Posts Tagged revelation

On dreams and the interpretations thereof

Many years ago, in the time between the end of my first marriage and meeting my second wife, I had a dream. I was feeling particularly down and had asked in my prayers for a dream of the future. I wanted to know there was hope when I’d not been able to see it. The dream I had I have rarely shared, but what bothered me most is in being unable to interpret what the dream might mean.

You see, in the LDS Church, we believe in many “gifts of the Spirit”. These are mentioned in the New Testament(1 Corinthians 12) and Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:8-18), and are more specifically listed in the Doctrine and Covenants (Section 46). They include many different types of miracles, including healing, the gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues, wisdom, discerning of spirits, knowledge, and prophecy. These had been much more evident in the early Church than appear now, likely because we tend not to talk about such sacred things. How does one gain such things? The scriptures say it is by the Spirit of God. We’re also told in scripture that we should seek after these good gifts and to use them for the benefit of the children of God in the name of Christ.

We don’t seem to pursue them much anymore, perhaps from unbelief. We have a hard time believing that such miracles could be for us, even when we see or hear of them in the lives of others. But still, we are told to pursue them to help build the kingdom of God. I’ve always wanted “interpretation of tongues” myself, though I have a hard time learning languages. Others would be amazing to have, but how do you prepare or practice such things?

In any case, back to my dream. In my dream, I was returning home after attempting to catch someone at the bus station who was returning to us. I opened the door and to my left were my parents, easily recognizable but obviously much older. On a couch to the left was a young looking woman (perhaps a teen) excitedly jumping and two young boys. The excitement of everyone was electric. Then the woman who I’d gone to pick up entered.

At the time, I’d believed this would take place in the millennial era, when Christ would reign and the dead would be resurrected. The people there could be fit to those I knew of at the time; my parents, my younger sister and her then two sons, my older sister who had died before I was even born. As time has gone on (being 16 years ago now), I realized the roles could be different; my parents, my younger daughter and two sons, my wife.

It could also be that it was all “just a dream”, and I’ve been projecting my hopes on it. My father, who is in his mid eighties and has now been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, may soon die. I know of no one who has the gift of interpreting dreams like those of the Old Testament, Joseph and Daniel. If it was the future, could I not even know the people in the dream in present time?

Prophecy is a tricky thing. We could be shown things we have no words adequate to describe, like John in the book of Revelations, we can have no idea of the time frames involved, yet still for some reason they are given. There must be something about them that is needed at the time they are given, possibly even for times afterward. For me, my dream has given me hope, even when I’ve not been able to see a way for it to happen. It confirms my knowledge that our family will be together forever someday, no matter what separates us.

And that day will be gloriously happy for us all.

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Believing in Miracles

In the early years of the Church, miracles of healing, prophecy, and tongues seemed rampant.  I believe part of this appearance is due to the closeness of the community and the habit of writing and publishing every prophecy (no matter how widely it applied) to the entire Church.  For example, mission calls are an almost constant occurrence now, but none of them are published in the Doctrine and Covenants or announced over the pulpit at conference.  Miraculous healings are often quietly shared stories as part of a lesson or talk, rather than documented in the now public journals of half the congregation.

I wonder, though, if some other reason may be involved.  As we’ve wandered through the 20th century, with its advances in technology and knowledge about how things work, we’ve simply stopped believing in miracles.  Somewhere along the line, we’ve decided we were too “grown up” to believe that miracles were anything more than just coincidences.  The expectation of a miracle has given way to the belief of “if it’s only by God’s will anyway, why should asking, praying, or giving a blessing make any difference?”  The belief in being a conduit of the power of God has given way to “I’m not really important enough to do those big things.”  Fear also plays into this.  We don’t have records or spread stories of times when miracles did not happen, even when done by people who had been part of a miracle before.  We fear, “what if I try and it doesn’t work – was it God’s will, or was it my own arrogance, pride, or other failure that got in the way?”

What can we do to see an increase in the miracles around us?  What can we do to believe in the gifts we have and the power we’ve been authorized to use?

First, we can remove the incorrect assumption that gifts of the spirit are only made manifest through holders of the Priesthood.  In the scriptures, there is no mention of Priesthood when talking about Gifts of the Spirit (such as healing, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc.), nor is there mention of Priesthood in the Article of Faith listing some of the Gifts of the spirit we believe in.  Not all gifts are given to all people.  The Priesthood is not the bestowal of spiritual gifts, but the call to perform specific acts and ordinances.  Healing may be done by the power of the Priesthood, but this is not a requirement for using the healing Gift of the Spirit.

Second, we can give the responsibility of the outcome to God.  There is a balance to be found here.  We cannot take the whole responsibility of a miracle happening or not happening on ourselves, but we also cannot just give blessings and expect God’s will is always the same as our will.  We should be striving to listen to the Spirit of God to know when we can be a conduit for a miracle while <i>also</i> accepting whatever the result of the attempt may be.  Yes, it is always according to God’s will, but you do not know that it was not also God’s will that you try, even if the answer would be no.  As we often try to remind our children, “you will never know if you never ask,” sometimes the act of asking is as important as the miracle itself.

Third, we can believe that miracles are continually happening all around us.  None of them may be as immediate or dramatic as we would like them to be, but we have a very limited view on what is happening all around us.  Our drive to work may have been delayed or sped up by a milliseconds difference in the changing of a traffic light, but that millisecond may have been the difference between a safe drive and a bad accident.  How many times have we made a mistake and said to ourselves, “I’m glad no one was there, or I would have caused an accident!”  Even in the gift of healing, we cannot know the effect the use of that gift has had.  Maybe the time the person would remain sick was lessened.  Maybe just the soothing of the Spirit is all that could happen.  No matter what your expectations on effect and timing, you have no way of knowing what the outcome would be, nor of its place in conforming to the will of God.

Last, we can believe that each one of us is important enough to be a conduit for the power of God.  There is nothing commonplace about us – we each are known and beloved children of Heavenly Parents.  We each have the capacity to become like them.  We each have the capacity to be a part of doing whatever is asked of us is moving along their plan for us.  No part is too small, and every person is needed.

What thoughts do you have?  What can we do to bring us back into remembrance of the Gifts of the Spirit that seem too few and far between in this “modern” day and age?

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Leaders called by revelation who do bad things

I have read a number of stories of people who have fallen away from the Church because of the poor decisions of local leaders, blaming the Church or those who put these people in authority for the misdeeds. I have a friend who often states that leaders “must have been listening to the wrong spirit” to have called someone who has either sinned or treated them in what is perceived (at least by my friend) as in a poor manner. I have seen still others point to misuses or perceived carelessness of leaders as an example of the “intolerable” male-dominated system of leadership within the Church.

In all of these cases, the choices of an individual, with their own free agency (or ability to choose their actions), is being projected onto those who received personal revelation that a particular person should be in a particular position, or onto the Church as a whole. That these leaders choices were independent of the trust placed in them is ignored. It is assumed that those assigning the positions (or making the callings) “should have known” a problem was going to happen.

In the Church organization began by Jesus, 12 Apostles were called, in anticipation of their leading the Church when He was gone. All of them were men with their own strengths and weaknesses, their own knowledge and experience. Two (at least) failed for a time to live up to what was expected of them. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for money. Peter betrayed his own Apostolic calling to declare that Jesus is the Christ when he denied three times that he knew or associated with Jesus. Was Jesus just not listening to God when he made these calls? The idea of predestination can also be discarded, being contrary to LDS teachings.

If Jesus can call men who have the potential for making mistakes, could we not also, even with direct inspiration from God also call men who have the potential to make great mistakes?

The plan of salvation given by God, as opposed to that given by Lucifer, is one of choice. Each one of us is capable of being worthy to return to Heavenly Father, and are also able to choose not returning. The plan of Lucifer was to remove that choice, so all would return. Hence, no matter what callings are extended, no matter what opportunities we have in this life, we all retain the possibility of doing both right and wrong. To lose trust in the personal revelation of others in who should fill what positions when they have been called of by God to do so will erode the trust in the Church as a whole, and ultimately in God.

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Milk before meat

(was a comment to another post on Keepapitchinin, and I thought I’d post it here as well)

Try as they might, the people at Church correlation will never satisfy the spiritual appetites of its members by feeding them only stale bread and tepid water.

Ive heard this kind of reasoning as the milk before meat argument, being that if you give a child only milk, it will get malnourished and die. Some think that the conference talks are always about the same things, that weve not had new doctrine in over 100 years, and that every revelation in the last 150 years has been due to political pressures.

To me, this is like someone demanding to know how to travel to the moon while in practice they occasionally (or often) add 3 and 3 and get 5. If someone tries to correct us, we only complain that were hearing the same weve heard before.

If we, as a people, did better at the things we are being taught in our meetings and conferences, there would be floods of new things revealed, much of which would likely challenge things we have reasoned out on our own.

That is the reason that personal revelation is so important, as well as why we are counselled to keep revelations, dreams, angelic ministrations, very personal or only shared with a few close friends or family; we are each taught by the Spirit at the level we can handle. You cant conclude that if you havent been taught what you believe others have been given means that you are not worthy or what others have learned are not true. Intelligence is not building a tower, it is building a mountain. If we get a teaspoon or a truck full of knowledge, it may not be the same part given to someone else.

The best discussions about doctrines, including underground/alternative docrines are those that open you up to think more about what you believe, and ultimately open you up to be taught by the Spirit, who is the best teacher of all.

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Sola Scriptura

Christians, in general, seem to have widely differing views on the role of scripture in their religion. Some use only a few portions of the New Testament, some only the New Testament, some add a bare touch of the Old Testament, and some believe the Bible collection of scripture to be definitive. Still others accept all ancient books as part of scripture, and others have specific books they add as scripture.

As an LDS (Mormon), I believe as is stated in the 8th Article of Faith (which is a declaration of the LDS basic tenets):

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

In addition to this, we have and make use of Prophets who are called by God to preach in these days. The word of the Prophet is more important than scripture, as it is what God wishes to tell us now, not what we needed when the scripture was written. It should also be noted that the Prophets also ask us to not take any of it on blind faith, but to pray and ask God for ourselves if what was given is true.

I have had friends leave the church over this. They were directed towards seeming inconsistencies in what the Prophets have said, and decided that it meant that someone along the line wasn’t really a prophet.

The reason we need prophets is the same as in Jesus’ time. We, as a people, change. God does not change, but we change in what we need to be taught and reminded of by God. Polygamy is a good example – God gave us instruction on how some men would take more than one wife, to be kept as a very sacred and holy covenant between God and those involved. Unfortunately, some took advantage of that teaching and twisted it to their own ends, and that doctrine was taken away. No one in the LDS church now enters into plural marriage, even if the country the members live in doesn’t disallow it or it is acceptable culturally. Even if the Bigamy laws were repealed in the US tomorrow, God would not direct his people to enter into that covenant until they, as a people, showed they were ready. Considering divorce rates, we have a very long way to go before then.

Having a living Prophet is invaluable to us. Having that direct guidance from God, which we can confirm personally, helps direct us as a people in improving our homes and communities and preparing us for the time when Jesus will return in glory. Its not a dismissal of scripture, but building upon; having even more resources available to us in our quest to become more like Jesus.

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