Thursday, August 10, 2017

Beware of Sacred Secret Combinations

This post has been a long time coming.  I have tried several times to share this story for someone's benefit.  In my mind, I have already published it those several times, but after searching more than once, I can't find any post where I discuss this experience.  So with hope in mind that this may help someone, I share it.  I hope it will further blessings, not cursings, and quite possibly help someone avoid the pain that has accompanied the lesson.  It ran deep.  

A friend taught me a long time ago to hold revelation loosely.  He said it's important when you receive revelation, to hold it loosely enough that if more revelation were to come, it would not unsettle me because I allowed room for more gaps to be filled in, for more knowledge to be gained, and more wisdom to be inherited.  To hold a revelation rigidly would not allow for greater light and knowledge to be gained, perhaps causing me to rigidly reject the new information, labeling it not of God.  With that in mind, I sought increased personal revelation from God Almighty.

During the time I was working closely with this male friend, seeking to learn the things of God.  I felt he knew more than I did, so I trusted much of what he taught me.  He later told me he really didn't know anything.  Despite his repentance from his pride of believing he knew anything worth sharing, I still believe much of what he taught me contained a great deal of truth.  It has withstood at very least, several years of time and careful evaluation and life experience.  He was endowed with wisdom on this point of holding revelation loosely.

About the same time I worked with him, I was friends with several individuals.  They were seeking the things of God, as I was.  One of the women had already learned amazing things, and I wanted to learn them too!  These were things related to talents and skills I knew I held in myself, but didn't understand or know how to translate into everyday use.  Looking back, it wasn't that this knowledge was impossible to learn, it was just that she had been down the path of finding it for a longer period of time than I had.  For clarity in this post, I will call her the 'Revelator', as she claimed to receive information from angels and Jesus to pass along to the rest of us.  I was so excited to know her!  To learn from her!  To work with her!  So cool!

Another female was seeking knowledge from the first - I'll call her the 'Elder', as she had wonderful skills and God-given blessings that appeared just as special as being able to receive clear revelation.  Her experience seemed wise, compared to my inexperience.  She was the one who had introduced me to the Revelator to begin with.  And I was so excited to know her too!  To be her friend was a gift I sincerely cherished, because I felt we were such kindred spirits.  I absolutely loved her with all my heart, quite possibly more than any friend I'd had in a long time.  I trusted her extensively.

The third woman was a supporting friend who likewise associated with the other two.  She appeared to hold so much charity that one could not help but love her.  I'll call her the 'Charity'. At least it appeared to be charity.  She was so very, very sweet, and lent the impression that she was on a constant spiritual high.

And then there was me.  I was several years younger than all of them.  And I was poor and unkempt under the surface.  Despite my inexperience in motherhood and life, I was chipper and happy and eager to be their friend.

In time I considered myself very close friends with the three, joining them on the path towards God.  And as I learned from them, it had been made clear to me, that certain things they shared with me were so special, so "sacred" that I ought never share outside the confidence of the group.  It was quite like something kids might say on the playground or at a sleepover.  "You're my bestest, bestest friend, so I'm going to share this private private information with you.  PLEASE don't tell ANYONE what I'm going to tell you, ok?"  Sure!  I won't tell anyone, even though I have no idea what you're going to divulge.  Tell me everything.  As a person of integrity, I had no need or desire to break the trust they placed upon me.  

One day, things changed when I received a strong inclination to tell one of their revelations with my husband.  In truth, who doesn't want to share intimate secrets with their spouse?  The natural disposition of humans is to divulge secrets.  And if one loves their spouse, would they not also want them to receive the special revelations of God, to progress along the path towards Him and know the things of Him?  Is that not only natural, but Christlike love?  To want everyone to be special, special, special and learn this understanding of sacred things?

But wait.  To share their revelations - which I all but promised and nearly-but-didn't-completely swear up and down not to – would be breaking trust with them.  It would not only turn me into a gossip, but completely and clearly untrustable.  Is that really you prompting me, God?  Is this a test?  Don't you want me to keep your revelations sacred?  Is my husband worthy of such things?  Would he reject the revelation, and by doing so, have his progression damned because he rejected information from God, despite it not being his own?

I asked this question for days, weeks, and what felt like forever.  I pushed off the prompting.  No way would I share their secret.  NO way.  I was a woman of integrity, and I can keep confidences.  But the feeling persisted.  Was this the devil, pressuring me?

Such confusion!  Ugh!  

One day, I even talked to the Revelator about it.  I didn't tell her specifically what I had been feeling, but just that I had been feeling led to do something that seemed or felt very contrary to anything I'd ever experienced.  She confirmed that I'd need to follow my heart, which ironically was confirming that I needed to share this secret.

What a betrayal!  What a friend I wasn't!  How could I do that???  Ugh!!!

Trusting in the mercy of God, I proceeded one evening to share her secret with my husband.  My hands shook.  I was petrified!  We were sitting in a restaurant on a date, and I could have sworn the whole room was listening, even the walls.  Angels taking note, good or bad.

My husband's response?  He thought the revelation was nothing he cared to even discuss or hear more of, and left it at that.  Next conversation, Jen.  Eat your food.

Little did I know that Charity was also receiving such promptings, but rather than follow them, she asked permission to share from the Revelator and the Elder.  They adamantly and with much vehemence, declined her request, then strengthened the need and requirement for their secret to be kept among all of us by calling me to assert the requirement.  When the Elder shared this information with me, I felt extreme guilt, and the next day apologized to her, admitting that I had already done such sharing.  I called the Revelator and confessed likewise.  She took in my apology, processed it, and a week or so later spent 45 minutes on the phone, yelling, deriding, chastising me, and furious that I was only acting on my own guilt, weakness, and need to feel accepted by my husband. Her confident belief was that I shared her secret to satisfy my own personal needs, and it had nothing to do with God's will.  She was absolutely certain.  And I believed her.

I cried, I petitioned God for forgiveness, I cried and apologized for hours to my friend, the Elder.  I mourned, literally sobbing at times.  I could not feel any lower.  After a few days I begged her to help me reconcile with the Revelator.  After defending myself, asserting that I felt it was God's will for me to share, she was shocked at my audacity.  I simply did not understand, she felt, the absolute PAIN I had caused, and I was not repentant enough to merit continuing the friendship.  I needed to repent more for what I had done.  This was all done via a very lengthy email, which included a rejection of our friendship as well.  In her words, I was virtually cast out of the Garden of Eden.

So confused, so heartbroken, so depressed, I cried AGAIN for days, asking God for forgiveness.  Where had I gone wrong?  Had I transgressed His commands, His requirements for keeping sacred things private?  But my husband was not the devil, nor was he someone who would spread such things.  Oh, what a mess!  Such remorse, such regret.

In talking to my male friend, who taught me to hold revelations loosely, he simply told me he didn't think I was wrong to share.  He believed I had simply followed God's promptings.  Simple.  Nothing to be mourn about.  And if I had greatly sinned, he did not feel it warranted great repentance and sackcloth and ashes.  It was an honest attempt at listening.

Could it be true?  Was it possible that a lowly soul like me, who isn't a revelator, not particularly wise, and not exactly charitable, could receive a revelation which was contrary to women with such clear bestowals of heavenly power and wisdom?  Could it be possible that I was right in obeying the command placed upon my heart?

In sincere truth, whether I'm right or wrong, I know with my heart I did the absolute BEST I could do, with the information I had been given.  It's been years since this took place and I feel no pedestal-like respect for any of them, yet no animosity either.  Knowing I'm not a gossip, I know it could not possibly be my nature to want to spread people's personal information around just for the sake of sharing.  I only knew how to follow my heart.  From this I learned that the primary way I receive revelation is through the heart.  And I don't know, but I strongly trust that I was doing what God asked me to do, whether or not these three witnesses of sorts believe that to be false or true.

If I take a moment to imagine that I was wrong, there are myriad of scriptures to suggest that God appreciates our repentance, and will gather us as a hen gathers his chicks.  He does not delight in casting people out of his garden, and to cast one away is a monumental, earth shattering event.  This was not an earth shattering transgression in God's eyes, and He did not remove His influence from my life.  If anything I learned to trust God more completely, relying less and less on the arm of the flesh.  All good things.

This experience prompted the early posts on this blog, about forgiveness, and relying on the mercy of Jesus for healing.  Indeed, this experience initiated A Major Shift in my life, one I am still working on daily.

God continues to remind me of this experience from time to time.  Two main lessons stick out.

1.  This drama was one of the most powerful experiences I have had, in learning to bravely listen to the promptings of God.  Hypothetically, one would think it might have been easier had He just spoken audibly to me, shown up to me, or otherwise made the instruction clear.  But God is persuasive, gentle, meek, and patient.  He did not force me to share the secret, but the prompting was persistent over time, not like a drug addiction, but a knowing that this step was required to fall back and trust in Him more.

2. Like it or not, I was part of a secret combination.  There were three important parts to this combination.  They will serve as red flags to me for the rest of my life.  

  • There was secret information, considered sacred, that I was committed to never break from, disobey, or malign. In some ways, out of human decency, I continue to keep their secret private.  
  • The consequence of revealing the information out of the combination meant a literal "death" of the relationship.  Only those deemed worthy were permitted to participate in the combination. 
  •  It required trusting the flesh, verbal commitments, and expression of spiritual confidence via "yay" or "nay".


Regardless of whether or not what was placed on my heart was from God, like I felt, or from the devil, like the women felt, I learned without a doubt, how to identify a secret combination.  They are painful.  They are innocent, at least to the ignorant.  They are prideful.  They are "special".  And they are rampant, as it is an innate need for us to feel as though we "belong".  Adlerian psychology suggests it is a primal need to belong, one of our core needs.

Secret combinations are not limited to gangs, as we suppose in Sunday School class.  They are not only accessible to the urban populations.  They are not left to the evil, hateful disposition of people.  These women were Mormon, spiritual, talented, kind, and generous.  And because I shared a piece of information with another human, they (or I did, as they claim) obliterated our relationship, not by force, but by choice.  My choice?  I would have retained the relationships.  Their choice?  They exterminated it.  I am beyond grateful for the experience.  I wish to not be aligned with secret, holy or unholy combinations.  The experience has allowed me to use this as a red flag to avoid future experiences with darkness claiming to be light.  It was extremely painful, which acted as another red flag.

And perhaps, should I err in my judgment, I trust God will continue to work with me as I repent of it.

With love,
~Jen

p.s. - After composing this piece several days ago, and leaving it in draft form, I was asked to share it today.  I trust someone needs it, and hope, again, that it blesses the reader.  I ask God to bless those involved, and hold no ill will towards any of the individuals discussed. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Free as a Bird

Birds have intrigued me during the last year.  Inspired by bird feeders, bird books, bird statues, and living birds, I observe their freedom to act.  They go where they want, unrestrained by borders, countries, laws and ordinances.  Seeing what most other creatures will never see, they make the air their home.  Having lightweight bones, slick feathers, and sharp beaks, they survive somewhere between heaven and earth.


They often eat by pulling food from the earth, and taking it to higher ground.  Their primary cautions are predators and weather.



God is mindful of each sparrow, and knows when they fall.  The average human pays little attention to birds, because they are not in their field of vision.  But in spending more time looking at the sky, one observes a vast world of birds.  Some extremely small.  Some extremely large.  What is their purpose?

I suppose they are to teach me something about freedom.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nephi's last words

Nephi leaves an ominous warning to the reader of his book.

And now my beloved brethren 
all those who are of the house of Israel 
and all you ends of the earth 

I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust 
farewell 
until that great day will come 

and you that will not partake of the goodness of God 
and respect the words of the Jews 
and also my words 
and the words which will proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God 
behold I bid you an everlasting farewell 
for these words will condemn you at the last day 
for what I seal on earth will be brought against you at the judgment bar 
for thus has the Lord commanded me and I must obey 
Amen


Having completed a recent reading of 1 and 2 Nephi over the last few months, I ask myself, "What is Nephi's message?"  

Here he warns, that if: 
  • you who choose not to partake of God's goodness, 
  • nor respect the words of the Jews (not necessarily their traditions, which Nephi denounces, but the testaments which come from them), 
  • nor respect Nephi's own words, 
  • nor have ear for the words which come from the Lamb
– these words will condemn those who choose to ignore them.  What is Nephi's overreaching message?  He's pretty serious about wrapping up the book.  He clearly took a lot of effort to share certain things for us.  

My observations: 
  • Nephi's books are filled with visions, revelations, dreams
  • His books recount the consequences of sin
  • He laments openly about his weaknesses
  • He is passionate about loving his God, who he calls "my Jesus" (reminds me of this guy!)
  • He has sealing power
  • He encouraged face to face meeting with God
  • He glories in plainness – there are not "hidden" gotchas that one must try feverishly to read between lines.  
  • He reveals everything he possibly can about how to enter the "path", states little or nothing of special churches, groups, clubs or groups which require pacts, promises, or combinations
  • He preaches the importance of baptism of water, of fire, of Holy Ghost, and entering into the "path"
I have grown to have an immense appreciation and love for Nephi.  I have read and heard others say that they find his writings and personality dry, boring, and humorless.  One author I read commented that he would probably not be likely to participate in friendship with Nephi because he seemed to be a bland kind of guy.  People used to comment in church how they could never "get through" his book, especially his retelling of Isaiah's accounts.  I find that reading Nephi's account in the Simple Copy has opened my eyes up to his heart, his passion, and his personality.  I don't find him dry at all.  I find Olde English dry.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

A New Tongue

But 
behold 

my beloved brethren

thus came the voice of the Son
unto me saying
"After you have repented 
of your sins 
and witnessed 
unto the Father
that you
are willing to keep 
my commandments 
by the baptism of water 
and 
have received 
the baptism of fire 
and of the Holy Ghost 
and can speak with a new tongue 
yes 
even with 
the tongue of angels 
and after 
this should deny me 

it would have been better 
for you 
that you had not known me"

And I heard a voice from 

the Father 

saying "yes, 
the words of my beloved 
are true and faithful

He 

that endures to the end 
the same 
will be saved" 

And now my beloved brethren
I know by this 
that unless a man will endure 
to the end 
in following the example 
of the Son of the living God 
he cannot be saved 

wherefore do the things which I have told you 
-Nephi

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lambs and Doves

In 2 Nephi 13 (Simple Copy), Nephi says – and I take liberty in likening it in form of a poem for deeper analysis – and items in parenthesis are added by myself:


And now if the Lamb of God 


he being holy
should have need 
to be baptized 
by water 
to fulfil all righteousness 
then how much more need 
have we 
being unholy 
to be baptized 
yes 
even by water 

And now 
I would ask of you 
my beloved brethren 
wherein the Lamb 
of God did fulfil 
all righteousness 
in be(-)ing 
baptized by water 
Know you not 
that 

he was holy 

But 

notwithstanding he being holy 
he shows 
unto the children 
of men 

that according to the flesh he humbles himself 
before the Father 
and witnesses 
unto the Father 

that 

he would be obedient 
unto him 
in keeping his commandments 

wherefore 

after 

he was baptized with water 
the Holy Ghost descended upon him 
in the form of a dove 



And again 
It shows unto the children 
of men 
the straightness 
of the path 
and the narrowness 
of the gate 
by which they should enter 

he having set the example before them 
And he said unto the children 
of men 
follow you me 

Wherefore 

my beloved brethren 

can we follow 
Jesus 

save we will be willing 
to keep the commandments of the Father 

And the father said 

repent you repent you (YOU REPENT!  YOU REPENT!!!)

and be baptized 
in the name of 
my 
beloved Son 

And also 

the voice of the Son came 

unto me saying 
he 
that is baptized in my name 
to him 
will the father give 
the holy Ghost 
like 
unto me 

wherefore follow me 
and do the things 
which you have seen me do 

Wherefore 

my beloved brethren 

I know that if you 
will follow the Son 
with full purpose of heart 
acting no hypocrisy and 
no deception before God 
but with real intent 
repenting of your sins 
witnessing unto the Father 
that you are willing 
to take upon you the name of Christ 
by baptism yes 
by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water according to his word 
behold then 
will you receive the holy Ghost 
yes then 
comes the baptism of fire 
and of the Holy Ghost 

and then
can you speak 
with the tongue of angels 
and shout 
praises unto the Holy One of Israel(!)

As an aside: 

Nephi is well aware of Christ's given name.  He refers to the Lamb of God several times in chapter 13.  He also references the dove.  He also references the voice of the Father.  If Christ is both described and named as the Lamb, the Holy Ghost is as a dove, what do you suppose the Father may be likened to? 

Phases of a New Dispensation

I am always open to self-introspection, and self-examination.  As I have identified myself in the past few years to be a part of the "LDS Remnant" movement, constant examination of what is going on within myself and without in the greater movement it is critical.  If one believes they are on a straight and narrow path, examining the compass is ALWAYS welcome, in my opinion.

What follows is a copy of a piece I was invited to share anonymously from a small fellowship which desires their identity to remain private.  I believe it valuable for introspection and examination.  If false, it could be disregarded.  If true, it could be used to re-align the compass.

Note: this is part of a larger document which may provide added insight into reasons why these items were included here.  Readers may leave a comment should they be desire to be connected with the authors. :)

Phases of A New Dispensation

  • Phase 1: The Second Comforter
    • Began with his book The Second Comforter, published in 2006
  • Phase 2: Remembering the Covenant
    • Noted by: "Still not getting it, still need help."
    • Began with his blog. Ended before 40YIM with A Sign, though the blog continued for two more years, almost exactly, lasting six months after the last 40YIM talk.
    • Ended with A Sign and the next post was an announcement publishing a 5 volumes series of Blog. The Fifth volume ends with A Sign.
    • Started 2/2010 (blog start date)
    • Ended 3/2013 (blog titled A Sign. Blog continues for two more years)
  • Phase 3: Forty Years in Mormonism
    • Noted by: 40 Years in Mormonism talks
    • These talks contained a mix of "get your own" and setting up a non-legal organization, loose fellowships with rules on how to act in those fellowships so there would be some order (public vs. private). For example, authority was only to be had between the individual and the Lord. Authority to act in the fellowship required a vote.
    • Announcement of an eventual temple.
    • Forty years was a condemnation given to Israel until the current generation died off. On 4/2017 Denver posted a scripture that referenced the number 10. "Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it."
    • Started 9/2013 (first talk)
    • Ended 9/2014 (last talk)
  • Phase 4: Suffering an Idolatrous People
    • Creation of DenverSnuffer.com (3/2015). His first real post and action on the site was to nominate a recorder.
    • Recorder’s Clearing house and objections are raised to Keith using the official site/logo to promote his opinions. (4/2015)
    • Adrian Larsen’s logo. (9/2015)
    • Claimed that “Moses” gave the higher law and now we are getting something lesser. Noted by Why a Temple blog post where he states temples are a mercy for those who can’t “obtain the covenant” on their own. (4/2016)
    • Claimed by some that there is an effort to “overthrow the doctrine of Christ” by adding requirements for salvation.
    • Announcement of scriptures as a covenant and that those who make a covenant should be allowed to depart those who didn’t. (3/2017)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Phoenix Dream

A few months ago, I had a dream, where I was heading to attend a conference in Phoenix.  I had driven thousands of miles from home, to attend a conference, where members of the LDS Remnant group were gathering.  Driving in a caravan of white vans, we were led into a sports complex, where there was a covered building where these friends were gathering.  I entered the building, and there were ladies of the Remnant Relief Society, who were gathered and sitting at tables, crocheting or crafting small spinner crafts made with paper and craft sticks.  Walking close to a round table of ladies, I observed over the shoulders of those who had already arrived earlier than I had, and tried to gather, through context clues, what they were making, and how to make my own.  I watched and watched, but couldn't quite gather all the details.

Realizing I'd have to make a gamble on my own, I sat down at a table, where a few other women were seating, working on their projects.  Beginning my own craft, I picked up the paper and craft sticks and glue, and started focusing on my work.  I sat in frustration, knowing I should ask for help, but also knowing it was the nature of the individuals in this group to censure one another when new people didn't understand the way.  And not that I was new and ignorant, I just didn't have all the instruction that they had received, due to arriving later to the gathering.  After sitting for what felt like 15 minutes, I dared to look up to the lady next to me, and ask her for some help.  But I knew I shouldn't have.

Immediately she furrowed her eyebrows, scolding me with her eyes.  Then her lips.

"If you needed help you should have asked long ago!  You've been here for 15 minutes already!"  Her insults didn't stop, even though her lips did, as I knew what she was thinking as she stood up and walked away behind me.

I heard a voice whisper to my right ear, from someone different.  Not understanding it, I turned my head to the right in hopes to hear better.  I asked, "What?"  The message was repeated, with hands covering the individual's mouth, so only I would hear.  But again, I didn't understand it.  Still with my head to the right, I said, "I'm really sorry, I don't understand what you're saying.  Can you say it again please?"

The third time the woman spoke to me, and I understood.  She told me, through the back of my head somehow, to "Look up to the hands that hang/come/reach down."  I am unsure if I saw hands reaching down through the clouds, or just knew they were there, but the image is emblazoned in my memory.  I knew she was an angel at this point.  

This is my report of the dream from February, 2017. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Exactness

Most LDS consider the word "exactness" a symbolic totem of sorts.  It represents temple commitments and how they are to live out their lives.

I searched the word "exactness" in my Gospel Library app.  In the Old Testament, there were zero citations using the word "exactness".  However the word "exact" occurs once in the Epistle Dedicatory, and reflects an idea synonymous with the word "specific".  After that, the word "exact appears four times.  The word "exacted" appears twice.  "Exaction" occurs twice.  In every case, outside the Epistle Dedicatory, it refers to taxation or collection of moneys or debts.

In the New Testament, only the word "exact" appears, and only one time.  Also referring to the tax collector (AKA "publican") collecting no more than he is required.

In the Book of Mormon, here is the count:

  • exact - 1
  • exacted - 1
  • exactness - 1
The use of "exactness" is the only one which refers to something other than taxes or collection of monies.  However it is completely possible that the word exactness did refer to the traditional use of the word, however in our modern reading we equate the word with "precise" or "specific".  A linguistic or scripture scholar might be able to consider an alternate meaning for this. 

Doctrine and Covenants uses the word "exactly" three times, all in Official Declaration 1.  All cases refer to a definition synonymous with the word "specific, precisely". 

The Pearl of Great Price uses the word "exactly" one time.  It is when Joseph says a pillar of light was exactly over his head.  

I find it extremely peculiar that this word is used so infrequently in scripture.  The total count comes to 20 times, in various forms, throughout hundreds of pages of scripture.    

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Edit

Tonight I felt to make a change.  What was previously linked as a "Sloppy Copy of the Book of Mormon" is retitled to Simple book of Mormon.  The URL is now here: http://simplebookofmormon.blogspot.com/  I hope you find as much benefit from it as I have.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Words of Moses/Nephi

This afternoon I finished reading and revising 1 Nephi 7 (in my Sloppy Coppy [edit] Simple Copy) for my kids.  Something interesting stuck out to me, probably with current events going on.  This part here:

"But it is the kingdom of the devil which will be built up among the children of men which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh for the time speedily will come that all churches which are built up to get gain and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world and to do all manner of iniquity yes in fine all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear and tremble and quake they are those who must be brought low in the dust they are those who must be consumed as stubble and this is according to the words of the prophet"
(Forgive the lack of punctuation, but that is one purpose of my sloppy copy revision.  It allows me to see the words freshly.)

To bullet this out for clarity, these are identifiers of the enemy's kingdom:

  • established among those in the flesh
  • any/all church built up to get gain
  • all those (churches? individuals?) who are built up to get power over flesh
  • all those (churches? individuals?) who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world
  • those who seek the lusts of the flesh
  • those who seek the things of the world
  • those who do all manner of iniquity
Bullets 2 and 3 are assumed to speak of churches, but it is possible they refer to individuals as well.  So the question remains, for me, do I participate or encourage any of these things.  Do I worry myself with being in a church built up to get gain, or make money in any way off of people?  Do I seek to get power over flesh?  Do I seek to become popular in the eyes of others, especially the "world"?  Do I seek the lust of my flesh?  Do I seek the things of the world, like fine cars, fine homes, superior schooling, lavish entertainment or self indulgences?  Do I participate in any manner of iniquity?  

It's difficult to say I don't participate in any of those things.  Best not to point the finger, but rather use the words of Nephi, quoting the prophet Moses, for introspection.