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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spiritual Elitism and Faux Humility

Note: This post is not directed at any specific group or individual. It applies as much, or more, to me. In fact, this is best viewed as my own introspection. I share it in the chance it is of benefit to others.

"We believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children..."
"thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst [those] all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren..."
"And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people."

Call it what you want: spiritual elitism, pride, haughtiness, vanity, arrogance, reckless enthusiasm, whatever. The belief that a certain group or individual is more spiritually mature than less-enlightened believers has always been one of the most effective deceptions that Satan has launched upon -- and used to divide and conquer -- Christ's believers.

Sadly, the situation in which Alma and his brethren found themselves "astonished beyond all measure" roughly 2,089 years ago (Alma 31:19) is alive and well again, today.

This doesn't just concern those who consider themselves "The One Mighty and Strong," "The Servant," "The Root of Jesse," "The Man Like Unto Moses," "The Future New Jerusalem Temple President," "The Reincarnated Joseph Smith" or one of the Godhead (see here).

There are others who believe they are (while not actually having been divinely proclaimed) "special," "enlightened," "called," "elected." Maybe even "anointed." They may claim this special status because they:
  1. Have a specific church calling, profession, bank account balance, spiritual gifts, ancestry, race or gender. 
  2. Are part of an insider group, special quorum or school composed of other "elect" individuals. 
  3. Have been supposedly tasked by the Lord with performing special, grandiose operations to assist in Christ's imminent return.
  4. Are in receipt of, or can impart, secret "insider" methods on how to grow closer to God. 
  5. Believe they are already fully or mostly translated.

The Abomination of Humility


These Neo-Zoramites, these spiritual elites who walk among us, very often display a unique characteristic foreign to the original Zoramites: Faux Humility.

They tend to go to great lengths in convincing others of their humility, buttressing statements like "I'm just an ordinary guy," "I'm nobody special," "I'm a sinner, just like the next person," etc. You get the idea. Yet, deep down, they remain convinced of their own special status.

Many Latter-day Saints are experts in exempting and excepting themselves from true righteousness and even, at times, common sense.

For those who truly receive God's words, it should come as no surprise that spiritual elitism and faux humility go hand-in-hand. During the Savior's mortal ministry, he gave this parable:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18:10-14)
This combination of spiritual elitism and faux humility results in swift and sure spiritual condemnation:
"Ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts... Ye suppose that ye are better than they (your brethren).
And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you." (Jacob 2:13-14)
"Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)
Now, the ironic thing is, the spiritual elitist would agree with the aforementioned scriptures, and might continue to come off pretty humble, eager and anxious to help others. But their belief in their special status remains undeterred and unabated. No wonder it's been said, "Much of what we call humility is actually successfully disguised arrogance."

Have You Been Inflicted With Spiritual Elitism and/or Faux Humility?

"And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?
Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh? And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever." (Jacob 2:13-14)
I like Jacob's use of the word "inflicted," because one can simultaneously inflict themselves -- and others -- with a disease...no matter if it's physical or spiritual.

But how can you tell if you've caught the disease? Consider these four (and quite possibly more) diagnostic options:
  • Exempt yourself. You may be thinking, "That's a good question, Mr. Perfect Day Blog Writer. But everything you've written so far applies to other people, not me, because God says [  I have an important work to perform / I must keep these things sacred and therefore secret / If you ask Him, He'll tell you that what I say is true / You just don't understand  ]." If that's the case, then you might want to re-read Jacob 2:13-14 until you can proceed beyond this sentence.
  • You have at least a little concern, and want to ask another to tell you if (or for you to tell another that) a humility problem exists. This option runs the risk of inflicting "Mote-Beam Sickness" -- the strong, almost universal tendency to find fault, to focus on the mote (a tiny sliver) of another while you take the focus off the beam (a load-bearing beam in a house) in front of your own eyes (see 3 Nephi 14:3-5 and Matthew 7:3-5). The last thing you need is to add one possible infliction on another.
  • You have at least a little concern, and want to perform self-introspection. IMO, that's better. But still, how can one who is possibly "in the eye of the hurricane" of spiritual elitism ever be expected to objectively discern if they are proud? Pride is a self-blinding sin.
  • Go to God. Good -- that's the best option, because God is the only one qualified to detail the existence and state of your humility (or, conversely, spiritual elitism). When we value God's opinion, we won't set up our own artificial scale of values, which is "abominable unto him who created all flesh." (Hugh Nibley)
As a baseline, I think it's important to know what God said regarding your standing before Him:
"It is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18

An Outright Invitation or Challenge


But what about YOU? Could YOU be a spiritual elitist, even to a minuscule degree? Could YOU be displaying faux humility?

If you sincerely believe you don't fall into one of the five "special" categories I mentioned above, then I extend to you an invitation.

But if there is any possibility you could find yourself in one of the five "special" categories (above), then I extend to you a challenge:

Go to God.  Ask Him about your true standing before Him, with nothing but pure intent (stay tuned for my next blog post).

A Post-Script


I'd like to emphasize two things:
  • First, This post is not directed at any one person or group. So if you're taking this as a personal attack from me, please don't, because it isn't intended to do that. It IS intended to catalyze some serious introspection with only one other person: Jesus Christ (and yes, I have done so and continue to do so).
We've always defined ourselves by our ability to overcome the impossible -- to aim higher, reach for the stars, break barriers and make the unknown known. But sometimes, when we focus on the stars for too much and too long, we tend to lose our focus, our perspective.

When you are TRULY aligned with He who loves you more than you will ever comprehend, you can be assured of one certain thing: that your greatest accomplishments cannot be behind you...

...because your destiny lies above you.

We'll explore some scripturally-based suggestions on how discover that destiny in an upcoming post.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Inviting Him

Let's assume for a minute that you regularly say your prayers.

That's good!

Now, how often in your prayers do you actually, literally, invite the Lord or His angels into your home?

How inviting is your home to a visit by Him or one of His angels?

I'm not talking about the home or a room therein being immaculately cleaned and picked up. Accounts of the Lord's mortal life here are replete with examples of Him interacting with very unclean people (e.g., lepers) in very unclean areas (dirty, disease-ridden streets).

I believe the Lord is concerned less with the mess and more on the state of your heart. Are you judgmental or forgiving? Self-absorbed or charitable? Do you adhere to divine truths or the teachings of men mingled with scripture? The Lord certainly was a big believer in 1 Samuel 16:7!

Thus, as one social media participant put it this week,
"Jesus wants very much to interact with you, and will be as present and involved with your life, your family, and your home as you want Him to. 
He doesn't impose or come where He's not invited, nor does He dominate you with His infinitely superior knowledge. 
But if you'll have Him, He'll engage with you right where you are, today."
Don't fear him. Invite Him into your life in a far more meaningful way today! After all, He is called the great "I Am," not the great "I Will Someday" or the great "I'll Think About It."

You never know when he -- or one of his angels -- will take you up on your offer.
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Overcome the (Seemingly) Impossible!


It's no secret that I greatly respect Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. To me, he's very reminiscent of Samuel the Lamanite, only Rabbi Cahn's "wall" upon which he is stands is the internet. There (and in other media), he is inviting all to be watchful, repent and prepare for the Lord's arrival.

Here are my notes of a sermon he preached recently:
In the power of the Messiah is the power of a new genesis, a new beginning. 
When God created the heavens and the earth, there was no heavens and earth. You see, God doesn't need any conditions to do His thing. God isn't a realist. God doesn't care what the reality is. Even when there is no reality, He brings a new reality into existence. 
He's not a realist. 
It doesn't matter what the situation is, He just does it. THAT is the power of the resurrection, the power of Genesis, of "In The Beginning", which you have now, which means that you are not bound by your circumstance. You don't have to be a realist because the power of the power of the resurrection is never dependent on the situation. 
A tomb is not a situation that is conducive for life. But He did it anyway! When you're in a circumstance which looks hopeless, you've got the power of the resurrection. You've got the power of the empty tomb. You've got the power of creation, meaning "I will not be determined by this circumstance. I will not be overcome by this circumstance. I will not be defeated by this circumstance, because this circumstance is not the final story. God's will is the final story!" 
When God said, "Let there be light," there was nobody to argue with Him. The universe didn't say, "I don't think I want to obey you today." He said it, and it happened. The power of the resurrection, the creation, is the power to move obstacles and overcome as if they were not there, by the authority of God. 
In the beginning, God spoke to the darkness. And into the darkness He said, "Let there be light." 
So when you find yourself surrounded by darkness, the darkness is not a problem for God. Darkness is the ground from which miracles come. 
You don't fear the darkness. You don't get discouraged by the darkness. You speak into the darkness as God spoke into the darkness (with) the word of God. And you proclaim God's purposes and you say "Let there be light" in the Messiah, "Let there be light" by the power of God. You declare light, the Light of God, into the darkness. And there shall be light. 
In the tomb, what were the odds of Him (Jesus Christ) coming alive? Zero. What this shows is that God doesn't need things to be possible. Because with God, all things are possible. Even if it's impossible, with God, it will not remain impossible. 
The power of the resurrection is the power of the impossible.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Identifying the "Exceptional Ones"

The other day, I went out to lunch with a friend who ate a whole pizza (including stuffed crusts and breadsticks) and didn't gain an ounce.

Me? I just think of pizza and gain 6 ounces!

And so it is in life -- there will always be people who believe (and maybe are) exceptions to the rule.

Some are exceptions. In January, 2014, 16 year-old Makenzie Wethington was given a skydiving trip as a birthday gift. She jumped at approximately 3,500 feet, only to find minutes later that her chute malfunctioned. She hit the ground...and survived! (Knowing me, I would probably crack my skull jumping off my couch).

Others just think they're exceptions, Take Saul, for example. We read in 1 Samuel 13 how Saul offered sacrifices to God without Samuel present. He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway, because he believed it was a “special situation.” Saul didn't get away with it.

Today is no exception:

  • Congressmen and politicians enact rules and laws which exempt them from certain consequences. 
  • Governments and banks are given billions of dollars and don't have to account for them. 
  • A country can be attacked by terrorists, immediately turn to God for divine assistance, and in the space of a few short years, can do all in its power to ensure God is permanently kicked to the curb.
It is no different among those who profess (or try) to be disciples of Jesus Christ. A few may publicly profess to want to embrace gospel truths in their purest form, yet privately, they count themselves as exceptions to certain commandments.

I'm going to make a rather bold assertion: I believe that such people are dangerous and toxic to the establishment of Zion and those who truly seek it.

The "Enlightened Ones"


About 15 years ago, I had a dear friend of mine who always sought deeper and deeper gospel doctrines. No doctrine was too deep for him. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, he sought other sources of exciting insights in a "New Agey" direction, which -- even then -- never seemed quite "deep" enough for him. Eventually, he found himself misaligned with the gospel and Jesus Christ. Years later, he admitted his understanding had evolved past the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fast forward to today.

There are some who insinuate, in so many words, that their understanding of gospel truths has evolved beyond that of practically everybody else. In some cases, they may embrace the teachings of those who offer special "insider secrets" into special spiritual development -- for a price. Or they may align with "New Agey" teachings and behaviors that say there is no sin (despite the fact that God's revealed words say otherwise), there is no punishment for committing sin (which God unequivocally disagrees with) and therefore, they can do this, that or the other thing because "it's okay" (see 2 Nephi 2:13).
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to charge money for special "insider secrets" into spiritual development. Ever.
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to do porn. Ever.
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to create an artificial high or mellow state using drugs. Ever.
  • I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to turn away a beggar, and not seek to help him or her. Ever.
Both the scriptures and current events tell us that we stand at the precipice of an era abounding in unprecedented darkness, and conversely, unprecedented light. I seriously doubt that Zion, even in its embryonic phase, will allow into it those who are not of one heart, one mind and do not dwell in righteousness. I believe that such will be invited, most likely by the Lord and most likely in pretty direct ways, to take their "exceptional" beliefs elsewhere.

So, I invite you -- you, the person who thinks that he or she is an exception, or can heed the teachings of "the exceptional ones" to humble yourself, align yourself with God while you still can and repent.

The "Ones Mighty and Strong"


The scriptures are clear that at some point in time, "one mighty and strong" will appear on the scene who will deal with the drunkards of Ephraim, "set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints" (D&C 85:6-8; Isaiah 28:2-3). Also, the Book of Isaiah is replete with references to a coming Servant.

What isn't clear to me is why there are so many -- today -- who are professing to be...
  • The One Mighty and Strong
  • The Servant
  • The Root of Jesse
  • The man like unto Moses
  • The future New Jerusalem Temple President
  • The reincarnated Joseph Smith or even 
  • One of the Godhead 
...who's here to perform these long-awaited tasks. Or, they are a member of a small, select group or "quorum" of "mighty and strong" ones.

In a document titled "One Mighty and Strong" signed by Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund, the First Presidency acknowledged, "Perhaps no other passage in the revelations of the Lord, in this dispensation, has given rise to so much speculation as this one."  I couldn't agree more.

Indeed, latter-day saint history is filled with such claimants (the sad thing is, this chart doesn't track many currently-living people who make such public or private declarations).

These "strong men" are not of one heart and one mind with the righteous, because they believe others should align with their heart and mind, and that they -- by virtue of some pre-existent setting apart -- know better. Ugh.

What we may be witnessing is Satan, ever the Great Imitator, the Master Deceiver, the Arch Counterfeiter, the Great Forger, doing his best to confuse and obfuscate a truth. “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11).

Nephi gave us the pattern or formula by which Satan operates:
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Ne. 28:21–22).
As Elder James E. Faust once taught,
"We all have an inner braking system that will stop us before we follow Satan too far down the wrong road. It is the still, small voice which is within us. But once we have succumbed, the braking system begins to leak brake fluid and our stopping mechanism becomes weak and ineffective." (The Great Imitator, October 1987 General Conference)
If you are one of those who's convinced you're "the man," or you trust the teachings or insights of one who believes they are, I urge you to re-evaluate things and take corrective action before you spiritually harm yourself and quite possibly others.

In the meantime, be "quick to observe" (Mormon 1:2), because there's every indication such claimants are becoming more, not less, numerous.

Friday, July 10, 2015

One. Eternal. Round.

This is the last post of a 2+ year analysis of D&C 93:1 and a 6+ month synopsis of the Seven Steps of Ascension (which began here).

So, let's combine it all -- everything -- the steps, the narrow path, the ever-increasing glory and the course which I mentioned in my previous post.

What would it look like?

Here's my best guess:

In this graphic, you can see that:
  • Each of the steps leads to the next -- "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little". 
  • The spiral is "narrow", round and ever-increasing -- an "eternal round." 
  • As you proceed up the spiral, you experience increased strength, grace and glory.
  • The symbolism of 7 steps: 7 signifies completeness and spiritual perfection.
  • The symbolism of the number 8: 8 signifies a new beginning.
  • It repeats itself.

The Fibonacci Sequence: The Fingerprint of the Gods


In the year 1202, an Italian mathematician named Leonardo Pisano Bogollo (whose nickname was "Fibonacci") helped spread Hindu-Arabic numerals (like our present numbers 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) through Europe in place of Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V, etc).

He also introduced a sequence of numbers in the following sequence:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987...

By definition, the first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are either 1 and 1, or 0 and 1, depending on the chosen starting point of the sequence. Each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.

(So, 0+1=1. 1+1=2. 1+2=3. 2+3=5. 3+5=8. 5+8=13. Get it?)

When this ratio is graphed, it looks like this:

The interesting thing is, this "Golden Ratio" -- this "Divine Proportion" -- is found in almost every height and breadth of creation. From the smallest to the largest structures in the cosmos, everything testifies of the transcendent, ascendant nature of God, His goodness and powers.
"all things bear record of me" (Moses 6:63)  
"...all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 30:44
Let's see where this particular design -- the ever-expanding spiral, Eloheim's symbolic fingerprint -- has been identified throughout all creation:

Biology

The Fibonacci numbers are applicable to many living things, including a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, and even all of mankind.

Fibonacci sequences appear in pinecones, pineapples, poppy seeds and many variety of plants, including sunflowers. The family tree of honeybees is based on this ratio. So are starfish and snails. Check these out:


Romanesque Broccoli/Cauliflower

Spiral Aloe

Nautilus Shell

A microscopic view of an Anglerfish's ovary.
The shape of chicken eggs? Yep.

Even humans exhibit some golden proportions (it's only logical, isn't it? We are God's greatest and grandest creations):


The DNA molecule measures 34 angstroms long by 21
angstroms wide for each full cycle of its double helix spiral.

The ratio between your forearm and your hand is the Golden Ratio.
The cochlea of your inner ear forms a spiral.

Mathematics

Here, Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series...



Meteorology and Astronomy

The shapes of spiral galaxies, such as Messier 74, and hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irene, follow the Fibonacci sequence.


Religion

In Genesis 6:15, God commanded Noah to build an ark, saying,
"And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits."
50 by 30 cubits is also in the ratio of 5 to 3, or 1.666
God also commanded that a different ark -- the Ark of the Covenant -- was also constructed using the Fibonacci sequence:
"And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof." (Exodus 25:10)

The ratio of 2.5 to 1.5 is 1.666, which is as close to phi (1.618 …) as you can come with such simple numbers and is certainly not visibly different to the eye. The Ark of the Covenant is thus constructed using the Golden Section, or Divine Proportion. This ratio is also the same as 5 to 3, numbers from the Fibonacci series.

In Exodus 27:1-2, we find that the altar God commands Moses to build is based on a variation of the same 5 by 3 theme:
“Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.”

So, What's My Point?


God is a God of patterns (Hebrews 8:5; D&C 52:14). Indeed, "There is pattern and order in the universe" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Lord, Increase Our Faith").

Thus, as you can see,

"There are patterns for all worthy things if we will search for them." (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, "A Pattern in All Things", October 1990 General Conference; emphasis mine).

If there are patterns in all of God's creations -- even "all worthy things" -- then wouldn't it be logical to assume that He has also embedded those patterns in His plans which help you return to Him?

He has.

His "narrow" course is "one eternal round", and may be composed of seven (complete) repeating steps which He has revealed to mankind since Day 1. As you ascend past these steps (to an eighth step), you begin anew. And gradually, you increase in grace, strength, faith and glory -- until, eventually, you are purified, even as Christ is pure (Moroni 7:48, D&C 35:21).

You're Cordially Invited!


I invite you to take the most exciting journey possible in this life: to develop a truly deep, intimate friendship and relationship with Yeshua Ha Mashiach.

I know (not hope, not fervently believe, not guess, but KNOW) that He lives, independent of any other person, past or present.

I know His presence, His voice, His sense of humor, His compassion, His disdain for unrighteous dominion and His face.

God is no respecter of persons. He doesn't manifest Himself to a person because of their gender or genealogy, church calling or credit card balance. He has manifest Himself in marvelous ways to saints and sinners alike. He does so because we have a pure heart, having sought HIM and no other mortal, with faithful patience and an eye towards feeding His sheep.

I know that God doesn't lie when He says that as we draw closer to Him, He will draw closer to us. Here are a few things I have learned on the way:
  • Believe: "Sometimes we think we can do it by ourselves, that it will make us strong to struggle through a problem alone. Or sometimes we think that no one can help us, no one can understand us. The Savior can and will do both. James 1:5 is that wonderful scripture that gave the boy Joseph Smith courage to go out into the Sacred Grove. Let’s paraphrase it so that it applies to us more directly: 
'When we lack wisdom, we should ask God. God will give us wisdom generously, without scolding and finding fault. Wisdom will be given to us.' I think that God is waiting for us to ask him. He wants to give to us and give generously, and he will not scold or reproach us. He doesn’t say, 'Can’t you figure this out on your own?' or 'You, again! Didn’t I just see you this morning?' No, he’s anxious to fill our souls with his goodness and his love. Our questions are just as important to us as Joseph Smith’s question was to him. And who knows, maybe the Lord has an answer for us that turns out to be as important to the world as Joseph Smith’s answer was to us today!" (Chieko Okazaki, Cat’s Cradle, p. 87)
  • Be Patient: Then wait. It may take a second, minute, hour, day, week, month or more. But He WILL answer. You cannot force spiritual things. The scriptures give us many examples of those who waited upon the Lord, and were rewarded for their waiting (or, as I see it, their faith in Him).  As we read in Psalms, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord" (Psalms 27:14).  Isaiah also said, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). For a good article on waiting upon the Lord, click here.
That's because, like any good parent, He will always have a hand reaching out to you as you take your baby steps.
"I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:11-18; also see D&C 50:24; emphasis mine)



Sidenote: For Current (or Prospective) Fibonacci Fans:


(Fibonacci Day is November 23rd, as it has the digits "1, 1, 2, 3" which is part of the sequence).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Way Back Home

This is the first of a two-part post which ends a 2+ year analysis of D&C 93:1 and a 6+ month synopsis of the Seven Steps of Ascension (which began here).

The Steps of Sanctification

"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who
forsaketh his sins and
cometh unto me, and
calleth on my name, and
obeyeth my voice, and
keepeth my commandments,
shall see my face and know that I am;" (D&C 93:1)
In addition to D&C 93:1, the Lord has scattered seven doctrines throughout the scriptures which, when combined, further enhance our understanding of the progressive steps of perfection:
Step #1: Ask
Step #2: Receive Divine Teaching
Step #3: Align
Step #4: Repent
Step #5: Consecrate
Step #6: Obey
Step #7: Express Gratitude
When combined, they look like this:
Ask cometh unto me / calleth on my name
Receive Divine Teaching
Align
Repent forsaketh his sins
Consecrate
Obey obeyeth my voice / keepeth my commandments
Express Gratitude
(the process repeats itself) (the process repeats itself)
I believe both of these sequences illustrate the steps we must take to ascend to His presence. When you:
  1. Ask God for assistance in growing spiritually (you come unto God and call on Him), you eventually
  2. Receive divine teaching which prompts you to 
  3. Align with God and no one else. This alignment should motivate you to 
  4. Repent of your waywardness (forsake your sins) and 
  5. Consecrate to do better. As you do these things, you 
  6. Obey the promptings of the Spirit (obey my voice and keep His commandments) and inevitably become stronger in Yeshua Ha Mashiach, which motivates you to 
  7. Express gratitude to God. This final act -- the expression of gratitude -- unlocks further doors to spiritual growth and development.
Indeed, the process repeats itself; you receive light, and continue in it, then receive more light, and on and on until the ultimate experience in mortality:

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)

Taking More Steps Into Greatness


As stated in "The Characteristics of Spiritual Ascension," the Lord describes the process of achieving perfection in different ways:
  • It's line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little (2 Nephi 28:30; also see D&C 98:12).

    "blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." (2 Nephi 28:30) 
  • It's "grace to grace" and "grace for grace"
"And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." (John 1:16)
"And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us. And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace." (D&C 93:11-13, 20)
  • It's "strength to strength"
"They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." (Psalms 84:7)
  • It's "faith to faith"
"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)
  • It's "glory to glory"
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18)
So as you can tell, you take the seven-step sequence, then take another, then another, then another. Each time, you receive greater amounts of light, grace, strength, faith and glory.

The Width of the Path That Leads to Eternal Life


Everything I have mentioned so far are has been steps on a narrow path (Matthew 7:14; also see 3 Nephi 14:14, Jacob 6:11, 1 Nephi 8:20, 3 Nephi 27:33, 2 Nephi 31:18-19; 2 Nephi 33:9; 2 Nephi 9:41).

Just how narrow is the path? I may have an idea, which I'll share with you:

Several years ago, I had a dream where I was shown the path. I don't remember much of its characteristics, but what I do remember is (1) I was barefoot, and (2) the path was wide enough to allow me to travel one foot at a time (one foot in front of the other), with a width allowing for about a 3/4 inch gap on both sides of my foot.

As winds howled to get me to fall, it required extraordinary balance.

No mortal could travel alongside me; that was impossible because the chasms to the left and right of me were so deep, I couldn't see the bottoms.

The only way I could safely proceed up the path, and not get knocked down, was to focus my eyes on He who is the Holy One of Israel.

An Eternal Pattern Emerges

  • It's ever-expanding
"blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more..." (2 Nephi 28:30) 
Thus, it stands to reason that if one has faithfully received a few things, then they shall be given more things. If this continues ad infinitum, then the Lord's statement, "Endless is my name" (D&C 19:4,10; see also Moses 1:3, 7:35) is accurate. His glory, dominion and kingdom endlessly expands. 
"Of the increase of government and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this." (2 Nephi 19:7) 
  • The "Course" of the Gods
"For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round." (1 Nephi 10:19)  
"Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever." (D&C 35:1)  
"And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round." (Alma 37:12) 
"For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round." (D&C 3:2) 
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In my next post, we'll combine all of these characteristics into one simple pattern -- a pattern which is imprinted throughout the expanse of a never-ending cosmos.

It is the pattern of sanctification, perfection, of the steps to exaltation.