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.