Print Friendly and PDF
Are you a first-timer to LDS Perfect Day! If so, welcome!
Click here to see what this blog is all about and how you can get the most out of it.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: The Perfect Day Facebook Group

When You Don't Feel the Spirit

I've received six emails in the last four days where the sender essentially asked me the following:
"I have a tough time feeling or hearing the Spirit. What recommendations do you have that might help me?"
First, it's important to know that I'm no spiritual guru or mentor. Never have been, never will be. In my steadfast opinion, you should have only one mentor, and He has nailprints.

Second, when I ask them what the Lord has said, the response is pretty consistent: The Lord has said nothing. That's incredible to me because I'm convinced the Lord wants us to enjoy as much of the Spirit as possible, as often as possible.

So, I start wondering, "Is there are chance, a possibility, that we're asking the wrong question here?"

Ask the Question that Elicits an Automatic, Consistent Answer from the Lord

Do you love the Lord?

"Of course, Mr. Perfect Day" you say?

Terrific. If that's the case, let's see what the Lord would say if He asked you the same exact question.

The last chapter of John tells of an especially tender exchange between Peter and the resurrected Christ. Three times, the Lord asked Peter if he loved Him. The answer was immediate and consistent: Of course I do! You know I do! The Lord's response was equally immediate and consistent (three times!): "feed my sheep" or "feed my lambs" (John 21:15-17)

In 1837, it seems that Quorum of the 12 President Thomas B. Marsh had a similar question. The Lord's answer hasn't changed: "feed my sheep" (D&C 112:14).
"When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:32)
But was the Savior just talking to the Apostles? No.
"He was also talking to every person who has been blessed to hear the gospel and is a member of His Church. In revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord puts it in very simple terms: 'It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor' (D&C 88:81)" (Elder M. Russell Ballard, "The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work", April 2003 General Conference).
And as Elder Robert D. Hales stated in 2012,
"This is the call of Christ to every Christian today: 'Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep' —- share my gospel with young and old, lifting, blessing, comforting, encouraging, and building them, especially those who think and believe differently than we do." ("Being a More Christian Christian", 2012 General Conference) 
Imagine the paradigm shift, where we go from asking about how WE can feel the Spirit to how we can help OTHERS to feel the Spirit!

No matter if it's in the valleys of Judea or modern-day Babylon, the Lord's answer to "What do I need to do?" appears pretty consistent to me. Feed others spiritual "living water" (John 4:10–14) and spiritual "bread of life" (John 6:48).

In so doing, I have no doubt that as others feel and hear the Spirit, you will, too.

"I sought my God
My God I could not see.
I sought my soul,
my soul eluded me. 
I sought my brother
and I found all three."
-- Ancient Celtic prayer of hospitality

Here's a New, Easy Way to Feed His Sheep...At Home, In Your Pajamas!

Effective today, LDS Perfect Day has a Facebook group (click here).

Click here to join it today!

So now, if you have time to hop online (which you do), to email someone (which you do) or interact online (which you do), you have the opportunity to feed other sheep, and to be fed as well.

Imagine interacting with others who are themselves passionate about growing closer to the Lord.

Imagine learning from others about hearing and feeling the Spirit, pursuing and exercising spiritual gifts, mighty prayer, calling and election, faith that moves mountains and parts veils, Zion and more.

Imagine asking the Lord for experiences which will feed you -- and other -- sheep, no matter if they're on the Facebook group or not. Don't you think He'll jump at the chance?

I invite you today to join this new, exciting Facebook group.

It's a place where you'll find others who have the same desires and wishes you do, maybe in your same area.

It's a place where you'll find opportunities to share to the Lord's sheep, and to be fed by others who share as well.

It's a place where -- hopefully -- you'll find answers to your questions about how to grow closer to, and enjoy a greater relationship with, the Lord.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Christmas Present and a Potential New Years Resolution for You

Behind the Scenes of "LDS Perfect Day"

This is our 200th post. This blog began on February 5, 2012 with a meek story of a master pianist who overlaid his hands atop a young boy's hands so they could together render a touching version of "Chopsticks".

Since that post, the response to LDS Perfect Day has been far and beyond anything I could have imagined. Amidst a lot of struggles, anguish and heartbreaks these last (almost) six years, I've made new friends, discovered new truths and grown closer to God in ways I never thought possible. He has taught me, shown me and told me things I dare not reveal to many others, if anyone.

Every new post on this blog is a surprise to me in one way or another. Take this post, for example. I thought I'd be spending a few hours today researching the next in a series of posts on discernment. Instead, ever since waking up this morning, I've felt almost compelled to side track and write this instead.

Many of the things that happen on this blog are surprising and even miraculous.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I was in my car and had just pulled into a drive-up window to grab some lunch. I was listening to some podcast (which I can't remember). Right after I grabbed my lunch, I pulled into the parking lot to eat. As I was listening to the podcast, the thought hit me that I should participate in a podcast, perhaps as an existing podcast's guest. I quickly repelled from the thought because I like spotlights to be directed to the Savior, not me. But the thought of the podcast persisted. Maybe there would be a way to maintain my anonymity while doing the podcast. "Oh well," I thought. "If it's to be, God will let me know." I mentally discarded the concept, then started thinking about other things.

I told no one about the podcast concept.

Two days later (Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 7:54 AM), I received an email from a friend. The subject line of "A word for you" intrigued me. In it, he said he was feeling strongly impressed to tell me that I should begin producing podcasts of my blog posts, and that if I did so, I would be blessed. He ended the email with a question: "Maybe this is something you've considered?"

Here's my reply (Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 8:05 AM):
Wow. Amazing. 
Confirms some thoughts that popped in my head 2 days ago. 
Wow wow wow. 
Lets talk soon, k?
The first podcast was posted the next day.

Since then, I've heard from numerous people about how this podcast or that podcast touched them, changed them, uplifted them. And with every one of those testimonials I receive, I'm reminded of how the Lord has pulled this off, despite my misgivings and shortcomings, fears and faithlessness.

"Have a Very Merry Christmas"

The Holy Ghost is one of God's greatest gifts to us. Through it, God guides us through life and ultimately back to Him.

In the above example, the word "podcast" was strongly (and privately) impressed upon me. The purpose became much clearer two days later, and only amplified in many, many comments and emails to me since then.

I don't believe I'm unique in this respect. I believe the Holy Ghost speaks to you, too, just the same way He spoke to me a year ago.

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained,
“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; … those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 151)
These intimations often come in words or sentences:
"Another manifestation of revelation is the unspoken word, a good illustration of which is given us by Enos. He says: ". . . while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying" (Enos 1:10). Then he tells us what the voice of the Lord put in his mind. This is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one's mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted." (Marion G. Romney, "Revelation", April 1964, p. 122-126).
Usually, these words and sentences aren't necessarily audible, but felt:
“Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (1 Ne. 17:45)
Elsewhere, we're told, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart,” (D&C 8:2) or “I did enlighten thy mind,” (D&C 6:15) or “Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts.” (D&C 100:5).

So, I think we can safely conclude that the Holy Ghost can and will speak to us in words and sentences which we feel.

Which brings me to my Christmas present to you.

I often hear from folks saying, "There's so much stuff on your blog! How can I make sense of it" which I interpret as, "How can I make the most of my time on your blog?"

Fair question.

First, it's important that you live your life so that you're in tune with the Spirit. Listen for those words, phrases and sentences which the Holy Ghost is constantly broadcasting to you (of this, Pres. Kimball once said, "Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication").

Second, it's incumbent upon you to study these promptings out in your mind (see D&C 9:7-9). We're told time and again to turn to the scriptures for further enlightenment. I believe that the Lord is under no obligation whatsoever to give us further enlightenment until we have received the words He's already given us in the scriptures.

Third, once you have thoroughly received God's words to you on a particular topic, seek out words of wisdom among the best books.
"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;" (D&C 109:7; D&C 88:118).
"And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people." (D&C 90:15)
These days, "books" are practically synonymous with "websites". Thus, we can learn from the "book" of General Conference talks which are available online, to see what else has been said about an inspired keyword. God has also inspired other mortals from time to time. Their words, which are congruent with the truths you have learned in the scriptures, should be given serious consideration.

Which brings me to this blog.

It's my hope you find this blog useful, and that it has some utility, in helping you make sense of the keywords and phrases the Spirit speaks to you. There are three ways you can do that:

  • Use this blog's search engine. In the right-hand sidebar, you'll find a search field with "Search The Perfect Day" above it. Just type in the keyword, and voila, all the blog posts which contain that word will pop up.
  • By clicking here, you can take advantage of the blog's "Posts by Topic" page. In the blue, left-hand column are keywords. Click on a word, and a blog post concerning that word will be shown.
  • You can also browse past blog posts by date here. This is especially useful to see the various mini-series which have been posted.

So, even though I can't physically give you a present, I can at least point you in the direction of something that will help make this blog more meaningful to you, and help you better understand the intimations which God is constantly blessing you with.

"...and a Happy New Year"

I'm constantly amazed by the caliber of people I've met because of this blog. Although imperfect, they're good, meek and doing everything they can think of to draw closer to the Savior.

This is constantly reinforced by those seeking their Second Comforter and/or having their calling and election made sure -- two supernal blessings.

Yet I think that in the tremendous online discourse about these two doctrines, we've kind of lost our way in how to effectively, correctly seek after these blessings.

If you're seeking either -- or both -- of those blessings, then I invite you to read "Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 1: Why Your Efforts to Part the Veil May Be Failing", published July, 23 2017. I also invite you to read "Do You Have Spiritual AIDS? Part 2 of 2: Rise Above the Selfishness of Seeking the Second Comforter."

The common denominator in both these posts?

People often encounter futility in hearing, feeling or even seeing God because they're mainly focused on themselves. They want these blessings for THEM. And they want them without having first developed a deep, constant, daily relationship with Him.

So, how do we develop a relationship with Christ? As I've stated a lot of times here, we should be reading about Christ constantly, and seeking to emulate His life in our lives. In my opinion, one of the best things we could do to emulate the Savior is to quit pointing the metaphorical arrows at ourselves, and instead, point them outwards, towards others (see here).
"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:39; see also Matthew 10:32–4116:24–28Mark 8:34–38Luke 9:23–2617:33).
Within the last two days, I've been privileged to have learned a lot from two of this blog's visitors about how to do just that. One shared a page from her personal journal, which said:
"Today I reread the beginning Perfect Day posts.  It was really motivating in some ways.  As I looked at the list of post titles, one of the more recent posts had a title about what to do if you don’t hear God’s voice.  The remedy is to stop being so selfish and self-centered.  That made me kind of sad, because I’m really self-centered and know it’s hard to change.  I’m more selfish than I realize.  I focus a lot on what I want to get done during the day, and what I want to spend my money on, and how I want to spend my free time.  I feel like if I give up all my desires, I won’t get to do anything I want to do anymore.  But that’s what Jesus’ life was like - His life was constant service, except when He retreated to the mountains to pray.  Obviously I can’t dedicate my entire day to service, since I have to work.  And I would still need time to do other must-do items.  It’s just so hard to think of changing my life so much.  I think about Aunt ______ and my dad and how they live lives of service.  My dad spent a lot of time Saturday fixing _______ for someone in their ward.  He could have done something else with that time.  ... 
To be like Jesus means to devote myself to service.  If I want to live with Him again, I have to be like Him.  I do like doing some forms of service.  Anonymously delivering flowers to ______ felt really good.  I liked sending my thank you cards last year.  I guess I need to pray for the desire to devote myself to a life of service, and to recognize the promptings to serve."
Here's another message to me, sent by an anonymous reader:
"In my last ward I had a gospel doctrine teacher who was a police officer, and he pleaded with our class not to give panhandlers anything because so many of them were drug addicts and we were just enabling them. I think I felt a little cognitive dissonance sitting in class listening to him and looking at the verse in Mosiah, but I wasn't sure how to resolve the contradiction. I have occasionally given something to panhandlers, but usually when we drive by, I avert my eyes and refuse to make eye contact while feeling horribly guilty. 
When I first read your blog post where you stated, "I am not aware of any instances where God said it's OK to turn away a beggar, and not seek to help him or her. Ever," it really made me think. It took a couple of months, but I decided you were right. 
I didn't do anything about it till last month. I bought the supplies for a number of care packages to give out - socks, gloves, snacks, water, bus token, list of homeless services in the area, hand warmers. Then I loaded a few in my car to hand out. Now when I drive around town, I'm on the lookout for panhandlers. I WANT to see panhandlers so I can give them a care package! It has completely changed my attitude. I know some of them are drug addicts, and some of them may just throw everything I give them in the trash since it's not money. But I also have been volunteering with an organization that helps drug addicts get sober, and I figure maybe if someone shows a panhandler some love and compassion, he won't think he's too far gone and will seek out help. 
Thanks for telling it straight."
(To the person who sent me this -- thanks! You've inspired not only myself, but my family, to action).

It's messages like these which prove some people get it. They don't focus on themselves, but others -- just like the Savior. They live lives (or want to live lives) not of selfishness, but service -- just like the Savior.

And although they may not be aware of it, I have no doubt that they are drawing closer to the Savior faster, and more solidly, than those who are solely focused on their own Christmas wish list for Father:
"The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.241)
(Note that in that last quote, Joseph says they're getting nearer "to our heavenly Father". Think about it).
"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." (History of the Church, 4:227; from a letter from Joseph Smith to the Twelve, Dec. 15, 1840, Nauvoo, Illinois, published in Times and Seasons, Jan. 1, 1841, p. 258; this letter is incorrectly dated Oct. 19, 1840, in History of the Church)
And what of those who are filled with the love of God?
"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)
(Note that here, we read that those who are filled with this love are considered "true followers of his Son". They may eventually become "sons of God" and it's "when" -- not if -- Jesus Christ will appear to them).

So here's my invitation:

In 2018, make your New Years resolution to quit focusing on you. Just...stop it. Resolve not to focus on your 2nd Comforter nor on your calling and election. Don't focus on the end destination, because -- rest assured -- He who is omniscient already knows the desires of your heart, and will grant them (Alma 29:4; also see here).

Instead, focus on the thing that's a little more demanding, and requires more effort. It's your journey, which should have, as a key cornerstone, your desire to L-O-S-E  Y-O-U-R-S-E-L-F in the work of the Son, which is to feed His sheep. Feed them with love. With hope. With mercy. With forgiveness. With non-judgmentalism. With Him.

It's my prayer that this holiday season, you'll give my invitation serious consideration. As you do so, be on the lookout for words or phrases which come at you from out of nowhere, when you least expect them, which will help you accomplish that worthy task.

My blog is here to help. And know that at least one person (me) is in your corner and is praying for you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
from LDS Perfect Day

P.S. Here's the song that got this ball rolling this morning...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Gift of Discernment Part 5: Discerning the Half-Truths of Which We Proudly (and Regularly and Publicly) Testify

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby once said that a "Mormon fast and testimony meeting is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get."

Actually, there's a pretty safe chance that at least once during a Fast and Testimony meeting, you'll hear phrases like "I know the church is true", "I know the gospel is true" and even "I know that my Redeemer lives." Or perhaps the word "IknowthechurchistrueandjosephsmithisaprophetofGod".

Often, these phrases are punctuated with the time-tested "beyond a shadow of a doubt" and/or the ever-popular "with every fiber of my being."

Starting at age....five-ish.

Do we?

Do we really KNOW?

I've read several accounts of investigators who found such claims to be disingenuous, shocking and astounding. Maybe even arrogant or programmed. Wouldn't you think so, too, if you saw person after person arrive at the pulpit to say they KNOW that their Redeemer lives...beyond a shadow of a doubt? Now, what would that investigator think if they later discovered that many church members equate the words hope / belief / faith / trust / confidence with actual knowledge? Yes, some investigators have considered this tantamount to a testimonial "bait and switch". Here's one such (unverified) experience:
"So last fast and testimony meeting, I had a guy who was sitting behind me in sacrament meeting tap me on the shoulder and ask me how our members could say that ["I know the church is true"]...he is my neighbor and came to church at my daughters asking. I told him that it was because we know that it is. He again pressed me as a young child got up and said those words. He pointed to the child as he said. so your telling me that that little kid knows that this church is true?" (Source)
The more I study the Gift of Discernment, the more I discover it is an extremely, highly sensitive gift from Father. When we are even slightly less-than-honest with others, we inject imbalance not only into our own souls, but also those around us. You can't be seeking discernment and even be slightly dishonest at the same time, no matter how well-intentioned you are. Nooo way.
“We believe in being honest.” (13th Article of Faith)
“When thou art obliged to speak, be sure to speak the truth; for equivocation is half-way to lying, as lying the whole way to hell.” (William Penn, "Fruits of Solitude").
It's one thing if such conflation of words is mistaken. But when these absolute convictions of unquestioned certainty are used intentionally, consistently and ubiquitously, by many people -- when the truth is, they do not have a "knowledge" of these various doctrines --  what is one to think about our steadfast appreciation of unvarnished truth?

And in this age of faith crises (especially among our youth and young adults), what of those members who understand the distinction, but because they don't "know", they feel their "I believe" testimony is inadequate and inferior to the "I know" testimony...when in fact it's not? After all, the seedlings of faith are often deemed inferior when compared alongside the old oak trees of sure knowledge.

I have personally sat across or alongside people who've said (even tearfully), in one way or another, "When will I KNOW that my Redeemer lives? Everybody else does. Why not me?" Could such members start to wonder if there's a place in church for them, too?

When we conflate, mix, blend, fuse and unite "belief" to mean "know" (which implies sure knowledge), we do two things simultaneously: First, whether intended or not, we leave others with the impression that we have a sure knowledge of various doctrines. In my experience, very, very few people have a sure knowledge that their Redeemer lives. Second, they unintentionally dilute the specialness, the uniqueness of those rare, exceptional testimonies which have as their foundation a sure knowledge of the Savior's existence.

Last time I checked, the church was still a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints. It's built on a foundation of "faith and works", not "knowledge and works". It should be perfectly fine and acceptable to be seen at church with a cast on your spiritual arm, a bump on your spiritual head and crutches under your spiritual arms. 

2,000 years ago, a father brought his possessed son to the Savior, to be healed. Although the Savior’s disciples thought “that they should cast him out; and they could not,” the Savior quickly rebuked His disciples. He then turned to the father and said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23)

The father’s response: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

Ponder THAT one for a while.

Members are often instructed to look at all the bad things they're doing -- or all the good things they're not doing -- and to repent accordingly, in order to enjoy a more profound degree of discernment in their lives. Yet in many cases, we continue to deceive -- yes, deceive -- people by saying we (emphatically / with every fiber of my being / beyond a shadow of a doubt) KNOW something is true, when, in fact, we do not.

Maybe it's high time for us to also evaluate what we say -- and don't say -- in addition to our actions.

This isn't a call for watered-down testimonies so we don't hurt anybody's feelings. Nor should we create a culture of doubt and encourage others to publicly share why they have doubts. And yes, it is possible to know some things, and believe in other things.

I think that now, more than ever, we need to be making bold statements and highlighting the many miracles God performs in our lives. And we should be doing so without the routine clich├ęs and with the utmost honesty and solemnity. When such testimonies are borne, we can rest assured the Spirit will deliver our message into the hearts of those ready to receive it.

Imagine if our pronouncements at our pulpits used the language of faith ("the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" -- Hebrews 11:1). Imagine if it was perfectly fine to chuck those facades and masks, and say you hope in God, believe in God, have faith in God, trust God, are confident in God. After all, didn't the Savior once say, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29; also see Alma 32:21, 2 Corinthians 5:7; Romans 1:17)?

Imagine if it were suddenly OK in our church to not be perfect. To not have a perfect knowledge of things. Imagine if it were normal and acceptable to incorporate more terms of faith into our vernacular. Do you think that by germinating and acknowledging faith more proudly and abundantly, the Gift of Faith would naturally flourish more abundantly among us?

Still, there are some who could and (privately) do testify that they know Jesus is the Christ. That He lives. Others may have a sure knowledge that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. Such testimonies do not necessarily need to originate from actual, physical appearances of Jesus or Joseph. With all solemnity, I can state that individuals can see and interact with Christ, and even Heavenly Father, in their dreams. Such interactions are indelibly imprinted on your soul forever more.
“When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, "Answers to Gospel Questions", 1979, 2:151). 
In a future day, all will be able to unequivocally state that they know the Christ. I long for that day. I dream of that day.

Until that day comes, it's good -- very good -- to be a believer. There is nothing wrong with believing and not knowing (John 3:18). There is something wrong when we abandon the search for truth and even a sure testimony of God.
"A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, 'Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.' I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for 'only believing.' I told him that Christ Himself said, 'Be not afraid, only believe,' a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B. Hinckley into the mission field. I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase 'We believe.' And I told him how very proud I was of him for the honesty of his quest." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe”, April 2013 General Conference)
It is my prayer that from now on, we will also recommit ourselves to an honest quest.

Be an example of what? The believers (1 Timothy 4:12). 

How? "in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).

Why? Because "all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23)