Sometimes we limit what God can give us by the “receptacle” or “vessel into which something is received” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) we bring to him.
We may come to God begging for spiritual food while holding out a single finger instead of cupping both hands or lifting up a massive basket. Do we come to God expecting much but with nowhere to put what he is willing to give?
It is written that he willing and eager to pour out great blessings and knowledge, but we must come ready and able to receive them.
A small child can only receive simple ideas because their capacities are limited, but as they grow and learn their abilities to receive increase exponentially.
Desire is essential and powerful, but if we want to receive more, we need to increase belief, faith, hope, knowledge, understanding, meditation, and pondering to construct a spiritual receptacle that can receive more.
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” – 2 Nephi 28:30
Moroni chapter 10 is just excellent in many ways, but I wonder if we are too quick to gloss over some important points.
We love Moroni 10:3-5 and even call it “Moroni’s promise,” and indeed it is a kind of promise. Note that Moroni wrote chapter 10 to a specific audience: “I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites…” (vs.1) The title page of the Book of Mormon says that it is “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile…” so I think this ‘promise’ can also apply to anyone else in that same sense.
Typically, I see people focusing on verses 4 and 5 which deal with praying and receiving an answer.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
What they tend to gloss over is the importance of verse 3 which contains additional conditions that must be met to ‘know the truth’ of the Book of Mormon.
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.”
The first line is interesting, and I think I’ve read it wrong forever. Typically when I readRead Full Post
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
George MacDonald wrote:
“A mystical mind is one which, having perceived that the highest expression of which the truth admits, lies in the symbolism of nature and the human customs that result from human necessities, prosecutes thought about truth so embodied by dealing with the symbols themselves after logical forms. This is the highest mode of conveying the deepest truth; and the Lord himself often employed it, as, for instance, in the whole passage ending with the words, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!” – George MacDonald (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 685-688).
Upon first blush, what does the word “mysticism” conjure up in your mind? Do you see some kind of aged figure dressed in robes casting spells of some kind? The truth is that you know more mystics than you realize and if you are reading this, you are probably one yourself. I’ll let a commenter named “Thomas” over at the website TempleStudy.com explain: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?
But as it is written:
“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,”
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.
Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone.
For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
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 was looking at this picture of the Salt Lake Temple the other day and had a thought. Typically, the “all-seeing eye” of God is depicted within a triangle and not an oval. This version also has a veil-like curtain that looks like it is being removed from the eye.
That’s when I wondered if this is isn’t depicting God’s eye at all, but man’s. God would not need to have a veil removed from his eyes. Does he even perceive us through a veil or it is just that our vision is obscured by one? I think it’s the latter of the two.
I think this symbol is depicting an experience that the temple has been constructed to facilitate.
There’s the matter of these 28 sun-like rays emanating from the oval that I’d like to address next.
I saw two sets of a 28-pointed star in the celestial room of a particular temple one evening a few years ago. No joke, the very next morning I was reading A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael S. Schneider and saw this 28-pointed star made up of 4 overlapping 7-pointed stars that looked exactly like the one in the temple, minus the 12 circles:Read Full Post
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.
The other day I was driving with a couple of my kids and my 4-year-old asked me, “How many miles till we get home? What time are we going to be there?”
If she was an adult I would have had no problem answering her questions, but this was a little kid! She was clever enough to ask two questions in a row that dealt with distance and time, but she had no understanding of the particular units of measure so how could I answer her questions?
I could have said that we were about one hundred and fifty miles away, but she has no concept of how long a mile is let alone one hundred and fifty of them. I could have said that we would arrive at approximately 8:24pm but she can’t tell time so she couldn’t use the car’s clock to know the current time in relation to the destination time. Telling her “We’re about 2 hours away” wouldn’t work either because she doesn’t understand hours.
The point is that the exact, true, and in my mind, simplest answer would have been useless to her. I wanted her to understand all the particulars but realizedRead Full Post
Any “spiritual experience” I have ever had doesn’t feel theatrical or disconnected from reality. While many such experiences are not part of what can be considered possible in general experience, when they happen they are as real and tangible as anything else.
It seems that the degree we understand something is related to what we can compare it to.
Maybe you are familiar with the example where someone is asked toRead Full Post
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
Consider the origins of the word “profane”:
Profane: late 14c., from L. profanare “to desecrate,” from profanus “unholy, not consecrated,” from pro fano “not admitted into the temple (with the initiates),” lit. “out in front of the temple,” from pro- “before” (see pro-) + fano, ablative of fanum “temple” (see feast). Related: Profaned; profaning. The adjective is attested from late 15c.; originally “un-ecclesiastical, secular;” sense of “unholy, polluted” is recorded from c.1500.
Temples are sacred spaces and there are prerequisites for entry; one must be “consecrated” but what does that mean? In Hebrew we have the word qadash which means:
For some other interesting insight on the word consecration, this article from TempleStudy.com is enlightening.
Qadash: a primitive root; to be (causatively, make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally):–appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy(-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify(-ied one, self), X wholly.
“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11- 14, emphasis added)
What I find interesting are the following words:
- the word
- thy mouth
- thy heart
- do it
This calls to mind a portion of Lecture 7 verse 3:
“…We understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force: it is by words instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith…”
The exercise of faith is a creative act, it is something we do. It is by words, not words of hypocrisy or self-aggrandizement, but words fueled by real intent that bring the powers of heaven into our lives.
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)
“One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 199)
The best way to obtain truth and wisdom
“The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.” (History of the Church, 4:425)
Gather all the good and true principles
“We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316)
We have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth without limitation
“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft… Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” (Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, Mar. 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, pp. 53–54; spelling and grammar modernized.)
Ready to believe all true principles that exist
“I stated that the most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints … are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.” (History of the Church, 5:215; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book D-1, p. 1433, Church Archives.)
Limitations on knowledge
“I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes [limits], and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further’ [Job 38:11]; which I cannot subscribe to.” (History of the Church, 6:57; punctuation modernized; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Oct. 15, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.)
“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; [that is,] those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (B.H. Roberts, History of the Church 3:381)
Alway acknowledge virtuous qualities
“When we see virtuous qualities in men, we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be free. … This doctrine I do most heartily subscribe to and practice” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 345–46).
Revealed in the abstract
“All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.” (Joseph Fielding Smith (editor), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 355)
The oldest book
“I thank God that I have got this old book [the Bible]; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments.” (Alma P. Burton, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 343-344)
Condeming each other
“The [Muslim] condemns the heathen, the Jew,and the Christian, and the whole world of mankind that reject his Koran, as infidels, and consigns the whole of them to perdition. The Jew believes that the whole world that rejects his faith and are not circumcised, are Gentile dogs, and will be damned. The heathen is equally as tenacious about his principles, and the Christian consigns all to perdition who cannot bow to his creed, and submit to his ipse dixit. But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes “His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Times and Seasons, 15 April 1842, 758)
Related: Brigham Young on Truth
“To remember is to rescue the sacred from the vacuum of oblivion.”
– The Crucible of Doubt by Terryl & Fiona Givens
I would add, “so record to ensure that you can remember.” I’ve written several articles here on the importance of recording spiritual experiences, but these are not my ideas or concepts, the scriptural record itself is a testament to the importance of recording sacred thing.
Scattered throughout these beloved texts are not just revelations, those communications that travel from above to below, but prayers as well that travel from below to above. It is one thing to record the blessings, revelations, preaching, and prophesying that are inspired by our divine Father, and another thing to record out petitions to him.
To form those words visually and preserve them, more so for you rather than the Lord. I suspect that all prayer is heard but if our supplications express the true desires of our hearts and we fail to record them only to be distracted by life, how can we truly remember those petitions to the Lord if we have no way of preserving them for ourselves?
Why not start a prayer journal and carry it with you? Perhaps you can record your petitions and observe the manner of your prayers to help avoid repetition or useless words and phrases. I can think of a huge number of benefits to this practice, but what do you think?
Does anyone out there have experience recording prayers that they would like to share in the comments below?
Another of my favorite definitions from the Bible Dictionary.
Dreams: One of the means by which God communicates with men (link).
Peter quoted Joel in this respect:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (Acts 2:17)
President Hinckley quoted Joel too:
The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. The hearts of men have turned to their fathers in fulfillment of the words of Malachi. The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
“And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
“And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:28–32). (Living in the Fulness of Times, Oct 2001)