We talk a lot about receiving and following revelation, but I’ve learned in my experience that the process itself is not as simple at it may first seem. There are real dangers involved because not all revelation that crosses our path comes from God.
The word revelation in Greek is apokalupsis and means “disclosure:–appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation.” The English word revelation comes to us from the French revelare around the 1300s and means to “unveil, uncover, lay bare.”  In its plainest sense, when revelation is happening, we are basically seeing something that was unseen before.
The trick is determining what exactly we are looking at, its source, and what we should do with it, if anything. If we simply swallow any new information without vetting it first, we are going to have potentially disastrous problems.Read Full Post
“but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-16 NASB)
What are we? Are we matter, coarse or refined? What is God? What makes us what we are, what is consciousness? Whether gods or men, are we not ultimately minds? Minds piloting matter?
A man cannot transform his flesh into an immortal, glorified state, but where are the limits on the mind? Can a human mind (not the brain) learn to see as the mind of God sees? What happens when the mind of a person begins to operate more and more like the mind of God? What does it mean to be one with God; not the same as God, but one with him?
In what ways does God share his mind with man and how can we increase our capacity to receive it?
Does one know the will of God because he tells them directly, or do they know because their mind is like God’s?
Does one know they are clean and redeemed because they are told, or because they see themselves through God’s eyes and the answer is clear?
What is the gift of the Holy Ghost?
When I first saw the pictures of Joseph Smith’s primary seer stone my first thought was, “Oh, cool, I’m glad they released some pictures. I knew it was a small, chocolate-colored stone but I didn’t realize it had stripes.” and that was that.
I see conversations around the web indicating that some members of the Church are upset about the seer stone and the part it played in our history. Some were unaware of its existence, but I remember learning about it as a teenager. I didn’t know that much about the process of the translation and how the seer stone and Interpreters fit into the picture, but I did when I cared enough to research it on my own.
Skeptics find humor in the seer stone looking like just a plain old rock and are no doubt enjoying the opportunity to further paint Joseph Smith as an occultic scheister.
Instead of trying to address all of the legitimate concerns and questions, I want to write about my own perspective and the much larger themes at play.
Read Full Post
I created LDS Symbol Cards but didn’t really do much in the way of providing instructions. I thought I’d put together a little video that explains their origins and how I use them personally. Even if you don’t have any cards, but still like symbolism, there are some cool little nuggets in there. If you have ordered some LDS Symbol Cards in the past, I’d love to hear any personal insights or ways that you use them in the comments below.
If you bought some cards, I’d really appreciate a review over here.
CLIMB, verb intransitive
1. To creep up by little and little, or step by step; to mount or ascend, by means of the hands and feet; to rise on any fixed object, by seizing it with the hands and lifting the body, and by thrusting with the feet; as, to climb a tree or a precipice.
2. To mount or ascend with labor and difficulty.
3. To rise or ascend with a slow motion.
CLIMB, verb transitive
1. To ascend by means of the hands and feet, implying labor, difficulty and slow progress; as, to climb a wall, or a steep mountain.
2. To mount or ascend, with labor or a slow motion; as, to climb the ascents of fame.
I’ve always loved dictionaries. I remember back in school when I used to finish my work, I loved to just read and explore the dictionary. Before the Internet, encyclopedias were my Google, I loved learning about every sing topic.
I still remember being a teenager and sitting down to read the entire Bible Dictionary front to back. In a matter of days, I felt like my knowledge concerning theology had doubled. I still love dictionaries and the powerful, sometimes transcendent ideas conveyed by simple words.
MEDITA’TION, noun [Latin meditatio.] Close or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation.
PON’DER, verb transitive [Latin pondero, from pondo, pondus, a pound; pendeo, pendo, to weigh.] 1. To weigh in the mind; to consider and compare the circumstances or consequences of an event, or the importance of the reasons for or against a decision.
Meditation is to revolve something in the mind while pondering weighs the consequences for or against.
In the scriptures, both revolving and weighing lead to revelation and encounters with the divine. Meditation must be centered on some subject to be effectual in practice. When you hear the word meditation you might think of someone sitting on the ground with their legs crossed in a particular manner, which is similar to thinking that prayer must always be ‘eyes closed, head down, and arms crossed.’
In the April 2003 General Conference, Russell M. Nelson said: “We often kneel to pray; we may stand or be seated. Physical position is less important than is spiritual submission to God.”
Physical position is important only to the degree that it may distract you or others from a more significant purpose. Body language is indeed a language and holiness should guide our divine communication. I think Paul’s words apply: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
To revolve something in the mind allows you to collect information by careful, objective, examination of all the facets. When you weigh consequences in your mind, you are placing the object of your meditation into your own sphere and considering Read Full Post
“I had the same good feeling while reading scriptures and while watching a fictional movie, how is that possible?”
I have heard this question or something like it asked time and time again. I’ve heard this example used to illustrate how ’emotions should not be trusted,’ which, I actually agree with. This question makes a valid observation if you are working under some kind of assumption that the Holy Spirit only confirms specific spiritual things as ‘true’ and shouldn’t ever be showing up during something like a movie (only if it’s a church movie though, right?)
Without proper context, people can be led to conclusions that are incorrect because the foundational assumptions are problematic to begin with. I’m not blaming the person who has the question, I’m not sure we do a very good job at really teaching how the Spirit works and what the relationship is between the truth we have and the truth possessed by everyone else.
Emotions themselves are a tricky because they are simply reactions to things we are exposed to. If someone punches you, it hurts and you feel mad, if someone scares you, you feel terror for something that isn’t really terrifying once you realize it. If someone says sweet things to you, you feel good, even though they may really want to take advantage of you. Reading something inspiring, it can also make you feel good.
There’s nothing wrong with all that, but where we do go wrong is in makRead Full Post
Just because someone seems to know a lot about something, doesn’t mean that they can properly execute in that arena.
Someone may know a lot about baseball; they may know all the rules and regulations, they may know all the tricks and insights but they may not be able to hit the ball or throw well. Another person may be able to hit, run and throw with great proficiency but know little about various insights or philosophies involving the game.
In that same vein, it’s one thing to have knowledge and quite another to do well in applying it. I have had wonderful moments of awakening where previously complex doctrines or mysteries of the gospel have been clarified to me through the Spirit, and I love and cherish those moments.
One can obtain the most incredible command of gospel knowledge on earth and it would mean nothing if they do no have love or charity in their hearts for their fellow man.
It has always been significant to me that there are many in this world, of my faith, other faiths or in no faith at all who I have seen demonstrate perfect Christ-like love to their fellow man. No gospel knowledge at all was required.
So I have to remind myself that in all my studies of the gospel, I must not forget to put the principles I learn into action. I have to remember to not be like the man who hid his talent in the earth, but instead seek wisdom in order to better serve my fellow man in this life. People matter most of all.
I have found this to be a very peaceful way to truth. Contention often arises when prideful individuals play intellectual ‘king of the hill’ and declare things about God, heaven and earth that they may only believe and not really know. A particular verse from the Qur’an reads:
“Satan…always commands you…to say things about God that you do not really know.” 2:169
Joseph Smith echoed something similar when he said:
“Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either;” – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 160
Is bearing testimony of something that you don’t know is true good or is it bearing a false witness? Even if well-intentioned, does bearing false witness tend to bring the Spirit or does it invite contention? To what degree does bearing a ‘wishful witness’ contribute to the endurance of problematic paradigms?
“I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” (1 Nephi 11:17)
In this verse, Nephi is experiencing a vision and is being asked questions by an angel. One of the questions is, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” to which Nephi answered with the one thing that he does know while acknowledging what he didn’t know. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know,” but I don’t think it is ok to pretend that you know things that you don’t; isn’t that called lying?
“In God’s great wisdom he has deliberately made the symbols of the temple unique, because their very uniqueness demands the mind ask the questions: Why do we do that? What’s the meaning of that? What’s the significance of this? These are the very questions God wants us to answer, the danger is not that we will ask the questions, the danger is that we become so familiar we stop asking the questions.” – Michael S. Wilcox, Blessings of the House of the Lord, 1999
This quote goes great with this article – think about it.
I like science, I like the process of discovery both in temporal and spiritual spheres (as we tend to distinguish them).
Understanding will always be limited by knowledge, we can’t understand what we don’t know; those things that lie outside of our perception. But as the scope extends, we can perceive and understand more, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:24)
Some things take a looooong time to figure out, and when we do find new answers, they are accompanied by new questions – it never ends. I like the idea that we can explore indefinitely, everyone wants final answers and to put it everything in it’s own little box. More and more, though, I think the thrill of discovery and exploration is often more satisfying than ‘arriving.’
Are we so concerned with understanding everything that we don’t take time to appreciate anything?
We have people sitting on this planet that are ‘bored’ and they don’t realize that they live in this amazing existence filled with vast incomprehensible energy. The same patterns observed in the macro scale can be observed in flowing water, plants, animals, and the human body – these archetypal patterns flow through everything.
If you’re bored, you’re just not paying attention. The ability to observe, to be aware, and to appreciate is truly mind-blowing.
“One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we call upon you students to exercise your God-given right to think through every proposition that is submitted to you and to be unafraid to express your opinions, with proper respect for those to whom you talk and proper acknowledgment of your own shortcomings.
We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom in the Church and in America and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.
Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed, there seems to be little time for meditation.
Dissatisfaction with what is around us is not a bad thing if it prompts us to seek betterment, but the best sort of dissatisfaction in the long run is self-dissatisfaction, which leads us to improve ourselves. Maturity implies the ability to walk alone and not be ashamed within ourselves of the things we do and say.”
– Hugh B. Brown (First Counselor to Church President David O. McKay), An Eternal Quest – Freedom of the Mind, May 13, 1969
Here are a few excerpts from a document titled A Model of Mormon Spiritual Experience by Kevin Christensen. It’s pretty fantastic and has some wonderful things to ponder and many interesting observations. I highly recommend a reading of the entire thing because it’s all really great stuff, these are just a few of my favorite parts. I’m definitely interested in reading more Kevin Christensen!
Numinous Experience p. 3-4
In a classic study, The Idea of the Holy, Rudolf Otto studied the characteristics of a type of religious encounter that he named the numinous. Ninian Smart sums up numinous experience as “a mystery which is fearful, awe-inspiring, . . . and fascinating.”
“But above all, the sense of presence which confronts a person in the numinous experience is majestic: marvelous power and glory; in their rather different ways, the experiences of Arjuna, Isaiah, Job, Paul, and Mohammed are all numinous in character.” (The Idea of Holy, Rudolf Otto)
Combining Numinous and Mystic Experience p.6
Here, I believe, is an essential distinguishing characteristic of Mormonism—the blend of the numinous and the mystic. This explains the Orthodox discomfort with the Mormon idea ofRead Full Post
Just thought I’d share an old quote I came across again from “Thomas” who was a commenter on a post at TempleStudy.com. I don’t know who this guy is but I like the way he thinks. He shared some very profound truths and here they are for you to enjoy as well.
“Mysticism is the study or practice of “mysteries”. Therefore mysticism can be defined by the means and methods and not by the resultant experience.
First, the experience isn’t mystical, it’s metaphysical. Second, mysticism derives from the same Greek root as mystery, and derives much of its meaning from that root. Mystic (of or pertaining to mysteries known by the initiated) with the suffix -ism (denoting action or practice). Experiences vary dramatically, anyway; what doesn’t vary nearly as much, however, is the means and methods.
Thus, you may be a mystic – not because you seek a transcendental experience, but because you practice mystical rites and ordinances: namely study, meditation, and prayer (among others). By this definition, all mystics practice more or less similar methods, though they may do so for very different reasons.”
For some additional pondering, I’ll throw in this quote from Joseph Smith:
“A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.” (Joseph Fielding Smith (editor), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137)
“The Latter-day Saints are in many respects like other people who are not Latter-day Saints. We are apt to entertain views which are not very correct, and which may be the result of our traditions and preconceived ideas. This is a peculiarity that pertains to mankind generally, that whenever they deal with the things of God, or speak about them, or contemplate them, and especially when they read the predictions made by the servants of God concerning future events, or events that may transpire right before their eyes, they are apt to get, sometimes, erroneous ideas, or, at least, exaggerated ideas, in relation to them.” – George Q. Cannon, JD 21:264
I have seen the impact of traditions and preconceived ideas in my own experience, and overcoming them has been necessary to growing closer to God. One might assume that we are safe in just sticking with whatever we learn at Church and are taught by our leaders, but Ezra Taft Benson warned:
“Not only are there apostates within our midst, but there are also apostate doctrines that are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and that appear in our publications. And these apostate precepts of men cause our people to stumble…” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1949, p. 163, Apr. 1969, p. 11)
Now don’t go throwing the baby out with the bath water, remember that George Q. Cannon observed that this is a peculiarity that pertains to mankind generally. Sometimes we are exposed to false ideas intentionally or unintentionally, but this shouldn’t concern us that much. Part of our mortal experience is seeing whether or not we will put forth the effort to discern light from darkness.
While we should never take lightly the instruction given by the apostles and prophets sent to us, we should remember that the Holy Spirit works in tandem with their words. The key here is a personal relationship with God and eyes and ears that can hear the voice of the Spirit. Everything you put your trust in should be examined in light of the Holy Scriptures and by much pondering and feedback from on high.
Without the Spirit, even Jesus’ preaching is reduced to simple stories about plants, debtors, pearls, lamps, thieves, weddings and sheep.
Personal conversion to actual doctrines of the Gospel and a correct understanding of true principles of the Gospel will bring us closer to God. All ideas should be held up to the light of the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. Some may err in their delivery of the message, we may err in what we thought we heard or in how we interpreted what we heard, but the Spirit transcends the limitations of our language and the deficiency of our perceptions.
Blindly trusting in the philosophies of men, traditions and preconceived ideas, without seeking understanding, will sustain the chasm that stands between us and God making us ripe for extremes and apostasy.
Let’s be honest with ourselves about what we only believe versus what we truly know and have the courage and faith to invest in the path that leads to knowledge. It may require us to confess to ourselves that we only really believe what we merely assumed that we “knew” because we grew up and based our lives upon a tradition.
Put it all to the test; purging your life of erroneous traditions and preconceived ideas is a humbling experience but it is completely worth it!
1 Nephi 10
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God–and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come–I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
20 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.
21 Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.
22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.
1 Nephi 11
1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?
I usually wake up slowly and roll out of bed at around 7:20am…ish.
My morning routine hasn’t been anything special, but today, I woke up right at 6am and was wide awake. Last night I had the idea to go climb to the top of one of the local foothills to pray and mediate first thing in the morning.
Well, now it was morning and I was very comfortable and my pillow felt just perfect. I settled into it and enjoyed the moment while telling myself that it would feel wonderful to drift off and catch another hour of sleep.
At the same time, however, was the notion that I was in control and could just as easily get up and pursue something more worthy. I put on some thick pants, hoodie, jacket and beanie and walked out of the house into the cold morning – I hate cold. I walked out of the neighborhood and across the street to where there are a series of foothills around Black Mountain.
As I walked I looked around trying to decide where I was going to climb. My eyes fell upon a dark, symmetrical hill that looked like the perfect spot, so I began my ascent. As soon as I reached the top, the pinkish orange hue of the clouds immediately increased to an intense level that was really quite breathtaking. After several minutes the color drained out, so I talked to God for a while, listened for a while and decided to wait for the sun to rise. The sun looked like it might be coming up closer to the South instead of the East. Then, I remembered that on the northern hemisphere in the winter, the sun rises in the South East, the same direction that Moroni on the Las Vegas Temple is pointing.
The sun was rising at this low spot between Black Mountain and another set of tall hills which meant I would get to see the sun sooner that I was expecting to. I looked East past Black Mountain and then slightly North East at the rays of the sun reaching some other mountains off in the distance. Everything the sun touched seemed to be standing at attention. I stood and faced the rising sun and the wind picked up quite fiercely, but I didn’t let it shake me.
The sun rose, partially veiled behind clouds that burned so brightly with white and gold that I had to avert my eyes. The sun had risen, although partially obscured.
I wanted to get home in time to pray with the family before the kids went to school so I began my descent. I made it back and we prayer together before my wife ran the kids to school. I fixed breakfast, went into my office and started my work day.
Just a few minutes ago, I was informed that my grandmother passed away.
We will miss you, Tutu.
“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” Alma 40:11
The Lectures on Faith is a fantastic addition to the doctrinal knowledge base of the Latter-day Saints. They were part of the Doctrine and Covenants for almost 100 years and were separated from the canon on the grounds that they were not specific revelations to the Church. It’s a complicated story that I’m going to have to address at another time.
What I’m going to be presenting is from the Fifth Lecture that contains teachings about the Godhead that may at first seem foreign to our traditional views as we have come to understand them. When we are seeking to learn eternal truths through the insufficient languages of man, we can often encounter things that puzzle us.
As inconvenient as this is, I believe that it plays an important role in our quest for truth. It causes us to question, to stretch our understanding and ponder deeply upon things. So let’s look into one of these teachings and see what profound truths that we can draw from it.
The mind of the Father and the Son
In Lecture Five we read:
“And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father – possessing the same mind with the Father; which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son;”
If you read this literally or within a different paradigm it will sound confusing to you. It almost sounds as if the Holy Spirit is nothing more than some kind of shared consciousness. It might seem that way, but I don’t believe that this is the right interpretation. First of all, in translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith would be well aware of what Nephi said when he conversed with the Holy Spirit in a vision:Read Full Post
What if there was a doctrinally-based way to make every single day of your life significant, meaningful and amazing?
Well, there is and it is so simple. I’ve only been doing this for a few days now and am still starting to get the hang of it, but I see the potential and I understand the doctrine. Have you ever started working out only to notice a few days later that your pants are fitting you better and your muscles are feeling more solid? That’s about where I’m at.
First, a little background…
I’ve been really enjoying Elder Bednar’s book Increase in Learning. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it but this book, which was given to me as a gift from one of the wisest people I know, didn’t really impress me much at first. The title of the book really intrigued me and my expectations were pretty high since I really admire Elder Bednar. In the beginning, it didn’t really grab me and felt really “watered-down” and intended for a novice audience. I grew impatient and skimmed on through finding a couple nuggets and then shelved it about halfway through.
Big mistake.Read Full Post
A few years back I wrote an article about how to keep your own “small plates” and why it is important. I even started posting excerpts of my own “small plates” that I deemed appropriate for the public to offer suggestions and ideas on possible applications of the principle.
The Basic Rules for Small Plates From Jacob 1:1-4
“For behold, it came to pass that fifty and five years had passed away from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem; wherefore, Nephi gave me, Jacob, a commandment concerning the small plates, upon which these things are engraven.” (1:1)
- Write only what is considered to be most precious, keep personal histories elsewhere
- Find ways to preserve the records from generation to generation
- Record the following and touch upon the following things “as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people” (1:4)
- Preaching that is sacred
- Revelation that is great
1. What is Most Precious and What is History
Typically, I keep my personal history journal in another place like Evernote (I’ll come back to this later) while that which I deem “most precious” for my “small plates” constitutes preaching, revelation or prophecy that comes through the Holy Spirit.
This one has been pretty tricky for me to deal with over time. Read Full Post