Come unto Him. Oh, please.

Oh, my friends. My heart is breaking right now.

I keep seeing people I love, so dearly, that I know Jesus loves so dearly, people with repentant hearts and souls longing for their God, talking about how they hope, one day, they can know they are acceptable to God. I just want to shout from the rooftops: "Jesus LOVES every one of us! All the way! Nothing held back! Right! Now!"

He died for us while the world lay in sin . . . before most of us were even born. The price fully paid, He announced the work of redemption finished on the cross. All of heaven and earth rejoiced, as we read in Enoch's vision. Enoch went from refusing to be comforted to rejoicing with the seraphs, shouting, "Hallelujah, for the Lamb is slain!!!"

Every one of us is FULLY acceptable to God, right this minute. He has not a single reason to reject us. That's the whole point of everything Jesus did, and the meaning of the scripture that says God is storing up his wrath for the day of judgement. Jesus won so we could have this period of grace. Jesus was God . . . He left the place of perfect love and glory and joy to constrain Himself within mortal--Telestial--flesh, to endure all, to suffer the effects of sin and illness until He bled from every pore resisting sin, and then to die one of the most painful deaths devised. 

For you.

It's the price paid for something that declares the buyer's valuation, its worth in the buyer's eyes. And you, my friend, are worth the innocent, priceless blood of God.

By virtue of the cross, Jesus now has the right to come to each of us (right where we are!), and to walk with us through everything. Instead of having to do a bunch of stuff to make sure we're cleansed of sin and worthy of His presence so we won't be struck dead, His blood pays for all the junk we've got, and gives Him the right and power to remit our debt, forgive our sins, and BE with us, right now. Instead of being like the priests who went into the Holy of Holies wearing bells and with a rope tied to his ankle so if the bells stopped and he didn't yank back when the priests outside yanked on the rope, they could haul the body out without going in and being struck dead, too, our God can fill us with His Spirit, can appear to us, and we are not destroyed.

When Jesus died on the cross, not only did the earth shake, but the veil in the temple in Jerusalem was torn from top to bottom. Rent clean in twain. The priests in the holy place were given a view into the Holy of Holies, and they weren't struck dead. But, instead of realizing what had just happened, they quickly closed the veil up again, shutting off the view of heaven Jesus had just freely given them, going back to business as usual. 

Brothers and Sisters, the veil is TORN! There is no longer separation between man and God. We don't have to be "good enough" or "qualify" for His love, or His presence. We only have to WANT Him, to invite Him.

Can we be exalted in our sins? No. But that doesn't mean that we are cut off from Jesus until we're worthy of exaltation. That's the whole reason Jesus did what He did! He redeemed us from the fall . . . that's right now. We don't have to live subject to sin and death, separated from God.

About a year ago, I spent a lot of energy wondering about why Jesus had to die. I had just been taught by the Holy Spirit and scripture that the test of this life is whether we'll desire good or evil. Each man is rewarded according to his works, according to the desires of his heart (D&C 137). And if so, if Alvin Smith could be found on the right hand of God, if those who had never heard of Jesus were saved so long as their hearts longed for righteousness and they did their best based on what they knew, then why did Jesus have to die? Why did He have to go through all of that incredible pain? Why? Why???

As I labored in that heart cry of "Why???", His answer came. So sweetly, so powerfully. 

"So I could be with you."

God misses us. So much. The Fall took us from His presence, where we were designed to dwell, and all God wants is for us to be with Him again. Jesus' victory means so many things . . . but most of all it means He can come to His people. His name, Emmanuel, means God With Us. And in a day of hardcore idolatry and fertility cults, where every other god was a distant deity, demanding all manner of iniquity as worship, silent and utterly unreachable, here was Jesus Christ. He walked with mankind, sacrificing Himself--even God--so He could succor His people, heal them, walk with them, be in fellowship with them.

Please, oh please. Don't think that there is anything--and I mean ANYTHING--keeping you from God other than your own unbelief. The enemy looooves it when we believe his lies, whether it's the one that says Jesus can't come to you right now as you are, or the one that says you're not good enough. (That second one is especially nasty, because it's true--none of us are "good enough"--but it utterly denies the power of Jesus by virtue of His victory.) Jesus is the God of relentless mercy, all-pervading love, and abounding grace. He LONGS to be with you, right here. Now. He LONGS to pour out His Spirit on you as soon as you open your heart to receive it. Rock Waterman's experience of receiving the baptism of fire is a perfect example. He was seeking it, praying for it. But, ultimately, it came down to this. He said, in a comment on this page: "I had the faith. In fact, I felt that it was about time I allowed myself to REALLY receive the Holy Ghost. So just like that, it happened." He was, simply and truly, open to receive. To "allow" himself to "really receive the Holy Ghost". No works. No earning. Just open.

So please . . . I'm begging you with everything that's in me . . . don't deny our Lord the chance to come to you right now. I'm SO flawed, so weak, so fallible. And yet, He is there whenever I turn to Him. Whenever I raise my voice to worship Him. Whenever I open my mind and heart to Him. Every time. Always. So often when I read the accounts of those who have seen Jesus Christ, it's obvious that they didn't earn that visit. They didn't pay for it. He just came, because they believed He could.

Jesus descended below all things. He can come to you where you are.

Baptism Day


So much JOY.

So much.

Choosing to dig into and adhere to the words of Jesus Christ is the best decision I've ever made.

There is a movement, within the membership of the LDS Church (and increasingly outside of it, as members otherwise in full good standing are excommunicated for "apostasy"), to once again rely on the scriptures as the definitive Word of God. To trust the words of Jesus Christ over anything contradictory spoken by man. Thousands have been baptized according to the Doctrine of Christ, and it's not slowing down, despite heavy-handed disciplinary actions and top-down ordered excommunications by LDS leadership, in direct contradiction to their own press releases and scripture. (There's a whole rat's nest of plausible deniability, due to Area Authority 70's not necessarily being considered "general authorities", but I won't go into that here.)

This is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands . . . all believers, everywhere, seeking God on His terms, and seeking to do His will. It is happening in all denominations, all over the world. The LDS Church is no exception.

Yesterday was an incredible day . . . and I will treat it as the celebratory occasion it was. Hallelujah for Jesus Christ, our Lord, and His wonder, glory, and love for us!

I welcome questions, concerns, and freak-outs . . . once again, this blog is a platform for open discussion, and an earnest and simple offer to seek understanding, instead of take refuge in gossip and hearsay.

Peace be to you Reader, whoever you are, in Jesus' name, so be it.

Journey Forth!

25 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, Go in and slay them; let none escape. And they smote them with the sword; and the guards or runners [before the king] and the officers threw their bodies out and went into the inner dwelling of the house of Baal.
26 They brought out the pillars or obelisks of the house of Baal and burned them.
27 They broke down the pillars of Baal and the house of Baal, and made it [forever unclean] a privy to this day.
28 Thus Jehu rooted Baal out of Israel.
29 But Jehu did not give up the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, by which he made Israel to sin, that is, the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.
30 And the Lord said to Jehu, Because you have executed well what is right in My eyes and have done to the house of Ahab as I willed, your sons to the fourth generation shall sit on Israel’s throne. [Fulfilled in II Kings 15:12.]
31 But Jehu paid no attention to walking in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not quit the sins with which Jeroboam made Israel to sin.
32 [So] in those days the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel.  ~2 Kings 10:25-32 AMP
Jehu, in a blaze of Old Testament fervor, carried out the Lord's word to Elijah, that all of Ahab's house would be destroyed.  He slew grandsons, friends, any who were connected to that house. Then he went and utterly ruined the house of Baal. For this exacting obedience, the Lord had a word for Jehu, in verse 30: the promise that Jehu's sons would be kings of Israel to the fourth generation.

But Jehu stopped short . . . while he pursued with zeal other words God had given, eradicating Ahab's house and ruining Baal's, he didn't give up what was apparently his "favorite" bit of idolatry. I can see him justifying, reasoning that the Golden Calf was worshipped by his fathers in the wilderness while Moses was on the mountain, and that surely something that old had to be good. Or I can see him thinking it was such a small thing, and he had done so much, that surely it was enough to please the Lord.

I'm standing on the edge of something marvelous and beautiful, new and glorious; a faith-filled walk with my God I have only dreamed of.

I'm not going to stop short.

God has opened the way before me, and I am stepping into it.

This is a Jewish story of parting the Red Sea that I really love:
Behind them was an army bristling for war. Before them was an ocean, deep and impassable. They could neither advance nor retreat. They were ambushed. What could they do? 
Moses tried an age-old tactic: he cried out to God. But God rebuked him: “Why do you cry to me? Tell the Children of Israel to journey forth.” 
Journey forth, but how? There was an ocean before them! God never addressed this question, and Moses never asked it. God said to journey forth, and journey they did. That was the entire point. Don’t ask questions. Don’t raise doubts. If God issues a command, He will provide the means to see it through. 
Yet the Children of Israel hesitated. They were prepared to plow into the ocean, but they needed to be led. A leader appeared in the person of Nachshon, son of Aminadav, tribal prince of Judah. Leading his tribal column, Nachshon strode into the sea. Wading through the rising tide, the waters first reached his waist, then his chest and shoulders.
At the very last moment, as the waters reached his nostrils, the Red Sea parted and the Children of Israel followed him into the sea.
How's that for radical obedience? God said, "Go forward!", as the Israelites stood trapped between the sea and mountains. This was deep water, folks. And Israelites were notorious for knowing absolutely nothing about water. I've heard there was a saying, similar to our American proverb, "When pigs fly", that meant, "When a Jew builds a ship". Nachshon led his column straight into something that, culturally, they were wholly unprepared for. Laden for their journey with all the things the Lord had them take out of Egypt, who knows if they could even swim?

And yet, they strode into the sea in radical obedience to what Yahweh had said:
"Journey forth." 
Yes, Lord.

My reading this morning was Matthew 23-24, and I had a really hard time choosing a passage to journal about, because I love these chapters SO much, and could talk about nearly every verse at length. I might just have to study these for several days, and see what Yeshua has waiting for me in them.
Then Jesus said to the multitudes and to His disciples, The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat [of authority]. So observe and practice all they tell you; but do not do what they do, for they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy loads, hard to bear, and place them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift a finger to help bear them. They do all their works to be seen of men; for they make wide their phylacteries (small cases enclosing certain Scripture passages, worn during prayer on the left arm and forehead) and make long their fringes [worn by all male Israelites, according to the command]. And they take pleasure in and [thus] love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, And to be greeted with honor in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven. And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:1-11 AMP) 
Jesus gave these instructions, not out of dislike or disdain for the Pharisees, but out of love for those who would follow Him. He set out the guidelines necessary for keeping men’s hearts soft, for allowing all an equal privilege to grow and serve and gain a connection to heaven, and to warn against the all-too attractive pattern of elevating mortals one above another.

When I read this passage this morning, my very fleshly first response was to think of those who followed this same pattern the Pharisees did, who took pride in their office, who usurped power God never gave them, by virtue of it. But then, Holy Spirit (thank God!) whispered to my heart that they are all just people . . . people with earnest intentions and weaknesses of the flesh common to man, who wanted to do what was right, but due to their flesh or the traditions of their fathers or ignorance of the Word or all of the above, fell prey to the very things Yeshua warns against. And I thought how unfair it is to leaders to elevate them in this way, no matter the arena, whether church or government or community or business. To idolize someone is destructive not only to the one doing the idolizing, but to the one idolized. Idolizing puts tremendous pressure on its object . . . they have no room to make mistakes, no opportunity to confess, are denied the flexibility of repentance and growth that comes from walking as the Word says a Christian should walk. That’s so, so unfair. So unjust!

Father, show me, in my heart, where I might harbor idolization for people or things or ideas. Shed Your Spirit upon Your people in abundance, that they can know You better, and love one another without reserve. Teach the Body better how to walk as equals together, esteeming all as brothers and sisters, honoring and loving one another without reserve because we are YOURS, not because one is called “elder”, “pastor”, "pope", or whatever. Let us love and care for one another as if we are ALL pastors—let us all have that same dedication to the Word, to prayer, to worship, to carry that same weight of love for one another. We are one, in You, Lord. Let us open our hearts more and more to You, let us pray more and more to You, and Father God open our eyes to the prophetic, seeing things as You see them, and opening our mouths to speak that perspective into life in our circumstance.

Father, Your people have so much potential! I feel it all around me when the Body gathers. It IS a force to be reckoned with . . . but we don’t quite know how, or we don’t quite trust ourselves enough, to step out into the unknown and let You have Your way. Father God, speak to our hearts the solid assurance, the sweet assurance, that You are ever with us. It is our eyes and hearts and ears that need to learn better to detect Your presence. Our city NEEDS this potential that is brewing amongst us. Our families NEED this joy that is about to be unleashed. This land NEEDS the refreshing in the Holy Spirit that is coming. I keep seeing floodwaters—a flood of the Holy Spirit that rushes in and overwhelms everything in its path. But instead of a destructive force, it gives LIFE, it gives LIBERTY, it gives CLEANSING and RENEWAL. Lord, quiet our hearts, remind us to cast fear out from among us, so we can welcome this flood with open arms and know that if You send waters to cover the earth, You will give us gills. You will equip us with whatever we need—indeed, You already HAVE—to not just survive, but to THRIVE in the circumstances ahead. I don’t know how to describe the weight of glory, the promise of joy, the brilliant shining of what You have planned . . . but I can hardly wait. (If I wasn’t so exquisitely aware of my own weaknesses and failings, I wouldn’t have any patience at all! lol)

Father, show Your people Your heart, yet again. Show us Your patience, Your plans. Open the hearts and minds of those that love you, and draw them to You, God, and let them see. Let all of us see! Let us feel. Let us KNOW You, better and better every moment. Unleash the beauty in each one of us, and let us flood the earth with YOU. In Jesus’ name, so be it! Amen!!!

What Do I Want for Christmas?

I want the starving children fed--in my own little town, among the membership of the LDS church, and throughout the whole world 

I want the orphans, dependent upon the generosity of others, provided for.

I want the exploited rescued, and to have safe places for them to sleep and learn. 

I want the street children in Manilla, abandoned by their destitute parents who simply couldn't feed them, to have the basic things they need: shoes, school supplies, regular meals, combs, toothbrushes, a shower to use, and a safe place to sleep.

My family is operating under a tighter budget than we ever have had to before. We are living in the least square foot per person we have ever lived. And yet, compared to so, so many, even in our own little community, we are wealthy. We have a lovely little home. We have decent beds to sleep in. We have all the first world conveniences we want: cars that run reliably, gas to run them, washer & dryer, dishwasher, heat, air conditioning, electricity, running water, hot water, a roof that doesn't leak, and our floors aren't made of dirt. (Although sometimes during mud season the mats inside the front door might fool you for a minute.)

My children have a family that loves them, and a safe place to grow and learn. Contrast that with the early life of one of my best friends, who was born into prostitution to a sex-trafficked mother, and rescued at eight years old, after her mother's death, by God working an absolute miracle in the Canadian court system.

My children are well-fed, and are in no danger of suffering from the debilitating or deadly effects of malnutrition, unlike 80,000+ active LDS children in the world, and too many in my little town.

My husband and I love one another. Our marriage is strong--strong because we have learned to forgive, and are learning how to grow, both together and alongside one another. 

We definitely have our share of difficulties and trials. We are given weaknesses, after all, that the Lord may show forth His strength in us. But our basic needs are met. The Lord will continue to provide. I just wish we had endless income, so I could feed and clothe and house every cold, hungry, lonely soul.
      11 Wherefore, I must tell you the truth according to the plainness of the word of God. For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee unto this people.
      12 And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully.
      13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches . . .
      14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.
      15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!
      16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!
      17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
      18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
      19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2)
We don't have riches. But to those who might . . . please consider those who not only don't have riches, but suffer hunger and cold.
      34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
      35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
      36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
      37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
      38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
      39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
      40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)