Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Wild Goose

Ah, what a weekend. 

We don't go to church more than a couple of times a year but we go to activity days and ward gatherings as well as young men's and young women's when schedules permit. We have an emergency prep calling within our ward. We did Seminary for our oldest for 1 1/2 years. That's a funny story (I shall diverge from the topic moment here).

So he had an incredible teacher the first year of seminary. The teacher taught from the scriptures and engaged the kids into that world of holy writ. Then second semester comes and we get a teacher that is more focused on having fun. My kid likes to have fun but their primary motive for taking seminary was to deep dive into the scriptures. But they pressed on. The class eventually got so out of control, the teacher took down all the photos of the first presidency and the 12. I found it fascinating and symbolic of the rising generation. Maybe I'm negative like that. 

I emailed the principal and told them we are inactive but we love the church and still want our child to cultivate their love of the scriptures and could we get a teacher that is focused more on the scriptures next year. He said yes and to remind him...which is like asking a baby to change its own diaper. My memory is not great. 

So, I forgot to remind him and we got a new teacher in the fall and he was super awesome but struggled to stick with the scriptures. So I asked my kid if they wanted to stay in seminary or give it one more try for a teacher that sticks to the scriptures. They said to try for a new teacher. So I emailed the principle and he hooked us up with a new teacher that, according to my kid, taught more scriptures on the first week than the other had the whole month. YAY! But the one problem....he started to open up his lessons with questions at the beginning of class. A lot of the questions were repeatedly about polygamy and, well - that's when my kid decided to be done. I don't know about you, but I just can't teach my kids that Joseph Smith was an adulterer and a liar to his wife and his children, to his friends, and to those in the church.  I just can't. I have to stick to the Truth and from all the research I've done, I can't get there. And I can't ask my kids to go there either. 

So, back to where I was going at the beginning of this post: What a weekend. 

We don't go to church much but we do go to enough activities that we are known and our calling requires us to maintain a text channel that allows a big group of our neighbors/ward members to be able to contact their neighbors for anything. We try to keep it fun and useful and have taken all of them eggs, a lot of sourdough bread loaves (still working on getting every single one of them a loaf), showed up when there was a death, shoveled walks, driven neighbor kids to school or dance when people called out for help, counseled two different family's that felt to confide in us about their marriages being on the brink, delivered gifts from the ward, cleaned the church twice since we were called, you get the picture. We try hard to be engaged, know what our neighbors are interested in, and be of service.

When the first bank collapse happened last week I knew one neighbor, in his 60's, would be interested in that so I asked him what he thought. I learned that one way to build good relationships with other people is to either borrow something from them or ask their expertise. I did the latter. And he said it would be a 30 minute conversation and when the time came for us to go over to his house, I had things at home I needed to take care of so I sent Ryan over and - 90 minutes later he returned. I was amazed it took so long and he summed up what the conversation ended up being. The brother in our ward let him know that if we went to church then we could have the spirit to be with us so we could know what to do and you wouldn't have to ask your neighbor what to do.

I'll stop you right there. I wasn't asking him what to do. I was asking what he thought of it all. Kind of like that dude on a subway in New York who says in his thick Bronx accent, "Yo, how 'bout this weatha, eh?" That kind of interest level. 

Continuing on with what the neighbor said: He felt we didn't qualify to have full access to the spirit like we could if we served in the church and attended each week, so naturally, we must have reached out to him because we were worried for our family's "salvation and stuff" (said in Nacho Libre accent).

I'll stop you right there. Nope.

Rinse and repeat those last things in a myriad of ways and we got hosed. But I don't "get" hosed. I get verbal. It's a huge failing and flaw of my personality. Those of you with the gift of kindness or peaceability...good. Good for you. I am so jealous of you - you don't even KNOW. I was born with a small brain and a short fuse and it always goes to, "Well, they are going to hear what I think about that."

So I texted the dear man. I let him know that I was trying to build neighborly friendships and had he been interested in cars and there was something going on in the news about cars, I would have asked him his opinion on cars. I'm not worried about my family and that he turned into something it never was intended to be about.

He asked to talk on the phone and so Ryan and I sat there for another 58 minutes (2 1/2 hours total of this man talking). Brutal. I did interrupt him at one point when he said that, "no one believed an invention like the Liahona could ever exist", but "look at what we have in our pockets now - phones that can give us directions, just like the Liahona did!" I said, "I'll stop you there, that is, I can't...even - the Liahona operated on their righteousness. Our phones operate on our will. Not the Lord's will, not on righteousness, on our desire to do what we want whenever we want." His response? "I'm not asking what you think. I'm talking now." 

He went on to talk about how much money their family gave to the Nauvoo temple construction and the framed letter he has from President Hinckley on their wall. How much money he makes his clients. How good he is at following the spirit and he even saved a man from choking one time. How computers and phones are from God. How our daughter's talk in church was amazing but imagine what kind of a girl she could be if we came to church all the time (I'll stop you right there - her talk was probably the best talk ever given by a 12 year old over that pulpit. I'm biased but I did help write it give some guidance so I should know. It was entirely about Jesus and from the scriptures so it makes sense why it fell short for him). 

I could go on, but my blood pressure is rising. Lord grant me strength.

You might think that the conversation was so ridiculous that we were able to shrug it off. Yeah, wrong. I mulled it over in my head thinking of the perfect thing I should have said but didn't say but I could say it if we met in a dark alley one time. My husband says some of the things I'm concocting maybe shouldn't be said out-loud. So I blog.

You've got better things to do than hear a middle age woman rant. My goodness, I'm middle aged! When did that happen? Great. One more thing to depress me today.

So, why am I writing? Because I had a good cry over the weekend and I just want Jesus. When someone tells you that you're a crappy parent because you're not sticking to the gospel plan and you've already told yourself that a billion times nearly every day for years and years and you wish you could put the tooth that fell out back into your mouth (i.e. the church)...but it won't go back in then you have a good cry, say a few swearwords and then ask yourself where you could improve and could this neighbor possibly be right.

Well, here's what I've concluded. Some teeth fall out, and we can't put them back. We can buy fake ones and pretend they aren't missing but those new teeth that are stronger and made for shredding meat are waiting to descend and you can either deny it or move towards the juicy T-Bone waiting for you on the other side. There will always be gristle, or people that offer unsolicited advice that's hard to chew, but you don't have to swallow everything you're given.

While I'm talking about food - I like food. Correction, I like good food. I am somewhat picky which makes me kind of okay at making some nice meals because it has to be the best tasting I know how to make. I don't like leftovers and meat always tastes odd the second day. We pack our kids home lunch every day and try to fill their bags with nutritious food. But I gotta say, there is something fantastic about going to a restaurant or a friends house and not having to cook dinner. It nearly always tastes better when you didn't have to make it yourself. 

Regular church attendance, for me, was so nice. It was like a restaurant - it was all prepared for me! I made little, if any, effort. You show up, the speakers do their thing, the classes have all been prepared and you shuffle your kids off into their respective rooms and *big sigh* served. (Don't get me wrong, I was an engaged member, but you get the point)

But then we got away from that. We felt like the amount of false doctrine being regurgitated was getting harder to have to later explain to our kids what the truth was versus what people say they believe over the pulpit or in a classroom or in a lesson (D&C 93:40). And so we started to teach lessons at home. And this wasn't easy. I liked the restaurant! It's all made for you - it's so delicious. Well, not delicious, but it was food and I didn't have to make it - therefore it was pretty good. It was palatable. We ate something approximating food.

Going back from time to time has shown me, this isn't food. This is the equivalent of Government subsitidsed cafeteria food at the elementary schools. Have you been to an elementary school cafeteria lately? You would shudder to know what they are offering to young children and passing off as "ingredients". But, it does contain calories - I'll give it that.

In the Celtic tradition do you know what they called the Holy Spirit?

The Wild Goose

How beatutiful. How appropriate. How true.

When you are led by the spirit you encapsulate what Jesus taught Nichodeemus when He said,
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.
Can you imagine a church service like that? I can. Our family has had to practice chasing the wild goose for the last four years and I am thankful we have. All these little eyeballs locked on us and we get to teach them how to truly pray, how to literally ask, seek, knock. How to read the scriptures. All of it. I don't blame you if it is intimidating. I know many mom's who homeschool and just the thought of doing that gives me IBS. Perhaps it is the same for you when you think of home church? The wild goose will call to you. If it's time, you'll feel it. And if it's not, you'll know that too.

I was thinking about the Star Wars movies yesterday. I found it interesting that the dark side is portrayed as Order and the rebels are portrayed as Chaos. 



If you think of lot's of movies that contrast good and evil, they tend to portray darkness as extreme order, crisp and clean,  hierarchy and leadership, rules and regulations. The rebels are always wild and scrappy. Can you think of other movies or books like that?

You have to ask yourself, what does the church do? Is it the wild goose? The "wind blows where it wishes," like Jesus told Nicodemus it would be? Or is it "order" in the extreme?

Have you ever heard someone say (or maybe you said this yourself), "The church is the same everywhere you go in any country on any continent." This is usually made as a statement of pride at our organization. Uniformity is definitely a comfort. Leadership has made a handbook of instructions so that you never have to pray to receive revelation about what should be done in almost every situation, the thinking has been done for you. But if you're looking for the wild goose, you won't find it in places where "it's the same everywhere you go." 

The Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws. By the time Christ came it had produced a people of vanity and unbelief as their brand of righteousness. As such, it contained some tragic flaws that kept them from coming to Christ. We in the church have the same vanity and unbelief which keeps us from relying wholly and completely upon the merits of Christ.

(1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. 

This belief runs through our church as well. If it’s been a while since you’ve opened up the handbook of instructions, take a look (here). There are instructions ranging from how to wear your garments in the military to instructions on consulting with the stake leadership about music for stake events to instructions on how to properly take care of the church house, appropriate costumes for events, and more.

(2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. 

If someone is in error and commits sin, rather than approaching God and working out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philipians 2:12), you must go to a man and confess your sins and then he will consult a handbook and tell you how long you have to wait until you are forgiven. Forgiveness of sin then becomes mechanical - like punching in a clock for work and punching out. There is usually a standard/universal timeline that tells you when your sins are officially absolved.

(3) It reduces a person’s ability to personally discern. 

Rather than asking God what He would have you do, you consult your fleshy armed leader or the handbook or instructions given you by leadership to measure if you are on target or not. This leads to a dependence upon leadership and distances you further and further from your God.

(5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. 

This happens frequently. One example I will share is when I was in church as a teenager. There was a wealthy member of the congregation who has much influence and had served as mission and temple president and knew President Monson (who was president at that time) personally. This brother had an extreme dislike of children who would bear their testimony that required a sibling or parent whispering in their ear. He wasn’t shy about making his feelings known over the pulpit as well. 

His chastening still did not remedy the situation to his liking so  told a few people, me being one who was within earshot, that he  personally wrote to President Monson expressing his disdain for such testimonies. I thought it was comical at the time until a few months later, a letter from the First Presidency was read over the pulpit concerning the bearing of testimonies of young children who are not able to do so on their own. It discouraged such actions as whispering in the ear, etc. and, well, that was that. 

I was amazed at the influence that one man’s pet peeve had to the point of a church letter, and later an admonition in the Church handbook of instructions (here).

(6) It produces inconsistencies. 

2 Nephi 31 shows us what these inconsistencies look like. In the church we teach that we need Jesus Christ to be saved. And we also teach that “we need more” than Jesus to be saved. We contradict the scripture that says we need to do 3 things to be saved: 1. Repent, 2. be Baptized, and 3. press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, "having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

We forget that the Book of Mormon says “this is the way”! “And there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

(7) It created a false standard of righteousness. 

The Pharisees had a false standard or righteousness. We are no different today. I recently finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. In the book there is a parable given called "The Grand Inquisitor". It begins with the story of Christ's second coming in Seville, Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Christ performs several miracles similar in nature to the miracles He performed in the Gospels. The people of Seville accept Him as the Son of God, worshiping him at the Seville Cathedral. However, Christ is arrested by the leaders of the Inquisition and condemned to death by immolation the following day. The Grand Inquisitor visits Christ in jail and rejects his purpose, claiming that the Church is now enough for the world. If you haven't read it before, it's worth the read. The Grand Inquisitor portion can be read here

(8) It became a burden to the Jews.

Members of the church do not, on the whole, seek a true personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is relegated to the President of the Church. President Nelson’s wife, Sister Wendy Nelson confirmed this in a talk she gave to the European members when she said, “The Lord's prophets can see things we can't see and can hear things that we cannot.” You can’t see or hear some really important things. The little stuff is okay. Big revelation - no. 

That contradicts so many scriptures written by Prophets! No prophet would ever put themselves between you and God, nor would they allow another to do so either. A few scriptures: Hebrews 8:11, Isaiah 54:13, Jeremiah 31:34, John 6:45, 1 John 2:27.

(9) It was strictly external.

The Pharisees weren’t going for transformation. They missed the point of the laws, to bring them into alignment with their God. The church does something similar. You will often hear Jesus mentioned in church talks - leadership will acknowledge that Jesus had the gift of parables in teaching, that He raised the dead, He healed the sick, He cast out devils, He suffered and died for all humankind, He rose again from the dead, His miracles were beyond description…”BUT” you will subtly find throughout the talk that He isn’t enough. They essentially say, "you need more. And we are the only ones with "keys" and "authority" and the "covenant path" to give it to you and if you don’t get Jesus through us, you don’t get Him at all. 

A great example of this is Elder Wilcox talk to the youth here as well as Elder Hamilton's talk that Owl of the Desert wrote about here

If we are taught that Jesus isn’t enough, then you must preach the importance of rituals and that's what the church teaches - "We have the keys and the authority to the rituals". This is the LDS twisting of gatekeeping and the direct need for a connection to Jesus Christ is relegated to the Prophet and he will be the middleman for what we, to quote Sister Nelson, “cant see and can’t hear on our own.” (2 Nephi 9:41). 

This kind of thinking makes your spiritual journey much more transactional, like a machine. “If you do all the right things, you are guaranteed an outcome.” Or, “If you pay your tithes, attend church regularly, answer all of the temple questions, and attend the temple regularly, you are guaranteed a place in the Celestial Kingdom. It’s just that easy.” Jesus doesn't work like that. Remember the Wild Goose? His methods aren't something you can write in a handbook about or invest funds in. He rarely healed the same way twice, do you really think He's going to run such an orderly church? He was a Beautiful Outlaw (if you haven't read or listened to that book already, treat yourself today. Put it in your shopping cart and hit "buy"). 

(10) The Jewish church was rejected by Christ.  

In the church, we have many teachings and doctrines we believe to be true - with every fiber of our being. However, when things we believe aren't founded in the scriptures, they become a false tradition of our fathers (D&C 93:39). The Lord told us we would be rejected by him if we didn't get our act together in Nauvoo. Did we get our act together? Ryan and I wrote a paper about it - I'll give you a spoiler alert. We didn't. The church vainly teaches that the leaders have been darn near perfect in leading us aright and everything is in order but the scriptures reveal otherwise. Read that paper here. If that link doesn't work, go to my very first post and scroll to the bottom and click on the Ryan and Ruth paper link. 

Wouldn't it be cool to gather with people that had Jesus as their focus, and just Jesus. No dogma we have to subscribe to, no new and improved cannon or rules you have to promise to obey. Just PURE lovers of Jesus and the desire to seek and do the Lord's will in all things. A group with an eye single to His glory surely will "see eye to eye" (Isaiah 52:8). I long for that. I fantasize about a big gathering like that. It sounds creepy but I think about that at night when I can't sleep. For now the number of pure Jesus lovers is small and the contentions many. But when people love Jesus Christ above all else...when He is their only focus and His glory is their single want and desire, we will have unanimity.

First Things First
Consumed by Fire

Monday, February 27, 2023

Observable Behavior: RMN Analysis

I have studied body language a bit. I'm not amazing at it, but I'm interested in it. I frequently ask my kids, "What should I believe, what someone says...or what they do?" They know the answer - believe what the person does. Anyone can say what you want to hear - but the things they do give you a glimpse into what is going on inside their head. Actions and body language are very hard to hide. People are like icebergs - words are just a fraction of the person...what they do tells the bigger story.

I'm always trying to discern the character of a man (or woman), especially more-so in the last two years. What motivates them...what get's them out of bed in the morning...what offends them...where is their focus. What light (or lack of) is in their eyes (Matt. 6:23). Being deceived will heighten your desire for the gift of discernment, at least it did for me. Thinking you know a person(s) but having this gut feeling something is off and ignoring that feeling and then finding out that gut feeling was right is aggravating. I've given myself long lectures about why I need to trust what I am feeling.

President Nelson has captured my curiosity these last few years. When he was called as President of the Church in 2018, there seemed to be a dramatic shift in the church. I have never, in my life, heard more people say that they received a strong witness he was a prophet of God. Because of the many testimonies that came our way, my husband and I spent many hours in prayer and many days in fasting to receive an answer from the Lord concerning President Nelson. After time, and much battle in prayer, we received an answer. When I shared with someone close to me about the spiritual battle we experienced as we prayed for an answer, they chastised me saying that it seemed like a lot of darkness and therefore the answer that came after the battle couldn't be trusted. I'm not always the best at verbal confrontations - I tend to think of the perfect response a couple days later. So I failed with saying anything and just sat there silently looking at the floor. Looking back now, I wish I'd have mentioned Joseph Smith in the grove. He sure battled something dark that day.

I think it's valuable to try to understand President Nelson's character and it is important to look beyond what he says publicly and look to what he does.

President Nelson wrote his autobiography, From Heart to Heart, back in 1979 before he became an apostle in 1984. A copy of the book is over $2,000 (link). Fortunately for us, the BareRecord blogger was able to procure a copy and take some photos.

If I was going to assess a person's core personality, one primary way would be to pay attention to how they talk about themselves. Lucky for us, we can do that with President Nelson. Here is the foreword President Nelson wrote himself to his autobiography:

This book, the engaging record of the life and experiences of Russell Marion Nelson, is a fulfillment of a great dream. In these pages he has set forth a chronicle of his noble parentage and crystallized the many experiences of himself and his adorable family. This work will bring joy and peace and happiness to its readers.

The first time I saw the Nelson family was at a stake conference meeting in 1964. Eight daughters were singing a song, accompanied by their mother, Dantzel. I was amazed and pleased, and I thought, “What a perfect family! What beautiful parents! And what delightful children to grow up in one household.” I have known them from that time forward, and now there are nine daughters and one son. Brother Nelson has always been a family man first, and now all his family unite to bring him honor.

I owe much to him as a doctor. It was in 1971 in England that I first spoke to him of my heart problems. When we returned to the United States, investigation showed that I had problems with a deteriorating valve in my heart and an obstruction in an artery. I felt my life slipping away, and I wondered if perhaps the time had come for a younger man to enter the Quorum of the Twelve and do the work I could no longer do. But at the inspired insistence of President Harold B. Lee, I was prompted to press on. Therefore, my life was placed in the hands of this young doctor, in whom we noted a sweet Spirituality. Because of his skill as a surgeon—one who trusts in the power of the priesthood and relies on the Spirit of the Lord—my life was spared, even though the risks were very great for a man of my seventy-seven years.

We became close as I recovered from the open-heart surgery that he performed perfectly. Whenever I became discouraged, there was always his sweet, understanding spirit to buoy me up.

Then President Lee died in December 1973. We never thought it could happen, for he was younger than I and seemingly in good health; therefore, we were all taken by surprise. Brother Nelson, of his own accord, came to my side immediately in case he should be needed. I appreciated his thoughtfulness very much...

It pleases me very much to note that he has done a superb work in assembling the information to bring this book into existence...It seems to me that it has been done beautifully and without flaw. Long will his children and their posterity honor this great man, and long will they remember that he followed the precepts of his Lord through his prophets...

President Spencer W. Kimball Salt Lake City, Utah March 1979

Now I know what you're thinking - it says President Kimball wrote it. But that isn't so. 1. Ask yourself if this even remotely sounds like the way President Kimball ever spoke or wrote. 2. The photo below shows President Kimball's journal entry about Russell M. Nelson's autobiography. The addition to the journal was added by President Kimball's son. "Fulsome" means excessive, overdone, or gross flattery to an excessive degree. Fulsome, in this instance, couldn't have been used more appropriately.

Back in December I needed photos of Jesus for a project I was working on. I was able to procure a stack of Ensign magazines and as I was going through them, I came across a curious page turner. On one page it was President Nelson. And then on the next page - the Christus. The imagery was fascinating and I had to say, I've never seen a prophet make this pose more than he does.

To double check myself - I searched up other past Presidents of the Church to see their common speaking pose and besides a few arthritic fingers occasionally raised to make a point, they gripped the podium. I couldn't help but wonder if his body language of choice had anything to do with the new church symbol announcement President Nelson made shortly after he became President (link).

He likes a legacy as evidenced by his personal autobiographical Foreward as well as his custom made future headstone found at the Salt Lake Cemetery (link). Using granite from the Salt Lake Temple deconstruction - he had it turned into this very, very large headstone. Observe the other headstones in the back of the photo to get an idea for scale. Again, just interesting to try to understand the character of a person millions revere as the one who speaks to God on their behalf.

The headstone comes with a little plaque. The plaque doesn't say the word "headstone" but rather it says..."Monument":

President Nelson's decision to redo the Salt Lake Temple seems to be another passion of his. 

BareRecord wrote about a comment he read about the deconstruction of the Salt Lake Temple:
“This is the saddest thing I've ever seen, for Latter-day Saint heritage -- they basically decapitated, gutted, jacked up, and removed from its foundation -- one of America's most-iconic, most-recognizable, most-historic, and most-sacred structures. They put the interior through a wood-chipper. Almost nothing of the original exists now except that the granite is being re-used on the outside of an all-new steel and concrete building. I'm not diminishing the importance of a new temple to the living and dead members. I know that many people find joy in newness, and spiritual gratitude from more ordinances per day. But this is like shredding an 1830 original first edition Book of Mormon, to use the paper pulp to print a new replica, because the newly-printed Book of Mormon might convert a tourist. The old copy would have converted more. The theologians and marketers have their reasons, but legitimate historians should be horrified. I'm a Mormon material culture historian, not a theologian, in this context...I'm also a libertarian who thinks property owners have an ethical right to wreck their own historic property, as they did. But there are other moral stakeholders in a community, too. What in incalculable loss to the whole church, community, city, and country, and the pioneers, due to high-technology owners who do not seem to value preservation, architecture, or history. John Hajicek (Jan 25, 2023):
President Nelson had a special video made about his deconstruction temple project and showed it at the October 2021 General Conference. In the video he said, “The foundation of any building, particularly one as large as this one, must be strong and resilient enough to withstand earthquakes, corrosion, high winds and the inevitable settling that affects all buildings. The complex task of strengthening now underway will reinforce this sacred temple with the foundation that can and will stand the test of time.” He also said, "My dear brothers and sisters, when renovations on the Salt Lake Temple are completed, there will be no safer place during an earthquake in the Salt Lake Valley than inside that temple."

I find it very curious indeed that the Temple was fortified by men and not by God. It underwent construction to withstand the elements and destruction God will inflict upon His house - those who have professed to know Him - but don't.
24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord. (D&C 112)
The Temple wasn't fortified through the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Why? Because we don't work that way in the church. But we do least fulfill prophecy:
5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. (2 Nephi 28)

I can't help but wonder if the deconstruction of the iconic Salt Lake Temple, which has often been a symbol to represent the LDS church, is actually a physical symbol of where the church is at spiritually. The structure contains some of the original parts but on the whole it has been torn apart and re-vamped into a structure that was engineered by "experts". President Nelson has put down the power of God in this one act. God has given His power to men and men say..."construction, engineering, and experts will solve this problem." 

No safer place in the Salt Lake Valley except inside that temple?! Forget spiritual protection, which is far more important than the physical. "No... live thyself nearer to me...(the Salt Lake Temple once construction ends in 2025) and attend often. There is no safer place to be..." 

Another one of President Nelson's accomplishments is the rebranding of the Church's name. Florida has the "don't say gay" bill and Utah has the "don't say Mormon" thingy. 

It has long been a bee in President Nelson's bonnet about the terrible use of the word "Mormon" (yeck, gag). He spoke about it 23 years ago in the talk, "Thus Shall My Church Be Called" (link). Six months later, President Hinckley titled his talk, "Mormon should mean, More Good" and justified the use of the word "Mormon". And so the battle secretly began. 28 years later when President Nelson was called as prophet he said, "The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will." He also said, "To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan."

Wendy Nelson, President Nelson's wife, made a Freudian slip very revealing statement about President Nelson's agenda shortly after he became President:

“I have seen him changing in the last ten months,” said Sister Nelson. “It is as though he's been unleashed. He's free to finally do what he came to earth to do. … And also, he's free to follow through with things he's been concerned about but could never do. Now that he's president of [the Church], he can do those things.” (link)

It beg's the question...what the heck were the other prophet's doing all that time? Actively NOT receiving revelation?

But getting back to the "don't say Mormon" thing...if that "major victory for Satan" part is true, then every President has scored BIG for Satan up until this point. On top of that, President Monson would have run the greatest campaign for Satan in our history. The "I'm a Mormon" campaign ran from 2010-2018:

According to President Nelson, from 1830 until 2018 the church, which used the word Mormon constantly, was continually living in a Satanic triumph. Although other prophet's led the church and never received a revelation about the Satanic conquest continually being enacted... under President Nelson's watch...he achieved revelatory victory. To tie the use of the "incorrect name" with Satanic victory assured mass compliance. Brilliant really. 

Another one of President Nelson's personality traits is his flair for "the gasp" in the announcing of Temples, even when there is no ground purchased for said temple such as the announcement of the temple in Russia in 2018 (ask any returned missionary from Russia if there are enough active members to run a Temple and you'll see why there's still no temple there). Then there was the temple that was announced in Shanghai People's Republic of China. Two days after President Nelson made that announcement the Municipal Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs made a statement:  
Whether Mormons in China will be able to get nearer to that presence remains to be seen. In a statement issued two days after the Church’s announcement, the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs said that “according to the relevant laws and regulations of China, foreigners are not allowed to set up religious organizations or venues for religious activities in China.”

The bureau denied any knowledge of plans for a temple in Shanghai, saying they were the “wishful thinking of the Mormon Church in the United States.”
He has a theatrical background and met his first wife when they were co-leads in a play at the University of Utah (link). His love of performances came shining through at his 95th birthday party with the biggest lineup of guest artists for a prophet's birthday party to date (link).

Now I'll share a personal story of a friend with whom I was close to. Their father, still relatively young (in his 60's) became injured in an accident which rendered him unconscious and on life support in the hospital. Their entire family gathered and went to the hospital to be with him as the doctors assessed his situation. At that moment, who should come into the room but Elder Russell M. Nelson. He knew their father and said that he wanted to come and visit and advised the family to take him off of life support and let him pass away. When my friend told me this story, my mouth hung open and I said, "Well! What did you guys do?!" What did they do? Well, they listened to the Apostle and took him off of life support and he passed away. I was amazed an apostolic blessing was never even offered. Dumbfounding, really.

Writing this has made me very tired. I'm not sure why but it's not normal for me to have a wave of exhaustion overcome me every time I return to a post. Maybe I'll add to this post over time, but for now, this is my character assessment of Russell M. Nelson based on observable behaviors outside of pre-prepared speeches to a worldwide church organization. 

General Conference is 33 days away and falls on April 1st. At that time you will have the opportunity to sustain the leaders of the church in order to be able to answer your Temple questions with personal integrity and honesty. If you haven't already, take the time to pray to know for yourself if these men are God's chosen Prophet's, Seer's, and Revelators. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Eternal Lives

I had a friend ask me about the Doctrine of Eternal Lives. Did we live before? Will we have another life after this one? Where did the words, "Eternal Lives" come from (insert thinking emoji here)?

You may have heard the words when you've participated in or watched a temple wedding ceremony where, once the husband and wife are married "legally and lawfully," they are then told this: 
"I seal upon you the blessings of the holy resurrection, with power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed in glory, immortality, and eternal lives."
Well, let us begin with what the church teaches about glory, immortality, and eternal lives:

This version of the plan of salvation was created, as far as I can tell, to help with missionary contacting many decades ago and now it has become a common teaching in the church and is regarded as fact. The only problem with the church's plan of salvation is - you can't find it laid out in the scriptures exactly. There's a lot of inferring and it tends to be more like a scripture cafeteria where the church picks and chooses "plan of salvation" scriptures to suit their narrative. You can array the scriptures on a tray and call them dinner...but jello, side salad, and a bowl of mixed fruit doth not a plan of salvation make. 

I will now loosely summarize what the church teaches about the plan of salvation.

Ready? okay! We lived in some sort of a premortal existence before we were on earth...basically it was like a lot of pillars and stairs and spiritual hang-out places, like this picture below! 

We were all equally baby spirits, if you will. We had never had a body before, we never died before, we never made a mistake, stuff like that. But some baby spirits were SUPER AWESOME and could even be called Noble and Great (Abraham 3:22). How they became "Noble and Great" is a mystery but never mind that now, we're talking about where we came from. SO - there we all were just being in heaven and then there was some arguing one night in the heavenly family home evening discussion when we were talking about all of us going down to this new planet to get bodies aaaaand, well, one of the sons of God fell. His name was Lucifer and he was a once an angel, "in authority in the presence of God" (D&C 76:25, Isaiah 14:12, D&C 76:26-27). Not sure how he got to the status of, "having authority" (using Tommy Boy's voice on that one) but somehow his Spirit was jacked and he had authority in the presence of God. Buuuuut...he wanted a different plan than Heavenly Father (typical millennial, "it's all about me"!) and then Jesus offered to be a Savior.

Jesus' offer didn't go down well with Lucifer so a big kerfuffle happened and then it got way blown out of proportion and it turned into this major war in heaven. Not sure how a war could happen if we were baby spirits. Must have been verbal war - "my want fwee agency. my want body!!" So aaannnyways - there was the war and then Lucifer, who was the son of the morning (wait, how'd he get a title if we're all just baby spirits?) recruited 1/3 of the baby spirits to side with him. And remember, he was a baby spirit too (he must have been like the Nikola Tesla of the baby spirits and got more atoms swirling in his spirit or something). So Lucifer gets cast out to another location and then the 1/3 became evil, I mean SUPER evil, and to this day he and the 1/3 want to destroy us. Because everyone on this planet chose the plan of salvation, for sure. We know that for sure. They all wanted Jesus - but now many on earth are confused (not those on the covenant path, we know that for sure too) and many will probably go to the lowest kingdom (sorry, forgot to mention the three kingdoms after this life). They'll go to the lowest but it's far better than what we can imagine and they'll be fine because those from the higher will be able to visit them down below - for eternity. This is taking way too long to break this down. Big inhaaaaale....So then we come to earth, live a very short life and then that little blip on an eternity symbol is all the chance we have to "get it right." 

Depending on the level you, "get it right," will determine which kingdom you go to. There's no way to know where you'll go ahead of time you see - it'll happen after the resurrection and then it's kinda like the sorting hat at Hogwarts. God (the sorting hat) says, "Griffindor!!" (celestial!), "Ravenclaw!" (Terrestrial - ooo, so close), "Hufflepuff." (Telestial, whoopsies) and the worst possible sorting, "Slytherin" (outer darkness). Now don't worry yourself because the ones that go to outer darkness were super great but fell super far. We're not sure how they became super great if we were all on the same standing...and how that happened is a mystery too. Baby spirits are complicated like that, it's birds and bees stuff. "How is the sausage made?" You don't want to know. So just do your best and stay on the covenant path and follow whatever the church says and you will be exalted at the last day. For sure. Probably. Most likely. Best not to delve into the mysteries and have another cookie, dearie.

The end.

Look - I'm going to give you fair warning...this post is going to be long and it will be dense with scriptural references that may feel repetitive. That's the point. I want to show you that the doctrine of Eternal Lives is correct. But - I have to build a case and in order to do that, I'm going overkill with quotes, scriptures, and references. So if you're down with that level of intensive reading and pondering - buckle up.

Some have said, "Who can know of such things as "Eternal Lives"'s a mystery and you know what they say about seeking after mysteries - dangerous. Would not recommend." 

It's a fair point. Could be dangerous to delve into such things...I'll address that by the end.

What has been said about 
seeking after "mysteries"? 
"I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness." - Joseph Smith
"When any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God." - Joseph Smith
"...Rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness; they saw the flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder." (TPJS p. 304)

1 Nephi 1:  

1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. 
1 Nephi 10: 

19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. 
D&C 42:

61 If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.
D&C 121: 

26 God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;
27 Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious  expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;

28 A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.

29 All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now that we have established that it's important to seek after the mysteries, let's look at quotes and scriptures that talk about...

Eternal Lives

"The earthly is in the image of the Heavenly shows that is by the multiplication of lives that the eternal worlds are created and occupied..." (The Words of Joseph Smith p. 232)

"When the word 'ruach' applies to Eve, it should be translated lives." TPJS p. 301

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.

The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it. Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming His name, is not trifling with you or me.

What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out His kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to My Father, so that He may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt Him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take His place, and thereby become exalted myself.

So that Jesus treads in the tracks of His Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all His children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said.

When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave." (TPJS pp 345-348)

"And I heard a voice from heaven saying blessed are the dead who die in the Lord for from henceforth they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them -- they rest from their labors for a long time and yet their work is held in reserve for them, that they are permitted to do the same works after they receive a resurrection for their bodies, but we shall leave this subject of the terrestrial bodies for another time in order to treat upon them more fully." (The Words of Joseph Smith, p.42)

"Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council..the head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world...Come here ye learned men, and read, if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not for the word rosh - the head, the Father of the Gods." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp 348-349)

"Commencing with Adam who was the first man who is spoken of in Daniel as being the "Antient of days" or in other words the first and oldest of all, the great grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is Michael because he was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, but he was the first to hold the spiritual blessings, the plan to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the Salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven and will continue to be revealed from henceforth."
(HC 4: 207-208)

"That of Melchisedec who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor Patriarch only but of King & Priest to God to open the windows of Heaven and pour out the peace & Law of endless Life to man & No man can attain to the Joint heirship with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power & Authority of Melchisedec." (Words of Joseph Smith, p.245)

Hugh Nibley:

"And so we have in the Pistis Sophia, continuing the Egyptian teachings, the picture of a constant remixing (kerasmos) [it uses the Greek word kerasmos, mixing up all the time] going on in the universe in which old, worn-out, contaminated substances, the refuge [or garbage] of worn-out worlds and kingdoms, is first thrown out on the scrap-heap and returned to chaos as dead matter [what do you do with it then?] then melted down in a dissolving fire for many years, by which all impurities are removed from it, and by which it is ‘improved,’ and is ready to be ‘poured from one kind of body into another.’ This whole process by which the souls as well as substances are ‘thrown back into the mixing,’ is under the supervision of Melchizedek, the great re-processor, purifier, and preparer of worlds. He takes over the refuge of a defunct world or souls, and under his supervision the five great Archons [they are the five principles; they are always talking about the five principles; this is Egyptian too] process it…each one specializing in particular elements, which hey thus recombine in unique and original combinations, so that no new world or soul is exactly like any other.” Well, they get it going by going into something like a spiral nebula. “In this full blown pleniarism there is no waste and no shortage: ‘If there were any superfluous or any lacking, the whole body would suffer, for the worlds counterpoise one another like elements of a single organism.’ The worlds go on forever: ‘They come and come and cease not, they ever increase and are multiplied, yet are not brought to an end nor do they decrease.'” Well they took that answer to the three questions: Is the universe expanding so slowly that gravity will finally take hold and draw it back together into

(Nibley, Hugh. Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price (Kindle Locations 4113-4126). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.)

Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price: Lecture 16, Winter Semester 1986 Hugh Nibley:

"This is from the Joseph Smith papyrus: "That he might enter the horizon along with his father Re (the sun)." "If the essence of cult and festival is transition, the rite of passage, succession of lives...[that's quoting a famous work by Mowinckel]." See, the rite de passage, you pass from one state of existence to another." That's what we are interested in more than anything else -- transition, the rite of passage, and succession of lives. "Now the great exponent of such meaningful motion is the sun which rises and sets everyday."

"This is from Erik Hornung, an Egyptologist and very good authority on this business: " The Gate of heaven or the underworld between the earthly and the other-worldly spirits was from the earliest times localized in the aakhut." That is the seam or juncture, the Nahtstelle, the interface between the other world and this world."

"...Perdition means lost. It means losing something that you had. It means one fallen from high estate. You can't be perdition; you can't be lost unless you were found. And you can't be fallen unless you were high, fallen from high estate. Perdition means that which was lost. "Nine days [as Milton says] he fell in hideous ruin and combustion down, down, down." You have to be high. He was among the highest in heaven up there, and down he fell. That means perdition, the one who is lost and fallen and gone...for thou was also before the world." 

Now let's look at some familiar verbiage and break it down: 
"I seal upon you the blessings of kingdoms, thrones, principalities, powers, dominions, and exaltations, with all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and say unto you: be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Remember, in Jacob's dream he saw a magnificent ladder that is set up on earth and reaches to heaven on top. Jacob witnesses angels traveling up and down the ladder making their way to earth and back to heaven. He then sees the Lord standing above, who says to Jacob, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac." God tells Jacob that his offspring shall spread across the world and that, "in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

Angels ascending and descending are important things to understand. "Kingdoms," "thrones," "principalities," "powers," "dominions" are all classes of angels who are progressing (link) in their relationship in the New and Everlasting Covenant and those are sealed upon the Temple initiate (symbolically) and are based upon your faithfulness in this life, and the life to come, and the life beyond. This is briefly mentioned in the sealing ceremony when the officiator seals upon the initiate "eternal lives" (see the promises given in the sealing blessing above). For further discussion on this, see this blog.

Abraham 3 speaks of varying degrees of heavenly beings:
22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God (how did this "one" that stood among them get to be, "like unto God" unless this "one" had lived before?"), and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell."
Adam and Eve experienced varying degrees of angels in the Garden of Eden when they were instructed, "of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it..." (Moses 3). When God told Adam and Eve to dress and take care of the garden, was he talking about pruning trees, eating fruit, making bouquets and playing with animals? Or was He likening the "noble and great ones" (Abraham 3) to trees (ancient ones who have lived many lives) and encouraging Adam and Eve to go and partake of their knowledge, save but one tree (Satan)?

That a time is coming where your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren, will question what is being taught in all areas of life. Unless the things they hear and are taught make sense to them (and it won't matter what source it comes from) the next generation will reject it. This is good progress because instead of authority being the truth, truth becomes the authority

There are 3 questions that will come that, if not answered, will render the Bible and all scriptures useless. If you, or those that come after you, do not know with absolute certainty with a promise from Heaven, 1. Where you came from, 2. Why you are here, and 3. Where you are going, the scriptures will become obsolete…tales of cultures past with no application to the present day.

In the church we traditionally believe vague things like, "if we go to the temple and stay on the covenant path, we will go to the Celestial Kingdom". Those are comforting thoughts. But they are false traditions that have no scriptural foundation whatsoever.

There is only one true way to know, for yourself and not from another, the answer to the questions I listed above. It is the same knowledge the father's sought after and obtained for themselves as described in Ether 12: 

18 And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God. 

19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad

20 And behold, we have seen in this record that one of these was the brother of Jared; for so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith.

21 And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he could no longer be kept without the veil.

22 And it is by faith that my fathers have obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles; therefore the Lord hath commanded me, yea, even Jesus Christ.

The father's sought for the blessings of the Holy Resurrection, with power to come forth of the morning of the first resurrection, clothed in glory, immortality, and eternal lives.

What is the first resurrection?

What does it mean to be clothed in glory?

What does it mean to have immortality?

What are eternal lives?

If we, or our children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. can't answer these questions with confidence, having heard it spoken to us from the mouth of the Lord, then we can not abide the day. As it says in Lectures on Faith 6: 
"For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator, were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God.

It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.

But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith; therefore, they cannot lay hold upon eternal life, because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do; and without this guarantee faith could not exist.

All the saints of whom we have account in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight, through the sacrifice which they offered unto him: and through the knowledge thus obtained, their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure us seeing him who is invisible; and were enabled, through faith, to combat the powers of darkness, contend against the wiles of the adversary, overcome the world, and obtain the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.

But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence, and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak, and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them."

Joseph Smith also said: 

“When men open their lips against [the truth] they do not injure me, but injure themselves. … When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.”

“When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.” 

Joseph Smith also said: 
"Go and read the vision in the Book of Covenants. There is clearly illustrated glory upon glory—one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and a glory of the stars; and as one star differeth from another star in glory, even so do they of the telestial world differ in glory, and every man who reigns in celestial glory is a God to his dominions. 

Paul says, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So is also the resurrection of the dead.” They who obtain a glorious resurrection from the dead, are exalted far above principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power."  (Plurality of Gods Sermon Delivered on 16 June 1844)
Jeremiah 18:
2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
2 Corinthians 3:
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
D&C 93:
11 And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.

12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;

13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;

14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
Mark 16:
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country (that one is just cool...but something to think on).
Luke 2:
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Revelation 3:
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
John 8:
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
John 12:
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Hebrews 11:
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.
Alma 7:
20 I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round.
D&C 79:
3 And inasmuch as he is faithful, I will crown him again with sheaves.
D&C 103:
27 Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again.
Moses 1:
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
D&C 93:
23 "Ye were also in the beginning with the Father..."
D&C 93:
19 "...that you may come unto the Father in my name and in due time receive of his fullness."
D&C 76:
59 "All things are theirs whether life or death." (interesting that a Celestial person could choose "life" or "death" again)
Alma 40:
5 Now, whether there shall be one time, or a second time, or a third time, that men shall come forth from the dead, it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case—that there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead.
Revelation 3:
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Alma 7:
25 And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.
Alma 34:
36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.
Helaman 3:
29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—

30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.
3 Nephi 28:
40 And in this state they were to remain until the judgment day of Christ; and at that day they were to receive a greater change, and to be received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens.
Matthew 17:10-13 New English Version (see also Matthew 17:10-13 KJV):

New English Version 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11. He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13. Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Matthew 16:
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
Jacob 5: 1-77 Servants go down and back and down and back and various people are grafted into various places. He talks repeatedly about "laying up fruit" to himself. Why do you lay up fruit for yourself? Because it can give you seeds to continue the next year and the next and so on. Jacob verse 76-77 is interesting when you parallel it to the book of Revelation and the final battle. 1000 years of peace and then a season where Satan is loosed...

JST Micah 5:
2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
John 17:
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
D&C 88: 
5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
1 Cor. 8: 
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
Mark 10:
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
Rev. 3:
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Okay, if Eternal Lives is a what?

1. From what I've seen the last 13 years is that someone always gets a "revelation" (insert Tommy boy again) they were "someone really, really, really important" in a past life (and oddly enough they'll tell you that you were "someone really special" too). Run from that. It's always a lie. Always.

2. You'll be tempted to ponder on who you were in a past life. Don't. Who you are is all that matters. 

3. You'll be tempted to ponder on who you are. Don't. Familiar Spirits will step to fill in the gap and they will always speak to your ego. Who you are is a humble servant of God seeking to 1. understand His will and 2. to do what He asks of you. 

4. You, like many before you, may be tempted to believe that your aaaaactually married to someone else from a, "former life" and that having an affair  immorality is not "immoral" anymore because they are your real spouse. It's a lie. Always

5. The discussion of Eternal Lives means that the Davidic Servant will always come into play. Pondering on one's own connection to God and on their life's purpose allows for familiar spirits to "reveal" many things to a person(s). 

Let me just say this - the Davidic Servant will be unlike any person you will have ever met. They come with highest rank and an end time mission that, aside from the Atonement of Jesus Christ, will be unlike anything the earth will have ever witnessed. This Servant will have the backing of all the hosts of heaven. The Davidic Servant won't be spending their time trying to motivate a bunch of Mormon yay-hoo's to live better. They will come from on High to reclaim the entire House of Israel and were a person to hear them speak, there would be zero doubt that they were in the presence of someone with great glory that is unlike you or me. 

"Well", you might ask, "...since such bad things spawn from the knowledge of Eternal Lives, then why even discuss it?"

Remember seeking after "the mysteries" and all that? 

He is the mystery

Ask Him