21 December 2022

...the terror of the Lord,...

Here is the scene.

The family is in the small front room of the house. The mess of opening the Christmas presents is still evident and the kids have already settled down contentedly to various electronic gifts and their parents are on the couch, watching some holiday programming on the television.  In every way, this is a typical Christmas evening aftermath in many working-class American homes.

Suddenly, the front door bursts off its hinges with a forceful kick and a black-garbed man steps over the threshold, pulling a shotgun into the front room with a motion that pumps the weapon for use.

Everything becomes a blur and it is as if time slows down. There is swift movement regardless, a bit of a scuffle at the wreck of where the door once stood, and bodies slam into a wall with a cracking sound that might be breaking drywall.  There is a blast from the shotgun.

Time snaps back into place and everyone's ears are ringing and there is the distinct smell of gunpowder.  One man is crumpled across the threshold, half in the room and half out on the front stoop. There are wisps of smoke from some buckshot that smolders from the carpet nearby, everything being clean otherwise.

The weapon is still in the grip of the hand that fired it, though it didn't do the bearer himself much good, never aimed at any potential victim.  The black shirt of the man splayed in and out of the house has been blown up to reveal the pale belly that doesn't rise or fall.

The man of the house, dressed in little more than flannel pajamas and loafers, stands over the body of the fallen, his face still scowling with anger and his frame still shaking at the intruder whose neck he just broke and the nearly threw out of his family home like a ragdoll.  His children are wide-eyed and his wife is slack-jawed - This man had never hurt anything and now he had taken a life and no one knew what they felt at that moment somewhere between gratitude and horror.

- - -

I have endeavored for quite a while to give what I see as a more honest and true depiction of the Lord Jesus Christ, based on scriptures drawn from the Book of Mormon and the Old and New Testaments. It seems that many people have a feminized and "huggy-kissy" teddy-bear view of Jesus, but my reading has provided me with an often different portrait and expectation from the Jehovah of the children of Israel and the man who took on himself the punishment for all repented sins.

I hope the scene above is a bit jarring - does the common ideal of Christ bear any resemblance to the father of the home?  If your Jesus could never do the act depicted, you may need to reconsider your expectation of God.

The end times are coming on us and many scriptures tell of the destruction of the wicked, a destruction that Jesus Christ himself will order and carry out. Far too many people think that they are not among the "wicked" or that Jesus will simply let most wrongdoing and commandment-breaking go unpunished because he is so loving.  Christ gave even the most basic laws - the Ten Commandments - to Moses and too many people ignore those basic laws with a variety of excuses.  We must never forget that the Lord loves and prospers the obedient and those who "repent" and turn to obedience, but the state of the wicked who don't obey will be very terrible indeed as mentioned in many scriptures, often conveniently left unread.

It has been a mission of mine to warn others of the oft-discounted prophecies of the vengeful God that is coming to make things right.  Here is yet another example from revelation from the Lord himself given to Joseph Smith:

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 45 

74 For when the Lord shall appear he shall be terrible unto them, that fear may seize upon them, and they shall stand afar off and tremble.

75 And all nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and the power of his might. Even so. Amen.

If, with all the years allotted to us, we choose not to learn the commandments (you probably know them just fine, even with so many efforts to tear them up and out of courthouses and such) and work to be obedient to them, we should expect promised punishment and have the terror, fear, trembling, and more fear and terror at the coming of the Lord and his power.  I don't know many stronger words to say how the disobedient and unrepentant will feel when Jesus comes.  

Everyone wants a Jesus that never punishes anyone and is loving to a fault, but that is not the Lord Jesus Christ from the scriptures. Prophets say that he will come and, like the man of the house in my little scene, he will not flinch at executing the justice that a lifetime of unrepented sinning justifies.  Far better to repent and turn to obedience and avoid the terror that awaits the wicked and enjoy the love and peace of the Lord!

20 December 2022

Miracles Shining Through Adversity

As I read in the Book of Mormon, I see many prophetic parallels to our day, just as many as can be found in the Old and New Testaments. I know many people, even professed Christians, summarily reject the Book of Mormon in spite of fulfilled prophecies unfolding right in front of us, which I see addressed in these verses:

 4 Nephi 1

24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

Pride is always the gateway to evil that you never thought could happen.  Righteous things that have been before are cast away in favor of things that are more selfish than Christ-like.

26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

Here is the institution of what I call "affinity churches". These are congregations brought together around friendship, status, and particular scriptures or concepts that are attractive (and profitable) to the group.  Even if such groups contain many of the attributes of the true church, these congregations deny other parts that "offend" them or disagree with prideful sensibilities. 

27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.

28 And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts.

In ten years of the Book of Mormon record, the environment had come from a unity in Christ, so much that they shared all they had with each other, and had moved to a new model of several denominations, each focused on one pet "gospel" or another and the denying of parts of the true gospel.  Accepting "all manner of wickedness", and the giving sacred things to those to whom such was forbidden by the Savior, are specific examples of the doings of these break-away congregations.  In the past ten years of my life, it is absolutely stunning to see what different groups have preached and done, praising behavior that God condemns.  Stunning and identified as Satan's work among people who mistakenly profess Jesus but reject many elements of righteousness through policy and practice.

29 And again, there was another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them.

This is the next step, the rise of "churches" that outright deny Jesus and have a mission to make followers of Christ miserable in their belief.

30 Therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus who did tarry with them, and they did cast them into prison; but by the power of the word of God, which was in them, the prisons were rent in twain, and they went forth doing mighty miracles among them.

31 Nevertheless, and notwithstanding all these miracles, the people did harden their hearts, and did seek to kill them, even as the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill Jesus, according to his word.

32 And they did cast them into furnaces of fire, and they came forth receiving no harm.

33 And they also cast them into dens of wild beasts, and they did play with the wild beasts even as a child with a lamb; and they did come forth from among them, receiving no harm.

Yet, even in the face of all these miracles which would obviously show the approval and blessing of God on those striving to follow the true gospel of Christ, this "anti-Christ" church didn't cease their persecution.

34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.

35 And now it came to pass in this year, yea, in the two hundred and thirty and first year, there was a great division among the people.

This is a warning to people like me: make sure you don't lead people away from the Savior. If you have ever felt to work over Latter-Day Saints or other followers of Christ, you should probably consider your ways and be especially wary of "priests and false prophets" that encourage such persecutions. Would Jesus behave this way? 

After just twenty-one years, the conditions had gotten so bad that there was a "division" - the good people split away from those who oppressed them and became a different nation and likely moved off to a different place, so they could live without persecution for their beliefs.  Does this sound like the sort of division some people call the future "rapture" - a big separation of good and evil?

36 And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;

37 Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.

38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle.

39 And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.

There are a lot of people who were never really taught about Christ and can be forgiven their ignorance to some degree, but there is another far worse group that know about Jesus and "wilfully rebel" against him and his gospel and, worse yet, train up children to hate Christ and to commit all sorts of sins.  I can only guess at the punishments coming to those who corrupt the minds and hearts of children to do things against the "good news" of the Savior.

My advice?  Learn more of Jesus and obey his commandments and enjoy the blessings of his love to his followers, in spite of whatever persecution comes.   What you can expect from your righteous pains are miracles all around you!

02 December 2022

Church as an Agenda beyond the Community

Churches are something of a community.  Many are communities of affinity, a gathering of people who see the world and devotion in a similar way.  They can also be very fluid communities, adding and removing members when such religious/cultural affinity or proximity shifts, either individually or collectively. This is likely an undercurrent of the current ecumenism among many Christians.

There is an interesting formation of this on the outskirts of my own "faith tradition":  The Community of Christ.  This is a group of disaffected followers of Joseph Smith that collected in the decades after his death and ultimately morphed into a feel-good, easy-going faith community centered around peace. Its "community" moniker has become central to its existence and is a good example of putting the concept of community before almost anything else.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) also built communities, especially in its Pioneer era, that are still very evident in several Western United States, western Canada, and Northern Mexico.  Over time,  most of the elements of "Mormon" stores and sports and theater have been swept away as such localities no longer need mirrored infrastructures of Mormonism vs. everyone else for survival. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is all about the Agenda of God at its heart.  A community can certainly contribute to the goals of the Agenda but such communitarianism is just as likely to be a collection of distractions to its founding purpose, ala the Community of Christ.

The Agenda of God is exaltation and those seeking exaltation might have some common peculiarities. However, the isolation of those peculiar people from others in an enclave (ala Jewish shtetls) isn't compatible with a missionary methodology that the Lord charges to members of the LDS Church. You want to be PART of the larger community, not in some corner forming separate places and institutions with "Mormon" stickers everywhere. There is a difference between congregating to survive and making separation and exclusivity into a cultural communitarian standard.

So, a Christ working the Agenda of God may use elements of a community at times to move disciples along the path toward Exaltation while not making the Community the central and defining theme.


In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the local subdivision is called a ward, hearkening to the voting wards of cities.  A ward is a geographical thing with defined boundaries and all families and individuals within that boundary attend their assigned LDS ward.  This takes away a certain level of congregational affinity, as one cannot simply choose to attend a ward that they prefer without the effort of physically relocating.

However, one must recall again that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is more concerned with one's adherence to the "Agenda of God" than community.

This doesn't stop people in the Church from enjoying a community feeling or Church leadership from encouraging more communitarian elements in wards. Some refer to it as a "ward family", though I am personally discouraged of such a concept as it may seek to replace the natural family to which children should especially feel more allegiance and concern.  If anything takes precedence over one's father and mother and siblings, it should be God and his Christ and devotion to following Christ's example in the "Agenda of God", not aspects of congregationalism.

it is easy to be sidetracked from the agenda of God through a feel-good sense of community that may attend a church, denomination, or congregation. Exaltation is bound up in families and a commitment to following Christ beyond allegiance to affinity or group. Don't be distracted from the true goal.

18 November 2022

"...their prosperity in Christ."

This isn't the first or second or third blog post about prosperity here, but it comes up in the Book of Mormon on a regular basis, including instructions on how to obtain it.  In this blog post, we investigate some actions that can be taken to lose the prosperity that righteousness merits.

First, just a recap of what "prosperity in Christ" looks like: 

4 Nephi 1

23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

There is something here that makes social scientists jump:  The entire idea that people multiplying happened at the same time as people getting rich.  It works the exact opposite way in our time - when people become rich, they have less children.  This is a rock-hard doctrine of our times, but apparently not a feature among the righteous followers of Jesus Christ.

What was the difference? We can see what happens when things take a turn for the worse.

24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world. 

We live in a world awash in pride and the acquisition of the things that show we are prideful and that are worn like a badge of honor these days. After exactly 200 years, the non-prideful, prolific, and in-congruently rich people started wearing expensive clothes and jewelry and feeling pretty prideful doing it. This very quickly proved their undoing - no more peace.

In a world quick to blame the environment, social pressures, one ideology or another, solar flares, or biorhythms for the bad state of things, God and his prophets are quick to reveal the real culprit: personal pride.  If you want the prosperity in life that Christ offers, a prosperity so foreign to our times that you can enjoy a large posterity and lots of money at the same time, you humble yourself before the Lord. You stop considering your own path as superior to the agenda of God. You follow the teachings of prophets and apostles and you start receiving blessings that defy logic. It is amazing to see, especially in your own life.

The path to prosperity is through the Lord Jesus Christ.  When you put yourself between Jesus and your more obedient self through pride, how can the Lord prosper you?  As we follow God's agenda, miraculous blessings will come as surely as the sun rises.

13 November 2022

Compulsion Breeds Contention

I have gotten to a wondrous period in the Book of Mormon record in my slow reading. Christ had recently come to establish his gospel and his church and all the people have converted to discipleship to the Lord and the disciples he chose and ordained to lead his church are already about their assigned work. 

The condition that Mormon describes most during this blessed time is that there was "no contention" in the land. Christ had made the point often that there should be "no disputations" among the people on points of the Lord's doctrine and ordinances. The people seem to have taken this to heart and the conditions at the time was described as "continual peace".

Wouldn't all of us enjoy such a state?

Sadly, in our times, there are evil forces at work which breed many disputations and much contention, leaving no room for peace. If one word could describe this day, it would be "compulsion" to my eyes. This is easy enough to see in political arenas, as parties and factions tussle for dominance and winning the clout to push their chosen agendas forward.

No matter how noble an outcome seems, no goal is so pure and good that it justifies the use of compulsion to force its adoption. For instance, to force others to pay for fetal abortion is wrong. Also, to forcibly prevent protest through "taking a knee" or burning a revered flag is equally wrong. Dictating face-masks is as demonic as criminalizing drug use, each using force to compel compliance against a person's free will.

When people are compelled, even compelled to do good things, no one knows if that compulsed person is actually good at heart and in deed. Only when a person can act under their own power can we see their true selves. Public good can be forced through compulsion but private true good comes from individual liberty to act as each person chooses and one's personal choice to make good things happen.  Truth is even more apparent when the good things we do are in opposition to the standards of our day.  Forced public charity often produces the initially unintended yet politically useful results of resentment, division, entitlement, and hatred.  Private and un-compelled charity often breeds brotherhood and love.

Christ and his followers have always used persuasion to help people to change and reconcile themselves to God. The Holy Ghost, the very Spirit of God, is sent to make the words of truth persuasive to the hearts of all. 

Compulsion or the use of force is not a feature of the agenda of God. If we desire the condition of continual peace with the attending elements of no contention and no gospel disputations, we must know that there can be no compulsion to force these things. Continual peace comes from an internalized commitment to Christ and his gospel gained through persuasion and spiritual confirmation. God will force no one into heaven but he gives us what we need to move along the path toward exaltation and lasting peace.

30 October 2022

The Metaphor of Loaves and Fishes

In my continuing study of scripture, I have found that my understanding of Jesus Christ has been altered and that I have worked to share that new-found understanding with others. As an example, I have re-examined the incident with the loaves and fishes in the life of Jesus and additional insights that can be found in it.

Mark 6

41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

42 And they did all eat, and were filled.

43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.

44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

All of us acknowledge the miracle that Jesus performed in feeding the five thousand.  As I have pondered what more we can take from this miracle and apply to our own experience, I see that the multiplying of loaves and fishes is a metaphor for the multiplicative effect that Christ can have on our comparatively feeble efforts toward Godliness.

On our own, we offer very little to anything we pursue. I always thought that when I grew older that I would have something significant to contribute, but what I have experienced over the decades is a sense of helplessness and a stronger need for guidance from God. As many times as I have pleaded for the answers that I need, answers have always come, whether from my very patient wife, friends and mentors, through spiritual insights and even at times from my children.  The years have shown me that in almost every circumstance, I by myself come to life with something like five loaves and two fishes.

A miracle that the Lord offers us is his multiplying power of what we bring to any situation. Our meager "loaves and fishes" of effort and strength can be multiplied by Christ and literally feed and serve thousands, far beyond our own power to do so. Just as amazing as this effect was in the days of Jesus and his Apostles, it is a modern-day miracle when it happens to us. The Lord can still feed thousands through our loaves and fishes.

How is it accomplished? I have found that these amazing miracles are triggered by us. We and our offering of service are the critical catalyst that Jesus can multiply. It is easy to become discouraged and think our contribution is so insignificant that we should just stop trying, but that is the wrong way. We must have faith that Christ makes something amazing in the lives of others from our tiny efforts and we must recognize the Lords' hands in all of this. As we see ourselves multiplied by the Savior, we should act more often in his name, doing what he commanded, and giving more loaves and fishes so that he can feed thousands upon thousands more. 

As my small contribution that Christ will multiply, I leave you with the blessing of my fathers:

The LORD bless you and protect you!

The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you!

The LORD bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

29 October 2022

"Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways;...

It sounds like it might have been hard for the record-keeper at this point to write what the Lord Jesus Christ told them to say.  It certainly isn't politically correct and paints an entire section of the human family with a very broad brush of defamation. I can't think of many modern people who would defend these words for fear of being shunned. This is the entire contents of a chapter of the Book of Mormon and the closing statement on the record of Christ's visit to the western hemisphere.  It is both damning and hopeful, which typifies the tenor of the root message that Jesus has always given.

 3 Nephi 30

1 Hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying:

2 Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.

I hope we aren't too offended by the sins of our "Gentile" nation as called out by the Lord himself. How many of them do we personally imbibe in? Christ isn't shy or waffling - "all ye Gentiles", not just some; "your wicked ways", not mistakes.  These are strong words that don't quibble or downplay what Jesus finds very serious sins.

On the more hopeful end, Christ commands that we "Turn" and "repent of [our] evil doings". That requires abandoning our "evil doings" and changing our behaviors and desires.  The doctrine of Christ is reiterated yet again - "come unto me" and "be baptized".  Jesus assures again that we get "a remission of sins" and "be filled with the Holy Ghost".  Finally, you are not longer counted among the wicked Gentiles but are "numbered with my people".  When we change as the Lord directs, there is no distinction between the covenant children of Israel and anyone else - all followers of Jesus are treated the same, no matter their ancestry or their past actions. 

We can all turn from our "wicked ways" and follow Jesus instead.  We can all enjoy the promised rewards that Christ offers to all of those who "come unto me".  Make the change!

20 October 2022

"...the sword of his justice..."

I hope I have made it more than obvious over the years that the disobedient should fear God. The scriptures we have are replete with warnings of the destruction that will come to those who choose not to reconcile themselves to Christ and his commandments, who broadcast behavior against publishing gratitude for their personal blessings from the Lord and his merciful kindness toward us.

All of the quotes in this post come from the 3rd Book of Nephi, chapter 29 and were written by an ancient Western hemisphere prophet named Mormon living three hundred years after the coming of Christ to the Americas, following his resurrection. This comes to us through the larger Book of Mormon

1 And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit, in his wisdom, that these sayings shall come unto the Gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel, concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance, is already beginning to be fulfilled.

Mormon here is talking about the Book of Mormon that he was assembling and that would be translated and published by Joseph Smith in the 1820's. The Book of Mormon is a tool to bring the children of Israel to the knowledge of their God, another witness alongside the Bible to the fact that *all* of God's promises will be kept and are already in the midst of being kept. 

2 And ye may know that the words of the Lord, which have been spoken by the holy prophets, shall all be fulfilled; and ye need not say that the Lord delays his coming unto the children of Israel.

3 And ye need not imagine in your hearts that the words which have been spoken are vain, for behold, the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people of the house of Israel.

Here is the idea that "the Lord delays his coming" or the modern analogue that God doesn't exist because we don't see evidence of his presence. The covenant the Lord made with the children of Israel is not forgotten or disbanded.

4 And when ye shall see these sayings coming forth among you, then ye need not any longer spurn at the doings of the Lord, for the sword of his justice is in his right hand; and behold, at that day, if ye shall spurn at his doings he will cause that it shall soon overtake you.

5 Wo unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord; yea, wo unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works!

"...spurn at the doings of the Lord,..." is an apt phrase - this is at the crux of modernity. It is so common to decry God that it isn't even trendy or chic anymore. We once called the poor and lowly "humble", but even these have adopted godlessness and curse the heavens.

The term "wo" or the more modern "woe" is to be noted here. Christ the Lord bears a sword and he will use it to punish those who have "spurned" him and cause such people "woe".  I think this goes beyond feeling badly - many people will find that, when the grace of God is removed from them, many things that they thought were dependable, such as water and crops growing and well-oxygenated air, will be denied them and a deeper agony with a "Jesus signature" on it will come.   

6 Yea, wo unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!

7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ!

For those being described here, upon whom "woe" will come as a proclaimed by Christ himself, it is stated by Mormon why people deny the Lord and his abilities:  "to get gain" - as in power and money. It is even said that such people are like angels of Satan (sons of perdition) and will get the same reward - "no mercy" - as further proclaimed by Christ. 

8 Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor any of the remnant of the house of Israel; for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn.

9 Therefore ye need not suppose that ye can turn the right hand of the Lord unto the left, that he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel.

Again and again, Mormon affirms that Christ will keep every promise he ever made, even the ones said by his prophets.  He will bless those who obey (the right hand) and he will punish those who reject the Lord (the left). There is that dirty "judgement" word again and an assurance that those who put themselves on the "left" hand of God will not get the merciful result they have assured each other that a "loving"  God showers down on everyone, no matter their behavior. It has never been so.

As Mormon does, let me assure you that the children of Israel will be redeemed as they obey God. You can be adopted into the family of Israel through sincere repentance and authoritative baptism and receive all the blessings and promises due to every righteous child of the covenant.  You can do it because Christ has made it possible for you as you seek for it.

09 October 2022

Opening Ourselves Up to Heaven's Inspiration

Recent messages from general conferences remind us of the imminent second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to prepare ourselves and to warn our neighbors of this prophesied future event. A common theme is the absolute necessity for all to better hear and feel the Spirit of God and act on its promptings.

We are counseled to turn more purposefully toward Christ and to follow the Savior far more stridently and be more dedicated as his disciples. Doing the will of Christ for each of us in the last days is a personalized endeavor that you and I only learn through direct inspiration from the Spirit.

One of my purposes in this talk is to persuade more of us to open ourselves to the influence of the Lord and the Spirit so we can be led to the situations we are meant to be in and so we can become the people we are meant to be. This has been referred to with the phrase Let God prevail , because he loves us, knows what is best for us, and we need to better learn to put our trust in him . 

In 2012, I was in a very stable job based here in Tucumcari. Lisa seemed happy but I was very unfulfilled. Should I go back to college, find a different career field, or just look for a new situation? I offered some prayers about my problem, but they weren’t very specific and how on earth was the Spirit supposed to answer a question like “What is my next step?”

“What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of [Heavenly Father’s] trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace or the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2007, 10.

I began to pray new prayers.  I wasn’t asking Heavenly Father for an detailed explanation of what I should do. I decided to pursue opportunities that I found appealing and pray that wise opportunities would come to pass and that bad opportunities would fall apart, because on my own, I usually can’t tell them apart.  Like praying for things like patience, our Heavenly Father has proven eager to steer me toward improvement and the best path for me and my family and throw up obstacles to paths we should not tread.

Here are some examples of failed opportunities from 2012 and 2013:

  • Going to graduate school in Scotland;

  • Working with an old employer doing marine seismic oil exploration;

  • Entering the US Foreign Service and working at embassies; and

  • Taking the family and working in Alaska.

(Lisa actually agreed to some of these, I won’t say which.)

It was very difficult to see some very tempting opportunities disappear, but I trusted that the Lord knew better what I should do than I did.

Ultimately, this method got me to earn an online master’s degree, jobs working with computer servers, military and government contracting work, a move to Oklahoma City (and back), and finally to the executive position I hold presently.  As Lisa and I look back, each situation prepared us for further opportunities and contributed to our progression, all without much planning or goal-setting on my part.  The Lord and the Spirit have been in the driver’s seat and it has worked out very well and in ways that I would have never anticipated.

The random conference talk radio station

I wanted to listen to General Conference talks each Sunday Morning.  At first, I had downloaded all the sessions and created a simple script to play each complete session in turn during the morning - The problem was that because I woke at very specific times, I only really listened to one or two talks from any one session.

It went a little better when I played each session randomly instead of in order, which gave me a different session each Sunday Morning.  Although an improvement in providing conference sessions on different days, I only heard the first few talks of each session and often missed the Prophet who commonly speaks last.

I changed my setup and downloaded each individual talk and hymn and randomized those - now I heard a different talk or piece of music as I listened in the mornings.

BUT I DIDN’T!  I discovered that randomness let the Lord influence what was heard and when it was heard!

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the talks from the First Presidency. It’s disproportionate relative to how many other talks are available in the randomized playlist, but it is still there. Through this mechanism, I have somehow allowed the Lord to produce his own “general conference mix” tailored to the needs of myself and my family, I believe.  By doing this, I have come to realize that I opened something of a door in our lives and let the Lord in.

Pres Nelson - https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives?lang=eng

Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.”

Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course … as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.”

You don’t have to wonder about what is true. You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.

I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”

Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”

Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

For several months, I worked during the week relatively close to the temple in Albuquerque. In a very miraculous way, I was able to acquire a car that reduced my expenses sufficiently to make twice-weekly trips to do temple work. I don’t think that I would have been led to the opportunity to buy this particular car unless I had been committed to using it to attend the temple often.  When we are resolved to do the work the Lord commands us to do, the Lord provides us with time and resources to accomplish that work, it seems. God rewards those who are obedient in numerous ways, large and small.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/59nelson?lang=eng :

My brothers and sisters, I plead with you to make time for the Lord! Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always.

Never underestimate the profound truth that “the Spirit speaketh … of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.” “It will show unto you all things what ye should do.”

President Nelson has summed up the grand key to getting the inspiration all of us need.  “Let God prevail.”


When your greatest desire is to let God prevail, to be part of Israel, so many decisions become easier. So many issues become nonissues! You know how best to groom yourself. You know what to watch and read, where to spend your time, and with whom to associate. You know what you want to accomplish. You know the kind of person you really want to become.

Now, my dear brothers and sisters, it takes both faith and courage to let God prevail. It takes persistent, rigorous spiritual work to repent and to put off the natural man through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It takes consistent, daily effort to develop personal habits to study the gospel, to learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and to seek and respond to personal revelation.

During these perilous times of which the Apostle Paul prophesied, Satan is no longer even trying to hide his attacks on God’s plan. Emboldened evil abounds. Therefore, the only way to survive spiritually is to be determined to let God prevail in our lives, to learn to hear His voice, and to use our energy to help gather Israel.

As we face these last days, may we heed the counsel of our prophets and apostles and better connect with the Holy Spirit.  As we do, we will get the specific answers that we need.

Now, I leave you with the blessing of my fathers:

  • The LORD bless you and protect you!

  • The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you!

  • The LORD bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

17 September 2022

Christ's "fulness of joy"

Have you ever wondered what makes Jesus happy? Through all his service to others, one might think it might be staying busy in healing and teaching. Yet again, the Book of Mormon records a tidbit of insight into the key to the joy of the Savior..

3 Nephi 27

30 And now, behold, my joy is great, even unto fulness, because of you, and also this generation; yea, and even the Father rejoiceth, and also all the holy angels, because of you and this generation; for none of them are lost.

31 Behold, I would that ye should understand; for I mean them who are now alive of this generation; and none of them are lost; and in them I have fulness of joy.

In asking the question to my wonderful wife, she offered several thing in relation to our obedience to Christ's commandments and remembering him.  When I said that Jesus himself encapsulated all that she had said into a simple statement, she of course wanted to know this statement.

This is what he said, not just once but twice in two verses: "...none of them are lost...".

In a world crammed full of distractions, numberless causes and concerns on which to exercise one's energy and virtue, the Messiah simply wants each of us not to get lost. In my mind, the statement brings up the concept of Christ as the Shepard and all of us as sheep - we need to stay with the Shepard always, so that we don't wander off and become "lost" to him.

Jesus is a constant - he is always there.  If someone gets "lost", it is our leaving Christ and the principles that he taught and the ordinances and behavior that he commanded of us. When we choose to follow the Savior, it gives him joy, as he brings us closer and closer to salvation and our Heavenly Father.

05 September 2022

Leave "Utah" and Scatter Yourselves: There are Individuals Far Afield that You Need to Touch

I wrote this bit of an essay some years ago.  It came to mind several times since and I shared the concept of "the Utah cultural center" with others recently and there was general agreement that it rang true with their experience in LDS-dominated places.  "Utah" here can mean an LDS-dominated place (like the State of Utah) or the attitude of only associating in a significant way with certain Latter-Day Saints of the same background.

Many people think that where they live and the occupation that they pursue are the basic manifestations of themselves. Can I redirect you into a different way of thinking? Over the years, I have become convinced that it is who we are (our background), who we are striving to become (our attitudes and activities), and (perhaps most importantly) the people that we touch which should be the attributes that define us the most and steer our future plans.

Each of us need an ultimate goal to attain, a goal that defines our lives and give purpose to our passions. This is usually tied up in our religious devotion and already determined by the God that we serve. For instance, my God offers me the attainment of his status. My devotion to him is the personal adoption of his goals as my own. The subordinate goals I set for myself, if I do things properly, should always be at least '''in-line''' with the master goals and most of these should actually work toward the accomplishment of that highest attainment. (Newer comment - this is the seed-thought of the "Agenda of God" video series.)

There is also something to be said for eliminating distractions to the attainment of one's ultimate goal, such as working for riches for their own sake, acquiring status and possessions only to aggrandize oneself, working long hours for a more comfortable retirement, among so many other motivations. Each of these can also be necessary subordinate goals to a higher one, but so many people make such base activities their end goal. The great danger of the act of amassing means (which is what these things do) is their diverting ability. One can easily lose sight of and interest in the ultimate goal in the heady rush of accomplishment that rewards us with riches and fame.

Can I offer a thought on how one might find a higher purpose and work to do? It might not be immediately lucrative or satisfying to baser desires, but it might align people closer with the work of Christ.

There is a natural inclination among like-minded people to congregate together to draw strength from each other. This has been a very positive force for inculcating a pervasive culture of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Joseph Smith and as promulgated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in children and youth. This was a part of preaching for many years to "gather to Zion", which was often interpreted as a physical relocation to places where there were many church members in the Rocky Mountains region of North America, primarily in the state of Utah. This encouragement to geographically gather officially ended nearly fifty years ago, replaced by the charge to build up Zion where church members already live. Where once there were isolated pockets of believers outside of Utah, one can often find vibrant communities of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) called wards or branches who strengthen their members and welcome visitors seeking a stronger relationship with God and Christ.

The spread of the gospel in the world has been predominately carried out by young Utah men temporarily acting as ambassadors from a distant land and culture and faith. These have been remarkably effective in helping people discover the church and the gospel we preach. Sadly, many LDS congregations where I live outside of Utah function as little more than "Utah cultural centers" that are run by and for Utah expatriates. Such can easily be identified when they send their children back to the Utah homeland to find mates rather than encouraging them to marry into local convert families. It hearkens back to the biblical story of Jacob who traveled back to his mother's homeland to find a mate in Rachel. Such behavior is understandable, but it promulgates the idea that the Latter-Day Saint community is a rather closed society that often doesn't see recent local converts as authentic covenant equals. The gospel is for all people and cultures, but that might be hard to see given the behaviors of many members who, as the example highlights, only see the "Utah-bred" as acceptable mates. As nations and regions become less welcoming of outsiders and influences that might be viewed as corrupting and foreign, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints might increasingly find itself also unwelcome, such as in Russia. I think it's important to discover new attitudes and adopt new ways of living in a new place while also sharing the gift of Christ's gospel with our neighbors.

I have considered for a long time the concept of spreading ourselves and therefore Christ's gospel across the globe. In every hamlet and village, there should be at least one authorized holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood who is openly sharing the gospel with their neighbors in a culturally appropriate way and providing the ordinances necessary for exaltation to people in that area. Those who have been made strong in the gospel from a pervasive Church influence in places like Utah might make conscious choices to relocate themselves to isolated parts of the world, not just as some assigned short-term "mission", but permanently and by their own volition.

Such "settlers" could find local jobs and, as much as local culture allows, integrate into their new community as thoroughly as they can. For instance, as local families accept and make gospel covenants, their children should become prime candidates for marriage to the children of families with multi-generational experience in the gospel. Ties to the old homeland might take second-place to the relationships being forged today that help the local community see their Latter-Day Saint neighbor, the gospel, and the Church as their own. It is sad to find that wards and branches seem like foreign enclaves where local converts become strangers in their own hometown and second-class citizens in the household of Christ.

Wherever you are, you can integrate into the community around you and touch lives for good. Love and neighborliness are universally accepted and influential. As neighbors find and embrace the gospel that they see in you, let these relationships continue to grow and bind us all together, sharing the gospel and our lives as equal partakers. What is often lacking in many parts of the world is a first and firm Latter-Day Saint neighbor (firm in location and faith). You could fill that void by choosing to leave "your Utah" behind while clutching onto your more-important faith and simply making your chosen destination into your authentic home.

30 August 2022

"...come unto me and be baptized..."

The verse before was a simple statement of the "good news" of Christ found in the Book of Mormon, framed in the cleanliness needed to be with God in the hereafter.  Now, Christ commands us in what needs to be done to be cleansed by the Savior:

3 Nephi 27

20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

The fourth Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a statement of belief around these principles and ordinances:

“We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

There has already been much said of faith and repentance previously in the blog, but the concept of the Holy Ghost is included here and bears some thought.

Whether you consider the Holy Ghost as a part of the Godhead or just as the influence of God in our lives, this verse points out its power to sanctify.  When we commit ourselves to Christ through the outward ordinance of baptism, God acknowledges that commitment by a gift of the Holy Ghost, a constant guide and companion, to help us become better followers of Jesus.  Our willingness to follow promptings from the Spirit brings further inspiration - if we ignore those promptings or do wickedly, we drive the Spirit away and are left on our own.

I personally attest to the divine origin of prompting of the Holy Spirit.  As I pray and work to be obedient to the Lord's commandments, I have been inspired to do many things that have blessed my life and the lives of others. Of course, I repent and change to improve and I have been baptized and work to keep the commitments I have made to Christ, which makes the regular companionship of the Spirit possible, as Jesus mentions in this verse.

29 August 2022

"...no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom;..."

Jesus continues to spiral into a very short and direct statement of the gospel itself.  I'll follow suit.

3 Nephi 27

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

I know there are many ideas of what "salvation" is.  Christ puts it in a very stark light - salvation is to be clean and in God's kingdom. So much for disputations on what salvation is.

Then, we are told that we are only saved through being clean through Jesus' blood or his atonement for us.  He cleans us and makes us fit for God's kingdom.  He does it "because" of faith in Christ, "repentance of all their sins", and faithfulness until death.  Christ has specific qualifications for the cleansing he can do and they are all actions or works that must be done.

Doing these things does not cleanse us. Christ cleans us. However, Jesus won't clean us for entering the kingdom of God unless he sees our individual effort on the requirements he has spoken in this short verse. 

This is very clear and very specific.  Put your trust in Christ and what he can do, become obedient to his commandments, and keep doing all of this and following his example for as long as you live.  As you do this, Jesus cleans you and brings you to the rest of God's kingdom.  It is simple and easy to understand, yet challenging to do.  

25 August 2022

"...be lifted up..."

I continue to slowly move along the Savior's great spiral, adding more and more information and focus on his gospel from a seemingly innocuous question. 

3 Nephi 27

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

Christ came into the world to be the Messiah, which was the mission that God the Father assigned to him. Jesus was completely focused on his role in the great plan, the largest part was to take upon himself our sins (if we will repent, which comes up soon enough in this spiral lecture), suffer and die for them, and become our ultimate judge. The actions of our Savior give us the opportunity to grow from mistakes and sins, learn to choose the better course and to "be good" rather than evil. As Jesus says "I will draw all men unto me" which is to "be lifted up" toward the Savior by God the Father, just as Christ was lifted up on a cross.   We all have that opportunity and there is a reminder that Jesus will be our judge in the end - did we take advantage of the chance he gave us to improve, or did we not?

He reminds us yet again (and again) that ultimate judgement is based on our "works", perhaps a nod to the fact that many will interpret that the things we do are not important to the Messiah, which is incorrect.

I am trying to remember how grateful I should be for the huge gift Christ provided for all of us - judgement and punishment are largely moved into the future so that we can make corrections in our lives now. Jesus does not absolve us of our unrepented sins, but he will forgive us of the wrongs we have done if we change to become more like him.  That is the gospel or "good news" of Christ.

23 August 2022

Christ's "Rewards and Punishments" Two-Edged Sword

I am still looking at the "spiral" nature of the Savior's answers to questions, building and expanding on what he has said before.  This chapter begins with a rather simple question from the disciples on what the name of the Church should be.  Christ has already addressed that there should be no contention at all, much less about such things; gives reasons and logic about how the church should be named; and now provides what might be considered threats to those who would steer the Church via any doctrine other than his own:

3 Nephi 27

10 And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.

11 But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.

12 For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you.

This is yet another example of a Messiah who, along with caring for and loving those who diligently follow and obey him, will also "hewn down and cast into the fire" those who work their own private agendas through the instrumentality of the Church. People come to the Church to get the gospel of Christ unvarnished and terrible things await those who use the Church for other purposes.

We should expect to see the Father's own works in the Church. Things like abuse and unrighteous dominion will be punished in the end with a metaphorical or even literal "burning". There is much bally-ho among denominations regarding grace vs. works (more of that contention) and I think these verses, along with others, indicate that all will be judged on "their works (that) do follow them", "because of their works that they are hewn down".  This seems like clear talk to me - Christ's grace works alongside judgement for our works.

These versus are further statements of Christ's loving watch-care shepherding of his follower sheep and fierce punishments that await those who have worked their own will counter to the gospel of the Shepherd. Jesus has said, here and in other places, exactly what we can expect from him and his Church. The only question is if we will follow him and reap the rewards of keeping his commandments and being loyal and loving sheep, or if we will *work* our own agendas rather than his and suffer being "hewn down and cast into the fire".

14 August 2022

"...the same shall be saved at the last day."

A young man spoke to us at a conference today, mentioning the best answers to questions are ones that expand beyond the original query.  For instance, the question "should I get married?" gets answered and beyond in the response "Young men should prepare to be good husbands and fathers."  You see the expansion? Beyond marriage, you should look forward to doing a good job for your wife and kids!

I just read an example of this from the Lord.  The disciple leaders of the Church in the Book of Mormon pray for the Savior to help them with a problem.  Christ himself comes and they ask him how the Church should be called and how there was some contention over this.  Here was his response.

3 Nephi 27

4 And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?

5 Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;

6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

There is a bit of chastisement, which previous scriptures tell us is quite common from the Lord, and then he goes beyond what they asked for: Christ focuses on the requirements of salvation.  Verse 6 says that we need to take upon us his name, which is what is done at authoritative baptism, and then to endure as a busy disciple of Christ throughout our lives. These are the core elements of salvation and the Church, in its name and purpose, is the structure through which Christ provides authoritative baptisms and training and support toward good discipleship.

The name of Christ's church may seem a small matter to some, but Jesus made it obvious that it is important, not just as a name, but as a vehicle for accomplishing the Savior's purposes.  You might very well find other places where Christ and his prophets and apostles go beyond answering our seemingly simple questions to teach us larger principles and expand our understanding.

12 July 2022

"...unto you that fear my name..."


This is yet another stab at resetting people's expectations of Jesus Christ.

When Christ came to the people in America, he commanded that some scripture be put into their records that had been written by prophets in the "old world". I have been reading through parts of the book of Malachi previously and I am still working through this.  I am also noticing a pattern.

It is the "fear of the Lord".

A lot of modern Christians don't equate Jesus with fear, but they should.  It is far too easy to think that Christ will simply forgive bad behavior purely out of a sense of love, of which I have seen no evidence in my scripture study. Information in Malachi chapters 3 and 4 is clear about Christ's punishments for the wicked (and he has an expansive view of who is wicked) and that our basic attitude toward the coming Christ should be fear. I don't know about you, but I am worried about my status in relation to the Messiah - how he sees me. Although a few people may follow Christ out of a sense of love, it seems many more are like me and do good and follow Jesus' example because we want to avoid the consequences of not doing so!

3 Nephi 25 or Malachi 4

1 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

2 But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall.

3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of Hosts.

I love the Lord and I am very grateful for his mercies and kindness toward me and mine. However, I don't insist that his love justify my sins nor do I put my hope in such an idea that I have not seen Jesus utter. I am very much in fear of what Christ will do to the wicked, as quoted above, and I don't want to be counted as one of them!  Fear and respect his name, as stated in these scriptures, and enjoy his healing.

29 June 2022

"Return unto me and I will return unto you,..."

I might get the reputation of highlighting the hard Christ, the one who promises punishments for disobedience.  I do this because of the constant stream of platitudes from many, many popular sources that "God loves you the way you are" and the rejection of commandments and essential ordinances and repentance in favor of a supposed Christ's overarching desire to put aside everything he ever said and taught in favor of being oh-so-loving to everyone. If I were your only source for information on the Messiah, you might see him as a pretty hard taskmaster - I just feel this deep need to provide the better-documented (in scripture) counterpoint!

Here is a wonderful snippet to help you know that you don't have to be in the "hard" Savior's "doghouse" forever: 

3 Nephi 24 and Malachi 3

7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But ye say: Wherein shall we return?

This again is Christ Himself quoting Malachi because it was important for his followers in America to have this information.  That means that it must be of supreme importance to the Lord and to our allegiance to him.

If you don't feel as if Christ is a part of your life or you don't feel that you are having the spiritual experiences that he promised to send you through the Holy Ghost, it is because you have distanced yourself from him ("gone away from mine ordinances and have not kept them"). The way to resolve this lack of spiritual feeling and guidance is to "Return to me (Jesus)".  In the following verses, Jesus quotes the searing accusation that people rob God by not paying the commanded tithing as an example of how one can "return".  I choose to leave that concept aside for now, as I want to appeal to the folks that want the sweet and kindly Christ that can be found in a "properly interpreted" Bible (wink, wink).

Christ is always willing to get closer to us, but better proximity is always on the condition of repentance or change. It may be true that "God loves you the way you are", but it seems that his better presence and closer attention to your needs may be based on our striving to be a bit better than "the way you are".

I'm just restating the words of Christ himself - I hope that is not too "un-loving" for you dear readers!