Monday, January 11, 2021

Lifeboat

And God saw that the wickedness of man had become great in the earth. And every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually…the earth was corrupt before God and it was filled with violence. And God looked upon it, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh has come before me; for the earth is filled with violence, and behold, I will destroy all flesh from off the earth. Make yourself therefore an ark of gopher wood. 

—Genesis 5:12 (OC)



Recent events should make it clear to us all that the prophesied destruction has come to America. Political divisions now run so deep that all middle ground has disappeared. Both sides seem bent on the ruination of the other, and some on both sides have shown themselves willing to practice violence, destruction, arson, theft, and murder. Each excuses the actions of their own side as necessary and proper, while condemning the actions of the other side as criminal and treasonous. 


Many call for the extermination of their enemies economically, professionally, socially, and personally. Some openly advocate killing. Neither side is willing to even consider or hear the arguments of the other, and those with power to silence the voices of which they don’t approve are exercising that power with shortsighted abandon, marginalizing major portions of the population and potentially driving them to other, more dangerous forms of expression. I fear the day of grace has passed for this nation once so blessed by God.


Fortunately, this post is not about politics, and is not about losing hope for the future. Rather, it’s about the practicalities of our situation and the lessons in scripture that will yet guide believers forward to the glorious fulfillment of the Lord’s promises, even in the face of the coming certain destruction. 


Oh, and it’s about lifeboats.


Noah’s Family


In the early generations of this creation, Noah faced a world ripening in wickedness, about to be swept clean of all evil. Well before the rain began to fall, the Lord instructed Noah to build an ark to save his family. This ark was in a very real sense a lifeboat, taking Noah and his family to a place of safety, and renewing God’s covenant with those who obeyed—a covenant that particularly extends to us today:

And I will remember my covenant which I have made between me and you, for every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud. And I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant which I made unto your father Enoch: that when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself. And this is my everlasting covenant that I establish with you: that when your posterity shall embrace the truth and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness and the earth shall tremble with joy. And the general assembly of the church of the Firstborn shall come down out of Heaven and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is my everlasting covenant which I made with your father Enoch. (Genesis 5:22 OC)

Though nearly everyone opposed him, Noah built his lifeboat and secured a renewal of the covenant God made with Enoch, that the last days Zion would come and Enoch’s people would again have place on the earth.


Nephi’s Group


After Lehi and his family fled Jerusalem, they suffered afflictions for eight years in the wilderness before they found respite on the seashore in the place they called Bountiful. And though they had previously secured the right to a promised land, they had not yet obtained that land, nor would they until they did what was required to obtain it. The fulfillment of the terms of the covenant necessarily required the construction of a boat. 


A major portion of the family opposed its construction and refused to contribute their labor to the project. Even Nephi’s well-reasoned scriptural arguments could not convince them to support the cause of fulfilling the Lord’s will. Only a raw demonstration of the Lord’s power, combined with fear of destruction proved sufficient motivation to finally secure their assistance.


The People of Jared


The Jaredite group spent four years on the seashore, evidently failing to give adequate attention to the Lord or his purposes. At the end of that time, and after the Lord’s chastisement, they were instructed to build the boats that would carry them to a land characterized as follows:

…he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people. And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and for ever should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them. (Ether 1:6)

The Children of Israel


After their epic departure from Egypt, the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea. But after rejecting the offered fulness, they spent 40 years sojourning in the desert before they were allowed to again cross waters and enter the promised land. During their desert time, in preparation for receiving what was offered by covenant, they, too, were required to build an ark of a different sort, and a tabernacle to house it. The scripture records the following:

And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering. Of every man that gives it willingly with his heart, you shall take my offering. And this is the offering which you shall take of them: gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil and for sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 14:1 OC)

Pattern


I see many similarities between the four situations highlighted here. 

  • Each required labor and sacrifice to build the lifeboats, in their various forms, that would bear covenant people safely through trials to receive promised lands. 
  • Each faced opposition, often from within the covenant group. 
  • Fire is an interesting prohibition. The Nephite group was not allowed to make much fire in the wilderness, and the Jaredites could not have fire in their vessels. In each case, rather than kindling their own light, the people received what they needed from the Lord. 
  • Each had the presence of the Lord with them, as manifested in a physical way. Whether by Liahona, stones touched by God, Zohar, or pillar of fire, each lifeboat included physical manifestations of God’s presence with his people. 
  • Each group escaped something fearsome, terrible, and destructive by obeying the Lord and fleeing with their particular form of lifeboat. 
  • Each secured a land of promise by doing what was required.

This brings us to our present situation.


As I noted at the opening of this post, it should be obvious to us all that the America we once knew, with tolerance, peace, decency, laws, order, prosperity, and brotherly love is gone, and not coming back. And that’s putting things more than mildly. Our entire society is crashing down around us more and more each day. What lies ahead for our nation is fearsome and terrible. And yet we have cause to rejoice because the Lord has promised:

And I, the Lord your God, will be with you and will never forsake you, and I will lead you in the path which will bring peace to you in the troubling season now fast approaching. I will raise you up and protect you, abide with you, and gather you in due time, and this shall be a land of promise to you as your inheritance from me. (T&C 158:12-13)

As with the other covenant groups here discussed, the key to our escape and inheritance is a lifeboat. Ours takes the form of a temple, where the Lord will come to dwell among his people. 


This is no surprise, of course. We’ve known of the needed temple for over seven years, ever since the Lord’s servant first spoke these words:

Yet to fulfill His covenant He must yet come to and take up His abode in a dwelling here. There has to be preparation made. These things require some effort to be made here, in order to prepare for His return. If there is no one here who is willing to engage in what's necessary to bring this to pass (because everyone looks around and expects someone else to do it), then you're neglecting the duty that's devolving upon you. Those who have been assigned to come down in this day, in order to honor the fathers, and honor the Lord, by allowing the covenants that have made to be fulfilled, have some responsibility to finish and fulfill the promised work. 

(“Covenants” Lecture 4 of the 40 Years in Mormonism series, Oct. 6, 2013, p. 14)

And again, when the Lord offered His covenant, it included the following requirement:

Whenever I have people who are mine, I command them to build a house, a holy habitation, a sacred place where my presence can dwell or where the Holy Spirit of Promise can minister, because it is in such a place that it has been ordained to recover you, establish by my word and my oath your marriages, and endow my people with knowledge from on high that will unfold to you the mysteries of godliness, instruct you in my ways, that you may walk in my path. And all the outcasts of Israel will I gather to my house, and the jealousy of Ephraim and Judah will end; Ephraim will not envy Judah and Judah will not provoke Ephraim. (T&C 157:41)

The sheer volume of scriptural admonitions, prophecies, and inspired pronouncements regarding the time we are now in would fill a great many pages. It’s clear the time long prophesied is now upon us, and the Lord’s promises must soon be fulfilled. If we expect to receive what is offered, a temple will be required, and soon. 


I believe we’re now in the second half of a seven-year covenant timetable that will culminate in the Lord accepting and coming to his completed temple, or in the opportunity being lost as destruction overtakes the wicked, including those who were offered a covenant but failed to perform what was required. The choice is up to us.


Temple Fund


This brings me to the point of this post. I’ll again use the lifeboat analogy. 



We’re on a great, sinking ship. It will not be recovered, and the ship and all who are on it will soon be swept by the waves, and drowned in the depths of the sea. Our only hope to escape this destruction is a lifeboat, which does not yet exist. If we are wise, we will devote all the resources we can to constructing that lifeboat as soon as possible. We need the lifeboat desperately; our very lives depend on it. There is nothing more important at this moment, though the ship yet floats and her pleasantries distract us. The ship is clearly listing, taking on water, and has lost her rudder. What more will it take to convince us of the severity of the situation? 


The Lord specifically commanded us to awake to our awful situation when we see the very things we’re now seeing. The end always comes quickly, and right up until Noah shut the door, people were still living in denial, partying it up and enjoying their wickedness. 


If we’re wise, if we have eyes to see, if we believe the prophecies, then it’s clear the need for a temple is becoming alarmingly urgent. And yet, it’s equally clear we don’t yet have sufficient funds to construct what will be required. Therefore, I’m writing this as a plea for us to come together as a people, make the necessary sacrifices, and provide the funds. 


I write this knowing that many have sacrificed much and contributed from their abundance or their widow’s mite. I’ve witnessed sacrifices and devotion to this cause that have brought me to tears on more than one occasion. I write this in hopes of persuading any and all who have accepted the Lord’s offered covenant to consider doing more. I offer the following thoughts with nothing but love for all who care about building the lifeboat, whether we all see eye to eye or not. I realize some will disagree with me on some of these points, and that’s OK. Nothing I say here is meant in any spirit of condemnation or accusation, and if I can’t persuade you now, I hope you’ll be persuaded later. Ultimately, we all want a seat in the lifeboat, which obligates us all to bring it into reality.


Commanded


I realize many are awaiting a direct commandment before they will donate funds. Some remain unsure if this is the time to act because they can’t point to language that convinces them a direct, open, public commandment has been given to begin construction of the house.


Here are my thoughts:


First, I believe we are already under command, for reasons I’ve written in the post linked here. If you believe there is not a commandment, I hope youll follow the link and read the post. 


Second, how do you know the Lord has NOT issued the command? What makes you so certain it will be publicly announced? In fact, would a public announcement even be wise? Or might it stir up opposition that would seek to hinder the work? How do you know the effort is not quietly taking place behind the scenes and beyond the notice of those who would oppose it (and who are otherwise occupied with political strife)? Is it wise to make your donations contingent upon a public announcement? 


Third, if there really, truly is no commandment yet, might it be because we are not yet prepared? Naturally, we assume being “prepared” is a matter of the heart—and it is—but it is also a matter of economics. Are we, as a people, truly “prepared” to receive and obey the Lord’s commandment to build his house if, knowing full well the command is coming, we’ve failed to prepare and have only gathered a fraction of the funds needed? Is our hesitation to donate actually delaying the commandment? Perhaps until it is too late?


And finally, there’s this:

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 receives no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness, for the power is in them wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good, they shall in no way lose their reward, but he that does not anything until he is commanded, and receives a commandment with a doubtful heart, and keeps it with slothfulness, the same is damned. (T&C 45:6)

If we wait until a hoped-for public command compels us to finally act, how might our Lord view us? Clearly, he prefers us to use our own free will to bring to pass righteousness because we see the need to act and discern what must be done, rather than him having to command us. (This is, of course, a deeply personal matter, and one we should each take up individually with the Lord. What does he want you to do?)


Babylon


I’ve heard arguments made by those who believe it’s important to be out of all debt before donating to the Lord’s work. Some of these arguments hinge on the idea of being free from any and all claim of Babylon before fleeing her. 


I don’t know others’ situations, and I would never presume to tell them how to handle their finances. I can only speak of my own situation. 


I have a mortgage. I have some other minor personal debts. I own a business that has business debts. It will take me many years of intense effort to satisfy all these debts, and I don’t believe we have many years left. Therefore, Babylon will continue to have some claim on my money, perhaps until Babylon is destroyed. If I withhold my support of the temple until I’ve paid all other debts in full, and if all others do likewise, our failure is a certainty. This path, if universally followed, will most definitely delay the temple until it’s too late. 


But wait: there are terms to Babylon’s claims. Each of my debts, whether mortgage, business, or personal has prescribed payment terms. My creditors can only exact so much each month before their claims are satisfied. This means that once I’ve paid the required monthly payments, Babylon has no further claim until the next month. This also means that if I have enough funds for those payments, and my family’s needs for housing, food, transportation, education, medical care and necessities that month are satisfied, and I yet have money left as a surplus, Babylon has absolutely no claim on those surplus funds that month. I am absolutely free to give Babylon no further thought until next month’s payments are due. There is no requirement to accelerate the payments or pay extra. 


Babylon’s claims are further tempered by other factors. For example, my mortgage is secured by my house, and I am at liberty to sell it to satisfy the debt, or simply surrender it to my mortgage lender and let them sell it. So long as it sells for more than what is owed, this would end the claims of my mortgage lender. My point here is that there’s no way I’ll pay my house off nor pay off all my other debts nearly soon enough meet the Lord’s timetable, but I don’t have to. I’m at liberty to remain in debt for the time being and use my monthly surplus to further the Lord’s work, knowing I can always satisfy the debt if I need to go to that extreme. 



To be clear, I
’m NOT suggesting anyone should give up their housing and become homeless. Rather, I’m simply pointing out the obvious limits to Babylon’s claims, and my freedom to choose how I spend my surplus. 


Ultimately, I can choose to do as I will with my surplus, and I believe my choices demonstrate what I value most right now. In this way, as well as many others, we all put our hearts and desires on display while heaven watches and takes note.


Common Sense


Finally, I’d like to make an argument in favor of common sense. Whether the Lord commands publicly or privately, when the commandment is given the clock will start. We will then have a very short time to complete the work. So why would we not be wise and do everything we could before hand to be prepared? Believe me, we need all the head start we can get. Do we not recall this was exactly the situation in Nauvoo, when the Lord commanded a house to be built and the people failed to finish in time? 


Of course there were those in Nauvoo who preferred to build their own houses, businesses and interests rather than giving what was required to complete the temple. But aren’t we in the same situation when we do those very same things? Should the temple be at the bottom or at the top of our priorities? Given the alarming events unfolding around us and the nature of the coming destruction, is it time to reconsider our priorities? 


The people in Nauvoo didn’t know how long they had, and they therefore didn’t give what was required. We, like them, don’t know how long we have. Let that sink in for a minute. Were in EXACTLY the same situation they were in, only we’ve been given the opportunity for a head start. Will we learn from their failure or won’t we? Therefore what is the most logical action if we don’t wish to repeat their failure? What makes you think we have any guarantee whatsoever that the Lord will shift the timetable of world events to accommodate our slothfulness? He certainly didn’t for them. 


Let’s suppose the time allotted is less than three and a half years (the Nauvoo saints got 1255 days.) And let’s suppose we start collecting funds at the beginning of that period. The fact—the hard fact—is that we will not be able to collect funds fast enough to stay ahead of the need. Therefore the work will necessarily be delayed while awaiting the funds to continue. And given the sheer scope of the work required, there simply will not be time for delays. The project, from engineering to architecture, to infrastructure in a remote location, to site preparation, construction, finishes, furnishings, landscaping, and a thousand other things will easily require all the time allotted and more. Do we really want money to cause us delays when our very lives are on the line? 

For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall burn as stubble; for they that cometh shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch… Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord…And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers; if it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (JSH Part 3, vs.4)

Not only are our lives on the line, but the whole of this creation hangs in the balance. Our sacrifice is not only for our benefit, but for all those who came before as well. The temple is the hinge point of this creation and I don’t think we even understand the utter importance of getting it built. It is our personal lifeboat as well as others. The covenant fathers and mothers of times past are relying on us to complete the vital work that yet remains undone. 


We know it must be done. We know it must happen soon. We may barely escape if we act with alacrity. What is the wisest course of action? Are we best off making clever arguments AGAINST donating to the Lords work? Or is it better to spend that energy finding ways to raise the funds with dispatch? 


Sacrifice


The sacrifice required to build the Lord’s house, including the funds required, should be considered in light of the Lectures on Faith. Saving faith requires sacrifice:

Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. For from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life, and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. (Lecture 6:7)

How light a thing, really, is it to give from our surplus? Considering the sacrifices listed above, and the rewards obtained, I can say without hesitation that such a cause as the temple merits laying down one’s life if necessary. And yet, such a sacrifice is not asked. Though a greater time of sacrifice is coming, we are yet in a situation where merely giving of our surplus is enough to make a great difference, and perhaps make ALL the difference. 


What is a covenant with God worth? What is a lifeboat worth on a sinking ship? Can we put a price on the cavity of a rock to shelter us when a flood of fire rolls across the face of the earth? 


   Then out spake brave Horatius,

          The Captain of the Gate:

     “To every man upon this earth

          Death cometh soon or late.

     And how can man die better

          Than facing fearful odds,

     For the ashes of his fathers,

          And the temples of his gods?”


—from “Horatius” (Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay)


Be Wise


Now, having made all the above pleas, I want to add just one more. Please, please don’t donate at the expense of your family’s well being. Each of us has a sacred responsibility to provide for those of our own household and family, including all the necessities of life, health, education, safety, and comfort. We likewise have an obligation to care for the poor among us. These should not be neglected in the service of building the Lord’s house. Please consult with the Lord and make such decisions at the time and in the way he directs, in accordance with scripture. 


There is a GoFundMe page for donations, which diverts 2.9% of the donated amount to the GoFundMe platform. Those who wish to see that 100% of their donation goes directly to the temple fund can make arrangements with the three women who administer the fund to donate directly. 


In closing I simply want to offer a personal note. This subject has weighed heavily upon me ever since I witnessed last month’s conjunction on the Solstice. The Lord’s spirit has urged me and wearied me that time is short and our actions right now have eternal repercussions. The temple hangs in the very balance because the time is at hand but the funds are not. Please ask the Lord if this is not so. 


To those who have donated and who continue to donate in support of the Lord’s work, I offer my humble gratitude. To those who might be able to do more, please consider this an invitation. And to those who have yet to donate, please consider helping to build the lifeboat in which we all hope to have a seat.



Wherefore, settle this in your hearts: that you will do the things which I shall teach and command you. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first and counts the cost, whether he has money to finish his work? Lest unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish?

—Luke 9:8 (NC)


24 comments:

  1. Right on. SO True! I am amazed how everyone has a different answer, and unique course within the umbrella of truly preparing. truly giving. What is wise, what is right. THanks for the motivation to do more!

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  2. Thankyou Adrian. Well stated.

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  3. Unless they have changed it recently, on GoFundMe you can choose to have 100% of your donation go to the cause if you like. You just have to choose this option when you donate. It is not the default, but it is an available option.

    Joshua Erickson

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  4. Is there a way we could build a simple temple? I really don't want to build something fancy and excessive like the lds church has done. I'm not sure if we need to be commanded in stuff like that or not.

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    1. Hi Missy,

      From what I understand, the temple will not be a giant, excessive showpiece of extravagance like the LDS temples. It will be much smaller, more simple, and only provide what is needed.

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  5. I understand disclosing a location could be very problematic if done at the wrong time. Same for disclosing how much funds are still needed. I get that. But without some basic parameters to get our bearings, a donation might feel like giving to an invisible void with no size, dimensions, or frame of reference to anything people can relate to. Even though they are willing.

    Even if the amount is huge, at least that gives the mind something to work with. Even if the location is vague like a group of states or territories that might help also, as we know cost could be dramatically different based on location. But I realize we may not have even vague levels of detail at present. So it's tough.

    I guess I'm just thinking out loud about what information would be helpful towards getting people's minds to a place where they can think through how to best go about completing and meaningfully supporting this lifeboat. Because I think a lot of us really do want to.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for the comment. I completely get what you’re saying, and I realize this takes quite a leap of faith.

      I don’t have a lot of specifics either, but here’s what is known publicly.

      The location will be in the Rocky Mountains, likely in a remote location at high elevation. Isaiah prophesied the Lord’s house would be established in the “tops of the mountains,” and be “exalted above the hills.” That narrows it down to a few states in the Western USA or Canada.

      The cost will total in the millions of dollars, once land, infrastructure, utilities, engineering, site work, architectural work, construction, required furnishings, site improvements, parking and landscaping are all taken into account. Though the building will not be huge and extravagant, even a modest effort will not be inexpensive.

      Though a few acres might accommodate the temple and its needs, the size of the land parcel dictates the eventual size of the city of New Jerusalem, so it’s preferable to acquire a parcel large enough to eventually support that endeavor. Some have suggested a smaller parcel now and adding to it later, but that may not be possible in a remote mountain location.

      That’s about all the information that’s been made public, and it’s not much, but I hope it at least gives some context to the need. Even so, it will still require faith on everyone’s part.

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    2. We don't know the end from the beginning, or how much is enough to meet the needs the Lord has in mind for this endeavor, but I guess it just comes down to how much we are willing to sacrifice in faith believing, not knowing or having a perfect knowledge at present, yet hoping for the temple that will be built.

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    3. Thanks Adrian.

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  6. I wonder if the stimulus money being handed out may be a fulfillment of the prophecy of “the gentiles” assisting in the effort? It sounds like a good use of that money, for those who don’t need it.

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  7. Wonderful post Adrian. Very inspired. I feel God's calling me to repent through your words.

    I've been teaching my kids lately that we are all in the shoes of Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, Sam, and their sisters. We are living the very first pages of the Book of Mormon right now. It's so easy for all who've read the BoM to imagine how the children of Lehi felt when faced with the choice to leave the comfort of their own homes. The conveniences and luxuries of Babylon have spoiled us, and made us all an easy target to be enticed to stay in the world, even when the LoF (Lecture 6th) clearly prophesy plainly that God is to gather "his saints who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice." Many will not want to sacrifice what they enjoy in Babylon.

    The BoM is a great urim and thummim, and for anybody who's read it, they must unavoidably conclude as we live through current times that it's an obvious blueprint (for us specifically in 2021!) for what we must do to be saved. God shows His mercy to us by laying out, starting in 1 Nephi, with such plainness that you'd have to be blind to not comprehend it, the very things we must do to avoid even a temporal destruction. He's almost OVER merciful to the point of spelling it out in such detail it's like He's communicating in needless exaggeration to a little child, slowly writing big words and colorful pictures on the picture board in front of the child, "Do you get it what I'm saying?"

    From the opening paragraphs of the BoM, what will be the trigger point?

    1) A messenger will be sent. CHECK! (Most LDS stop at J.S. and go to sleep when another is sent from the presence of God.)
    2) The warning of imminent destruction will be given. CHECK!

    What to do?

    3) The exact actions we must take to avoid the destruction are given and acted out in great detail by Lehi and his family.

    And then in case we miss the point, the BoM gives several more examples of exoduses throughout its pages, each demonstrating the same blueprint.

    God is merciful. LDS have such a monumental advantage over non Mormons because of the BoM. Like, it's spelled out so we cannot err.

    And yet, most LDS and perhaps many Remnant-minded people will likely still miss the lifeboat because they'll literally respond like Laman and Lemuel did. The allure of Babylon the Great is powerful, even as Babylon falls before our very eyes.

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  8. Adrian,

    I appreciate your heart, devotion, and willingness to sacrifice for the temple that will be in Zion. I agree with much of what you've said.

    When I read your section on Babylon, there were some questions that came into my mind. When times get tough and our circumstances change, will we be able to pay our monthly bills as we have in the past? Will Babylon then have hold on us? Even if we have contributed much to the temple, will the Lord bring us to Zion if we still have debts?

    I reread Denver's post "Providing for our Families", April 15, 2020. This is what the last two paragraphs of that post says,

    "Christ cautioned about bringing an offering to the temple altar without paying your debts: “Therefore, if you shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, or if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way unto your brother, and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” NC Matt. 3:19 The gift is not acceptable while there remains a debt to be paid to another. Gifts can wait. Debts come first."

    "I would recommend spouses discuss and agree on how to obey these commandments. I’ve spoken with several people about donating to the temple and have reminded them that family obligations come first. If someone fails to provide for their family, while giving to the temple, that is not just unwise, it is disobedience."

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    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for bringing up these important points. I’d like to address some of them, with the stipulation that these comments are in no way addressed to you personally, but rather to the questions you’ve posed, which I believe represent questions in the minds of many. So if I may, I’ll answer them as if speaking to everyone.

      I’ll speak within the following framework. As pertaining to the things of this world, or the money that represents and can be exchanged for the things of this world, there is a certain hierarchy I like to keep in mind.

      1. It ALL belongs to God. It came from him, and is his to claim. Therefore, he has the first claim on anything we *think* we own. Period.

      2. God has subordinated his claim specifically to allow us to address the physical needs of ourselves and our families. He has made this our highest economic obligation. Therefore, we are all obligated, as you pointed out, to provide for ourselves and our families first. This claim takes priority because God says it does. It is merciful.

      3. These needs of ourselves and our families are ongoing and will never be “paid off.” The Lord prayed for “our daily bread” recognizing there is no way to ever permanently satisfy these needs. We are not likely to ever stockpile a lifetime supply of food, clothing, housing, medical care, education, transportation, or all the needs of our families. The money comes in and it goes out. Every month.

      4. If we have a surplus after meeting our monthly needs, we are obligated to use one tenth of that surplus to care for the poor. Tithing is for the poor, period. If we don’t have any poor among us, and the needs of all are met for the time being, the tithe can and should go to the temple. I don’t know of any statement anywhere that justifies diverting tithing to pay debts or satisfy earthly creditors.

      5. The rest of our surplus (the other 90%) is ours to do with as we see fit. How we spend the surplus says a lot about what is in our hearts.

      Now, with those guiding principles in place, I’d like to address the specific questions about debt in Part 2.

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    2. Part 2:

      Q: When times get tough and our circumstances change, will we be able to pay our monthly bills as we have in the past?

      A: If times get tough and circumstances change, we will obviously be much more focused on meeting our family’s daily needs. Everything else goes out the window until those needs are met. Depending on how tough times get, this may be all we can hope to do. Paying debt payments may not be possible in such a situation.

      Q: Will Babylon then have hold on us?

      A: Absolutely not. Babylon’s claims, by law and by Babylon’s own terms, come last in line. If you cannot pay your debts because you don’t have any money or income beyond your family’s basic needs, you are—by definition—bankrupt. You are not then obligated to pay your debts at all, and they may, in fact, be legally dismissed. Every one of your creditors agreed to these terms when money was lent, and there is no further claim that can be made if you have no ability to pay and are bankrupt. There is nothing immoral, illegal, or wrong about such a situation, because all your creditors agreed to accept the loss if this happens. All of them. Babylon can make no further claim and is, by her own terms, satisfied. This is the social and legal framework of Babylon.

      Of course, secured creditors can, and will, claim the assets that secure them. But that is the only claim that can be made. Unsecured debts are simply dismissed.

      The other consideration is all of the above presupposes the economy is intact, the corporations (not people) to whom money is owed still exist to collect the debt, the money supply is such that money holds any value, and so forth. There are many, many scenarios and ways in which any of the above breaking down or losing integrity necessarily makes debts irrelevant or non-existent. In fact, I would say it is very likely that, at some point, debts disappear.

      Q: Even if we have contributed much to the temple, will the Lord bring us to Zion if we still have debts?

      A: Absolutely. Based on all of the above, I see no way that owing unsecured money to some corporation precludes anyone from participating in the Lord’s work or gathering. If nobody can come to Zion if they have debts, then the Lord would most certainly be a respecter of persons, prioritizing the rich above the poor. Such flies in the face of, well, everything about him.

      I believe the parable about being reconciled to your brother before bringing your offering to the altar has much more to do with interpersonal relationships and harmony between brethren before seeking harmony with God. I don’t think it has anything whatsoever to do with paying off your Visa card before you’re allowed to seek forgiveness of your sins. (Remember, this was the purpose of the offering in Christ’s day). Denver applied it to our highest obligation, which is the debt we owe to the care of our families. I don’t see anything that applies it to consumer debt, business debt, etc.

      In our mortal condition, we live by the sweat of our brow. We must labor daily for our needs, and this will not change. Our bellies and our families will always have an unalterable claim upon us, but our creditors will not. Now, let me make clear, I am NOT arguing against paying our debts or making our monthly required payments to our creditors. This was all presented as a “But what if?” scenario, so I’m playing the “But what if” game regarding debts, to illustrate how little control they truly have in this situation.

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    3. Part 3:

      Now I’d like to pose a question as well—not to Jennifer, but to everyone.

      Suppose we prioritize debt elimination above donating to the temple, based on the supposition that we cannot give an offering to God if we owe something to the bank, and God is willing to get in line behind Mastercard. Suppose we all work very hard, band together and pay off all our debts. Maybe with lots of effort, we could all do that in just a few years. Then we could all apply our surplus to the temple, right?

      This presupposes the following conditions:

      1. We have all the time we need to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s before ever rendering to God what is God’s, and we can safely delay the temple long enough to take care of all other claims.

      2. God is willing to subordinate his claims to be last in line, when the world hangs in the balance.

      But what if we don’t have that kind of time? What if it all hangs in the balance RIGHT NOW? Try this thought experiment: What if we must have enough funds in the next six months or the project will fail? How foolish would we be to prioritize debts over the lifeboat in that situation? And what makes us think we really do have all the time we might want or need to finally get around to supporting the temple fund? Are we willing to run that risk? Because what we choose right now may ultimately seal our destiny.

      It’s 1841 and we’re in Nauvoo. What is most important now?

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  9. Thanks Adrian! I couldn’t agree more! You have made great points! I have always appreciated your writing ability.

    I’m going to add a few of my thoughts. I’m not as good at putting things into words. I don’t mean to offend. I’m not addressing anyone in particular. I am using my experiences to illustrate my points. My experiences have taught me a lot!

    There is a difference between needs and wants. I live in an apartment. I have no mortgage. I did what the Lord instructed me to do in 2017, sell my house and pay my debts. I don’t think we need to be debt free to be able to go to Zion, but the point is to follow what the Lord is instructing us to do. It may not be what we would do in the same circumstance. My choice would not have been to sell my house. If we are not hearing from the Lord, it’s time to fix the disconnect. There is no substitute for having enough oil.

    We will not survive what is coming in our current subdivision or even in our bunker, if we have one. Our current homes will not be fit places to live. Building a Holy City is our only chance of survival. Saving our rears shouldn’t be our primary motivation, but it is motivation.

    If we truly love God, we should want to sacrifice everything we have for Him. He does not have a home here where He can come and dwell. (I’m not talking about our bodies as a Temple right now.) It should be our honor and privilege to give Him something He has not had in a long, long time. David lamented because he had a great palace, but God only had a small tent. David wanted God to have a suitable abode. But God wouldn’t let David build His house, so David didn’t have the privilege, but he did have the heart. We may have the privilege, but do We have the heart?

    That Holy City will be the only place where there won’t be war one with another. It will be the only refuge from the storm. The storm is here. And Underdog2 is right on.

    I am excited for the time we are living in. I would give everything I own (which at this point is not much) for a Temple that I could go and sit in the presence of Holy Beings and learn from Them. The thought is almost too much for my mortal frame to comprehend.

    I understand everyone’s situation is different, and I am not advocating family hardship, but God needs a home and we have to give Him one, while we can. We may not as yet have the plans, I don’t know, but maybe we need to show Him our faith by having the finances available for when we do have the plans. Maybe it works like the Liahona. Let’s show God we have the heart. Love to you all!
    Lisa Roseman

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  10. Adrian,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I have a few more questions:

    What is the definition of debt?

    What does this mean? “The gift is not acceptable while there remains a debt to be paid to another. Gifts can wait. Debts come first.”

    If I borrow money from you or your corporation to pay for food for my family, am I obligated to pay you back? Why or why not?

    If I run out of money, and I'm bankrupt, and I don't have the means to pay you back, under God’s law, am I still required to pay you back? Why or why not?

    In Zion, are we going to live a higher law or the same law required in the telestial world?

    At any specific point in time, can I have all of my debts paid off? My house is paid off (or I’m renting), my car is paid off, all of my credit cards are paid down to a zero balance, my phone bill and utilities have been paid, etc.? Would I then have true surplus? Would I then be free to give, not just 10%, but all of my surplus to the building of the temple?

    Are we given a step by step guide in 4th Nephi of what is required to create a peaceful society?

    #1 the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about.
    #2 And as many as did come unto them and did truly repent of their sins were baptized in the name of Jesus, and they did also receive the holy ghost.
    #3 the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites;
    #4 and there were no contentions and disputations among them,
    #5 and every man did deal justly one with another.
    #6 And they had all things common among them;
    #7 therefore, there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free and partakers of the Heavenly gift.

    Where would you say we are on this continuum? What does it mean to deal justly one with another? Will the Lord require us to deal justly with our creditors in Babylon before we are gathered to Zion?

    Can even the poorest of the poor live within their means and live without incurring debt? If we were to take an honest look at unpaid debts (such as credit card debt, car debt, and home debt), would we find that things were purchased that weren’t essential for basic survival?

    Is God requiring us to be free of debt? What do the scriptures say? Is this possible for us to do? Will the Lord provide a way for us to pay our debts if we sacrifice and do all within our power to obey this commandment? If we do what He requires, will He provide what we lack?

    Is there any criteria for being gathered to Zion? If so, would that criteria make God a respecter of persons?

    Are we in a hurry to build the temple? Is God in a hurry? What happens when we hasten the work? Would it be wise to do first things first? Would it be wise to pay our debts, so we have an acceptable gift to offer?

    There are people in this movement who have all their debts paid. When they sell their home, they will be able to bring that surplus with them. It will be greatly needed. There are those who see it is wise to pay all their debts, and they are working with all their might to pay their debts, including paying off their home or renting a home. There are those who don’t see it is necessary to pay all of their debts down to a zero balance. The gathering will happen in an orderly way.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for the follow up! I think we could go back and forth, tit-for-tat and both make good points, but fail to persuade one another. So rather than delving further into the nuances of our perceptions of debt, Zion, Babylon, surplus, gathering or any of the rest, I’ll be glad to allow you the freedom to believe as you choose, just as you allow me the same freedom. Rather than arguing about points and definitions, I’d like to take the bigger picture approach and consider some overarching principles.

      First, it’s important to realize the temple comes BEFORE any gathering, city of New Jerusalem, or eventual development into something approaching Zion. Before any of that can even begin to be contemplated, we must first have a temple, claimed, accepted and visited by our Lord. Until and unless that happens, all the rest is fantasy. If we’re not willing or able to build the Lord’s house, we certainly will not be prepared for any gathering or city of refuge. Those things will happen BECAUSE of the temple, and not the other way around.

      And that was the point of this post—that a temple is required and we need to be serious about preparing for its construction. I didn’t approach the topic of Zion, gathering, or any of the rest. That is still yet a ways off. This is a very practical reminder about a building and a budget—not about what it takes to “qualify” for Zion, prepare to gather, or anything beyond the immediate need to fund the temple.

      Therefore, I’d like to address a couple of the specific questions you asked specifically about building the temple:

      Q: Are we in a hurry to build the temple?

      A: When the time comes to begin construction, YES, we will most certainly have to move with dispatch. Remember, the Nauvoo saints were given a very specific, finite, and brief period for the undertaking, and they failed. This should cause us “serious reflection and great uneasiness.”

      As far as I know, construction has not yet begun, so we are still in a time of preparation, which includes gathering adequate funds to act quickly when the time comes. We are fools if we do not prepare while we can.

      Q: Is God in a hurry?

      A: God alone sets the time table. But I think it is influenced by our actions, as well as the actions of others. If we look around and observe the very specific things now happening about which the Book of Mormon went to some lengths to warn us, then combine it with the signs overhead and the timeline thus far, it becomes clear the day is imminent. We are rapidly running out of time to prepare.

      It should go without saying that the temple will be built where, when, and how the Lord directs, and in no other way. But if we are not prepared to do as directed, we will fail as spectacularly as the Nauvoo saints did.

      In the end, for me at least, it simply comes down to priorities.

      One view holds that it is perfectly acceptable to pay all that is required by Babylon every month and then devote any surplus to God’s work.

      The other view holds that Babylon should be prioritized above God’s work, to the point of giving Babylon more than is required, and all that can be spared, and only supporting God’s work once Babylon has been paid in full, and ahead of schedule.

      The latter view presupposes that we have the luxury of all the time we need while prioritizing Babylon above the temple. The point of my post is that we do not have any such luxury.

      To return to my metaphor from the blog: We are on a sinking ship. We can straighten the rows of deck chairs, or we can build a life boat. Which takes priority? And without a lifeboat, is there any point at all to discussing the gathering we hope will happen on the shore?

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  11. I will only make this one comment. I believe the message in this post is dangerous and deceptive. I hope that people would not take this post as their guide, but pray to the God who knows what is best for the people and for the blessings of a Zion people. Enthusiasm and haste are not the Lord's way. The stakes are too high. The choices and attitudes regarding Babylon, debt and personal financial responsibilities are to be made personally, not collectively. We want God’s blessings, not His ire. If you desire to gather as God’s people, these choices will affect the group. Financial irresponsibility and playing chicken with Babylon may make you unfit for Zion. God just might care more than you think. Perhaps you should ask Him for direction.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I’d like to remind you that this post is specifically NOT about fleeing to Zion, excessive enthusiasm, haste, or any of the things you’ve made it into. It is about the need to gather funds to build a building.

      I realize some comments have veered into the territory you’ve addressed, but such never was the intent of this post. For some reason, people keep overlaying their thoughts, fears, fantasies, and desires about some future Zion upon the very practical and straightforward budgetary needs of a pending construction project. This is an error.

      If we can’t get the building project done, we most certainly won’t have to worry about any of the other considerations of gathering, city building, Babylon, Zion, or “financial irresponsibility.”

      I agree with you that we should all very seriously take this to God and learn his will. It is serious business to argue against doing God’s work, so the arguments had better be a fair bit more solid (and inspired) than those that have been offered so far.

      Having said that, I realize that money is a deeply, powerfully emotional topic for many people, and that bringing up money causes some people to get weird pretty fast. Our attraction and devotion to Babylon runs so very deep. Ultimately, we should each counsel with the Lord with open hearts, and do as he directs.

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    2. I respectfully disagree, Anonymous. A popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I don't know how you view our present situation but I see a strong parallel between our opportunity to gather funds for a temple before a commandment is given and that of the folks in Nauvoo.

      Yes, danger and deception attend the opportunity now as it did then—not in a timely obedience of the invitation, but rather in believing there is any cause to delay obeying an invitation from the Lord. With so many warnings and examples from scripture is there evidence the Lord would trifle with us now, would expect a different result from us than the folks in Nauvoo? I completely agree with your inclination to ask the Lord and to act in faith on the answer. Good strength to us all.

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  12. I apologize if my comment above in any way detracted from Adrian’s intent. I am in 100% agreement with his points on this post. I confess, I personally have been known to be overly enthusiastic when it comes to this discussion. I hope I didn’t cause anyone any harm. Temple/land funding should be our immediate focus. And we should always be guided by the spirit. This is important work, and we should consider it very seriously. Thanks for letting me repent! :) Lisa

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  13. We know that a physical temple will eventually be necessary. But could the "lifeboat" in this situation actually be what the "House" really is - a true family of God? Consider these two quotes from a blog post and a podcast.

    IDLENESS (https://denversnuffer.com/2021/01/idleness/)

    “…It is apparent that Zion will require endless labor to reverse the fall and allow the covenant promise to be realized…

    [Is it physical skills and trades that reverse the fall?]

    “There will be no magic, only great effort. And the wicked (including the idler who is unwilling to labor for their bread and weave for their garment) will not come up to Zion, because they fear the great effort required there….

    "The fellowships are a laboratory in which daily interaction allows believers to learn about one another. Idlers are proving themselves. Laborers are also proving themselves. God is also watching. This is a valuable, but temporary, time of proving. It will be followed by an even greater time of labor, sacrifice, and proving." (end of excerpt)

    Then compare with this statement from a podcast:

    Generation Podcast (July 15, 2018)

    “What is going to happen is more affected by your repentance and your faith than anything else. And that’s really where the hard work gets done– in the hearts, in our own hearts, in our own lives, in how we treat one another."

    Finally – this (first 1 minute of clip from Denver's December 2020 fireside): https://youtu.be/v-sUbA0E11o?t=3839

    These are all also reflected in the interpretation Denver gave of the Build a House parable after the Guide and Standard was "accepted".

    The House is the family of God - a group of people who love one another and whose hearts are knit together. I believe this is the "House" that must be built and ready BEFORE the physical Temple can even begin to be built.


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