharply. In the picture, you can see a replica of the Salt Lake statue, which shows the trumpet angle is approximately 30% above horizontal. Therefore, to lose the trumpet, either Moroni’s hand would have to break, or the trumpet would have to slide upward, against gravity, through Moroni’s hand to finally fall out. 





This appears to be exactly what happened, as Moroni’s hand is still clearly intact, including his thumb, as you can see from the overhead picture. In other words, this was a very precise strike that caused exactly the right vibrational frequency and direction to pull the trumpet from Moroni’s grasp and cast it down upon the temple.








Last June, the day after the LDS church ignored the 175th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum smith, lightning struck the Moroni statue on top of the Nauvoo temple. Moroni’s eyes were darkened and his trumpet was broken. The watchman on the tower was symbolically rendered blind and mute—unable to sound the alarm. That event was associated with very particular calendar alignments that take place only once in 10,000 years. It was also associated with the coming forth of the Stick of Joseph in the Hand of Ephraim, which makes the prophesied record uniquely available to the scattered remnants of Israel and the Jewish people. I previously wrote at length about these events.

When the earthquake struck Salt Lake City, it was again associated with a calendar alignment (Spring Equinox) and with The Stick of Joseph in the Hand of Ephraim. Whereas the Nauvoo strike aligned with the pre-registration of the copyright, the Salt Lake earthquake aligned with the final registration. The watchman on the LDS tower is not only symbolically blind and mute, but now has no shofar at all to blow.

The blowing of the shofar is the traditional signal for the gathering of Israel. The LDS church, having opposed and spurned the Father’s work, has now lost that opportunity completely. Moroni’s casting down of the trumpet upon their temple makes that point emphatically.

And it also frees up his right hand.

Some have suggested it appears Moroni is now checking his watch, as if to say the Lord delays his coming. It’s a fun meme and all, but has serious notes.
And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit in his wisdom that these sayings shall come unto the gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance is already beginning to be fulfilled. And ye may know that the words of the Lord which have been spoken by the holy prophets shall all be fulfilled. And ye need not say that the Lord delays his coming unto the children of Israel. (3 Nephi 13:7, emphasis mine)
Notice that this passage only mentions the Gentiles as a sign of what the Lord is doing. The coming of the Lord is to the children of Israel, NOT to the Gentiles. And no, he is not delaying his coming; his work is proceeding according to schedule. The book and the gospel came to the Gentiles, the time was fulfilled, and the opportunity passed. It now reverts to the house of Israel, as prophesied.

And likewise, as prophesied, the sword of justice is now in the Lord’s right hand, ready to fall upon the Gentiles, as demonstrated by Moroni, standing upon the decommissioned temple with his right hand outstretched. If earthquakes, viral plagues and locust swarms don’t convince us of our own powerlessness and bring us to repentance, all that remains is the falling of the sword on the Gentiles, starting with those who still claim to be the Lord’s only true church and bearer of the legacy of Joseph Smith.

The LDS church announced a couple of days ago that Moroni will be taken down, and that portions of the temple spires will be removed and rebuilt to repair the damage from the earthquake. This coming just before the April General Conference, held as a broadcast-only event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Six months of marketing hype from the church have built up this conference to be like no other in history. I’ve noticed a huge emphasis on “The Prophet” (meaning Russel Nelson), Joseph Smith’s First Vision, women, and priesthood. I heard this morning there are plans to call a solemn assembly and hold a Hosannah shout in the Sunday session, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. This is curious because in January 2017, the LDS First Presidency wrote the following letter to local and general church leaders throughout the world:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: 
During the next few years, the Church will enter a period of significant anniversaries of major Church history events. The Church will not be commemorating these anniversaries at the general level. However, stake and ward leaders may choose to commemorate some of them at the local level. 
We ask that any local commemorations not place undue burdens on leaders and members. 
Sincerely yours,
/s/The First Presidency

The current celebration of the First Vision is altogether appropriate and warranted for those who believe in the importance of that event. But it also represents a 180 degree reversal in official church policy. They specifically said they would not do this—and now they are doing it—which adds a great deal of importance to this conference. Therefore, at this extra-important conference, I expect President Nelson to make some sort of big policy change, declaration, or the like. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he claims a vision or revelation on a par with Joseph Smith, whom he asked all members to study in preparation for this conference. Perhaps this won’t be the case, and this conference will come and go with the usual platitudes; but it does seem like an awful lot of hype for a standard conference commemorating something they said they would not commemorate. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, regardless of what may be said, done, claimed, or announced at this conference, Moroni still stands there, inconveniently, high overhead, with his right arm outstretched, figuratively holding the sword of justice, that soon will fall. And though a crane will pluck the damaged statue off the damaged temple, the prophecy yet remains and WILL be fulfilled. God help us.

And now I say unto you that well doth the Lord judge of your iniquities; well doth he cry unto this people by the voice of his angels, Repent ye, repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Yea, well doth he cry by the voice of his angels that I will come down among my people with equity and justice in my hands. Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. Yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword. 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 8:5

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Remnant Missionary Pal: 2020 Edition!

In 2018, I wrote a brief announcement here regarding a new book called the Remnant Missionary Pal. This book is modeled on a prior work called the Missionary Pal, which provided scriptural references organized by topic. It's a neat—and very handy—reference tool.

I'm pleased to announce that an updated version is now available. This new 2020 version is updated with final RE scripture numbering and references, plus an expanded introduction and new sections on the responsibility to the lost sheep remnants of Israel. 

You can download a free version at www.RemnantMissionaryPal.com, or purchase a hard copy at publisher's cost on Amazon. 

This is an excellent reference tool, is very inexpensive (or Free!) and highly recommended for scripture study. Enjoy!

NOTE: I've been told the Amazon listing still says it's the 2018 Edition, but I've been assured by the publishers that what is actually shipping is the 2020 Edition. They are working on updating the listing with Amazon.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bicentennial of the First Vision

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me...When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said (pointing to the other), This is my beloved Son; hear him.
—JSH 2:4


By Tausha Larsen


Today is a special day—Not because commerce has all but stopped and many of us have been forced to stay home from work and school, but because something miraculous happened on this day—something that would forever change the world—on March 26—two hundred years ago, when a young boy walked into the woods to ask God a question, and to this young boy’s surprise, God appeared to him and answered him.

Please read this very well done article on the actual date of the First Vision:

https://latterdaysaintmag.com/oh-how-lovely-was-the-morning-sun-26-mar-1820/

Or consider this documentary, which is also very compelling:

https://youtu.be/H6MsQ6QBMMY

I know that many of us have read Joseph Smith’s History many times, but as I reread his account today, some things stood out to me in a way that they never have before. I’d like to share a few insights regarding Joseph’s early life.

Joseph Smith’s life did not start out easy. At age 5 he was “attacked” with typhus fever, it becoming so severe that his father feared for his life. The doctors broke the fever, but then it 
“settled” under his shoulder.

In Joseph’s words, “Dr. Parker called it a sprained shoulder and anointed it with bone ointment, and freely applied the hot shovel when it proved to be a swelling under the arm, which was opened and discharged freely, after which the disease removed and descended into my left leg and ankle, and terminated in a fever sore of the worst kind, and I endured the most acute suffering for a long time under the care of Doctors Smith, Stone, and Perkins of Hanover.” (T&C Joseph Smith History, Part 1:3)

Many doctors came from the nearby medical college with the intent to amputate Joseph’s leg, which Joseph refused, but gave permission for them to try a new procedure to remove a large section of bone from his left leg. After removing even another fourteen pieces of bone, his leg finally began to heal.

Joseph used crutches to move around as his leg continued to heal until his father moved to New York to prepare a new homestead for his family. Joseph’s father hired a man named Caleb Howard and paid him to bring his family to New York. On the journey, Mr. Howard squandered the money given him to move the Smith family on drinking, gambling, etc. leaving the Smith family quite destitute as they continued their journey. Along the way, another family named Gates, joined the company traveling toward New York.

Mr. Howard decided he would rather have the company of the Gates daughters with him in the wagon than Joseph, and thereby forced Joseph to walk in his weakened state and “through the snow for 40 miles per day, for several days, during which time he suffered the most excruciating weariness and pain.” Joseph goes on to relate “and thus he continued to do day after day through the journey, and when my brothers remonstrated with Mr. Howard for his treatment to me, he would knock them down with the butt of his whip.” (T&C Joseph Smith History, Part 1:5)

When the Smith family arrived in Utica, New York, Mr. Howard threw their belongings out of the wagon onto the street, and tried to run off with the horses and wagon. Luckily, Joseph’s mother, seized the horses reigns and cried out to nearby witnesses that the horses and wagon belonged to them.

Because Mr. Howard had squandered the funds to safely escort the Smith family to Palmyra, Joseph’s mother had to come up with more money to make the journey from Utica to Palmyra. She did this by selling small pieces of cloth and some of the families clothing until they had the funds to travel. On the way from Utica to Palmyra, the entire way being covered with snow, Joseph was left to ride in the last sleigh in the company, but when it was time for him to board, he was knocked down by the driver, one of the Gates sons, and left to “wallow” in his blood until a kind soul came and picked him up and carried him to Palmyra.

Later as Joseph recounted his history he stated: “It seems as though the adversary was aware at a very early period of my life that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom, or else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the oppression and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?” (T&C Joseph Smith History Part 2:7)

As I read the history of Joseph’s earlier years, I was shocked at the difficulties he faced as a young child. I had read and heard the story about his leg operation many times, but I had not really thought about and contemplated the absolutely terrible hardship it caused him in the following years. I had not realized the difficulty his family went through in moving from Vermont to New York. The adversary was most assuredly aware of Joseph and his soon to be involvement with God’s Kingdom, and caused him much oppression and persecution even at the very young age of five.

Joseph did prove to be a “disturber and an annoyer” to the adversary’s kingdom. When he entered the woods to ask God his question about “which church to join,” the world which had been enveloped in darkness, was suddenly encompassed by light. The heavens which had been closed, were unanticipatedly opened, and God once again spoke to man. This is exactly what the adversary was trying to prevent.

What is our status today? Is the earth still filled with the the light brought forth by the Restoration? Are we moving toward greater light, or has the light dimmed? If light cannot remain static or stationary, then the amount of light we possess must be either increasing or diminishing.

I like Denver Snuffer’s description of light. “Light grows or dims; it never stays static. It is in constant motion just as we see in the moon, either waxing or waning, always either growing or receding in light. So also with the sun. From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims. It is impossible to freeze the light. It will grow or it will fade.”

I find it interesting that Joseph’s birthday, December 23, was the day after the winter solstice, when light began to overtake the darkness, The First Vision, March 26, occurred at the time of the spring equinox, when light and darkness are perfectly balanced. Joseph’s martyrdom and death, June 27, happened to be close to the summer solstice when darkness once again overtakes the light, and Joseph’s four visits by the angel Nephi occurred on the fall equinox, where light and darkness again find perfect balance.

As Alma states: “All things denote there is a God. Yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form doth witness that there is a supreme creator.” (Alma 16:9) And so it was, nature testified of the most important events of Joseph’s life because God was witnessing to us, that He was working in and through Joseph to teach us. Joseph was God’s mouthpiece.

Today, I remember Joseph’s First Vision. I remember the very difficult hardships he endured in early life that helped bring him to the point of retiring to the woods to pray and seek an answer from God. I remember the straight out miracle that occurred when God appeared to Joseph and answered his prayer. I praise God that because of Joseph’s example, we know how to approach the Lord ourselves and receive answers in the same manner.

Today, I believe heaven will smile upon us if we take a moment to remember the glorious miracle of this world-changing event.

Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know and his prayers I have heard, yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer, for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works. 
—JSH 18:4

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Stick of Joseph Website

And it shall come to pass that the Y’hudim shall have the words of the Nefites, and the Nefites shall have the words of the Y’hudim, and the Nefites and the Y’hudim shall have the words of the lost tribes of Isra’el, and the lost tribes of Isra’el shall have the words of the Nefites and the Y’hudim. And it shall come to pass that my people which are of the house of Isra’el shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions, and my word also shall be gathered in one. 
—2 Nefi 12:10


Every now and then, someone asks why I haven’t been writing blog posts as often as I used to. Part of the answer is that I’ve been busy with other work, including The Stick of Joseph in the Hand of Ephraim.

I’m pleased to announce that a new website, www.stickofjoseph.org is now live. This is the beginning of an effort to bring the message of God’s marvelous work to the remnants of the House of Israel. There are currently some blog posts and other resources there, and more will be coming. Please feel free to share the website with those who may be interested.



Friday, February 21, 2020

Temple Fund Update

I was asked by the Temple Fund Committee to post the following statement:



STATEMENT ABOUT FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY 
FOR DONATED TEMPLE FUNDS

All funds donated to the Temple Fund Committee have been and are held in their entirety without any disbursal for any reason, by the committee.  Not one cent has been spent, or is expected to be spent, until construction commences.

Each person or party who has donated has received an acknowledgement from a member of the committee giving thanks for their contribution.  Every donation is carefully recorded in two separate records maintained by two members of the committee.

We plan to provide full transparency of all gifts (with donor names withheld for privacy) as well as an accounting for all expenditures when the temple is complete.

The fund at this point has earned over $11,000.00 in interest, which also has not been spent, and which will continue to accumulate as part of the temple funds, until construction begins.


The Temple Fund Committee

Karen Strong
Janette VanLeer
Elaine Henderson

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Website for Christian Outreach

A website designed to broadly share the message of the restoration with fellow Christians has recently been updated. As a resource for missionary work, LearnOfChrist.org includes all the information from the website that commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Christian Reformation, yet in a format that makes that information easier to find, share, and discuss with others. 

The site designers hope that LearnOfChrist.org will assist fellow Christians in recognizing and understanding the larger work of God amid the confusion, corruption, and error woven into the historical and modern tapestry of Christianity. There is also an accompanying Instagram page to help facilitate the sharing of this information.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Children's Conference in March

The organizers of the upcoming general conference in Hurricane, Utah, asked me to point out the portion of the conference designed for children. Here's the link where you can read all about it:

https://theheavensareopen.org/childrens-conference/

If you have children who are planning to attend the conference, it's very important that you register with the conference organizers so they will have an accurate count of children, and have adequate supplies and supervision. You can register at the bottom of the page I linked above.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Mammon

Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.
—Alma 39:14 (LDS)

This post is specifically written to those who are still members of the LDS church, in hopes you will consider some scriptural truths in light of recent revelations. And though there’s bad news at the beginning of this post, there’s good news at the end.

I realize it’s old news by now that a whistleblower has reported the LDS Church’s Ensign Peak Advisors has accumulated approximately $124 Billion in tax-exempt investment accounts meant for charity, without ever distributing a single dollar to actual charity. Much of the commentary I’ve seen has addressed various facets of this story, without quite getting to the heart of the matter. I’ve read commentary by church members defending this accumulation, even marking it as a sign of God’s favor. Some have praised the church’s forethought, preparedness, and frugality, calling this accumulation inspired, godly, even prophetic.

At the risk of rehashing last month’s news, I’d like to make a few observations about the LDS Church and some notions that really should be considered by anyone who believes the scriptures. 

First, let’s look at the church organization. There actually is no legally organized church called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. It doesn’t exist. That name is actually a trademark under which a number of different entities do business. Ultimately, the corporation that owns all the businesses is called The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter COP, short for Corporation of the President). This entity is a somewhat obscure sort of corporation, in that it does not have stock or stockholders. Rather, the entire corporation is vested in the person of the single owner, and that owner is whoever happens to be the most senior living apostle (and is, therefore, automatically, made President of the Church.) He literally, legally owns everything: the malls, the temples, the church buildings, numerous for-profit companies, the investment accounts, the land holdings, the historical documents, the office buildings, the universities, the commercial real estate projects, the money—all of it is his sole, legal property. 

Therefore, the moment you make a tithing donation, it becomes the legal property of this man to do with as he pleases, in secret, with no oversight whatsoever. All other donations are likewise his, and as noted on the donation slip, he is under no obligation whatsoever to do anything in particular with your donations, even if you mark them as donated for specific purposes like fast offerings or humanitarian aid.

Recent whistleblower documents indicate LDS church representatives have been dishonest about what they do with tithing, including directly spending tithing funds to build a lavish, luxury shopping mall while publicly denying this was the case. But no laws were broken; as I mentioned, the owner of the corporation can do whatever he wants with your money. It says so right on the donation slip. He can spend it on a luxury shopping mall if he wants to.

With that in mind, let’s talk about just how big this corporation is. To be short in writing, I’ll just lay out the facts directly. 

In terms of assets, the COP is likely within the top ten largest companies on earth. Probably even in the top 5. We’re talking about the upper stratosphere where companies are valued between $500 Billion and $1 Trillion. Keep in mind, though, that these other huge companies are all publicly traded. Apple and Microsoft may be worth a Trillion dollars each, but they are owned by, literally, millions of people who own billions of shares. Though the LDS church has millions of members, none of them have any claim whatsoever on the corporation or its assets; they own nothing. The COP is owned by one man, who owns everything.

This makes that man, currently Russell M. Nelson, easily the wealthiest man on earth, many times over. Let that sink in for a moment.

Even if we exclude all the other assets, the buildings, the businesses, the universities, the real estate, and so forth, and only focus on the Ensign Peak holdings of approximately $124 Billion dollars, he is STILL the wealthiest man on earth, handily beating the next-richest Jeff Bezos by about $14 billion. 

Likewise, the COP is likely the most cash-rich company in the world. According to the Financial Times, as of Aug. 2019, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, held $117 billion in liquid reserves, and Apple held $102 billion. The COP beats them both. 

Again, that’s just talking about the Ensign Peak holdings alone, and ignoring the majority of the corporation’s assets.

OK, just one other fact to point out. Given the average rate of return in the Ensign Peak accounts alone, this man makes about $24 million per day, or a cool $1 million per hour, in what amounts to interest. Let that sink in. The one you call prophet, seer and revelator makes about a million dollars per hour, 24/7/365. That’s around $17,000 per minute, or $275 per second in investment income alone. While you were busy reading this paragraph, Russell Nelson made ten thousand dollars in investment income—not including any donations that may have come in.

The COP has a serious problem. It—literally—cannot spend money as fast as it makes it. Even if the COP wanted to spend the assets as the Ensign Peak charter requires—on charitable causes to do good and bless lives—it’s nigh-on impossible to spend money that fast. But that’s OK because the COP doesn’t try to spend a dime of the Ensign Peak money on charitable causes. It simply continues to accumulate, and has done so for 22 years running, without giving a single penny to any charitable, educational, or humanitarian cause. In 22 years Ensign Peak has made only two distributions, and they were both made to bail out failing business ventures in for-profit businesses (which appears to be a legal no-no).

The COP’s press releases show it spends an average of $40 million per year on humanitarian aid and assistance. This works out to about a day and a half worth of interest income each year. That’s not even a rounding error in the corporation’s immense balance sheet. $40 million is, literally, chump change. Get out the yellow T-shirts and write up a press release.

The LDS church could do massive amounts of good with that kind of wealth. Rather than preaching to impoverished people living in squalor, about the need to give more money to the church, they could, instead, help with housing, safe water, adequate nutrition, and indoor plumbing for the poorest of their members. Doing so wouldn’t even make a dent in the interest, let alone the principle of the church’s vast, vast wealth reserve. With the assets at its disposal, the church could easily feed, clothe, house, educate, and provide medical care for ALL its impoverished members throughout the world. But it doesn’t. Instead, it sends well-paid ministers on first-class jets to ask the poorest to pay more tithing, even if it means going without necessities. 

I could keep going and laying out the picture ad nauseam. But frankly, I’m so tired and sickened by this story that I simply don’t have the stomach to give all the details. The bottom line is that the LDS church is unimaginably wealthy, and does almost nothing for the poor and needy, the sick and afflicted. 

So rather than continuing with ugly details, let’s get to what matters a whole lot more: God’s word, as recorded in scripture. Our Lord addressed this very situation, in detail, in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Sermon at Bountiful:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt. 6:24 KJV; see also 3 Nephi 13:24 LDS emphasis added) 
That word, mammon, sometimes causes misunderstanding. I’ve been told throughout my life that mammon simply means money or wealth. That’s sort-of true, but the more accurate definition comes from the Aramaic root of the word. It’s not just money; rather mammon refers to the accumulation of money or wealth.



And this makes good sense. We all have to earn and use money to live in this world. Our Lord himself also used money, and even paid taxes. So it’s not money that is the problem. It’s excessive accumulation that creates the problem. If your focus is on accumulation of inordinate amounts of wealth, you—by definition—cannot do the things the gospel requires. You know, things like—
“…to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”   (Jacob 2:19 LDS) 
The Lord directly stated you CANNOT serve God and mammon. Period. Therefore, by the Lord’s direct statement, the LDS church cannot serve God. It engages in the sort of accumulation that is the very definition of mammon, and is extraordinarily successful at it. If you argue against this reasoning, you might as well accept the fact your argument is not with me. It is with our Lord, who made the statement, and left no room for exception.

I’ll also add that when the LDS church leadership publicly claims they use these assets to serve God, they are claiming to do what is impossible. To put it more directly, they are lying. Oh, I understand they may think they’re serving God by accumulating a stupefying hoard of wealth, and they may have the best of intentions with what they plan to someday do with all that money—like build a trillion-dollar city in Florida—but they are only deceiving themselves. Nowhere in scripture is there any teaching that supports what they are doing—yet we can find many direct statements calling this what it is: Evil. 
O ye wicked, and perverse, and stiffnecked people, why have you built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?…Behold, the Lord hath shewn unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shewn you unto me, and I know your doing, and I know that ye do walk in 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? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies? Because of the praise of the world? Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick, and the afflicted to pass by you and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain? And cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground for vengeance upon your heads? Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you, and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer. (Mormon 4:5 NC emphasis mine)
Moroni saw the readers of the Book of Mormon, and their church. Look again at what he had to say about it. Do you think he was kidding? Or referring to someone else? This is important—in fact, it is vital. If you believe his words even slightly, the behavior of your church must give you pause. Likewise, if his words don’t cause you serious reflection and concern, then you really don’t believe them.

Here are some questions to consider before you write that next tithing check:
  1. Do you really believe the scriptures above? Do your church leaders? 
  2. Christ was born poor and humble. He died that way as well. He never accumulated any worldly wealth, but rather spent his life giving and blessing others. Should his church do the opposite? 
  3. Did he intend for his church to become one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, led by the richest man in the world, which refuses to do more than lip service to helping the poor, even among their own members? Is this a sign of God’s favor? Is this what true religion is supposed to accomplish?
  4. Can you find any example in scripture of a true prophet being fabulously wealthy, let alone the wealthiest man on earth? Go ahead…I’ll wait. No? What does this mean to you?
  5. Some have argued that the Catholic church is far wealthier than the LDS church. Two thoughts here. First, each diocese of the Catholic church holds its own assets as its own corporation, not owned by the Pope. The thousands of corporations that make up the “Catholic church” are not all owned by one man, nor owned by the Vatican. So…no. The LDS church and Russell M. Nelson are wealthier than the Pope. But second, and more important, do you really mean to justify the actions of the LDS church by citing the actions of the Catholic church? Is that justification?
  6. The LDS church claims its vast reserves are necessary against a coming day of scarcity. And so it has accumulated enough reserves to run the church for decades, or possibly permanently, without tithing revenue. What does this demonstrate about the leadership’s mentality? Are they working by faith or by fear? 
  7. D&C 107 states the Quorum of the Twelve is equal in authority and power with the First Presidency. With that in mind, consider the following excerpt from the whistleblower report:

    Boyd K. Packer—when he was next in line to succeed then-President of the COP, Thomas S. Monson—came to Mr. Clarke wanting to know how much Ensign Peak had amassed and the details of its structure. Mr. Clarke told Mr. Packer that he could not share such details. Mr. Packer said, “I think I should know. I’m the most senior Apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and I’m a breath away from being the next Prophet. I think I should be prepared.” Mr. Clarke reaffirmed that he had been instructed not to reveal that information to Mr. Packer, who went away perturbed and unsatisfied, as related to the whistleblower by Richard B. Willes, the Head of Fixed Income at EPA at the time.

    With that in mind, are the Twelve really “equal in authority and power” with the first presidency, as required by D&C 107:24? If not, who is really
    running the church? Why is the head of Ensign Peak higher in authority than the President of the Quorum of the Twelve? Who is really next in line to the President? Is the church run by the prophets, or the money managers?
  1. And given the above, do the General Authorities really know anything about the church they represent? I honestly feel sorry for them, as I believe they were taken by surprise by these revelations, just like everyone else. I pity the poor GA 70 at some stake conference who gets asked to answer questions about the vast wealth he didn’t know the church has, and has to make up some phony non-answer on the spot. 
  2. Does all the secrecy surrounding the church’s wealth have any connection to “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? (2 Nephi 11:21) What does it mean to seek deep to hide counsel from the Lord? Why doesn’t the LDS church make their financial information known to the members who provide the donated funds? Nearly all other churches do…
  3. When chronically underpaid church employees are told year after year that there is no money for raises, even to keep up with inflation, and they are lucky to work for the Lord’s church, is that really accurate? Should they suffer below-market wages while working for one of the wealthiest corporations on earth? Does this have anything to do with Malachi’s condemnation of “those that oppress the hireling in his wages?” (Malachi 3:5)
  4. If church leaders have lied about the collection and use of tithes and offerings, what do they love more? Truth, or money? Whom do they serve? God or mammon?

What Can You Do?

In the face of the above scriptural passages and associated questions, how do you defend the church’s unbelievable hoarding of wealth and shearing of sheep? If you’re troubled by the things written here, if you find your church’s behavior unscriptural, if you value God’s word over man’s actions, I’d like to suggest there is a better alternative.

The Lord’s Marvelous work, all but dormant since Joseph Smith’s death, has begun again. A new dispensation is upon us, and those who will hear the Lord’s voice are receiving revelation, gathering in fellowships of equals, caring for the poor among them, attempting to live by God’s word, and preparing for Zion. If you believe in the divine mission of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the other revelations, but don’t believe in gargantuan corporations that hoard wealth while grinding the face of the poor, please rest assured there IS a way to live true to God without supporting the LDS corporate church. 

In this blog, you can find out more information about the Lord’s work now underway. Here are a few posts to consider:





If you want to experience the restored gospel without the corporate church—among other believers who actually do attempt to study and live the gospel covenant and care for the poor among them, please check out Fellowship Locator to find other believers near you.

And now, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings? Yea, can ye lay aside these things and trample the Holy One under your feet? Yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts? Yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world? Upon your riches?
—Alma 5:53 (LDS)

Update Feb. 21, 2020: After I wrote this post, the Wall Street Journal published a large story on this topic, including interviews with the Presiding Bishop of the church, and with Roger Clarke, head of Ensign Peak. None of them denied the whistleblowers' allegations, and they confirmed efforts to keep this fund hidden from the members of the church, including efforts to hide the money in more than a dozen shell companies. They cited fear that members would be less inclined to donate if they knew the extent of the church's wealth. They also verified that the fund was tapped for building City Creek Mall and bailing out Beneficial Life. It appears the facts are undisputed and, in fact, verified by the church. 

The only open question is whether any of this matters from a religious perspective. If this were solely a business, nobody would have anything to say about it, nor would there be anything to hide. But because this business claims to be a church, questions of doctrine, faith, and even tax law all come into play. 

The most important consideration, however, remains the question of whether this fund and the church's actions can be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus Christ.