NOTE: As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been wanting to publish podcasts of some of the more significant posts done here on LDS Perfect Day. Through the generous, volunteering spirit and talents of a friend, here's the first one. I'll continue to podcast new posts; she'll be voicing the podcasts of past posts.
When I published "Why the Word 'Kintsukuroi' Means So Much To You" on December 28, 2013, I had no idea it would become one of the most popular posts of this blog.
All of us are broken vessels before God. Yet when you invite Christ into your life, He replaces your brokenness with a sense of beauty, honor and self-worth you'd never be able to obtain for yourself.
One of the things that motivated me to publish "Kintsukuroi" was a dream I had many years ago. In it, I witnessed what I believe was the woman caught in adultery, as narrated in the New Testament. She was ashamed, sad, and scared at the circumstances she found herself in. Yet when Christ entered the scene, His presence was such a stark contrast with those of others, who were primed and ready to stone her to death. His love overruled their judgmentalism. His peace superseded their violent dispositions. His gentleness, his profound compassion, made idiots of the dudes holding rocks.
It's my prayer that all of us can better recognize the rocks in our hands. If your "inside information" about another is disparaging in any way, shape or form, then highly consider just dropping your rock...right where you stand. Drop it. Instead, do as the Savior did...with gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and kindness (see D&C 121:41-42).
I testify that this is the Jesus Christ I know. Not "I believe"....not "hope for"...but know.
He is not only a real being, but also the Prince of Peace, the God of Love...and the Savior of Broken Things, who is -- if anything -- overly anxious to turn the brokenness of your life into living kintsukuroi.
Monday, February 6, 2017
Sunday, January 29, 2017
In November 1998, Alexander Litvinenko was a Russian FSB secret service agent who specialized in tackling organized crime (according to US diplomats, it was Litvinenko who coined the phrase "Mafia state").
It was then that Litvinenko and several other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. He and his family were later forced to flee to England, where they were granted asylum. There, he worked as a journalist, writer and consultant for the British intelligence services and as a strong critic of the Kremlin.
On November 1, 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later as the first known victim of lethal Polonium 210-induced acute radiation syndrome. A year-long public inquiry concluded in January 2016 that Litvinenko's murder was an FSB operation, which was likely personally approved by Vladimir Putin.
The inquiry found that Litvinenko was deliberately poisoned after he inadvertently drank tea where traces of polonium-210 were discovered.
This is where YOU come in.
Even though the symptoms of Litvinenko's poisoning were highly visible, I highly suspect all of us -- including you -- have frequently ingested spiritual Polonium-210. It also takes a while to wreak havoc on us, and is just as lethal to us in a spiritual sense. By the time you discover you've been poisoned, it's too late.
Want to see if you're a victim of spiritual Polonium-210 poisoning?
Because there must be "opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11),
“Truth and untruth travel together side by side. Light and darkness both offer themselves to the seeker after truth, one to bless, the other to destroy mankind. Whenever a man sets out to seek truth, he will for a time be overtaken by evil. No seeker after truth is, therefore, ever free from temptation, from evil powers." (John A. Widtsoe, “The Significance of the First Vision,” Fourth Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermon, Logan Institute of Religion, December 8, 1946, 2)As we are taught over and over that we'll "know them by their fruits" (3 Nephi 14:15-20), spotting true prophecies from untrue ones ought to be pretty easy. Actually, it's not.
For 2,000 years, mankind has dabbled in eschatology -- the study of the last days.
So far, we've done a bang-up job at predicting Christ's return. You can see a chart of public predictions (aka "fruits") here. Some examples -- like "The Great Disappointment" and the followers of "Marian Keech" -- are better known.
Now, for the past year, I've read some extraordinary prophecies. For example:
- Last spring, we were told that a pre-Millennial earthquake in the Wastch Front was "very imminent" (imminent is defined as "likely to occur at any moment; impending; about to happen", so I suppose "very imminent" is even moreso). It never happened.
- Last November, one of Nigeria's best-known and influential evangelists, TB Joshua (known as "the prophet" to his many followers), prophesied that "a woman" would win the U.S. presidential election. Now, I know Donald Trump's been called a lot of things, but "a woman" wasn't one of them.
- Another supposed prophecy (that's drifted within LDS eschataology circles for many years) foretells of a nuclear attack which would take place on a holiday after a presidential election, but before the official inauguration. At this time of this supposed attack, the president would be of Greek [or, as later interpreted, non-white European] extraction [ancestry]. Up until that time, the prophecy says, all the presidents would be of British or Northern European ancestry. Obama's ancestors were from Europe and Kenya. Trump's ancestry is German/Scottish.
- Others have prophesied that Barack Obama would be America's last inaugurated president.
“For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?” (Mormon 9:9)
"The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. (Elder L. Tom Perry, “Obedience to Law Is Liberty”, April 2013 General Conference)Others could speculate that believers' prayers prevented bad things from happening. I'm a huge believer in prayer, and its ability to turn the hopeless into hopeful, the sick to healthy and dead to life. While I believe this is possible, I think we need to be extremely careful in ascribing divine intervention at all times and in all cases. If God were a God of just happy endings, then Adam and Eve would never have been expelled from Eden, the flood wouldn't have immersed the earth, Christ and the apostles wouldn't have been tortured and killed, Brother Joseph would have died at an old age and nobody would have died in the trek across the plains.
Personally, I believe two other possibilities may be in play, to varying degrees:
1. The supposed prophecy was false from the get-go.
"Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world and also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you." (D&C 50:2-3)2. The supposed prophecy was true, but the mortal pronouncing the prophecy misinterpreted it. Even in our finest moments, we tend to conflate our perceptions with truth.
Even Joseph said that "considering all supernatural manifestations to be of God" was a "common error" (TPJS, p. 210). If it was common in his time, I'd bet it must be epidemic today.
Just because you fell for a false prophecy doesn't mean you're a bad person. Not at all. You can still be one of the few "humble followers of Christ", yet still err because you were taught by the precepts of men (2 Nephi 28:14), which are often mingled with scripture.
Still, if you "hearken" to the "precepts of men", you're denying "the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 28:26) And that's a problem.
It's your responsibility, your obligation, to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
The Lord has told us how we can endure the tribulations of the last days:
"For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day." (D&C 45:57)Or, put formulaically,
1. You're wise and received the truth
2. Taken the Holy Spirit for your guide
3. Avoided deception
= You shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire
= Shall abide the day
"And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived" (JST Matthew 1:37)Understand That You're Being Tested
"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,Indeed, we need to remember what (the admittedly fictitious) Albus Dumbledore once said:
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
"The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution."Evaluate Who's Getting Your Attention
I'd like to invite you to close your eyes, and imagine Him in Gethsemene, 2,000 years ago.
He's all alone. His friends consider him crazy. His siblings don't believe him. His closest confidants are asleep. His Father had forsaken Him.
Put yourself back then, in that time and place.
Would you, also, forsake Him?
I'm fairly confident you wouldn't.
If that's true, then why do so many -- perhaps even yourself -- neglect His word? Why do we place the words of other mortals above His?
"O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!" (D&C 43:24 and more)As I've mentioned before, you need to take a stand as to who's books receive greater attention in your life. If you want to demote the scriptures behind some book about somebody else's purported vision/near death experience, then OK, you've made your choice:
"because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. 2:10-11)And just what is the lie? That you'll be OK, just fine, because you took some supposed shortcut to knowledge and put somebody else's book ahead of God's.
"Remember these sayings: The time will come when no man or woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within themselves. If you do not have the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, how can you stand?" (Statement by Heber C. Kimball in Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979. 449-451)Scriptures
What's the best way to tank a nation's economy? Flood it with counterfeits.
What's the best way to invalidate true prophecy? Flood it with counterfeits.
"Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death." (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 376.)
"False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:364)It's said that Ruth (Mrs. Billy Graham) was once at a grand dinner party in London, England. There, she was seated next to the former head of Scotland Yard. In conversation, she suggested,
"You must spend a lot of time handling counterfeit money to know what it looks like," said Ruth.
The man replied. "On the contrary, Mrs. Graham, I spend all of my time studying the genuine thing. That way, when I saw a counterfeit, I could immediately detect it" (Dannah Gresh, "Pursuing the Pearl: The Quest for a Pure, Passionate Marriage"; emphasis mine).And just what is the "genuine thing"? Pres. Harold B, Lee said:
“We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures, and wherever you have an illustration in the scriptures or a revelation in the Book of Mormon, use it, and do not draw from other sources where you can find it here in these books. We call these the standard Church works because they are standard. If you want to measure truth, measure it by the four standard Church works. … If it is not in the standard works, you may well assume that it is speculation. It is man’s own personal opinion, to put it another way; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, you may know by that same token that it is not true. This is the standard by which you measure all truth. But if you do not know the standards, you have no adequate measure of truth.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 148–49; emphasis mine)President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
"If we will put them [the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants] into practice, if we will keep the commandments of the Lord, we will know the truth and there shall be no weapon formed against us that shall prosper. There shall be no false doctrines, no teaching of men that will deceive us. … If we will search these revelations then we will be fortified against errors and we will be made strong" (Oct. 1931 General Conference; emphasis mine).President Ezra Taft Benson expressed these thoughts:
"However diligent we may be in other areas, certain blessings are to be found only in the scriptures, only in coming to the word of the Lord and holding fast to it as we make our way through the mists of darkness to the tree of life." ("The Power of the Word", April 1986 General Conference)Look what happened when the Sons of Mosiah took this counsel to heart. They
"waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God." (Alma 17:2)You'll likely go nuts trying to keep up with the latest heresies and counterfeit teachings people spread in this world. But if you spend time "studying the genuine thing", if you familiarize yourself with the Word of God and become conversant with it, you'll immediately recognize counterfeit teachings. You'll know what God's Word truly says and what it doesn't say.
While God can reveal to us the truth of all things, what He will reveal to us is limited by how well we have listened and obeyed (hearkened) to the things he has given us in the past. Joseph Smith stated,
"We cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 256; emphasis mine).
Once we have received these words of God, we can go to God and ask Him if they are true.
"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.Asking for Greater Discernment
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:4-5)
Just because you've studied and prayed doesn't mean the job's done. Quite contrary, it's only the beginning.
You need to be praying for the Gift of Discernment. Daily.
"Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;" (D&C 46:8)
“… Every member in the restored Church of Christ could have this gift if he willed to do so. He could not be deceived with the sophistries of the world. He could not be led astray by pseudo-prophets and subversive cults. Even the inexperienced would recognize false teachings, in a measure at least." (Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, Apr. 1950, 162–63)
"Discernment is so much more than recognizing right from wrong. It helps us distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant, and the necessary from that which is merely nice.
The gift of discernment opens to us vistas that stretch far beyond what can be seen with natural eyes or heard with natural ears. Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart—seeing and feeling the falsehood of an idea or the goodness in another person. Discerning is hearing with spiritual ears and feeling with the heart—hearing and feeling the unspoken concern in a statement or the truthfulness of a testimony or doctrine." (Elder David A. Bednar, "Quick to Observe", devotional address given at Brigham Young University on May 10, 2005)
Someday soon, we will see many prophesied events happen before before our very eyes -- economic collapses, assassinations, earthquakes, floods, mobocracy, war, drought and worse (D&C 87:6).
During those times, you'll likely find yourself wondering -- while in a state of panic or high anxiety -- "What's happening?" "What do I do?" "Where do I go?" "Who has the answers?"
"And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth.If you think church leaders will tell you exactly what's going to happen, and when, think again. Members were never, ever told when the American Civil War, World War I, the Stock Market Crash, World War II and 9/11 would happen.
And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.
And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;
But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.
And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.
And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another." (D&C 45:26-33)
So, what's expected of you?
First, tell me real quick: who do you think the Lord will call on to build Zion -- hearers or doers of His word?
“...you and I are to act and be doers of the word and not simply hearers who are only acted upon. Are you and I agents who act and seek learning by faith, or are we waiting to be taught and acted upon? Are the children, youth, and adults we serve acting and seeking to learn by faith, or are they waiting to be taught and acted upon?" (Elder David A. Bednar, "Seek Learning by Faith", Liahona, September 2007)Second, don't rely on the "arm of flesh" to tell you what to do and when to do it. Instead, develop the ability to listen to the Spirit -- the Lord's voice:
"Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, Ye know me not." (Matthew 25:10-11 JST; emphasis mine)In the final analysis, you can choose to be prepared or not. If you do decide to be prepared, you have another choice -- seek out and get the facts from other mortals (which, in all honesty, really don't have a stellar track record) or prioritize the Lord and His word.
I strongly suspect that when you can demonstrate to God that you've been earnestly striving to receive His word, He's more likely to bless you with more -- and more personalized -- revelation.
You've been taught.
You've been warned.
What you do -- now -- is up to you.
Just some background: I'm usually pretty hesitant promoting lists on my blog. We LDS love our lists and love to check things off. Why not consult the Holy Ghost and ask Him what you should do (2 Nephi 32:5)?
Yet, I really want you to understand the value of turning to God's word to better understand prophecy...to understand what’s up in the future...in fact, our near future. So, here's a very simple exercise to get you going:
- Grab a notepad and pen, or Microsoft Word/Google Docs.
- Open up 1 Nephi 13. Read chapters 13 and 14.
- Write/type down, on the left-hand side of your blank document, a summary of every verse in chapter 13 and 14, in sequential order.
- Now read 3 Nephi 21.
- Write/type down, on the right-hand side of your blank document, a summary of every verse in chapter 21, in sequential order.
- Now look at the two columns. See how they might interrelate.
- Go to Father. Tell Him what you read and what you discovered. Ask Him to fine-tune your notes, and to give you better perspective on what you’ve gathered so far.
- Give the Holy Ghost time to weigh in.
- Then, when you feel it’s time to move on to another passage of scripture, make a third column of information which can be intermeshed with the first two columns. Then after your third column is completed, consider adding more and more columns (from other sources). Here are a few possibilities for your third and subsequent columns:
And Finally...A Request!
I'm anxious to hear how your research project (based on the above invitation) went!
What did you learn?
Has this exercise motivated you to turn to the scriptures and discover what events are literally right around the corner?
Please email me or send an anonymous message via the Contact page. I look forward to hearing -- and learning -- from you!
Praise be to the Lord, for His goodness and mercy in telling us what will happen in the very near future.
Without Him, I am lost, I am vain, I am blind.
Lord, I will never be the same...