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Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Gift of Healing Part 7: Gift of Healing Pre-Requisites

In my last post, we examined to methods of healing officially endorsed by the church: medical intervention by a licensed practitioner and priesthood blessings. 

While both are commonly known and relied upon by members, both have significant shortcomings. Even President Nelson blasted priesthood holders for their lack of priesthood power. It was enough for him to express profound disappointment, as well as an admonition to stake presidents and bishops to train priesthood holders on how to give blessings. Yet the problem persists, and entrenches itself further into latter-day saint culture.

There remains one last, officially-recommended option for medical and health care: "exercising faith."

"OK, great! How do we do that," you ask?

Hearken to God

We latter-day saints are used to numbered to-do lists, bullet points, checklists and other formulaic methods to accomplish a goal. For example, we pay our tithing, don't drink tea, faithfully go to church, work on genealogy, and check off all the boxes we can so we can be perceived as being perfectly obedient. Here's what my friend John Pontius said about this:
"It is not uncommon for someone to make a list of everything they feel they should be doing in their lives, then select a few to begin working on. As wholesome as this sounds, it will only create feelings of impotence and frustration. Read all the scriptures, and nowhere is there an account of someone achieving spiritual power by making lists of needed improvements, and then working the list! They all did it by obedience to the voice of the Lord. You must also, there is no other way. Why is it more desirable to be obedient to a list than to the voice of God? Why would we try to accomplish a divine task without divine assistance? 

The Lord knows the exact course our lives should take, which sin should be eliminated first, which weakness should be addressed first, and which blessings, we will need to accomplish these things. There is no need for us to create a list He already possesses. Ours could never be as complete as His, or as gentle and caring. If we yield ourselves to His direction He will show us what to do first, and give us the power to do it. He will direct us, step by step, all along the way home. 

What is it you must obey? It is every word which proceeds forth from the mouth of God. It is the voice of the Spirit, which constitutes the words which are proceeding forth from the mouth of God unto you. Notice that I didn't say the commandments? This is not because the commandments are to be ignored. Obedience to the commandments by sheer determination and willpower has its reward, but it can be overwhelming. When you set your life in obedience to the voice of God, you will naturally, joyfully, almost without notice, be obeying all the commandments-every single one of them. 

How many commandments are there? If you include instructions to grow a garden, repair your fences, and paint your barn, then add all the written commandments-there are thousands. You won't live long enough to obey them all. There are just too many barns that need painting in your life. So how do you ever become totally obedient when you can't possibly get to every barn? It is simple, really. Listen to the voice of the Lord, and He will direct you. When you are totally obedient to the will of God, you are totally obedient-even if a barn or two remains unpainted. The reason you are totally obedient, even when a few things remain undone, is because you have an obedient spirit. If, and when, He sends you out to paint the barn you will obey. If He never sends you to paint the barn, you will also obey. You simply are obedient. In the end, the Lord will not judge us according to our barns, He will judge us according to our heart. When our heart is flawlessly obedient, we are judged as being flawlessly obedient, even if some obvious things never get done." (John Pontius, "Following the Light of Christ")
Thus, being obedient and faithful (and especially "exercising faith") isn't necessarily a matter of checking off boxes. Instead, it involves being obedient to what the Lord is telling you in our mind and heart:
"Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation;" (D&C 8:2-3)
This is where many get tripped up. Many are so single-mindedly focused on their checkboxes that they don't hear the voice of the Lord. Not only do they not hear His voice, but they don't even have a relationship with Him. Ask them when the last time was when the Savior made them laugh, or moved them to say an encouraging word to a stranger, or inspired them to say a prayer for someone suffering right there on the spot (as opposed to just saying you'll do so later on), and they get quiet pretty darn fast.
"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." (Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, IL Conference, April 7, 1844)
“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)
In my opinion, 99.9% of "exercising faith" involves hearkening to God -- in other words, hearing God and immediately acting on what you're told.

"OK, great! What boxes do I check off to do that," you ask?

Arrrrrggghhhh!  😅

To see God in action, you gotta step out of the box

A friend recently messaged me about how they corresponded with another well-known blogger about a spiritual experience. The blogger discounted the validity of my friend's experience, saying they didn’t believe that kind of thing happened anymore. 

And yet my friend's experience was real. 

Quite a few people (even accomplished bloggers / authors) often get this notion in their heads that something can only happen one way, or the way they've read in the scriptures, or the way that they themselves experienced. 
"Receiving personal revelation can only happen a certain way, and if it didn't, it's invalid."

"Baptism of Fire can only happen a certain way, and if it didn't, it's invalid."

"The Second Comforter can only happen a certain way, and if it didn't, it's invalid."

"The Gift of Healing can only happen a certain way, and if it didn't, it's invalid."
What a bunch of horse manure! Who are we to determine the validity of others' experiences, or that God does things ONLY in a certain way?

The fact is, God can do whatever He wants however He wants whenever He wants. 

Case in point: The New Testament is filled with stories of how Yeshua did the unorthodox, the unanticipated, and was even considered not only a maverick, but also a rebel. When you read the archeological accounts of Yeshua, you'll see that behavior exhibited in even more ways. I mean c'mon, seriously? A Jewish rabbi? Speaking with a Samaritan woman? ALONE? And she's had five husbands? You wanna talk about doing something off the beaten path! How about a Jewish rabbi forgiving a woman caught in adultery? Changing water into wine? Feeding 5,000+ with a few loaves and fishes? Telling church authorities that they're vipers? Healing a Centurion's child from long distance? Raising the dead???!!!

Do you see my point? 

Yeshua is THE Beautiful Outlaw! And if you're intending to be His disciple, then should you be any different? No.

If you want to be in sync with Yeshua, then you better get used to different. The unorthodox. Even the rebellious. If you let Him, He WILL challenge many things you've long considered fact. 

And to many people, those facts, those truths, can be considered unfamiliar, weird, unorthodox and yes, even dangerous.

Let me make myself crystal clear: God lives out of the box. So should you. Wanna find God? Wanna see God in action? Then identify the traditions of men, then say bye-bye to them

Many avenues to healing which the Lord will introduce to you can and will be considered unorthodox. Keep yourself in a box, and you may not be healing very much at all.

When you start putting God in a box, the only person you're really boxing up is yourself.


"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)

In my 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 members: 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).

This is a very real habit / tradition / mindset in our church which is amplified and reinforced year after year. For example, every holiday season, I see hundreds of Facebook posts of people virtue signaling ("the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue") and humble bragging ("making an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement with the actual intention of drawing attention to something of which one is proud"). 

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over
the sound of how awesome I am."
In the holiday season of 2019, I told the story of a man who 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 was validated and perpetuated. Another person also posted, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has made the challenge to kick off the Christmas season with a world-wide day of service. Our family and some AWESOME friends collected kitchen kits and other kits for refugees in Bangladesh." (source)

How can you be filled with true spiritual light when your inner (and therefore public) spotlight is so firmly focused on yourself?

Mark this as fact: You'll never be able to hear nor hearken to the voice of God -- and therefore, never be able to exercise the Gift of Healing -- over the sound of how awesome you are.

A Universe of Possibilities

Once you've demonstrated to God that you're spiritually living "outside the box" by having successfully identified and thrown away the traditions of men (which are often mingled with scripture)...

Once you've acknowledged your nothingness before God...

Once you've checked your motives and have essentially "lost yourself" with an eye single to the glory of God, and

Once you're hearing His voice and relying on Him instead of a mortal-made checklist...

then a universe of possibilities open up to you via the Gift of Healing.

We'll discuss those in my next post in this series.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Gift of Healing Part 6: The Limitations of Medical Science and Priesthood Blessings

As I mentioned in a previous post (here), and per the church's General Handbook of Instructions, we members have three official options for healing: (1) competent medical help, (2) exercising faith and (3) priesthood blessings.

The handbook defines what church leaders believe are unacceptable avenues for healing: those which are ethically, spiritually or legally questionable. I agree; you can't bring about righteous ends using unrighteous means. 

The Shortcomings of "Medical Help"

The Handbook then gives us a little more detail in the three options. The first, concerning "medical help," provides some common-sense advice: Consult a medical professional who's competent in their area of specialization.

I agree. If you have a broken leg, earache, heart palpitations, kidney stones, or one of a bajillion medical conditions, then go to the doctor! Some may believe that doing so is somehow spiritually reprehensible. I disagree, because sometimes, God provides His healing through those He has gifted with remarkable abilities. While you may have some gripes with doctors, it's foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

However, you and I both know that in many cases, the medical profession has failed us. The barren are still barren, the deaf are still deaf and the blind are still blind. Yet we know that in the Bible, such conditions can be easily reversed by God.

We still lack "standard of care" cures for cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, schizophrenia, manic depression, Alzheimer's, autism, Crohn's disease, tinnitus and chronic insomnia. Where can those with these conditions turn? See what I mean?

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church"

The Handbook gives us a second avenue for healing: priesthood blessings.

When it comes to administering to the sick and healing them, President Brigham Young was specific in what kind of expectations he had regarding results:

"When I lay hands on the sick, I expect the healing power and influence of God to pass through me to the patient, and the disease to give way. … When we are prepared, when we are holy vessels before the Lord, a stream of power from the Almighty can pass through the tabernacle of the administrator to the system of the patient, and the sick are made whole." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251)

Imagine the reputation the church would have if all its priesthood holders were able to give miraculous blessings of healing! People with faith by the droves would flock to priesthood holders. It would be a regular occurrence to read or hear in the news about people cured of Covid, cancer, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer's disease and infertility by men through whom the power of God flowed.

Unfortunately, that's not reality. 


I think there are many reasons. 

One of them: Many members believe that the higher the priesthood office, the greater the efficacy of the blessing. Nothing could be further from the truth. In July 2018, I posted Cheryl's story (here). In it, she told how she received many priesthood blessings for two serious chronic medical conditions she had experienced for many years. Blessings from Stake Presidency members and bishops were ineffectual. But finally, she was prompted to ask for a blessing from her 19-year-old son who had just been ordained an elder. It worked. He was the youngest, the "least" of the priesthood holders in Cheryl's area. And it was he who got his mother the temporary respite from pain and insomnia she so desperately sought.  

Secondly, it's apparent that many priesthood holders don't know how to give a proper priesthood blessing. For example, I am nauseated - nauseated! - by three modern-day priesthood blessing dynamics:

  1. Blessings in which God refers to Himself in the third person. Priesthood blessings are supposed to be the relaying of God's own words through a mortal agent who is attuned to God and His words. The instant, the very moment, God is referred to in the third person, it ceases to be a personal message to you from God. Somebody else has stepped in between you and God.
I can't think of a single instance where a member of deity referred to themself in the third person. Can you? If you're receiving a blessing where God is being referred to in the third person, then from whom is that blessing really from? 

  1. All the priesthood blessings which sound more like CTR-A primary lessons. "God loves you," "God is aware of you," "God knows your name," "God knows your circumstances." 
No duh! Are we not told that "the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30)? Are we not told time and again that God knows ALL things past, present and future? With these facts (all of which you've known since childhood), why are we expected to be amazed and astounded when we are told that God is aware of you?
  1. The fruits just aren't there. I know hundreds who are literally sick and tired of priesthood blessings which are helpless, hopeless, impersonal, dispassionate, unfulfilling, impotent, barren, fruitless, infertile, sterile, unfruitful, depressing and even distressing.
That's not to say all priesthood blessings are utter failures. Some have worked, and were even powerful. Unfortunately, I know more than my fair share of members who've had so many dismal experiences with priesthood blessings, they've given up on them. 

And when said blessings are given in the name of God, then tell me how this ISN'T a case of using the Lord's name in vain?

Why is this so? President Nelson said in his April 2019 General conference talk, "We Can Do Better and Be Better":

"Brethren, we all need to repent. We need to get up off the couch, put down the remote, and wake up from our spiritual slumber. It is time to put on the full armor of God so we can engage in the most important work on earth. It is time to "thrust in [our] sickles, and reap with all [our] might, mind, and strength." (D&C 33:7) The forces of evil have never raged more forcefully than they do today. As servants of the Lord, we cannot be asleep while this battle rages."

Now, don't think that this is some kind of new dynamic in the church. It isn't. It's been a problem for at least 30 years:

"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 cannot 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.)" (Elder Boyd K Packer, address given at a Regional Representatives Seminar, March 30 1990)

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." (Pres. Boyd K Packer, "The Power of the Priesthood", April 2010 General Conference)

Eight years later, the situation hadn't changed at all. In his April 2018 General Conference address, Pres. Nelson gave a terrific example of this lack of priesthood power:

"Now, may I voice a concern? It is this: Too many of our brothers and sisters do not fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority. They act as though they would rather satisfy their own selfish desires and appetites than use the power of God to bless His children.

I fear that too many of our brothers and sisters do not grasp the privileges that could be theirs. Some of our brethren, for example, act like they do not understand what the priesthood is and what it enables them to do. Let me give you some specific examples.

Not long ago, I attended a sacrament meeting in which a new baby was to be given a name and a father's blessing. The young father held his precious infant in his arms, gave her a name, and then offered a beautiful prayer. But he did not give that child a blessing. That sweet baby girl got a name but no blessing! That dear elder did not know the difference between a prayer and a priesthood blessing. With his priesthood authority and power, he could have blessed his infant, but he did not. I thought, 'What a missed opportunity!'

Let me cite some other examples. 

We know of brethren who set sisters apart as Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society leaders and teachers but fail to bless them-to bless them with the power to fulfill their callings. They give only admonitions and instructions. We see a worthy father who fails to give his wife and his children priesthood blessings when that is exactly what they need. Priesthood power has been restored to this earth, and yet far too many brothers and sisters go through terrible trials in life without ever receiving a true priesthood blessing. What a tragedy! That's a tragedy that we can eliminate." ("Ministering with the Power and Authority of God"; also see D&C 84:19-22; 107:18-19; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:30-31)

Pres. Nelson continued:

"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." (Pres. Russell M Nelson, "The Price of Priesthood Power," April 2016 General Conference)

Finally, Pres. Nelson said: 

"Stake presidents and bishops, please ensure that every member of the quorums within your stewardship understands how to give a priesthood blessing-including the personal worthiness and spiritual preparation required to call fully upon the power of God."
 ("Ministering with the Power and Authority of God")

It's no wonder that we read,

"They draw near to me with their lips . . . having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." (Joseph Smith 2:19; 2 Timothy 3:5)

So here you have the current church president and the immediate past Q12 President both saying the same thing. And those are relatively recent quotes.

It's time for us to not stick our heads in the sand and assume that all is well in Zion. It isn't. Did you see how Pres. Nelson used the word "fear" in conjunction with this condition? OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Pres. Nelson doesn't take this situation casually, and neither do I. We have many members seeking healing, which should be rightfully theirs, and not finding it. That should concern all of us.

I began this post discussing the things "that work together for healing, according to the will of the Lord." (source

While there is a place for diagnosis and treatment by competent, licensed medical practitioners, we both know modern medicine has its fair share of shortcomings which, as the scriptures demonstrate, are nothing in the face of true healing by God. 

While we are encouraged to "call for the elders of the church," it's distressing how passionately and frequently worldwide church leaders have publicly pronounced their votes of non-confidence in  priesthood holders. And because I, and many others, continue to see a lack of priesthood power in blessings given since Pres. Nelson requested local leaders to intervene in this issue, it's reasonable to conclude that the situation isn't improving.

Then there's that third recommendation given in the Handbook: "exercising faith."

The Gift of Healing is a merciful solution to the inadequacies exhibited by modern medical science and the lack of priesthood power. It works, too. We have oodles of scriptural accounts testifying of it.

By the looks of it, we have very few Gift of Healing experts in the church - enough to cause the current church president to consistently use the word "fear." Show me another General Conference talk with those dynamics.

You may think this is another person's problem. It isn't. You may think you can hurry and become an expert when world conditions warrant it. That's called "procrastination." Just read this previous post to see how urgently you -- we -- need the Gift of Healing. 

I praise God for the experiences He's given me regarding the Gift of Healing. I've seen results which far exceeded my wildest expectations. And I have no notable church calling.

How do you get on this course? You begin with prayer. You pour your heart and soul into it, begging God to immerse your mind and heart with ways you can gift Him back by serving your brothers and sisters with the Gift of Healing -- a gift which the Savior so freely offers us, male and female, young and old, to exercise.

Then start learning the basics. Grasp onto the iron rod. Turn to what God has already revealed in the scriptures. Here's a link to the Topical Guide entry for "Healing." 

As you read this and other topics associated with healing, ask God to illuminate your heart and mind with further insights and even experiences about this gift. You'll be tested and tried to demonstrate your dedication. Ace those tests. Keep turning to God directly - His written word and spoken word - and grasping the iron rod that leads to the Tree of Life.

You and I both know that as you head down this path, Satan's going to try to trip you up, divert and discourage you. In my next post, we'll start confronting those obstacles to your fully understanding and exercising the Gift of Healing, where YOU are truly "exercising faith".