Saturday, December 31, 2016

Malachi 3, part 3

Malachi 3:6-7

6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

God is an unchangeable being; if he were changeable he would cease to be God.[1]  Therefore, what He commanded, taught, expounded and required at one time is true still today.[2] Covenants, blessings and promises He extended in one time period He will extend in ours.  We need to qualify ourselves; we need to be ready for the day when the covenants and ordinances are re-established. The Sons of Jacob are literal descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham.  As such they have a right to the blessings (and the curses) which stem from the covenant God established with Abraham.  In these verses Christ is warning them that they have ALL gone astray from His ordinances, even from the days of their fathers, Father Abraham, Father Isaac and Father Jacob/Israel, yet Christ continues to extend mercy unto them; He promises them that they will not be consumed if they will repent and return unto Him.[3]

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost promised here (2 Nephi 31:17) is given without man’s involvement, comes from heaven, is promised by both the Father and the Son. It is a signal of redemption, purification and holiness. It is included in the “gate” for entering into God’s presence.  For God is a “consuming fire” and those who enter into that presence must be able to endure that fire. (Heb. 12: 29; see also Deu. 4: 24.)  Without the capacity to do so, a person would be consumed by the flames. (Lev. 10: 1-2.)[4]

Jesus Christ wants us to repent and turn and face him.  He is speaking to all of us, but primarily to the leaders of the churches that profess to know his name, those who have transgressed the laws and changed his everlasting ordinances.[5] By changing the ordinances the leaders have led people away from Christ.  Christ is extending the invitation to return to Him; His promise is that once we do so He will return to us.  This is referring to coming back into the literal presence of the Savior and is not limited to feeling His presence in your heart![6] How can we return unto Him?  Is it possible to know, understand and observe, in the correct manner as far as is revealed, the laws and ordinances contained in the scriptures so that we might return unto Him in order that He might return unto us?  Can we do so as an individual, outside of an organized religious institution? Does doing so require courage?  Does doing so require that we choose between the Lord and the leaders of our churches? Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” this invitation is extended to every soul as God is no respecter of persons.[7] 

In Malachi 3:6-7 Christ explains that when this invitation is extended to the church leaders they will reply “Wherein shall we return?”  In their pride and loftiness church leaders presume that they are observing all the laws, rites and ordinances necessary for salvation. 

[1] Jehovah — The covenant or proper name of the God of Israel. It denotes the “Unchangeable One,” “the eternal I Am” (Ex. 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; 26:4)
[2] Doctrine and Covenants 20:17 By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them
[3] Snuffer, Denver “Abraham’s Sons”  April 15, 2014 Last night I was awakened by this: Did not Ishmael and Isaac mourn together and bury their father Abraham? Was not their father’s blood precious unto them both? Does not the blood of Abraham run in both Isaac and Ishmael? Does not the blood of Abraham run in both Esau and Jacob? Let Ishmael today find the blood of his father, Abraham, precious still. Let Isaac likewise today find the blood of his father, Abraham, precious again. For Abraham’s sake, let all the brothers who descend from Abraham now mourn when Abraham’s blood is spilled by any of his descendants. If Abraham’s sons do not find his blood to be precious still, there remains nothing between them but the shedding of Abraham’s blood. For all his sons who fail to find Abraham’s blood to be precious will be held to account by God, who will judge between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael, the sons of Esau and the sons of Jacob for father Abraham’s sake, with whom God covenanted. The sons of Abraham will not be permitted to continue this disregard of their common father’s blood without provoking God, who will soon judge between Abraham’s sons.
[4] Snuffer, Denver “2 Nephi 31:17” August 28, 2010
[5]Isaiah 24:5-6 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. (KJV)
[6] John 14:23 (KJV) and Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.
[7] Acts 10:34-35: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (KJV)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Malachi 3, part 2

Malachi 3:2-3

2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

This scripture refers to Christ’s second coming.  This verse tells us that when Christ appears He shall be like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap; the refiner (Christ) will use fire to burn off the dross and purify the precious metal (His children). Similarly the fuller (Christ) will use soap to clean the wool and remove the impurities so that what is left is pure.  During the second coming of Christ all that do wickedly shall be burned as stubble.[1]  Who in the modern churches is Christ referring to when he states that he will “purify the sons of Levi”?  If this is referring to the purification of all church leaders in all denominations who claim to have a portion of Christ’s priesthood, how will the purification look and why does it need to be done?  Can it be possible that church leaders of various and sundry denominations have strayed from the ordinances of God and polluted His holy church thereby requiring purification and purging so that an acceptable offering done in righteousness can be performed?[2]

Malachi 3:4-5

 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers[3], and against the adulterers[4], and against false swearers[5], and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right[6], and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

Christ alone will be the judge of all mankind.  Christ is the keeper of the gate[7]; no man entereth into His Father’s kingdom but by Him![8]  He alone will judge us.  He will be swift in his witness against those who have done evil in His sight of which they have not repented.  He alone knows the desires of our hearts. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”[9]  This list of behaviors for which we will be judged bears deep consideration.[10]

[1] Matthew 3:12; 13:30; Luke 3:17; JST Matthew 3:39 (KJV)
[2] Isaiah 24: 5-6  The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
Doctrine and Covenants 13: 1 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
Burton, Alma P Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith 1977 “ These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass. It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.”
[3] Blank, Wayne “What is Sorcery?”, 2012
The word "sorcery" originated from the Latin word, sortiarius, which meant one who sorts, as in casts lots with the assistance of evil spirits. The King James Version uses "sorcery," "sorcerer," or "sorceress" to translate a number of Hebrew and Greek words, some of which apply as much to pseudo-sciences (e.g. astrology, alchemy) as other heathen religions. The Hebrew word, pronounced kaw-shawf, means to whisper, or to enchant (to "cast a spell over someone or something; to put a hex on someone or something"), the Hebrew word, pronounced kawsh-shawf, or kheh-shef means a magician or magic, the Hebrew word, pronounced awn-nawn, means to cover, or to cloud over, as in to behave in a hidden manner i.e. occult, from which the word cult originated, the Greek word pronounced far-mak-yoos, means to drug; the present-day respectable words pharmacy and pharmacist originated from that Greek word, which originally referred to people who used drugs or narcotics to poison or control people
[4] Jesus extended the definition of adultery to include sexual relations between a married man and a woman other than his wife (Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18). Other New Testament teachings also understand it that way (1 Corinthians 6:15-16, 1 Corinthians 7:2 ). Jesus enlarged the concept when he taught, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 (KJV)
[5] Willfully and knowingly giving a false statement; this may also refer to taking the name of the Lord in vain which, in part, means to claim to speak for God when He has given you no such errand
[6] This condemnation is to ANYONE, church leader or lay member who “fares sumptuously” while poor Lazarus starves (Luke 16:19-31, KJV); taking advantage of another in any way in order to obtain more for themselves; any church or church leader who oppresses the poor through the collection of tithes; Alma taught that those who have not (the poor) do not need to give but instead that they should be given (Mosiah 18:27)
[7] 2 Nephi 9:41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.
[8] John 14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)
[9] Matthew 25:41 (Holy Scriptures, Inspired Version)
[10] Doctrine and Covenants 76:98-106 includes a part of this list in the definition of who will inherit a telestial kingdom

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Malachi 3, part 1

Malachi 3

2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” (NIV)
“Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary.  At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished.” J.C. Ryle, 19th Century English Writer and Minister[1]
“All truth passes through three stages.  First, it is ridiculed.  Second, it is violently opposed.  Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”  Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th century German Philosopher[2]

Malachi 3 is one of the most quoted yet one of the most misunderstood chapters in the Old Testament. It is popular scripture repeated numerous Sundays each year in various congregations all over the world to encourage congregants to give generously, in financial dollars which are called “tithes”, in order to support and sustain their leaders and their church properties.  This is a chapter rich in meaning, rich in warning and rich in blessings and promises.  It is unfortunate that only a small segment is quoted repeatedly when this chapter teaches and expounds some of the greatest blessings the Lord offers to man.

Malachi 3:1

1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

What qualifies an individual to act as the Lord’s messenger? What would the message sound like?  How can you test the message and the messenger to know they are from God?[3]  God has given us a litmus test; “by their fruits ye shall know them” [4] What are the fruits messengers need to bear?  There have always been and will continue to be both true and false messengers. It is up to us to study their messages and decide for ourselves if they are sent from Him.  This is worth careful study, pondering and prayer. We should have to choose. We should have to test a messenger and their message.  God has made Himself directly known to prophets of old.  He did so with Abraham in Genesis 15:1; and Jacob/Israel in Genesis 46:2; in numbers 12:6.  God has said that He would do so with any authentic prophet.[5]

God does not abandon His children, therefore, He has either already sent or He will send us the messenger spoken of in this verse.  One of the tests this messenger must pass is that of preparing the way for Christ’s return.  He will accomplish this in the same way John the Baptist did: through preaching repentance and baptism and helping turn us away from following false idols to follow Christ. The verse continues “the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant.” We are the temple of God.[6]  Christ suddenly coming to His temple is no more and no less than His personal appearance to an individual.  Thus, when we are searching for this true messenger and testing their message one of the tell-tale signs will be that this messenger has had the Lord appear to him.  We are promised that through this messenger the Lord will re-establish His covenant.  The message will bear the weight of scrutiny.  It will be a message that all who seek Jesus should take the time to discover, explore, study, ponder and decide upon.[7]

[1]Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices” 2012
[2] Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices” 2012
[3] Sonntag, Robert “What is a Prophet”, 2014; see the article at this link
[4] Matthew 7:16, 20 (KJV)
[5] Snuffer, Denver “Baptism is Mandatory”, Aug 25, 2015
[6] 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” see also 1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
[7] See

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Joseph Smith was NOT a Polygamous

Most LDS women fear that if we are alive during the Millennium we will have to live a polygamous relationship with our husband and his plethora of wives.   Most LDS women fear dying and inheriting the Celestial Kingdom for the same reason, we all believe that polygamy is the “higher” or “celestial” law of marriage.  If we are na├»ve enough to bring these fears up with other LDS women we receive the good ol’ reply of, “just have faith, when the time comes you’ll be able to do it.”  Or better yet, “if you could see how polygamy is practiced in the celestial kingdom you’d rejoice to be allowed to practice it.”  The idea of practicing polygamy shows how spiritual, righteous and selfless you are and that you are, indeed, worthy of the Celestial Kingdom.

I love my husband.  I adore him.  He is my best friend.  He is my intimate friend.  I don’t want to share him with any other woman.  I know just how possessive I am of our relationship.  Since we were married almost 30 years ago I have lived in constant fear of the LDS church re-instating polygamy.  A few years ago I spent a week or more sobbing to the Lord and begging Him not to make me practice polygamy…ever!  Neither in this life nor in the next!

In the past I believed the LDS Church narrative in regards to polygamy.  That Joseph Smith Jr was asked by God to practice it and that included having sex with the women he was sealed to, even if they were married and even if they were young, very young girls.  I read some things about Joseph denying that he was a polygamous and saying, “I have only one wife” and pointing to Emma.  Joseph denied polygamy and fought against it until the day he died. I read about Emma stating, to her dying day, that her husband was not a polygamous.  But, I also  read the famous stories about Emma being angry about the revelation on polygamy and throwing it into the fire.  Or the story about Emma pushing Eliza R Snow down the stairs causing her to miscarry Joseph’s child.  I was confused.  How could all these conflicting stories be true? I finally came to the conclusion that Joseph Smith Jr was a liar at best and a “fallen” prophet at worse.

So, this begs the question, did Joseph Smith, Jr mess up? Was he a "fallen" prophet?  Was Joseph a polygamist?  The answer is No, in this matter.  Joseph had his weaknesses and foibles, just like all men, but womanizing and polyandry were NOT one of them.  I've studied this matter extensively and I am convinced that while Joseph did “seal” many women, men and children to himself he did NOT have sex with them.  Joseph was an exalted man who had been given the sealing power from God and as such was sealing as many people as he was told to by God to himself in order to preserve a Family of God.  But, it was like sealing children to parents.  It was not sealing as in marriages.  There was no "funny" business on the side.  Joseph was true and faithful to Emma and to his marriage vows.

I am now satisfied that Joseph Smith Jr was telling the truth about himself.  He was not a polygamous!  He had only one wife, Emma!  Emma did not need to burn any documents nor push anyone down any stairs; she had a loving, devoted husband who was true and faithful to his marriage vows and to God’s laws.  If you are interested in some very well written papers on this topic you can go to the following links:  (at this site click on the link under Audio Files titled “Plural Marriage Lecture” to listen to this talk or under PDF Downloads click on “Plural Marriage”)

I no longer believe that polygamy is practiced in the Celestial Kingdom, or that God expects my husband and I to ever be polygamists in order to have salvation.  In fact, I believe that God expects my husband to be true to his marriage vows and only have sexual relations with me.  God also desires for me to be chaste for He delights in the chastity of women!

The word Elohim (God's name) means male and female.  One male and One female.  When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden he gave him ONE wife, Eve.  If polygamy were necessary for salvation God would have started out this cycle of creation correctly. God said to Jehovah, "let us go down and create man in our image, male and female created he them".  One man and One woman is who the God’s created, therefore One man and One women is in God's image.

The scriptures then teach us that Adam and Eve’s children went two by two into the world.  One of the arguments LDS people make for polygamy is the scripture in Jacob 2 where the little caveat is given that polygamy is allowed when commanded by God to raise up seed unto him.  If there ever was a time that God needed seed raised up to Him, wouldn’t the very beginning of creation be it?  When He needed the empty world repopulated?   Yet, Adam’s children practiced monogamy.  In fact, the first time one of Adam’s descendants is labeled in the scriptures as evil he is linked to polygamy.

The problem with polygamy in the LDS Church came when Brigham Young, who, along with the other leaders of the Church, did not understand sealings (there is a dream Brigham had which he recorded wherein he saw Joseph, after Joseph had died, and he asked him to explain sealings to him, Joseph refused to do so in the dream and told Brigham to focus instead on gaining the Holy Ghost; in this dream Joseph was bathed in light while Brigham was in darkness).  Polygamy was being practiced in other religions at the time in several countries, including America and England.  Brigham had spent excessive time as a missionary living among the people back East who practiced polygamy.  Brigham most likely began to believe that if you sealed a woman to yourself then you were "married" to her and could thereby have sexual relations.  Thus, Brigham began the polygamy that was practiced in the LDS Church.

Since studying, pondering and praying about this matter, extensively, I have come to the conclusion that when the Lord told Joseph Smith Jr that his name would be had for good and evil that one of the sources of spreading evil in regards to Joseph Smith Jr is the LDS Church, the very Church that Joseph founded!  I have been so ashamed at the feelings and beliefs I used to hold in regards to Joseph.  I have prayed to God and asked for His forgiveness and that of Joseph’s.  I continue to be bothered by the false claims that the LDS Church continues to perpetuate.

I had a dream a few months ago that I was visiting with a dear friend.  I knew there was an "elephant in the room" regarding my thoughts and feeling towards the LDS Church and what I believe.  What I believe today is so drastically different than what I believe even 3 years ago.  In this dream I began to try to explain to my friend what I now believe and she began laughing hysterically.  I realized that she was mocking me and would not listen so I asked her to leave my home.  As she was walking out the front door I said to her, "I refuse to associate with a Church that continues to besmirch the character of Joseph Smith!"

There is enough historical proof that Joseph Smith never practiced the kind of polygamy that was practiced by the LDS Church after his death.  Joseph, himself, claimed that he only had one wife and was innocent of the rumors of polygamy. I wish with all my heart that the Church would be honest and clear Joseph's name, that they would believe Joseph meant what he said.  Joseph Smith was one of the greatest prophets that has ever lived.  The truths he revealed are astounding.  I need to take more time to study them and learn from him.  Joseph not only gazed into heaven for 5 minutes; he gazed for hours and wanted so badly for us to rise up and understand the workings of God.  I am ashamed of how little I know about his teachings. 

I began studying Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, but have stopped because I’ve learned that the First Presidency at the time of writing and publication altered, edited and changed so much of it that it’s difficult to know what is straight truth from Joseph and what has been altered to fit their agenda at the time.  I have found a book, out of print, written by Andrew F Ehat and Lydnon W Cook which is one of the best sources for learning Joseph’s teachings.  You can download a free pdf at this site:

Joseph’s work was to restore lost gospel truth.  His work got off track when he was murdered.  It is time to rise up and preserve, renew and continue the work that Joseph began.  Joseph’s entire message can be summed up by James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him”.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Sign of a Tattoo Dove

But Jesus answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4

If God asked you to do something that went against what you have been taught by parents or church leaders, or both, what would you do?  Would God ask you to do something that went contrary to Church Leaders?

Our family has been greatly blessed through meeting, knowing and associating with a young man named Connor.  One of our daughters and her best friend met Connor through a social media site for young adults who are seeking Christ.  They invited him to come to our home for scripture study.  He is an amazing young man. He has added much to our family and much to our study of the gospel.  He has a noble heart that seeks truth.  He loves the Lord. Our family loves him.
Connor grew up in a very affluent family rife with dysfunction.  He was denied serving an LDS mission due to injuries sustained in a car accident. He is a true disciple of Christ. He is seeking the Lord.

One day as Connor was eating lunch in a public place he heard a voice say to him, “You need to get a tattoo.”  After he thought for a minute the voice said more clearly in his mind, “Connor, you need to get a tattoo.”  Connor has never desired to get a tattoo and has been taught his entire life that tattoos are “wrong” (LDS leaders teach the following in regards to tattoos:  “A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body,” President Gordon B. Hinckley and in Mormon Doctrine, pg. 775 it states “The practice is a desecration of the human body and should not be permitted.”) Yet, he believed that the voice that spoke to him was God, so, he responded, “if this is you, God, and if you really want me to get a tattoo, then I need you to give me the sign of a Dove by the end of the day.”

The voice then instructed Connor to go home and he did so immediately. When he arrived home (a few minutes’ drive) Connor was instructed to check the front porch and again did so immediately.  Sitting on the front door was a package for his father. He brought them in an opened them out of habit. Inside the package was a collector’s album cover picturing a dove.  The time from when he first heard the voice until he received the sign he had sought was roughly one hour.

Connor did his research, if he was going to get a tattoo he wanted it to be well done. He could not deny that he had heard God’s voice and that getting a tattoo was God’s will.  However, he was unsure of what tattoo to get, what artist to go to and where to get it on his body.  As Connor researched artists and pondered on what to get and where to get it he was afraid of being deceived.  He knew that God was asking him to do this and he wanted to make sure everything he did to accomplish this task was in accordance with the will of God.

Eventually he found a respected, talented tattoo artist and added his name to the waiting list.  During the months long wait Connor told the Lord that this tattoo was going to be very expensive and that if he was really supposed to get it then he needed a job to be able to pay for it.  The Lord responded by immediately leading him to employment.

When they meet for the initial consultation, the artist asked what he wanted. Connor told her, a dove. She asked if he want it perched or in flight. He told her in flight. She asked where he wanted it, so he told her the area. She asked no more details, and he offered none. He left the final design up to her. The day of the tattoo, he expressed his concerns to God that by entrusting her to the design she may unknowingly not do what God had in mind. It was then that he was told to "just go with what she has in mind". The final confirmation that everything he had chosen was God's will came after the tattoo had already begun. The artist told him that she had gone through around a dozen stencils for the dove, but none of them felt right and she threw them away. She said she finally settled on the one she was doing because the design reminded her of God and felt peaceful. She said it felt like a religious thing. She had previously eluded that she was not religious. But at that moment he knew God had guided him to that very moment.

Connor now has a beautiful dove over his heart, but more importantly he is striving to live by every words that proceeds forth from the mouth of God!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Falsely Accused

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”  Matthew 5:11

     I’ve been very hesitant to write a post in regards to the abuse, mistreatment and horror our family has been put through by the leaders of the LDS Church.  Perhaps it’s because when we’ve shared even a small portion with close family and other friends we can tell they don’t believe us and don’t want to hear it.  Maybe it’s because I’m trying to forgive and move forward and I don’t want to dig at a healing scab. It could be that I’m still in shock that the Church that we gave our entire heart and soul to would turn on us like it has. More than likely it is because I’ve moved on to a new chapter where I am free and I have peace. Nevertheless, I feel compelled today to write this down.
     A few years ago the bishop of our ward called my husband to come in.  We felt it a bit strange that I wasn’t called in also. When my husband arrived another well respected man in our ward was leaving, a man we consider a great friend. When my husband left his interview another highly respected man entered.
     As my husband entered the bishop’s office he immediately felt an uneasy spirit. The bishop asked my husband to offer a word of prayer.  While praying, my husband was distinctly told by God that the bishop was judging him and his spirituality through his prayer.  My husband gave the most powerful prayer he’s ever uttered. Once finished the interview/interrogation went something like this:
Bishop: “Someone in the ward has gone to the stake president with accusations against you.”
Husband: “Who is my accuser?”
Bishop: “That’s not necessary for you to know. And, just so you know, I have the spirit of discernment and I will know if you are lying to me.”
The Bishop then proceeded to ask the following questions, which in my journal I described as insane:
Bishop: “Do you make your own wine?”
Bishop: “Do you drink alcohol?”
Husband:“I’ve never touched alcohol and I don’t even drink caffeine”
Bishop: “Have you built an altar?”
     At this point my husband recalled being at his friend’s house, the man he saw leaving as he came in, where he saw a photo album full of pictures of piles of rocks.  Suddenly my husband knew that this interrogation was really about his friend and he said to the bishop, “This is about so and so, isn’t it?  Let me tell you that he is one of the most valiant and respected men that I know.  You’re new to this ward so you don’t know him, but trust me, you have nothing to fear from this man.”
Bishop: “Do you attend study groups?”
Husband:“Can you define study groups, because I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I talk about it with everyone, everywhere I go.”
Bishop: “Do you have a testimony?”
Husband:“Yes!” at this point my husband bore testimony of the restored gospel and of Jesus Christ.
Bishop: “Do you sustain the First Presidency and Apostles?”
Husband:“yes!  Bishop, this is very disturbing to me, who would accuse me of this?  I have a right to know who has accused me of these things.”
Bishop: “It is not necessary for you to know.”

     During this series of questions my husband had the distinct feeling that the bishop did not believe him, especially since the bishop kept patting his knee and saying “I’ll know if you’re lying to me.”
     My husband returned home, stunned and hurt beyond belief that someone in the ward would accuse him of such behavior.  He was also stunned at the malice leveled at our family. He asked me to go on a drive where he poured out his wounded heart.  He was devastated; I was angry and in shock.  After driving around for an hour or so my husband felt the need to go and visit his friend who he had seen leaving the bishop’s office. Little did we know that the bishop had someone spying on this man’s house and it was reported back to him that my husband came to visit and how long he had stayed.  Later we would learn that the bishop used this information to convince others that we were part of an “apostate group”.
     Two weeks after this initial interview my husband was called in to meet with the stake president of the local single’s stake.  The interview was amazing.  They were considering calling my husband to serve in the stake high council.  We felt strongly that this was an olive branch which God was extending as a balm to my husband’s battered soul.  Unfortunately, the spirit also communicated to us that because of the false accusations our bishop had levied against us this calling would be retracted. (Later, we found out that this did come to pass exactly as the Lord revealed).
     Three and a half weeks after the initial interview we awoke on a Saturday morning with plans to attend the temple that evening.  As we were going about our day the executive secretary called me and asked me to come in for an interview the following morning.  We both what this meant. I was overcome with nausea.  I could not imagine who would accuse us of this kind of behavior.  We loved the Lord and we loved the Church. We were strictly obedient to the commandments and we followed the prophet.  I was encompassed with fear, almost paralyzed with it.  I feared that the end goal for the bishop was to have us excommunicated. 
     As I sat in the temple the Spirit of the Lord filled me and infused me.  Christ visited me.  I asked Him to help us in this situation with our bishop.  Immediately I was shown some things in regards to our bishop.
     Sunday morning I awoke about 3 am, I could not sleep for worry.  I began praying in earnest, God revealed to me that it doesn’t matter what I say, the bishop will never believe me because he is our accuser and will never admit he was wrong.  It was also revealed to me that our bishop is using this opportunity of bringing down an “apostate” group to get noticed by the chief seats in Salt Lake.
I was afraid to enter the bishop’s office, mainly because of what was revealed to me the previous day.  I asked my husband to come in with me, but as he prayed about it he felt that he should stand just outside the door, but not enter in.
     “God-I need you today more than ever-speak through me, humble me, help me to be kind, gentle and meek, lowly of heart, slow to anger and quick to forgive.  I love you and I need you with me today.”
     I thank God from all my being.  He opened my mouth and spoke through me.  He gave me perspective, kindness, gentleness and confidence.  I spoke with the bishop for about 45 min., toward the end of our meeting he asked me how my testimony is, I replied, “stronger than ever, I have felt Christ with me and aware of me more this year than ever before.”
     I knew that this was not over.  I knew that the bishop had been spreading throughout ward and stake leadership, his own family and his friends the false accusations against us.  We began to be shunned by most everyone in the ward. We were put in a calling teaching youth Sunday School (which became our favorite calling because we could teach scripture and teach about Jesus Christ without any adults watching over us). I was put in a visiting teaching companionship with the former stake president’s wife so she could make sure I wasn’t teaching apostasy.  My husband was released from home teaching his favorite families.  Eventually, over a period time, we were released from all of our callings with various excuses.  We were slowly, “unofficially” dis-fellowshipped. 
     Our children were brought in for birthday interviews or advancement interviews and interrogated in regards to what we believe and what we teach them in our home.  Our children were asked to give the bishop the names of friends who came to visit at our home.  One day we found out that the executive secretary sat in his car across the street from our house and reported to the bishop anyone who came over. If they were ward members they were brought into the bishop’s office where they were interrogated as to what things we had talked about.  Eventually we found out that this was why no one talked to us anymore at church, because if the bishop saw them visiting with us they were brought in, interrogated and then warned to stay away from us.
     We were miserable and had no hope that things would get better.  One day our young son was interrogated under the guise of a temple recommend interview and it was the last straw.  We called up the stake president and made an appointment to go in for a visit.  We wrote down all the things that had been being said about us and the things God had revealed to us in regards to our bishop and these false accusations.  We found out that Elder Pyper of the Seventy was behind the interrogations. At least, that is who they blamed.  The stake president said, “we did not believe the husband’s so I went to Elder Pyper for advice and he said to bring in the wives because they’ll rat out their husbands”.  A week later, during ward conference, things we had shared with the stake president in confidence were shared by the bishop over the pulpit, word for word, leaving out only our name.
     We had no one other than God to turn to and turn to Him we did in earnest, heart rending prayer.  After a couple of years things became so bad that I began having mini breakdowns.  I lost the ability to eat and lost a lot of weight in a short time.  My husband and I began discussing divorce as things that would have been minor in our life previous to this began to take on immense proportions.  The pressure and pain were almost unbearable.  I would find myself on the floor, sobbing and begging the Lord to not let anything more come upon us. The very next day something new in our life would fall apart. 
     Looking back now I can see that the Lord was tearing us down so that we would be receptive to being built back up in the way He desired.  I learned just how prideful, arrogant and judgmental I had been in my Pharisaical obedience.  The one thing we had in this life was our reputations.  We are not a family of wealth. We are not a family of worldly success.  We have nothing the world would look on to envy.  The only thing we had was our reputation and that was now in tattered ruin.

     Slowly, the Lord began to work to wake us up to our awful state.  Slowly we began to open our eyes.  Slowly we began to understand the false traditions that were keeping us from His presence. Slowly we were learning to be free.  Slowly we began to understand, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”  Matthew 5:11

Friday, September 30, 2016

How Does One Connect to Heaven?

From the mortal days of our earliest parents this has been the quest(ion), “How does one connect to Heaven?”  While in the Garden Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, they were connected to Heaven; they were literally in the Presence of the Lord.

“The earth was created for Adam: And we have planted a garden all ready for you--all you have to do is take note of it. And everything is for the taking. One gift, however, is withheld from Adam: the fruit of the tree of good and evil--the tree of knowledge. So long as Adam was immortal, the tree of life presented no problem. For acting out of order, the stranger (no longer a stranger) is denounced and cursed. He has given the fruit to Adam and Eve; it was not his prerogative to do so--regardless of what had been done in other worlds. (When the time comes for such fruit, it will be given to us legitimately.)” (Purportedly stated by Hugh Nibley, no verifiable source)

The price exacted for partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that of being cast out of the Garden, cast out of the presence of the Lord.  And thus, Adam and Eve, as sojourners in the Lone and Dreary world began a multi-generational quest to reconnect to Heaven. 

Moses 5:4 “And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
 5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
 6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
 7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
 8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.” (emphasis added)

What do I learn from Adam and Eve on reconnecting with Heaven?

1.       Adam and Eve called on the name of the Lord
2.       The first connection to Heaven is that they heard his voice
3.       At this time they did not see Him because they were still shut out from His presence
4.       God gave them commandments regarding how to worship God and in what manner to offer sacrifices
5.       Adam was obedient to the commandments from the Lord even though he did not know or understand why he was asked by the Lord to do them
6.       After many days (generations) an Angel from the Lord appears to Adam testing him and then commanding Adam to repent and call on God in the name of the Son forever.

After this experience Adam and Eve “blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters…And… ceased not to call upon God...And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost... And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.”

In my desire to connect with Heaven and to enter back into the presence of the Lord I must follow the same pattern established by our earliest parents. As I call upon the name of the Lord, as I repent, as I hear His voice and am obedient to the commands He gives to me He will send His holy angels and He will teach me by His own voice and by the gift of the Holy Ghost all things necessary for me to enter back into His presence.   God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Praise be the name of the Lord.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Baptism, Rebaptism and the Doctrine of Christ

Baptism, rebaptism and the Doctrine of Christ

I was baptized at the age of 8 years old.  I don’t remember the actual ordinance, nor the blessing afterward where I was confirmed a member of the LDS Church and instructed to receive the Holy Ghost.  But, I do remember my aunt, who was the Primary President, giving me a gift, a 5x7 framed postcard picture of the Salt Lake Temple.  I remember feeling that it was a magical day.

Confession….after my baptism at 8 it was impossible to stay perfect.  I tried my utmost to do so, to the point I gave myself an ulcer at the tender age of 12.  I was a pretty obedient child and my sins were not evil or malignant, rather more common place and boring.  But, I did have sin, nonetheless which I knew I was in need of repentance.  In the LDS Church we are taught that taking the sacrament weekly “cleansed” us again and renewed our baptismal covenants. Even though we are taught that, I never felt that it was true.  I could not connect sacrament with being cleansed by the waters of baptism.  Over the years as I have attended convert baptisms I would find myself being jealous and wishing that I had not been baptized until I was older and cold be washed clean again.  At one such baptism I remember feeling that I should be grateful for my baptism at 8 as it had helped me to grow up with a small measure of the Holy Spirit which had kept me out of more serious sin and sorrow, yet I still longed for baptism.

A few years ago my husband and I began purchasing the books being produced by the Joseph Smith Papers project.  While studying those books we stumbled on some church history that we had previously been unaware of: rebaptism in the early days of the Church.  Historically, many members were rebaptized as an act of rededication and repentance. This was first practiced in Nauvoo and was continued in the Utah Territory. On some occasions, the Saints were rebaptized as they prepared for marriage or entrance into the temple. Early members were also rebaptized for their health, to cure some of the sick among them.  Practices of rebaptism were discontinued in 1897.

My husband and I had decided years ago that whenever the members of the Church lose a privilege or practice it is never a good thing.  We began studying the scriptures to see if there was any scriptural basis for rebaptism. What we discovered was that not only is there scriptural basis, but that it is an essential part of repentance.  In a nutshell, you cannot fully repent of anything without being baptized by immersion.  This is what is known in the scriptures as the Doctrine of Christ.

I want to speak to you about the doctrine of Christ and to sound a voice of warning and a voice of repentance.  I have been quiet for too long, more worried about losing the love and respect that some may still have for me instead of crying repentance.  Following the Savior has been a very difficult journey these past few years, I have lost much and I have suffered much and it has caused my natural shy tendencies to become more so.  I have pulled away from life and sheltered my battered soul. In some ways I have been acting as one ashamed of Christ.  I am trying to reverse that.  I have prayed and attempted several times to speak with others in this effort, but many have turned a blind eye or deaf ears to me, some with fear and others with pride. The time is now at hand to give you warning, for those who have been warned are required to warn their neighbors.

The Doctrine of Christ is simple, it is free and it is available to everyone.  Christ declared His Doctrine in 3 Nephi 11:32-40.  It came from His Father and is a commandment unto the entire world:
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
 33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
 34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
 35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
 36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
 37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
 38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
 39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
 40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.

If a person believes the Doctrine of Christ, then they are required to be baptized and to then declare Christ’s Doctrine to others. If you believe the Doctrine of Christ, you are required to be baptized and then declare Christ’s Doctrine to others.

I believe in the Doctrine of Christ. After serious study of scriptures and serious prayer, I began to realize that what Christ offers us is a gift to be used whenever we feel the need to repent because He loves us!  Repentance means no more and no less than turning to face Christ. Some may argue Exodus 4:5 which states, “One Lord, One Faith, one Baptism”.  This scripture is true: One Lord…means quite literally that Christ is our Lord and that we have no other Lord.  One Faith…only our faith in Christ will save us.  And one baptism…there is only one mode or manner of baptism that Christ recognizes.  One baptism does not mean a one and done baptism.  It means that whenever we repent and are baptized to show fruit of that repentance it is to be done in the exact manner the Lord revealed in 3rd Nephi 11.
After the scriptures were opened to me by the Holy Spirit I knew I had never been baptized unto repentance.  Therefore, I asked my husband to pray for authority from God and to baptize me according to the manner Christ taught the people in 3rd Nephi 11, using the words Christ commanded us to use (3rd Nephi 11: 24-25: And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.), by one having authority from God, not man.  

I have been baptized in living water, in this manner.  Christ has declared today that the only way to be numbered as His, to find shelter from the coming storm is to repent and be baptized.   This is the sign He asks to demonstrate faith in Him.  Faith requires action or it dwindles away and is lost.  The importance to the Lord that we act on His Doctrine cannot be overstated.  Repentance and baptism are directly related to salvation and cannot be left undone.

 At this point you may be thinking that you have been baptized and therefore you are safe.  Unfortunately, the baptism that any church offers today does not fulfill this commandment of the Lord and will not have the power to save from the coming destruction.  Most religions have added to or taken away from the Doctrine of Christ. If you are LDS there are reasons your baptism at 8 years of age, or your convert baptism, does not have the power to save:

1.  The LDS Church has added to and taken away from the Doctrine of Christ mainly by giving a list of items that one needs to commit to or refrain from in order to be baptized; it does not follow the Doctrine of Christ which simply states that one must repent and be baptized in His name. That’s it!

 2. Baptism at 8 years of age fulfills the law found in Doctrine and Covenants 68:25, but does not fulfill baptism unto repentance.

3. Baptism was never meant to be a “one and done” type of baptism.  The scripture “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” refers to the mode and manner of baptism, not the number of times. Baptism is the fruits of repentance and is offered freely, by the Lord, whenever we feel a desire to turn from anything that is keeping us from the Lord and face Him.  Baptism is inexorably linked to repentance.  One cannot have repentance without baptism by immersion:

2 Nephi 31:13
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

2 Nephi 31:14
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

2 Nephi 31:17
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

Moroni 6:1
1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it. (This scripture also helps understand that baptism is meant to be done as often as you feel the need to repent, elders, priests and teachers would have previously been baptized before receiving a call to be elders, priests and teachers)

Moroni 6:4
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

Moroni 8:10
10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

Moroni 8:25
25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

Doctrine and Covenants 19:31
31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

Doctrine and Covenants 33:11
11 Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

Doctrine and Covenants 39:6
6 And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:20
20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

When Christ appeared unto the people of the Book of Mormon in 3rd Nephi the first thing he taught them was the mode and manner of baptism, even though these people had been spared the destruction precisely because they had been baptized as seen in 3rd Nephi 7:24 “there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water”; that is how important baptism is to Christ! 

If we want to repent and be baptized in order to open the gate unto salvation, we must be baptized in the manner Christ revealed in 3 Nephi 11.  We cannot afford to deviate any longer.  The end of the gentiles has come.  The land we live upon is a covenantal land and if the gentiles living upon it fail to repent and turn to Christ destruction will come.  This is the entire message of the Book of Mormon! Repent and be baptized and serve God and God alone.

As the people in the Book of Mormon became more wicked, as the time for Christ’s 1st coming drew near, Nephi and other men preached baptism and repentance in earnest:
3 Nephi 7:
24 Now I would have you to remember also, that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water.
 25 Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins.
 26 And there were many in the commencement of this year that were baptized unto repentance; and thus the more part of the year did pass away.

In 3 Nephi 8 the destruction comes, destruction so terrible that the entire face of the land was changed.  The people were left in darkness for 3 days and nights.  Many of the people were destroyed. Those who were spared the destruction heard a voice coming from heaven declaring Christ’s divinity and inviting men to come unto Him and be Saved.

In 3rd Nephi 10 we learn that it was the more righteous part of the people who had been spared the destruction.  What qualifies a person as “more righteous”? REPENTANCE!  If this qualification was good enough to spare the people of the Book of Mormon is it good enough to spare us the coming destruction?  YES!

It is no more and no less than Jesus Christ, himself.  Christ is the rock that will shelter us from the coming destruction.  To begin to be numbered as His, we all need to repent, turn and face Christ and be baptized as a little child.

This mode of baptism is not becoming part of a new institution, nor does it demand that you leave whatever institution you currently are a member of.  It simply means that you accept nothing more and nothing less than the Doctrine of Christ. That you desire to repent from everything and anything that is keeping you from Him.  That you desire to repent of those things and turn and face Christ.

I testify that the Savior is real.  He has visited me.  He is teaching me and slowly I am beginning to understand Him and His strange acts.  The greatest commandment is to Love God with all your heart, and the second is like unto it, to love your neighbor as yourself.   We live in a time when men’s hearts have grown cold.  The prophecies in scripture are being fulfilled.  It is a great time and an awful time.  Persecution and suffering abound for those who love the Lord. Come unto Him and be baptized.

I know that you are probably filled with more questions than this post answers. If you are interested in this baptism that Christ offers I found a website that links you to people authorized by Christ to perform it.  My heart is being filled with Christ and his love for all of his children; what I have done and am trying to continue to do is to repent, to serve Him and Him alone.  The Savior is the only means whereby man can be saved.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.