Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Teaching Our Children to Have Deep Faith

I have learned a few things about parenting in the church. I have always believed that I’m pretty good at it, but I have learned lately where I can do better. 

We have been counseled to do specific things to strengthen our families. We hear it often: Daily scripture study, daily prayer, Family Home Evening, and church attendance. We have been promised that if we do these things, our families will be strengthened and protected.

Having Family Home Evening, family scripture study, family prayer and attending church together are indeed important. Letting our kids see our examples of paying tithing and fast offerings, attending the temple and serving others is also very important. They learn more from our examples than perhaps any other source.

But these things are not enough. Lucifer is far too clever and cunning… downright evil… and his tools and his forces are getting worse. We need to ingrain these basic gospel activities into our children as core principles with tangible benefits, and not simply as casual exercises in obedience. But we still need more...

When our teenage kids become old enough to learn to drive, we don’t just ‘teach them’ by our example. We don’t depend on them watching how we drive, handing them the car keys and saying, “Now go do what I did.” No, we get our kids behind the wheel with close supervision and a lot of prayers for protection. That’s the only safe way they can learn… if we can even call that safe! Eventually we do turn them loose with the car keys… and even more fervent prayers. And they survive it. Why? Because they learned by doing. Will they make some mistakes? Probably… that’s why car insurance for teens is so expensive. But they will correct and strengthen their abilities.

In a work environment, management trainees get to experience the daily frustrations of running an organization and making tough decisions while under the supervision of someone who can mentor them. The trainees are learning hands-on, making their own decisions and dealing with difficult situations, not just by watching someone else or reading about it in a book. Co-pilots learn side-by-side with the captain of the airplane. Eventually, after many hours of hands-on training, the co-pilot will be in command of an aircraft. They cannot accept the responsibility for the lives of those they are transporting until they have experienced many different situations including weather, mechanical failures and administrative challenges.

When we follow the counsel from our prophets that I mentioned above, we indeed are helping develop testimonies in our children. But I have come to realize just how much these testimonies are borrowed. Our kids are leaning on our faith. That is good as they get started. But the time comes when they will be tested and tried. I mean really tested with something serious. And we won’t be there to shelter them or for them to lean on. What happens then?

If we have prepared them well, they will rise above the challenge with strengthened faith, better able to endure and overcome the next trial. If we have not prepared them well, they might be likened to the seed that fell upon stony places, as the Savior described in His parable of the sower:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. (Matt 13:5-6)

We need to allow our children to ‘learn by doing’ in the gospel. This means that we need to let them exercise their own faith. We need to let them struggle. We need to let them feel the pain and fear of significant trials. We need to let them plead to their Heavenly Father for answers or relief, whichever is appropriate for the occasion. We even need to let them fail at times… and encourage them to get back up and keep trying. And as the crowning part of this exercise, we need to help our children recognize the answers and blessings that come from the trial of their faith. They need to see these results.

Seeing the results of their own exercise of faith is like the experience that comes from driver training… there is no substitute for doing it. Seeing someone else do it is not good enough. It’s helpful but insufficient on its own.

One way we can help our children is to include them and involve them in family issues. If we have lost our employment or are dealing with a serious illness or other substantial trial, we should not try to protect our children’s feelings by keeping it a secret. While doing so seems emotionally protective, it can be spiritually destructive, as it denies them the chance to grow in personal faith. As long as confidentiality is not a concern, we need to include our children.

Example: Dad lost his job, and this creates a potential hardship on the family. By discussing the situation at Family Home Evening, all of the children can be aware of the concern. The family can pray together. The children can pray individually as well. Perhaps they can fast together, and the kids can feel some personal sacrifice / investment by being hungry for a little while. They can all provide encouragement to Dad as he looks for new employment. And when they see him get another job, they can rejoice together in the blessings. What the children take from this is that they personally exercised their faith and saw the promised blessings. They are genuinely stronger.

Many years ago my family was on a vacation in Colorado. My four-year-old daughter was miserable with mosquito bites all over her body. She was so itchy that she could not sleep. It seemed that all the Calamine lotion in the world could not bring her relief. So I suggested that we pray together and ask Heavenly Father for help. As I remember it, we both prayed, and she gave the sweetest, cutest little girl prayer. The next morning, she came to me excitedly and let me know that the prayer had worked, and that she was able to get a good night’s sleep.

I have always loved this story. It shows a child exercising her own faith, and when the blessings come, seeing that faith strengthened. That faith is not borrowed, and the experience can never be taken away from her. This is the beginning of real depth to a testimony.

Heavenly Father has a job to do… “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) He cannot accomplish this by sheltering us and letting us forever lean on His knowledge of eternal truths. He must let us learn for ourselves, including some tough, heartbreaking experiences. And if we want to give our own children the same blessings, we must let them learn the tough lessons of life as well. We must let them struggle, exercise their own faith, make their own sacrifices, and see the blessings come. Depth of faith can come in no other way that I am aware of.

 I would like to see my children have enough experience exercising their faith on their own and seeing the blessings and answers that come, that they could never doubt what they know. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, gives perhaps the best description of what I hope to see in my children:

"And he (referring to Sherem) had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken." (Jacob 7:5)

Whether we see angels is not important here. What matters is that we have enough experiences with the exercise of faith and seeing the blessings come that we know for ourselves and cannot be easily shaken. And if we can help our children gain genuine depth of faith and experience, I believe we truly will have done our jobs as parents in Zion. 

Right now I feel like I have some work to do.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"In the Church" vs. "At Church" - Some Revealing Questions

The spiritual challenges that people in the LDS faith are having in this day and age stir me to want to bear witness of some truths.

One of my favorite church books is “Christ and the Inner Life” by Truman Madsen. I have loved this book since I was missionary age. One of the chapters in the book is titled “Twenty Questions,” where Brother Madsen describes a conversation he had with another man who had drifted away from the church. He asked the man about twenty varying questions to gauge his depth of experience and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of the conversation, Brother Madsen concluded that his friend was ‘a member of the church but was not really “in” the church.’ I love that chapter of the book. It is perhaps the best ‘litmus test’ of sorts that I know of to measure a person’s depth of conversion and faith in the gospel. I have created my own list of questions here, based on Brother Madsen’s list. I give reference to this book because I didn’t want to plagiarize something I respect so much and believe to be quite profound.

Here are the questions I would like everyone to ask themselves:

Not Lost in the Crowd

Do you feel like just another obscure person in the church, one in a crowd of people trying to worship a disconnected being that nobody knows? Or do you know that God is your Heavenly Father – your Father – and that He knows you personally? Have you ever experienced a feeling of closeness to Him when you have fasted or prayed, or simply pondered on spiritual things?

Feasting on the Word

Have you ever become so interested in reading the scriptures that you just did not want to put them down? Granted, it probably didn’t happen while reading Isaiah, but have you ever enjoyed reading to the point where boredom, other priorities, or even sleep fled from you? Joseph Smith stated that ‘he who reads [the Book of Mormon] most will like it best’. Have you experienced this?

Speaking Directly to You

Have you ever felt while reading in the scriptures, wherever in them you were reading, that the words jumped off the page and spoke directly to you? Have you ever been able to do what Nephi did and ‘liken them unto yourself, that they might be for your own profit and learning’? Moroni told us that he ‘saw our day, and knew our doing’. Have you ever felt that some verses of scripture fit your circumstances or concerns so accurately that these ancient prophets could have meant their words just for you?

Just For You

While pondering about the Atonement of Christ, perhaps during the administration of the sacrament, have you ever stopped to really think about what the Savior did for you personally? Not as a general service for all, but for you? Have you ever thought about the big mistakes you’ve made in your life, and considered how He can just make them go away? Perhaps you have personally felt the cleansing that comes from feeling forgiven. Have you ever really studied with an open heart the words of Hymn 193, “I Stand All Amazed”? Have you ever become emotional when considering the incredible gift of redemption that Christ gave to you?

Words Beyond Your Own

Have you ever born your testimony, given a talk, given a blessing, or shared or defended the gospel of Jesus Christ in some other situation, and realized that you were using words that were not your own, or that thoughts came to your mind that did not originate from any memory or experience you had had? The Savior taught us that the words we need to share would be given to us at the very moment. Have you ever experienced this, and been able to understand where those words came from?

Thin-Veil Experience

Have you ever had the experience when you definitely felt the presence of more people, perhaps many more, than you could physically see? A ‘crowded’ place where you couldn’t see the crowd? Perhaps the death of a loved one, or a birth, or an experience in the temple?

Loving Those You Serve

When you have served other people, whether it be a home teaching or visiting teaching assignment, an extra act of service like taking a meal or repairing a car, or something else for someone who needed help… did you do it because you felt obligated? Did you do it because you felt the need to ‘give back’ what had once been given to you? Or did you do it because through a life of serving others, you have learned to feel love for those in whom you have taken some personal ‘ownership’ in their happiness or well-being?

Talking to a Friend

When you pray most earnestly, perhaps while in the car alone, or during a personal trial, do you really open up to Heavenly Father and talk to Him as if He is sitting there next to you? Do  you talk to Him as if he is distant and mildly interested in you, or do you talk to him openly and candidly as if He was a personal  friend?

Sweat Equity

Have you ever really struggled? Ever had your faith tried and tested by some challenge in your life? Pushed to what you believed was your breaking point? Did you plead with your Father for answers or relief? It can be something as simple as paying tithing when you feel like you can’t afford it, and you see blessings come that are otherwise unexplainable. It can be as simple as recovering from a sickness or injury after a priesthood blessing. It can also be something bigger, like seeing a loved one healed of a terrible disease, or finding a job when your financial back was against the wall. And when you did your part to exercise your faith, to increase your obedience or humility, did you see the blessings come? Did you recognize where those blessings came from? Have you repeated this process enough times in your life to know that it will continue to happen as you humble yourself and draw near to your Father?

Listening Deeply and Patiently

When you pray about something that is deeply concerning to you, do you prepare? And do you listen? I mean, really listen? Before you actually starting ‘talking’ in your prayer, did you take some time to ponder on the situation? And after you ended your prayer, did you just get back to the mundane tasks of life and forget about the process of spiritual communication and revelation, or did you continue to ponder for a while and listen closely to the Spirit? In the same way we need to let our eyes dilate and adjust to darkness if we want to look at the stars at night, we must let our minds eliminate the noise of life and become more sensitive to revelation. Have you ever just listened for a while after praying?

Your Will or His Will

When you have prayed during tough times, did you ask for guidance to help you grow from your trial, or did you ask for relief to make it go away? Most often the Lord wants us to grow. He wants us to work through it and become stronger. He has the objective of growing us and preparing us to be like Him and to do what He does. That cannot happen if He just bails us out. Did you pray for what you wanted, or did you pray to know His will in your circumstances?


A person who can answer all or most of these questions affirmatively – meaning that you have depth of experience in the gospel – is not one who is ‘delicate’ in their faith, and who is not prone to have their spiritual foundation weakened by issues like Ordain Women, Joseph Smith and polygamy, or some newfound controversial documents about Joseph Smith or other church-related issues that have suddenly appeared on the internet. A person who answers these questions affirmatively has depth to their faith. They have a deeper knowledge based on their experience with spiritual things. They put their trust in what they have proven time and time again – tests of faith followed by consistent and dependable blessings, as well as personal revelation in many contexts. They do not trust the wisdom of the world more than they trust God, His prophets and His divinely revealed word.  Those who answer affirmatively are like Jacob when he was confronted by Sherem in Jacob 7:5. Their faith cannot easily be shaken by worldly ‘wisdom’.

Those who have not had the experiences I ask about in these questions are not only likely to look to the world, but they are more likely to mock those who don’t do the same. They may be ‘at church’ but they are not ‘in the church’. They do not understand the spiritual essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They try to prove… or more accurately disprove… the validity of the gospel, using worldly evidence. This is impossible. See 1 Corinthians 2:11-14. Yet they try because they have no other methods available to them in their state of denying the Spirit of revelation.

There are no examples in the scriptures of anyone who embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ because they proved it using physical evidence, documents they read, or because they heard it from someone else. They embraced it because they had a spiritual witness, much like Peter did (Matthew 16:16-17). Trying to prove spiritual truths through worldly physical evidence is not only impossible, but it is frankly absurd in my opinion. Yet those who cannot receive a spiritual witness, either because they refuse to earnestly seek the truth at the risk of being wrong, or are simply unable to humble themselves before the Lord, will always be frustrated. So they mock.

“Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble” (Alma 32:16).

Friday, June 27, 2014

Seek Not to Counsel Your God

I am disturbed by several things I am hearing and seeing regarding the degradation of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel compelled to speak up. And again, I am sorry this is long. My posts are always long… we lawyer types must like to talk.

If it sounds like I’m being judgmental, I am. And it’s OK. We SHOULD be judgmental of some things. The scriptures teach us to know people “by their fruits” (Matt 7:20), and how to judge righteously (Moroni 7:16-19). We must judge some things in order to protect ourselves from false doctrines, evil-designing people, and other spiritual hazards. In making these judgments, I am focusing on things, not necessarily people.

Several people, including some who are close to me, are losing their faith over non-spiritual, trivial matters. Others are losing their testimonies of the gospel because they have succumbed to the philosophies of modern liberalism in our society, rather than following God.

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland so accurately stated, these people are “creating God in [their] own image.” (General Conference, April 2014)

Before discussing the specific issues, I would like to state that the solution to the problem is the same in all cases: People have abandoned the value of spiritual confirmation in deference to worldly evidence. Throughout the scriptures, the Lord has emphasized the importance of receiving a witness of truth by the power of the Holy Ghost, and not by other means alone.

People who were once active and (seemingly) converted members of the church are now seeking for signs to refute the visual evidence they embrace. The Lord taught that faith never follows signs, but that signs follow the exercise of faith.

Faith is wavering for many people. Something about the wisdom of the world has caused people to doubt their beliefs. If that faith had been built on spiritual experiences that cannot be denied, on the trial of our faith followed by the commensurate blessings, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

I read the comment recently that “Ignorance is the prerequisite of faith.” I disagree. That definition is technically impossible. It seems to be an attempt to marginalize and minimize spiritual answers. The scriptural definitions of faith include: ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1), and ‘not a perfect knowledge of things’, but a ‘hope for things which are not seen which are true (Alma 32:21). A person cannot have faith in anything if they are ignorant of it. They must know what it is they believe in.

The problem is that ‘faith’ is shifting away from spiritual witnesses to tangible, worldly evidence. People are putting their trust the world and its wisdom more than they are trusting God. And because they are losing their sensitivity to spiritual promptings in this way, they move further away from the truth they seek, without even realizing it.

Moroni taught that ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost, [we] may know the truth of all things’ (Moroni 10:5). The Savior taught that the Holy Ghost would testify of Him, and would bring all things to our remembrance that He has commanded us (John 14:26, 15:26).

I feel blessed that I have had a lot of trials in my life. They have given me the opportunity to humble myself before the Lord, do things His way instead of fight him or try to ‘outsmart’ Him with the world’s wisdom. They have given me the chance to try His promises… to exercise my faith in humility, and see the blessings come. And they have come. Plentifully. So many times and so consistently that I could not deny my faith now. I have said I am a lot like Jacob when he was confronted by Sherem. With the exception of seeing angels, I think that Jacob 7:5 describes me pretty well.

Depth of faith is required to withstand the distractions that Satan is bombarding us with. A shallow testimony that is not built on exercise, where we have been tried and tested and blessings have followed, cannot endure long.  

Now down to the nitty gritty:

Either you believe that God is your loving Heavenly Father or you don’t. You believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior, or you don’t. As a Latter-Day Saint, you either believe that the Book of Mormon is a book of scripture along with the Holy Bible, or you don’t. And if you believe that the Book of Mormon is true, then it follows that you believe that Joseph Smith Jr. was God’s instrument (prophet) in translating it and bringing it to the world. If you don’t believe these very basic tenets, then the rest doesn’t matter. We’ve identified the problem. Go no further.

All other issues are ancillary to these core beliefs. If you struggle with women having the priesthood or not, or whether Joseph Smith had multiple wives and was wrong for doing so, or anything else that might imply imperfections in the people of the church, it does not need to shake your entire faith if you have previously developed a solid testimony of the core doctrines. If these issues do shake your faith, then your foundation was weak to begin with. Asking questions and praying about some things is appropriate. We all have questions about things. Having questions about doctrinal issues that bother us is not discouraged in this church. What is important is how we try to obtain an understanding.

Something happened on my mission that really bothered me. I got through it. I got a priesthood blessing, and not long after that I understood. The difference here is that I didn’t run to the world and its secular views, or anti-Mormon sources, to get my satisfaction. I didn’t join a support group full of other people who also refuse to turn directly to the Lord for help but are wanting to do things their own way. I went to the Lord. I prayed. I studied. I got a priesthood blessing to help me understand things through the Spirit. It worked.

I love the example that Nephi set when he struggled with the decision his father Lehi made to leave Jerusalem by commandment from the Lord:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” (1 Nephi 2:16, emphasis added)

Those who will do what Nephi did, with sincerity and humility, will get the same result. Those who look elsewhere because they don’t have the faith to trust the Lord will get their satisfaction elsewhere. That’s a natural result that comes as no surprise.

Someone I know said that ‘a testimony helps people look past the facts.’ I disagree. A testimony doesn’t ‘help us look past facts’, assuming those statements referred to are even facts at all.  A lot of false information is posed as ‘fact’. A real testimony built on diligently seeking the truth for oneself, through study, prayer and obedience to God’s commandments, and then seeing the blessings after the trial of our faith, does allow us to consider issues and information without it having to shake the very foundation of our beliefs. That is part of what I believe Christ referred to when he gave the parable of the sower:

“5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches andpleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:5-15)

Where we are personally on this spectrum is up to us to determine, but if we are questioning our entire faith and abandoning core values over things like women and the priesthood or gay marriage or anthropology, and unable to hold onto spiritual witnesses given to us by God, then we certainly are not ‘those that fell on good ground’ according to this parable. Those that fell on good ground reconciled their concerns the way Nephi did… directly and humbly with the Lord, and not with worldly statistics, secondary literature or outside support groups. Those who follow Nephi’s example are the ones I would say fell on ‘good ground’.

I am hearing of attempts to ‘prove’ the validity of the LDS faith through census statistics, books written by independent authors, scientific evidence of unproven theories, and the like. A spiritual reality such as the existence of God or the truthfulness of the LDS faith cannot be proven through worldly means. It’s a total waste of time, and those who attempt this get further away from it as they get wrapped up in the wisdom of the world. They get further away from believing they can trust God to provide their answers. So they continue to look elsewhere… census data, support groups, or whatever. Instead of going to their Heavenly Father, they look to other sources. And they have their reward… the wisdom of the world instead of Him who created all things. The more they search the world for answers about God and His kingdom without first putting their trust in a divine witness, the weaker they become spiritually.

Spiritual things cannot be understand by worldly pursuit without including God and the witness of the Holy Ghost.

"11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:11-14)

So when we don’t get the answers we want… what do we do? Do we keep looking for what we want? Or do we finally humble ourselves and turn back to the Lord? The latter is apparently very hard to do once a person has traveled the worldly path for a while.

We cannot obtain spiritual knowledge on our own terms. It is always on God’s terms. But that knowledge will come to all who will humble themselves and do things the Lord’s way. I am sure of that. I believe those blessings will come dependably and consistently as we do it His way. It is no different than a scientific experiment. If a nuclear physicist wants to split an atom, he cannot dictate the terms of the experiment and expect success. He cannot say he’ll only accelerate the atom to a certain speed, etc. Likewise, we cannot dictate the terms upon which the Lord reveals spiritual knowledge to us, or blesses us according to our obedience. We’ll be disappointed if we assume such foolishness.

“ 31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.” (D&C 58:31-33)

The ‘Ordain Women’ movement is nothing short of apostasy by those who want God to recreate His divine, eternal governing structure to fit their fleeting liberal feelings. To hear some of these supporters proclaim that they are active, committed LDS members is preposterous.

One of two things must be true here: Either these supporters believe that the women/priesthood issue is a policy created by the church itself, and that it is not of God, and that He is not in charge. Or they believe that they can persuade God to change His eternal structure for the salvation of His children, something that has been working beautifully for eternity.

If they are trying to get God to change his eternal doctrine, may I refer all to the last verse in D&C 22:

Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.” (D&C 22:4)


It is clear that followers of the Ordain Women movement do not accept the Lord’s revealed doctrine as it now exists. They apparently don’t accept the president of the Church as a prophet, seer and revelator, because he’s not revealing to them what they want to hear. They side with an organization that is diametrically opposed to the divine nature and calling of women, not just in the church but in the eternities. Therefore, they have distanced themselves from the influence of the Holy Ghost and from worthiness to enter the temple and receive those additional blessings. Perhaps in their state of being influenced by worldly views, they no longer value the Gift of the Holy Ghost or temple attendance.

Kate Kelly (the organizer behind the Ordain Women movement) is not a martyr because she got excommunicated. She is an apostate. And she’s trying to take others down with her. And sadly, many people who should know better are following her.  She has since expressed her determination to keep up her effort to change the Lord’s eternal system of family and government. Ms. Kelly might be a fine person in all other aspects. But in this context, she is an adversary to the truth of God. Satan is using her to dismantle the faith of some, and to destroy families. The destructive power she is exercising needs to be recognized for what it is.

This is not an issue of the Church being unrighteously oppressive toward women or anyone else. This is an issue of God’s eternal family and government structure, one that has been proven to work since the beginning of His kingdom, and people wanting Him to change it to fit their own philosophies.

Isaiah was right on:

“9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:9-11)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was also right on:

“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.

Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of “comfortable” God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like “comfortable” doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in?” (General Conference, April 2014)

When we embrace the liberal philosophies of the world, whether it be about women and the priesthood, or gay marriage, or women wearing pants to church to be equal to men (remember that one?), or all worthy male members of the church receiving the priesthood, we are showing that we care more about those philosophies than pleasing God. We show that we trust the world more than we trust God. In effect, we are choosing another god in place of the One who created us and who is our Father.

Satan can make worldly philosophies appear to be sensible. That is where the Gift of the Holy Ghost is so important. The power of discernment that is part of that gift is critical to our being able to avoid pitfalls like this.

The ‘support’ websites for people who struggle with their faith are not helpful in genuinely returning to the church. Rather, they manufacture even more justifications for dissident views, and a latent further distancing from the influence of the Holy Ghost. They are populated by others who lack the faith to approach God, and the desire and humility to do things His way.  

In the book of First Nephi in the Book of Mormon, when Lehi was taking his family out of Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and going… they didn’t yet know where… Laman and Lemuel rebelled… they whined and sniveled. They questioned their authority figure, their father, who happened to be a prophet of God. They beat up their younger brother (Nephi) who didn’t agree with their rebellion. They even threatened their own parents on the ship if they even verbalized support for Nephi.

But what did Nephi do during this time? He went to the Lord for his answers. He didn’t rebel. He didn’t go find a support group of fellow strugglers who were trying to find a sugar-coated, roundabout way to reconcile instead of doing what they should have and turn directly to their God. He didn’t publicly whine and murmur and criticize. He did it right. He went right to the source. Again I quote:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” (1 Ne. 2:16)

I remember reading an article right after the 2012 general election entitled “Nine Mormon Women who Voted for Obama.” Before I share my summary of this article, I want to reiterate the Church’s position at election time. They do not support a particular party or candidate. But the Church must, and does, take positions with moral issues, including political issues that are at odds with God’s will for His children. There are good people in all political parties, and some good ideas in all. But modern moral conservatism and modern liberalism blur their boundaries between the parties. It is a usual practice for the Church to send a letter to each ward and branch in the United States to be read at election time, basically reminding the members to do their civic duty and vote for those candidates and propositions/laws that will aid in righteousness and in furthering the Lord’s kingdom on earth. So why were these nine LDS women so proud that they voted against a former church missionary, former stake president, a deeply spiritual man in the Lord’s kingdom, and a proven financial success both in business and in government, who clearly puts family first and has Church principles at his core… and instead voted for someone who clearly opposes financial responsibility, personal accountability, liberty, morality, the sanctity of human life at birth, and the pure rights granted under our God-ordained Constitution? My simple answer is because they followed the ‘wisdom’ of the world rather than God. They believed what they heard in the mainstream media rather than understanding that through the power of the Holy Ghost they could know  the truth of what each candidate stood for and who would be best according to the Lord’s desires for the people of this nation, and particularly members of the LDS church. In short, they demonstrated their spiritual weakness, and they seem to be proud of it. Another example of abandoning a spiritual witness, and instead trusting the world and its wisdom.

President Boyd K. Packer said:
“Enos, who was “struggling in the spirit,” said, “Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.” (Enos 1:10; italics added.) While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process.
The witness is not communicated through the intellect alone, however bright the intellect may be.
“The natural man,” Paul told us, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13–14.)
Recently the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles issued a statement alerting members of the Church to the dangers of participating in circles which concentrate on doctrine and ordinances and measure them by the intellect alone.
If doctrines and behavior are measured by the intellect alone, the essential spiritual ingredient is missing, and we will be misled.
Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.” (General Conference, October 1991)

In summary, there is no other way to gain and keep a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with all that goes along with it, without the witness of the Holy Ghost. I believe it is impossible to maintain that testimony without continued exercise of it, by putting the Lord to the test. We need to exercise that faith and see the blessings come. All the wisdom in the world will not convince anyone of the truthfulness of God’s work. But when a person has been through the “refiner’s fire” and has seen the blessings time and again, perhaps hundreds of times, there is a spiritual witness with depth that all the wisdom in the world cannot refute. And there are millions of people in the world who have such depth because of the exercise of their faith, who will not succumb to the absurdity that is at the core of the Ordain Women movement and other satanic attempts to incite apostasy. I wonder what will come next… Satan is clever.