Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I received a very personal invitation. And of course now I’m going to blatantly share it publicly, not to brag or get pats on the back. It’s just been too sweet an experience to resist sharing, a little like Lehi's desire to share the fruit of the Tree of Life. It came to me as a prompting that sort of solidified over the course of the last six months. Off and on for many years I've tried to understand better how I can experience the Atonement more fully in my life and apply it more effectively to my exact situation. I’ll try to express it here in words, although it really has to be experienced. Hopefully this can be helpful for someone else as it has been for me.

The invitation I received was an invitation to visit with Jesus Christ in person – not so much in person, but in my mind, to visualize or picture myself visiting Him. The purpose was to simply draw nearer to Him, to spend some time there, to somehow feel and learn more directly from Him, spirit to Spirit, to experience my self more directly in His presence, and to feel more ready for the day when the actual meeting occurs.

As I said, it took me some time to recognize and accept the invitation. Once I determined to make the visit, I found a still, quiet time, and I had to quiet the words in my mind and brush past familiar emotions – fear, frustration, discouragement, shame, embarrassment, sorrow, excitement, joy. I didn’t feel prepared at all, so I approached Him in the middle of my self-doubts and my doubt-doubts. My flawed logic and circular thinking patterns were completely exposed and didn’t matter. No words are exchanged, and none were needed. There were no significant gestures or contact, and I can’t say I even really saw Him there. I just went to be with Him, and He was there for me. And it was remarkable, profound, transforming, simple.

After the first visit, I’ve returned multiple times. I’ve visited Him when I was feeling happy and calm and when I wasn’t. Sometimes I pictured myself kneeling, or standing and turning toward Him, or rushing quickly to see Him, or crawling forward. I have also felt too undeserving, or ungrateful, or discouraged, or unworthy, or just too jumbled to even approach Him. Still His invitation is there, so in those times I allow Him to come visit me. And He does.

How could I possibly resist? He is the Source of Light and Truth, the embodiment of all Hope, of transcendent Love, of purifying Fire and empowering Grace, the Master Healer, the Life, and the Way! I love Him! All goodness emanates from Him. My emotions, desires, and thoughts are sorted, validated, redeemed, and settled.

Then I return, completely mortal, more or less my same self, imperfect still, and yet perfect enough, unworthy still and yet worthy enough, flawed and failing and sometimes flailing, and yet not flawed or failing or flailing enough that I can’t return again whenever I choose. I feel a little more peace, a lot more hope, gratitude, reverence. Normal life continues. And yet in those moments or minutes, I feel transformed through and through.

We each learn differently and have different needs and experiences, so it may not happen for others exactly as I’ve described. Even so, regardless of who or where we think we are, I believe we have a perfect Savior and Redeemer whose invitation is always there for each of us to draw near Him in our hearts and to know and trust Him better.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Few Thoughts on Passing Judgment

I'm proud of this recent response I posted via social media on an article.  I figured it would be nice to be able to access this again in the future in case I ever needed it, so I'm just copying it here.

Misdirected awareness doesn't bring healing. This article may improve the awareness of dangers in prescription drug addiction, but at what cost? The blaming tone is definitely mass-consumable, but it doesn't encourage reconciliation, which is what is really needed for these individuals and families, right? Does this article treat Mormons with all the many levels of complexity and nuance and richness that is true of Mormon people? Sorry it really doesn't. I know from my own experience that it isn't healthy to make assumptions about anyone, especially when I know I'm painting them the way I want them to appear, and this article uses much too broad a brush. Overgeneralizing about any group of people is unfair and unhealthy. Stereotypes don't hold up nearly so well when its person to person or face to face. I've studied the media. I know how it works, and I'm not buying it. Divisiveness seems to have increased in the past several years, driven by mass media monetization tactics, and this could easily be as much to blame for drug addictions as any other cultural factors. It takes personal integrity not to buy into the us-vs.-them mentality the media dishes out. The reason to care about someone with an addiction is because they're a human being, not because they're a victim! When I find that I'm making assumptions about someone else or an entire group of people, its a big red flag for me that I need to use Byron Katie's turn-arounds (see her free worksheet at and realize that the problems I perceive in the world around me are more often problems of my own creation, or imagination. This article comes from a place of partial truths and conditional love. For me, whole truths and unconditional love lead to healing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Call to Repentance Scripture Chain regarding the "Policy Change”

This is not meant to offend.  I’m just putting this out there in case anybody knows one of the 5 virgins referred to.  I hope this can be seen as an invitation for all of us to draw closer to the Savior.

Try reading Matthew 15:1-13, but replace the following words:
Virgin = Church member
Lamp = Policy
Oil = Charity
The Bridegroom = The Savior
Trimmed = updated
Gone out = obsolete
Sell = help you develop charity
Buy = develop

Now I'm not going to say anything about "the Policy".  I sustain modern prophets, seers, and revelators, because I believe they receive direct revelation regarding their stewardship.  For us as individual members to worry too much about their stewardship would be straining at a gnat when there's a really big camel that needs to be addressed.

This parable holds a pretty strong warning to those foolish virgins.  There is a similar warning in
Matt. 25:41-46 …Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

We can read Mosiah 4:17-26, but replace the following word:
Substance = pure love, or respect, or grace, or mercy, or forgiveness

Economic exclusivity surely prevents us from establishing Zion, just as it may have contributed to the latter-day saint eviction from Missouri years ago.  I really hope we're not going down that same route again.

Our leaders have encouraged us to improve our Sabbath day observance and make our worship more meaningful.  One clear way that we can each improve our Sabbath day worship was taught by the Savior himself:
Matt. 5:23-25 ...first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer they gift.  Agree with thine adversary quickly…lest…(ominous music here)

In D&C 121:43, the same specific injunction, to show an increase of love and not create our own enemies, is mentioned along with our rights to use Heavenly Father’s Priesthood power and to connect with Heaven.

D&C 64:9 reads pretty clearly.  Withholding forgiveness is a greater sin than the sin of our neighbor who wrongs us.

If we’re going to start comparing sins, let’s actually look at the direct comparison made in Ezekial between the sins of Sodom.  What was Sodom’s sin really?  Was it primarily homosexuality?

Ezekial 16:49-50, 52 …this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty…  Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.”

We have to remember what Jesus taught in both Jerusalem and in Book of Mormon lands about how we pass judgment on others.  See 3 Ne. 14:2-4 and Matt. 7:2-5.

Remember 1 Cor. 13?

Unfortunately, without charity in this case, we aren't just “nothing”.  We might actually be considered “abominable”.  That word “tinkling” is also used in 2 Ne. 13:16, which makes the foolish virgins start to sound more like the “daughters of Zion”.  And we all know what happens to them… (ominous music again)

We might need to start reading all of the scriptures about charity again without the beam in our eyes.  For example, try reading Matt. 22:36-40 and replace the following word:  Neighbor = LGBT neighbor

And of course “who is my neighbor?”  See Luke 2:29-37 for the answer.

See if the spirit of D&C 42:48-52 fits when you replace the following words:
See = fall in love with a woman
Hear = live a celibate life
Leap = have a happy and successful heterosexual marriage

Bearing each other infirmities?  This starts to sound a lot like the covenant that I made to even become one of the parabolic 10 virgins in the first place.  See Mosiah 18:9-11

The Bridegroom is coming, and we have been invited to step up our game individually and as a body of saints.  We're supposed to be building Zion, becoming more united, more fit for the kingdom!  I believe our Heavenly Father wants us to increase in charity towards all people!

Joseph Smith once said, “It is one evidence that men are unacquainted with the principles of godliness to behold the contraction of affectionate feelings and lack of charity in the world. The power and glory of godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of charity. God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sinned, there must be allowance made for them. …The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.”

If this is difficult to hear, we know from 2 Ne 9:40 that the wicked do sometimes take the truth to be hard.  Luckily Alma 32:28 teaches the way to discern if words are true or not.  It is worth experimenting on them to see if “…it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me”.  I believe that by faith, it is possible to lay hold on every good thing, including charity for others, even those we do not understand or agree with.

Now on the flip-side, we also need to increase in "charity to the household of faith" too (D&C 121:45).  We are to forgive all, even the foolish virgins.  Christ commanded in John 13:34-35 “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  I believe many more souls may be brought unto Christ due to this so-called “policy change” if we are wise virgins and let the light of our lamps shine brighter (see 3 Ne. 12:16 and Matt. 5:16).

"All" includes LGBT.  (Rom. 14:10-13)

I hope the good and healing discussions continue, and if there is contention, maybe its best if we just do as President Uchtdorf counsels and "Stop it!"

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Policy

Recently the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changed its policy regarding same-sex marriage and its relationship to families of same-sex marriage.  Here is my take on the policy change.

I'm not going to express myself very precisely or succinctly, but that's not my style anyway, so I'll just clumsily type away and hope the spirit of what I'm trying to say can get through and not be misinterpreted as hostile, antagonistic, prideful, defensive, or posturing expression of ignorance or attention seeking. I don't feel that way at all. Here goes...

Politics often seem impersonal to me, with its legal jargon and all, phrase like "18 years old". I see the recent change in policy as a diplomatic statement from one political entity to another, basically between kingdoms. If the international organization of the Church and a government were two people instead of organizations, each of them is entitled to their own "beliefs" and personal boundaries. I suppose diplomatic relations between governments would sometimes require hard lines, just as some interpersonal relationships do. This allows the two entities to coexist and hopefully stay civil. Perhaps there actually is significant legal threat to the Church that I'm not aware of. In that case, it seems wise to establish and hold clear diplomacy lines. So that's my thought on official policies, which any organization can enact. Its a policy. Policy isn't doctrine, but the doctrine didn't change anyway. The doctrines were already in place and reiterated fairly often over the past decades. 

Now here's another thought: I can think of examples in times past when God has reproved with sharpness, laid down commandments and enforced them with sometimes drastic consequences. I know I've felt His sharp spiritual reproof at times in my own life. But He shows forth afterwards an increase of love to others and me, to show that His faithfulness is stronger even than death. Whether or not the change in policy was only political in nature, it still may feel like extremely sharp reproof to some.  And are we trying to make enemies?  I don't believe we are.

So where is the "increase of love" which ought to follow reproof (see D&C 121:43)? It may be realized after this life or when the Savior comes. For the time being, I have taken the policy change as an invitation to personally try harder to be God's hands, to show an increase of love, greater empathy, support, and compassion. I'm not as good at this as others are. I'm impressed with others who have put a human-ness on what otherwise is policy/politics. The policy change has given them and me an opportunity to become more Christlike. A few months before the policy change was publicized, I think there was some statement from the Church or one of the Church leaders about how members can express disagreement over the Church's policies/politics, as if to give room for a loophole. So am I stretching to find a loophole? Perhaps. And what if love can be the loophole? 

We actually have an excellent example in the Book of Mormon of a similar situation. The 2,000 stripling warriors completely honored their parents and the kingdom by taking the approach opposite their parents' "Policy". Did they condemn their parents for their oath? Not at all. The righteousness and courage of the 2,000 actually allowed their parents to keep their oath, which their parents made for their own personal reasons. They honored their parent's policy. So what is the parallel for me? The Church changed its policy for its own personal reasons, but are Church leaders really completely unfeeling and unaware? I haven't had any personal experience to indicate this. To the contrary, I've heard personal accounts of and witnessed public expressions of great compassion, solidarity, and encouragement from Church leaders, as well as admitted ignorance and questions, but also great effort and desire to understand. I'm certain some of them have wept more than once this past month. Perhaps they are not free to soften the policy, either due to legal ramifications down the road or divine directions? 

Regardless, what is my part in all this? Am I a government or an international organization? No. Did I put the policy in place? No. I am as one of the 2,000 stripling warriors. I see this as an invitation to actually do what I have personally covenanted to do and been invited and inspired to do by countless scriptures, promptings, and words of these very leaders in times past. I can become the Lord's hands, show forth an increase of love myself, lest I am esteemed to be an enemy, pray even more earnestly for charity, the pure love of Christ that endures forever. I believe as a result of this policy change, some will grow even closer to God, and become even more "disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls", more pure, with hearts knit together in unity and love. I've found that I actually have more oil in my own lamp than I realized. 

Others may miss this opportunity to increase in love. I really feel that those who seek for greater truth and light will find what they seek, and I believe it is in the middle, where the Mediator is. For me, the straight and narrow path is the fine line between mercy bordering on permissiveness and righteousness bordering on self-righteousness. Either extreme is growing distasteful to me, and yet God has blessed and blesses my own broken road... Is my "love unfeigned" yet? Am I still gratifying my pride or my "vain ambition"? Am I completely "without hypocrisy and without guile"? Hah, nope, and yep, and nope! I covenanted to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort, whether they be on one side of the path or the other. I can do better at empathizing and supporting both LGBT friends and strangers on the one hand and LDS leaders and "the household of faith" on the other hand. 

In summary, I sustain and love my Priesthood leaders.  I'm glad that I'm responsible for my own efforts within my own sphere and not bigger more complex decisions in play in global politics and the culmination of the latter-day countdown.

I hope this perspective is helpful or enlightening for somebody. Maybe there's a better way to reason this through.  

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." -Rumi

Saturday, June 20, 2015


There is a perfect, eternal, all-powerful love that exceeds total comprehension. It springs from a divine source, One we may not see, but He is tangible. We are always within His reach, and He is reaching for us. I sense a healing power in this love, power against any form of darkness. At times I’ve caught glimpsed of this power. I love such glimpses!
It’s as if I’ve been offered a portion of sacred, spiritual gold, to hold in my imperfect, mortal vessel, sometimes undeserving, other times awkward, oft times fleeting. As I encounter others along my path, I sometimes sense an unseen kinship and feel to exchange this precious gold. Sometimes I receive in abundance, more than I can possibly return. Sometimes I'm empowered to offer what portion is mine to give, and it is multiplied as I pour it out, to find it refilled from its divine source.
Having tasted of such sweetness, no counterfeit exchanges will do, and exchange I must. Whether toward Him or others, I must extend my imperfect vessel in order to find it filled to overflowing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Straight and Narrow Path

In response to some argument/discussion on Facebook:
I don't care one way another about this little phrase. But I do feel that both the form of the message (how it is communicated, or its tone) and the content of the message (what is communicated) are important. There is such a fine line, or we could call it a straight and narrow path, that runs between righteousness bordering on self-righteousness and mercy bordering on permissiveness. If our tone or method for communicating or listening to a message is off or alienating, then the truths of the message won't get through, and if the truths are off the mark, then the tone can be sweet and alluring, but without any edification. Love and truth together form the perfect message, the end of argument and conflict, and humble acceptance that we are all willing to learn from and lift each other. What I do really love is sincere love. A wise man reportedly said:
“When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.
It is one evidence that men are unacquainted with the principles of godliness to behold the contraction of affectionate feelings and lack of charity in the world. The power and glory of godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of charity. God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sinned, there must be allowance made for them. … The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. …"
And more recently, another man said:
"We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. The Apostle John tells us, “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.
Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love.
There are many attributes which are manifestations of love, such as kindness, patience, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness. In all our associations, these and other such attributes will help make evident the love in our hearts.
Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day interactions one with another. All important will be our ability to recognize someone’s need and then to respond."
When I consider the profound love which has been so generously poured out upon me, a practiced and conscious sinner, I feel the wisest words I might pride myself in, and my most astute judgments for or against others or myself, and my other sins pale in comparison and are all loved away into extinction. And until my amnesia returns, I wish to extend this same truth and love to others. Psalms 85:10 "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
This is by no means a comprehensive treatment of the "straight and narrow path", but thank you for helping me express this.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Priesthood Power and the Doctrine of Charity

So I haven't been the best at keeping up my blog. 

Today, I was emailing a friend some insights that I had last year during a Sunday School lesson about the Old Testament.  After I finished typing this up, I thought this was worth sharing, in case anyone reads this and needs a little reminder how much Heavenly Father loves them.

In D&C 121:34-46, ( we learn that in order for men to use Priesthood power, they have to follow certain principles, which include selflessness, humility, righteousness, charity, virtue, etc. Also sometimes reproving people with sharpness, but then showing an increase of love, so that they know we are not their enemies and that our faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.  So I started thinking about our Heavenly Father, and how if this is really His power, then He must be perfect at showing each of these traits. I specifically was interested in how He sometimes reproves with sharpness and then afterwards shows increased love. 

So I looked at a few of the most obvious Old Testament stories where He used a lot of sharpness, like when He drowned all the wicked people in the Flood, and when He confounded the people's language at the tower of Babel. Did He show an increase of love after both of these incidents?

The answer is definitely "yes", with a capital JESUS. (John 3:16-17,

There are scriptures that elaborate even more on how those people experienced this increase of love.  The prophet Joseph F. Smith's vision (D&C 138:6-9 and vs. 29-37, or explains how the Atonement was taught to those who died in the flood. And then Acts 2:1-8 (, and D&C 90:8-11 ( demonstrate how the Gospel message surpasses language barriers. The Atonement shows that Heavenly Father's love and faithfulness is indeed stronger than the cords of death, and not just figuratively, but with Jesus's literal resurrection.  

I've felt reproved at times by Heavenly Father, perhaps even with some sharpness. Ultimately though, these feelings are far surpassed by such an outpouring of love from Him.  This is the core of the Gospel message. In her book, "A Heart Like His", Virginia H. Pearce compares our Father in Heaven to a parent on Christmas Eve.  He delights in blessing us. (See Micah 7:18,  He expresses that love in so many ways, in fact in every way that a great parent expresses love.

Its inspiring to know that Heavenly Father's work continues after this life much the same as here.  Angels work is to fulfill the covenants that Heavenly Father made with mankind (Moroni 7:27-34, and of course the rest of that chapter is so brilliant! But this angelic work doesn't just happen in the Spirit World, or the afterlife.  In the April 2007 General Conference, Elder Holland talked about the ministry of angels:

Angels are doing a considerable amount of work on us too, here in the world of the living! I love the thought that some people are also angels. Somehow Heavenly Father sends them to us at the right time to help us, to lift us, to fulfill the covenants that Heavenly Father has made with us, and to remind us of His love for us. If you think about it, perhaps the only difference between a person and an angel is that a person is mortal.

The Priesthood is literally the power of heaven here on earth, the power to do Heavenly Father's work, to fulfill His promises, and to communicate His love and the pathway home to Him.  Heavenly Father doesn't only want to save us - He wants to exalt us!  I feel so humbled and grateful for the Priesthood.  I love how it gives us an opportunity to participate in the work of salvation.   With the Priesthood, the work of exaltation seems to begin here on earth and then extend into eternity.