Total Blasphemy

April 17, 2012

In my exit packet given to me by the mission president he included a talk  by a general authority about how nothing comes for free in this life and we must work hard if we wish to inherit the celestial glory. I cant find my exit packet or else I would reference the talk directly. This isnt a talk that he includes for every missionary, It was placed in mine because of my blasphemous preaching and teaching the idea that we attribute nothing of ourselves separate of gods grace. I still remember my friend telling me in his exit interview that the mission president exclaimed to him that my ideas were “Blasphemy!  and totally heretical views for a latter day saint to hold!”. I was sent home. no exit interview just a phone call telling me i’m out. Im not bitter about the whole situation, I only bring this up because the ideas in this post are what were my undoing.

I have been back from my mission for about two months now. To be honest I was glad to leave the mission field, and i received personal conformation that Ihad done the lords work. The last two months have been pretty good to me, and I feel that i have been blessed by the lord with an abundance of happiness. By Babylons standards  I have been a “lazy freeloader” for the past two months. Being jobless and living on futon probably wouldn’t be my mission presidents definition of success. But I have found such joy in my experiences lately that i cant see why we force ourselves to live the way we do. Constantly building and bettering ourselves in pursuit of some sort of lofty goal which more often than not is centered around competition, attempting to be better than our neighbor. While those who arent caught up in the competition are confused into thinking that they have to play the game in order to be happy. It probably sounds like im talking about money, and in a sense I am, but that’s not the only place this anti competition way of life can apply.

Rockwaterman put it well when he said  the following in a recent post

“Buying into this idea that “I’ll do this for God, then He’ll do this for me” can be devastating for people when they get hit with the double whammies of life.  If you live long enough you may learn that even though you do everything you’re supposed to do, God can make no guarantees.  Jobs are still lost, illness intrudes, careers evaporate, divorces occur, fortunes disappear, children go astray. Sometimes our children even die.  When we’ve done everything we knew we were supposed to do, yet life becomes one disaster after another, we wonder why God let us down.  Why did he fail to hold up his end of the bargain?”

Rarely do we ask ourselves “What bargain?”

We were raised in Babylon, and wether we like it or not it plays a huge roll in placing manacles on our brain to cajole us into thinking we need to do this or that in order to get something in return. Gotta work to get paid. Sadly this same thought process is applied to our religious devotions.  Seeing blessings as currency will keep god just about as close an an employer. For me that’s not very close. We can work our butts off our whole lives just trying to keep our noses clean, being at every meeting, wearing the nice suit and combing our hair just right; but ultimately the standard that the lord holds us to is one that will never gratify our own pride.

Our standards become a problem when they cause us to feel as though we have held up our end of the bargain, as if we have been the catalyst to our salvation. This puts us ourselves up as a god for ourselves rather than Christ being our salvation. I remember sitting in a priesthood meeting and hearing a missionary recount a story of how before he left on his mission he was in deep financial trouble and how he prayed to the lord and informed the lord that he had payed his tithing, and then proceeded to ask for monetary blessings.  His testimony was that he received his blessings, so that meant that god always held up his end of the bargin. Now 8 months later im strongly compelled to ask what bargin? where in the scriptures does the lord say if you give the church ten percent of your earnings, you will be blessed with more money?

 Malachi 3:10 does say

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if Iwill not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

I don’t read any sort of bargain out of this, its not a specific deal that the lord is making with you. comparing it to an investment makes me want to hurl. the lord says he will pour out huge blessings on you if you pay your tithing. thats all he says. Its a deal. but not the kind of deal we think of. Its kind of like when you buy those mystery bags of candy on Halloween, except for the fact that whatever god puts in the bag of blessings is always the best thing for you at the time.  The lord doesn’t have to give you anything at all in this situation, maybe the blessing that you have not room enough to receive is loosing your job to help you to learn some lesson or another.

It takes a truly wicked man to come up with the idea that heaven can be purchased by our supposedly good deeds. But yet that has become the center point of the religious exercises of most Latter Day Saints, the idea that if we just do certain things and attend certain meetings, we will be righteous. Many are led by this philosophy to exlaim in thier hearts,”o righteous man that I am, I’m good enough to hold a temple recommend! I have earned it!”

While the prophets Paul and Nephi are led to exclaim.

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 7:24-25

and

“O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorrowethbecause of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support” 2 Nephi 4: 17-20

Paul and Nephi both Exclaim their filth, and looks for a deliverer, a savior someone to lighten the load, they find that in Jesus our god and our support.  The problem comes when we exclaim our filth but then look to ourselves at the savior, as if we could fix what we did. unless there have been some advances in time travel that I don’t know of then that is literally impossible! You have sinned and you need a savior! there really is no way around it you will never earn heaven because you ruined it from the get go. Traveling back in time is impossible so there must be an atonement made.  And only when you can be led to exclaim your own folly and worthlessness will the lord be able to raise you up, until then your pride will hold you in the abyss of your ego.

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Waiting (fixed)

March 2, 2012

Much of my life, and I’m convincede the lives of others, has been spent waiting and looking forward to things. I waited to get a drivers license. I looked forward to the summer break. I waited to get off work so that I could hang out. I waited for the cross country race the coming weekend. I waited for my mission call, and then endured the MTC experience. I’ve gone through a phase of struggling to stay on mission and just waiting every week for p-day. All with the hopes that I can endure a whole 2 years and go home.

But then what? Satan’s “real world” would tell me to wait through 4 years of “education” so that I can look forward to a wonderful job opportunity. So that I can wait  for a paycheck every week; so that I can wait till my kids are old enough to leave the house, and I can then retire… Once retired then what? Well more waiting… but when does it stop when does the waiting end.

Many assume the waiting for better things will end when we die and are “assigned a kingdom” or when we “go to heaven”.  Then we can stop waiting because now were stuck in one of the 3 circles on the diagram… “Gee hopefully I’m good enough for the celestial one”.  This, “hopefully I can be good enough” mentality can cause for a really stressful waiting period

As we wait we ask god “what do you expect of us in order to be worthy?  Or good enough for such a kingdom? “The lord responds by simply telling us we have fallen and we wont be worthy but to be humble enough to accept his direct guidance, and we accept the atonement he will do the works through us.  But the ones waiting reply “well god you can’t really mean it’s that simple we want to make ourselves better”. So in reply the lord gives us exactly what we have asked for with a checklist of things that we do in order to make ourselves righteous.  In the days of the children of Israel god gave them 614 laws to follow. Of course the laws pointed to something and were deeply symbolic because they come from god. But unfortunately the people added their own laws onto the list as well, as they the rejected the actual list that god had given. And we have seen practically the exact same thing happen today, we have rejected the meaningful laws while adding our own rules of worship. Rules that point to nothing but our own pride. “If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches?” (Mosiah 12: 29) We are required to wear costly apparel but have rejected or ignored large portions of the D&C (the modern law of Moses)

Maybe it’s just me but I see a pattern here, the more written laws and commandments of men a people receive the more self-righteousness and pride they embrace.  It seems that as we add more and more expectations for ourselves and for others the less we are able to see the worth of souls. We become statistics capable of producing something instead of people.

The law is interesting because the same Lord through the apostle Paul later states “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom 3:20) well then why would he give the law? Whats the point? The point is that by focusing on our own merits we miss the point. “For god hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they could not understand….god hath done it that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14) The law is there so that we will realize that we cannot do it on your own.

God does not wish for us to be down here just waiting, and worrying about eternity, and whether or not we are going to be “worthy” for eternity when it comes at some point in the future. Granted this life is a time for men to “prepare to meet god” (Alma 34:32) but given the scriptures cited above and many other things I could cite, I think it’s easy to say that focusing on obedience with  exactness is missing the point. Especially when we’re striving to obey mans rules rather than gods laws.  I feel a different form of preparation is in order…

Alma in Alma 5:27-28 gives us a big hint as to what sort of preparation is needed, “Behold I say unto you are you stripped of pride? I say unto you if you are not your are not prepared to meet god.”  (Alma 5:28) verse 27 also gives us some great insight he starts by asking if we are blameless before god? And then proceeds to tell us what makes us blameless, and the only qualification is humility. Humble enough to allow Christ’s atonement to take away our unworthiness.

Our worthiness struggle is a problem because it removes our humility and replaces it with pride. “I am going to pay tithing so that I can get the blessings, because if I do the works I deserve the blessings” I could say that over the pulpit and none would cry foul. This kind of statement is common among us if not openly than definitely in our minds. We act like the only reason for the gospel is for god to give us what we deserve for our good works. “obedience with exactness+hard work+ faith=blessings”  is the mission equation. Obedience is reduced to being a means to an end.
There has become an unwritten checklist for members (it’s written for missionaries) when obedience is the only focus. It’s a checklist of dead silly works done without hear but just to check it off to relieve the burden of unworthiness from the mind. But what we are not seeing is that the burden is not to be taken upon us. It is taken upon Christ. Our merits can never relieve that burden. Only Christ merits.

“He hath forgiven us…and taken the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his son.” (Alma 24:10)  Jesus Christ’s works are what are to take away our guilt. Not our works, our works are prideful. Christ works are humble.
Yeah we are saved “after all we can do” (alma 25:23) but all we can really do is stop thinking that we can do so much for our salvation and accept what Christ did do for our salvation. Being “saved” as some Christians put it is a real experience, we scoff at it because we don’t understand the scriptures the way they are. Mosiah 5:2 talks about a people who were changed and they no longer had a desire to do evil.  It’s the baptism of fire, the mighty change of heart (link here) it’s how we really accept the merits of Christ his perspective is given to the person and this is how we are saved by the grace of Christ, and by our works. Christ’s works become our works when we actually take his name upon us. In a discussion with one of my companions about how to live without a desire to do evil, my companion kept repeating the commonly held doctrine that “changing is a process” and “it’s not going to happen all at once”.  I disagreed but I didn’t know how to show him that it is an all at once thing. Looking back now I should have said “yes you are right changing ourselves is a really long process that will not happen all at once; but allowing Christ to change us does happen all at once. He can do it for us much better than we can do it for ourselves.”

Moroni 6:6-7 mentions what church members should really focus on after baptism “relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith” is the conclusion. Of course in V. 7 it says that the iniquities are cast out but when someone has truly relied upon the merits of Christ they are purified and desire no more to do evil(mosiah5:2) When one really becomes like christ and has “the will of the Son … swallowed up in the will of the Father.” (Mosiah 15:7)

We need to quit looking waiting for eternity and notice “we are in eternity and out of it we can never get” (BY JD 2:8) “for the kingdom of heaven is AT HAND, at our feet, here for the accepting . But what does man do? He wants to buy it with his ‘worthiness’, grab it for his greediness, use it for his vanity” (Max Scousen)

“Come unto the lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him” (Mormon 9:27). How many of us can say we have been truly humble enough to fear the lord. Fear to the point of trembling. Not many of us I think. Were to ‘worthy’ to have to worry about our salvation. Obedience to commandments is important but only through Christ can we be truly obedient. Through our own efforts we will always be found unworthy.

The only reason I bring up my somewhat controversial views on these matters is that I know its true. “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16) . And all this that you might understand that all flesh is in his hands so “be still and know that [he is] god” (D&C 101:16) once you get that far you will start to really see how heavenly this earth really is.  Eternal things real things are not obtained as a result of achievement they are gifts of god (Moroni 7). Anything eternal exists right now, the kingdom of heaven is here for us to find joy in we are just too busy ‘’knowing” better to see it. I find the joys of eternity surrounding me daily and it fills my soul with joy. Eternal life is to be found today, tomorrow and forever. Not earned. But until you really realize what you Christ had done and truly accept it, you will still be in the lone and dreary world WAITING….