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Friday, February 26, 2016

Step Out of the Darkness and Into the Light


"One of the things that has plagued the church today is what I call the 'Inbred Christian'.
What is meant by this? 
It happens when a church, congregation or an individual believer has no more relation to the outside world, but instead has their own 'Christian Churchy Culture'.
When believers do this, they end up segregating themselves from the very world that needs their influence the most. And what one doesn't know is that you can get so into the 'Christian Culture' that you can actually lose your connection with the Spirit of the Lord, miss your purpose, and eventually become weaker.  
See, if you're not stepping out and taking new ground for the Lord, advancing the Gospel and sharing it with unbelievers, you are at risk of becoming an inbred Christian. And why did YHVH-God eventually ban inbreeding in the Torah? Because genetically it led to a weakened immune system, which made one to be more venerable to diseases. And if you're diseased, you cannot survive. 
Here's an example: if you keep a child in a dirt and germ-free environment for years, what will happen once that child visits the outside world? They will become deathly ill because their body will not know how to cope and fight off infection. The same thing happens with us in the spirit realm.  
The Lord did not call us out of darkness, into the light to only stay in the light. What's the point? Do you go home at night and turn on every light in the house to see? What is the benefit of a hundred lights being on in the same room? None. Does one outshine the other? The answer is no. But if you turn on just one light in a dark room, well then, now it's worth goes a long way.  
When you only hang out with the light, you can quickly forget where you came from and what the whole point was. Jesus tells us that the whole point of being the light of the world is so that our light will shine before men, that the Father be glorified (Matthew 5:14-16). See, Christ was the light that shone in the darkness (John 1:4-5). This was His purpose of coming.  
But the Pharisees could not comprehend this, so they criticized Him for mingling with the sick, whores, tax collectors, murders, drunkards and Gentiles. Therefore they missed the purpose; it was for them that He came. For those who had lost their way in the darkness. He was and is the light that shines in the dark so that those who are lost can now see their way.  
See, its the fallow ground that bears the most fruit. But fruit trees that are only next to fruit trees will not get picked. And the fruit will eventually rot and fall to the ground, wasted. 
It's time for us to come out of our 'inbred' state of mind. Instead of sitting around the table debating about denominations, feasts, Sabbaths, churches, leaders, race, what you should eat or drink, or how you should clothe yourselves, we should be out in the field, reaping the harvest; reaching 'the least of these' mentioned in Matthew 25:31-46.  
So get out of your comfort zone and begin transforming the areas that have not yet been touched. This is the way the Spirit of the Lord will be exercised to the fullest in your life." (Mena Lee Grebin; emphasis mine)

A Terrific Case Study on How To Do It


Enos' story perfectly illustrates the steps you can and should take to not only hear God's words to you, and not only have a really productive dialogue with Him, but to also effectively step out of your own inward-centric, self-imposed, anti-Christlike comfort zone...

...where you will find Him, laboring with all His might...

...where he needs your help, and has some special tools for you to help Him.

So, let's open up to Enos 1!

First, what did Enos desire? "A remission of his sins" (verse 2). This is something you can and should do everyday. Joseph Smith declared:
"Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not … pleasing in the sight of God." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 148)
Also, this:
"Repentance is not an incidental or casual thing: wise King Benjamin spoke to his people of 'retaining a remission of your sins from day to day.' (Mosiah 4:26) I have long been impressed with the “day to day” aspect of being spiritually clean. It seems that, like many commonplace things in life, repentance and forgiveness need to occur in a regular pattern of daily orderliness.
An essential aspect of true repentance is daily prayer. And it must be meaningful as well as regular. No man genuinely repents if he nonchalantly asks his Father to overlook his shortcomings just before he heads out the door to work. The right way to repent of sins is by going before our Maker in secret prayer, identifying the specific transgression, confessing it, forsaking it, and continuing in the Lord’s Spirit. As the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph: “I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer.” (D&C 84:61.)" (Franklin S. Gonzalez, "Repentance: A Daily Pattern", Ensign, August, 1980)
"One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: 'What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee?  If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.' That humble prayer will be answered." (Henry B. Eyring, “Do Not Delay,” Ensign, Nov. 1999)

Second, what did he do? He ensured he was in a still, serene environment (verse 3) -- again, something you can and should do everyday.

Enoch did. "I turned and went up on the mount," he said, "and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory; And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations" (Moses 7:3-4).

Jacob did.  In Beth-el, he built an altar "and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother" (Genesis 35:7).

Moses did.  He "was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain..." (Moses 1:1, 42), talked with God "face to face" and "beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created" (Moses 1:2,8).  It was such a special place, the Lord told Moses to "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

Elijah did.  "And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:8-9).

Nephi did.  "And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord" (1 Nephi 17).  As a result, the Lord taught him Shipbuilding 101...the opening overtures for a trip across the great waters to the Promised Land.

Enos did.  He "went to hunt beasts in the forests", and ended up communing with God, having his guilt swept away and being considered "blessed".

The Brother of Jared did.  As we read in Ether 3:1, he "went forth" and traveled to "the top" of Mount Shelem, which also had "exceeding height" (Ether 3:1).  He went up believing the Lord would light his rocks, and came away having had a face-to-face audience with the Savior.

Joseph Smith did.  Although he went to the Sacred Grove for answers to his own questions, he came out of it with much more than he expected.

The Savior did.  He "went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12) before he gave his Sermon on the Mount.  At another time, "in the morning, rising up a great while before day, Jesus went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." (Mark 1:35)  Yet again, after Jesus had fed the five thousand, he told the Twelve to dismiss the multitude, while he went to the mountain for solitude.  In fact, "when the evening was come, he was there alone" (Matthew 14:23).

So, my question to you is, why isn't your name on this list? The pattern (D&C 52:14) is clear-cut and unmistakable, helping you from being deceived (the darkness) and dialogue with Deity (the light).  The pattern is subtle and simple, yet just as viable and real as it was in the early 19th Century and many millennia, every dispensation, before.

Third, he pondered the words of God (in his case, those which his father spoke) -- presumably, what it takes to obtain eternal life and happiness (verse 3) -- yet again, something you can and should do everyday.

Nephi [1] desired to know the things that his father saw, and [2] believed that the Lord was able to make them known unto him.  This wasn’t just a momentary thought; he [3] pondered them in his heart.

The result: he had an epiphany (1 Nephi 11:1). He was thrilled with this result, so much so that his exuberance still "rings" true 2,600 years later: "My soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them.... Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard" (2 Nephi 4:15-16).

President Joseph F. Smith sat in his room “pondering over the Scriptures” (particularly 1 Peter 3:19) on October 3, 1918.  As a result of that pondering, the eyes of his understanding were opened, “and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great…” (D&C 138).

Fourth, he "hungered" so intensely for those promises that he kneeled down before God and "cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication" -- not for a few minutes, but all day and into the night (verse 4). Granted, an all-day-into-the-night prayer is probably not something you can do everyday, but you can engage in mighty prayer before God (see here: http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2015/12/alignment-part-6-of-6-when-one-becomes.html)

When His Voice Speaks to You


Now see what happens next: "And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed" (verse 5). Note that this wasn't necessarily an audible voice, because (as we read in verse 10), the voice of the Lord came into his mind. This is consistent with what the Lord taught Oliver Cowdery when he desired to help Joseph translate:

"Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation" (D&C 8:2-3).
Pres. Marion G. Romney described what it's like to actually receive a sentence from the Lord:
"Revelation is the means by which God communicates with men. Revelation is indispensable to an understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The very nature of the gospel is such that without the active and constant operation of the principle of revelation, it could not be understood nor could it be had.
Another manifestation of revelation is the unspoken word, a good illustration of which is given us by Enos. He says: '...while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying:...' (Enos 10.) Then he tells us what the voice of the Lord put in his mind.
This is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one's mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted. Flashes of ideas that come into one's mind represent another type or manifestation of revelation. Listen to this statement of the Prophet Joseph:
'A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 151.)" (Elder Marion G. Romney, April 1964 General Conference)

What You Do After You Get Your Answer


In a previous post, I mentioned that our relationship with Christ can be evolutionary in nature. Your friendship with Him can blossom, grow and flourish, from rare interactions to occasional conversations to more frequent, definite dialogues.

Some may believe that the next step in the relationship would be actually seeing Christ. And yes, for some, I believe that may be true. However, look at where Enos' relationship with Christ went after Enos heard the Lord's voice in his mind:
"Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them." (Enos 1:9)
I don't think this was an accident. Enos' realignment -- from self-focused to others-focused -- was a perfectly natural result of being aligned with Christ.

Remember where Christ was found during His earthly ministry?

Was Christ hanging out with the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes? Are they who He spent all His time with? No way -- not by a long-shot. He was found with "...the sick, whores, tax collectors, murders, drunkards and Gentiles" (and caught significant flack for it, I might add).

If you want to meet Him, then I highly recommend you make it a priority and meet Him where He is. And it will not be in your self-imposed comfort zone. It's not within a radius of five feet around you. Here, let me put it bluntly:


YOU. NEED. TO. STEP. OUT. TO. FIND. HIM!


How much plainer could the Lord be when He said, "and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32)?

Brother Joseph totally got this concept:
"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).
But take a look at this: in Enos' case, he took things a step further:
"And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites" (Enos 1:11).
"After gaining promised blessings for the Nephites, Enos then prayed for the Lamanites. His prayer displays a significant order in his requests: first for himself, second for his friends, and third for his enemies. Obedience to the first great commandment, “to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind” brought true obedience to the second great commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself (see Matt 22:37–39). In essence, our first love (our relationship with God) empowers and directs our second love (our relationship with others). Unobstructed by sin, Enos now had the power to grow beyond his previous abilities. His desires progressed beyond caring mainly for his own people to include a struggle in prayer for the welfare of his enemies.
The conversion stories of Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah followed this same pattern. After having their “wrestle before God” and receiving a remission of their sins, they had a consuming desire to preach the gospel. As Mormon wrote, “They were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble” (Mosiah 28:3).
This concept could have significant meaning regarding the way we interrelate with each other. For example, let Enos’ prayer for his own soul represent stage one; his prayer for his friends represent stage two; and his prayer for his enemies represent stage three. Before attempting to resolve difficulties with others in either of stages two or three, we must spend some personal time in stage one — ie, reconciling ourselves with God, perhaps even wrestling before him in prayer, so that our emotions and desires coincide with and produce a temperament conducive to the Holy Ghost. The feeling of love generated through the warmth of the Holy Ghost enables us to act rather than to react, to listen rather than to defend, to bless rather man to curse." (Dennis L. Largey, “Enos: His Mission and His Message,” in The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, eds. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1990), 141–56.

YOUR Tools to Make This All Happen


This whole concept is tremendously exciting to me! It is, without question, built upon layers and layers of patterns and precedents which produced personal, profound experiences with God Himself.

And even better, He has given YOU -- yes, YOU -- a baseline complement of three tools to help you go forth, love and serve others, and experience your relationship with Him in ways you can't even comprehend.

It doesn't matter if you're male or female, rich or poor, old or young, thin or fat, white or black or brown, yellow, orange, green or purple.

YOU. HAVE. THREE. GIFTS. AWAITING. YOU!

And, in my next post, we'll begin discussing what those gifts are.

I invite you to join me in seeking them, understanding them, activating them, sharing them and cherishing them...

...and experience God the same way the prophets of old did:

Personally. Directly. Profoundly.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Perfect Day eBook

Several months ago, I started receiving promptings that I should compile my posts into book form. The promptings persisted until they were so clear in my mind, that I knew what the book would look like even before I started producing it.

Download Your Free Copy Now!


So today, on this, the (roughly) 4th birthday of this blog, I'd like to announce:

All blog posts from February, 2012 through January, 2016 have been compiled into an eBook, entitled "The Perfect Day". 

The content is organized chronologically by post date, with a table of contents in the front and a very rudimentary index in the back. Note that this isn't professionally typeset, edited, etc. It's the straight stuff, compiled and indexed in eBook format.

Click here to download the PDF (3.68MB)

Click here to download the EPUB (Adobe Digital Editions, Apple iBooks; 1.7MB)

Click here to download the MOBI (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks; 2.1MB)

Click here to download the PRC (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks; 2.1MB)

What About The Perfect Day -- The (bound) Book?


Now that the eBook versions are up, I'll start efforts to have the book published in hard copy. No, I don't have a deadline and no, I don't know how much it will cost. All I know is, whatever the price will be, I'd like it to be priced at the publisher's cost, because I don't want to make any money from it.

I'll post updates, when they're available, on this blog. If you'd like to be notified of updates to this blog, just enter your email address and hit the submit button under the "Have Posts Sent to Your Email" section to the right.

(Note: the image of the book is a mock-up, and not an actual book).

What's Next For LDS Perfect Day?


Good question! Thanks for asking.

For about the last 2 1/2 years, this blog has placed a primary emphasis on examining D&C 93:1.

Although I'll continue to post content congruent with topics I've addressed in the past, I'll soon be announcing a very exciting, new direction this blog will be taking.

It's a direction that does not currently exist on the internet today, and will have features and discussions that exist nowhere -- not even in book form.

Consider it...a natural evolution of the discussion we've been having here so far.

So, strap in your seatbelt!

It's time to punch this into 2nd gear!

Disclaimer


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