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.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 8: The Non-Judgmental Savior



It’s Tough to Hear, but You Still Need to Hear It


In the post “The Prodigal Mormon,” I detailed how we consider and call ourselves "The Lord's Chosen People", "A Righteous Generation" with "Noble Birthright". "The Elect of God". Even "The Anointed".

I mean, who doesn’t like hearing that you’re the bomb?! I think Sister Sheri Dew articulated that desired chosen status the best:

“The simple fact is that our Father did not recommend Eve or Moses or Nephi or countless other magnificent exemplars for this dispensation—He recommended you and me. Do you think God would have left the last days to chance by sending men and women He couldn’t count on? A common theme of patriarchal blessings given to men and women your age is that you were sent now because our Father’s most trustworthy children would be needed in the final, decisive battle for righteousness. That is who you are, and it is who you have always been.

And we were born to lead. We were born for glory." (Sheri Dew, "You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory," speech given at BYU, Dec. 9, 2003)

However -- and what boggles my mind -- is that I can’t find anything in the Standard Works that says we are so great, grand and glorious, let alone worthy of being mentioned alongside “Eve or Moses or Nephi.” Here’s what I have found:

"there is none that doeth good" (Psalm 14:1; 53:1-3)

"It is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18

“O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7)

"Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1:10)

Oh, and the minute we begin considering our status as members of the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh, it’s appropriate to remember Nephi’s thoughts to the Gentiles:

"Hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying:
Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel." (3 Nephi 30:1-2)

In referencing Mormon 8:33–39, Elder L. Tom Perry said:

"Moroni’s last words to the members of the Church are written as a voice of warning. He writes as one who sees the history of his people repeating itself in the future. [Elder Perry then read Mormon 8:34-38]]. I guess one of the greatest mysteries of mortality is why mankind fails to learn from history. Why do those who profess to be true followers of Christ so often become victims of the enticements of the world?" (October 1992 General Conference)

I think we members grossly underestimate the degree of pride we carry with us on a daily basis. Not only pride, but also idolatry. In his June, 1976 First Presidency Message, "The False Gods We Worship", Pres. Spencer W. Kimball addressed the Saints by saying:

"The Lord gave us a choice world and expects righteousness and obedience to his commandments in return.  But when I review the performance of this people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened. Iniquity seems to abound.  The Destroyer seems to be taking full advantage of the time remaining to him in this, the great day of his power.  Evil seems about to engulf us like a great wave, and we feel that truly we are living in conditions similar to those in the days of Noah before the Flood."

That was 44 years ago. Ten years ago, another church president said:

"None of us is perfect. I know of no one who would profess to be so. And yet for some reason, despite our own imperfections, we have a tendency to point out those of others. We make judgments concerning their actions or inactions. There is really no way we can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might say or do something we find reason to criticize. Thus the commandment: ‘Judge not.’" (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, "Charity Never Faileth", October 2010 General Conference)

“Inexcusable”


With those facts, what justification do you have to judge another? I mean, to any degree whatsoever?

True, we may not outright judge another. Instead, many tend to re-word their judgments and “be concerned” or “be worried” about another. We “want them to be happy.” And in sharing that judgment with others, we may say that we are “only looking out for their best interests” or “trying to protect the good name of the church.”

In my opinion, that’s all baloney (I have another word, but I’m trying to keep this a clean blog). They’re all self-justifications for judging others..And the only ones we are really fooling, and hurting, is ourselves.

"If we exercise judgment without mercy, perhaps judgment without mercy may be meted to us." (John Taylor, "God the Source of All Good", JD 15:266)

“We can so clearly and easily see the harmful results that come when others judge and hold grudges. And we certainly don’t like it when people judge us. 
But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt. 
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said that those who pass judgment on others are “inexcusable.” The moment we judge someone else, he explained, we condemn ourselves, for none is without sin. Refusing to forgive is a grievous sin—one the Savior warned against. Jesus’s own disciples had “sought occasion against [each other] and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.” (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy”, April 2012 General Conference)

We are very quick to jump from 

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

to:

“Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” (Matthew 7:2 JST)

However, "men cannot always judge righteous" (D&C 10:37) This is likely because we do not have “the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)” within us (Pres. Brigham Young, "Comprehensiveness of True Religion," A discourse delivered at Salt Lake City, December 5, 1853). And who among us wants to raise their hand and say that they have “the mind of Christ” at any given time? I certainly wouldn’t.

Looking Inside the Mind of Christ


So, the challenge is having “the mind of Christ.” 

Was Yeshua ever in situations where He should have judged another? Definitely, and often. 

Let’s see what He did in some clearly judgmental situations (granted, these videos are dramatized, but in my opinion, they’re not too far deviated from what really happened):

The Woman at the Well

In John 4:5-29, we read about Yeshua’s interaction with a woman who had five husbands; “and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband:”

This woman went to where other women would go, only she would arrive once everyone had left. Today, she could be equated with a woman who attends church or went to the store when no one was around. And why?

Scandalous! Five previous husbands, and she’s living with some guy? I know plenty of members who would not be caught talking with her at all. In fact, if she were a member, would she be called into the Bishop’s office? Is it likely that the sisters in Relief Society would avoid asking her to offer a prayer or comment in a class? Do you think she’d ever be offered a calling? 

But let’s see what Yeshua did. Did He avoid her? Judge her? Where in John 4:5-29 did He even come close to treating her marital status with a molecule of negativity?



The Woman with an Issue of Blood

In Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48, we read about the woman with an issue of blood for 12 years. 

Many medical scholars believe this woman may have had menorrhagia, which is abnormally heavy and long menstruation that causes enough cramping and blood loss that it makes normal daily activities impossible. The scriptures are right in calling it a “hemorrhage” because the amount of blood lost is significant—enough to fill a maxi pad at least every hour for several weeks (not to mention 12 years!).

Under Mosaic law, a woman with an issue of blood was considered unclean and was “put apart” for 7 days. During this time, anything she lay on or sat on was considered “unclean,” meaning that if anyone touched one of those things he would have to wash his clothes and bathe in water to become clean again.

(In her case, we are told that she had “suffered many things of many physicians” and had spent “all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” That’s understandable because Today to treat or control menorrhagia, physicians prescribe hormone pills. In severe cases, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or endometrial ablation or resection (which permanently destroys the entire lining of the uterus) are used to treat it). 

Today is no different. Anyone who has even potentially contracted a plague (like coronavirus) or has a fever is quarantined from society for a minimum of 14 days, and anything they have come into contact with is also considered unclean. The judgments unleashed on them are fast, harsh and quite possibly long-lasting.

When I walk in public, I see people wearing masks giving sideways glances and dirty looks to those without masks. If that’s the case, imagine someone with coronavirus walking and moving their way through crowds of people, including you. Judgmentalism? 100% guaranteed!

In most Judean towns, they were so small, everybody knew everybody. We don’t know if people knew that the woman had an issue of blood. I would assume that some did, and they would have been terrified to see her interacting in crowds.  

But what did Yeshua do when she touched Him, seeking healing? He didn’t judge her. He didn’t condemn her. He didn’t say, “Hey lady, what the heck are you doing?! Can’t you see you’re unclean? Thanks a lot lady, now I’m unclean, too!” Nope. Again, not one molecule of negativity. He simply said to her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”


The Woman Caught in Adultery

Perhaps no story better exemplifies the nonjudgmental nature of the Savior than this story, found in John 7:53–8:11. I’ll assume you know the story well.

In this case, judgmentalism wasn’t just a choice, but also a doctrinal canonized requirement. Deuteronomy 22:22–25 says that if a man is found lying with a married woman, then they shall both be put to death.

As a rabbi, Jesus was obligated to espouse and promote the canonized judgment upon the woman. But that wasn’t to be.

“Jesus’ response both keeps the demands of justice and of mercy. He did not speak against the law by saying she should not be stoned, nor did he say she should be stoned. Instead, he put it back on the woman’s accusers, saying, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” With this, he forced the woman’s accusers to look inward at their own guilt in violating the very same law. St. Augustine puts it like this: ‘Hence, either let this woman go, or together with her receive the penalty of the law.’ He argues that the voice of justice says let the sinner be punished, but not by sinners. This ultimately causes all to depart, leaving only the woman and Jesus, the one without sin, the one who alone could cast the first stone. However, the woman receives mercy instead, with the admonition to sin no more.” (https://faithmag.com/lessons-mercy-woman-caught-adultery)

If the sinless Yeshua didn’t feel like this clearly adulterous woman deserved judgment, then in what cases do you feel justified in exacting judgment upon another?


Drop Your Stones


I would someday love nothing more than to hear that you have knelt before Yeshua while in mortality. 

Some say it can’t be done. Such things don’t happen anymore.

They. Are. Wrong.

For the rest of your life, it will be the one day of the year that has significance far and beyond any other day. It will be THE day, THE perfect day, because it was THE day that you were with THE One. Here’s one of MANY first-hand experiences:


To be honest, there are infinite possibilities how your audience with Him could go. Most assume that it will be a happy time. Yes, that’s one possibility. But I know others who wanted that meeting with Yeshua, and either they never had it, or they did, but it was not a particularly happy meeting. Nobody wants to be chastised by the Master.

In my opinion, it won’t be a happy meeting -- or may not happen at all -- if you lack mercy and definitely not if you are a self-proclaimed judge over others, no matter how justified you consider yourself.

We read in Matthew 23:23 that Yeshua was quick to condemn those who were checking off the boxes of religious faithfulness (particularly the full tithe payers), but were omitting “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He said to them, “These ought ye to have done.”

In my opinion, you are fooling yourself if you think just passing the temple recommend interviews qualifies you for an audience with Yeshua. As Yeshua demonstrated to that crowd of (presumably) men ready to throw their stones, nobody is qualified to judge another, no matter how right or correct they may think they are. 

All of us are prodigals. None of us is righteous, no, not one. There is none that doeth good, no, not one. We are nothingness. We are nothing, even less than the dust of the earth. We are equated with wicked ways, evil doings, lyings, deceivings, whoredoms, idolatries and more. 

I invite you to avoid the stones of judgment, especially those that have “I’m concerned,” “I’m worried,” “I just want you to be happy,” “I’m only looking out for you best interests” or “I’m only trying to protect the good name of the church.”

Let us not examine or explore others’ sins, but look to their divinity. It is not ours to delve into others’ problems, but rather, to perceive the breadth of their goodness.

Just step away from the stones, and YOU won’t get hurt.



 (“The Chosen”)


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 7: “Ye Never Knew Me”


Not too busy to visit the temple, but too busy to visit the less fortunate


Today, my friend and I were on our way to visit a local superstore. In the distant regions of the parking lot, a father held up a sign saying that his family was stranded. 

In speaking with this father, I was amazed that no one in that city (which is 95% LDS) had helped them in any way. As I spoke with him, I saw an LDS temple off in the distance. Actually, it was six blocks, or one mile, away. And the best way to get to that temple is to drive past the superstore.

In my opinion, that's a pretty sad commentary about we who have supposedly taken upon us Christ's name. What good are your temple covenants if you're totally misaligned with the Savior?

Not too busy to lead, but too busy to visit the less fortunate


Ironically, this morning's superstore parking lot encounter isn't the only sobering story I've encountered this month.

My friend (I’ll call him “Wilson”) has cerebral palsy, schizophrenia and a variety of other ailments (imagine Tom Hanks in "Cast Away," but for 45 years). 

He’s a good man. He’s lived his entire life single, having never loved nor been loved. Even though he receives disability payments, he is perpetually destitute (his rent takes up 2/3 of his checks). People have played horrible tricks on him and have taken advantage of him at every turn.

He was recently diagnosed with gout. That's not the worst of it. His Achilles tendon is hanging by a thread and he has an open wound in his leg. His legs are swollen up and purple. It's not good. He needs to see a doctor, but his schizophrenia gets in the way of that. He's falling through the cracks.

A mutual friend called a bishop in Wilson’s area to see if he could help, but received no call back. My friend finally contacted the bishop, who said that because Wilson lived in a different ward boundary, that bishop “couldn’t” (and that’s a direct quote) help Wilson. My friend contacted the bishop in Wilson’s ward boundaries, but nothing was done.

Disgusted with how things were (not) going, I intervened. I contacted the mission office and the local missionaries to see if they could help. They couldn’t. I also called Wilson’s stake president, who promised he’d get back with me. After about 10 days in which neither Wilson nor I had heard from that stake president nor his bishop, something happened.

On Mother's Day, Wilson’s scooter battery died while miles away from home. In searching for help, the stake president and Bishop didn’t answer the phone. (Here it is, a few weeks later, and I still haven’t received call backs from the voicemails I left). The missionaries said they were busy. 

Luckily, I reached a subscriber to this blog’s Facebook group who lives near Wilson. He dropped what he was doing (fixing his wife her Mother's Day dinner), traveled to Wilson’s location, helped Wilson and his scooter into his truck and took them home. 

An interesting side-note: In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), first a priest, and then a Levite, pass by and avoid the "half-dead" man. 
Maybe it's just me, but it seems as though simply being a leader or having a temple recommend doesn't automatically get you on the good side of one of the Lord's parables. Why?

“Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief...” (D&C 44:6; emphasis mine).

“for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26)

“And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me...” (D&C 42:31)

“But ye have despised the poor.” (James 2:6)

“Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?” (Alma 5:55)

“And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C 52:40)

“Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!” (D&C 56:16)

“Ye Never Knew Me”


It’s no wonder that Yeshua says that those who don’t do these things aren’t his disciples. In fact, despite whatever callings, titles, covenants, number of dead baptized, amount of tithes and fast offerings paid -- no matter what earthly things you’ve done, if you haven’t been charitable, you’re not bound for heaven, but hell. 

I know there are some who might say, “Well hey, I paid my fast offering. I’ve been charitable. So you can just go right ahead and check that box off as having been completed.”

Really? 

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

Perhaps I’m wrong here, but something tells me that simply going through the motions and checking off boxes isn’t quite what the Savior has in mind for you. 

So let me ask you: Are you absolutely positive that writing out a monthly check equals the charity-centered life and behavior the Savior expects from His disciples? 
  • How does paying fast offering qualify as your visiting “the poor and the needy”?
  • Just how often do you go downtown or to the local grocery store (where the beggars stand, on the street corner) and help them out? 
  • How much currency or how many gift cards (which are not consecrated for your usage) are in your wallet, purse or car glove box? 
  • Are we not all beggars? If you neglect the poor and needy, what obligation does God have to take care of (let alone hear) you?
  • What non-profits do you support with your time and/or funds?
  • Someday, when you are shown the video of your life (from both your vantage point and those whom you interacted with), how many lost opportunities to render charity will be displayed?
  • Are you honestly meeting your potential in rendering mercy? 
  • How can you honestly ask God for blessings and mercy if you aren’t honestly striving to meet your charity potential (see Matthew 5:7)?
Then there are those who flooded Facebook last November/December -- and this spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- with pictures of their “marvelous works” of charity to others. However, they also totally, publicly and flagrantly defied what we are told not to do in both the New Testament and Book of Mormon:

“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2; 3 Nephi 13:2)

Yeshua was anything but passive or indirect in His interactions with others. He, our Exemplar, showed that rendering charity and mercy is a direct and intimate thing, with human touching human, soul touching soul. It begins with you -- the touch of your hand, the twinkle in your eyes, the smile on your face -- and ends with both you (the giver) and the beggar (the recipient of your direct charity) praising God.

And yes, it does require you to step out of your box, your safety zone. But doing that is far more preferable than the alternatives:

“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)

“Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.” (D&C 104:18)

So, you need to know Him. How can you love as He has loved (John 13:34) unless you first know how He loves? 

That’s why I invite you to spend some time browsing through the New Testament. Time and again, you’ll see the Savior turning away from “great multitudes of people” from diverse locations so he could minister to The One. Always touching, always healing. Always.

If Yeshua saw it necessary to minister not to the healthy, but the sick (Matthew 9:12), how much greater, then, is that need for you?

Yeshua’s compassion upon those who were clearly sinners and shunned by the temple-going patrons of that time far surpassed (in my opinion) what most of us consider “compassionate.”

As Wilson’s story demonstrates, it’s a behavior which we latter-day “saints” need to take more seriously.

How about you?


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Experience the Modern-Day Passover in Your Own Home (led by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn)!


Around 1,528 BC, at the stroke of midnight, God visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, God also spared the children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday, "Passover."
Ironically, tomorrow (Wednesday, April 8, 2020) begins the Jewish holiday of Passover, an annual commemoration of the first Passover. Only this year, we, too, are praying that the angel of death (COVID-19) passes over us.

We Saints have never really paid much attention to Jewish holy days, despite the fact that God never rescinded the importance He ascribed to them. Even Yeshua celebrated Passover. Ever heard of The Last Supper?
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn will be hosting a very special online Passover meal tomorrow night. I plan on watching. I hope you'll consider it too, as together, both of us pray that the angel of death passes by our homes. Click the link below for more details.



Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 6: Yeshua, The Forgotten Healer


Cleansed of Colon Cancer


A friend of mine had the following experience:

“Last December, a friend and I visited Bobby, who is pretty poor and lives in squalid conditions. This particular day, we found Bobby pretty depressed. We asked why. The response caught us off-guard: “I have cancer, and it’s really making me tired.” 
Right then and there, in our blue jeans and casual shirts yet without any consecrated oil, we laid our hands on Bobby and pronounced a blessing. It wasn’t one of those generic blessings where we say that God loves you, God is “aware” of you or that He knows your name. It wasn’t a blessing where there wasn’t one “if” statement (“IF you have the faith to be healed” or “IF it’s the Lord’s will”). Far from it. The blessing was personalized and intimate, with words from neither man giving the blessing, but from God Himself.  
Father spoke directly to Bobby, and right then and there, pronounced healing on Bobby, and that Jesus would come to this person and heal them. 
A few weeks later, I was in a ward council meeting and saw Bobby’s name on a list. Excitedly, I shared with the full-time missionaries that I had recently met Bobby and prayed over him for healing. The missionaries said they had dropped him a few weeks earlier because Bobby couldn’t make the appointments due to the cancer treatments.
Soon after that, I stopped by Bobby’s. He was at the door with a completely different look on his face. I asked him how things were going.  
He said, “Well, I’m cancer-free, so I’m doing pretty darn good!”  
I asked Bobby if he recalled when a friend and I prayed for healing in the name of Jesus.
Bobby beamed “Yes, IT’S A MIRACLE!” 
Bobby pointed to his back side and said “No more colon cancer!” 
Bobby had stage 2 colon cancer. Now, to the utter amazement of many cancer doctors, there was no trace of cancer in his body. None. At. All. 
I hurried to call my friend who had been part of that healing blessing. We felt amazed and humbled to have been partners with Jesus in this blessing, and were awestruck by the wonderful manifestation of kindness and compassion from the Lord. 
Interestingly enough, I asked Bobby, “So, what did your congregation at your church think about this amazing healing?” Bobby responded, “Well, they don’t care much about me. I’m just a nobody.” 
He may consider himself a nobody, but anyone who has been touched by the finger of God and healed of a disease that just doesn’t cure itself is, well, they are definitely somebody.  
You know how Jesus used to heal the outcasts of society -- like the blind, the crippled and especially the lepers?  
I almost forgot to mention:  
Bobby is a transvestite.”

Cleansed of “Leprosy”


“Leprosy” or Hansen’s Disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It isn’t the same “leprosy” we read about in the New Testament.

The Hebrew word sara’at, which is predominantly associated with Biblical leprosy, is a ritualistic term denoting uncleanness or defilement. It covered a wide variety of conditions that could affect people, clothing or even structures. They could be described today as boils, carbuncles, fungus infections, infections complicating a burn, impetigo, favus of the scalp, scabies, patchy eczema, phagedenic ulcer, vitiligo and of course, Hansen’s Disease. The “leprosy” on walls or clothes was more likely to be fungus, mold, dry rot, lichen or similar conditions. (source)

Two thousand years ago, a man with sara’at approached Yeshua and said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

At that moment, Yeshua “put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.”

The man’s sara’at was cleansed.

Back then, physical leprosy wasn’t the only thing that would get you ostracized. Being a publican (a Jewish tax collector for the ancient Romans) or sinner (often considered those who habitually sinned) were avoided by the ruling religion of the day.

But this didn’t matter to Yeshua. Not one bit. Instead,
"as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:15-17)
That’s right -- Jesus invited the outcasts of society to dine where? Check it out again -- “in his house”

Fast Forward to Today

“For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 9:13)
Turn on the radio or TV, go to the store, check your emails, and you’ll invariably see or hear the word, “coronavirus”. “Social distancing” is likely the new phrase of the year. There are no hugs, no handshakes, no high fives, no contact with others for fear of catching this disease.

Unfortunately, amidst the deafening sounds of worry and fear, what we don’t hear about is the saving power of Yeshua.

The scriptures often mention the word “pestilence”, which is defined as “a fatal epidemic disease”. That sounds a lot like coronavirus to me. “Pestilence” is used over 40 times in the scriptures, and almost always, as a means to help motivate people to prepare and repent.
“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14; emphasis mine)
Yet today, many are hopping on social media and pleading with others to join them in praying for the disease to end swiftly. Is there any possibility whatsoever that God (who’s ways do not change) is perhaps using this pestilence to (again) motivate people to prepare and repent? Which is the Lord likely more pleased with: the prayer to end a pestilence, or the prayer that people will turn from their wicked ways, repent and turn to Him so He will heal our lands (as He’s promised)?

Others profess belief in the Savior, but are quick to minimize or neglect any recognition whatsoever of His healing powers. When was the last time you saw someone mentioning true, powerful blessings which could easily eradicate the pestilence on the spot? After all, if two men can do so over someone with colon cancer, shouldn’t the same method work for someone stricken with coronavirus?

As we read throughout the scriptures, we never see Yeshua quarantining Himself from sick and sinner alike.

We never see Him saying “IF it’s God’s will, you’ll be healed.”

We never see Him saying “God is aware of you” or giving a generic ”any blessing you stand in need of.”

No. He was simple, direct and in command of any situation, from devils to diseases, vulgarity to viruses.

So what do you see today? Do you, who have taken upon yourself Christ’s name, proudly and unashamedly proclaim the power of God? Or do you see and publicly praise messages which neglect mentioning the word “repent” (Isaiah 30:9-13) and deny the power of God (Mormon 8:28)?

Who among us has the faith to do as Jesus did, as depicted in the videos below...to bless as He blessed...even those considered the most physically and spiritually unclean and diseased among us?



BE the Gift of Hope


In my previous post, I mentioned how this blog’s Facebook group is devoting this month to an in-depth review of several spiritual gifts you may have heard of or suspected, but never really learned much about (for details, here’s a link to the post).

In a recent post I consider congruent with the Gift of Hope, author John Eldredge said this:
“Ground yourself in Jesus. The world is reeling; it wants to pull you down with it. Fear and anxiety are more contagious than any virus. This is our chance to shine. Peter tells us to be ready to offer the reason for the hope we have to anyone who asks us (1 Peter 3:15). He's assuming that in times of crisis, the friends of Jesus will be so rooted in him, so grounded in his goodness, that they will have a visibly different reaction to those in the world around them. This is our time to offer hope!” (You can find more here: https://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/john/peace-midst-storm)
Might I suggest that what the Lord is truly asking of His disciples these days isn’t just fear, and believe it or not, it’s not just faith. It’s superfaith -- the kind the Brother of Jared had -- which pierced and cracked open the veil.

It’s time not just for prayers, but also power which flows not through another mortal to you, but instead, it flows directly from God to His true believers, both male and female. Spiritual gifts know no gender.

It’s a time for knowing not just that “God is aware of you”, “God loves you”, and “God watches over you” (Come on! We’ve known these things since we were in Sunbeams)! Instead, it’s a time to obtain a personal knowledge, independent of anyone else, that Yeshua is a real person, who laughs, cries, gets mad and loves life more than possibly anybody who’s ever walked the earth. Oh yeah...and that He would love nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- more than to establish a personal relationship with you.

Everything the enemy tries to throw at you is a sign as to how much God has available to you. The spirit of fear is nothing compared to the spirit of God. More powerful than a thousand lukewarm Christians, more powerful than the coronavirus in your city, county or state, is the one who will stand for God in a day of darkness.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
YOU get the chance to stand for God in a day when the world is against God. What a high, powerful honor!

I invite you to embrace this opportunity...while you still have the chance.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

"Greater Works"


Your Potential

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (John 14:12)
Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?

The Savior’s miracles were real. His promise to those who believe in Him are just as real: YOU can do the same and even greater works as He performed.

Your Obstacle


In an address given at a Regional Representatives Seminar, March 30 1990, Elder Boyd K Packer said,
“In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church. You can not appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman. Both Alma and Helaman told of the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today. Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur ‘in the space of not many years.’ In one instance it took only six years." (See Helaman 6:32, 7:6, 11:26.)”
Twenty years later, In the April 2010 General Conference, he also said,
"We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be." 
Then, in the April 2016 General Conference, President Nelson said,
"Recently, Wendy and I were in a meeting where the organist was poised and ready to play the opening hymn. His eyes were on the music, and his fingers were on the keys. He began pressing the keys, but there was no sound. I whispered to Wendy, “He has no power.” I reasoned that something had stopped the flow of electrical power to that organ.
Well, brethren, in like manner, I fear that there are too many men who have been given the authority of the priesthood but who lack priesthood power because the flow of power has been blocked by sins such as laziness, dishonesty, pride, immorality, or preoccupation with things of the world.
I fear that there are too many priesthood bearers who have done little or nothing to develop their ability to access the powers of heaven. I worry about all who are impure in their thoughts, feelings, or actions or who demean their wives or children, thereby cutting off priesthood power.
I fear that too many have sadly surrendered their agency to the adversary and are saying by their conduct, “I care more about satisfying my own desires than I do about bearing the Savior’s power to bless others.”
I fear, brethren, that some among us may one day wake up and realize what power in the priesthood really is and face the deep regret that they spent far more time seeking power over others or power at work than learning to exercise fully the power of God. President George Albert Smith taught that “we are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation; but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter." 
From 1990 to 2016 -- and I would presume until today -- priesthood authorities have given us a steady drumbeat of warnings that we lack the power, even the willpower, the sheer desire, to access the powers of heaven. Since 2012, I've spoken frequently on this blog about the idols which both male and female church members have placed at the forefront of their lives. Additionally, many of us suffer from spiritual AIDS -- Apathy, Ignorance, Denial and Stupidity. We can no longer afford the luxury of saying "the devil MADE ME do it," because WE have chosen to distance ourselves from God.

All of these circumstances were foretold by Isaiah and several Book of Mormon prophets. These men foretold tremendous temporal and eternal consequences for those who were warned of their mediocre belief in Jesus. The warnings have been so numerous, and so pronounced, that the condemned will have zero chance to defend their apathy.

Your Invitation


As you may be aware, this blog and podcast has an accompanying Facebook group. There, we are focused on one topic and one topic only: Yeshua Hamasiach, or Jesus, the Messiah.

I'll be honest -- it's not easy to get into this group. That's because we ask subscribers to participate -- anything from giving a post a thumbs up to posting their own insights and testimonies. Because of our singular focus and level of activity, it's a truly unique, spirit-filled place.

This month (March, 2020), our Facebook group is discussing the "greater works" of (John 14:12. There, away from the microphones of fast and testimony meetings, away from the blogs and podcasts we've all become accustomed to, we are discussing how Christ is proving true to His word among many good, humble, unassuming, notoriety-shy Saints who are beyond mere believers. They seek nothing -- NOTHING -- but to know His will and do His work...anytime, anywhere, with anyone.

This month, you'll learn about those walking among us who have laid their hands on another and commanded cancer to leave the person's body. And it did.

They have raised the dead.

They have exercised discernment and seership.

They have stood amidst angels and been touched by them.

They have stood before Satan himself, and cast him from their midst.

Like our Savior who walked on water, they have even defied the laws of physics in the service of He who created the heavens and the earth.

It seems to me that church leaders are continuing, if not intensifying, their condemnation of those who take the things of Christ lightly, who would rather spend time looking down upon the things of a telestial earth than looking up to the greater miracles we can perform in the name of Yeshua.

I invite you to turn your heart away from the telestial to the celestial, the temporary to the eternal, from Babylon towards Yeshua...while you still can.

More specifically, I invite you to click the button below, subscribe to our Facebook group and dialogue with us about these greater things. The posts avoid the weirdness you see among many self-proclaimed teachers and doctrinal extremists, and are rooted in the holy scriptures as well as the sacred experiences of those who lived them.
"...He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do..." ((John 14:12)




Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 5: Envision the Real Yeshua


Where were you when JFK was assassinated? Where were you on 9/11? Where were you...on The Perfect Day?

Chances are, it’s your heart’s sincerest desire to see Yeshua. To be in His presence, to see His face, to touch His nailprints. To bathe His feet with your tears.

It IS the Perfect Day. A day that will mean more to you than any other date on the calendar. A date that, when contemplated, brings tears to your eyes. For you, it’s undoubtedly the holiest day of your life. The date you were reborn.

It’s also a date when you discover something about He who created the oceans, the trees, the platypus and freckles: He has an awesome personality. He loves -- and I mean LOVES -- to add life and light to every word, every syllable, He speaks.

But there’s something else about meeting Him, dialoguing with Him, just...BEING with Him, that will endear Him to you in ways you hadn’t even considered.

It’s His personality.

It’s no secret, it’s no mistake, that Yeshua is called the light and life of the world. His personality is unlike any you have ever encountered in your life, because chances are, all the people you’ve met have been or are mortals. But His personality is that of a God. And it is so bright, so full of life, so technicolor, that you will be forever changed by it.

The importance of knowing Yeshua


Unfortunately, and as I’ve said several times on this blog, it’s been my observation that most of us know about Yeshua, but very, very few actually know Him. And that’s a problem, because no matter high up your church calling is, and no matter how spiritual you may be, if you don’t know Him, you will be cast away from Him:
“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)
D&C 112:23-26 also says:
"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 my opinion, the Lord here is discussing the first ones to be sifted out and cast aside at the beginning of the pre-millennial tribulations: He starts in HIS house, and first among those in the house are they who profess to know Yeshua’s name, yet don’t know Him.

Again, we see a distinction made between those who know His name and those who actually know Him.

So with those quotes in mind, let me ask you: How well do you know the Lord?

Yeshua’s personality


So, if you don’t know Yeshua, where do you start? Luckily, Joseph Smith had that answer:
“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.
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)
The scriptures also give us some insight into Yeshua’s personality. On both sides of the world, Yeshua said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 3 Nephi 9:18).

Now, when I hear that someone’s the light of the world, I don’t envision someone who’s dark, gloomy, moody, always depressed, despondent, low-spirited or sad. Neither would He be emotionless, passionless, expressionless, cold, unexpressive, aloof, flat or just plain old spaced out.

But that is precisely the image of the Savior we have been and continue to be continually exposed to.

Here’s a fun little exercise: Which words match which pictures? Draw a line between the words on the left (synonyms for “joyous”) and the pictures on the right (which are pictures commonly found on websites and social media). Feel free to take your time as you work through this.

beaming
blissful
bright
bubbly
buoyant
cheerful
cheery
content
contented
delighted
ebullient
ecstatic
effervescent
elated
exuberant
genial
glad
gleeful
good-humored
gratified
grinning
happy
hopeful
in good spirits
in high spirits
jolly
jovial
joyful
joyous
jubilant
laughing
lighthearted
merry
on cloud nine/seven
optimistic
overjoyed
positive
radiant
smiling
sunny
thrilled
upbeat

So, how did you do? How many lines were you able to connect between the words on the left and the pictures on the right?

Why is it that some of our most popular images of the Savior depict Him as emotionless, dispassionate, perturbed, sad or mad? Could those be true depictions of our Savior?

If you found this a little challenging, let’s start over, beginning with some quotes regarding Yeshua’s true personality:
  • “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.” (Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, “Seek Ye Earnestly,” 1970, p. 275)
  • “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.” (Elder Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 4:222)
  • “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.” (Elder Heber C. Kimball, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, June 7, 1857)
  • "The Lord wishes to establish a closer and more intimate relationship between Himself and us" (Pres. Lorenzo Snow, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Aug. 15, 1882, p. 1)
  • “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)
  • “Jehovah … talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner....." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 171)
Now, based on this new information, let’s try this again. Which words match which pictures? Same words, different pictures (to match these descriptions of Yeshua’s personality):

beaming
blissful
bright
bubbly
buoyant
cheerful
cheery
content
contented
delighted
ebullient
ecstatic
effervescent
elated
exuberant
genial
glad
gleeful
good-humored
gratified
grinning
happy
hopeful
in good spirits
in high spirits
jolly
jovial
joyful
joyous
jubilant
laughing
lighthearted
merry
on cloud nine/seven
optimistic
overjoyed
positive
radiant
smiling
sunny
thrilled
upbeat

As latter-day saints, we are exposed to a curriculum, for the most part, which emphasizes Yeshua’s teachings and what He did for us, and not so much about how Jesus felt and the emotions that He had. The fact that He was and is the “light of the world” (John 8:12; 3 Nephi 9:18) is undeniable. The fact that we have forgotten that truth is inexcusable.

Clearly, we latter day saints need to change our orientations, and fast. Elder Holland stated,
"The Lord has probably spoken enough . . . 'comforting words' to supply the whole universe, it would seem, and yet we see all around us unhappy Latter-day Saints, worried Latter-day Saints, and gloomy Latter-day Saints into whose troubled hearts not one of these innumerable consoling words seems to be allowed to enter. . . . On that very night [of Gethsemane], the night of the greatest suffering the world has ever known or ever will know, [the Savior] said, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' (John 14: 27). I submit to you that [this] may be one of the Savior's commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Happy Like Jesus”, D. Kelly Ogden, Author)

Decision time


None of us know when the Lord will start implementing D&C 20:37. We don’t know when bad things will be happening “upon my house”. But the scriptures make one thing pretty clear: you procrastinate turning to the Lord at your own peril. If other things take a higher priority, a higher precedence than Yeshua, then don’t be surprised when you’re found undeserving of inclusion into His Terrestrial Kingdom. I like what Sheri Dew once said: "It simply isn't possible to be a disciple of someone you don't know." (BYU Women’s Conference address given May 1, 2014)
“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13)
I invite you to get to know Yeshua. As you show interest in Him, He’ll show greater interest in you (D&C 88:63). Here are four easy things you can do:

1. Start with something easy. 

Scrub your home of images depicting a Savior in a way that’s incompatible with what the scriptures say about Him and perpetuate a distorted view of Him. Replace those pictures with ones showing a Jesus who’s the light and life of the world.

Now, I need to make one thing clear. I don’t think for a second that Jesus was smiling, joyous and gleeful 100% of His mortal life. The scriptures tell us that Yeshua was also a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Yet I do think that He had a naturally cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured disposition. How could He not, with the spirit of the Father accompanying Him during His mission?

But replacing pictures is only the beginning. We also need to replace these distorted impressions we’ve had of Him which exist in our minds and souls, for possibly decades, with new ones which are more accurate. This will likely require some time and effort. But it’s been my experience, and the experience of dozens more I know personally, that the payoff far exceeds what you’ll have invested into these efforts.

2. Do something fun.

Watch some fictional TV episodes which portray Yeshua in a whole new -- and far better -- light.

I’ve long been a big fan of the 1999 “Jesus” miniseries, starring Jeremy Sisto in the title role. However, there is a new video series out about Yeshua. It’s called “The Chosen,” and it’s by far the best video production I’ve ever seen which depicts a Savior you’ll always want to be around. Although it’s not produced by the church, many church members are involved in the series, including its executive producer.

Get to know the series via its Youtube channel here, then download its mobile app in the Apple or Google Play stores (which allows you to watch all eight episodes for free, and even stream to TV). You can also order the DVDs. No matter how you watch it, you’ll experience a brand new -- and far more accurate -- Yeshua.

3. Show God you’re serious about knowing Him.

Probably the best book I’ve ever read that effectively addresses Christ's personality is John Eldredge's book (and Youtubes of) "Beautiful Outlaw". Here are the videos, in order:

Beautiful Outlaw

Overviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_J6J4GICU
Chapter 1: The Playfulness of Godhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmUK0-mwMsk
Chapter 2: The Missing Essential -- His Personalityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIZqExZGOUo
Chapter 3: Is Jesus Really Playful?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jaopP-8eSY
Chapter 4: Fierce Intentionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0J8umh8sls
Chapter 5: The Most Human Face of Allhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aFXDGAChPE
Chapter 6: Extravagant Generosityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHPiz6uoIhk
Chapter 7: Disruptive Honestyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUhnRzfqlso
Chapter 8: A Scandalous Freedomhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcKWMx_X1Y0
Chapter 9: Cunninghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz2OoCCqwUI
Chapter 10: Humilityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkuZHKwuM5Y
Chapter 11: Truenesshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqfW9NBbzxQ
Chapter 12: Beautifulhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh42R_MW-GM
Chapter 13: Loving Jesushttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYfOblPC_q0
Chapter 14: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- With Youhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT5eqwjpEyQ
Chapter 15: Clearing Away the Religious Foghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9WfgpLFeFY
Chapter 16: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- Encountershttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z60dN2g94k
Chapter 17: Letting His Life Fill Yourshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tehcCQXuhLo
Epilogue: One Last Thoughthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJkguqEt7Ho

4. Hang out with people who are actively seeking to know Him.

A little over two years ago, we started a Facebook group which solely focuses on better knowing and being like Yeshua. To our knowledge, it’s the only one of its kind which is based on the latter-day restored gospel. Because of its focus and moderated dialogues, many people who aren’t even on Facebook to their friends and family just subscribe to this group, and that’s it.

I couldn’t be more proud of our subscribers, and especially the group’s admins and moderators. Everybody in this group enthusiastically participates and wants to help each other get closer to Yeshua.

I invite you to join our group. Just click here to get the ball rolling!