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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 3: Discover His true presence in your life at a whole new level


Reorient


In this series’ most recent post, we discussed how taking your focus off of yourself, and redirecting it at God, is an essential first step in drawing closer to Him. Jesus Himself summarized this best when He said,

“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
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 88:67-68; emphasis mine)

Once you’re squarely focused on Him, once your eye is
single to His glory, it’s not if, but when, you’ll see Him.

At that point, it’s logical to ask the next question, “What should I be looking for? What’s He’s like?”

Sure, of course, He’s forgiving, merciful, just, loving and more. C’mon, we’ve known those things since we were Primary-aged.

You know all about God. But how well do you know Him? This may have been what Joseph was referring to when he said to the Saints:
"I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own hearts, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thoughts into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with Him? This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question-What kind of being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen Him, heard Him, or communed with Him? Here is the question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The scriptures inform us that "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
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, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.
If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being He is-if he will search diligently his own heart-if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle." (Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, IL Conference, April 7, 1844; emphasis mine)
We need to quit making up excuses for why we don’t have a personal knowledge of Jesus, and why we don’t have a really meaningful, active relationship with Him. This was a foremost concern of Jesus’:
“Verily, I say unto you, It is not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
For the day soon cometh that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works.
And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:30-33 JST; emphasis mine)
Note that in Greek, the word "know" is pronounced ginosko. It occurs 246 times in 208 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV. It means "to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, to feel." In Hebrew, it implies a highly intimate knowledge between a man and a woman. Ginosko is not some kind of passive, surfacy, unassertive, quick and immediate action verb; it’s intimate, private, personal and highly, highly profound.

So, with those excuses aside, how do you get to ginosko Jesus?

Receive -- and envision -- what you’ve already been given


One possibility: You start by not only appreciating, but also receiving, that which you’ve already been given.

“And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.” (Alma 12:10)

For us latter-day saints, that means the scriptures.

But here’s the problem: Ever since we were young, we’ve been told to read our scriptures. And so we enthusiastically take part in initiatives which have us reading the Book of Mormon in three months, six months or a year. And what are we left with? Latter-day saints who’ve read the scriptures, but really don’t know Jesus -- or, the status quo. And that’s unacceptable.

You need to be doing more than just learning about Jesus. You need to experience Him. For many, it’s pretty hard to do that when your mind is reading black letters on a white background. You need to do something different.

Luckily, we’ve been given some clues:
"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
"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." (Stephen R. Covey, “Likening the Scriptures Unto Ourselves”, Ensign, September 1974) 
"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." (Elder David A. Bednar, "The Light and the Life of the World", Dec. 2015, here and here
"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.'” (Elder Claudio Costa, "That They Do Always Remember Him", October 2015 General Conference, here).
"Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me." (D&C 19:23). 
"In our quest to discover our callings in life, the first and most fundamental thing we must do is to follow the Savior. Learn of him. Learn what he did, then do it. The things that he did, even though they occurred nearly 2,000 years ago, have universal application." (Elder John H. Groberg, "What Are You Doing Here?" New Era, Jan. 1987, p. 34, emphasis mine)

Putting it all together


Here’s an example of how one could put the above quotes together into a single, logical, easily-implementable strategy:
  1. Click here to be taken to the online scriptures -- 3 Nephi 11.
  2. Once you’re there, at the top right of the page, you’ll see an icon that looks like a down arrow with a line under it. Click that.
  3. Clicking that button will give you three options: To download the chapter as a male- or female-voiced mp3 or a PDF. Pick the desired mp3 option and save it to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
  4. Set aside a peaceful, comfortable place and time when you can listen to the mp3 without distraction.
  5. When you’re ready, play the mp3 and close your eyes.
  6. As you’re listening to the verses, visualize -- see in your mind’s eye -- the characters and events portrayed in the scriptures. Even better: place yourself in the scene (of the person being healed or is interacting) with Jesus. One scenario might be imagining that you are blind and you are seeking Jesus. What would you be thinking and feeling? Would you have doubts? Would you be apprehensive? (Note that there are no wrong answers). Take yourself from the beginning to the end in as much detail as you can. Pay particular attention to Jesus. Feel the love He has for those He interacts with.
  7. Once you have seen that chapter in your mind’s eye, pray for -- and be aware of -- opportunities to go forth and do what you saw Jesus do. Seek to have the spiritual creation transformed into a real, physical creation.
  8. When you’re ready, move on to other chapters featuring Jesus -- primarily the four gospels and 3 Nephi.
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. Just as prayer (a personal, secret conversation between you and God) can precede very public miracles, so too can visualization precede other public miracles.

If you’re serious about this, if you truly want a personal relationship with Jesus, then it’s up to you to make the first move. And that first move will always -- always! -- involve some form of a spiritual creation.

Below are some more links regarding visualization.

Personally know the God you never learned about in Sunday School


“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”  (Augustine of Hippo)

It’s indescribable to know Jesus. No words can be written, no tongue can pronounce, just how wonderful He is. A few people who may have known Him have said this about Him:

  • Joseph Fielding Smith: “God is full of energy, and should we mortals stand in his presence, unless his spirit was upon us to protect us we would be consumed. That is how much energy there is in a celestial body.” (“Seek Ye Earnestly,” 1970), p. 275)
  • Heber C. Kimball: “I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is—the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, “I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.” (Journal of Discourses, 4:222)
  • Heber C. Kimball: “You have heard me say that I felt joyful, funny, and jocular, according to the portion of the Spirit of the Lord I enjoyed. Do I feel like dancing and jumping? Yes, and like doing everything else that is good and comfortable. When I have the Spirit of the Lord, I feel so; and that makes me think that my Father in heaven felt so before me.” (Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, June 7, 1857)
  • Pres. Lorenzo Snow: "The Lord wishes to establish a closer and more intimate relationship between Himself and us" (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Aug. 15, 1882, p. 1)
  • Moses: “And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face;” (Moses 7:4)
  • Joseph Smith, Jr; “Jehovah … talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner....." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 171)
To this list of characteristics, let’s add one more.

Of all the things I’ve known about Jesus, perhaps His favorite thing to do is to heal. He heals in so many ways -- His thoughts, His voice, His smile, His laugh, His expressions and yes, His hugs. He’s not only good-natured, but also has a fantastic sense of humor that can leave you laughing one minute and tearing up the next. And when you’re with Him, He’s not rushed. He’s not thinking of all the millions of things Gods should be contemplating. No. He’s entirely and singularly focused on YOU. In that moment in time, you know and feel one profound truth: YOU are His universe, His everything.


You’re invited


When I was in my younger 20s, I had almost no idea how to woo a potential girlfriend. I mean, I could have asked out a rock and it would have hemmed and hawed. Then one day, my best friend, Rob, gave me some advice that resonated with me in just the right way and at the right time. He said,

“Attention equals affection.”

One could say that’s true not only with women, but also God:

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (D&C 88:63)
Draw near unto Him. Seek Him, spiritually, with your eye of faith. Everything is first created spiritually, then temporally. The same holds true for frequent, meaningful experiences with Jesus to where you can “know for a certainty the character of God.”

After weeks, months and years of doing just this, you’ll likely develop a far greater realization of His presence in your life. Because of this,
  • You naturally drop the first-person pronouns of I / me / my, because you realize that all along, those I’s / me’s / my’s were actually we’s / us’s / our’s.
  • You learn just how much you need Him -- His forgiveness, His wisdom, His compassion, His guidance.
  • And you learn first-hand what He’s really like. You sense His friendly advice, His laughs, His cries, and more. MUCH, much more.
His presence in your life will be like sweet honey on your lips...like the sound of a symphony in your ears...like holy water on your skin.

You’re invited to practice doing this every day. Let us know how it’s going. Let us know how we can help.

And in the meantime, we’ll be praying that your spiritual experiences with Jesus will precede future physical experiences with Him.



Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 2: Take the first step to having a personal relationship with Jesus


“Behold, I will do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19
“I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.” (Isaiah 43:20)
Speaking of streams: effective today, The Perfect Day podcasts are available not only via our website and Podomatic, but also Google Play, Apple Podcasts and Spotify. We’re very grateful for those who listen to them, share them and comment on them. If you have any suggestions, feel free to email us at ldsperfectday@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you.


OK, now on to today’s post/podcast...

_ _ _

It is THE cornerstone, foundational doctrine of the latter-day gospel:

You don’t need to be perfect or a person with power, wealth, status, education, calling, pedigree, gender, age or even a specific religion to interact with God one-on-one!

But here you are -- having read books and blogs, listened to podcasts and watched videos of people who have had their own personal encounter with Jesus -- yet the same can’t be said about you, the one who wants that experience more than anything in your mortal life.

In fact, you read your scriptures, say your prayers, blow past your temple recommend interviews, magnify your callings, are charitable, are a good spouse and parent...and nothing happens. You conscientiously repent and seek ways to close the gap between you and God and still...nothing.

Even though only you and God know the reason or reasons why Jesus is silent and invisible in your life, there is a very common behavior among we latter-day saints that subtly yet effectively erodes our chances of ever seeing Him in this life. And by the looks of it online, very few saints are aware of this deficiency.

So in this blog post/podcast, let’s see if this behavior is evident in your life, too. Let’s see if it could be a reason why you’re knocking your head on a wall. If so, then let’s discuss what you can do about it, so that you’re spiritually creating scenarios where Jesus is personally ministering to you. And let’s make sure that the strategies are rooted in the scriptures.

Why YOU (!) want to see Jesus


Here’s a question for you: Why do you want to see, or have an audience with, Jesus? Because you ____(Fill in the blank)___, right?

That’s likely your first problem: Your motives for seeing Him are rooted in what YOU want, what YOU desire, what YOU yearn for.

You, you, you.

In our last post, “The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 1: Introducing...the Church of the Latter-day Saints”, we explored the very real phenomenon that’s taken hold of many latter-day saints: a preference to focus on OUR accomplishments, OUR successes, OUR possessions, OUR titles, OUR callings, OUR stories…(and oh, yes that’s right! Jesus helped too).

It’s as if many have ripped Jesus right out of the church’s name AND our personal stories.

“Humble Bragging” and “Virtue Signaling”


The fact is, it's hard to be impressed with anyone after you’ve been in Jesus’ presence. It’s even more difficult to be enamored with yourself.

It’s actually appalling that a person would ever want to focus on themself. One could cringe at all the books, podcasts, blogs, Facebook groups and Instagram accounts which focus on a mortal and how humble and righteous (or trying to be righteous) they are. Many of them seem to be places designed to attract likes, love hearts and ego boosts.

Answer this question: How can you be aiming the spotlight at Jesus when it’s so firmly framed upon yourself?

And what can be said about those who support and encourage such books, podcasts and posts? Are they just as complicitous as those who are themselves self-centered?

Here are two examples:
  • A man recently posted on Facebook how he used a “Giving Machine” to buy three chickens for those in need. To make matters worse, quite a few members gave him accolades for his efforts. And so, the man’s orientation towards or at himself is validated and perpetuated.
  • Another person also posted,

It’s as if the scripture now includes this new clause or exception,
“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth...unless you’re serving someone and trying to be an example of goodness to the world.” (Matthew 6:3, revised by me)
Let’s be clear on this point: Your identity and value should
not be based on man’s opinions, but your position in Him.

As Rick Joyner once stated in his book The Path:
“It is not wrong to seek to be great or to do great things for Him, which is why most begin this journey. But once you experience His manifest presence, once you see Him, everything changes. Then it becomes all about serving Him because He deserves it, not for what we get. Yet, we do receive more than we can even dream of. To bring Him joy for one moment is worth a lifetime of suffering many times over. When you see Him you will understand this.”

“Experience His manifest presence…”


What a wonderful thing that would be.

So how do you get there? How do you get to the point to where you experience His presence?

The Master said,
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
Does that mean we should be focused on ourselves, our wants and desires? Our accomplishments and our “humble” endeavors to be more righteous? Or should we instead be thinking of others?

If you sincerely wish a personal experience with the Savior (“If any man will come after me”), then humble yourself enough to heed Jesus’s advice: Take yourself out of the equation (“deny himself”). Because truth be told, we’re ALL a bunch of prodigals. Make sure your reasons for seeing the Savior don’t include a first-person pronoun.

It all starts in our hearts, and is outwardly manifest in our interactions with others. Simultaneously, our disavowal of first-person pronouns rightly and accurately places the credit onto whom it should be given: Jesus.

Instead of saying,
“Look what I discovered in my scripture reading this morning! Thought I'd share with all of you here,” 
we could say,
“This morning, the Lord unveiled a remarkable scripture which would bless all of us:”
Instead of saying,
“Hi all! I am doing acts of service in the next three weeks before Christmas with my niece, and I want to invite you all to join us. I am excited to get out of my comfort zone and help other people.” 
we could say,
“Let’s all perform acts of service for the next three weeks before Christmas. Yes, we’ll need to exit our comfort zones. But the Lord will bless our efforts with peace and joy.”
See? This takes the focus off of yourself. You’re now literally losing yourself! And it correctly places the focus onto Jesus and/or others.
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (D&C 88:63)
But there’s another advantage to this pronoun redirection: You trash your metaphorical “mirror mirror on the wall” and quit asking people “Who’s the fairest of them all?” You draw yourself and others nearer not to yourself, but to Jesus. You literally begin on the best first step possible in developing a personal relationship not with your mirror, but with Him.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 1: Introducing...the Church of the Latter-day Saints


NOTE: This post's title illustrates to what extent we've deleted or minimized Jesus from our church, not that a new church is being formed.

Of church resumes...


Two and a half years ago, I had one of those times which left me thinking, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!”

I met with a very rich man who spent quite a bit of time recounting his "church resume" -- how he and his talents had come to the rescue of this and that church general auxiliary; his close working relationship with the Brethren, and more. His self-importance was also apparent in his body language and facial gestures.

After having spent that hour in utter silence (I'm sure he thought I was awestruck), I had a simple request of him : "So, tell me about your relationship with Jesus." He was silent, then hemmed and hawed, and eventually admitted it was something he "probably needed to work on.”

...and church conference speakers


Then there’s this first-hand account of a Young Single Adult Conference speaker (posted to an online group yesterday):
“I was at a YSA Regional Conference this past Sunday in San Diego and the speaker was Matthew Ball. He's the Public Affairs Director for the North America West Area. He asked that he be given 45 minutes for his talk. The theme to the conference was "The Restoration."
In the 45 minutes he had allotted himself he never once mentioned the word "Restoration" or Joseph Smith for that matter. Instead he "rambled" on about his life and name dropped every time he could. Some examples include that he was a dancer and despite never having formal dance lessons he was offered a part in Footloose. By the way, he mentioned in his talk that his sister encouraged him to go to the tryout, but he told his sister that "all dancers are gay and he's not gay."
He was in the Film and TV industry for 15 years. He wrote a script that Clint Eastwood was seriously looking at. He was at the beginning of Dream Works Studios and dropped names like Jeffery Katzenberg and Disney. Talked about all the work he did in graduate school, how fit he was and mentioned the miles he rode on his bike (hmmm...are we getting the Restoration yet?), shared a very intimate story of a child dying and seeing visions of his dead son and daughter that had not been born yet.
Then about 30 minutes in, he spoke of his duties in the Public Affairs office and how he has done amazing things because of all his connections (are we going to turn to the Restoration yet?). He spoke of how a high ranking diplomat in Mexico was so impressed with his returned missionary son that the diplomat wanted his son to come over and teach his sons how to be like him.
He then spoke how he almost single handily opened the humanitarian mission in Azerbaijan because of all his connections and he even got permission for Elder Stephenson to enter a country in ONE day in what normally takes 30 days. He then closed his talk.
So in the 45 minutes he never ONCE mentioned the Savior's name, the Restoration or any meaningful gospel principle. He was absolutely so full of himself it was beyond belief and many others I discussed the talk with agreed. He was funny and a spirited speaker but we can get that in a TED Talk (although he was never to that caliber). Only thing meaningful he mentioned was for YSA to follow their dreams even if the degree they got in college wasn't what they wanted to do.
A truly missed opportunity to speak to over 600 YSA's.....Why the Church has this person representing the Public Affairs office for the whole of North America West is beyond belief. EGOMANIAC!”
(I must give the speaker some credit, though: At least he didn’t spend the first half describing how someone called or texted him to assign him the talk).

They “walked no more with him”


2,000 years ago, Jesus had just fed — and filled — five thousand men (who knows how many women and children) five barley loaves and two small fishes (John 6:9-10). Afterwards, the men who had seen the miracle said, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (verse 14). They were sold on Him. Totally sold.

Later, they found Jesus in a Capernaum synagogue. He gave a talk (maybe something similar to our Fast and Testimony Meeting) establishing Himself as the bread of life. Now, ordinarily, I’d say anyone who says “Anybody who eats my flesh and drinks my blood gets eternal life; for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” is probably a little “off.”

Naturally, many of his disciples thought that, too. They murmured and essentially said, “What in the heck is he talking about?” As we read in John 6:66, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” This obviously hurt Jesus, because we read in the next verse, “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?”

Will we also go away?


In the 2,000 years since then, the informational resources about Jesus have exponentially increased. Much has been written, stated, drawn, painted, sculpted and filmed about our Savior.

I dare say that at no time in the history of mankind have we had so much knowledge about Jesus at our fingertips. We can go to libraries and bookstores, or even stay in the comfort of our own homes, read, hear and watch all about the minutest details about Jesus, the times and the environment in which He lived.

Yet it seems that those who have a personal knowledge of, and experiences with, the Lord are extremely rare in our church. Such testimonies are highly discouraged in our meetings and not sold in our bookstores. As a result, we’re not only not casting our pearls before swine, but we’re also getting our pearls and burying them so deep, no one will never know of their existence.

As a result, real, personal insights into Jesus have almost been snuffed out of existence. Many are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). We know all about Jesus, yet it’s apparent in our church meetings and almost all published works that few actually know Him.

Many in our church who accepted Jesus, were baptized and promised to follow Him for the rest of their lives, no longer walk with Him. They set at naught the counsels of God, follow after the dictates of their own will and carnal desires (see D&C 3:4) and walk under the apparent glow of their own self-importance, or Babylon.

Simultaneously, other issues, topics, doctrines, programs, policies and persuasive personalities have positioned for preeminence in our attentions:

  • Many have become idolatrous, living in costly homes with opulent interiors, expensive wardrobes to go along with our expensive cars, and of course our gold, platinum, diamond and double diamond statuses. 
  • Many pay tithing and fast offerings, and consider that sufficient enough charity. They pass by the beggar and essentially tell themselves, “It’s not my problem”.
  • Many eagerly and enthusiastically idolize and trust in the arm of flesh, despite repeated commandments not to. 
  • Many ignore and dismiss significant injustices and even crimes which occur under our own noses. 
  • Many prioritize the internet, sports and entertainment above meditation, the scriptures and dialoguing with the one who loves us the most.
  • And yes, many prioritize their church titles, church connections and church pedigrees over and above anything meaningful regarding Jesus. 

“Will ye also go away?”

It’s as timely a question today as it ever has been, because in all likelihood, we don’t have very many more years left until the pre-millennial tribulations are in full swing.
"And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord." (D&C 112:23-26; emphasis mine)
In other words, if you don’t know the Lord, then you’ll be one of the first ones invited to take your party elsewhere.

A peek into this blog’s immediate future


Now, let’s talk about you.

As one who has been baptized and supposedly taken upon yourself Christ’s name, how well do you REALLY know the Master?

OK, first off, let me just say that I know this post is a downer. It’s sobering to realize that with all we know about Jesus, we may not know Him. And you and I both know that developing a deep, meaningful relationship with anyone (including God) can’t be done with just a snap of our fingers. It’s going to take some time.

That’s why the next several posts here will focus on introducing you, or hopefully re-introducing you, to the best friend you likely have not known very well.

In this series' next post, you'll learn about some easy-to-implement, common sense, scripturally-based solutions to truly know Jesus. Once you take advantage of them, you’ll be on a thrilling journey, learning things about Jesus they don’t even cover in sunday school.

After that, you’ll learn Jesus' real name -- the exact Aramaic name Mary, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, John (both of them), Peter and others used and called Him by.

After that, you'll learn how to recognize Him.
"For to come to know Jesus intimately, as he is, as he wants to be known, is to release a redemptive landslide in your life. There will be no stopping the goodness." (John Eldredge, "Beautiful Outlaw", p. 11).
By the time you’re done reading this series of posts, you’ll have a proven set of strategies and tools which will eventually have you deepening your friendship with Jesus...

...heart to heart

...eyeball to eyeball.

P.S. I'm not forming a church. This post's title illustrates to what extent we've deleted or minimized Jesus from our church.



Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Casting Out Evil, Part 6: Real People Who Crushed Satan’s Head


In Part 1 of this series (“The Truth”), we learned that the scriptures say over and over that it’s a belief in Jesus Christ, not priesthood, which enables one to cast out evil. In Part 2 (“Modern-Day Casting Out Testimonials”), we read a few testimonials about casting out and dispelled some myths associated with this doctrine. In Part 3 (“When Casting Out Isn’t Enough”), we discussed the concept of consequences, and in Part 4 (“Dispelling the Myths Behind Casting Out”), we tackled the mistaken notion that we should instead befriend and perform missionary work among Satan’s followers. Finally, Part 5 (“The Tactics Satan Uses to Torment You”) gives you a basic understanding of how Satan’s forces attack you.

I’m thrilled that many who’ve read this blog and listened to its accompanying podcast have taken these concepts to heart and experimented upon its words. They’ve found far fewer negative influences and greater solace and peace in their lives.
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23)
Below are some concluding testimonials I’ve received since beginning this series. They not only testify of the truthfulness of the concepts presented, but also something more (which I’ll discuss later in this post). Please note that in these testimonials, I’ve replaced phrases like “did” with “cast out” and “used” with “used the casting out guidelines” (mentioned in the last line of Part 2) to cast out:

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I [cast out] a couple of nights ago and the energy in our home felt different. My husband seemed to sleep better.

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I used [the guidelines] the first night you sent it to me. I felt power in the words as I said them. Whether or not it affected a greater change beyond what I have been, I cannot say.

What I had been doing every night for several months now, is raising my right arm and saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ, my master, depart!“

I have been saying it as a preventative measure. Occasionally when I forgot to say it, I would begin to get a nightmare that I could tell was inspired from one of Satan’s minions. I usually woke up just as it was beginning and I would cast out then sleep without being bothered again.

My five-year-old daughter gets bothered in the night sometimes. She says she’s felt a tapping on her leg on a couple instances. I talk to her about “tricky angels“ that try to play tricks on her. Eventually I felt the need to teach her the simple script I have been using. I’ve been encouraging her every night, along with prayers, to say this script – the simple one I have been saying. She will ask me to leave her bedroom when she does it. She is self-conscious about speaking words out loud, even praying etc., so this is why she wants me to leave. But I hear her saying it through the door. I believe she has a lot more faith in Jesus than my 12-year-old daughter.

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I used the script this morning...my husband has been contentious since last night so while he was in the shower I used it. When he emerged ready for work, he hugged me extra long and was so sweet.. definitely not the way he went in! This has been much better. I will use it whenever things get dicey.

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I have noticed a big difference in my home. My husband hasn't been argumentative at all.

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We've been casting out spirits most every day. Things have been more calm with my father. He's very subject to their influence.. Which is interesting, because he is very easily influenced by the ideas of other people. He probably functions at the capacity of a young teenager, if not younger. He was very stunted emotionally and mentally. Anyway, that was a thought that just came to me to explain it.

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I used your idea to cast Satan from my home this morning.  It has worked wonders.   Thank you.  My house and my family finally feel at peace.  We had an attack on us this weekend.  It took a minute for me to figure out what was happening.  Thank you again.

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I just expelled negative spirits from my son who has been plagued by them and he felt them leave when I gave a consequence and looked brighter and happier afterwards. He is 22 and grateful for this information. Thank you again!

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Thank you so much for sharing the casting out scripts. They expanded my concept on what and how to carry them out. It has given me a course to study too. I am so grateful. I will share my experiences if I have any that result from casting out. While praying for my children who are spread out all over the US at times, I have cast out evil spirits from around them. I did it as a result of feeling helpless to help them in each of their separate troubles. It always gave me peace to know I had done all I could to help them. Again, these scripts give me more insight. Love to you.

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I was tired and did not cast out my hotel room as i usually do last night. I had some bad dreams and immediately did the casting out above this morning. There is peace and the Spirit again. Thank you.

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Thank you.  Very powerful and specific.  I feel light, peace, love and joy after using the script.  I love Jesus Christ and His power to combat the adversary.

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I had a chance to use some of the consequences for casting out last night. My 6 year-old daughter who has a history of tantrums had a doozie yesterday. I chose to ignore her until she could talk to me kindly or calmly, but she was not having it. She screamed louder and louder, threatened to kick others if I didn’t listen to her. She was not backing down and after about 5-10 min, I went into the bathroom and followed some of the suggestions for giving consequences. At first I didn’t notice an immediate difference, but then I remembered to include the consequences for any bystanders and immediately she stopped and returned to her sweet and loving demeanor. Some may say it’s a coincidence. But I think coincidences are much less common than we tend to believe, and instead there is a deeper meaning.

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Monday night , laying in bed trying to get to sleep because I had a XXXXXXX the next morning to get XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I was anxious about the next day and really really needed a good night's rest, I started having really painful darting pains in my feet,  usually just as I was starting to doze off. After about 20 minutes of this, I analyzed the pains, literally like the point of a dart landing on my feet, the words "darts of the adversary" came into my mind. I used the casting out script as well as I could remember it, and the pains stopped immediately so I could sleep.  The next m5 [5 minutes?], I finished with crushing Satan's head before heading to XXXXXXXXX. There is a definite change in the feeling in my home. Thank you so much for sharing these marvelous ways to use the power of Jesus Christ to help our families.

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Thank you so much! I had a personal experience over 40 years ago when a man tried to rape me. I was jogging in the very early morning and a man stepped out from behind a car, put his hands on my neck, and told me he would kill me if I didn't do what he said. The words came into my mind and I commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to let go of me and he did. I still to this day don't know how I knew to say those words that Heavenly Father bless me that morning. It is very comforting to me to know that there are other people who know how to do this and people who understand the situations. That is the day that I learned that Jesus Christ is the most powerful in all the universe! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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I taught my (now) 12 year-old a long time ago that he can raise his arm to the square and command evil to depart in the name of Jesus Christ. The other night, he shared that the first time he called down ministering angels to protect himself from evil it worked.  He has also cast out evil by raising his arm to the square many times. Surely, we must understand the dark forces we fight against in more than an abstract way.  But the Lord has not left us vulnerable or helpless.  We have many tools for protection if we are open to receiving them, act in faith, and live worthy to qualify for the power. God will give us the script and the specific combination of steps to cast out different types of evil, customized to our strengths, weaknesses, and what we specifically need to learn and accomplish in this life. I testify of this, as a woman with experience in these things--He does not forsake or withhold power from the obedient, the pure, and the faithful.

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Thought you would like to know that I am preparing to go on a mission and suddenly having knee problems. So this morning I decided to use the casting out [script], suspecting it wasn't really a knee problem at all. Lo and behold, I can walk easily and without pain once again. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and His great Atoning Sacrifice. Through His power all things will be overcome.

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As I have been able to recognize the attacks on me and my family for what they are, attacks, I have been able to seek the Savior's help in finding off those attacks. I am not as easily manipulated and I am able to fight back to protect myself and my family by increasing the good/light I can bring to this world. Knowledge of tactics really is power!

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A Final Note About Casting Out Evil


The first step in solving a problem is recognizing you have one. And we, as a people, have lost our way when it comes to casting out evil. True: We never hear about it in General Conference. We never read about it in the Ensign or New Era. We never see books about it for sale in Deseret Book.

Yet we are also told in D&C 58:27-29 that we should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of our own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. We’re also told that it's not meet to be commanded in all things. If you feel differently, then great, the Lord has a category for you: "slothful, unwise servant."

The Lord saw fit to cast out evil from people not once, but over and over again. We are told that what's written about Him is just a fraction of His works while in mortality. We can only assume that He cast out evil a lot more often than what we read.

And so it falls to us, the oft-described Lord's chosen people, to show the way. To be the exemplars. To turn our backs on slothfulness and needing to be led about like we have a ring in our noses. It's up to us to cast out evil from ourselves, our homes and our lives as much as possible. To do otherwise, to neglect this clearly beneficial route, is to concede and succumb to Satan's consistent drumbeat of apathy, ignorance and denial.

In this series, you've learned not only how to cast out evil, but you've also seen living proof that it works well among fellow Saints.

Now that you know these things, what will you do with them? Just let them gather dust on a metaphorical shelf, or receive them, use them, with gratitude and happiness? Will you keep what you've learned to yourself, or will you share with others?

There is nothing Satan would like more than to see you bury what you've learned, and not help others along the way.

These posts, this series, is just the beginning of the dialogue. It's my prayer, my wish, my invitation, that you continue it.

The Secret We Learn About Jesus When We Cast Out


The testimonials above illustrate more than just the ability of men, women and children to cast out evil; it’s a crystal-clear demonstration of one indisputable fact:

Jesus is enthusiastic and anxious to fight your battles and assume your burdens
“The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14
“The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you” (Deuteronomy 1:30
“with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” (2 Chronicles 32:8)
This means you don’t have to be weighted down or burdened by the bad things that happen in your life. We may be tempted to doubt God when life seems hopeless, helpless and overwhelming. But no problem is beyond God’s ability to right a wrong, or even turn death into life.

Hasn’t He said He loves you beyond comprehension...
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37–39)
...promised to take care of you...
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
...to make solid plans for you...
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
...and to basically exceed all your expectations, above all you can ever ask, think or imagine?
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20)
That last scripture there -- Ephesians 3:20 -- is my favorite scripture. In it, note that it's “according to the power that worketh in us." Your faith, how you believe, catalyzes God's power. Do you believe God wants to work in your life exceedingly and abundantly above all you could ask or think?

While it’s true that sometimes His work, His relief, isn’t immediately forthcoming and may not match your personal timetable, it does come. And when it does, it’s often in ways you never dreamt of.

So if Jesus is anxious to cast evil from your life and all the associated burdens that come with being negatively influenced by evil, just what else is He anxious to do in your life?

What would you think if I told you that He’s also anxious to grow closer to you, in ways that surpass any semblance of what you believe a “best friend” could be like?

After all, He’s shown you how eager He is to take upon Himself your burdens.

In my next post, we’ll discover how enthusiastic He is to be your best friend, too. Yep, and all those things that a best friend does -- talk with you daily, laugh with you, cry with you, inspire you, be with you…

...and yes, even sit next to (or across from) -- and comfort -- you.

Get ready to meet “The Best Friend You Never Knew’

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Casting Out Evil, Part 5: The Tactics Satan Uses to Torment You


“We live in a wicked world. Never in our memory have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation. The devil is well organized. Never in our day has he had so many emissaries working for him.” (Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, “Satan’s Thrust: Youth,” Ensign, Dec, 1971).
(Pres. Benson made those remarks 48 years ago. I can only imagine what he’d say now).

Among church members, there is a predominant tradition which says we shouldn’t know about Satan and how he attacks us. That ignorance is bliss. Ignore Satan, and he’ll go away.

Joseph Smith said it’s not only an evil, it's a “great evil” to be ignorant of the nature of evil spirits -- their power, government, intelligence, the laws by which they are governed and the signs by which they may be known. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:572-3). In fact, without that knowledge, Joseph said, you invite darkness, suspense and doubt, experience spiritual captivity (Isaiah 5:13, 2 Nephi 15:13) and thus, evil spirits will have greater power over you.

It’s no wonder that Pres. Benson said that because Satan knows where and how to strike you, “A study of Satan’s methods can alert us to his seductions.”

So, I extend to you three invitations:
  1. If you’d rather remain ignorant of Satan’s ways, then feel free to keep napping, or
  2. If you’re interested in leaving behind your ignorance of Satan, studying his methods and being alerted to his seductions, keep reading, or
  3. If you’re interested in looking beyond your own needs, and seeking ways to help others avoid spiritual darkness and captivity, then comment on this post below. Add more knowledge and more testimony to it. Make this post stronger.
In my previous post, I opined that evil spirits have three objectives:
  1. To try, torment and torture you.
  2. To keep you from knowing Christ as Savior. Prevent the formation of a relationship with Him.
  3. To keep you from serving with Him effectively. Prevent the formation of a working, productive relationship with Him which will help others form a relationship with Him.
To accomplish these objectives, Satan and his forces employ at least 12 different tactics:

1. They observe you.


Satan watches us. He hears us speak. He knows our predominant faults and uses temptations to lead us to yet another sin.
“And thus he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of Men.” (D&C 10:27)
The minute we take our focus off of God, he jumps in and tempts us with what we’ve relocated our focus on.
“Often, we talk too much. We say things that need not be said or should not be said; for in saying them, we may open a crevice which enables Lucifer to wedge his way into our lives. We learn from 2 Nephi that Satan “seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27
Satan and his followers are persistent in their quest to drag us down to their level. They will use any device or artifice to accomplish their end. If they see from our words or actions evidence of animosity or hatred or discord among us, they may capitalize on them in ways which will be detrimental to us. 
Wisdom suggests, therefore, that we suppress words and actions which might enable Satan to harm us or whose tendency might be to create discord or enmity." (Elder Francis M. Gibbons, “The Dual Aspects of Prayer,” October 1991 General Conference)
“I know very well that, whether we are active or not, the invisible spirits are active. And every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifer fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them, but who are still under the control of the prince of the power of the air. Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong. This makes it necessary for us to be continually on our guard—makes this probation a continual warfare.” (Brigham Young, JD 7:239, September 1, 1859).
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8)
"’What shall I do?’ says one. Why, keep your mouth shut when you have no need to open it, and the devils won't get in at your ears. James, the Apostle, said that the tongue was an unruly member, and that it set all the rest on fire; and there is considerable truth in the saying. If you cannot keep your tongue still, put it between your teeth and hold it there until you can control it; and I will promise that, if you will do that, the Devil cannot do much with you; but I can assure you that he will play upon the tongue.” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 5: 373.)

2. They whisper negativity to your spirit.

“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none?—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.” (2 Nephi 28:22)
“We don’t always know the details of our future. We do not know what lies ahead. We live in a time of uncertainty. We are surrounded by challenges on all sides. Occasionally discouragement may sneak into our day; frustration may invite itself into our thinking; doubt might enter about the value of our work. In these dark moments Satan whispers in our ears that we will never be able to succeed, that the price isn’t worth the effort, and that our small part will never make a difference. He, the father of all lies, will try to prevent us from seeing the end from the beginning.” (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning,” April 2006 General Conference)
“One occasion I heard the late Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, president of the Logan Temple, relate this extraordinary incident:
He was sitting in his office one morning, he said, when he noticed from the window a company of people coming up the hill to the temple. As they entered the temple grounds they presented rather a strange appearance. . . .
A little later a person unknown to Brother Merrill entered the room. Brother Merrill said to him: "Who are you and who are these people who have come up and taken possession of the temple grounds unannounced?"
He answered and said: "I am Satan and these are my people."
Brother Merrill then said: "What do you want? Why have you come here?"
Satan replied: "I don't like the work that is going on in this temple and feel that it should be discontinued. Will you stop it?"
Brother Merrill answered and said emphatically, "No, we will not stop it. The work must go on."
"Since you refuse to stop it, I will tell you what I propose to do," the adversary said. "I will take these people, my followers, and distribute them throughout this temple district, and will instruct them to whisper in the ears of people, persuading them not to go to the temple, and thus bring about a cessation of your temple work." Satan then withdrew.
The spirit of indifference to temple work took possession of the people and very few came to the house of the Lord for a period after this incident. It is not to be wondered at that Satan, who is the enemy of all righteousness, is displeased with temple work.” (Rudger Clawson.Deseret News Church Section, Dec. 12, 1936, Vol. 344, No. 61).
“We should be on guard always to resist Satan's advances.  He will appear to us in the person of a friend or a relative in whom we have confidence.  He has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., “Answers to Gospel Questions”, 3:81).

3. They lull you into complacency.

“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21)

4. They test and exploit your weaknesses.


As we read in the New Testament, when Jesus had fasted forty days, He had very likely come to a point of physical vulnerability. Being hungered, the tempter came to Him and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (Matthew 4:3)
“Satan tempts us where we are most vulnerable.” (Elder Joseph F Merrill, April 1941 General Conference, p. 50-51).  
“We should be on guard always to resist Satan's advances.  He will appear to us in the person of a friend or a relative in whom we have confidence.  He has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., “Answers to Gospel Questions”, 3:81).
These weaknesses include:

Isaiah 61:3 -- “spirit of heaviness”.
Luke 13:11 -- a woman stricken with “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years”.
Numbers 5:14,30 -- “spirit of jealousy”
Hosea 4:12 and 5:4 -- “spirit of whoredoms”
Romans 8:15 -- “spirit of bondage”
Romans 11:8 -- “spirit of slumber” (eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear)
2 Timothy 1:7 -- “spirit of fear”
1 John 4:3 -- “spirit of antichrist”

5. They make you weak (or sick or tired).

"You can see the acts of these evil spirits in every place, the whole country is full of them, the whole earth is alive with them, and they are continually trying to get into the tabernacles of the human family, and are always on hand to prompt us to depart from the strict line of our duty." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 3:369). 
“There are myriads of disembodied evil spirits—those who have long ago laid down their bodies here and in the regions round about, among and around us; and they are trying to make us and our children sick, and are trying to destroy us and to tempt us to evil. They will try every possible means they are masters of to draw us aside from the path of righteousness.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:73-74, November 22, 1857).
Note that in these verses, there’s very little differentiation between healing and casting out: And in the first two verses, Jesus doesn’t necessarily heal her, but instead, He “rebukes” the fever:
“And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.” (Luke 4:38-41
“In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth.  If the spirit yields to the body, the devil then has power to overcome both the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.” (Brigham Young; In Journal of Discourses, 2:255-56) 
“Satan exerts a mastery over the spirits that have been corrupted by his practices; he is the foremost of the angels who were thrust down, and the instigator of the ruin of those who fall in this life; he seeks to molest and hinder mankind in good efforts, by tempting to sin; or it may be by imposing sickness, or possibly death.  Yet in all these malignant doings, he can go no farther than the transgressions of the victim may enable him, or the wisdom of God may permit; and at any time he may be checked by the superior power.  Indeed, even the operations of his utmost malice may be turned to the accomplishment of divine purposes.” (Elder James E Talmage; Articles of Faith, p. 63) 

6. They seduce and deceive you.

“He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44
“Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:8 JST) 
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1
“The adversary presents his principles and arguments in the most approved style, and in the most
winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes; and he is very careful to ingratiate
himself into the favor of the powerful and influential of mankind, uniting himself with popular
parties, floating into offices of trust and emolument by pandering to popular feeling, though it
should seriously wrong and oppress the innocent.” (Brigham Young, JD 11:238). 
“The Book of Mormon informs us that the Devil will come along with all manner of deceitfulness, and persuade the people to lie a little, to steal a little, and to rob your neighbour of anything that lies within your reach.  Such a course leads to death and dissolution, and will cause those to mourn hereafter that follow it.  These are mysteries that are worth finding out. (Elder Heber C. Kimball; January 6, 1861, JD 8:331).

7. They entice you to do evil.


In addition to Satan enticing Eve in the Garden of Eden and Jesus in the desert, we read:
“Then there came out a lying spirit, and stood before them, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?” (2 Chronicles 18:20
“Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.” (Moroni 7:12
“When the Devil cannot overcome an individual through temptation to commit wickedness, when he sees that a person is determined to walk in the line and travel straight forward into the celestial kingdom, he will adopt a course of flattery, will strive to exercise a pleasing influence and move along smoothly with him, and when he sees an opportunity he will try to turn him out of the way, if it is only to the extent of a hair's breadth.” (Pres. Brigham Young, JD 3:318). 
“Satan was generally blamed for the evils which we did, but if he was the cause of all our wickedness, men could not be condemned.  The devil could not compel mankind to do evil; all was voluntary.  Those who resisted the Spirit of God, would be liable to be led into temptation...... God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not” (Joseph Smith; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 187). 

8. They defile you (by projecting evil, impure images into your mind).

“Satan was an accuser of his brethren from the beginning, hence the rejoicing of angels when he and his kind were cast down to earth bodiless, estateless and powerless, except for evil. Wandering spirits in the realms of darkness, seeking everywhere and under all circumstances to enter, defile and destroy the souls and bodies of men.” (Elder Moses Thatcher; August 28, 1885, JD 26:305) 
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

9. They torment, torture and harass you (emotionally, physically, mentally via suggestions).


“And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment” (Alma 36:17
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Also, in Job 2:3-7, we read how God placed limits on Satan’s ability to harass Job:
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job.”

10. They encourage you to believe in self-promotion and self-empowerment.


The entire notion of creating your own life, and believing in your own ability through your willpower to succeed at what you want, contradicts the entire concept of submitting to the will of the Father.

We are invited to “lose our lives” in the service of God...to “come follow me” (Jesus), not our own will. We are commanded to strip ourselves of pride and vanity. Jesus also taught that submission to God’s will was even greater than self-mastery and empowerment, and that it is possible to be “one” with God.

Hence, "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." (Galatians 6:3)

11. They blind you to truths.

“Yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive, and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” (Genesis 3:5 JST) 
“But Amulek stretched forth his hand, and cried the mightier unto them, saying: O ye wicked and perverse generation, why hath Satan got such great hold upon your hearts? Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have power over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth?” (Alma 10:25
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

12. They enslave you (for example, substance abuse, anger, gambling, hypersexuality)


It could be said that those who have have sinned so deeply they are in the devil’s power have sold their soul to the devil. In this respect, they are enslaved to him:
“For behold, at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.” (2 Nephi 28:20
“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.“ (John 8:34-36
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)
In warfare, it would be foolish to think a highly organized force would ignore and disregard their opponent’s weaknesses. Quite the contrary: in warfare, you patiently observe your opponent’s weaknesses and seek to exacerbate and amplify them, and ultimately, defeat them.

That’s what Satan and his forces have been doing for many millennia. They’re very skillful at it, too. And they are up to the challenge. President Brigham Young declared,
"The men and women who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom will find that they must battle with the enemy of all righteousness every day." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 392).
In my next post in this series, we’ll see how some are defeating Satan and his experienced forces. They are turning the tide in terms of health, happiness in their homes and relationships, and more.

I think that sometimes, we accept the cruddy circumstances we find ourselves in, without ever considering that Jesus really does want to lighten our loads and take upon Himself our burdens. He delights in doing so, and is discouraged when we don’t eagerly take advantage of the great atonement.

When you do -- especially via casting out evil -- you’ll discover something profound about Jesus in your personal life.

In fact, you could consider it a mystery.

And that mystery will be unveiled next time...here.