Sunday, April 21, 2024

Young Single Adult Retreat

This year the YA online fellowship is planning a Young Single Adult retreat in Island Park Idaho on August 16-19th. Those in the 18-30 age range are invited to attend.

We are so excited for a fun and uplifting weekend of fellowship at a beautiful cabin in Island Park, ID. We are looking forward to learning more about Christ with one another, spending time in nature, meeting new friends and knitting our hearts together. Activities include visiting West Yellowstone, hiking, movie nights, game nights, bonfires, lake activities, scripture/gospel discussion, and more.

Fill out the brief survey below if you are interested in attending and want to receive updates about trip details, even if you are unsure you can come. Please submit your response by May 4th, 2024.

(Submitting the form does not mean you have to be 100% committed, we are gathering interest! We will send out an official registration form at a later date.)

There will be a fee to cover the cost of lodging, food, park fees, etc. Right now, we estimate this will be in the range of $90-100 per person. We will be sending out updates as we plan.

Organizers hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

One Wheel

 And as many as are not stiffnecked, and have faith, have communion with the holy spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men according to their faith.

—Jarom 1:2 RE 

When I was 14 years old, I received a unicycle for my birthday and I wanted to learn to ride it. I was pretty good on two wheels, so I figured one wheel wouldn’t be that much harder. 

I was very wrong. 

It turns out that riding a unicycle is vastly more complex than riding a bicycle. When you’re on two wheels, balance only requires not falling to either side. If you can maintain forward motion, staying upright is a matter of learning to control the bike only in the left/right axis. The only way to fall is sideways.

But on a unicycle, you can fall in any direction at any moment, and an absolute symphony of muscle and sensory integration are required to stay upright. Motion must be maintained, but that motion can be forward, backward or alternating forward and backward. Along with avoiding uncontrolled leans in *any* direction, there is also the matter of controlling spin. It turns out that pedaling on one side then the other causes the Unicycle to want to rotate on its axis and spin like a top, which naturally throws all other balance out the window immediately. A bike requires balance in one dimension, while a unicycle requires it in three. 

My point is it’s difficult and cannot be learned in a few minutes. Nor in a day. In my case, it took nearly two weeks of daily effort just to get the rudiments down. Yet try as I might to explain the difficulty to friends, they invariably said something along the lines of, “Let me try! I bet I can do it.” And they invariably ended up splayed out on the ground seconds later. Nobody can simply jump on and ride.

Here’s how I learned:

I started by trying to ride between parked cars where I could reach out and hold on to a car on either side as guard rails to balance myself. This alone was incredibly difficult, and I took a lot of nasty spills because the unicycle would inevitably shoot out from under me, either forward or backward. So next came exercises of rocking forward and backward, learning to regulate the motion that forms the central balance of the unicycle effort.

Eventually, after a lot of effort, I learned to control the motion enough to ride beside just one car, still very much holding on for balance, and falling frequently. Finally, I could ride short gaps between cars without holding onto anything (though often falling headlong into the next car when I reached it.) 

Eventually, it all came together and I could actually ride around a parking lot, for longer and longer stretches, until I had mastered basic riding. From there I learned a couple of tricks, how to navigate a couple of stairs, and how to ride very tall unicycles (six foot and ten foot). Eventually, I even rode in a parade. 

But even after all that, I’m still a basic-level rider. I can’t do tricks, I can’t ride backward, and my riding is sometimes jerky and awkward. I’m often on the verge of falling, even though I don’t. 40 years later, I can still get on a unicycle and ride at will, though my skills are rusty. People see me do that now and think it must be easy. To this day, it’s not.

So what’s my point? 

I’d like to use my foray into one-wheeled travel to discuss a different careful balance that requires time and effort to learn. I’m referring to receiving personal revelation, which is something I get asked about far more regularly than I get questions about unicycle riding. 

As with the unicycle, I’m no expert. I’m still very much at the basic level, but I’ve learned a few things that may be helpful, and I offer them in case anyone finds them useful. I’m not claiming what I offer here is the “right” way or the “only” way. As with learning to ride on one wheel, there are a variety of approaches that will get to the same goal. If you find something here helpful, great. If not, feel free to discard these ideas. 

Guard Rails

Learning to connect with the Holy Spirit is much more useful than learning to ride a unicycle, but the process is similar in many ways. The best place to start is within the guard rails of scripture, reading with new eyes and an open mind. Since the point is to learn to hear and recognize the Lord’s voice, beginning at a bonafide source of his voice is critical. The Book of Mormon and revelations of Joseph Smith are the best of all sources. 

As you read, stop to consider the words, the speaker, the situation that elicited the words, and why things are worded the way they are. Consider how the words apply to you, to others and to the world. Ask questions, even if just to yourself. Then look for the answers to those questions. Take time, think, ponder, consider. 

If you’re stuck on a question, or better yet, if you think you’ve found the correct answer, take the question to God in prayer, then follow the promptings that come to mind as you search the scriptures for your answer. The scriptures will provide the guard rails on either side within which you can balance, and the direction forward in which you can ride.


Eventually there will come an ah-ha! moment in which you recognize the answer to the question you’ve been seeking. It’s somewhat like when an out of focus picture suddenly snaps into focus and you recognize what you weren’t able to see before. This sudden realization is the best way I’ve found to describe receiving something from the Spirit. 

And much like the first, tentative feet on the unicycle, it will take more practice and repetition to learn to do it reliably. You’ll start to feel the balance point and get back to it. Only for a moment at first, but then for longer periods. Repetition is key. 

Similarly, as you repeat the process in scripture study through continual practice your ability will grow as you learn to recognize the urging that leads you to truth. The repeated effort over time is a demonstration of faith, which grows as it is used. 

Eventually you will gain enough recognition and understanding of God’s voice to ask questions and reliably get answers. Note that word, “reliably.” This is not to say answers come quickly or easily, but they do come—when rightly pursued with patience and real intent. You can reliably balance on one wheel. 


It will not happen overnight and it is not easy or quick to learn. Effort over a sustained time period is required. Seeking to get “big-deal” answers to “big-deal” questions without paying the price in time and effort simply won’t work. Hopping on that unicycle first thing and starting to peddle with nothing to hold you up will most certainly result in an instant, and nasty crash. I’ve watched it many times. That’s why it’s important to put in the effort over days, weeks, months and years. 

It may only take 10 hours of effort to learn to ride a unicycle. But you can’t do it in a single, 10-hour day. New neural connections need to be established and strengthened. Muscles need to be built, and they must learn to respond in new ways. You must develop a whole new “feel” for the balance. 

Similarly, no effort for years, followed by a huge effort all at once is unlikely to produce reliable answers to prayers. But continual effort over time is VERY likely to bring you the kind of familiarity with the Lord’s voice that is necessary to recognize it and know it.

It all starts with scripture. That’s where you can hear his voice directly, and where, at least I’ve found, answers come most readily. The framework really helps the balance. 

In the end, whether riding on one wheel or receiving the Lord’s voice, a delicate balance must be maintained. It is by no means easy, even after much experience, but it is as real as the difference between riding and crashing. It can become a sure and reliable connection in which “…the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 14:1 RE)

When I am the Spirit of Truth, I can then reveal to you the record of heaven and knowledge will be poured into you. The spirit is the means to communicate my words, and my words will lead you on the upward path. The knowledge poured in to you will come from me. I will depart, but only briefly because when I ascend back to the Head of the Household of Heaven, I will also be by your side to guide you by my voice from heaven.

—Testimony of St. John 10:25

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Five Fruit Flavors

For in those days there shall also arise false christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant. Behold, I speak these things unto you for the elect’s sake.

—Mark 6:4 RE

A few years back, someone asked me to perform their wedding ceremony. I looked into what was required, and found out that for about thirty-five bucks on a website, I could become a credentialed, “ordained” minister, complete with a fancy certificate I could download and print, giving me the legal right to officiate weddings. As soon as the website got my money, they started emailing me as “Reverend Larsen” and offering to sell me all the accoutrements I would need to start a church. I found the whole thing hilarious. It took only a few minutes and a few dollars to have a completely new title, profession, legal authority, and supposed spiritual standing. With these in hand, I was urged to start a church. 

But I got ripped off. I should have just claimed to be a prophet. That’s even faster, cheaper, and easier. Maybe that’s why there are so many. 

Our day is likely the most prophetic age in history because the bar to being a prophet has never been lower. We’re positively lousy with prophets almost everywhere you look, and the infestation seems to be growing.

The astute and scripturally adept among us will of course recognize the prior paragraph as a lot of nonsense. Prophets have always been rare, rejected, and when possible, eliminated from polite society. Why should our day be any different? 

Here’s why: Because we live in a day of changing definitions. Words with stable, standard, well-understood meanings lasting hundreds of years are now being redefined at a whim to mean very different things—and in such actions are becoming weaponized.

One such word with a fluid definition is “prophet.” I’ve written extensively on the topic in the past (here) but today I’m approaching from a slightly different angle. Back then I was specifically focused on those called prophets in the LDS church, but today I’m focusing more broadly on any and all claiming so to be, or allowing themselves to be regarded as such.

This all started the other day when I ran across a guy in my FaceBook feed who claims to be the only prophet in existence on the earth today. This made me think about a different guy on YouTube awhile back who didn’t claim to be the only prophet, but did claim to be a prophet. Comparing these two led me to consider all the others I’ve encountered in the last few years, claiming callings, titles, special authority, visitations, and divine connection, but for the most part proving to be liars and scoundrels.

So back to my point about becoming a prophet—it’s really easy. All you need to do is claim to be one—and social media facilitates that. No money to pay, no forms to fill out, just make the claim and you’re there. Something tells me this could all get confusing. 

Now, bear in mind, in this post I’ve not yet made the distinction between TRUE prophets and FALSE prophets. Thus far, I’ve just lumped them all together. But as we all know, the devil is in the details, and certainly no more so than in this distinction. Telling true from false is the most important part, and the most necessary. It’s also, for reasons I can’t explain, seemingly the hardest and most confusing when it comes to the topic of those claiming to be prophets. 

Fortunately, our Lord foresaw this particular issue, and gave us, in detail, the information we need to navigate such a confusing time as this. Said he: 

And again, beware of false prophets that come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. For do men gather grapes of thorns? Or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them.

—Matthew 3:46 RE

As you can see, our Lord makes it clear that prophets, like trees, must be judged by their fruits and in no other way—which leads to the very important question: What are fruits? 

In the interest of helping to sort out this question, I’d like to offer five ideas about the fruits by which we can judge any who claim to be God’s servants. These are just reminders, and though much more could be written about each, I hope these brief mentions will bring to mind the ideas needed for the current discussion.

1. Teachings

I believe above all, a prophet is a teacher—in the sense of delivering God’s word. A prophet who doesn’t teach—who delivers no message—has no fruit by which to judge and therefore can’t be considered a prophet. This is the foundational role of a prophet, and all claims to the role rest first and foremost on the message delivered. No message, no prophet. No question.

But assuming there is a message, the next question to be sorted is whether or not that message comes from God. 

2. Scripture

The first test of the message is whether it’s supported by existing scripture. Naturally, this requires familiarity with scripture and some basic critical thinking skills. It doesn’t have to be hard, and is made easier by the fact that God’s true messengers tend to teach from the scriptures far more than they reveal anything new or unknown. 

It’s important though to realize that scripture can be wrested, twisted, and strained to provide justification for unholy teachings. Brigham Young, for example, was very weak in scriptural knowledge, but very strong in using scriptural snippets to give unholy teachings the facade of scriptural support. So in the end, it’s important that we pay the price to understand scripture as thoroughly as possible. Even those who bring forth new revelations must ground their teachings in scripture, rather than conjecture or simply claiming they know. 

And even then, something more is required. 

Smooth charlatans can (and do) make convincing scriptural arguments that lead people in to strange paths where they become lost. Therefore it’s important that we have a connection with the Holy Spirit to help us discern truth from error. Some find this connection challenging, and rightly so. Learning to discern God’s voice takes time, effort and patience. It is not learned in an instant, nor is it cheaply won. It is vital to put in the effort in advance and on an ongoing basis so the knife is sharp when you must call upon it to rightly divide the word. I’ll talk more about this in a future post (watch for the unicycle post.)

3. Behavior

Anyone claiming to be a messenger for God needs to conform to a basic pattern of obedience to God’s commandments. Far, far too many come along claiming to be prophets or servants of God, using the veneer of importance to cover unholy behavior. How many self-proclaimed prophets have turned out to in fact be abusers? Thieves? Sexual deviants? Liars? Dictators? Adulterers? Power mongers? Predators? Greedy? Ignorant? Lazy?

Meanwhile can any of the above descriptions be rightly applied to true prophets we encounter in scripture? The difference is stark and ought not be confusing.

The fruit of a prophet is demonstrated in their daily walk and interaction with others just as much as it is evident in the message they declare. This is not to say prophets are well liked, popular, permissive, friendly, or appreciated by the world. But they are invariably loyal to God, even when such loyalty is unpopular, and they are unfailingly obedient to God’s commandments, including the commandments that control behavior. 

The idea that there is a calling, position, keys or ordinance that conveys special status on a man, makes him immune to sin, gives rubber-stamp approval to his every act, or invalidates God’s laws in his special case is both absurd and evil. And yet many make such claims as justification for their unacceptable behavior. Rules for thee and not for me, as the saying goes. 

Brigham Young, for example, claimed to have “keys” that sanctioned his adulterous accumulation of over 60 wives. Here’s a thought about such claimed “keys.” 

What then is the distinction between the conduct of Brigham Young on the one hand, and the exact same conduct of Parley Pratt on the other hand in the religion of Brigham Young? The difference lies in the fact that Brigham Young claimed to have the keys. If keys allow adultery, I want no such keys. If keys allow adultery, then I say damn me now because I want nothing of it, or of your pretended keys. I don’t think that the pretenders in all of the various “Strongman” models have any clue what it would take to bring again Zion. They do not kneel down to serve and elevate others through their teachings in the least. They have no glory of God within them, and therefore cannot instill light and truth upon those who will hear them speak. 

—Denver Snuffer, “Zion” 2014, p. 7

4. Money

It’s such a common trope in the world that it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore. Religious leaders, as soon as they gather some listeners, immediately start asking for money. “For the ministry” of course. Every sleaze bag TV preacher continually seeks donations to the “ministry” so he can be supported without laboring for his living. Some live in immense luxury, some don’t. But all seek to have someone else pay their way, while justifying it by claiming the need to devote their “full-time” efforts to “the ministry.”

This is not to say there aren’t worthy causes to which money can and should be donated. Building a temple, producing scripture, helping the poor, holding conferences—there are many worthy ways to spend money in the Lord’s service. But no true messenger will ever ask to be continually supported by believers while refusing to labor for his own support. 

Nehor provides the textbook example of this failing:

And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church, declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular and they ought not to labor with their own hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people…And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. 

—Alma 1:1 RE

Alma also gives critical instruction:

And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests…And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support…And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support, but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God. 

—Mosiah 9:9-10 RE

The commandment to impart of our substance to those in need does not mean an able-bodied man should neglect his duty to support his family with the expectation that others will provide the needed substance for him and his family. As Paul wrote: “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim. 1:13 

—Denver Snuffer, “Priests are not Paid” July 11, 2021

5. Claims

And finally, true messengers don’t make claims to titles, positions or special status. A true servant of God will point to his Master as the source of the message and the authority to deliver it, but never to himself. I find it strange that so many step up to claim titles, offices, authority and status without actually having accomplished anything at all. I’ve literally seen online claims that amount in essence to, “I’m that guy. Give me money.” And people fall for it!

A messenger who highlights a status, title, office or calling to give himself prominence is often using title claims as a thin veneer to cover pride and laziness. A true messenger will do the work required by God, and in so doing may, perhaps, bring notice that the Lord’s work is being done. But even in that case the true messenger will deflect attention to the Lord rather than himself. 

Look, someones going to do the work. When the work is done then youll know. Until the work is done no one can be identified with the role, period. It is arrogance, it is pretentiousness it is foolishness for anyone to step forward and say; “I, I am that man!” Do the work, finish the course, fulfill the covenant. When you do that you can take the name. Until you do the work, its just noise. 

—Denver Snuffer, Be of Good Cheer, Be of Good Courage

 September 10, 2013, p. 20

It is a given that true messengers will be criticized by unbelievers. Our Lord was and is criticized continually, and he showed an example of patience in not reviling again against the revilers. He certainly could have claimed that as Messiah he was above reproach, and cursed all who dared speak against him, but he did not. Those he sends will follow his example in accepting criticism, rather than claiming that as God’s servants, they must not be criticized. No status makes anyone immune to correction. 

One (or three) More Thoughts

Money, sex and power
are the universal desires of the natural man. None of these things are inherently evil of themselves, and all are available when sought properly. All are likewise controlled by strict commandments and instructions from God about how each is to be obtained, held, and used, and upon what terms. 

For example, money is to be honestly earned by one’s own labor (unless physically unable)—not stolen, not coveted, not loved. It is to be used in the support of one’s self, one’s family, the truly poor, and in furthering the sorts of God’s work that require money to accomplish. 

Sex is controlled by the law of chastity, to be employed between husband and wife in honorable, monogamous marriage—and in no other way.

Power is available to God’s servants through the Holy Spirit on terms that include faith, humility, obedience, and recognition that any power received is God’s and God’s alone, to be employed only as God directs. 

A quick analysis of these three—money, sex and power—will very often point out a false prophet immediately, for false prophets will invariably seek for or use one or more of these things in unsanctioned ways.

Earlier in this post I mentioned a man on facebook claiming to be the only true prophet on the earth. He says he has met the Father and the Son. It took me literally seconds of investigation to see that he teaches polygamy and asks for money for his support. Therefore, no matter what he claims, what else he teaches, or who he says he is, there is no further need to listen to him. He is a deceiver.


As I’ve thought about all the pretenders, and especially pretended prophets in and around the restoration of the gospel that started with Joseph Smith, I believe the ideas discussed here will go a long way in helping discern truth from error, true servants from pretenders. We can, and we MUST know them by their fruits.

And again, he that trembles under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you. And again, he that is overcome and brings not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me. Wherefore, by this pattern you shall know the spirits in all cases under the whole heavens. 

—T&C 39:4