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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 5: Hearing Him

I believe that God is communicating with us all the time. He's far more loving, caring and wanting to be involved in our lives than we may suppose.

The fact that we don't hear Him (in our hearts and minds) as often likely isn't a deficiency on God's part, but ours.

When we're able to clear the static from our spiritual radio tuners, and able to tune into the signals that God is constantly broadcasting, we are far more able to hear Him. And in the process, we're sent on the most thrilling, exciting journey of our lives. Because it's with Him.

Your Spiritual Radio Tuner

On September 5, 1993, Elder James E. Faust gave a little-known but terrific BYU Fireside Address (the entirety is found here) about tuning in to the Spirit.  If possible, please listen to this brief, excerpt of his speech; it’s well worth your time…

One of the passages in this talk particularly resonated with me:

“Learn to ponder the things of the Spirit and to respond to its promptings; filter out the static generated by Satan. As you become attuned to the Spirit, ‘thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it’ (Isaiah 30:21).”
In the May 2004 First Presidency message, Elder Faust expanded the metaphor of the radio:
"My first radio was a crystal set. It was hard to tune to the frequency of a particular radio station. I had to literally scratch the receiving wire whisker over the top of the rough crystal to find the right pinpoint, a little valley or peak on the crystal where the signal was received. Just a millimeter off on either side of that point and I would lose the signal and get scratchy static. Over time, with patience and perseverance, good eyesight, and a steady hand, I learned to find the signal point on the crystal without too much difficulty. 
So it is with inspiration. We must attune ourselves to the inspiration from God and tune out the scratchy static. We have to work at being tuned in. Most of us need a long time to become tuned in. When I was a newly called General Authority, President Marion G. Romney, who was in his 70s at the time, told us, “I know when I am working under the Spirit and when I am not.” To be able to recognize when one is being guided by the Spirit is a supernal gift. 
In terms of modern communication, crystal radio sets helped us emerge from the dark ages of communication. With advanced technology, cellular phones are used for much of the communication in our time. Occasionally, however, we find dead spots where the signal coming to a cell phone fails. This can happen when the cell phone user is in a tunnel or a canyon or when there is other interference. 
So it is with divine communication. The still, small voice, though still and small, is very powerful. It “whispereth through and pierceth all things” (D&C 85:6).  But like my old crystal set, the message may be there but we fail to pick it up. Perhaps something in our lives prevents us from hearing the message because we are 'past feeling' (1 Nephi 17:45).  We often put ourselves in spiritual dead spots—places and situations that block out divine messages. Some of these dead spots include anger, pornography, transgression, selfishness, and other situations that offend the Spirit."
Indeed, the signals of the Spirit are so subtle, they are almost imperceptible to the telestial soul.  And in our harried, busy, distracted modern-day lives, we need every advantage, every strategy possible, to effectively “tune in” to the Spirit so we can ponder God’s words.

I know these days, many people are envious (whether they'd admit it or not) of those who have seen the Savior, had an audience with Him, or even been ministered to by Him. And there's no doubt, such experiences are significant, sacred and rare. But in my experience, even rarer are those who hear Him often and know His personality with crystal clarity. In my opinion, they have a constantly, ever-evolving relationship with Him which those who've only spent a few minutes with Him often don't have.

Those who do hear Him with that frequency and clarity often display three characteristics:

1. They Turn Their Back on Satan

"Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10) and "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matthew 16:23) are phrases commonly thought and uttered by those who seem to hear Christ well. They have no problem with casting Satan out of their homes and offices (my friend Mike Stroud gave an excellent podcast on this subject here). They prioritize immersing themselves in His word, and do what they can to ensure a wholesome environment, like playing inspirational, uplifting music -- the frequencies of which add light, life and love. In so doing, they take refuge in His word and in His holy name, ensuring a shield of righteousness around them:

Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

For our shield belongs to the LORD, And our king to the Holy One of Israel.

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

2. They Turn Their Heart to Jesus

"O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.
O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:4-7)

Simultaneous to their taking refuge in Jesus, and ensuring His status as their spiritual shield, is a concerted effort to rid themselves of sin and the elimination of anything and everything that stands between them and God.

These obstacles come in a thousand different forms. Some lesser-known -- but very poignant -- examples include:

"They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall." (D&C 1:16)
Those who hear Christ in their hearts and minds actively seek out and eradicate idols from their midst (to see a list of some definite possibilities, click here). This is often painful, because these idols are tremendously beguiling. And everybody loves them. So, it sets these people at odds with other family members, friends and co-workers who have little to no desire to do the same. Banish idols from your midst, and you very likely will end up feeling a lot more alone. That's OK, though; it's often in our "aloneness" that Jesus makes Himself a little more "obvious".


I'm only aware of two instances where the Lord was destructive/negative: His dealings with the Pharisees/Sadducees/Scribes (who had unrighteously assumed authority over the Church) and clearing out the temple (which had been allowed to be defiled by the Pharisees). Did He lash out at the Romans? Not that I'm aware. Of them, He said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34).

Today, I see a tremendous degree of negativity and destructiveness, especially online (often involving groups of hundreds or thousands of people, even church members), often by those who believe that said destructiveness/negativity is endorsed by none other than Jesus Himself. True, we are to warn our neighbor; no doubt about it! (D&C 88:81) But when we self-justify exceptions to His commandment "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34), it's easy to run contrary to another injunction that we "follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." (Romans14:19)

“As the showdown between good and evil approaches with its accompanying trials and tribulations, Satan is increasingly striving to overcome the Saints with despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression.” (Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair”, Oct. 1974 General Conference).
Boy do I know a lot about this obstacle. When I was on my mission, my first companion was what they called a "dead companion". He had almost no desire to proselyte and teach, even though he was very good at them. Just six hours of both activities in my first six months there. Now imagine for a minute being in a foreign country where you can't understand a written word, you can barely ask where the bathroom is, your parents aren't supportive of your mission and you know no one in your home ward. You're as enthusiastic a missionary as there ever was, and you're spending your first months in these circumstances. I felt beaten, broken, defeated. I honestly felt I had no one to turn to. Amidst the frustration, I did the only thing I knew I had left: I turned to God. I cried, begged and pleaded with Him. I remember telling Him, "I'm out here working for you. I've left my home, my family -- everything, and I mean everything -- for you. All I need is for you to just say hi. Say something. Please. Because you're all I've got left."  It was then that I heard, clear as a bell, my name ringing through my heart and mind. It was honestly like a bell had been rung. Then I was given a flood of images in my mind of different aspects of my life, all the while saying "I was with you during <this life event>. I was with you during <that life event>". It was undeniable who was talking to me and the feelings (of peace and enlightenment) I felt. Since that day, all those miles and years ago, I still remember that singular event which permanently changed me, like it was yesterday.

There have been some stellar talks and articles given over the years regarding self-doubt (here and here). But for me, there's only one way to know for sure that God exists, knows you and loves you, and that's to experience it first-hand.
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; … He will not forsake thee.” (Deut. 4:30–31; pleasealso see here)
There's one way -- and only one way -- to shed these spiritual barnacles off the hulls of our souls: To turn to God. In many cases, this requires repentance.

If I were Satan, and knew that repentance is a prime way of closing the distance between man and God, I would do everything possible to make it big and bad, difficult and demanding. I hope you don't fall for his trap.

Almost four years ago, I documented my search for what repentance is. I was surprised to learn that repentance is not suffering. It is not punishment. It isn't confession or remorsefulness, either. I replaced those words with others like shube and metaneoeo. I discovered a beautiful simplicity in repentance.
No matter if you know all about repentance or not, I invite you to discover -- or rediscover -- the true meaning of repentance. After re-reading these links, I have fortified my testimony that repentance is (or can be) highly motivating, inspiring, uplifting and can (by itself) trigger some touching, sincere, understanding, non-judgmental conversations with God:
"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7; emphasis mine)
This is not only Isaiah's testimony to the world, but mine as well. I've lived it. I've experienced it. And because of His infinite mercy, I've been overwhelmingly blessed because of it.

Thinking of Others Ahead of Yourself

In June, 1829, both John Whitmer and Peter Whitmer, Jr became deeply concerned over the matter of their individual duty (see D&C14 Introduction). The Lord's answer to both was synonymous and brief:
"For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you. And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen." (D&C 15: 4,6; 16:4,6)
I don't think the Lord wanted these two sections included in the D&C just to fill up some space. No. I believe He included them because that would be His message to you, today, as well. Because the Lord isn't known for His changeability (3 Nephi 24:6), I think it's a safe assumption that these verses apply to you as well.

I've always believed that if you want to grab heaven's attention, pray about others. If you want to solutions to your problems, seek to help others discover solutions to their problems. In a previous blog post, I posited "Why Your Efforts to Part the Veil May Be Failing". My conclusion was simple: One of the reasons why the veil isn't parting for us is because we're thinking of ourselves, not others. When you turn your back on Satan, and eliminate the idols and sin which separate you from God, you really are making efforts to put God first in your life. That's the First Great Commandment. When you seek after the welfare of others, there's the Second Great Commandment.

Putting It All Together: Two Blog Readers' Personal Experiences

But I suppose the real test of what I've said in this blog post, and this five-part series, is what effect it's had on others' relationships with Jesus. Here are two emails from blog readers (used with their permission):
"When I heard people talk in church about having a 'personal relationship' with Jesus, I had no idea what they were talking about. I didn't understand how you could have a relationship with someone you can't see or hear.  I've been your average spiritually-asleep church member almost my entire life.  When I 'awoke' and learned that other everyday church members were hearing His voice and having conversations with Him, I knew immediately that I wanted that type of relationship with Him, and had absolute confidence that it could happen to me too.  I turned myself more and more toward Him, yearning to hear and converse with Him.  I had many one-sided conversations with Him while running, during the day, and driving around in the car.  My thoughts changed to the extent where I was focused on my spiritual desires a large percentage of the day. Sometimes it was frustrating because I didn't have any sense that anyone was listening.  But I kept at it. 
One night I woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time falling asleep again because I was worrying about something.  As I was laying in bed thinking, I suddenly heard my name very clearly in my mind.  I was very surprised.  My previous thoughts had had nothing to do with my name, and I was pretty sure the voice wasn't the same voice I associate with my own thoughts.  'That... was not me!!!' I realized.  'That.... was Jesus?!!'  I quickly called out to Him in my mind, thinking of Samuel's boyhood experience.  No response.  I wondered if I was dreaming, but I was pretty sure I was awake, even opening my eyes to verify it.  Soon afterwards, I finally fell asleep. 
Since then, it's been witnessed to me that that was indeed the Lord's voice who spoke to me that night. It was the greatest day of my entire life, the single most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.  Jesus spoke to ME!  He knew my name!  I had gone from having strong faith in Him to feeling like I absolutely KNEW He was there and that He was aware of me and my righteous desires.  I felt like if I could hear His voice, I could accomplish anything He wanted. I had done my best to draw near unto Him, and He was reciprocating.  My life has never been the same since then.  If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone who pays the price."
This other account happened within the walls of a temple:
"I again want to thank you for your insights in these latest blog posts!  This approach has very literally opened up the avenue for personal revelation and interaction with the Lord in ways that were greatly lacking for a long time!  As a testimony to that, I just want to share this tender experience which I had tonight. 
As I finished some of my assignments within the <location> temple tonight, I found myself with about 50 minutes before needing to be anywhere.  So I slipped quietly into the empty chapel to simply spend some uninterrupted time with the Lord in His house. 
I sat on the back row of benches and cleared my mind, inviting the Lord to be with me.  I thanked Him for the priceless opportunity to be in His house to spend time with Him and participate in the eternally important work which occurs there.  I imagined Him sitting next to me on the bench so that we could talk like old friends. 
As I sat pondering about what I felt impressed to converse with Him about, I began thinking about the importance of a person’s name.  I thought of how when the Lord spoke to the young prophet Joseph Smith and called him by name, how much meaning that must have conveyed to Joseph, just to hear his name spoken by God.  The same could be said for any of the prophets in the scriptures.  I had the impression that when the Lord calls you by name, there is a deep and significant meaning behind its use, which conveys His feelings towards you as an individual. 
As I sat thinking about the importance of a name, I considered all of the many names and titles the Lord has.  Some of these might include: Jesus, Jehovah, Yeshua, the Lord, the Christ, the Prince of Peace and countless other names, all of which describe him accurately in some way.  But I felt impressed to ask Him as part of my personal conversation with Him, “What is the name you prefer the most, Lord?”  “Of all the many names and titles you have, do you have one which you love or prefer to be called above the others?  This way I will know what I should call you that will convey my love to you.” 
I received no specific response to this question, but it served to at least open my personal conversation with Him. 
I next began to thank Him for the wonderful opportunity I had this past weekend to go and spend some time with <family members>, and to participate in the blessing of <family member>.  Even thinking about how I felt around the precious young souls of <family member> and <family member> made my heart swell with love.  I thanked the Lord for how precious those feelings were to me.  In response came the sweet and tender impression, “That is how I feel about you!”  This answer warmed my heart to consider. 
I next pondered about the love of Heavenly Father and Mother, and thought about how I can envision the Lord and through Him, have a glimpse of what Father must be like, but I considered in my heart, “But what is Mother like?”  In response came the reply, “She is very much like all of the divine qualities you see and love in your own dear wife.”   This reply felt so natural and correct, and not only helped deepen my understanding of Heavenly Mother, but also gave me a deeper and greater affection for my lovely wife and the potential of what she will someday become.  (When I shared these impressions with my wife later that evening, she was deeply impacted and moved to tears). 
Trying to shift things away from my own thoughts and questions, I then asked the Lord, “What was the best part of your day today?”  The simple and quick reply was, “Spending this time with you!”  I considered all the eternally significant things He was involved with all the time and replied, “I can’t imagine that with all you have going on, that spending a few minutes with me would be the best thing in your day.”  His answer was a quick and gentle rebuke, but one filled with love and encouragement, “That is where your faith is still lacking!  That is your veil of unbelief!” 
I was humbled and quickly asked for forgiveness for doubting in His love for me.  I expressed how I longed to be with Him and to have the faith to put aside such doubts and believe how much He truly desired to be with me and have a personal relationship with me. 
I asked Him what I could do to deepen that relationship and connection with Him.  The reply came, “Show more sincere interest in others around you and be truly concerned about their well-being.  That is how you will draw closer unto me, because that is how you will become more like me.  And as you become more like me in this way, you will see as you are seen and know as you are known.” 
These simple and profound insights and revelations came quietly, yet profoundly, as I simply took some time to be with the Lord and converse with Him through the eye of faith…in the temple. 
I can’t tell you how much this simple concept has profoundly impacted opening the heavens and making a connection to divine insight and truth.  For much of my life, I have offered prayers that felt as if they were unanswered, which were lists, asking for blessings and seeking for answers to things that were important to me according to what I wanted.  Many times, I felt the heavens were closed during these attempts and the answers were hard to come by.  But this new approach of having a more personal conversation with the Lord, trying to envision Him not far away in heaven, but near me and wanting to talk to me, has made so much difference in just the past few weeks! 
These experiences are a testimony to me that not only does the Lord want to have a closer and more personal relationship and interactions with us, but that He is actually near us all the time.  We literally are His primary concern, His work and His glory.  And this concept reminds me of a quote, by A. W. Tozer, which I have long loved and am now striving to actually believe,

“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. 
He does not distribute Himself so that each may have a part,
but to each He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.” 
I pray that I may continue to develop this faith, belief and my relationship with Him, until it becomes a literal reality in His own time, and in His own perfect, divine way!"
I couldn't have put it better myself.

Lorenzo Snow said that it is the “grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint … to have the manifestations of the spirit every day of our lives [so] that we may know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark” (in Conference Report, April 1899, 52).

Can you find Him? Yes...when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul. Can you hear His voice? Yes. I have, and others have as well.

I close this series (grateful for, and) seconding not only my friends' witnesses, but also Moroni's (note the usage of the word "when", not "if":
"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)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 4: Visualize Him

Special Announcement

LDS Perfect Day now has a YouTube channel here!  At this time, you'll find five playlists:

The video book of John Eldredge's book, "Beautiful Outlaw"

Videos of Jesus which are meaningful to me

Insightful Videos

Inspiring Videos

Favorite Music (now up to 30 songs!)

It's my hope that these videos can help you feel the Spirit a bit more, and grow closer to He who adds life to all He touches, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

The New Mormon Pioneers

170-ish years ago, many of our ancestors were pioneers. They traversed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles in search of truth, of a better life, of God. They hoped, they dreamed, they envisioned what their new homes in the fabled Rocky Mountains would look like.

Today, the Lord beckons you to also be a pioneer.

Only this time, it doesn't involve walking many physical, but spiritual, miles.

The journey is just as tough, and its stakes much, much higher.

He beckons you not to the Rocky Mountains, but into His presence. He encourages you to dream, to imagine, to visualize His presence, and like our pioneer ancestors, literally step foot into that envisioned realm.

This blog post won't get you there. Instead, I hope it serves as kind of a booster, an ever-so-slight push forward, with you on your spiritual bicycle.

Keep pedaling. Stay straight. And definitely...keep smiling!

When Mankind Shattered a Type of Colorblindness

One in 12 boys/men, and in 1 in 200 girls/women, have hereditary red-green color blindness. To these people, red and green look the same. Everything looks the same -- just different shades of gray.

Enter EnChroma -- a company which produces revolutionary, new glasses which enables the colorblind to see colors. For those with trichromatic color blindness, light wavelengths overlap too much, causing color confusion. But when they put these glasses on, one wavelength is made a little brighter and the other a little less, so they can better tell the difference between colors. Even though EnChroma advises people to wear the glasses "for 3-5 days to allow visual processing mechanisms in the brain to adapt to the new information", for most, the results are immediate and life-changing:

"This whole end of the spectrum I was completely not aware of"

"I never realized like how much I was affected by the fact that I can't see the world like the way other people see the world."

"All these things that are intentional in life, I never caught on to it."

"I don't want to take them off"

"I never really thought about my colorblindness that much. It's just something that I had that I dealt with, and that wasn't really a big deal to me. But color is an amazing experience, and I think people probably take for granted."

We, too, are colorblind. Spiritually colorblind.

It hasn't always been this way. Anciently, people knew that the dark veil of unbelief exists in our minds. They had an active knowledge of how spiritual creation precedes the physical creation. And they knew that by seeing through their spiritual eye of faith, they would someday see what they had visualized with their physical eyes.

These people saw spiritual technicolor. We ultra-cool Gentiles? I'd have to say, for the most part, that we're trichromatic color best.

What do modern-day people say when they put on their spiritual EnChroma glasses?

Necha said...
"I went and tried it...visualizing. Can I just say...WOW! One of the most sacred experiences I've had!" (here)
...Dane said...
"Wow! I couldn't stop reading your post. I feel this is what is missing for me to see my Savior. Thank you for sharing this with me." (here)
...and finally, C said (in a private email to me),
"It [visualizing] was something I stumbled upon on my own, being led to it with the help of the Spirit. It's now my barometer for my relationship with God and Christ. And it is true testimony to me that they are here and with us. I don't feel alone when I focus my mind in their direction. It also shows me the very nature of the veil."
These are real people, who read and/or listen to this blog, just like you.

And there's one name missing in this list of those who visualized the eternities as was done anciently -- yours!

So, let's put a halt to your spiritual colorblindness. Let's put on your spiritual EnChroma glasses. Now.

INSPIRED Visualization

A few points before we dive into the details:

1. "Inspired Visualization 101" is based on Stephen Covey's September, 1974 Ensign article, "Likening the Scriptures Unto Ourselves". There, he states,

"Visualize. This means to see in your mind’s eye the characters and events portrayed in the scriptures. Such an empathetic effort will help you understand the situation that produced the teaching. Then you can relate that situation to yours and distill the universal principle that may apply in both.

When you visualize, you’re exercising faith. Visualizing is a powerful mental process, one of man’s unique endowments. Most of us neglect this power. Realize it or not, control it or not, the spiritual creation precedes the physical creation in all things. Most of life’s battles are lost in this private phase."

I don't think the Church would have published this concept in its Ensign Magazine -- and sold Covey's book which includes the above quote since the early 80s -- unless it had considered the usage of the word "visualize", and the concept of visualization, spiritually beneficial.

The term "visualize", and its accompanying concept, has also been used by Elder David A. Bednar:
"The Restoration of the gospel in the latter days provides an important companion account of the Savior’s birth in the Book of Mormon. My message highlights this additional description of the first Christmas. As we consider this episode together, brothers and sisters, I invite you to visualize yourself in these events and not merely listen to the words." ("The Light and the Life of the World", Dec. 2015, here and here)
And Elder Claudio Costa in the October 2015 General Conference:
"I love to read scriptural passages about His sinless life, and after reading the scriptures which tell about the events experienced by Him, I close my eyes and try to visualize these sacred moments that teach me and strengthen me spiritually.
Moments such as:
  • When He spat on the ground and, having made clay of the spittle, anointed the eyes of the blind man and said unto him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” And the man obeyed, “and washed, and came seeing.”
  • When He healed the woman who had an issue of blood and had touched the border of His garment, believing that just by touching Him, she would be healed.
  • When He appeared to His disciples, walking upon the sea.
  • When He went with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and opened the scriptures to their understanding.
  • When He appeared to the people in the Americas and told them to come unto Him and thrust their hands into His side and feel the prints of the nails in His hands and His feet so they could know that He was 'the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and [had] been slain for the sins of the world.'” ("That They Do Always Remember Him", here).
In fact, the church's New Testament Teacher's Manual has a whole section on "Visualizing the Scriptures":
"Visualizing the Scriptures: When students create a mental picture of what they are reading, the persons and events in the scriptures will become more real to them. Help students visualize the scriptures by asking them to describe how they “see” in their minds certain people or events taking place in the scriptures. Encourage them to focus on words and phrases in the scriptures that help them better understand the scriptural context." (here)
(There are many, many more instances of the term, and concept, of "visualize" or "visualization" in [here]).

2. "Inspired Visualization 201" and beyond incorporates several truths: It demands that the person "Pray and ask for the Holy Ghost to be your guide", to "start with a prayer", asking Heavenly Father to bless and sanctify your experience. You "ask that the Holy Ghost will be" your guide. These concepts are grounded in some core truths: Light. Love. Peace. Righteousness. And most importantly, Jesus. These differ (or should differ) from other forms of visualization, particularly New Age philosophies, which encourage people to lose control of themselves. Such are not rooted in prayer to Heavenly Father, faith in Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Ghost.  As we know, Satan counterfeits all truths, and inspired visualizing -- seeing with the eye of faith -- shouldn't be an exception. I outright condemn any meditative or visualization practice which sacrifices your control to another, or diverges its focus from Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

3. One good way to determine a practice's truth is, what fruits does it bring about? As we know, a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. So, one should be discerning if such techniques lead people closer to God or not. I've included some fruits above. If we condemn the fruits which others have tasted, which have indeed brought them closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, then we are setting ourselves up as judges of others.

Now -- below are some methods to help you visualize the divine. I've organized them so that you start with a basic visualization technique, and once you've mastered that one, you can move on to the next one.

Note that these are just examples. If you sense it would be best for you to add/delete/change a step, then do it. That's OK. Everybody's experiences differ.

1. Inspired Visualization 101

I stumbled upon this first method quite by accident: I was listening to an mp3 of the Book of Mormon just as I was going to sleep. As I did so, I started to imagine the events being described in the narration. The results were profound. Over the years, I've encouraged others to do the same. They have, and the results have been profound for them, too. Here's how it works:

  1. Go here to access 3rd Nephi Chapter 11. Don't start listening to it quite yet; just be ready to do so.
  2. Pick a quiet, calm time to visualize. I recommend finding a peaceful time and place where there are no distractions and no pressing appointments. "Peace" is a prime prerequisite of the Spirit.
  3. Pray, expecting God will grant you a heightened awareness of what you are about to hear, and thank Him for the opportunity.
  4. Play the YouTube mentioned in step #1.
  5. Immediately close your eyes.
  6. As you listen to it, place yourself in the environment being described.  Imagine the surroundings.  If possible, feel the temperature of the air and hear the ambient sounds. See and feel what's being described.

Note that in this exercise, I gave you a special, slowed down version of this chapter. Feel free to download other mp3 scriptures by going to the scriptures page, then go to a desired book and chapter. So, for example, to listen to the non-slowed down version of 3rd Nephi 11, go here. Right above where it says, "Third Nephi The Book of Nephi", you'll see a download icon. Click that, then select if you want a male or female voice. It'll download the mp3 onto your device. NOTE: Sorry, I can't help you with any technical issues.

And feel free to try any verse of scripture! This is just an example. You can try it with the story of the woman with an issue of blood, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Peter walking on water, or what Jesus was doing when He was talking about children.

2. Inspired Visualization 201

My friend M shared this with me, and has graciously allowed me to share it on this blog. She has had many profound visualization experiences using this protocol:

  • Relax and take it slow.
  • Pray and ask for the Holy Ghost to be your guide.
  • Prepare.  Get into the right frame of mind.
  • Write your experiences down, they are your personal revelation.
  • Share only when you feel prompted.  Not everyone will treat your sacred experience as such.

  • Don’t lie down because this process is so calming, you will fall asleep.
  • Don’t do this while driving – this point is obvious.
  • Don’t do this with too much expectation.  Most of the time my experiences exceeded my expectations.
  • Your experience is unique and sacred; don’t compare your experience with someone else’s experience.

I usually start with a prayer.  I ask Heavenly Father to bless and sanctify my experience.  If I have a question or a specific experience I am seeking, I will include it in my prayer.  I ask that the Holy Ghost will be my guide and that I will be open minded for this experience.
For most people, this is not something they are used to. They might feel uncomfortable -- or find it hard -- to let go and let the Spirit guide them.  The advice I was given that put my mind at ease was knowing that there is no right or wrong way.  Everyone has a different experience.
Close your eyes and sit comfortably.  Imagine that you are wearing a worker’s overall.  It is damp, cold, dirty, heavy and uncomfortable.  All your sins and weaknesses are attached to this overall.
Imagine yourself taking the overall off and handing it to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is going to give it to the Savior.  The Holy Ghost then hands you a new overall.  It is white, clean, warm and it has your name on it.

The Holy Ghost informs you that Jesus Christ washed it Himself and ironed it.  You put it on and you feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  It smells so wonderful and clean.  It is soft and warm against your skin.
You feel new and clean, like a blank piece of paper.
Process of ascending
With your eyes still closed, imagine you are walking in a forest with tall trees all around you.  Feel the soft green grass underneath your feet.  Feel the rough bark against your hands as you touch the trees walking past them.  You look up and see the most beautiful variety of green leaves swaying gently in the breeze.  Imagine feeling the cool breeze on your face as you take a deep breath and smell the fresh air.  You listen to the sounds of the birds singing in the trees.  It is the perfect day for a stroll in the forest.  Take your time as you enjoy the beauty around you.
Ahead you see an open field.  You notice the vast contrast of the shadows cast by the trees and the sun light ahead.  You get excited knowing that you are going to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
As you walk into the light of the sun, you feel the warmth all around you.  Let it soak into your body.  Feel the rays of the sun enter every molecule and cell in your body.  Imagine the rays of the sun lighting your heart.  If the light in your heart had a dial to increase or decrease the light, increase the light all the way so that it is as bright as the sun.  Let that light grow and expand.  This light is pushing all impurities and everything of a Telestial state out of your body.  That includes evil, illness and pain.  This light expands outside your body and forms a perfect dome around you.  This is your shield.  It will protect you.
In front of you, you notice a stairway all the way to heaven.  You are unable to see where it ends.  You feel excited and intrigued to climb the stairs.

Imagine yourself climbing up the stairs.  You are amazed how fast you are able to climb.  You look down and see the trees far below.  The sight is breathtaking.  You start climbing again.  You notice that every step you ascend makes you feel calmer and more relaxed.  When you reach the top of the stairs you notice a door.  It is white with a golden handle.  You notice that you have a key in your hand.  You unlock the door... you open the step through...
What do you see?
When you are done, you can either climb down the stairs back to the open field or just open your eyes and thank Heavenly Father for the experience.
Some of what you experience might not make much sense, but I have found things come to pass what I have seen in a meditation a year later.

Write down what you have experienced.
What to expect
  • You might find that you step into a white glorious room embraced by the light.  This is a sacred place of healing and comfort.
  • You might find that you step into a magnificent garden, filled with flowers of all colors and variations.  There might be a stream and a beautiful tree that represents the Tree of Life.
  • You might find that you enter a Heavenly Place with golden roads and majestic building.
  • You might find that you enter a familiar place that has brought you feelings of exceeding joy and peace.  “Your happy-place.”

You might be greeted by a deceased family member or friend.
You might be greeted by an angelic guide.
You might be greeted by a younger or more advanced version of yourself.
You might be greeted by the Savior.
There is a possibility that you are alone and just need to be around nature.  This solitude can bring healing and peace to your soul.
Your experience might be for healing.
Your experience might be for understanding.
Your experience might be for clarification.
Your experience might be for learning.
Your experience might be for revelation.

3. Inspired Visualization 301

  1. As is noted above, prepare a calm, peaceful environment while you're alone. Pray. Ask that you be cleansed of all iniquity.
  2. IMPORTANT: Clear your mind. If you're too concerned about other stuff, then get yourself to a state where you can just cast those concerns aside for a few minutes.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Visualize yourself in the Sacred Grove. See Joseph enter the Grove. See him pray. See him struggle. See a light appear.
  5. "Pause" or "Freeze" the scene, so there is no movement whatsoever.
  6. Look into the light.
  7. Move right up to the light, and gently reach your hand into it.
  8. Feel what it's like to have your hand in the light. Feel the temperature, the vibration, the emotional feelings it may elicit.
  9. With your hand in the light, gently close your hand around a small portion of the light.
  10. Pull your hand out of the light, and look into your hand. See the light that you've acquired. Feel it.
  11. Now, with your eyes still closed, leave the Sacred Grove scene, and imagine yourself right back in the time and place where you are, only you still have the small amount of light in your hand.
  12. Clasp both palms around the light, so it's like you're holding a small snowball in your hands.
  13. Still, with your eyes closed, think about all the things you've been blessed with in your life. Blessing after blessing after an endless stream of blessings.
  14. Note the feelings this contemplation brings about in you. Do you feel greater love for Jesus, who gave you these blessings? If so, then redirect this love into your ball  of light in your hand.
  15. Note what happens to your ball of light. Does it get brighter? Does it get bigger?
  16. (Assuming the light gets bigger as it's fed more light and love), keep feeding it light and love. How big does it get? What happens to anything that's dark or negative when it tries to penetrate your ball of light?
  17. Keep feeding the ball of light with light and love until it's big enough for it to envelope you. Continue to feed it until it encompasses your room and your home.
  18. Feel what it's like to be in this ball of light.
  19. Ask, within your mind and heart, what it will take to maintain this ball of light at its current diameter.

4. Inspired Visualization 401

  • Implement "Inspired Visualization 301" so that the ball of light encompasses your entire home.
  • Direct a thought to your heart, and imagine rays of light emanating from your heart to the outer layer of the ball of light.
  • The thought is this (it can be varied/adapted as you feel inspired):
Dear Lord, I thank you for your invitation to draw near unto me, as I draw near unto you. 
I've prepared my heart and my home with one intention: that you may be invited in to both, and spend some time with me.
  • Next, envision Jesus sitting across from you.
  • With your mind still blank, be especially sensitive to any thoughts which may pop into your head. It may be your name. It may be a word. It may be a phrase.
  • If you get nothing, then don't force it. Just stay and bask in the spiritually-created light that you're in.

Closing Thoughts

  1. These techniques are simply methods which I, and others, have used to help draw closer to the Savior. They're grounded in some core truths: Light. Love. Peace. Righteousness. And most importantly, Jesus.
  2. This takes a lot of time to master. You may spend a year just at the 101 level. Don't rush things. Don't be impatient! Just ask Brother Joseph what happens when you want to do things on your terms, not the Lord's. Bad juju, huh. Be smart and await the Spirit's invitation to try any -- or a a more involved -- level of visualization.
  3. If you tell yourself "I can't do this!", then you're exactly right -- you can't! Our words are powerful, and if you allow Satan to dissuade you from trying to spiritually create with your mind's eye, then you're headed in the wrong direction. Repent and be believing.
  4. If you're expecting Christ to physically show up right in front of you after having done any of these exercises, you're missing the point. The point is to create a situation and an environment where it's far easier to draw closer to Him, and He to you. Like I said, this may take some time. Leave any results in His hands. Let go, and let God.
  5. You may be tempted to contact me and ask, "What if I do this?" or "I don't understand how to do that?". Please don't. I can't and won't step in between you and God. Go ask God your questions; He has better answers than I'd provide!  : )
  6. However, if you do have successes with any of these protocols, then please email me here or click on my contact page. I'd love to anonymously share your experience with others. You never know when the things you share might help someone else.

I know that for a while, I've been saying that this would be a four-part series. This last week, I felt very strongly impressed to make it a five-parter.

So, in Part 5, we'll discuss one last concept in parting the veil:

Hearing Him.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 3: They Conversed with the Lord

The Direct Link to God

"The heart is the connecting point, the meeting place between any two persons. The kind of deep soul intimacy we crave with God and with others can be experienced only from the heart. I know a man who took his daughter to dinner; she was surprised, delighted. For years she had been hoping he would pursue her. When they had been seated, he pulled out his Day Timer and began to review the goals he had set for her that year. 'I wanted to burst into tears and run out of the restaurant,' she said. We don't want to be someone's project; we want to be the desire of their heart. Gerald May laments, 'By worshiping efficiency, the human race has achieved the highest level of efficiency in history, but how much have we grown in love?'We've done the same to our relationship with God. Christians have spent their whole lives mastering all sorts of principles, done their duty, carried on the programs of their church . . . and never known God intimately, heart to heart. The point is not an efficient life of activity—the point is intimacy with God. 'You will find me,' God says, 'when you seek me with all your heart' (Jer. 29:13). As Oswald Chambers said, 'So that is what faith is—God perceived by the heart.' What more can be said, what greater case could be made than this: to find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart." (John Eldredge, "Waking the Dead")

Many years ago, Moses wanted his people to meet God. Although God was all for the idea, the people weren't. They wanted Moses to be their intercessor, their mediator. Because that's what they wanted, that's what they got. They were subsequently condemned for it, leaving them with "the preparatory gospel" (the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments) and only the Aaronic -- not the Melchizedek -- Priesthood (D&C 84:20-27).

Fast forward to a few hundred years A.D., and Christianity declares that Mary is humanity's intercessor with Jesus. For a thousand-plus more years, humanity approached God under those terms.

Then the dawn of a new age -- the Restoration -- began with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ personally appearing to a young, uneducated boy. All throughout Joseph's life, he begged and pleaded with the Saints not to go to him for answers, but straight to God. He held true to the cornerstone doctrine of the Restoration -- that God can and will speak with us, individually -- if we seek Him with all our hearts.
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; … He will not forsake thee.” (Deut. 4:30–31; also read this cool talk)
We know, in our curriculum, that God wants your intimate relationship with Him to be so close, that he likens it unto a marriage, a bride and bridegroom -- a wedding.
"The Lord wishes to establish a closer and more intimate relationship between Himself and us" (Pres. Lorenzo Snow, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Aug. 15, 1882, 1)
Yet, as John Eldredge aptly stated above, I believe many have become so oriented to programs and policies, activities and statistics, callings and meetings, that most have lost not only the will, but also the knowledge, of how to develop an intimate relationship with God. Church activity never has, and never will, be a legitimate indicator of closeness with God (you and I both know that a 100% active member can still abuse their spouse and/or children, be dishonest in their dealings with others and be totally oriented towards Babylon).

Luckily, that's not the case with everyone. There are still a few folks who've escaped the telestial gravity of these temporal considerations, and in the quiet and stillness of the night, have poured out their souls to God. They've discovered that, over time, as you turn your head away from the corruptness of the telestial, God turns His head towards you. Eventually, you realize all the little, everyday ways He says "I love you". He shares those moments with you as you watch a sunrise, as you gaze at the stars, as you observe children playing and birds soaring.

Even fewer do something incredible:

They exercise a tremendous amount of faith in seeking God. They climb a metaphorical mountain and escape all that's below. They turn off their TV, their car radio, their cellphone and internet -- anything and everything that's telestial -- so all they're left with is the terrestrial.

Then they invite Jesus into their homes, their offices, their daily commutes, their walks, their souls. It's as if anywhere and everywhere they go, they invite Him. Then they wait...

They wait for a word from Him.

They do this day in, and day out, demonstrating to God that above all the commotion and chaos of Babylon, that His voice -- His thoughts -- are what they seek.

Thousands of years ago, a man with the initials MM spiritually detached himself from the rest of the world. And in the process, he discovered how to unlock the combination lock to the veil.

The Veil's Combination Lock

As we read over and over again in my previous blog post, the scriptures consistently teach that there's a bridge between the spiritual world and the physical world.

That bridge -- your imagination, or visualization -- is a bridge that you can cross.

I believe that everything -- every invention ever created -- began in the imagination of someone. The telegraph, the electric light, the photograph, the telephone, the radio, the car, the airplane, rockets, nuclear power, computers, lasers, the internet -- all began with a thought. And I believe that in the vast majority of those cases, those thoughts were inspired by none other than God Himself.
"I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions." (Proverbs 8:12)
So it was thousands of years ago. We read in Ether 2:14 that Jared, his brethren (and their families) spent four years at the seashore called Moriancumer. At that time,
"the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord."
(We also learn in verse 13 that the Lord was in a cloud during these conversations, so the brother of Jared didn't see Him).

In verse 16, the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to build barges like ones they had previously built. So clearly, it wasn't their first time building barges. In verse 17, we're told what the barges looked like. In verses 18 and 19, the brother of Jared returns to the Lord with three supposed design flaws: no illumination, no navigation and no ventilation. In verse 20, the Lord provided a ventilation solution, which we see was resolved in verse 21.

Still, as we read in verses 22 and 23, both the brother of Jared and the Lord acknowledged the persistent lack of illumination and navigation -- the latter being addressed in verse 24.

OK, cool, but that lack of light. That was still unresolved, as the Lord acknowledged in verse 25.

The story continues in Ether Chapter 3 verse 1. There, we read how the brother of Jared went forth unto Mount Shelem, and moltened out of a rock sixteen small, white, clear/transparent stones. Then he carried them in his hands to the top of Mount Shelem, and (in verses 2-5) approached the Lord with an interesting request: that the Lord would touch the stones and illuminate them.

I stop the story here for an important consideration. It's what I personally call "the missing verse in the brother of Jared's story."

Huh wha? The missing verse?

Yep, and make no mistake -- that's simply my opinion, OK? I believe there's a verse in this story that's untold, which possibly should be. It lies in between Ether 2:25 and Ether 3:1 -- in between when the Lord asks "So, how are you going to resolve the illumination issue?" and the brother of Jared moltening 16 small stones.

One minute, there's a design challenge, and the next one, he's hiking up a mountain! Now do you see what I mean about a "missing verse"? (note that I'm not accusing or blaming Joseph Smith, Ether, Mormon or the brother of Jared for not mentioning this important point; it's just hypothetical in my book).

Where did the brother of Jared get that idea?

One possibility: there's a Jewish tradition -- older than the Talmud -- that Noah’s ark was lighted by glowing stones.
"Noah, it will be remembered, was according to the English Bible translation, commanded to make a “window” to the ark.  But it is pretty well agreed that the translation of the word rendered “window” is not good.  The word means literally a shining object, and rabbinical tradition has it that the shining object was really a stone which the Patriarch had found in the river Pison and which was made luminous. (Footnote* See Dr. Clark’s Commentary)  If this tradition is based on fact, the Brother of Jared must have known it, and that would account for his prayer and the miraculous answer that he obtained." (Footnote** Juvenile Instructor , Dec., 1926, p. 691; Janne M. Sjodahl, "An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon", Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1927, pp. 248-249; also see here)
Suffice it to say, that when the brother of Jared approached the Lord in Ether 3:2-5, it wasn't by happenstance or mere coincidence. Read those verses. In them, you'll see that the brother of Jared was confident, bold and believing. Nothing wavering. Nothing doubting.

I believe that the Holy Ghost inspired the brother of Jared. It was a deliberate, planned, calculated, intentional inspiration of the brother of Jared to climb that mountain, molten those stones (an average of two per barge) and present them to the Lord. As we read in Ether 2:23, there was no other way those barges could have been illuminated.

So, let's assume that the brother of Jared imagined, visualized, the Lord touching those 16 stones ahead of the actual, physical event. Was that faith? You better believe it! The brother of Jared hoped those rocks would be, could be illuminated ("the substance of things hoped for"; Hebrews 11:1), even though (quite likely) he'd never seen an illuminated rock himself ("the evidence of things not seen";  Hebrews 11:1) and was all the "substance" (Hebrews 11:1) the Lord needed to turn that spiritual creation into a physical creation.

It's also clear in Ether 3:2 that the brother of Jared also believed that God existed ("for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens") and that God's "a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

We also know that the brother of Jared had imagined -- either before or while he was praying -- that the Lord would reveal His finger, touch and illuminate the stones -- all things which he had not seen, but were eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Finally, we know in the account of the brother of Jared that (at least after his three-hour visit with the Lord) his heart was firmly believing in, trusting in, and loving -- the Lord. He sought the Lord with all his heart...and truly found Him.

The brother of Jared, either knowingly or unknowingly, discovered and successfully turned the combination not only to faith, but exceeding faith. In Ether 3:6, we see the combination opening the vault of the heavens -- the veil -- to such a degree, that the brother of Jared saw far more than just the Lord's finger. He was shown what is commonly referred to as "The Vision of All" -- an event which was far and away beyond anything the brother of Jared -- Mahonri Moriancumer -- ever imagined:
"And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.
For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things." (Ether 3:25-26)
Study this section for a bit. Read and re-read -- even cross-reference -- the scriptural concepts regarding "exceeding faith" -- or, as I call it, "the Veil's Combination Lock".

Then let the Holy Ghost inspire you in implementing it in your life.

He Invited Jesus Into His Home

The next example isn't taken from the scriptures. It's somebody else's experience (not mine). That being the case, I recognize that there's no way to verify its authenticity. But I can tell you that the man I'm about to tell you about lived a life wholly dedicated to God to a very, very, high degree. I can also say, by personal experience, that there is much truth in the end result.

So, take the following account as unverified. Unsubstantiated. Hearsay. But it's indicative, it's synonymous, with experiences I've had, and others have had, whose lives have been significantly transformed by He who breathes life into all creation.


"Brother G" was a tremendously devout Christian all his life. In the mid- to late-1960s, during his prayer and meditation time, a thought popped into his head:

"Son, would you spend time with me as a friend? I don't have anyone who will just spend time with me as a friend. Everyone always comes with a petition, with intercession, with various requests, but they never just want to be with me for who I am."

Brother G was a very busy man. His days were full. He considered what the Lord had said, and didn't want to commit to something he couldn't fulfill. Finally, Brother G said, "Lord, the only time I have is from 2:00am to 3:30am, but I'll do it."

Brother G kept his word. So every night at 1:50am, he would arise from his bed and go to his sitting room, where he could spend some time with the Lord. In doing this, he would practice "properly framing a picture" of Jesus sitting across from him. He wasn't worried about the accuracy of his mental picture of Jesus, but instead, he would sit down and talk with Jesus like a good friend. "How's your day been, Jesus? What do you think about this or that?" He would also listen to what was on the Lord's heart that evening. He so enjoyed spending time with the Lord, as a friend, that he looked forward and anticipated each evening, when he could be alone with the Lord.

About a year later, as Brother G was sitting down in his chair at 2am, he heard the back door open and close. Then he heard footsteps walking down the hallway.

Into his sitting room walked Jesus, who then sat down in a chair across from Brother G.

How and why did this happen?

The Lord told Brother G that it was because he had been willing to spend that time with the Lord as a friend. It was also because Brother G practiced a very important principle:

What you focus on, you'll eventually connect with.

Again, like I said, I have no way of confirming this story is true. Brother G passed away several years ago, as did Sister G. There's no way to get a first-hand confirmation.

But to me….it makes sense.

My Testimony

However, one fact is true, which I can testify of:

When you invite the Lord into your life, He will make Himself known to you, in His own way, and in His own time.

It can be as simple as turning off your car radio while driving. In my April 27, 2014 blog post, "Walking and Talking with God, Part 1", I recounted an experience when I was driving to an appointment. I had felt impressed to turn off the radio, which I did. Because I did so, I was able to hear the Lord say something to me which has been indelibly imprinted in my soul ever since.

Please note that I am no one of any special circumstance. I don't have a significant church calling. I don't have a significant Mormon family pedigree. I'm definitely not a scriptorian. And without even a moment's hesitation, my wife will tell you I'm very imperfect. I get impatient. I'm often faithless in the Lord. I'm quick to judge and condemn the arrogant, the powerful and rich. For years, I've struggled with believing in myself (something my wife and the Lord conspired together to help me with). I often cry to Father -- I beg and plead with Him -- to be merciful with me because of my many weaknesses and faults. And when (not if) Babylon falls, I'll miss a lot of foods that aren't good for me anyway.

See? Nothing perfect and nothing spiritually mindblowing here!

However, as I mentioned in "Walking and Talking with God, Part 1", God is no respecter of persons (click here to read more).  If Jesus will make Himself known to me in ways I've never mentioned on this blog, then He will most definitely do so with you as well.

The same is true for Father.

And Mother.

Perhaps you're thinking you're too unworthy, too fearful, too prodigal for such experiences. Maybe you feel like you're too late to turn around and live a better life. I get that. Yes, you (and I) are unworthy. In fact, we are "less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7)

Yet despite this unrighteous standing before God, we totally, totally underestimate how anxious, how eager, how enthusiastic the Lord is to forget all of that in an instant. He's already forgiven you of your stupidity and sins; all you need to do is reach out and receive the Atonement He made for you 2,000 years ago. Read "The Direct Link to God" section at the top of this post, and click here for more about what God is really looking for in you.

An Invitation Invitation

I started this post talking about your heart. It's the connecting point, the meeting place, between you and God.

To hear God's voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart.

Seek Him. Love Him. Invite Him into your life in every possible way, every day.
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; … He will not forsake thee.” (Deut. 4:30–31)
In my next blog post, we'll review some exercises -- some simple things which you can easily do by yourself -- to visualize Jesus and Father...and hopefully catalyze a spiritual interaction which will precede the actual physical interaction with them.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 2: The Power of Visualization in Parting the Veil

”There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of truth’s protective layers. There are places to go beyond belief.” (Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1994)

Throw Away the Lists. All of Them.

Can I just say two things right off the bat?

1. It's amazing how many people are seeking after the Second Comforter -- and getting mighty frustrated in the process -- without having stopped to consider that they may be minimizing, even neglecting, seeking after the First Comforter!
2. We Mormons love our lists!

We have lists for everything, and I mean...everything. No matter if its the Word of Wisdom, the Sabbath, dating, the way we introduce people to the Gospel or how we run our meetings, we live off lists. No matter which worship meeting we attend, we're given more lists. We read the Ensign, go home/visiting teaching and -- yep, you guessed it -- we either give or are given more lists.  (I've often thought about compiling all these lists in a book, and calling it "The LDS List of Lists". It'd be a multi-volume compendium).

When it comes to growing closer to the Lord, the lists don't go away. No, they proliferate! There are a lot of lists which walk us step-by-step from baptism to the Lord's presence and ultimately to Father's presence. Here's a typical one I came up with off the top of my head:
  1. (If you're a non-member), your conscience is pricked.
  2. (If you're a non-member), you're taught the discussions.
  3. You accept and receive baptism.
  4. You are (A) confirmed a member of the church and (B) invited to receive the Holy Ghost.
  5. (Men only) You're ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.
  6. (Men only) You're ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.
  7. You receive your initiatories in the temple.
  8. You receive your endowments in the temple.
  9. (If you're getting married) You're sealed to your spouse in the temple.
  10. You receive your Baptism of Fire.
  11. You have your Calling and Election made sure ("C&E").
  12. You receive the Second Comforter ("2ndC").
  13. You receive continual visits by Christ and/or angels.
  14. You and your spouse receive the Second Anointing ("2ndA").
  15. Christ introduces you to Father.
Of course, that's just a sample list. Perhaps you've seen variations of it.

Yet for the life of me, I can't see where these specific events, in this specific order (or any order, for that matter) are articulated in the scriptures. In fact, when I read the scriptures, I see far fewer lists. OK, OK, I see quite a few in the Old Testament. But once Jesus was on the scene, the lists started disappearing quickly. Such sequential lists are conceptualized, organized and promulgated by mortals...the very same mortals who are well-meaning but kinda prone to imperfection and are sometimes mistaken.

So, in my humble opinion, there's no royal, officially-designated road into Christ's presence and ultimately into Father's presence. Like a snowflake, every experience is different. Jesus can visit whoever He wants, whenever He wants, wherever He wants, and bless a person with whatever He wants, period. And you can't tell Him otherwise.

Case in point: If you go here and here, you'll read about an instance in April 1832 when Brother Joseph visited the 68 souls Colesville Branch of the Church. He was so moved by their humility and faithfulness, that he gathered them together and did something that caused a considerable stir among those that witnessed it — he sealed up the branch, all present, to Eternal Life. All 68 men, women and children had their Callings and Elections made sure. Note that this happened a good 7-8 months before the Kirtland Temple was even announced (27 December 1832) or dedicated (27 March 1836). Granted, in this instance, Joseph wasn't Christ. But He was acting in his office as a prophet, seer and revelator, and I see no indication that the Lord nullified Joseph's pronouncement later on.

Furthermore, there are ample testimonies by modern-day Muslims and Jews who have had an audience with Christ (the 12-13 minute mark of this video is especially poignant).

Although there's no way to independently verify these accounts, I have no reason to doubt what happened in Colesville. I also feel that many of those Muslims and Jews who publicly profess to have interacted with Christ have clearly experienced something profound. They've turned their backs on extended family and friends, jobs and possibly even their own personal security, and have dedicated their whole souls to furthering Christ's work.

And as for lists, Jesus has already given us a single-bullet point list to help guide us back to Him:
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26)
"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:5)
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5)
"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36)
To me, this is the Lord saying, "Do yourself a favor -- stop trying to do things in your own, imperfect way. Do the right thing: Consult the Spirit. Ask Him what's next on His list for you. You'll be glad you did!"

Add to that a statement by Lorenzo Snow, where he said that it is the “grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint … to have the manifestations of the spirit every day of our lives … [so] that we may know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark” (Conference Report, April 1899, p. 52). And Heber J. Grant promised that “if we earnestly and honestly seek the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, I can assure you that we will receive it” (Gospel Standards, p. 26)

Based on all these facts, do you really think the Lord would provide advice contrary to what He's said in the scriptures? Do you think that filling your head ad nauseum with lists is His way? It's no wonder people have a tough time developing a relationship with Jesus, when they don't even have one with the Holy Ghost. It's no wonder the Lord severely chastises the Gentiles for their unbelief, when they're so quick to waggle the index finger of condemnation at ancient Judaism (aka "Mote-Beam Sickness).

Or, do you think He's more apt to point you to the Holy Ghost? He knows -- and we know -- that like Lehi and his family in the desert, the Holy Ghost can perfectly relay whatever messages are necessary, at any time, to help guide you to your ultimate spiritual destination.

Step-by-step, man-made, sequential lists aren't going to guide you back to Father. It's going to be the Holy Ghost...and at some point, Jesus Christ Himself.

With Your Nose Right Up Against The Veil

I believe that as you turn to the Lord in every thought, and are being inspired by Him, and are regularly expressing your love for Him, He'll mirror your efforts. He'll reciprocate. He'll draw closer to you.

Indeed, the only thing that will exist between you and the Lord will be the veil.

So, let's talk for a minute about this veil which (like air and the spirit world), we can't see, but we know exists.

Not much is known about the veil. What we do know definitively is that when we speak of "the veil", we're actually referring to the "veil of unbelief":
"Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God—" (Alma 19:6)
"Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.
Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.
Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel." (Ether 4:13-15)
In summary, we see that:

  • The veil of unbelief is dark and can exist in our minds.
  • This darkness can contribute to wickedness, hardness of heart and blindness of mind. 
  • The light of the glory of God can cast the darkness away from our minds.

So how do you know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark? How do you overcome your natural frame, and be carried away in God?

Here's Elder Parley P. Pratt:
“The gift of the Holy Ghost...quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.” (Key to the Science of Theology, pp. 101- 103)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;" (D&C 11:13)
(Hmmmm..."light to the eyes"..."enlighten your mind". Let's put these phrases on the back burner for a few minutes, OK?)

Isn't the Lord hidden behind a veil?

Isn't the Holy Ghost the one who's supposed to lead us to Christ?

Then, to part the veil, develop and nurture not only a relationship with, but also a reliance upon, the Holy Ghost!

"OK, great! How do I do that?" you ask? Only the Spirit can tell you, but here's a good thing to start with: Ditch the lists. Quit seeking your own imperfect, mistake-prone "wisdom". Seek the Spirit's guidance in your life instead.

It seems to me that the only way you're going to thin, or even part, the veil is by getting in sync with the Holy Ghost and letting Him lead you straight to the Lord. Does that make sense?

Seeing With New Eyes

I just recently learned that when babies are born, their field of vision is limited to about 8-10 inches, or the distance to their parent's face. Their visual acuity is between 20/200 and 20/400 and can generally hold their gaze for only a few seconds. That's because their eyes and visual system aren't fully developed. By about three months, they begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things. At six months, their vision is generally 20/20. Between 8-12 months, they can judge distances pretty well. (See here, here and here).

Our spiritual sight is no different. "For now we see through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12; there's that "dark" word again). In fact, I'd go so far as to say most people just see a spiritual black screen. Our spiritual visual acuity is horrible or non-existent, and most have never used their spiritual eyesight (keep reading for more on that). Could it be that our "spiritual visual system" isn't fully developed? I think so.

There's only one scriptural account that I know of where a person actually developed their spiritual sight to such a degree, that they rent the veil of unbelief: the Brother of Jared. Why did he initially see "the finger of the Lord"? Here's what Jesus told him:
"Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger." (Ether 3:9)
Check that out -- not once, but twice, the Lord puts an equal sign between seeing and faith. In fact, He characterizes such faith as "exceeding faith", which is how and why the Brother of Jared rent the veil of unbelief.

Moroni also states,
“And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore, they first believed in the Son of God. And there were many whose faith was so exceeding strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.” (Ether 12:18–19)
There's that "exceeding faith" again, reinforcing the direct correlation between having "exceeding strong faith" and beholding "things with an eye of faith". As a result: they were "not be kept from within the veil" and later "truly saw with their eyes" the things they had previously seen with "an eye of faith".

This follows a predictable, consistent pattern:

The spiritual creation precedes the physical creation in all things.

"But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit.
For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal—
First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work—" (D&C 29:30-32)
Here's what Elder Robert B. Harbertson of the First Quorum of the Seventy said about the "eye of faith":
"What is this eye of faith? What does it mean? Can you actually see the things that can come to pass? I believe that you can. You must be willing, though, to spend enough time to think about what you want to do, what you want to be, how you will react and what you will say under given circumstances. When you work on it hard enough and have it firmly planted in your mind with the eye of faith, you will actually see it happen. I believe you have to develop this kind of faith in order to be successful. It’s something more than just saying you have faith. You have to work for it. You have to live for it. You have to do all you can..." ("The Eye of Faith", New Era, September 1988)
Now, before you start thinking, "This is all great, but I can't do this," note that Pres. Kimball and I beg to differ:
"Herein lies the genius of the gospel of Jesus Christ, perceived by only the spiritual eye. Under the gospel’s beneficent laws, everyone—rich or poor, learned or unlearned—is encouraged first to perceive with the eye of faith." (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, London England Area Conference 1976, p. 36).
So, let's put this all together:

  • The Lord told the Brother of Jared that it was his "exceeding faith" which rent the veil of unbelief.
  • Moroni says the same thing, and that those who do so can see things with their eye of faith and then, later, with their actual eyes.
  • This follows the divine pattern of the spiritual creation preceding the physical creation.
  • We are encouraged first to perceive with the eye of faith.

So, how do we do that?

Amazingly, the answers have been under your nose the whole time.

Spiritually, then Naturally, Seeing God

In the D&C, the Lord introduced us to the concept of the veil being rent and seeing Him via our spiritual minds:

"And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual. For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God." (D&C 67:10-11)

He also discussed seeing Him in your mind in D&C 88:
"Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:68).
Moses put it best:
"But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him." (Moses 1:11)
What do we learn from these three verses:

  • You must sanctify yourself so your minds is single to God (see my "Throw Away the Lists. All of Them" section above).
  • As you do this (i.e, as the Holy Ghost is guiding you through the process of sanctification), your jealousies, fears and pride can be stripped away.
  • The result: the veil can be rent -- you can see the Lord -- not with your natural, but spiritual, mind.
  • Moroni called this process of seeing the Lord spiritually, then naturally, "exceeding faith" -- the very same faith which the Brother of Jared used to rend the veil of unbelief.
  • We know this is a true concept, because it follows the divine pattern of the spiritual creation preceding the physical creation.

So, how do we develop this "Eye of Faith"?

Paul's advice:

"Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints," (Ephesians 1:16-18)

Nephi's advice:

“For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” (1 Nephi 11:1)
“Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:3, 7–11)
“Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time. And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me. And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them. O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?” (2 Nephi 4:23-26)
Joseph Smith's advice:
“while we meditated upon these things [John’s teaching about the resurrection, in John 5:29], the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (D&C 76:19-22)
And finally, Elder Bednar's:
"The patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful. In the third chapter of the book of Moses we learn that all things were created spiritually before they were naturally upon the earth. We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation.  In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day -- and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day.  Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other." (Elder David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", October 2008 General Conference).


Q: Is worthiness an essential component in seeing God, either in your mind's eye or actual?
A: Yes. If you're in an awful state of wickedness, have hardness of heart or blindness of mind (Ether 4:13-15), repent. You need to strip yourself of jealousies and fears, and humble yourself before God.

Q: What do I do if I can't get past the fact that I'm just not worthy to do this?
A: Tell Satan to get lost. Then go back and read Part 1 of this series. Bottom line: Nobody ever has been, nor ever will be, "righteous enough". God's criteria: As one of my friends says, "The greatest worship isn't what we do--it's full attention, eager reception, deep enjoyment and genuine response to God's extravagant love."

Q: I'm not a General Authority, so I can't see God.
A: That's baloney. Brother Joseph wrote, “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him … from the least to the greatest [see Jeremiah 31:34].” (History of the Church, 3:295–96; from a letter from Joseph Smith and others to Edward Partridge and the Church, Mar. 20, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri)

Q: I can't visualize.
A: If you truly believe that lie, then you're right. You can't. But truthfully, you visualize all the time.

Q: How do I do this? Where's the step-by-step to-do list so I can do those things?
A: What did I just say above? Consult the Holy Ghost! He'll tell you what to do (John 14:26, 2 Nephi 32:5). Remember: every experience is different. And you'll never experience your Second Comforter until you've mastered your First Comforter.

Q: What's the #1 key to spiritually visualizing?
A: Knowing that God loves you.

Q: So, you're basically saying I can imagine God, or visualize God, and He'll show up?
A: Visualizing? Yes. Rapidly? Ummm, most likely not that rapidly, no. Cultivation takes time and effort. As Elder Harbertson said above, "I believe you have to develop this kind of faith in order to be successful. It’s something more than just saying you have faith. You have to work for it. You have to live for it. You have to do all you can..." Brother Joseph also said,
"It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it." (History of the Church, 5:387; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on May 14, 1843, in Yelrome, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff)
"The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (History of the Church, 3:295–96; from a letter from Joseph Smith and others to Edward Partridge and the Church, Mar. 20, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri)
Q: This whole concept (of visualization) is fascinating! Where can I read more about it?
A: Click on this blog's "Posts by Topic" link in the top menu. Once there, in the left-hand light blue keyword section, scroll down and select "Visualizing". Back up at the top, in the gray section, you'll see a variety of past posts on visualzation.

Q: What's the best time/place to spiritually visualize?
A: When you're wide awake in a nice, peaceful, calm place.

Q: This seems so basic! I mean, all the quotes, all the scriptures -- I've read them I don't know how many times! Why isn't this stuff taught in church?
A: It is! All the scriptures and general authority quotes came from

Q: I don't know what I'm looking for. Will you tell me what Jesus/Father/Mother look like? Will you tell me what you did? I promise I won't tell anyone.
A: Definitely, unquestionably no. This is about you and God, not me and God.

Q: Would it help for me to look at a picture of Jesus beforehand?
A: No. Again, quit putting another mortal in between you and Jesus. You don't want to seek His face based on the interpretation of another. You want to seek His real face.


As mortals, we're naturally drawn to doing things our way. Or we want mortal mentors, gurus, teachers, people who've seen Jesus or just downright righteous dudes to show us the way. If that's you, I'll include you in my prayers, because you're blowing it. You need to "let go and let God". Set your your mind to God. Ponder and meditate upon His word. Engage in mighty prayer. Spiritually envision your entire day before you've even walked out your front door. If you do, then the days will come that you'll see Him. It may very likely be spiritually first, in your mind's eye -- your imagination. Eventually, He'll unveil his face to you in His own time, and in His own way, and according to His own will.

The world says "Seeing is believing". 
God says "Believing IS seeing".

In my next post (Part 3 of this series) you'll read two accounts of people who used their mind's eye to visualize Jesus, and ended up seeing much, much more than they expected. You'll know what they did, and how they did it.

Still interested?

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine