Tag Archives: revelation

I Usually Don’t Know it’s Revelation…

jesus-at-the-door-39617-galleryPersonal revelation is a tricky thing. Too much of it and our agency may be infringed upon. Too little of it and we’re literally on our own, rudderless in a sense. Receiving direction from the heavens when needed in quite a blessing–a miracle in any sense of the word. The problem is, I’m not expert, even after decades of trying to become one. I’m not sure I’m better at recognizing promptings and direction now compared to a year ago or even a decade ago. Maybe I am. I really just don’t know.

Sometimes when we’re sharing an experience with someone (in a class or a personal conversation or a post) we say something like, “The spirit told me to…” or “I felt prompted to…” and we go on with the story. I’ve done that, I’m sure of it. And there are worse things in the world. The funny thing is this: I rarely know the Lord is prompting me when He is. On a few occasions I’ve felt sure the Holy Ghost was whispering to me, but those occasions are actually pretty rare.

More often, I think that maybe there is a chance I’ve been prompted. Not totally sure, but maybe.

I’m just not always sure. So I will have this thought or feeling or nudge (probably my favorite description of a prompting from God) and I’ll wonder about it a little. But it is a nudge toward something good or helpful or charitable, so I’ll move forward not knowing for sure if God’s hand is in this moment or not. Often, good things will come of it. Periodically, amazing or miraculous things will come of it. And as I look back over the situation and story it will become obvious that I had received a prompting or guidance and that the Lord was working in our lives. But I typically don’t know for sure until after the whole story is over.

Interestingly, we find this idea in the Book of Mormon, in the report of Nephi:

12 For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not;

13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

14 Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.

15 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence. (1 Nephi 17:12-15)

The Lord seems to be saying to Nephi, “You’ll be led, but you won’t really know it for sure until after you’ve arrived in the promised land and avoided the destruction in Jerusalem.” They would hopefully trust the Lord and sense that there was a divine hand in their lives, but they wouldn’t know for sure until after they had arrived in the promised land (v. 14). Nephi determined to strive to keep the commandments so that he could eventually received that assurance (v. 15).

We can trust the Lord. We can act on promptings. We may not be totally sure that we’re being prompted, but as we act in faith, the assurances will come as we look back.

Sometimes our lives are like neo-impressionistic art. The dots of color that make up the moments and events of our days can appear unconnected and chaotic at times. We can’t see any order to them. We can’t imagine that they have a purpose at all.

However, when we step back and take an eternal perspective, when we look at our lives in the frame of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can begin to see how the various dots in our lives interconnect. We may not be able to see the entire picture just yet, but we’ll see enough to trust that there is a beautiful, grand design. And as we strive to trust God and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, one day we will see the finished product, and we will know that the very hand of God was directing and guiding our steps.

We will know that the Master Artist had a plan for those random dots all along. We will see that He has amplified our talents, prepared opportunities, and introduced us to possibilities far more glorious than we ever could have imagined or accomplished on our own.

I have certainly seen this in my own life.

An Evening with Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • January 14, 2018

Maybe the “trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6) that has to come before you receive a witness is, at least sometimes, just not knowing for sure but moving forward anyway…

Be Encouraging,

BJM

Why Was I the Only Person Not Getting Answers to Prayers?

richard-g-scott-largeFor a long time I had a secret thing about the gospel that bothered me: God wasn’t answering my prayers. I mean, I get that I wasn’t noticing answers to my “vain repetitions”, but I also felt like I had experienced very few moments where I had knelt and asked God for an answer and received one.

Part of the problem was that I had heard a number of other people share that they had received answers to their prayers, right there, while they were kneeling and pleading.. And what added to the problem, I was a bishop and had prayed, repeatedly, about who should serve in what calling and other bishop-related prayers. A couple years into my bishoping and I couldn’t think of any moments where I had felt a distinct answer to prayer while I was still kneeling, waiting for the answer.

Now, before you think, “What a lame bishop. He just guessed about where people should serve and told them it was revelation…”, let me share the rest… I mean, I probably was a lame bishop, but that wasn’t the reason.

In the April 2007 session of General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott addressed the topic of prayer and shared a thought that brought great relief to me at the time:

“[God] will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying, even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. Hence, you should find periods of quiet time to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. His pattern causes you to grow.” (General Conference, April 2007)

Wait. Did you just say that God will seldom answer me when I’m on my knees? I can’t tell you how nice that was to hear! Years of thinking I was “not doing it right”! Because here’s the thing: I really had felt the Lord’s hand in the callings in my ward and other matters I had taken to Him. I had prayed, almost desperately about who should serve in certain callings. Then, I’d talk with my counselors and ponder all week. I’d drive around and think and pray and wonder. Over the course of the week, I’d receive a little impression about a couple people. I’d talk to my counselors some more. I’d think about these people’s family situations. Would it bless their family? Would it bless the auxiliary, class, or quorum they would lead? Would it bless them, individually? Finally, after narrowing down the list of people who could serve well in the calling, I’d finally feel certain about one of them. I’d visit with my counselors and when we all felt like the Spirit had whispered, we’d extend the call. The answers always came, but almost never while I was originally praying and on my knees.

I know there are many stories of people receiving answers while in the middle of asking and over the years, I’ve noticed a few moments like that in my life, too. But the pattern that Elder Scott shared has been a blessing to me for years…Have you noticed a similar pattern?

By the way, the whole talk is wonderful and worth reading… “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer”

Be Encouraging…

BJM

The Scientific Method and Heavenly Revelation…

skull

I noticed and read a story yesterday morning regarding the recent discovery of a skull that dates back about 1.8 million years. It is a pretty interesting find, and more than that, it may change the view we have of Homo-erectus and related “cousins”. I love reading about scientific successes, and this is a good one. But a sentence at the bottom of the story caught my attention and brought me back to a theme I’ve been mulling over for the last few months. Here’s the sentence from Prof. Lee Berger (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg):

Any time a scientist says ‘we’ve got this figured out’ they are probably wrong. It’s not the end of the story.

I appreciate the reality of this quote. If one were to rely completely on what science deems “truth”, we would eventually be, well, “probably wrong”. Now, this is not an anti-science post at all. Again, I love science. I love scientific research. In fact, I’m often inspired by research that sheds light on another aspect of the universe, earth, humans, animals, and the relationship between all of them. I particularly enjoy research regarding the creation of universe and the development of earth life. I think science and religion go together.

With that said*, science goes about answering different questions than religion, and goes about finding the answers to those questions differently than religion.

I’ve already posted about this, so I’m going to go just a little different direction. As I’ve stated before, some things can’t be discovered, but instead need to be revealed from a kind and loving Heavenly Father through the medium of His Holy Spirit. Put another way, some truths are found through searching horizontally, and some truths are found through searching vertically. See the illustration somewhere by this part of the post? It depicts two different directions that we can go for truth.

When we look around and search for truth using the opinions of others, the Scientific Method, Google or Bing, the media, or popular views of the day, we are searching horizontally. Certainly, some things are best found out by searching horizontally. On the other hand, when we, often after some good hard horizontal searching, ask God through prayer or seek answers through other heavenly-related mediums (scriptures, words of prophets, etc.), we are searching vertically.

Horizontal and vertical learning and searching aren’t diametrically opposed. They often strengthen one another. Both are important and needed. But when we rely completely on horizontal learning, we run a risk. The risk is that horizontally-acquired truth is subject to change. It is never the “end of the story”. I believe that God is often more likely to answer one’s prayer when he or she has paid a price to search horizontally to begin with. Do your homework. Find out what the brightest minds think. Talk to those who care about you. There does come a time, though, when one needs to begin asking God. This is especially true when it comes to questions regarding God’s laws, morality, eternal truth and spiritual living. You really can’t determine God’s view of family, marriage, and morality using the latest surveys of people. You’d be asking the wrong people…

I’m going to finish by asking you to watch one very short video. Well, it is 4:57, which is relatively short. While you are watching, please try to notice the difference between horizontal and vertical learning. You’ll realize when the young women determines that her questions need answering from above. If you feel a desire, you ought to “share” this video with others…

I’m curious. How are you doing at searching vertically?

Be encouraging,

BJM

*I don’t want to use the word “but” at this point in the post, even though that’s probably the best word. The word “but” often negates what was just shared and I don’t think what I’m saying after this part negates what I’ve shared before this part…
 
These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...

Some Things Can’t be Discovered; They Have to be Revealed…

revelation

When it comes to finding the answers to life’s questions, I would do well to follow the key given in D&C 9:8, which teaches:

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right…

All problems, if I’m going to get answers, require that I do some research. I have to do my homework. I have to ask questions to people who know things, Google questions to find research done by others, and ponder what I find. I have to pay a price, so to speak. Many answers come in the middle of the research.

But when it comes to spiritual things, there are a few answers that cannot be “found out” through research alone. Some things must be revealed by God in the form of personal revelation. Some examples include:

  • Does God exist?
  • Is He my Father in Heaven?
  • Did Jesus die for me?
  • Is the Book of Mormon the word of God?
  • Are there really prophets on the earth today?
  • What is God’s view of marriage?

Now, with this said, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be research done. Certainly, one who is trying to find the answers to the questions above still needs to “study it out in [their] mind”. In many instances, studying things out in our minds and doing research is preliminary to asking God in faith. It is a requirement. And this research will produce all kinds of answers; many good, many not reliable.

But one cannot find God through research alone. One cannot determine the authenticity of the Book of Mormon through research alone. Although there are a lot of opinions out there regarding what a family is, and many of them are very logical and well thought out, you can’t find God’s view through a poll or magazine article. Neither you nor I are able to determine if Jesus died for us through online surveys, mathematic equations, or reasoning alone. It isn’t that people aren’t smart enough or that the appropriate tests haven’t been developed. That isn’t it at all. These truths aren’t discovered; they’re revealed.

I know there is a lot written about religious items, principles, events, etc. There are endless opinions. Endless. So, after much studying, there comes a point where you won’t be able to settle within your heart whether certain things are “true” until you ask God and wait for, pray for, and recognize a revealed answer.

And with that…you know

These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...