Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Who are the Sons of Perdition

Joseph Smith said,

“… A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.”
Christ said,

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.  The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (D&C 122: 7-8)
Let's add 1+1.  Joseph says we must gain knowledge, or evil spirits will know more than us.  Christ says that experiencing basically hell on earth will give us experience for our good.  I submit the proposal, or the = 2 part of the equation, that to understanding the adversary is something that while unpleasant, each man or woman must undertake, at least by summary, if needed.

For the last few weeks, in several blogs and forums I've seen people saying "Satan this and Satan that".  They have offered all sorts of philosophies, contrary to the established LDS doctrine, and while I've contemplated them a little, they all felt largely off.  Until I could do some study, I didn't have any desire to buy into them, but put them on the back burner.  Most of them didn't provide any scriptural sources, and I wanted to find some.

For days I've been trying to dig into D&C 76.  I wanted to compare what's in my D&C to the one on the Joseph Smith Papers records.  I checked my copy of Revelations Book 1, but it's not in there.  Just happens to be at the start of Volume 2, which I don't have, but found online.

In comparing the two, I found (thankfully) the copies are largely the same, with only one or two word variations so far.  So I'm going to direct the reader to D&C 76 to get some background, and point out the cause for which I felt to post this today.

Verse 19 points out that Joseph and Sidney were meditating.  I used to think this meant studying and thinking, but having understood that meditation is actually something different, it gave new meaning to this.  Joseph was acquainted somewhat to alternative theories.  It makes me laugh a little, to think of him sitting in a pretzel with hands on his knees.  I don't know that that was the case, but I suppose they were sitting quietly, in a meditative state, perhaps even trance-like, as Peter mentions in the New Testament (before he has his four corners of the earth vision).  I have found that when I practice meditation – simple meditation – I have profound breakthroughs.  Anyways...

Joseph and Sidney had their eyes of understandings touched and opened by the Savior.  They then beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and they received of his fulness.  This is huge.  They are introduced to the Father.  This is much like Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 1.

Lest I get caught up and write endlessly on the few verses following this, I want to skip to the part that was the object of my study of this section.  Feel free to pull out your scrips and find this one, if you feel so inclined.

They see Christ, on the right hand of the Father.  They also see angels, and then they see this, all as one apparent being.  I'm going to skip the nice ones, and go to the unenjoyable part.  The qualities are thus, describing a being in opposition to the Father.  This being was:

  • an angel of God
  • who had authority in the presence of God (a BIG deal to have God's true authority)
  • he rebelled against the Only Begotten Son, whom the Father loved and who was in the Father's bosom
  • was thrust down from the presence of the Father and the Son
  • was called Perdition, because the heavens wept over him
  • also called Lucifer
  • also called "Son of the Morning".  (The scriptures do not capitalize this.  I believe it is a title.)
  • He is fallen, even a Son of the Morning.  (This is obviously a big, big, big deal to have this title, or to have fit into this category of angels.)  
This is important enough to know that the Lord tells Joseph and Sidney to write it down, so they don't forget these details.  It seems likewise important that we understand.

Following this they add:

  • they beheld Satan
  • the old serpent
  • even the devil
  • who rebelled against God (thus far in the section, God is referred to as the Father.  Christ is referred to as the Son.).  Therefore, this being rebelled against the Father.
  • he sought to take the kingdom of the Father and the Son
  • he makes war with the saints of God
  • encompasses them round about (harasses them ALL the time, all around)

Taking the many theories of others, and leaving open the room for discussion but ignoring their theories, I will make my own proposition.  I will propose, just for this one post, that Satan and Lucifer just may be different – two, separate beings, just as the Father and Son are also separate (yet one).  Lucifer was called an angel, and scripture tells us that when Joseph uses the words angel, he is referring to a resurrected being (sorry, don't have the quote but will come back to this later).  Resurrected beings, Joseph describes, are those who lived or experienced mortality, and were resurrected.  I don't know if Joseph via the Lord was using the term angel loosely here to mean an exalted-to-some-degree being, but I hope he was being clear, as it gives some clarification to make a more clear hypothesis.

To say Lucifer was thrust down from anywhere implies to me that he was higher than he could have been.  I suppose he may have been a noble and great one, described in Abraham.  "These I will make my rulers," (Abraham 3:23).  If Lucifer had authority in the presence of God, he must have had some sort of area or group of intelligence over which to exhibit that authority.  He must have been a leader of some sort, perhaps with his own sort of kingdom.  He was mourned over.  Interesting play on words – morning vs. mourning.

Let's look at Satan.  Described as a serpent, an imitation of the Christ.  I don't know much about this, but Christ was the original serpent, the ultimate symbol, which Satan counterfeited.  (ie. Moses lifted up the serpent on the staff, to which the children of Israel were to look to and live.)  So Satan is the knockoff brand, the cheap Foakley sunglasses.  Not the real deal, and how sad.  This being rebelled against not just the Son, but the Father and the Son.  He wanted to overtake the kingdom of both Father and Son, and this being still makes war with the saints of God.

I would propose that the word "saints" has a bigger meaning here too.  I propose these people are those who have seen the Lord, and been introduced to the Father too.  They have much to lose, and great space to fall, just as Lucifer fell.  So Satan harasses them in effort to add their added glory to his kingdom.

Verses 31-34 we learn those who fall to Satan's buffetings are called Sons of Perdition.  Could also be considered "sons of Lucifer", if Perdition = Lucifer.  It's interesting that in verse 33, it describes that these people are doomed to suffer the wrath of GOD, with the devil (Satan) and his angels (resurrected mortals who likewise fell).

I don't know.  This sounds too much like a far stretch.  Way too much of a stretch.  The old paradigm is much easier to digest.

Verse 34, says these folks, these Saints will have no forgiveness in the world to come.  Why?  Let's look at their characteristics.

  • They denied the Holy Spirit, after having received it.  (If this were as simple as we all believe it to be, so many of us are in a LOT of trouble.)  
  • They denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father.  (Interesting use of long title, the first time it is used in this section.)
  • They crucified him unto themselves.
  • They put him to open shame.
  • They will go to a lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil (Satan) and his angels (resurrected beings).
  • They are the ONLY ones on whom the second death shall have any power.  (Second death is usually interpreted as death of the physical body.)  
  • Not redeemed in due time of the Lord after suffering his wrath.  
  • (Verse 45) Their torment is "everlasting", "eternal", where their worm dieth not, the fire is not quenched, where there is no known end.  The end (which there does appear to be, because it is mentioned as existing) will never be revealed to man.  And fyi, in other verses in the D&C, it is revealed to Joseph that "everlasting" and "eternal" are names for Christ.  Perhaps this punishment may be equal to what Christ suffered, because these people denied what he offered.  In essence, they denied his sacrifice, meaning they get to suffer for their own sins, of which God, being just, can not look upon with the least degree of allowance.  Justice at its core.  
  • The end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof will not be understood by any except those to whom are ordained until it. (Description ends at verse 48.) 
This is a really long explanation of the suffering of the Sons of Perdition.  I submit these are mortals.  They are the Saints who have met the Father (I believe, but could be making an assumption) and denied the Son.  Interesting that they do not deny the Father.  

I highlighted the two lines above because that is what stuck out to me the most, when reading all of this.  The qualities of these folks are that they KNEW Christ.  Most of us shriek in our hearts when we think of what the wicked Jews did to Jesus.  It is truly horrific.  But most of us have not seen this horror, except in our imaginations.  But these people were received by the Savior, in this life.  The veil was taken, they were received into His presence, and quite possibly introduced to the Father.  The must have been shown in real life vision the crucifixion, and the events of Christ's life and also his forordination, so that they became witnesses in the flesh of the truth of it.  And then they deny it as the sun at noon day.  

In essence, they re-crucify him.  They are trusted to come into his presence.  They receive the full measure of the Holy Spirit, and are cleansed and purified, even sanctified (made Saints).  They then yield to the buffetings of Satan, and deny what they saw.  Satan wins them over, as they put the sacred, beautiful nature of what was revealed "to open shame".  

Repeating Joseph, 

“… A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.”

And repeating Christ,

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (D&C 122:7-8)

Update: After posting this earlier today, I had a few questions come to mind.  Primarily, if Satan and Lucifer are two separate beings, why did Joseph not clarify this?  It seems like a pretty big piece of knowledge worth discussing.  One blogger proposed that Satan is a woman.  Again, if there is a female counterpart, why not delineate this?  It seems that he gave us the basics, and from there, it's either a mystery, or perhaps extrapolation.  I make no conclusions, just offer some food for more discussion or thought.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Joseph!

It's Joseph Smith's birthday today.

I was wondering to myself what he might be doing to celebrate.  Or if he cares, wherever he is, that it's his birthday.

Do you think they used birthday cakes in the 1800's to celebrate birthdays?  Someone surely knows.  (Not me.)  Did they give gifts?  Did they have extravagances?  How did they celebrate?

And do they celebrate mortal birthdays in heaven?  Do you think Emma made him a cake?  Or commissioned one of those heavenly bakers to make up something awesome?

Or is it possible that today really means nothing at all, and maybe he might prefer to celebrate his death dates, or entry date into the next world?  I always wonder that for those who have passed on.

Certainly Joseph has been one of the more influential people in my life.  Without his actions as a youth, my life would be entirely different.  I say he deserves a great deal of respect and gratitude.  I hope he's having a really great moment in the realm of no time, or wherever it is that he now resides.

Yes, Happy Birthday, Joseph!  Wishing you the best birthday ever!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Humility vs. Self Hate

In the last few days I have been awakened to the idea that humility is NOT self hate, self loathing, self destruction, or self criticism.  It does not mean endless self abuse, despite knowing that we are unprofitable creatures.  Humility involves becoming childlike, which means to be meek, submissive, teachable, and willing to submit to God, just as a child submits to his father. (Mosiah 3)  I have been taught there is a gaping difference between the two.  

It is a fine line to discover, and a very deceptive trap to misunderstand, when the hater of our souls deposits filth into our being via lies.  Self hate comes from the Adversary, and actually prohibits us from hearing God.  Cast it out of your souls.

Humility, on the other hand, permits us to draw nearer to God.  It creates a wide open space for learning, which can be filled with non-toxic, ever abundant Love.  Invite God to fill it. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Quote about Ralphie

Something to remember: 

"... And remember that the Three Wise Men giving gifts to Jesus when he was dead broke is not a precedent for us to give expensive gifts to each other. If we are actually going to follow the scriptures, we will give gifts to the impoverished rather than continue an anti-Christian tradition of transforming our kids into frothing Ralphies who long for a Red Rider BB gun far more than they long for the love of Christ."  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Because of Iniquity

During the sacrament yesterday I opened up 3 Nephi to study the sacrament again.  I began with what first caught my eye, which was the highlighted verse of 3 Nephi 15:17:

"That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." 
I kept reading into verse 18:

And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them."  
Often times when I read scriptures, I find I'm directed to a middle of a chapter.  Because I start in the middle, I find I'm missing the context, so I begin reading backwards.  Then forwards, then often backwards again.  My sacrament study began with other sheep.

Growing up in LDS culture (although not really – it was more LDS culture outside of LDS culture), I always viewed the "other sheep" as the Nephites and Lamanites.  This is where all the videos pointed, and it is explained during missionary discussions.  I had the concept down when I was 14.  Jesus visited the players in the Book of Mormon, and this is one reason the Book of Mormon is so important.  We are to open our minds to the concept that Jesus visited other people outside those in Jerusalem from 0 to 34 AD.

The verses surrounding this often quoted verse are often overlooked.  I found some really interesting points as I studied.

Backing up a few verses, Jesus talks to the twelve disciples who he had chosen, and tells them they are a "light" unto this people, "who are a remnant of the house of Joseph" (vs.12).  What does that mean?  Who and what are the house of Joseph?  We often gloss over this in church, assuming everyone knows, and that we automatically know who this Joseph is.  Who is Joseph?

I am going to assume that Christ is referring to Joseph, who is the youngest son Jacob (AKA "Israel").  We learn about him in Genesis.  We also learn that he has 11 other brothers.  These are the "Twelve Tribes of Israel" we often talk about.  So we assume this is the same Joseph that he is referring to here, but it only says that they are of the house of Joseph.

Christ continues,

"Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land" (vs.15). 
Why does Christ need the Father to command him regarding what he says?  Over the course of the next several verses, he refers to "the Father" so frequently, and he intimates that he only speaks what he is commanded to speak.  (Although in some instances, when he completes what he is commanded to speak, we have record of him doing other things, like blessing children.)

Jesus the explains what the Father permitted him to share, which was the basic fact that there were other sheep whom he must bring (vs.16).  But he explains that because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they didn't understand his words.  So the Father commanded him to say no more.

Imagine if the Jews had not been so stiffnecked and unbelieving.  What more might they have learned?  And what more might the world know?

It's a beautiful thing we have this record in the Book of Mormon, because Christ explains that the Father did give him permission to share this.  He says the Father commanded him to tell them (the Nephites) that they were separated from the Jews because of their iniquity.  And it's because of the Jews' iniquity that they still did not know of this remnant.

The coolest part though, to me, is that he says that the Father has separated other tribes.  Once again, because of iniquity the Jews have no idea regarding them.  They Jews thought that Jesus was referring to visiting the Gentiles, when in actuality he meant the Nephites.  (The Gentiles would be converted through the Holy Ghost, and Christ would not minister to them personally.  vs. 23)  Another interesting point this reveals is that we and the Jews do not always understand his words.  We think it to mean something it does not necessarily mean.  And Christ admits it.

Moving into Chapter 16, we learn of even more sheep.  This is what intrigues me the most.  These people had never been ministered to yet by him personally.  And he would go there next.  Have they kept a record?  Have they received his gospel?  Are they on the face of the earth?  Are they hidden in the earth?  Under the face of the great deep?  Is it possible that the religions of the earth, which seem to vary so deeply, are actually part and parcel of the whole?  Part of the one fold, with one shepherd, but we reject their precepts because they do not match our own?  What if this is part of the grand design?  Or do we need to wait for Christ to introduce us, in the end, to the idea that just maybe he taught them too, and that their varying messages are actually of Him?

It's not too far of a stretch for me, when I have Christ informing me in these pages of the Book of Mormon.  And blessed are they that believe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

3 Nephi 19 - The Three Prayers of Christ

A week or two God revealed the most beautiful things to me, hidden in chapters 19 and 20 of 3 Nephi.  So beautiful they are!  A quick synopsis of background before I get into it.

These events are post Resurrection.  It is after the earthquakes, storms, and insane mists of darkness that happened months before and covered the earth, when the world went crazy and people were crying, mourning, and moaning for days on end because of all the destruction.  This was global destruction, and we are now witnessing it from the view of the Nephite civilization.  

At the start of 3 Nephi 19, people are gathering.  (For a little precursor to this, see here for some thoughts on what happens just before the events of chapter 19.)  They had heard noise about what had happened earlier that day, how Jesus came and discussed the essentials of bread and wine representing him.  He discussed how to pray, what it meant, and the beauties of the ordinance.  He taught who can partake of it, and that none should be refused from worshiping together, however those unworthy – meaning those unbaptized –should not partake of it, yet.  They need to follow this essential doctrine before stepping further on the path.  So many other gems in this chapter.  

Heading into chapter 19, people are allll hopped up.  What an incredible awesome, miraculous day they had just seen.  When was the last time you experienced such things?  I haven't read it all just now, but in skimming things, it appears that everything that happened between 3 Nephi 11 and 3 Nephi 18 happens in one day.  (Not necessarily the destruction.  I think that happened months before Christ actually came to descend among the Nephites.  I'm just saying the messages between 11-18 are one day.)  These chapters are LOADED and if I'm reading things right, I'm pretty sure they are all being downloaded in aprox. 1 day.  

But to just highlight one event, when was the last time you had anyone leave your presence by having a cloud overshadow you, and then they ascended into heaven?  I have yet to see such.  

So the people are gathering, some of them hustling it up ALL night to get to where they anticipate he will come the next day.  I mean it is noised ALL about.  I imagine I couldn't sleep either, and would be waking up the neighbors saying, "Get the heck over here and SEE THIS!!!"  

When everyone arrives, they meet the 12 disciples Jesus had called out and "touched" (18:36) the day before.  These twelve start separating the gathering crowd into 12 different bodies, because it is just so big!  Verse 6 says they (the disciples) taught them (the multitude, in groups), and then instructed them to kneel on the earth and pray to the Father in the name of Jesus.  Then the disciples joined suit.  What are they doing?  

Well Jesus had not yet arrived.  They are beckoning him in prayer!  

Verse 7-8 describes how the disciples then "minister" to them, using the exact same words Jesus had used, and then knelt again.  Did they issue the bread and wine here?  I am not entirely sure.  It is not clear, although surely God could tell you if you asked.  One of the almost last things he went over the night before was the importance of remembering him through the bread and wine.  I believe this was probably what they were doing, but I could be wrong.   

What happened next though is eye opening.  They begin praying for the Holy Ghost to be given to them.  Really???  They had not yet received the Holy Ghost?  These were people that survived the destructions of the Nephite civilization.  Had they not yet obviously had the gospel and baptism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints as we now assume they had? ;) You know, exactly like we have it now???  No.  

They sought the Holy Ghost.  The real, first Comforter.  So they prayed fervently, and went to the water's edge, where they met Nephi.  Nephi received baptism first.  (Still no Christ present in the flesh.)  Who baptized Nephi?  And as soon as Nephi came out of the water, he began baptizing the others Jesus had chosen.  

Was this something Jesus instructed the night before?  So Nephi is just now baptized!  And he baptizes the other eleven.  And they rise out of the water, and their WISH is GRANTED!  No waiting, just boom!  There!  Holy Ghost DID. FALL. UPON. THEM.  and they were FILLED with the Holy Ghost and with FIRE!!!  And they were circled – surrounded – with something so much like fire, from heaven.  And the multitude saw it, and knew it was true.  Then come the angels.  

And the angels minister to them.  Can you imagine?  But it gets better.  

Then comes Jesus!  Again!  To ALL of them!!!  Party on!!!  Can you imagine this???  Were they cheering?  Were they falling to the earth?  This is the very first experience for the bulk of them, right, meeting their God?  Remarkable.  Think about that for a moment.  Can you really imagine this?  I get all weepy when hearing that song, "I Can Only Imagine".  I really have no idea how I'd react, but pretty much all of those emotions wrapped into one is how I imagine it.  

(Feel free to just listen.  Or just hit play and read the rest because listening to this song while you read changes the whole tone of the rest.  Wow.)

So the instruction begins... now.  Get ready to rumble, because this. is. pure. awesomeness.   

Jesus instructs the multitude to kneel.  They listen and obey.  And then the disciples.  Check.  And when they're alllll kneeling, he instructs the disciples to pray.  All 12.  They are praying –to–Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.  

Jesus steps a little bit away.  He prays to the Father.  

"Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.  
Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words.  {Could he also be talking about us here???}
Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me;  {prayer answered immediately, by the way} and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.  {Noted.}
And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one."  {Jesus prays for those present and NOT present, who believe on the words of those present.  Present and future.  Why?  He wants us to be one.}

Jesus ends his prayer for a moment, stands up, looks at his disciples, who are praying with words given to them, and they were filled with desire.  Desire for what?

So as they're praying – they, meaning the disciples – Jesus blesses them.  I don't know how they can remain focused, because quite frankly, if Jesus were to utter direct words of blessing on my ears to hear, I think I would instantly be a puddle of tears and awe.  But they manage to continue, and he blesses them, and his countenance smiles upon them.  The light of it shines on them, and they turn literally white.  Whiter than anything on the planet, it says.  They were as white as the garments and countenance of Christ.  And he tells them to pray on.

And again, Jesus turns from them again, and steps a little ways away and begins to pray again!  Now he asks,

"Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words {here again!}, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.  
Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them." 

He pauses, checks on the disciples again, and smiles upon them.  They were white, even as white as Jesus now.  Is this different now, than the previous whiteness?  Was the previous whiteness white in countenance and garments?  And now their physical being is white?  Have they received the purification, literally, soul –body and spirit– that he just supplicated the Father for?

So he steps off again.  Prayer number three.

"And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.  
And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open that they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.  
Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man." 

What was said here?  Prayer #1 involves Christ asking for those who believe in these words to receive the Holy Ghost.  And it happens.  Prayer #2 he asks for them (and us) and all who believe to be purified.  And they are.  Prayer #3 happens and their hearts – their heart layers – I believe these are veils of forgetfulness, or of knowingness – of being able to speak heavenly tongues – the language of Jesus – the language of the Father(s) – is spoken, and NO MAN CAN REPEAT IT.  I can't even analyze it to put words to it.  It is marvelous.

This is not some lame secret.  This is nothing that man is capable of uttering, because we have heart walls, shields, veils, that prohibit us from literally speaking it.  This is no secret combination, where someone swears you to secrecy, and if you share or break confidence then you incur the wrath of their pseudo-god, ending a friendship or relationship.  No.  This is pure, undefiled, Godliness.  This is the language of Christ, the PURE LANGUAGE OF CHRIST.

When he is done praying these beautiful, gorgeous, heavenly blessed words, he goes back to the disciples, and says,

"So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief.  
Verily I say unto you, there are none of them that have seen so great things as ye have seen; neither have they heard so great things as ye have heard."  

Lucky ducks, right?  Jesus pretty much tells them how awesome it is for him too, to be finally sharing some of these awesome things that the Jews just couldn't get open enough to receive.  Seriously.  How flipping cool would that be to have participated in such beautiful, truly glorious things?

Chapter 20 is next.   

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Richer Understanding of 3 Nephi 18

Sometimes I read scriptures uber slow.  It helps to catch the meaning of various things I would often overlook through speed.  And other times I read them especially fast.  Sometimes it's just because I'm in a rush, but other times I get a bigger picture of what's going on.

Last week I was preparing for my Primary lesson on the Sacrament.  I was to read 3 Nephi 18: 1-11.  I read it fast, and then kept reading.  I was BLOWN away by what was revealed.  I challenge the reader to pull out their copy and read 3 Nephi 18-20.  I find that when I read without any preconceived notions, and believe what it read, I make new discoveries.  So as you read, please let go of your traditions!  Allow the words on the page to speak for themselves.  Don't superimpose your long-held beliefs, to shift and twist and contort the meaning into something that fits into your current paradigm!  This is how to discover countless treasures on the pages.  And these chapters are LOADED.

Some highlights of Chapter 18:

  • vs. 1 Jesus commands the disciples to bring bread and wine.  WINE!  Not water.  Water is great for many other references, but this is wine.  Why?  How many references do we have for wine in the scriptures?  So many!  And it is SO symbolic.  How?  It is bitter.  It is red.  It looks like blood.  It comes from a vine (more and more references), attached to a branch, with roots.  It ferments.  It takes time and skill to make (translate: patience, mastery).  This is not your basic, "Oh, the water wasn't clean enough to drink back then so they used wine like we use water."  Lame!  Wine represented something more than just a drink available.  That's called dumbing down truth.  Don't believe me?  Why not?  Is your tradition stronger than scripture?  (If you think I'm being harsh here, and don't know why I am in such favor of using wine when our leaders insist we should not, please consider this piece on how we got here.  I do not believe it was revelation.  Please don't be offended if my opinion differs from yours until you study it in full.)   
  • vs. 2  Jesus commands the multitude (or crowd, congregation, ward, stake, etc) to SIT upon the EARTH.  Does this mean they didn't have chairs?  What about a log?  Was there significance in sitting on the earth?  Does it represent humility?  Is there a difference between kneeling and sitting?  In this instance, it says to sit.  (I recognize there are other points where kneel is used.)   
  • vs. 3-4  Jesus breaks and blesses the bread, gives to the disciples, commands them to eat.  They are filled.  Not starving still.  Not just held over until they can go dine on cheese and meat.  But they're filled.  They are then commanded to give it to everyone else present.  
I feel like there is so much in these verses!  One thing I don't want to overlook sharing is in verse 7.

  • Jesus tells them that it will be a testimony unto the father when we eat of this bread, that we do ALWAYS remember Christ.  Eat, remember, eat, remember.  AND IF you remember, you will have his Spirit.  What does that mean?  
I used to always think this was talking about the Holy Ghost.  If you eat and remember, you'll have the Holy Ghost.  Well duh!  Right?

But for the first time this had new meaning to me.  I'd like to share.

When we die, what happens to our spirits?  Do they remain individual?  Unique?  Do they rise up to meet our Creator?  Or do they remain with our bodies, tormented and lifeless underground?  Or do they just get aggregated to some massive "Holy Spirit"?  I believe they rise up, according to Alma, and we also retain our individuality as intelligences, while still progressing towards that "one-ness".  I could be wrong, but that's my understanding right now.  

What happened to Christ's spirit when he was killed?  He rose up, did he not?  Do we believe he taught and ministered during those 3 days?  Yes, most of us do.  When his body was resurrected, well, we say his spirit joined his body, but to be honest I really can't say exactly what happened.  But we say his spirit and body reunited.  Something special must have happened to his body to change it into an immortal one of flesh and bones.

Well let's reconsider the elements of a spirit being.  I believe my spirit inhabits my body, but it is also fluid.  I believe my spirit is part of my aura.  Lots of Christians believe this is hokey talk, but I think we're just using different words for the same thing.  So if my spirit is fluid, and extends beyond my body, I believe that like water, it is not a solid.  It is finer matter, and can be interrupted in order for our bodies to become closer.  This is how we feel someone behind us without seeing them.  "Surprise!" is the word that usually follows.

Let's think of this spirit temporarily as play doh.  Let's imagine we can break off a part of our spirit, leaving the bulk of our play doh inside our bodies.  Taking a piece off doesn't mean I don't have spirit left in my body, allowing it to function, but now I have a part of my play doh spirit in my hand, and I'll give it to my daughter.  So she has a part of my spirit to go with her, so she knows she's loved.  By carrying it with her to school, she has something tangible to remember me by.  It looks like me.  It feels like me.  It is part of me.

In essence, believe it or not, we do this all the time.  Most of us can't see our spirits, but some folks can.  We attach to people.  We form bonds, and connect with them through cords, thoughts, and other means.  If you don't believe this is true, I'd dare you to find an energy worker and have them teach you to "cut cords" of negative bonds and see how literal the release feels.  It is truth.

So back to Jesus.  When we eat the bread, and testify in that moment that we are remembering Christ, the return side of the commitment is that we will always have HIS spirit to be with us.  His.  Not the Holy Ghost.  But Jesus' spirit.  Does that make a difference in how you receive him?

The first time I saw this video I thought it was mocking Christians, but after perceiving what this verse really means, this was the first thing I think of.  Having Jesus' spirit to be with us is just like this video.  He is ALWAYS there when we remember him.  Like a chunk of play doh, but better.  So much better.

So imagine having Him by your side when you're feeling like you're doing dishes for the 2 millionth time, and no one is helping.  Or when the kids destroy the living room, AGAIN.  Or when you just don't have time to be the perfect mom, dad, or son or daughter.  He is there for you, instantly.  Let him make you smile.

And his spirit is so much more powerful than our spirits.  (I am not saying this is the only way to be one with God, but just one way to enjoy his presence.  There are many, many other ways.)  Think of all the good you or I could do (as well as all the harm).  Now think of how lowly and nothing we are in comparison to Him.  What a rich, RICH blessing we are afforded by the proper partaking of the sacrament.

So for the flip side, what would it do to your life, to partake of a sacrament the way our Lord instructed us?  Even commanded, as he did to the disciples?  Why do we disobey in the name of tradition?  We are doing this 50% wrong!  what if we subbed in KitKats for the bread?  Would it still feel as rich as the meaning of bread being used?  (No, really.)  We are breaking one of the richest, most beautiful commandments in the name of tradition.  Let's stop ignoring His commandments.  It is time to repent.

I thank my God above for showing me this one, tiny revelation in a new way to look at this verse.  I wish I were more diligent in reading and studying the scriptures.  I know they would be unfolded if only I really took the time to care.  I have so, so much work to do it's not even funny.  Hopefully Jesus will bear with me.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Baptism Math on Halloween

In 3 Nephi 12, Christ discusses that he had chosen 12 disciples.  I always wondered why they are called disciples, instead of apostles.  Verse 1 describes that they are called, given POWER and authority to baptize.  Christ tells the multitude that they are Blessed IF they give heed to the words of THESE twelve, which were chosen from among them to minister and to be their servants.  He expresses that he has given them POWER to baptize with water, and after that HE will baptize them with fire and with the Holy Ghost.  And they are Blessed if they will believe in him and be baptized.

A few days ago I began studying a lesson for my Primary class on the Sacrament.  It directed me to 3 Nephi 18: 1-11.  I read it, and was led well beyond verse 11.  Baptism and the sacrament tie in so beautifully together, but I think we have a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings and FALSE TRADITIONS regarding them.  I don't even know how much some of the false traditions matter, but a false tradition is something that damned the Lamanites (damned meaning their progression was stopped).  These false traditions were things that were taught to them, and they simply believed because it was much like tradition.  Much like how Mormons celebrate Halloween and Christmas and Easter, which in reality are defunct pagan holidays.  (Why do Mormons celebrate Halloween again?  Because we believe in witches, evil ghosts and spells?  We've got some great trunk or treat pics I'm sure we all have on our cameras.  My nephew who is going on a mission soon won 1st prize in ours this week for his great rendition of a pirate ship on the back of his SUV.  I was happy for him when he won.  It was fun.  But also not exactly something I would imagine Christ's 12 disciples participating in if they were to make an impromptu appearance.  No offense!)  Anyways...

The Lamanites were damned due to their traditions.  But when they let go of their traditions, we have stories of King Lamoni and the marvelous transformations that happened when they simply gave up everything to know the God Ammon spoke of.  (Forgive me if I'm mixing up names.  Just going from memory.)  What are our traditions which keep us from knowing Christ?

Back to verse 1.  These twelve disciples were given power to baptize.  Why only 12?  What's the significance of 12?  The symbolism?

And down the road, three of these 12 request to tarry on the earth.  That's 1/4.  Why 1/4?  They certainly still have power to baptize.  And they roam the earth.  Where are they?  And why do we not plea to heaven for them to baptize us?

God can bestow his power on whomever he feels to.  Today is October 31st, the day that some believe the "realms" are more open than others.  I don't remember the tradition or explanation why.  But it's no wonder people have unexplainable things happen on this day, if that is the case.  And it's no wonder it is chosen by witches and werewolves to howl at the moon.  I wonder what would happen if all God-fearing people, particularly those who believe in the "3 Nephites" would supplicate their Father to allow them to make their presence known, offer baptism to those seeking it, and grow closer to returning Zion.

THAT would be something to celebrate!   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Dear Daniel,

We played checkers this afternoon.

As we played, I was black and you were red.  I advanced across the board, and upon reaching the other side, we would both say, "King me!"

It occurred to me that this could definitely serve as a parable.

If we do not advance across the board, there is no possibility of declaring, "King me!"  And what fun is checkers if no one ever gets to be a king?  We must advance or there is no purpose to playing.


Monday, July 28, 2014

In 43 Days

In 42 days my husband and I are flying to Phoenix.  In 43 days we plan to attend a lecture offered by Denver Snuffer, Jr.  We would enjoy meeting with any like minded individuals during this short trip.  If you would like to meet up, please drop me a line.  jenheadjen [at] gmail [dot] com.  

The next day we'll be heading to Utah, and spend a few days there.  Likewise, if you would like to get together, please let me know.

While our budget is very tight, I have felt very strongly the need to attend and make the expense to join this occasion.  I hope there will be seats or even floor space enough for the two of us.  If not, at least we can say we tried.

43 days left.  Wonder what happens between now and then.  If what's happened since we booked the tickets and now continues to happen, it'll be a bumpy road.  I pray for sunshine and lollipops though. ;)


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Noah Uncorrelated

Why was Noah required to build an ark?  Why was the earth cleansed?

In preparing my correlated lesson for Primary tomorrow, topic "I love my whole family," (vs. I belong to a family, which was 2 weeks ago), I felt moved to speak about Noah.  In opening up the Topical Guide to find where the story is (yes, lame, I know), I was referred to the Bible Dictionary.  In turning to the BD, I learned there are a few spaces where Noah is discussed.  The one with a large part of the story is in Genesis 6.

In turning there, I began to read.  What was the cause of the flood?  Surely the wickedness of the people.

But what do we think the word wickedness really describes?  Usually it's sex and being a mean person.  Imagine my surprise when I found verbage other than the word "wickedness".  In fact, the word "wicked" is not there.

"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth." (Genesis 6:11-13)
 I asked my mom why she thought the earth was destroyed.  I pointed out we suppose it was due to general wickedness.  But what was the main sin?

She supposed this – "That the people couldn't keep their pants zipped."  Just like what I thought.  So amazing what happens when I just take a few minutes to actually crack open the books.  I learn something uncorrelated, un-manualized, and nearly unreal.  If the earth was cleansed due to violence, ought we not to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?  EIGHT people were spared.  Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives.  I'm not a violent person, but today I chucked a toy across the room that my kids were fighting over.  It made me mad.  Was that violent?  Not sure.  But it wasn't kind.

I'm sure this could turn into a very long post, but I'm grateful for the freedom to teach uncorrelated.  When the manual is boring and repetitive, open up the real manual and teach the word of God.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ordained to Expound Scriptures

And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.
What a gift this would be, to be ordained to expound scriptures.  So many times, scripture is difficult to understand.  It takes careful listening for the mind of God to really get a good grasp of the meaning of some verses.  Being ordained under the hand of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, would be quite a marvelous privilege.  To have it written permanently in scripture an additional confirmation of the truth of it.

(Joseph Smith, acting as voice)
And what an honor, to be qualified to exhort the church members.  It would be humbling to be given such, as not all are given this ability.  And to be given instructions of the Lord by His Spirit would be even more qualifying.  It's as if He is saying, "I trust you to hear my voice well enough to share what I want shared."

Would this not be a privilege?  A sacred calling?  A holy ordination?

And what of the word ordained?  There's a lot of hubbub going on right now over what this word means.  Perhaps its interpretation is key.  What does the word ordain mean?  What qualifies one to be ordained for anything?

Perhaps understanding the true meaning and context of it would help.  This verse was part of a revelation given to Emma Smith, the prophet's wife.

In this revelation Emma is given the following titles:

  • my daughter
  • forgiven
  • elect lady
  • called
  • ordained

The Lamanites were kept from the truth because of the incorrect traditions of their fathers.  Laman and Lemuel were taught the truth, however when they got off on their own, they changed things up.  The switched the meaning of truth, and taught their children things which they in turn believed as truth.  When they turned to God instead of the traditions, their skins became white.  Sometimes I wonder where our traditions have taken us, and how much of what we believe it truth vs tradition.  Are the beliefs which allow us to disregard scripture making our skins white or darkened in unbelief?  At what point will we let go of traditions that keep us from the full measure of God's glory?

Pushing the issue further...

What if Emma had said, "Wait a minute, Joseph.  You used that precious word 'ordain'...  Um, that's not kosher in Christ's true church.  Maybe you'd better re-write that?  It doesn't flow with the policy of no women receiving any sort of ordination.  That's priesthood terminology.  Perhaps we could use the word "called" or "calling" instead?  If I roll with this as the real deal, I'm not in alignment with the Church Handbook of Instructions and I don't want to lose my temple recommend for believing false doctrine.  Then I would go to hell and not be saved and my family would fall into apostasy for generations, damning them.  So can we just switch out that teensy word 'ordain'?"

Joseph would have likely rebuked her for not having faith in the revelation.  He was, after all, a Prophet who communed with God, FACE to FACE on more than one occasion.

And Joseph would have also likely explained that the word "ordain" meant something different than it does in 2014.

Interestingly enough, the revelation ends with these words:
And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen.
I wonder if that means "all" as in everyone?  Or everyone as in women?  Or everyone as in women and men?  Maybe we'd better read the whole thing and get some more context.  The scriptures are pretty awesome when we read and believe them in full.  Here's hoping this post inspires someone to open theirs up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why don't we kneel during the sacrament?

I remember when I was a child, sitting in Sacrament Meeting.  We worshiped in another church's building, rented by our ward, because we were not large enough in size to have our own building.  I remember kneeling in between the pews, sitting on the floor with my sister, playing dolls or coloring or something.

There was one Sunday that keeps sticking in my memory, where I asked my mom, "Why don't we kneel to say the prayers?"  She answered that it was ok for me to kneel.  But she didn't kneel, and I never understood why.  I just presumed it was ... just an arbitrary rule?  I don't know.  But I didn't think too much of it or make any waves.

In the last few years, I've had lots of questions called to mind, in the sense that there were many that I just "presumed" (there's that word again) had no answers.  We hear this from investigators, who presumed there were not answers to their questions given by their preachers, so they just roll with the status quo.

The difference for me now is that there are some people suggesting that it is ok to ask questions.  For one, James 1:5 directs us to ask of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not.  Joseph Smith repeats this test, putting it in action and illustrating that it works.  As missionaries we teach this to investigators - it is one of the first things we encourage.  But it seems to stop upon entering the waters of baptism.  If there are questions about why we do something, the answers typically are found in the Church Handbook of Instructions.

In returning to the question I asked my mother, "Why don't we kneel to say the prayers?"  After all, this was how we prayed nightly at home.  But in church we sit in our seats, unmoved.

The Church handbook describes that those blessing the sacrament kneel.  It is a solemn occasion.  But what about the rest of us?  Is there a scriptural precedent?

When I began my scripture study this morning, I asked, "Where should I study?"  The answer came to me: "Moroni 4:10".  Ok.  But there is no Moroni 4:10!  When I opened the page, my eyes landed on Moroni 4:2, which reads this:

And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying:
Ok.  So the Nephites blessing the bread knelt down, and it appears that the church members were kneeling too, as those blessing the bread did "kneel down with" (emphasis added).  So what about the modern day church?  D&C 20:76 reads:

And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:   
It appears that the wording is the same in both Moroni's time and Joseph Smith's.  So when did the change occur?  When did we stop kneeling for the blessing of the holy sacrament, and why?  A few thoughts.

Maybe it was for the breastfeeding moms, who didn't want to disturb their babies to kneel up and down.
Maybe it was for the elderly.  Surely their knees hurt.  I know my parents struggle to sit and stand, not to mention kneeling down.
Maybe it was noisy and disheveling?
Maybe it was impractical, when there might have been mud on the ground, before buildings were made?
Maybe it soiled the women's dresses and the men's tailored pants, causing more work for the women to get dirt out of the clothes?

Does this matter?  Would it make the sacrament more spiritual if we knelt?  Some would say not.  I would say there is definitely a powerful element added to prayer when I have experienced it in a group of leaders praying together on their knees.  There is added humility.  After all, who else do you kneel to?

Follow-up question - what would it hurt to begin kneeling for the sacramental prayers?  Would it be disruptive?  Considered inappropriate?  If so, why?  Would it be against the Handbook of Instructions?  If so, where and why?  Who is stopping us from enhancing the power of this sacred ordinance?  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Best Father

This past week seems to have an air of discontentment.  The full moon was rising to a crest two nights ago.  Mercury is in "Retrograde", and lots of people are feeling down and depressed, neglected and ignored.  I really don't fully understand how the solar systems work, but I'm sure this is something important that somebody understands!

Over the course of the last year, our Stake Presidency has encouraged our stake to come up with a "Family Mission Plan".  They stress its inspiration, and encourage us to prayerfully make a plan to better share the gospel (church) with those around us.  Our family is to create some achievable goals, prayerfully of course.  During several meetings with the missionaries, I tended to resist these efforts due to my own personal feelings at the time, but in the last few weeks I decided, eh, what the heck?  After all, aren't we here to experience the journey of working with other people to improve ourselves?  If not, God surely could've put us each on a world with one other human to figure out if we'd like to be alone, together, procreate, whatever.  But he didn't.  We're all here together, smushed to the point where we often try to avoid one another.  

About two weeks ago, I decided I was going to put my best foot forward and try to get to know some of the strangers surrounding me.  I was going to host a Norwex microfiber cloth party for my friend who sells the stuff.  I sell doTERRA, and after teaching endless classes the last four months, I was ready to gather my own friends and not have to teach!  I did a Facebook invite, then filled out cards and hand delivered them to neighbors, friends, and family.  I said, "Please come.  You don't have to buy anything, I just want to hang out with my friends, (or in the case of neighbors, get to know them better) and wanted something to do since I don't do board games very well.  We'll have a campfire if the weather's good, we can swim in the pool, or just hang out and chat."  I also didn't have money to put on a large, extravagant dinner, so this seemed like a harmless idea, and Norwex is virtually unheard of in these parts.  This was going to be my missionary moment, not to convert anyone, but simply just to get to know people better, and feel a spirit of brother/sisterly love more readily in our neighborhood.  After all, when the crap hits the fan, you want to at least have a feel for who's going to be knocking on your door for help (or whatever good or bad scenario you can come up with).  

Some of my neighbors took the card; some of them declined, and then took it after I asked them to think about it.  My church friends took it and didn't really respond with a "Oh yeah, sounds like a party!"  It was more like a "Gee... thanks?"  I got one "yes" RSVP.  The rest were maybes, a few nos, and mostly no response whatsoever (which I think is kinda ruder than just saying no thanks).  

I guess this is what the world has come to, when friendly people can only get together when their church requires it of them twice or thrice a week.  Or if free food is involved.  We can hardly look at one another in the hall after church, we are so eager to leave the building.  We can't join one another for meals, unless they're in the ward building.  I literally have a hard time even squeezing out a "hello" from half the people I pass in the hall.  Is there something wrong with me?  

On the flip side of the coin, today I actually feel disinclined to say hello to one sister, after a recent call where she told me about a church activity and refused to let me even get a word in edgewise.  Why would I want to talk to her, when the only "communication" going on was from her to me?  Is this what brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors should look like?  

Well, my "party" only had one guest, besides me, my mom (whom I co-hosted with), and my Norwex friend.  The one guest attends my church, so I'm not sure that that counts as a "missionary moment".  I hope we strengthened one another though, and I say that in the truest sense.  I had never had the chance to have her in my home, and it was truly a joy to get to laugh and visit with her, without the pulling of kids and 50 other adults like we have at typical church functions.  So that was good.  

When it was all said and done, I did a lot of pondering.  What was the point, in me walking invitations to several neighbors?  Do they live in the country because they like being left alone?  Probably.  And will I invite them to my home again?  Mmm, likely not.  This was a stretch for me, and I'm pretty confident that we haven't been that social with one another for a reason.  They don't want to associate with the Mormon on the street, so whatever.  Maybe it has nothing to do with Mormonism, and as a whole, we're just plain tired and want to rest when we can rest.  Who knows. 

So what was the point?  Beyond that, I've been searching for years on various blogs to find like minded individuals who I can chat with about things I've learned, dug for, and felt inspired about.  I am grateful my loving Father has quietly guided me to some real gems, but once again, I feel many are much like the neighbors.  They do their thing (writing) but really seem to prefer to be left alone.  Do I want to associate with them?  Am I seeking something by attempting to become friends with strangers?  Or am I trying to prepare for something greater?  I hope that's the case.  

When it comes down to it, during the full moon, post-Norwex-party, mid-Mercury-Retrograde, I think God would likely prefer it that I turn to Him, and turn off the computer, the TV (for my kids), quit frazzling myself with church and in-home parties, and crack open the scriptures.  When I feel most like this, the neon signs seem to blink vividly that I have lost touch with my Maker.  Shut it all down, Jen.  Go to the Source.  That's where true happiness, even true friendship is found.  It's obvious that even with our best human intentions, it will never be enough.

Happy Father's Day to the only "best" Father in the Universe.  <3  Trying to be a more connected daughter.  And Happy Father's Day to the men trying to emulate Him.   

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Picking Strawberries

Dear Daniel,

Boy oh boy, lots on my mind today!  Thank you for joining me in strawberry picking.  We tried to do this last week, but ended up showing up at the strawberry patch on the wrong day, and it was closed.

We made it today though!  Had a great time with Magdalene and Austin, picking among the many, many rows.  Wish I would've gotten a picture, but I think there's something to be said for leaving the camera at home and simply enjoying the experience.

It seemed like many of the "super-red" strawberries we aimed to pick were ones that looked like this:

There are no more than six strawberries in this photo.  Do you think this is the way that the Gods intended strawberries to look like, when the earth was so masterfully created?  (See the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price for some great gems on the creation of the earth if you are wondering why I wrote "Gods" instead of "God".:)

Part of the Word of Wisdom states this:

"Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—" (D&C 89:4)

I may be taking this out of context to apply it to the verse, but the Lord points out that there will be conspiring men which will have evils and designs in mind to put into play among us.  I'm sure these strawberries likely grew with the support of sun, rain, good soil, and some added fertilizer.  In fact, they probably also had some great pesticide ("pest" meaning unwanted critters, "icide" seeming to denote death), since during the hour+ that we were there, I only found one living critter.  It was a teeny, tiny baby slug of some kind, enjoying eating the strawberry.  I showed it to you and then placed it back among the other strawberries to enjoy.

Anyways... this looks like a Three Mile Island strawberry.  At least 15% or so of what we picked look like this triple- or quadruple-berry strawberry mutation.  Is this safe to eat?  Surely it must not cause stomach ache or other issues.  But why are there seemingly 3-4 points on this one?  What makes the cells grow this way?  What will this do to my body, if on a DNA level, this berry is altered?  Is this the result of fertilizer, pesticide, or years of hybridization of the plant?  Is this intended to create ease of picking, or cause awe and great interest, thereby bringing in increased revenue?  Or is it an unintended consequence of the chemicals applied to help it grow?

Certainly food for thought.  Yes, there are no bugs on it (beyond the baby slug), and I hand picked it, so that seems to give an air of being organic.  But this definitely does not appear to be organic, unless that equals the appearance of a mutation of what a strawberry is supposed to be.

Eat with care!  I'll pray the mutation stops with the strawberries, and that we can take care of these bodies we have been so blessed to have!

~Mom<3 :) 

Monday, June 9, 2014


Dear Austin,

Tonight you read "thcriptures" with us for the first time.  What a joy!  We read D&C 36.  It was just you and Magdalene and Josten and I.  Magdalene wanted to read, but the decided not to, and while she was being wishy-washy, you started reading, which caused her to pitch a fit.  Despite that, how beautiful, to hear your little kindergartener voice reading scriptures, as if you'd been reading them all your life!  Where did you learn to read like that?  I never heard you read your school books quite so well.  What a tender gift, to hear your new-found knowledge being applied to the words of our Lord.  From the mouth of babes.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Faith, Healing, the Weak and the Meek

D&C 35:7-15:
"And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all people."  
We are identified with the Gentiles.  (D&C 109.60)  We, meaning those receiving the revelations and commandments.  Our follies and abominations shall be made manifest.  What are they?  Does abominations mean sexual sin, or something more pervasive?  I believe it means our following after false gods, but I could be wrong.

"For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name.  
(In the original writing of this revelation, the word "not" is not included.)  Do I believe enough to be shown miracles?  Signs?  Wonders?  Have I received miracles?  Have I received signs?  How about wonders?  I believe so.  I see signs in everything, from my kids bringing me inspired gifts, to messages in license plates, to flowers that seem to bloom just for my eyes.  Definitely wondrous!

"And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk."
Hmmm.  Have I asked to cast out devils?  Yes.  Have I healed the sick with faith in Jesus' name?  I don't know.  I pray as I work on massage clients that their infirmities will be healed, but I honestly can't say for sure.  Have I asked to have blind receive their sight?  Deaf to hear?  Dumb to speak?  Lame to walk?

I only know one physically blind person.  I wonder if she has asked to be healed.  Years ago my mother was searching for healing, and went to some of the finest hospitals in the land.  I remember wondering why her Priesthood blessings didn't work enough, and why she had to become an inpatient in these various places.  (Interesting wordplay on "inpatient" vs "impatient".)  She was told her body would naturally regenerate from her condition, and after 7 years would be healed.  Why wait so long?  Where was her faith?  Isn't this promised in the scriptures?  Why could she not be healed???  Where are our miraculous healings?  Why are our hospitals full, and healthcare one of the biggest problems our nation faces?  Should we not be able to have adequate faith to heal by the thousands?

"And the time speedily cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children of men; But without faith shall not anything be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon, the same which has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

Hugh Nibley openly describes Babylon as the marketplace.  It is mammon, finances, money, capitalism.  I was an avid capitalist for many years of my life.  I still believe in "free markets", however I also believe in the commands to have "no poor among us".  My blindness to my folly is being healed.

Without faith NOTHING shall be shown, except desolations upon the moneys of the world - the same which has made us drunk, essentially.  Or perhaps there is different meaning there.  All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her (her meaning Babylon?) fornication.  Fornication is a big word, implying cheating, infidelity, disloyalty, sexual sin.  We have united ourselves, physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to the false money gods, which is what we worship over the true principles revealed.

"And there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth unto this generation."

Do I do good?  Am I ready to receive the fulness of Christ's gospel?  So what if the church as a whole may reject it, or not live up to its needs.  What about ME?  God has already declared that NONE doeth GOOD, except those who are ready.  Am I ready yet?  What hinders me from being ready?

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately that bemoan the current condition of the LDS church.  I get it.  I tend to get sucked into the cause, however it's time to stop bemoaning it, and start focusing on what needs to be done.  Stir the burnt milk off the bottom of the pot, and strain it out.  And if you can't strain it out, at least get it OUT of YOU!  What are changes that you and I can do to strain out the crap that's burnt on the bottom of our pans?
"Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit;" 
It's interesting – I can't hold a Bible-bash conversation to save my life.  I don't enjoy contention, so taking on any kind of scholar, even by commenting on blogs, is very intimidating to me.  I'll have all sorts of witty things rolling through my mind in response to other commentors, but rather than attempt to share my thoughts, I back off.  This is likely not me, even though I consider myself weak.

But thrash the nations?!  By the POWER of His Spirit?  Those are power packed words, especially when compiled with the weak things, the unlearned, the despised, and in essence, the cast aways.  What are we doing to clench onto the power of this electric, blinding-light, thing called "Spirit"?

"And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their enemies shall be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them." 
This past week I had opportunity to talk face to face with someone who represented someone I was once very intimidated by.  This might sound confusing, but in essence, I was bullied by someone who had an identical twin.  I've passed this twin multiple times over the past two years, nearly every time I would enter my children's school for some event.  Each time I avoided making eye contact, especially because I couldn't tell if this was the bully herself or the twin.  She made my life hell, in the sense that for a very long time, I was quite afraid to live and function in the school I attended.  I cowered.  And over two decades later, do I want to acknowledge her, especially if it's just her twin?

Something possessed me the other day to approach her in passing and ask if she was the twin.  She was; not the bully, thank you Jesus!  I wondered what in the world I had been afraid of.  I also wondered what I found so intimidating about her sister in the past.  I'm sure she could still be intimidating, but the respect, the worship, the beauty I used to see in her disappeared.  I felt as if all my prayers to overcome the baggage I carried from this person were being answered, and the fears released; as if my arm was his arm, He was my shield, and my buckler, should I have needed one.  My loins were girded up, and my "enemy" was under my feet.  He fought my battles, and I came out protected.  Even better yet, in her perfectly coiffed hair, I noticed split ends, and had to laugh inside.  If she ever reads this, I mean no offense.  There really was nothing wrong with her, but my fears were overcome and healed.  It's likely I'll never see her sister again either, and if I did, I honestly don't think I'll care.

"And the poor and the meek shall have the gospel preached unto them, and they shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand –"
Who are the poor and the meek?  Poor in finances, or poor in spirit?  Or both?  Who are the meek?  What is meekness?  And what is the real gospel, which is preached to them?  What does it take to be meek?

A soft answer turneth away wrath.  The meek are those who see no need to fight.  They have no need to retaliate, nor to defend their good names.  They surely don't like injustice, but they deal with it and remain faithful.  I seek to be meek.  This is one of the greatest challenges that anyone can face.  Christ is meek, and here promises that those who are poor and meek shall have His gospel preached to them.  I wonder if He means a face to face visit there.  

Me Eider

My husband and I, joined by our 4 year old, ate Chinese for lunch this past week.  My husband was on his lunch break, and after leaving to return to work, little Daniel and I remained.  Daniel took his daddy's chair sitting across from me.  Across the narrow aisle were two men, obviously landscapers by profession, also on their lunch break.  Daniel wanted ice cream.  I got mint chocolate chip.  He got vanilla with blue stripes.  

The landscaper across the aisle, says to his friend sitting across from him, "I don't like grapes with seeds in them."  

"Me eider," says Daniel, continuing to eat his ice cream.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kombucha vs Hot drinks

A few weeks ago, a friend shared with me what is called a scoby, or kombucha starter.  It's a fermentation of tea (?) that is supposed to have all sorts of beautiful health benefits.  I wanted to make my own, because the ones in the store are supposedly all made with black or green teas.  I've been taught to avoid those types of teas because of the Word of Wisdom.

In D&C 89 it reads in verse 9, "And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly."

Several years ago I read a book called Joseph Smith as Scientist, by John A. Widtsoe.  The main thesis of the book is to point out that the Word of Wisdom as absolutely inspired, as there was little to no scientific evidence of any of the health facts at the time regarding many of the substances referenced.  He points out that this was absolutely a revelation, and by revealing it, Joseph was indeed a revelator.  Agreed!  

With this in mind, I would like to point out a few things, and raise a few questions.  But first let me say I have no problems abstaining from the things we are told to abstain from.  I've never tried wine.  Never smoked once.  Never tried coffee or black tea, and really the thought disgusts me.  I have no desire to break any "commandments", although I believe God was very clear upon revealing this that it was to be use "not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days" (vs. 2).  Question 1: why would God reveal through Joseph something that was NOT to become a commandment, and then turn around with Brigham and say, "Nah, changed my mind.  It really IS a commandment.  Just kidding!"

After all, it is "Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints" (vs. 3).  It's given for a principle, not a law.  And what a beautiful promise!  If it were a commandment or constraint, many might falter, and be prohibited from beautiful blessings.  So it's not a commandment or constraint, right Jesus?  But wait.

The traditional narrative I was always taught was that Brigham received a revelation changing all this.  It's somewhere in our history books somewhere (or been lost to history), so we just assume it's true because it's what we've been told.  At least I've always believed that, hence never having tried it.

One documented record reports that many years after we believe Brigham to have "changed" this to a commandment, that he was still struggling with giving up his tobacco habit.  How could this be???  By saying this am I un-sustaining my leaders?  Absolutely not!  I'm just saying the documentation of this becoming a "commandment" I would assert implies differently than what we pass along by word of mouth.  Does Brigham approve of this, if we were to lay claim to our stance on him?  Would he approve, if he knew the course we have taken in turning his words into a commandment when God has indicated otherwise?  Do our current leaders today give us guidance here?  Sure.  Year after year there is undoubtedly a Conference or Ensign talk that hammers this home.  Do they have a source to point me to for when this changed from what is canonized to what we accept as true?  A scholar was granted access to our history annals to dig up some official sources, but nothing was found.  However it was found that things changed officially after Prohibition.
Some will say that our current prophet and leaders have received modern revelation on this.  Is this true?  Or are we simply following a tradition, as we did with blacks and the Priesthood?  (Poor Brigham can't get a break with this stuff!)

Back to verse 9.  Hot drinks.  Hot drinks.  One online blogger I found today said that Brigham said Joseph said this was tea and coffee.  (Sounds like a game of telephone!)  And then somehow we know that it's black tea and green tea.  The same source I mentioned actually had arguments about which plant it is, down to the scientific name, and then went into tanic acid vs. caffeine.

A few verses after verse 9 God explains which grains are good for various animals, and delineates between wheat, corn, rye, barley and oats.  Let's put 2 and 2 together.

God knows the difference between wheat, corn, rye, barley and oats.  If He has a preference that we avoid black and green teas, and that herbals are ok, as well as hot chocolate, Stevens' Pumpkin Spice, or any other hot drink, why not delineate between them?  If He prefers that we don't drink mate (Argentina - sorry, I'm too lazy to find the accent for the e!), or Iced Tea, why not delineate?

Any why do we delineate?  It's hot drinks!  Is it warm drinks?  I would think it would have been clarified.  Why didn't Joseph clarify too, if he knew what it was?  Apparently it was obvious then, but only when we start nit picking and imposing judgment on others is when the trouble arises.  I say I'll agree with the Lord; hot drinks are not for the belly.  Agreed.  Sustained.  Done!  No trouble here Bishop.

So what of kombucha?  That's where this whole post came from.  Jury's still out.  I made mine with herbal tea, but it was certainly cooled.  It's ready now to be used, but most websites I'm reading are saying it's imperative to have the black or green tea to keep the pH at a certain level, or to maintain the health of the scoby and to not pass on pathogens.  So all my work in preparing this carefully might be in vain.

Maybe I could ask God and get an answer for myself on that?  He's actually the best resource I could go to - better than Google, for sure.  Any thoughts on this one?  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thee, Thou, Ye, You

In my studies today, I was in D.&C. Section 30s, meaning I've been digging around in Section 30 thru 34 or so.  I opened up my awesome copy of the Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations Vol. 1, and found the corresponding copies of the original manuscripts.  A few thoughts I'd like to share.

The archaic language of the original is largely edited.  Any reference from original dictation of "thee", "thou", "ye", etc. are all changed to "you".  Of late I have been reading some who enjoy praying with "you" instead of the older-style words.  I thought to give it a try myself.  Surely this crossing-out implied that while Joseph received it in the archaic style, those of his day were more apt to say and better understand "you".  What does it tell us?  Does God speak in Thees and Thous?

Another fun one: D&C 34:3-4 says in my leather bound, 1981 edition,

"Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God.  Wherefore you are my son; And blessed are you because you have believed;"

Original copy records to thusly (although my copy may not have all the editing notations in the manuscripts):

Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the Sons & daughter of God: Wherefore ye are my son, and blessed are you because ye have believed"
From Beloved Enos I learned to read this differently as well.  I won't spoil the fun by sharing, but point  you toward that Snuffer book.  (Kindle version costs less than many fast food dinners.)  It has opened my eyes up to some beautiful, beautiful discoveries when it comes to these kinds of word labels.    

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Good Friday Baptism

Dear Magdalene,

You were born on Good Friday.  Around 8-9 am.  Was it 9:01?  9:03?  I don't remember for sure.  I'm positive it's written somewhere.

It is only fitting that you were baptized this day.  I didn't want a big crowd, and you did.  We invited the ward, but in my opinion, the best of the best showed up.  It was family, your Primary teacher, the bishop and his family, and two other friends, one with spouse and one with grandkids.  Perfectly fitting.  I just wish I had known they were the only ones who would have shown up.  I would have invited everyone to wear pants, come with their scriptures, and done away with printing a "professional" program.

Your Aunt spoke on baptism, and shared the analogy of the penny, one being brand new, and the other being worn with years of use.  Baptism washes clean the tarnish we accumulate.

WaWa spoke on the Holy Ghost, and brought balloons.  You can feel his influence subtly, yet clear if you are paying attention.

We ate brownies, cupcakes, veggies, and jelly beans.  But none of that matters, because what matters is that you have made a statement to God that you are willing to follow him.  I don't know if you know or understand the gravity of it, and with time you may feel its importance.  I do believe you are mature and in-tune enough with God that you realize this was a wonderful day.  You told me you were "excited", and that you laughed as you got in the water.  I don't think it was just fun for you; I think in your heart you are well prepared, and felt the joy of the occasion.  We were all celebrating!

Grandma and angels were there.  Many of them.

I love you to the moon and back.  And even though there were only a few other humans there, they all love you to the moon and back as well.  What a wonderful, beautiful, love filled evening.

Love you immensely,