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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

YOUR Upcoming Conversation with Jesus Christ

Walking among us, right now, are two groups of people: First, a few who have come to know the Lord in a truly sacred, sublime ("awe-inspiringly grand, excellent, or impressive") way: They have seen Him, and conversed with Him, face to face.

The second: those who are earnestly seeking, striving and awaiting the day when they, too, can meet their Savior while still in mortality.

I have known many of these devout seekers for years. They are my best friends and my adopted extended family. Several (in the second group) have come to me, with their spirits anguishing and tears flowing, because they know of others who weren't seeking an audience with Christ, and had one. Yet my friends have sought Him diligently, and have not seen Him.

Maybe you've felt the same way.

I agree that such an experience would be transcendent above anything and everything this earth can offer.

Unfortunately, it doesn't last forever. It doesn't last for months, weeks or days. Instead, although it is unrushed, it likely lasts minutes, not hours. You see Him, you weep tears of humility before His still-pierced feet, you see his smile and hear His words for you, you mumble out some questions which He answers and, after a while, the experience is over.

Yet it doesn't need to be this way.

The scriptures are filled with examples of ordinary people, just like you and me, who did the extraordinary: they sought God diligently, and listened for Him.

Then, something remarkable happened:

They heard Him.

Then they asked Him a question.

And He answered.

It's no wonder that "It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God" (Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings, p. 345). In other words, one of the foundation stones of the restored gospel is a not only knowledge of what kind of being God actually is, but also knowledge of God.

That's why Brother Joseph further stated, "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves" (Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings, p. 343) and "If any man does not know God, . . . he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle" (Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings, p. 344). That's why the Savior, in His great high-priestly or Intercessory Prayer, confirmed that life eternal was to "know . . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [the Father] hast sent" (John 17:3).

Thus, everything of sacred significance connected with our future rests on both our coming to know about God and, ultimately, our coming to know Him.

Word of God Speak

In my immediate preceding posts (click here for links to all of them), I provided some concepts for you to consider. Because they are firmly rooted in scriptural precedent, they have the potential to help you accurately align with God and hear Him.

And, once you have heard Him, your life will never, ever be the same.

Adam walked and talked with God. So did Enoch and Noah. True, they were prophets. However, as Brother Joseph said:
"There are certain characters that walked with God, saw him, conversed about heaven &c. God is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privilege. Come to God weary him until he blesses you &c-we are entitled to the same blessings, Jesus, revelations, Just Men &-Angels &c. &c. not Laying again the doctrine of Christ go on unto perfection. Obtain that holy Spirit of promise-Then you can be sealed to Eternal Life." (Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, p. 13-15; emphasis mine)
He also said:
"In this number will be found an extract from the prophecy of Enoch, which was received by revelation, soon after the organization of the church, and first published in the 'Evening and Morning Star.' As it is a relic, too precious to be lost, we extract it for the benefit of the readers of the Times and Seasons. It gives us a specimen of the power Enoch obtained with God, by faith, for we are told 'that by faith Enoch walked with God, and was not, for God took him.' We trust that it will prove a stimulus, to the saints, to action, when they read of the great blessings enjoyed by the ancients and consider that they were men of like passions with ourselves, subject to all the evils and temptations with which we are surrounded; and that the same God, who conferred upon them such great privileges, 'is the same yesterday to day and forever,' and is 'no respecter of persons,' consequently is just as willing to hear and answer the prayers, and bestow as great blessings upon his children now, as in days gone by: therefore, beloved brethren, let us gird up our loins and be faithful, knowing that the days draw near, and the time is at hand, when the just shall stand by faith." (The Prophecy of Enoch, Times and Seasons, vol. 2 (November 1840-October 1841), Vol. 2 No. 1 November 1, 1840, p.203 - 204; emphasis mine)
Here's a fact: You, too, can walk and talk with God. Such experiences are not measured in minutes nor limited to hours. They can continue far, far beyond those temporal time measurements.

And the words He tells you can be just as poignant, just as life-changing, as the words He'd tell you if He were face to face with you.

A Naturally Evolving Relationship

If you've seen Him, then deepen your relationship with Him. Constantly. Until you see Him again.

If you haven't seen Him, remember something He said to Thomas, who wanted so badly to see Him:
"…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
I could be wrong about this, but I believe that in the final analysis, Christ's highest priority for us isn't to see Him (although that's important). It's to have a really deep, meaningful, intimate and truly eternal relationship with Him. He wants nothing more than to spend eternity with you. This is why he constantly uses the allegory of a marriage of Himself (as the bridegroom) and the righteous (as the bride) in describing the depth of relationship He wants with you (Matt. 9:15, 25;1-13; Rev. 18:23).

(If you really want to understand this concept, I encourage you to purchase my friend Donna Nielson's book, "Beloved Bridegroom." And don't forget to check out the comments on the book here, too - 4.9 out of 5 stars is pretty good).

Like the bride of the scriptures, devote yourself solely to Him. Develop a spiritual courtship where you can hear Him, commune with Him, converse with Him, laugh with Him, cry with Him, enjoy Him.

Many people tend to focus on the end result of seeing Him. My invitation is for you to instead focus on the journey. He knows what you want! Be patient, and let Him control the steering wheel and the accelerator of your life. Listen for His "love notes" to you as you travel through this wonderful mortal experience:
"When you hop in the car, leave the radio off. Let's talk!"
"Wow, look over there at that sunset."
"Hey, go tell <co-worker or family member> what a great job they did on their <whatever project>."
"You should tell your <wife/husband/child> you love them."
"Could you do a favor for me? Stop what you're doing right now, bow your head and say a prayer for <somebody's name>."
"<Your first name> -- Go open up the scriptures. Go to <book>, then <chapter> then <verse>. See that? That's my message for you for today."
"Oh, by the way, I just thought you'd like to know Father and Mother wanted me to tell you that They're so proud of you and who you've become."
Just don't worry about seeing Him. Enjoy Him! Because, over time, as your friendship with Him blossoms and grows and flourishes, His coming to you one day, unannounced, for you, his "bride", will be a completely natural, next step in your relationship with Him.

And because you endured so much time having believed in Him, without actually having seen Him, you will be even more blessed.

In my next post, we'll discuss some accounts of Him that will help you experience His fantastic sense of humor, His eagerness to forgive that is both immediate and breathtaking in its scope, and His overwhelming desire to spend His life with you…

…and for you to spend your life with Him…

…starting now.

Also see:
About "The Perfect Day"
Walking and Talking with God, Part 1
Walking and Talking with God, Part 2
Walking and Talking with God, Part 3
Walking and Talking with God, Part 4
Walking and Talking with God, Part 5
Walking and Talking with God, Part 6
Walking and Talking with God, Part 7
Walking and Talking with God, Part 8
Walking and Talking with God, Part 9
Spiritual Land Mine #8: The Missing Link to Seeing the Lord
Enter the Presence of the Lord
Spiritual Ascension Step #3: Align (Start the Millennium...NOW!)
The Way Back Home

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Alignment, Part 6 of 6: When One Becomes the Compass and the Square

This miniseries has six parts:
  • Part 1: Face To Dirt - Align yourself to God by laying hold of the word of God. The doctrine of approaching God in profound humility. 
  • Part 2: Hands to Heaven - The doctrine of praying with upraised hands, displaying clean hands and a pure heart.
  • Part 3: Penetrate the Veil - How do we best approach God? The scriptures indicate that we kneel, meditate, descend (physically, emotionally and psychologically) and display upraised hands. This may have been the sequence of steps - as detailed in the scriptures and historical accounts - which ordinary people, just like you, took to approach God.
  • Part 4: Dialogue with God - Approach God in silence, prepared to do a lot of listening and with an expectation of receiving an answer. Address God using a little-known pattern found in the scriptures. Ask Him for forgiveness, light and knowledge, opportunities to help others and insights about yourself. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to Him, and weary Him until He blesses you.
  • Part 5: See the Light - Recognize the blessings, the "love notes", that God spreads forth abundantly in your daily life. Express your gratitude to Him and others, and let the light that comes from that expression grow and emanate to affect others. As you do so, you will be like Him in a way. And you will be on the path to the perfect day, when you will see Him as He is.
  • Part 6: When One Becomes the Compass and the Square - Where a literal pattern emerges, combining the concepts explained in the previous five segments. It is a pattern which, when approached in solemnity, deepens man's relationship with God and leads to an outpouring of "more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil and to know more than man knows." 

The Literal Pattern of Aligning with God

The scriptures may indicate a three-phase pattern:

First, the individual approached God in the humblest of postures. They knelt, meditated, then descended with their face to the dirt.

Secondly, they beseeched God by raising their hands to heaven. We see in Facsimile No. 2, Figure 7 - as well as an image from the church's archives of a sacrament meeting in Ephraim, Utah's tabernacle in the early 1870s - that arms were upraised at opposing 90-degree angles (like this:  |_o_|   ). While in this posture, they addressed God using wording found in Psalms. They asked for forgiveness, light and knowledge and more. They submitted themselves as a living sacrifice to God and covenanted to do His will.

Thirdly, they returned to their initial posture of humility in thanking God for His goodness and mercy.

When combined in a graphical representation, their worship displayed the following chiastic pattern.

As you can see, they started "down," then went "up," then back down again. Diagrammed, this creates an "upward" pointing triangle, or compass point, in the middle (see 1 Nephi 18; Alma 37:43-44). At the apex of this sequence, the individual approached God with their arms and hands in a posture resembling a carpenter's square, as mentioned above.

They became the compass and the square - the very symbols which:

Are found in the Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2 Figure 7.
Are viewed as the instruments marking out both the pattern of the universe and the foundations of the earth. (Hugh Nibley, "On The Sacred and the Symbolic," in "Temples of the Ancient World," edited by Donald W. Parry, p. 379,; Nibley, "Early Christian Prayer Circle," in Mormonism and Early Christianity, CWHN 4:73-74; Image is from the exterior of the (former) Endowment House in Spring City, UT, constructed in 1876;

Prof. Hugh Nibley described as having been found on Egyptian the garments of ancient Egyptian mummies and a veil from an ancient Taoist-Buddhist tombs in Central Asia (which included the Chinese phrase, "kuei chu," meaning, "the way things should be, the moral standard") (;;
Are included in the original architect's sketch of a proposed Nauvoo temple weathervane, circa 1846. In this image, the angel is dressed in special temple clothes and carries a trumpet and open book (rendering probably by William Weeks).

Were worn (as a pin) by Brigham Young (David John Buerger, "The Mysteries of Godliness", p. 131; click image for larger size).

Going Beyond the Compass and the Square

I believe that the above pattern is a natural, outward manifestation of several inner commitments: that the person wishes to overcome their self-recognized sinful and fallen state, have faith in to God and His will, and that they are ready and willing to receive further light and knowledge from God.

In this sense, those who approached God recognized one profound fact: Prayer is not just something you do. Prayer is not just something you say. Prayer - true communion with God -- is something you enter into.
"Let us therefore come [Greek: προσέρχομαι, to come to, approach, draw near to] boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near [Greek: προσέρχομαι] with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22)
The ancient Hebrews understood this concept well. When they approached the tent of God, they saw a veil. Later on, in the temple, it became doors. As they proceeded deeper and deeper into the temple, they entered into the holy place, then the Most Holy of Holies, where God communed with his people.
"When you went in to the holy place, if you would look to your left, you would see the great seven-branch Menorah that burned in the darkness. You could only see it when you went inside, and nobody saw it but the priests (except those who had the honor of entering in). What does that mean? When you get deep into the presence of God, you will be given light. You will be given something that will lighten you up. When you get into the presence of God, it lights you up. It puts something there inside of you so that no matter what happens to you on the outside, it's still shining. You could be at your worst moment in the world, yet if you're spending your time with God, there's going to be a light down there. And the more time you spend in God's presence, the more that light shines. No matter what's happening to you physically or emotionally, you have a light that shines in the darkness that always gives hope and strength. 
Your time with God is something you enter into. If you're really going to experience God's blessings in your life, you need to enter in. You don't just do it. You get into it. You go inside of it. 
It means prayer is immersive. And when you get in, you don't see anything but God.
In order to be in God's presence, where would you have to go ultimately? You would have to go to the Holy of Holies - the deepest part, the inner sanctum of the tent. What does that tell you? That in order to get the greatest blessings from God, you need to get deeper in God. God wants depth. Thus, the more you focus on physical things, the things of this world, the more shallow you become. 
The more you get into the presence of God, the deeper your walk becomes, deeper your faith becomes, deeper your strength becomes. 
Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. With all the experiences she had, we read that she treasured all these things in her heart. She was deep, because she had God. She was deep with God. And her closeness with God intersected with the things you couldn't see with your eyes. But that's what makes you deep. It was her - and is now your - antidote to what's happening on the outside." (Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, "The Tent of Heaven,"


I am now concluding this mini-series how to align yourself to God, and to experience Him in a truly personal, intimate way. Although this is not intended to be, nor is it, a complete recitation of all that's required to do so -- nor is it a customized, personalized set of insights for just you -- it is a summary of what I've found to be a journey which can take one to the deepest of depths and the highest of heights.

Words cannot describe how deeply both Jesus Christ and His Glorious Father wish to be part of your life. They reach out to you in dozens, perhaps hundreds, of ways everyday - to share beauties and mysteries you gloss over in your life, to share laughter at funny things, and to weep with you when you are sad.
"Christianity is all about having a personal, interactive, dynamic relationship with a real, caring, loving, and personal God who is actually interested the things you worry about, your fears, pain, the problems you face, the things that fill you with joy, your successes as well as your failures." (Ansel Elliott,!the-greatest-adventure/c1lzb)
The Eternal Father is anxious to have you share from His immense reservoir of truth all that you need, to have intelligent perception.

Jesus Christ far prefers a dialogue -- reasoning together (Isaiah 1:18; D&C 50:10) and bestowing communion over interacting with you just having a listening ear.

This journey is not easy. Satan will seek to overthrow and thwart you. He will tell you that the promises of the scriptures concerning the power of mighty faith are beyond the possibilities of belief, and that they can never be realized.

This is not so. It IS possible. Those who truly walk with the Lord cannot either be overthrown or thwarted. Try Him and see how greatly He will aid you. In fact, I highly suspect that even more is possible for those of mighty faith than has yet been disclosed.
"I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil and to know more than man knows. A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is (see D&C 93:1)" (Spencer W. Kimball, "Give the Lord Your Loyalty," Ensign, March 1980, p. 4)
Yet both Father and Jesus Christ are immeasurably meek (D&C 121:41). They will not ask to be part of your life, nor beckon for your attention. You must ask for it. And, true to their word, when you ask, they will respond, in their own ways and own times.

Blessed are all such as shall draw close to the Lord in lowliness of heart, in great love, sacrificially, and in great faith.  Such will be pillars of strength and instruments of power in His hands.

If you are filled with a Godly concern, if you become of great faith, if you will call on Him in mighty prayer, if you will prepare yourself, if you will go apart into the quietness of the woods or hills or desert places -- into places where you can listen for the still small voice -- He shall wondrously show you what lies ahead. He will show it to the spiritually awake among us, be they aged or young.

And in typical, God-like fashion, the answer to your knocks on the holy doors of heaven will likely and eventually surpass anything that has ever entered into your heart and mind.

I invite you to read, and re-read, the posts in this mini-series - Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. "Look to God and live" in a way you never knew you could. Experience Jesus Christ and Our Father in a way few ever have.

This is MY invitation to you, and it is MY testimony, which I bear to you independent of any living creature, past or present, pronounced in the name of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Alignment, Part 5 of 6: See the Light

In my most recent post in this series, I invited you to "Come to God weary him until he blesses you" - an invitation which originated with Joseph Smith himself. I hate to put words in Joseph's mouth, but I'm sure he'd agree that you should never give up. You may be one prayer away from success.

There's a natural link between asking God for blessings, prayer and thanksgiving:
"But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils." (D&C 46:7; emphasis mine)

Love Notes From God

As you interact with God more and more, you'll become more and more familiar with His personality. What He's really like. You'll learn He has a really cool sense of humor that you can relate to. You'll see how He renders compassion at every turn, and is, if anything, overly anxious to forgive you. He's in "child saving," not "judgment" mode.

And as you become more familiar with His personality, you'll become closer to Him, as He will to you. In fact, you'll discover that He's far more anxious to interact with you than you've ever suspected.

He'll leave you love notes along the journey of your life. They may be in the form of a hearing a baby's giggle, seeing an awe-inspiring sunset, a goal at a kids soccer game, hearing a song on the car radio that hits you - or getting a call from a friend - at just the right time. Maybe His love note to you is found in the mere fact that you woke up, you have food to eat or you have a bed to sleep in.

And you know all those blessings you asked for, and are wearying Him for, in point #9? You'll learn that nothing - absolutely nothing - compares to just being with Him.

Not surprisingly, as you find yourself in this ever-deepening relationship with Him, you are internally motivated, at the spiritual level, to thank Him. I mean, you can't help but be thankful when you feel Him so close to you throughout the day. This may even motivate you to thank God for the smallest things throughout your day, as you recognize this mound of love notes from Him that seems to be relentlessly piling up all over your life.
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18; emphasis mine) 
"And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance-
Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments." (D&C 59:15-21)

The Gratitude Journal

My friend, John, reached a spiritual breaking point about eight years ago. He needed help climbing out of the pit of alcohol addiction. He had developed lots of bad habits. He had become controlling, manipulative, judgmental, critical, cynical, depressed, anxious and desperate man.

God used the habit of gratitude to help change John's attitude and outlook on life. The first step in developing this habit was to keep a daily gratitude journal of three items - wholly unique every day.

At first, it didn't change any of John's feelings or actions. He kept the list begrudgingly at first because he had been asked to do it. John's attitude was not yet transformed.

After a few months, John noticed himself paying more attention to the good moments in his day, to the kind acts of the people around him, and to the beauty in the world. Why? He was looking for items for his gratitude list. He'd become accustomed to focusing on the good, and his focus on the good had minimized the appearance of the bad.

Lo and behold, a few years later, gratitude had become the norm, and the grumbling, whining, self-pitying and worrying began falling to the wayside.

The more John focused on what he had to be grateful for, and the more energy he expended thanking God and thanking others - either in words or actions - the less time and energy he had to dwell on things that bummed him out, made him worry or ticked him off.

And gradually, but imperceptibly, John was physically, emotionally and spiritually enhanced (click here, or to the left, for a super cool video on how gratitude affects you; you can also find a transcript here).

Today, John makes gratitude lists in his head and on paper. He chooses to bite his tongue when he wants to whine and moan, and instead, tries to say something positive - usually expressing gratitude for someone, or pointing out the good around him. John gives gifts - whatever he has to give - because his heart is full of gratitude for God's love and the miracles He's done in his life. Giving to others gives John an outlet for that love.

He deliberately looks for opportunities to thank people who've made a positive difference in his life. He tries not to post negative comments or updates on his personal social media pages or blogs; instead, he chooses to share what's good.

When Sore Trials Come Upon You

John (and two other friends of mine, Elizabeth and Jennifer) kind of remind me of the Texas Aggies college football team. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this team, you may be surprised to learn that Texas A&M has no cheerleaders - just five, all-male, non-gymnastic student Yell Leaders (video here or to the left) who are elected to their positions annually by the student body. They lead the Aggies in a dozen or so yells. And let me be very clear with you: nothing gets these guys down. Nothing. So, how do the 20,000+ Aggies who attend these games know these yells? They practice them after each football game. No matter if the team is victorious, "outscored" or "runs out of time" (because "Aggies never lose"), a mini-Yell Practice is held at Kyle Field before the crowd disperses.

Sometimes we win our games. Sometimes we lose them. Bad things happen to these friends (whom I mentioned above) all the time. But when they do, they thank God for - and ask for more light and knowledge about - the lessons God is having them learn. I know this doesn't make sense to many, but even amidst the most difficult circumstances, they thank God for being with them, for loving them, for teaching them.

Their "yells" are authentic. Their rejoicing is real. They are metaphorically slamming their foot down, saying "I am not going to lose. This negative experience is not going to win today." They also encourage others to be similarly grateful, because if the people around them are positive and thankful and mindful of God, then they'll encourage and motivate my friends in return.

Blessings Which Surpass Expectations

By looking for opportunities to be grateful, then expressing that gratitude to God and others, God then justifies exceeding our prayerful requests. This daily expression of gratitude to God and others literally kicks open the windows of heaven with blessings far surpassing our expectations.

(Which is another attribute of God - He delights in [I mean, is really, really thrilled with/gets a kick out of] exceeding our expectations of His goodness and mercy).

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." (D&C 78:17-19; emphasis mine)

Shine Forth

As your gratitude towards God and others grows, you find yourself gravitating more towards God's light, and the light that's in others, no matter if they see it or not. Rejoicing is contagious. It affects your whole environment. As you see the reality of this in your life, you - yes, you - become a living, breathing manifestation of D&C 50:24 and Moroni 7:48:

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

"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)