05 February 2016

For Matthew, and all those who seek Jesus.

What is your spiritual posture? What kind of place are you coming from?

It took me months of being prayed for before I began to grasp the idea that because of what Jesus did, the price He has already paid, I can freely receive from God. Our God does not require us to try to reach Him the way the priests of Baal did on the mountain in 1 Kings 18. (Please go read that chapter. It won’t take long.) The early entries in this blog detail the things God taught me in that process.

In Matthew 10:8, Jesus tells His disciples, "freely you have received; therefore freely give".  His disciples received freely. So can we! We are to receive FREELY. 

And in 2 Nephi 26:25, “Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price."

Jesus doesn't say "Do all of this stuff, and then I'll manifest my love to you." Nor does He say, “You have to perform up to this standard before I will feed and care for you.” In the previous verse in 2 Nephi 26 it says: 
"He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth NONE that they shall not partake of his salvation."
The lies of the enemy you are entertaining are stealing your hope, killing your faith, and destroying your joy. (John 10:10) That's not Jesus' m.o. He came to give us LIFE, and that more abundantly. 

And I want you to know, and to never doubt: the enemy is DEFEATED. His lies, the despair and hopelessness and fear that he so liberally dumps on us, only have power when we believe them over what God has said. He told His disciples that they would have tribulation in the world, but in Him—in HIM—they would have peace, and that they should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). I have thrown off many demonic spiritual/emotional attacks simply by realizing them for what they were: lies from the enemy designed to oppress me. The confidence that Jesus WON, and has subdued the enemy under His feet, combined with a simple thought, has made every one of those attacks utterly disappear. Within ONE second. 

The joyful thought is this: “This is a spiritual attack. I’m not doing this!” 

James 4:7 says, “Be subject therefore unto God; resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Believe what God has said; subject your thinking to His truth. Then you can STAND on that, and literally throw off the yoke of oppression. Proverbs 3:25 says “Be not afraid of sudden fear”.

We receive salvation from this fallen world--the remission of our sins--FIRST. The ONLY requirement for that is a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Which you have in abundance, my friend.  A heart ready to receive anything the Lord wants to give. No stakes. Nothing set in a place of inviolability. Whatever God says, goes. We can be confident in His goodness and His faithfulness, because of what He has said before. Which is why getting into and DEVOURING scripture is so important! 
“And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.” ~2 Nephi 33:14
Jesus IS the truth, He IS love, so we have nothing to fear from making ourselves fully vulnerable before Him, nothing to hold back that is worth losing what He offers. It doesn't require long fasting, feats of righteousness or working hard. No striving. Just RECEIVE. Receive through scripture. Receive through the Holy Spirit.

I want you to try something. Begin to come at this from a posture of gratitude for what Jesus has done. No longer droop in your own lack--our personal lack is what Jesus came to save us from! "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul" (2 Nephi 4:28). There's nothing we could ever do to earn what He did. He was able because, being God as well as man, He received the Holy Spirit without measure. We can't even begin until we receive the Holy Spirit. The wonderful news is that giving us the Holy Spirit is what Jesus is longing to do, so eager to do, what He died to do. And I'm not just talking about the Baptism of Fire. We have many encounters with the love of God (aka the Holy Spirit) before we finally are fully immersed in and fully filled by fire and made new.

Adam and Eve betrayed this earth into the hands of the adversary. Jesus redeemed it. As a Telestial realm, it's under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We have to receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit before we can receive the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to introduce us to the Son, and it’s the Son’s work to introduce us to the Father. We Mormons get all tangled up because we want to jump straight to meeting Jesus when we aren’t yet filled with the Holy Spirit.

Worship music is a tremendous way I’ve been able to receive the Holy Spirit in greater and greater measure. Not just because it opens my heart, but because speaking, singing, shouting aloud in worship is warfare that defeats the enemy of our souls. Spirit-filled Christians have receiving the Holy Spirit DOWN. They’ve so got this one, and we can learn so, so much from them. Our faith tradition has completely lost this aspect of interaction with heaven. It's time we reclaim it.

So, instead of accusing God with “Why won’t you speak to me???”, start speaking aloud the things that are true about God. For example: 
“God, you are Good. You are Love. You are Truth. What You have spoken, I BELIEVE. When You speak to me, I will choose to trust You, even as Moses did before the Red Sea, or before the rock in Horeb. You are faithful, and fulfill ALL of your promises. You take care of those who believe You and seek You. You want to know me, to care for me, to fill me with Your Spirit and Your reassurance. You want to comfort me, to teach me, to lead me, and to be WITH me always. You miss me, You want to help and support me. You are my shelter in the storm. My strong tower, and I will PRAISE Your beautiful name for the rest of my days for all You are!”
You know that incredible feeling you get when you hold a new baby in your family as it's sleeping peacefully in your arms? That’s your physical body registering the presence of God. The feeling you have when you see an aspect of creation in all of it’s beauty. When you treat others with love, when you choose forgiveness over hate. That exhilaration that comes when you finally nail a new gymnastics move. That is the presence of God, His spirit in you. Looking back, I recognize now that the overwhelming love I experienced with the birth of my first child was the very love of God, poured out without measure or restraint. It was so new, so overwhelming. I loved my husband (still do! lol), but that love was based on commitment, on choice. This new love was so overwhelming at times it was almost frightening. This love for my baby simply WAS. Nothing that child could, or can, do will ever change that love. Ever. THAT is the love of God, for us.

God’s love is multi-faceted. It’s full, infinite, and encompasses all aspects of our experience. We cannot truly connect with God purely in an intellectual way. We cannot find Him only in our emotions. Or only in our physical experience. But when those three come together, it’s astounding. He wants to engage us on every level, in every way possible for us. Holding back some part of ourselves from Him (say, because someone has been burned by heartsell, and doesn’t want to believe that our emotions can be part of our relationship with God) only frustrates our search for Him.

Here is a playlist of some of my current worship favorites. Find a quiet place, and let yourself just meditate on the beauty and goodness and loveliness of God. Listen for the sincerity in this music. Listen for God to speak to you. Reject the derision that we were taught for the way Christians worship, and look for what God wants you to hear, to see, to feel, to understand. The scriptures are FULL of examples of worship with lifted hands, lifted voices, with instruments, with drums and unrestrained demonstration. And please, ask ask ask. Voice your questions, so we can all help. If you don’t have people where you are, let us help you. I was prayed for and supported and helped intensively for six months before I received the baptism of fire. And it has taken me another two and a half years to begin to get decent at receiving an infilling of the Holy Spirit on my own, apart from my faith community. 

I haven't received what I have received because I'm special or whatever. It's because God introduced me into a part of the body of Christ that, very much like a Good Samaritan, saw me in the state I was in, where my own people had withdrawn because I was no longer acceptable in their eyes. The Body of Christ took me in, poured wine and oil into my wounds and bound them up, covered my spiritual nakedness with a cloak of charity, fed my spiritual malnutrition generously and without judgement, and loved me with the powerful love of God that they themselves had received freely. What I have, where I'm at, is because of them. I could NEVER have done this alone. Not ever.

Love you, Matthew. Please, please, please: don’t ever believe the lie that you are without help. Even if no one physically near to you can support you, you have so many people that love you without limit, without judgement, without measure.

4 comments:

  1. First off I must point out that you do not speak nor represent the Mormon community. So when you write, “We Mormons get all tangled up because we want to jump straight to meeting Jesus when we aren’t yet filled with the Holy Spirit.” is an inaccurate representation of yourself. You have well documented that you left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t want to re-open past discussions but you clearly do not sustain President Thomas S. Monson as the Lord’s prophet, seer, and revelator on the earth today and that is what makes 15 million of us “Mormons”.

    Second, I think that is a big generalization to say, “We Mormons get all tangled up because we want to jump straight to meeting Jesus when we aren’t yet filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the very basic doctrine of faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Those are the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Several times you have projected your experience in the LDS church as everyone’s experience in the Church. Walking the path of discipleship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes work and effort, but it is the Holy Ghost that keeps us walking that path. It is being filled with the Spirit that continuously teaches, reminds, corrects, and reassures us we are walking the right path back to our Father in Heaven. I’m sorry you got “tangled up” but that has not been my experience and I don’t think others would continue to walk that path without being filled with the Holy Ghost.

    Lastly, I appreciate your Born Again Christian view or what appears to be Grace but it is only part of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches. We do believe that that Christ won the victory over death and Hell. We do believe that he freely invites everyone to come unto Him. We do believe that our works have nothing to do with the debt He paid, zilch, nothing we do can save us from sin and death. That being said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that works are important. Why? To repay Christ for the debt He paid? No way! Jesus Christ asks us to do these good works to change us, to make us into Him. He asks us not just to have a broken heart and contrite spirit but He asks us to follow that up with faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. He doesn’t ask us to be home/visiting teachers to make deposits on that debt, He asks to minister as He would so we can learn to be like Him. We “Mormons” don’t do works to save ourselves. We “Mormons” do works to save us from ourselves through His Atonement. It is only by walking that path of discipleship we are rehabilitated into the person that wants and can live with God. So when you state, “We receive salvation from this fallen world--the remission of our sins--FIRST. The ONLY requirement for that is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.” Is only the first half of what we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe. It does not stop there.

    Acts 2:37-38
    37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

    38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    As I read your posts, I get a real sense of your love for Jesus Christ. I hope someday that love for Him leads you back home.

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    Replies
    1. Hello again. I do wish I knew your name, so this wasn't so impersonal. You're commenting from my own hometown, and it just seems silly that we have to continue to interact in this lopsided way. You know who I am, know me. And to me, your'e a faceless and nameless lurker with whom I have a very difficult time communicating.

      That said, I'll clarify a few things:

      1) I didn't leave the church. It left me. Joseph Smith was called of God to do a tremendous, prophetic work. The Book of Mormon and the things Joseph left are scripture. While I fellowship with Christians locally, I have not abandoned my testimony of the work Joseph Smith did, or the truthfulness of things that God has revealed to me. That makes me "Mormon", along with the fact that I was born Mormon, and that will always be part of my heritage, history, and genealogy.

      2) You make assumptions about my views on grace. I never said works aren't necessary. They're vital. But receiving is something that Mormonism has utterly lost; even the discussion of the baptism of fire (which Joseph Smith stressed as absolutely necessary) is now verboten. In studying the history of the LDS Church, it's clear that what Joseph began was absolutely charismatic and Pentecostal in nature. While current charismatic and most Pentecostal congregations vary widely, they have preserved the expectation of gifts of the spirit and miracles, signs and wonders that Jesus said would follow those who believe. Without the fruits and gifts of the spirit present and active, as Mormon warned, faith does not exist. No matter how earnest and well-intentioned works you do.

      I'm so glad you can see my love for Jesus. I finally know who he truly is, and it has forever changed my life. For whom the Son sets free is free, indeed.

      I hope the two of us can meet sometime, and try to understand one another better. God bless.

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  2. You wrote: “We Mormons get all tangled up because we want to jump straight to meeting Jesus when we aren’t yet filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    The Church repetitiously teaches to learn to recognize and feel the Spirit. The Church continuously teaches to live in such a way that we are filled with the Spirit every day. So I’m not sure where you are making that claim.

    Helping others to feel the Spirit has always been a struggle for mortals. Some of the most righteous people to live on this continent did not know they were baptized by Fire or the Spirit.

    3 Nephi 9:20
    And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and THEY KNEW IT NOT.

    I apologize if I misunderstood this statement.

    “We receive salvation from this fallen world--the remission of our sins--FIRST. The ONLY requirement for that is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.”

    Us Mormons believe to be saved from this fallen world takes more than just professing Christ as our Savior. We must act upon that by making covenants.

    You wrote:

    “Joseph Smith was called of God to do a tremendous, prophetic work. The Book of Mormon and the things Joseph left are scripture.”

    Thank you for your testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. You know who else can bear that same testimony? Warren Jeffs the leader of the FLDS. You know who else can bear that testimony? Stephen Veazey the prophet of the Community of Christ (RLDS). What they cannot bear testimony of is that Thomas S. Monson is the Lords prophet, seer, and revelator and the only person on earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all the priesthood keys. That is what makes a Mormon. So when you claim you are Mormon you actions and beliefs are not what us Mormons believe. We also have testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but we also have testimonies that God continues to lead His people (Mormons) by a prophet, seer, and revelator. That is what distinguishes a Mormon from some off shoot like the Snufferites, FLDS, Community of Christ.

    Martin Harris said, “I never did leave the Church; the Church left me.” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/the-witness-martin-harris?lang=eng

    How has the Church left you?

    Elder Ballard
    “the Lord directs His Church through living prophets and apostles. This is the way He has always done His work. Indeed, the Savior taught, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me.” We cannot separate Christ from His servants. Without His first Apostles, we would not have an eyewitness account of many of His teachings, His ministry, His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His death on the cross. Without their testimonies, we would not have an apostolic witness of the empty tomb and the Resurrection.

    It has always been a challenge for the world to accept living prophets and apostles, but it is so essential to do so in order to fully understand the Atonement and the teachings of Jesus Christ and to receive a fulness of the blessings of the priesthood that are given to those He has called.

    Exaltation is the goal of this mortal journey, and no one gets there without the means of the gospel of Jesus Christ: His Atonement, the ordinances, and the guiding doctrine and principles that are found in the Church.

    It is the Church wherein we learn the works of God and accept the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves us. It is within the Church that we form the commitments and covenants of eternal families that become our passport to exaltation. It is the Church that is powered by the priesthood to propel us through the unpredictable waters of mortality.” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/god-is-at-the-helm?lang=eng

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  3. I'm still confused why you are willing to pour so much time into a non-relationship, BY65. You are not interested in changing my mind, and very few who read this blog will take you seriously. I appreciate the time you have spent on these comments, and wish you good day and God bless. If you ever wish to contact me personally, please do. My email address is my first name at this blog's domain.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!