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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Background Behind "The Parable of the Advanced Placement Student"



PLEASE MARK ANY OF THE BELOW WHICH APPLY TO YOU:


[  ] Do you enjoy studying the gospel beyond an official curriculum?

[  ] Are you sometimes caught enjoying a book on doctrine/the scriptures rather than playing video games or watching sports events?

[  ] Are you sometimes bummed that you don't know very many people to share your passion for enjoying a deeper, more profound relationship with God?

[  ] Do you sometimes think, "Wow, this is SUCH a cool doctrine! Too bad I can't share it at church!"?

[  ] OK, let's call it like it is: Do you sometimes feel like a freak or wierdo because one of your hobbies is learning about the mysteries of godliness?

If any of the above may apply to you, I invite you to read (or even better, listen to) "Well-Informed, Unquestioned Desire (aka The Parable of the Advanced Placement Student)".

Some background: I've had a few dreams which I felt could be shared on this blog. Even fewer were the dreams which were were deliberately, unmistakably intended for sharing on this blog.

"The Parable of the Advanced Placement Student" was one of those dreams.

Originally posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012, it's a story not only about me, but many of my friends -- those I already knew, those I ended up meeting, and (I suppose) more I have yet to meet.

I was tremendously blessed to have witnessed this story with my own (unconscious) eyes. Even today, my memory retains all the vividness of the dream as it did many years ago.

This post, and especially its accompanying podcast, is a very accurate retelling of my dream, down to the smallest detail and the song at the end.

I hope to it's as meaningful to you as it is to me.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Do You Have Spiritual AIDS? Part 2 of 2: Rise Above the Selfishness of Seeking the Second Comforter



To the person wishing for their Second Comforter,


I'm thrilled that you're wanting this experience! It truly is a glorious doctrine. Words cannot express.

I'm grateful for all those, especially over the last decade or so, who've highlighted this supernal experience. I'm also grateful for those who've taken the gutsy move to share and testify -- often under great duress, which often happens when good is unleashed upon this world -- that it really can happen to those who feel like they're the least qualified to have this experience.

There's no doubt that the Lord counsels us to "seek his face" (D&C 101:37-38). The Lord reiterated this point in 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 27:8, Psalm 69:32, D&C 67:10 and D&C 93:1.

There's also no doubt the Lord knows your heart. He knows you want to see Him. And I'm pretty confident He's more excited to see you than you are to see Him. That's just how He is. He is so full of life, and light, and exuberance, and energy, and positivity, that those who've been with Him just never want Him to leave. It's a feeling you'll never have with anybody else in this life.

Yet, I know how frustrating it can be to pray, day after day, for this experience to happen, yet it never does. It can leave you wondering why the heavens are as brass, when you're honestly, sincerely, passionately obeying His word and going for the gold. You seek divinity, and all you get is doubt, discouragement and disappointment. All because you wanted to see Him.

I get those feelings. I totally understand. I felt your pain. For years.

I've looked high and low, read countless books and watched or listened to hundreds of talks, to better understand how to see Him. Believe me: If there's a short cut, I'd have found it.

So, I can't tell you why you haven't seen God yet. Nobody can. That's a conversation between you and the Holy Ghost, whose job is to bring your to Christ.

But I believe there are some things which we can do, based on Christ's own words, to improve the chances of seeing Him in this life.

So Long, Self


So, I'd like to ask a favor from you. I'd like you to try an experiment. A few bullet points:
  • This is not intended to be an "end all/be all" definitive method by which we can see the Lord. This is just one way we may qualify to see Him face in this life. It's just...something to think about/highly consider.
  • I know it may run contrary to perhaps everything you know -- or think you know -- about seeking Him. It will require more trust in Him than perhaps you've exercised ever since you started praying for your Second Comforter. But please...consider giving it an honest, sincere, heartfelt try.
OK, here's my recommendation:

Just quit asking for it. Stop efforting this whole "seeing Him" mindset.

First, understand that you can't make a personal visitation happen. And any spiritually mature human being recognizes the fact that God's timetable likely doesn't match your timetable. God is not a cosmic vending machine where you plink in your months or years of obedience and out comes a Second Comforter. That's transactional. He's transformative! Think about it.

Second, check your motives. Why do you want this experience? Is it because, in the final analysis, it's all about good 'ol you? Maybe to claim some degree of respect or legitimacy? Come on -- why do you want this experience? Is it because the Lord told us to seek His face, and you want to be obedient? Is it because He commanded us to? So how is this self-centeredness congruent with the terrestrial principles of Zion (Moses 7:18)? Do you think He's inclined to reward intentions which aren't even terrestrial in nature? (Click here to see why obedience alone can't and won't cut it, and why another doctrine -- which is more transformative, for yourself and others -- stands a far better chance of helping you to be more obedient).

So right now, this very instant, I invite you to put a screeching halt to the selfishness which frequently arises among those wishing this -- and other -- transcendent experiences.

Get back on the Savior's wavelength:
"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:39; see also Matthew 10:32–4116:24–28Mark 8:34–38Luke 9:23–2617:33).
And don't think for a second that the potential (for you to see Christ) will go away because you've stopped thinking about seeing Him. LOL He knows what you want far better than you do. True?

The Missing Key Most Often Fail to Turn in Seeking the Second Comforter


I'd like to invite you to go to Father and beg Him, plead with Him. I mean, approach the throne of grace with boldness! Pour out your whole soul to Him with passion and meaning and depth in wanting something else.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
"For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. 
And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such." (Moroni 7:6,9)
Ask Him for experiences to help others...no matter if you're conscious or not when you're doing the helping. YOU be THE squeakiest wheel God ever encountered among those who wanted to help others.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48; emphasis mine)
[NOTE: That scripture doesn't say "if he shall appear" or "in the off-chance he appears". No! It says WHEN He shall appear.]

And to ensure you do the job right, ask Him to bless you with discernment (that you'll recognize the opportunity to help another when He gives it to you, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant it may be), charity (to do what He wants you to do or say), and the faith (to ask for more experiences).

Push the envelope. Have Him bless you with gifts you don't even know exist. Whatever arsenal of spiritual weapons He thinks you need, at any particular time, to be a walking, talking charity machine, demand it. Ask for it. Insist on it. In fact, expect it.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." (James 1:5-6)
Then be on the lookout. He may want you to smile and say hi to a stranger. Do it. He may want you to ask the gal at the supermarket checkout counter how her shift is going. Do it. He may want you to spend a few minutes cheering up a guy at work who seems just a bit...down. Do it. He may give you a name to pray for -- maybe even a name you've never heard. Do it ("intercessor" -- a person who intervenes on behalf of another, especially by prayer). Whatever He has you say or do at that particular moment -- do it.

Now, there will likely come a time when you need to balance this enthusiasm out. A friend of mine was once like this -- extremely focused on serving others. Not via a church calling, but because of his own desires to serve others. But at the same time, he was spending less and less time with his family. The Holy Ghost will not lead you into an unbalanced life.

There may also be an occasion when you failed to help someone when you should have. You blew an opportunity. That's OK. Look -- Moms and dads don't chastise their baby when she's taking her first steps and lands on her bum, right? No. They help her up and tell her she's such a big girl for trying, and that she can do it! And that look on their faces when she does get back up and takes another step? Yeah, your Heavenly Father and Mother are no different. So get back up off your bum, and take another step by asking for another opportunity.

And right after you've successfully helped another while on the Lord's errand, ask Him for another. Insist on it. Demand it.
"It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love—show forth our kindness unto all mankind, and the Lord will reward us with everlasting increase; cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundredfold" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:517).
Then, at the end of the day, thank Father for all the wonderful experiences He gave you. Thank Him for the failures. Thank Him for the successes. Tell Him you receive those experiences with whole heart and hand.

Repeat this process as frequently as possible...day in and day out.
"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." (History of the Church, 4:227; from a letter from Joseph Smith to the Twelve, Dec. 15, 1840, Nauvoo, Illinois, published in Times and Seasons, Jan. 1, 1841, p. 258; this letter is incorrectly dated Oct. 19, 1840, in History of the Church)
"The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.241)
After a while (for many weeks or perhaps months), ask Him if you're getting closer to Christ.

My bet: you won't need to ask, because you'll know, deep down inside, that you ARE growing closer to Him. You'll know it. You'll feel it. You'll feel the frequency of faith vibrating your soul, hope coursing through your veins and charity your soul's sweetest desire.
"Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest." (Alma 13:29)
And because of that, you'll know that somehow, somewhere, He's growing closer to you.

Because you've become more like Him. And you're closer to Him in ways you never knew you could attain.

You sense that you and He are now working together as a partnership. You dialogue with Christ frequently about helping more and more people, and experimenting with and exercising new spiritual gifts that you didn't even know existed, so you can help these people (sometimes in miraculous ways).

You sense that you're not taking baby steps anymore.

And seeing Him?

Yeah, it'll happen. It. WILL. Happen.

Not because you tried forcing the issue with Father. Not because you felt you had to plead your case to Him every day. Not because you were the most eager student in the back of the classroom saying "Pick me! Pick me for the Second Comforter!"

No.

It's because you let it happen. Naturally. Because you focused not on yourself, but on feeding His sheep.

And along the way, you discovered you've grown up and matured in His gospel. You've cast aside the I / me / my pronouns in favor of she / he / them, or even better, we / us / our -- the pronouns of a person prepared for Zion.

You've spiritually evolved to knowing that seeking the Second Comforter never has been, isn't, and never will be about what YOU want.

It's about HIS will. And HIS will is that you feed HIS sheep with even more passion and determination than YOUR will to see Him.
"Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17; D&C 112:14)
And because you want what He wants, and do as He wants you to do, then someday, you'll discover that He's lifted you from the dirt and mud and filth of your prodigal status, into a son or daughter who is told, by Father Himself, with His celestially exalted hands on the top of your head, that you will inherit ALL that He has.
"Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall he added unto you" (JST, Matthew 6:38).
So tell me...

What are your favorite pronouns?