What Will I Choose?

Earlier yesterday evening, I thought over how I had let the day get away from me early on, not staking out time to spend in the Word of God. And I regretted it. I had needed the strength that comes from time spent in scripture, as had my family, and yet I didn't have that strength to offer, that day.

In discussing a few things with Vern shortly thereafter, I shared that I felt like I lived some kind of strange, dual life; that half of the time I felt capable and confident, that I could handle whatever came my way, and things would be all right; but the other half, I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, utterly incapable and full of despair. It seemed surreal, to me, that I could alternately experience such totally different states of mind, and that whichever one I was in seemed just as real as the other did when I was in it.

Not long after that, Holy Spirit brought to mind a little grain of knowledge I had tucked away: the word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psycho.
from Greek psukhē ‘breath, soul, mind.’
Current practitioners call psychology the study of the human mind, but as the Lectures on Faith explain:
"And he [Jesus] being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, . . . "
 I continued to think on that little revelation into the evening, meditating on how it applied to my earlier heart cry. How could I experience two such totally different states of mind, states of spirit, and have them both feel like actual reality? Then this came to mind:
And so now we find ourselves having to choose. It's a healthy thing. You ought to have to choose. You ought to have your salvation at peril on how you choose. . . . You should have to choose. And your eternal peril should hang in the balance as you make that choice. That is a perfect conundrum, in my view. Grow up. Accept the burden. Find out. Learn about God. Or be damned by your carelessness, by your indifference, by your refusal to go forward. It ought to be so. And it ought to be put to you plainly. And you ought to have to choose. And you ought to have to choose every time you hear [the enemy] offer something to you. . . . Because [he is] either offering you something . . . that will save you, or [he is] offering something that [he] hope[s] will damn you, because [he's] signing you up on the wrong team. It ought to be so. Everlastingly, it ought to be so" (Denver Snuffer, Lecture 2, "Faith", September 28th 2013, Idaho Falls, ID).
It's a choice.

Which do I want?

Do I want to exist in the reality of damnation?

Or thrive in the reality of salvation . . . the reality determined by the wishes of the enemy of my soul, or the brilliantly-lit and deeply powerful reality framed by the words of the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One who gave His all for me, the perfectly loving, perfectly just and astoundingly generous Jehovah?
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 

Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  

(Jeremiah 29:11-13, AMP)
Who do I choose to believe?

To whose words do I give power?

I've spent years and years under the rule of the lies of the enemy . . . lies of defeat, of believing I had to give my all first, and then hope for salvation at the judgement day. That I had to laboriously trudge through life, hungering for the occasional crumb from the Lord's hand to palliate the desperate nature of my existence. And the crumbs would always come . . . God gave them to me as soon and as often as I would accept them. But I didn't look for His grace, I didn't understand His love or His extravagant generosity, and so I lived the life of a spiritual pauper while the riches of Heaven lay strewn all around me.

I think you can guess Whom I choose to believe, now.

Image found here.

Which "reality" I choose is up to me. God has said a LOT about my life, about all of our lives. In Him we WILL overcome. He hasn't abandoned us. He won't abandon us.

We can't do it on our own, but with Him, we can do ALL things.
And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. (Moroni 7:33)
Jesus said, "If ye will".

It's a choice.

And I choose FAITH. I choose LIFE. I choose Jesus Christ.

When confusion's my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near

When I'm caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I'll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You're right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness
all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don't have to see to believe
that You're lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

My help is from You
Don't have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don't have to see it, ‘cause I know,
‘cause I know it's true

~For King & Country, "Shoulders"

Words Upon Waking

One night a few months back, I crashed super-early. I woke up three hours later, at midnight sharp, with two lines from scripture running through my mind: "O, ye generation of vipers!" and "God is able of these stones to raise up seed unto Abraham." I figured I'd better look them up and see what God had for me to think about.

These weren't snippets I had read recently, nor had I been thinking about them on my own that day.

I Googled "of these stones to raise up seed unto Abraham", since that was the last thing that ran through my head, and found that both phrases were in the same chapter, Matthew 3:
"In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Pushing Back the Dark

". . . for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world." ~Alma 34:34
SOME kind of spirit possesses us all the time. 

ALL.  Not a single second left out. 

When we don't live up to the law we know, we fall under the power of the adversary. Unlike God, he seizes as much control as he can wrest from us. he is ravenous for power, claiming authority over others whenever he can seize it. he's the ultimate lawyer, working to win on technicalities . . . which he can do because the tradition of our fathers teaches those technicalities are right/normal/expected, or worst of all: according to the law of heaven.
"A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God." ~Joseph Smith, from History of the Church, 5:588.
During our Testimony meeting yesterday, there was testimony was full of the passive, empty declarations of salvation through works, implying that Jesus is separated & distanced from us, with His salvation (only & finally) coming into play at the judgement bar, after we've suffered all kinds of things at His hands. As I heard it, the fire of my own testimony burned bright in my heart . . . that Jesus is HERE, with us NOW. That we exist, and He won, so we might have JOY! That He walks with us, and our lives can be filled to overflowing with miracles and the joy and righteousness of His glory. Did I mention that's all right now? Right this minute? No enduring to the end first? That's God's astounding grace! :o)

One of my BFFs said yesterday evening how, when we walk into a dark room and flip the light switch, we don't hear the dark arguing that it gets to stay. ;o) Where light IS, darkness CANNOT be. Now, that principle gets interesting because we own our minds & hearts. Agency is the name of the game. When we have unbelief in our minds & hearts, we choose darkness over light. True testimonies & teaching might supply electricity to the switch, others can even open a door into the room so we can see light through the doorway . . . but we have to flip the switch to accept the light as our own. Heck, so many don't even realize there IS a switch, accepting their gloomy bondage under the abominable idea that God keeps them in the dark for their own good, because God manages to still teach them some good things, to manifest some of His absolute goodness, as they labor in their darkness.

In the areas where we deal with spiritual bondage, familiar spirits will fiercely defend their territory, struggling to keep that spiritual darkness, those veils of unbelief, just as they are. About a year ago, a good friend prayed for me. She prayed for protection against some things, including the spirit of confusion. While I felt the Holy Ghost in strength throughout most of her prayer, when she prayed against the spirit of confusion, I felt the Holy Ghost's power withdraw. In my understanding, God didn't want me to be free of a spirit of confusion, because He withdrew His approval when she prayed for that. And I was confused by that idea.

After the prayer I told her that I'd felt the Spirit leave at that one point, and she responded in a way I'd never seen before: "Okay," she said, smiling, "the spirit of confusion, huh? Let's pray about that." She then prayed against that spirit, and I realized I had been totally mistaken. God wasn't disapproving of my freedom from that spirit--I had given that spirit dominion in my life by submitting to it in the past. As she prayed further, I felt my near-constant depression lifting. I began praying silently in total agreement, and we kept it up until I knew (through my feelings and what God showed me in the spirit) that it was gone. As she began that prayer, I had felt the same lack of the Holy Spirit . . . but as we prayed for several more minutes, God's love came back as the spirit of confusion was cast out. (The fact that I had felt confused by an idea that I thought was from God was a HUGE red flag. He is not the author of confusion, but of peace and clarity. It still tries to return every so often, and tries new tricks, but now that I'm aware that's one of my weaknesses, I can watch for it and pray to understand what I see, and then pray specifically against what's going on.)

When we "feel the spirit leave", it's not what we've been taught: the Holy Ghost speaking to us that something is false. The Spirit of God blazes in us for truth, it teaches & reaffirms truth in us. It speaks truth or leaves. It leaves when we flip the light switch to "off", by allowing another spirit claim upon us (for whatever reason--including generational curses we've carried since childhood or earlier). Whether through sin or ignorance (both of those can include false teachings we accept), when we do that we have unbelief that keeps us blind, in a dark room shut out of the glorious light of Jesus.

So, the next time you have that experience, that you "feel the spirit leave" to use the Mormon jargon, ask God what's really going on. Ask Him to reveal the bondage you're under, so you can understand--so you can flip that switch that evicts the darkness without argument. :o)

Keys keys KEYS!

Today, there's a LOT of talk about "keys" in the LDS church. Leaders are constantly and regularly holding forth that they hold keys that give them authority, and that require blind obedience if we want to be saved. But, if asked, all they could say is that keys are authority from God. Yet, the reality of that power is based entirely in man, and in the temporal and temporary organization that we call "the church".

I have an alternate understanding: Keys are only authority in that they are knowledge. 

When we possess knowledge, we have power to act differently.

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.  ~Doctrine and Covenants 84:19              
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.  ~Luke 11:52                                                                                                                                  
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as are the records on the earth in relation to your dead, which are truly made out, so also are the records in heaven. This, therefore, is the sealing and binding power, and, in one sense of the word, the keys of the kingdom, which consist in the key of knowledge. ~Doctrine and Covenants 128:14                                                                      
Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the summum bonum of the whole subject that is lying before us, consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy Priesthood. For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living. ~Doctrine and Covenants 128:11

What was the whole focus of the events in the Garden? That Adam and Eve would gain knowledge. That they would have a key to unlock (or sufficient knowledge to understand and grow from) the fullness of life experience. That knowledge was the most powerful thing they could possibly possess. Satan had advantage over Eve in the garden (the ability to beguile her) because he had more knowledge than she did.

Joseph Smith also used the word key in terms of knowledge (I can't find a source for this at the moment--anyone remember?). In teaching how to understand revelation, he said the key was to ask yourself what question the revelation is answering. That stuck in my mind because his use of the word "key" was only in reference to knowledge, and not in reference to authority as it is used today.

Joseph also taught that those who have more knowledge have more power:

"A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God." (History of the Church, 5:588.)

Knowledge is power. "Key" is another word to express knowledge that brings power.

And I can say, in my life, knowledge of the Truth--including that Jesus, Himself, IS the Truth--has been the key to unlocking the emotional and spiritual prison I've lived in for decades.

God's Avalanche

I stood in a canyon place at once both narrow and yet unprotected, faced with stone strongholds barring my way.  I knew I was called to go forward, and yet I also knew my bare hands would prove of little effect against the mortared stones.

And so I waited.

And while waiting, I prayed. I praised. I sang. I worshiped.

And God began to move.

All around me, sand and pebbles began to skip and skitter down from the incredible heights. Rocks more and more massive came down, sliding, bouncing, falling. The air was full of stones, and they bombarded those barrier walls, bringing them down piece by piece, larger and larger chunks of masonry cast down.

The air, thick with rock, reminded me of watching swarming bees . . . so many you couldn't count, could hardly comprehend . . . and yet nothing touched me. I never felt the faintest breeze, though the crashing and thunder of stone set the mountain shaking. And yet, while it should have deafened me, I hardly heard it, like a movie turned down low.

And as I watched, I saw miracle made manifest.  The stronghold's stones fell into place, guided by my Master. They stacked perfectly, beside and behind, ramparts and battlements for His army, dry-stacked stone walls stronger than any mortared wall ever could be.

As those strongholds came down, I could see the chasm beyond--broad and echoingly deep as some stones ricocheted from its walls to disappear below.

Slowly, the air cleared.  The silence felt peaceful--and yet it shimmered with the spiritual energy of seraphic song. I looked beside and behind me, marveling at the monuments to God's care for me, built in moments, and so completely protecting. And, turning to begin pursuing my call, I saw the chasm: now conquered with an impossible arched bridge, the huge stones fitted closely, and held in place by gravity alone.  Even in this--an obstacle I had no way of seeing until after the avalanche had brought down most of the wall in front of me--God had prepared a way for me to succeed in His will.

And so, with more song and a prayer, I moved forward.