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Monday, March 9, 2015

08. Spiritual Ascension Step #3: Align (KNOW Christ, Not Just Know About Him)

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the eighth examining the phrase "keepeth my commandments".

Praying always/continually is a heck of a challenge. In our busy society, with everything that tugs on and at us, just being able to focus on anything can be cause for celebration.

The Importance of Knowing His Voice

Nevertheless, we have these scriptures staring us in the face:

Jesus Christ speaks to YOU.
"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel." (Isaiah 45:3)
The righteous know He speaks to them.
"Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I." (Isaiah 52:6)
"...mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts" (D&C 29:7)
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27)
If you don't know His voice yet -- in fact, if you're not even acquainted with it -- get cracking:
"And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me." (D&C 84:52)
"And upon them that hearken not to the voice of the Lord shall be fulfilled that which was written by the prophet Moses, that they should be cut off from among the people." (D&C 133:63)
"And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved." (D&C 45:2)

Do You Know Christ, or Just Know About Him?

The Lord has spoken it: it IS possible for billions of people to spend their lifetimes reading the Bible and attending church, and yet not know God. By the looks of it, very, very few of us actually know Him.

How about you?

I think much of the reason why people struggle in establishing and maintaining a truly intimate, personal relationship with Jesus is because they don't know Him. Indeed, reading the Gospels without understanding the true personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off.

For example: Does Christ have a sense of humor? Of course He did! Then quick, give me an example of His sense of humor. Even better, how it's been revealed to you, personally. Truth be told, He is not the sad-looking guy from stained glass windows. He is fun! He’s the life of the party, quick to share an inside joke or memory with his close friends, and always beyond generous.

What about His disruptiveness? Many people (and even some movies) envision Christ as kind a human version of "elevator music" -- a very sweet, sappy, waaay overly-gentle, almost effeminate person. But Jesus could be radically disruptive, unnerving and unsettling. In the clearing of the temple, he made a weapon, then expelled men and animals. That's love in action, which is often fierce and protective. Sometimes love requires that you refuse to let the drunk drive himself home.

How about His fearlessness? Jesus was never motivated by fear of man. Tense situations were commonplace to him, yet he said such startlingly honest things to people. What do you think the modern-day equivalent would be for "vipers" -- a word he targeted at Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes alike? Love is not always a get-well card; sometimes it's an intervention.

How about His interactions with others? Let's see, he hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans and lepers. Who would be modern-day equivalents of those groups? Also, who did He disdain? Read the paragraph above. Who are the modern-day equivalents of those groups?

And kids? Didn't Christ tell us to become like a child? Didn't He say "Don’t keep the children from me!"?  The playfulness of children was synonymous with the playfulness of the Messiah. He was a person who would get down on the floor and play cars or build sand castles with the kids, leaving the religious elite to their discussions. Jesus was real. Jesus was about relationships. And good relationships are cultivated through playfulness.

You see, knowing about Christ -- yet not knowing Him (and His personality) -- is like trying to understand someone's vocal inflections via an e-mail. It's like trying to love a get-well card. You catch the niceness and virtues, but you miss a whole higher dimension: Him.

It's that whole higher dimension that is one of the most important truths of the restoration: You can know Jesus Christ for yourself, independent of any other person. Just ask the Brother of Jared, Nephi or Joseph Smith what they were trying to get across in their writings.

It's what Christ would want. After all, He preferred Israel to come to Him personally. They demurred, and said they wanted Moses to serve as an intermediary. And because of that, they were cursed with a lesser priesthood.

Know The Real Christ

Brother Joseph said that
"It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345; see also Ether 12:39; emphasis mine).
Here it is -- the first principle of the Gospel! Yet how well do you know for a certainty the character of God? How well do you converse with Him as one man converses with another? Or shall I ask, how well do you want to be able to converse with Him as one man converses with another?

Obviously this is do-able. Otherwise, Joseph wouldn't have encouraged us in that direction. Obviously it's important, because what's the first principle of the Gospel? Yep, you just read it.

So here's my invitation to you:

1. Ditch the smart phone and/or computer games, Netflix, watching college or pro sports for a while. In fact, show God that you place a higher priority in getting to know His son than anything the telestial world can offer you.

2. Resolve to get to know the real Jesus. Tell Father that you want to switch from knowing a fuzzy, black-and-white image of Jesus to a High Definition, full-color, even 3-dimensional image of the most important man who ever lived. You want to be able to hear Him so well, you'd think He's standing a few feet away from you. ;)

3. Become acquainted with His personality. To do that, get informed. Out of everything I have ever read, the one resource I'd recommend buying that effectively addresses Christ's personality is John Eldredge's book (or watch his Youtubes of) "Beautiful Outlaw". Here are the videos, in order:

Beautiful Outlaw

Chapter 1: The Playfulness of God
Chapter 2: The Missing Essential -- His Personality
Chapter 3: Is Jesus Really Playful?
Chapter 4: Fierce Intention
Chapter 5: The Most Human Face of All
Chapter 6: Extravagant Generosity
Chapter 7: Disruptive Honesty
Chapter 8: A Scandalous Freedom
Chapter 9: Cunning
Chapter 10: Humility
Chapter 11: Trueness
Chapter 12: Beautiful
Chapter 13: Loving Jesus
Chapter 14: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- With You
Chapter 15: Clearing Away the Religious Fog
Chapter 16: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- Encounters
Chapter 17: Letting His Life Fill Yours
Epilogue: One Last Thought

(Note: In Chapter 1, Eldredge disparages organized religion. I disagree with him on that point. All throughout the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord has endorsed organized religion. As long as the Lord does, I do, too. There's not an author around who's gotten everything 100% correct. Still, let's not lose sight of what Eldredge is trying to get across regarding the importance of developing a one-on-one relationship with the Savior, and not letting anything -- anything -- come between you and Jesus).

4. Calm your mind. Cast out anything and everything that's trying to seize your attention. This is because the Lord's voice
" a still, small, and whisper-like voice. It is one that is felt more than it is heard. It comes in the form of thoughts, feelings, and impressions. To hear such a voice, you must be still and quiet in your own soul, laying aside your excess laughter and light-mindedness. While it may not seem easy to so discipline your life, hearing the precious, loving voice of the Lord will sustain you in every circumstance and is therefore worth every effort" (Elder James J. Hamula, "Winning the War against Evil", October 2008 General Conference; also see 1 Kings 19:12; Helaman 5:30; 3 Nephi 11:1-7; D&C 85:6; D&C 88:69, 121).
5. Then, knowing what His personality is like, reach out to Him in your thoughts. Listen for His reply.
"What we find in some accounts is more than just a thought or an impression that comes into the mind. Some people have revelation that they describe as being like someone is speaking in their mind. These experiences seem to come as actual sentences, as clearly defined direction, or answers to a question. Enos described it thus: 'The voice of the Lord came into my mind' (Enos 1:10)." (Gerald N. Lund, "Hearing the Voice of the Lord", p. 71).
"This (experience of Enos) is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one's mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted." (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, April 1964, p. 124).
6. Give it some time. Don't rush into things, and don't expect things to go "from Zero to 60" overnight:
"Learning to hear the voice of the Lord is like learning a language, the language of revelation. Learning any language takes time. It takes repetition and practice. It takes an immersion in that language. And it takes learning the rules that govern the language. If we were learning Portuguese or Chinese, we would not only have to memorize vocabulary words but learn syntax and grammar as well. Similarly, as we set out to better learn the language of revelation, there are guidelines and rules to govern us." (Sherri Dew, "No Doubt About It")

My Testimony

I invite you to know Jesus as He is: a vibrant force of personality. An enigma, a paradox, a multi-faceted three-dimensional individual. And someone with whom we can experience and play, revere and worship, every minute of every day.

Knowing the real Jesus, in an intimate and everyday way, is life-changing.

Your life will never be the same.

Every step you take, every person you see, will be seen in a whole new light. His light. He will astound you as He brightens your darkest days in very personal ways. He will teach you things about yourself you hadn't even considered. He will amaze you with the acts of generosity and compassion He will encourage you to perform. You will fall in love with Him all over again.

As you do this, you will naturally draw closer to Him...

And He will draw closer to you...

Until you arrive at that one specific day, which you will always and forever cherish among all the days of your life, which you will call...

"The Perfect Day"


  1. Thank you. As usual you have given me a lot to think about.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to write your posts, I so look forward to them. I desire to be "taught" and because of your posts, I am looking at my relationship with the Savior with new eyes.I feel I am in school again.

  3. Let me preface this by saying that everything you have written up to this point has resonated with me on a very deep level. Almost everything you think, I have thought. My relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus is so much more than it has ever been because of your encouragement. It is with a little concern that I want to take issue with one of your ideas. You said, "reading the Gospels without understanding the true personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off." I beg to differ. It would be clearer and kinder and more realistic to say reading the Gospels without the Holy Ghost is like watching TV with the sound turned off.

    Not to make too fine a point, but we have the prophets and apostles who can help us to know Jesus even more. In this regard the Gospel Library App is helping me to "feast on the word" I am specifically looking for any conference talk relating to Jesus, and I am really happy to tell you that I am hearing his voice through the voice of His prophets and apostles.

    When Jesus said "...this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." I feel that he meant something so much deeper than simply knowing their personalities, I have a hard time explaining what I mean but the word communing comes to mind. And you are completely right, we get to know them by talking to them and hearing their response.

  4. I want to share the links to a couple of awesome conference talks that have very enlightening on this very subject.

  5. I thank my God for all those vessels that he keeps putting in my path. You are one of those vessels. I pay attention to the message and not the messenger. For I know from where those message comes from :)

    Thank you for being obedient and sharing what the Lord has told you to share. Also, thanks for the video links in this post. I watched every single segment and learned even more. God truly is No Respecter of Persons!

    It has been wonderful conversing with the Lord thru the Veil (over the past few years) and am still looking forward to that Perfect Day. I know it will come, he has told me this will happen. He is still teaching me patience and to continue to trust him completely and trust his timing.

    I rely on him and him alone! I follow no one but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Your sister in Christ-Sally