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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 12: Dialogue with Yeshua Every Day of Your Life



You know, I've been doing this blog for eight and a half years. I've been doing the podcast for almost four years. And it just dawned on me the other day that this blog could be considered a blog about the last days. I mean, the very last days before He returns.

Unfortunately, there are many in our church who believe that the tribulations are many years, or decades, in the future. 

There are some who believe that Christians will be raptured away or LDS church members will be called out prior to these tribulations so they can somehow side-step or circumvent what's coming until the very last minute. Thus, they put their trust in the arm of flesh to save them.
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 237-38). 
Still others believe that they can just go about their lives as usual, and essentially ignore what the prophets have said about this time, right now. 
"They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble." (D&C 101:7)
I've blogged about this before, and still believe these mindsets are dangerous because they invite complacency, smugness, laxity, laziness and worse. 
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)
I believe that as the world continues -- and in fact, greatly accelerates -- its descent into total physical and spiritual darkness, we will be left with some choices to make:
  • Choice #1: Just give up and give in. As the worst of the tribulations descend upon us, essentially expedite your return home. In my opinion, many will choose this option. 
  • Choice #2: Stay and fear man. When it comes to picking sides, those who choose this option will defer to and fear man, government, mobs -- whoever wields the most power and can offer a little food, water and safety. Sure, you might live a little longer, but your temporal and eternal lives will be filled with torment and pain. In my opinion, many will choose this option, too. 
  • Choice #3: Stay and fear God, not man. IMO, fewer will choose this option. Despite this choice, they will still be asked to lay down their lives as martyrs. 
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:6; emphasis mine)

The Need to Hear God


Yet I believe there is a fourth option. It's composed of those who not only fear God (not man), but also hear God. Thus, when God invites a person to bless their home so it will be invisible to the mob walking past it, they hear that directive, and it is done. When God invites them to walk to a hill four miles away, they hear it, and obey. When God invites them to take four steps forward, then two steps to the left, then to wait there while crouching down for three minutes, they hearken, are safe, and praise God. 

Such circumstances require and demand that we hear God directly. Only God can give you these directives. Only God can give you immediate, person-to-person guidance, no matter where you are and without any means of communication with leaders. Only God, the Holy One of Israel, is mighty to save you.

This is why Yeshua said (emphasis mine)
  • "And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me." (D&C 84:52)
  • "And upon them that hearken not to the voice of the Lord shall be fulfilled that which was written by the prophet Moses, that they should be cut off from among the people." (D&C 133:63)
  • "And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved." (D&C 45:2)
Conversely, those who do hear His voice will be spared:
"And even so will I gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice." (D&C 33:6)
God will invite those who hear Him to survive the coming tribulations and be ambassadors of hope amidst a world gone criminally insane. Because they personally know God and His voice, and they're in the habit of instantly hearkening to it, it will be apparent that they are true men and women of God. And it will be astounding to many that -- just as the Lord's apostles were composed of ordinary men and women -- many of these people will have been church members but had no title in front of their names. Today, they sit on the back rows of sacrament meetings, always smiling, always volunteering to help others, always testifying of the goodness and greatness of God. There's something about them that's, well, just different than everybody else. There's an inner light within them that just can't be explained. And that's OK. Their time has not yet come.

They will (metaphorically) be human candles of the Lord. And as they grow in numbers and capabilities, their light will grow brighter and brighter until The Perfect Day (D&C 50:24). As mankind is battered, bruised and beaten by the tribulations, they will be there to encourage us, strengthen us, empower us to also become candles of the Lord. Zion will be built down below, one person at a time, without hands.
"For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness." (Psalm 18:28)
Such people have existed in our past, and exist even today.


Walking Candles of the Lord from our Past


There's a belief that God only talks to those who have been baptized and confirmed church members. So if you haven't been baptized, then sorry, you're out of luck. This is ludicrous, because newspaper headlines galore prove that many who have been baptized have ignored the promptings to not commit heinous crimes, yet they did. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that in all the decades I've been a member, I've never known a church member who was as devoted to God as the non-member Brother Lawrence.

In Part 10 of this series ("Why You Need to Dialogue with Yeshua Daily"), I introduced you to Brother Lawrence. A common man, he lived around 350 years ago. He had no degrees, no riches nor a prestigious family. He worked in a monastery around monks and priests who were sought after by the people. Yet unlike many (even most, and perhaps all) of the people, he fell in love with God, with the Word and with others.

Brother Lawrence wasn’t able to become a minister; he wasn’t qualified at that time. Most of the time he worked in the kitchen, in the garden and around the place cleaning it up. But all day long, Bro. Lawrence talked with Yeshua and allowed Yeshua to change him.

After a while, a rather strange thing happened. The people who normally came to talk with one of the monks or priests started approaching him. They wanted to know what he thought about this or that. 

By the time Brother Lawrence was an old man, he was described as having "looks rough in appearance, and gentle by manners." Father de Beaufort recalled that "Lawrence was open, eliciting confidence, letting you feel you could tell him anything…Once you got past the rough exterior you discovered unusual wisdom, a freedom beyond the reach of the ordinary lay brother".

Yet the monastery he worked at was better known as the place where one could hear the wisdom of Brother Lawrence and read the writings of Brother Lawrence than it was the place that one went to talk to a learned priest or monk. His character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. ("Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God", Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1994, p.xx-xxi).

Brother Lawrence passed away on February 12, 1691 in Paris, France. Although he died in relative obscurity, his teachings lived on in the compilation of his words (his phrase "To give the all for the all" was a well-known phrase in 18th century France) as a book, The Practice of the Presence of God. The conversations which formed the basis of this book had been conducted and recorded by a notable cleric, the Abbé Joseph de Beaufort, who compiled this work after Brother Lawrence died.



Here's what I have listed as Brother Lawrence's "parting thoughts":
"Think often on GOD, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone, who came to visit you: why then must GOD be neglected? Do not then forget Him, but think on Him often, adore Him continually, live and die with Him; this is the glorious employment of a Christian; in a word, this is our profession, if we do not know it we must learn it."
This is a man who not only said, "resolve to give the all for the All," but also practiced what he preached. Read what he said and did. He devoted every moment of his life to God. EVERY.  MOMENT. And in return, the man walked and talked with God. And everybody knew it.


Walking Candles of the Lord from our Present


There are some who believe that God the Father and His Son Yeshua are so far above us in terms of their powers, that the idea of really having a conversation where you're chatting with deity is a lofty goal. Yet they ignore what Brother Joseph said:
"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." (Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, IL Conference, April 7, 1844; emphasis mine)
There are also others who believe that if God does speak conversationally, it would only be with leaders. Yet such opinions are without merit, for it was Peter who said, "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). General authority statement after general authority statement reminds us that God reaches out to all of us, and seeks to develop a close, intimate relationship with all of us, regardless of our family genealogy, calling, race, age or gender. Why else does He use bride / bridegroom / wedding imageries throughout the gospels? Because that's how close He wants to be with you in a spiritual sense.


“My greatest lessons have come from my times that I have talked with Christ. At times it is verbal and other times the communication is through images. The first time I heard him was when I was walking home from church when I was 20 and he told me I should consider going on a mission. I will be honest I argued over this one but guess who ended up going and knew why about 9 months in. Then I had one of my greatest spiritual experiences.
My conversations were only now and then for the next several years until I realized I could have them all the time. He wants to walk and talk with me.
I have always wondered why it is such a hot topic in church. I mentioned in gospel doctrine one day what I had learned about a particular topic when I was talking with God and the teacher couldn't stand that I said that. He wouldn't let me finish talking. I have raised my kids to talk with God. When I taught seminary, I taught them to know him like a best friend and to talk to him and be open to him answering them.”
“I’m one of those who was never taught to have a personal relationship with the Lord. It’s really only been the last 2 years that I have become close to Him. We chat all day long. He is my constant companion. Yeshua dictates these poems to me most every day. I can’t imagine now going even a day without “being “ with Him.”
“I talk to Christ every day, all day long. Sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud. He answers: I hear it in my mind. This began happening about two years ago when I read John Pontius books and realized there was so much more out there than I was accessing. My relationship with Christ is my favorite and most beautiful thing about my life. I love it and won't give it up. There isn't a possession that means a thing to me. There isn't a person on earth greater in my esteem than Him. If he asks me to give a guy on the street $10 I do it - and I always, always get the followup affirmation of feeling the Spirit tingling all over my body and my chest warming, and a heartfelt "Thank You" in my ear.”

Attention = Affection


When I was in my twenties, a friend of mine taught me a wonderful concept. If I wanted a serious girlfriend, I needed to spend time with her. Quality time. Memorable time. He said, "Attention equals affection." That's so true. 

Even Yeshua said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21). He also said "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). 

You just can't expect to see God if you don't spend time with Him. Quantity time. Quality time. You have to not only know Him, but also have an "intimate experiential relationship with God." 
"The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.137)
Time.

Experience.

Careful and ponderous thoughts.
"Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act." (Psalm 37:7)
And act He will. When He does, it will be "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).


To Know Him is to Love Him. And to Love Him is to Walk and Talk with Him.


It's been said that Yeshua's desire to manifest Himself to His people is greater than their desire to see Him. If that's true, then why is He not manifesting Himself more to His people? Perhaps the problem isn't with Him, but with us. 

To be honest, many people treat deity like a drive-by God. They want everything in a hurry. Or they treat God like a vending machine. In goes our obedience, our temple attendance and our tithing checks, and out comes your Second Comforter, your Calling & Election, or whatever it is YOU are wanting.

The word "know" in Hebrew is yada. Yada means "having an intimate experiential relationship with God." 

That was the experience of the prophet Enoch, who walked with God. That was the experience of the prophet Noah, who walked with God. That was the experience of the prophet Abraham, who was called the friend of God. That was the experience of the prophet Moses, who stood in God's presence. 

Again, God is no respecter of persons. What He blessed with these men, He will bless you with as well. And if you can walk in the same manner as these four patriarchs, then it is absolutely possible for you to walk like Enoch. It is absolutely possible for you to be a friend with God, like Abraham. It is absolutely possible for you to work with God like Noah. It is absolutely possible for you to know God face to face like Moses.

The key is knowing God, getting into an intimate experiential relationship with Him. 

How do you do that? 

I'm not big on checklists. In fact, I despise them. But I have seen four common characteristics among those who know Him best:

1. They seek Him. They want to know the REAL Yeshua HaMashiach. They study the scriptures, read books (like Beautiful Outlaw) and watch media (like The Chosen) that depict not a lofty, aloof savior, but a relatable, best friend who seeks to bless all that He comes into contact with.

2. They dialogue with Him. Like Brother Lawrence, they don't end or close their morning prayers. They keep them going throughout the day. And they know, by experience, that prayer isn't a monologue, but a dialogue. And these regular dialogues with Yeshua are not only the highlights of their days, but are also catalysts for transformation. These people have this glow, this presence, about them...because He is with them.

3. They hunt for opportunities to emulate Him. Being with Him isn't enough. Not by light years. They want to be like Him. They want to teach as He teaches, bless as He blesses, love as He loves. They are, if anything, impatiently passionate to be like Him. This is essentially seeking Him on a level very few are serious about, because they clear their calendars, their online time, their TV watching, and in fact their egos -- anything and everything that points to themselves. They will sacrifice their own self-interests, their own wills and anything that's valuable to them in their lives. Whatever it takes -- the gut-wrenching lows and highs, the agonizing descents and ascents -- to be like Him.

4. Repeat.

As you can imagine, eyeball-to-eyeball, first-hand encounters with the Savior do not last forever. He appears, you dialogue, and at some point, He is gone. Ask the Brother of Jared, Moses and Joseph Smith -- they'll agree. Second Comforter experiences are finite.

But for those who seek Yeshua's common companionship on a daily basis, their interactions with Him are not finite, but infinite. They're frequent, continuous, transformative. And in them, you discover for yourself, independent of any other person, that these words (based on Isaiah 43:1) were written for you:

Seek this dialogue with Him. Crave it. Yearn for it. Desire it more than anything else in your life.

I did. And the results…well, they’ve been far and away beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now it’s YOUR turn…YOUR moment. 

He’s just waiting – RIGHT NOW -- to spend it with you.



 

5 comments:

  1. I have just found this blog. Love it! I can vouch for everything written here on this post. I'm looking forward to continuing in this journey with you.

    Your postings are reminiscent of things written about by Rob Smith. This blog, in my view, resembles, in quality,the kind of blog he said he recommended a friend to produce. (He wouldn't tell me the name.) I wonder if this is the blog! If it's not, it might as well be! You have given us all precious truths to ponder and apply. Thank you.

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  2. This was great. It was what I really needed to hear today. I am looking forward to reading your "interview" with Bro. Lawrence.

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  3. The Practice of the Presence of God in Modern English by Marshall Davis is my favorite translation.
    Another book well worth our study is Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
    Christ is not in a galaxy far far away needing to be coaxed to draw near but is already right here within each of us waiting to be invited into the discussion.

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  4. Thank you for the link to The Practice of the Presence of God. An amazing read.

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  5. I posted this on 10/7/20. Included in it was this line: "Choice #3: Stay and fear God, not man. IMO, fewer will choose this option. Despite this choice, they will still be asked to lay down their lives as martyrs."

    On 10/12/20, someone posted the following to the Latter Day Saints Dream Dreams Facebook group:

    "This is my first time posting one of my dreams. I'm a little nervous as this dream can be unsettling. I was asking for Heavenly Father to show me something that I needed to know, and I'm still pondering exactly what I need to learn from this as I feel a lot of what I dreamed I've known about from listening to other's dreams.
    It was nighttime and I was staying in a female college dorm. I'm not sure if I was there temporarily or living there. I was pregnant in the dream, which I am, and I didn't know where my husband or two young children were. All of a sudden the building was on fire and the words "manufactured crisis" came into my mind. The building was overrun by gun-carrying military-looking personnel guiding us to evacuate a certain way out of the building. I was able to look outside of the window and I saw charter buses and immediately knew they were there to drive us straight to FEMA camps. I was able to escape through a secret closet that led me into a families apartment where I briefly met a young girl.
    I can't remember clearly where the dream went from there, but next thing I know I'm in line at the FEMA camp. A female medical worker notices I'm pregnant and brings me into a back room for a prenatal checkup. She was kind and I knew she was a good person. She said because I was pregnant they might spare my life. I'm brought back into the room where the other girls are in line and a man yells out, "Denounce Jesus Christ and you can live!" All of the girls shook their heads and said no. As the men were walking towards the door I yelled, "Jesus Christ is our Savior and King!" The men shook their heads, walked out and immediately sent normal-looking men in street clothes to come in and kill us all. There were 3 men that came in carrying gardening tools, which was really unusual. The man who came towards me to kill me had a 2-pronged gardening tool and aimed it at me. I didn't feel anything. At that point I do not know if I died but after that the men were all gone and myself and all of the girls were in the FEMA camp living there peacefully together, trying to find a way to shower, get changes of clothes, etc."

    I admire the person who had this dream. She commented, "I was amazed at how this dream didn't scare me at all. I felt no fear. I'm hoping I can face the things to come without fear as well!"

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