An Altar Experience

In an old dusty attic, searching through effects, which had been kept in a box for years, I came across a, still like new journal, containing the following: Penned in the neat hand of what I am assuming is my long dead ancestor, great great grandfather, Henry James Talbot:

“Building an altar after the order of the ancients.”

I found this experience to be a very personalized process, because the altar’s great lesson is in the doing of it.  Anyone coming onto, and contemplating doing this should see in this process the making of ourselves, and then the remaking of ourselves, and then again, the remolding of the lump as the Lord demonstrates His graciousness through His long suffering, patience, and the fact that long ago we were not cast off.  This effort and this process is the story of God’s own labors, our need to be gathered, and the recognition of those who are to be included, framing together the disparate and individual lives to build a single, unified sacred place or people.

After having done this work, one should know there is, through me, and perhaps you, again on the earth a return of an ancient and hallowed practice of altar building which began at the first, and now appears again at the last.

I began the effort with mighty prayer unto God. This dedicating of the whole process was like coming into an awareness that something different needed to be done in one’s life, and dedicating, and consecrating one’s time, talents, and every available moment and resource to the accomplishment of this new found life one is entering into. In a very real way it was leaving old thoughts and traditions behind, and seeing for the first time a path centered on God; desiring Him to be at the center of everything that followed. No longer were the old ways enough. The teaching elements of preparing for the journey and then making it; fraught with danger, and being subject to every adverse wind that might blow one off course, even kill him spiritually or physically on the journey; Choosing a site of land that would become a holy place unto the Lord, almost as though it were a promised land; Choosing a raised site on that land that would cause a ritual ascent as I approached my intended place of worship; These all have been the driving thoughts of my mind for many months.

BUILDING THE ALTAR:
First, you build an altar again and again in your mind. The days preceding the beginning of the actual construction were days of “acting as if;” days of anticipation; days of internal measurement, “can I really do this?” “Can I receive revelation that will enable a successful conclusion?” “What do I really expect to happen?” “What are its measurements to be?” What should be its orientation?” “How big should the rocks be?”

The gathering begins with prayer; then searching for and discovering the pre-determined number of stones; then prayer to know if the one you think is right, is. Over and over again. Sometimes with great clarity. Sometimes not being completely sure. Sometimes with a darkness or even foreboding. Slowly, ever so painstaking slow, and one by one the rocks are gathered in. Each is individually picked. It is turned over and examined for its peculiar properties, brushed clean of the dirt and grime that may obscure some particularly beautiful facet or in the brushing may reveal a hidden flaw. Sometimes in the gathering process ideas form that indicate what will work with what. Perhaps the most exciting is realizing that you have selected that one precious stone that will be Christ, the Chief Corner Stone of the whole, upon which the whole will be anchored. In the process of this gathering you come to realize that you are like many of these rocks. You are flawed, dirty, or sometimes even with a particularly becoming trait that should be demonstrated prominently and make the whole more beautiful or functional.

Construction actually begins with the laying out of the rocks. You see to some extent what will work with what; to which tier this or that rock belongs; and like I said, that all important Southeast Corner Stone that represents Jesus Christ. Amazingly, this all important stone will be buried the deepest within the whole when it is completed. It will be mostly out of sight and one coming upon your altar without knowledge of what it is would not recognize the importance of the prime anchoring characteristics of this all important rock. Construction, like gathering, takes place at an agonizingly slow pace. A particular stone just does not seem to work anyplace. You can often see that the altar is leaning precariously because of the placement of some of the rocks. You realize a teardown is in order and refashioning needs to take place. I saw myself in this process really quite close to the first. Initially it surprised me and even frightened me a little as I saw that the building of me was a lot like my altar. I also saw that, at the point I recognized myself in the construction, I still had a lot of rocks to lay and if it continued like it started, “would I ever be a finished product?” In fact would the Lord cast me off as I might cast off this altar, because it just seems impossible to make it work? It also provided a driving thought, that even as the Lord had not cast me off, but through His mercy and grace and diligence in working with me, had saved me; so I could salvage this altar I was attempting to construct, and even though it might be hard, it was do-able. You see miracles happen that cause it to be possible. Sometimes whole sections slide out that indicate a hidden flaw in construction. Sometimes a rock is rejected and replaced by another which at first glance seems impossible to obtain. Sometimes you see in amazing clarity that if the location of this rock is changed with that one, everything will lock together. Sometimes you just keep going with faith that somehow it will work. This is all symbolic, but it is also real in the project in which you are engaged.

Actually the symbolism in the building of this altar doesn’t seem to end. Even as I write this I see many other things that the actual doing of building the altar could represent, or did represent. Some of it is symbolism of me. Some of it of the Church. Some of it of the Gospel. Particularly that defining central theme of the Gospel; the Atonement of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The altar and His atonement have become one in my mind. And because of that, the symbolism based in the realism of this will continue to show itself for the rest of my life!

THE DEDICATION AND THE OFFERING:
When the table of the altar was placed upon the top as the final stone, I walked around the altar at a distance and looked at it from every angle. I could see that it even looked like an altar, and that barring a physical act of man or beast would likely stand looking that same way until the earth at some time in the future convulses and scatters the carefully laid stones. But I know that even if that should happen, the ground upon which it is built will remain hallowed. I declared that it was the best I could do, and further declared to myself it was completed. It was now recognizable as an altar to me rather than just a pile of rocks and I declared it “an altar.” It felt to me to be a “whole.”

The next step in the process was to consecrate the Pure olive oil which I brought and then pour it in its consecrated state upon the top of the altar, with the pouring of it on a part being the pouring of it upon the whole, because of what it had now become. Opening the bottle, I held it up to God and said that by the power of the holy word which had been given me wherein I was declared a son of the Almighty God, I now dedicate and consecrate this oil to represent the blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ, which He has shed for all mankind and that upon its pouring, it will represent the blood offering required to dedicate and sanctify this completed altar. I then poured its contents upon the top of my altar. Using a particular sign, I then offered up prayers to my Father, petitioning Him to accept of my meager offering, and of myself. I covenanted that my life, and my will, and all that I have or ever will have is His. The altar had now served its purpose. It was complete. I was complete. And both are acceptable to the Lord. It was palpable and clear.

Grandma and I will probably visit it only one more time, that we may pray together, and covenant together and with our God. I will then sell the boat which will represent a moving on in our trek through this wilderness. I don’t know but that I may or may not do this again. I feel that one could become really proficient at this, but I don’t know if one really has to. I feel this was really important for me to do, and I feel that having done it there are future ramifications that will happen to my family because of it. For all I know right now, maybe you who might be reading this are a product in a small way of me having done this. This has not been made clear to me at this point.

I know I have not answered all questions. I’m not sure it’s my place here to just give my answers. If at a future time you decide upon this, I think you will receive your own answers to any questions you will ask. I feel like to the best of my limited ability I have laid out what this experience meant to me.

One more parting shot. I do know that what was at the first must return and be part of the last. In this, I have participated.

As copied by
Keith Henderson

A Dream

In a dream I had in the early morning I was a worker of some kind in the Temple. I don’t know which Temple, but in some respects it was very old and in others, or at least in some sections of the Temple it was brand new.

I received a requirement from the President of the Temple, or Prophet, or President of the Church, I’m not exactly sure which, but it seemed to be President Hinckley, or some kind of facsimile of him; anyway, I received a requirement from him to increase the luminosity of the lighting in the Temple and its surrounding outdoor and parking areas at least double, and in some areas, which, I can’t remember, by five times.

The purpose of this lighting was to make it appear that the Lord was in the Temple.

I consulted with a man in some department of the Temple who showed me a little canister light with some kind of screwy light bulb who said he thought this would do the job. I began to think it was going to take much more than this and began to think that I needed to involve the Temple lighting designer, and then further thought I would probably need the electrician because wire sizes, control boxes, service outlets, and much more would need re-working.

I then began to think about cost and reported to someone below the one who originally gave me the assignment, that I thought it would cost millions and millions of dollars to do what was requested. He said he would deliver my message. The word came back that money didn’t matter, but the people need to think the Lord is in the Temple.

This went on for some time, with me wandering in and out of the Temple thinking about how to accomplish all this, when suddenly a stroke of genius occurred;

Why don’t we just ask the Lord to come and be with us? Isn’t that what all this is about anyway? Whereupon I awoke.

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Now we don’t need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation. But if a problem arises, as it does occasionally, a vexatious thing with which we have to deal, we go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss it as a First Presidency, and as a Council of the Twelve Apostles. We pray about it and then comes the whisperings of a still small voice. And we know the direction we should take and we proceed accordingly. (San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday interview of President Gordon B. Hinckley, April 3, 1997 by Don Lattin.)

Journal Entry For October 16, 2022

“The gathering to the New Jerusalem develops in time to the status of being “Zion” where God will visit. The growth is through refinement of the residents of the New Jerusalem.” (Was There An Original?: Paper by, Denver C. Snuffer Jr. P. 35.)

This statement poses to my mind the following:

. There is to be a future gathering.
. This gathering to a place where Christ is not immediately present means that it is primarily a self- selecting process. People will come of their own volition because they desire Zion, and have become sure this is it, or need a place of refuge.
. There will be such a place, determined by the Savior, and designated by Him as the New Jerusalem. When or where is yet to be announced by Him.
. “It will be a physical and spiritual enterprise to be accomplished by the hard effort of those interested in welcoming the Lord’s return.” (Same paper as quoted above. P. 36)
. The effort to transform the initial New Jerusalem into Zion develops in time and not immediately to the status of being Zion, where God will visit. From Enoch’s city to the status of “Zion” took approximately 365 years. ( Moses 7: 19-21 & 68.) How long for us?
. If the New Jerusalem is designated and begins accepting residents, it will become Zion if the criteria of desire, and hard effort are met.
. If it arrives at the point where it can be called “Zion,” God will visit it.

A possible senario

As we packed the truck, preparing to leave our beloved home for perhaps the last time, I spread the map again on the kitchen table so Carma could finish her note taking. It would be these notes which we would use to navigate what we anticipated would be the ten hour drive to our destination.

Yesterday at our Sabbath fellowship meeting we had a special visitor who confirmed many of the rumors, which had been floating out there for over a month about a new temple which had recently been completed. We had followed the news closely to see if the LDS church had built a new temple and heard nothing about it there. The odd thing was that the rumors said this temple had been built on a knoll jutting out from an almost sheer unscalable mountain wall behind it. The pine forested slopes leading to the base of the knoll were said to be interspersed with broad meadows each having a spring or stream which watered its lush vegetation. Emil, the one in our fellowship who many looked to as being most in the know about things happening outside our fellowship, said he had heard all this was situated on a fifteen thousand acre parcel which butted against National Forest land all around it. We realized this couldn’t be an LDS temple. It had to be the one we had all been talking about and waiting for these past four years, since that series of talks had been given.

The most surprising rumor, which as of last night became fact, was that a call had been sent out on the Denver Snuffer web site, for all who could or would to come as you can, and take up residence on a property to be divulged in our next fellowship meetings. Then, last night to an overflow crowd, specific directions were given to the site, and instructions about which logging roads to take after turning off the main road were written down furiously by Carma, as Joanna talked. Joanna, our special guest at the fellowship meeting, explained that at several points before arriving at the destination we would be required to go through gates where we would then follow a guide vehicle to the next gate, and so on through several, until we finally arrived. She explained that it was such a maze of twists and turns and gates and criss-crossing side roads that without the guide we would never find the location.

Other instructions were to arrive at the first gate after dark. Otherwise we would have to wait until dark for an escort. I think this was a security precaution so we couldn’t see where we would be going. And we could only bring one truck or car with an open trailer behind it, if we had one. We were to pack warm clothes and a tent and food.

We found later that a request to turn in all cell phones and other electronics at the first gate before continuing on caused many to turn around and not proceed because the idea of cutting themselves off from the outside world seemed just too much to bear.

The long drive was uneventful for the caravan we joined, which consisted of two other fellowship families, and our son who followed us with the part of his family, that would come, in his truck, towing his boat which met the requirement as an open trailer. The trip itself was uneventful as I say, but the length of it gave plenty of time to think and worry and cry at who and what we were leaving behind.

Joanna had called our destination the New Jerusalem. By that, she said, she wanted to indicate that this was an interim step. This would not, at least for now, be the “Zion” most of us had a mental picture of. This would be a refuge from the escalating destructions taking place in the world and would be a place of intense preparation if we desired. It would also be a place which we could leave if we found it not compatible to our needs and desires without any recriminations from heaven or man. It was also a place we could be expelled from if that became necessary and voted on by common consent. She also said the population would grow over time as many outside found it not in their character to fight against their neighbors, as local law broke down, but would rather flee.

This is my recollection of many things at the very beginning when we became aware of and decided to move to the New Jerusalem.. We have been here now for just a little over two years so I will complete this journal from the perspective of what I have seen during that time, and what at this point I can anticipate now that I have this background.

I haven’t kept count but would suppose that many less than half of all those who came here have remained. The reasons are varied but would include:

. Society has not broken down or become chaotic as fast as many supposed it would. This has broken the faith of many that it actually will.
. The poignancy and melancholy of being without family who refuse to come.
. The deprivation many felt existed here over the comforts they had experienced at home.
. Refusal and or lack of ability to get along with others.
. The relative lack of meat and especially refined foods in the diet that is available here. Many just could not seem to adapt.
. A need for more control over others. I have found the people who come here to be very independent, and when that is coupled with a desire to do all they can for themselves, and then help others who are weaker or slower or less adept, without reward or even recognition from the others they serve, things run very smoothly, and all people become better and more capable, and happy. But there have been some who simply feel they have to direct others, and have to be noticed for their efforts by those others. At this point most of those have left and things for the past year or so have really run quite smoothly, because those who require this power, as they suppose, are gone.
. And perhaps the final reason I will list here as to why many have left is that what goes on here, and what it looked like when they came just couldn’t be reconciled with the mental image most people have of what Zion should be when they come to it.

Otherwise,

There have been many exciting things happen since our arrival. Six months ago a large group of about a thousand showed up at the first gate. This more than doubled the number in the village, and was quite a scramble providing them shelter and food. They were led by a man whom they called their prophet, and all I have learned about them so far is that they came from a long way off. Their “prophet,” I have to say, doesn’t look much like the prophet of most people’s mental image. For sure, there is no suit coat pocket hanky. This one is usually dressed in course work clothes and looks a little worse for wear than those who continually surround him, and he’s very thin, and actually looks quite young. I have found out it’s because he is continually giving away his own clothing, and many times his own food to those he thinks are worse off than himself. It is also said, he fasts a lot. I have been amazed at the love and respect his people seem to have for him. Actually I think he is much older than he looks, because of what I have heard him say the few times I have been privy to his conversations. I don’t know that I would be so inclined to refer to him as a prophet as I would that he seems to be more a teacher, and perhaps even a protector. There are rumors of what he has done by power to save his people in many circumstances. Their great desire of us was that we pronounce great blessings on them through ordinances in the temple. That has now been accomplished and the group left about as they came; after dark, and with very little fanfare. I just thought of something that will seem odd. I have just realized I have no idea how they came or by what conveyance they left.

Another thing which caused quite a buzz just a little while before that group came was during an evening after the sun had gone down, but it didn’t seem to get any darker. I had been reading and didn’t pay any attention to the time or the light. Carma came in from the outside and said something was going on outside and I needed to come and see. The object of everyone’s attention was the temple. It appeared to be glowing or on fire, and also seemed to be the source of light that kept the evening from darkening. At first I was quite alarmed because I thought “fire,” and seemed to see people in the windows and on the roof who I first thought were trying to put out the blaze. But then, somehow I just knew by a process I can’t adequately describe, that it was our Lord and angels in the temple, and that He was the source of the light. This has remained the condition of the temple ever since. It shines during the night. Now, not so bright as that first night, but to look upon the glow is to fill my soul with peace and joy and contentment. It’s physical effect has been to make the harsh darkness of the nights in this very remote place much less frightening, as it now seems there is a very soft glow emanating from the trees, plants and even the earth itself, clear to the borders of the property. The stars and planets are as bright overhead as ever, but the earth seems to be basking in a glow of her own.

The day after that first night of the temple being ablaze, classes were announced and established throughout the community, which are taught by holy men that are now among us. it is primarily a preparation for those who would like to enter into that holy place which has always been on the knoll and receive what now has become available there. But I have now been made aware that there are also advanced classes for those who have been in the temple. The most common piece of equipment in those classes seems to be a rather large telescope. Somehow I always knew this would happen, and hoped to live long enough to see it, and now it’s here. Carma and I a few days ago received our invitation to go inside. I am left without words, and also under covenant not to describe what took place there, as all are to receive it for themselves from the Source, which is not me.

Carma and I, shortly thereafter, received an invitation from one of the gates keeper’s to be the guides in their place to the new comers. So now at the announcement of new arrivals, she and I put on our back packs and climb onto our 4 wheeler and head off with snacks and information and directions for our weary arrivals.

I have left out much about the infrastructure of the New Jerusalem and what takes place on a daily basis here, but let it be known that we are busier and happier than we have ever been in our lives, and when you arrive here, and make the decision in yourself to stay, you also will come to know.

Love to all our family and friends. Mama and Papa hope you all join us soon, and especially before situations in the world, and here make it impossible for you to come.

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Now, in the person of my own self I must declare that I am not invested in any detail of the above scenario, only as it proves to be true.

Keith Henderson

Not a leader therefore not entitled to say this

MILK OR MEAT

On December 29, 2013, I attended my last 5th Sunday combined Priesthood/Relief Society class as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I also terminated my attendance at any further Gospel Doctrine classes at the same time. I think you will understand why as you read what follows.

On December 29, 2013 the combined 5th Sunday lesson was presented in our Ward by our High Council representative. His topic was on the problems most frequently encountered by bishops in the course of their tenure as such.

Immediately after the lesson our bishop stood up to address the class. He told us that we could see that there would be no purpose in teaching any “meat” in this ward, because of the sinful nature of the majority of the ward members. “Milk” would be the only thing taught in “his” ward from here on.

Immediately after the class I went home and penned the following thoughts, which had pretty much formulated themselves in my mind as the High Councilman spoke, and sent them to the bishopric, and Elder’s Quorum President. All, except one, including the bishop responded by commanding that I remove their names from my email directory immediately. The Elder’s President who is also a practicing attorney went so far as to threaten legal action if I persisted in communicating with him in any fashion.

To get the most out of what follows please consider yourself as one of my ward leaders.
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PART 1

Dear Brethren

Since it was unanimous in our combined 5th Sunday class, last Sunday, that the most pressing problems bishops deal with, and have been dealing with over the past 25 – 30 years in their callings are, pornography, parallel marriages, (married couples living their own separate lives within a marriage with little or no communication) and illicit sexual relations, it seemed really quite logical that the consensus in the class be that our ward members, in such a state of sinfulness, should only be fed the milk and not the meat of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The meat, it would seem, should be reserved for that time when bishops and stake presidents rein in this epidemic of sin, which seems to be so prevalent throughout our ward and church. 

But, in just our combined class alone, we identified four bishops spanning at least 30 years in their service; and, for each, the consensus was, in his own time frame, each bishop had the same list of sins with which he dealt; and yet today we seem to be no closer to the solution with which to rein in this plague of evil.

I wonder, with such a seemingly logical and widespread solution, why it is there has been no progress made over at least this span of 30 years?  Did each bishop arrive at the same conclusion that milk and not meat must be taught?  If so, and if that was the correct solution to the problem, shouldn’t there have been at least some headway toward solving the problems that consistently comprised each bishop’s “list of the top three?”

One thing we can be sure of, if each bishop did reach that same conclusion, there has been no meat taught in the Church of Jesus Christ for the past 30 years.

And bishop, you wonder why I study the gospel outside the correlated curriculum of the Church manuals?

Well, as our instructor so aptly directed us, perhaps we can turn to the Book of Mormon to see if it might contain a solution for these persistent plagues of our day.  As the topic progressed Sunday, my mind was repeatedly drawn to Alma chapters 10 – 13.  Here we have some of the deepest doctrine which can be taught in our church.  And who is the audience Alma chooses to teach it to? 

It is to a group of apostates in the city of Ammonihah.  The chief “accuser of the brethren” is a lawyer named Zeezrom.  The doctrines which Alma and Amulek teach this wicked man are:

1.  The nature of God.  Zeezrom asks:  Is there more than one God?  Amulek answers: “No.”

2.  Amulek continues to teach, however, that the Son of God (Hummm?) will come to redeem His people.  Actually this doctrine sounds a lot like the doctrine taught to King Noah and his wicked priests, by Abinadi.

3.  The remainder of Alma 11 & 12 is devoted to teaching the people the true nature of the resurrection and redemption, way beyond that which most of us can articulate today.  Also taught are the intricacies of temporal and spiritual death which lay the foundation for a powerful call to repentance by Alma. 

4.  Chapter 13 teaches doctrines of a priesthood which is given in another state; people coming to earth with privileges granted because of faith developed previously, before the foundation of the earth.  It teaches doctrines of a preparatory redemption, and then the entering into the rest of the Lord.  It teaches sanctification, and having your garments washed white through the blood of the Lamb.  And many other doctrines does it teach, the nature of which, are hardly comprehended by the average Latter-day Saint. 

The amazing thing is that these doctrines were coupled with a cry by Alma and Amulek for these wicked people to repent which many did; particularly Zeezrom, but also many others who because of their increased faith, and subsequent repentance consequently lost their lives by being cast into a fire made by their leaders.

Previously a mention was made of the teachings of Abinadi to the wicked king Noah.  This preaching was of the same order as this in Alma.  It was the meat of the gospel coupled with a call to repentance.  In this case only one man was initially converted, or should we say re-converted.  This was Alma the father of this Alma using the same teachings as did Abinadi, which laid the foundation for faith and then repentance of the people.

The problem with teaching only Home Teaching, and showing up for our assignments, as the only “milk” you understand the term to mean, is that it doesn’t lay a sufficient groundwork of faith in Jesus Christ upon which to provide a bulwark for repentance.  Sometimes we get the order confused.  We think that repentance comes first, then we can proceed to teach the doctrines of Christ, when all the scriptures as well as Article of Faith #4 by Joseph Smith have it the other way.

Well, don’t you think this has gone on long enough?  It would seem to me that if the same plan has been tried over and over and over for at least the past thirty years without much success, it is time to look to an example where we can see success, and what caused it.  The Book of Mormon is that place.  Perhaps only one at a time, as with Alma the elder, will be saved, but that has been the way since the beginning.  One saved in the Kingdom of God will add glory upon glory to our Heavenly Father forever and forever through all eternity to come.

Just saying…….

PART 2

Dear Brethren

Alma concludes one of the most powerful discourses ever given to man with a formula used by almost all prophets, designed to bring the recalcitrant sinner back to his senses, and thereby back to God.  He and Amulek have laid the groundwork for the development of faith, which leads to mighty repentance through the teaching of strong doctrine.  Now this kind of faith and repentance if developed in the manner we have seen in the preceding verses of Alma chapters 10 – 13 always leads to what Alma now says is its result:

     “Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” (Alma 13: 29.) 

I’m sure you see in this statement, “faith, hope, and charity (or love).”  But do you have even an iota of understanding of these words as Alma meant them?  Not unless you have done what Alma has explained throughout this discourse, and experienced it for yourself.

Faith – true faith – is a principle of power.  It always brings the person to do something.  In its most complete form it will bring a person to stand in the presence of God.  True prophets always strive to develop this kind of faith in those they are teaching.  Faith was the first principle Joseph Smith restored as part of the beginning of the Restoration of all Things.  He explained the true nature of God and Christ as it was shown to him, and his explanation, which was his testimony, gives all men and women a true basis for the development of faith in these characters.  With such a faith, based on these correct principles, man could then develop this same power Joseph had, for himself.  Where do you see faith taught like this or exercised in this manner today?  Is this what you see as the epitome of faith?  Or is this too sacred to speak about?  Evidently not to Alma.

Hope – particularly the hope that you shall receive eternal life.  Please understand here that this is not some insipid, vague, optimism that this might happen.  This is certitude!  It is knowledge, because you have a promise.  The hope spoken of by Alma can only be gained and exercised because of a promise from God directly to yourself that Eternal Life will be yours.  This is exactly the meaning of hope that enabled the Brother of Jared to see God and view all his mysteries while yet in the flesh.  It says:  “…For so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith.  And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight…”(Ether 12: 20-21.)  Is this the strength of your hope? 

This is the kind of hope the brother of Jared had, and of which Alma is speaking.  It flows out of the kind of faith Alma has been developing in the wicked people of Ammonihah since chapter 10.  It is this More Sure Word of Prophecy Joseph Smith speaks of when he teaches the doctrine of having one’s Calling and Election made sure (and which we have accepted by common consent.) “The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.  It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” (D&C 131: 5-6.)

This is to have been called, chosen, and elected by God for Eternal Life.  This promise always precedes the actual obtaining of Eternal Life.  Without this promise there is no hope for Eternal Life.  But with the promise, although you are still mortal and have not yet entered in, you have hope.  Is this the type and the strength of your hope?  Does this speaking of having your Calling and Election made sure, make you uncomfortable?  Why?  Do you still think this is to sacred to speak about?  Evidently Alma doesn’t.

Charity – having the love of God.  This is a pure love; “The pure love of God” for you; because when God has promised you eternal life then you have “the love of God always in your heart.”  It is there through the indelible promise He has made.  He has changed your status.  He has declared through His own voice what great thing you have and will become.  Therefore it is by knowledge alone that such love resides in the heart of man.

Faith, hope, and charity.  Not exactly what we’ve been taught, is it?  In fact these concepts have been completely eliminated from the 52 correlated topics which we discuss over and over ad nauseum.  And yet, Alma and Amulek teach these advanced concepts to apostates.  And it works!  This is what gets people of all kinds excited.  This is what drives sinners to righteousness.  This is what changes peoples lives.  I think Boyd K. Packer was right when he said that doctrine will change behavior faster and more completely that the study of behavior will change behavior. A few chapters later and we see Zeezrom joining this elite cadre of brethren as a notable missionary, and we see many others leaving the company of those who will not believe, and rejoining with the Nephites.  We see salvation in action.

Lifted up at the last day and enter into His rest.  

For the rest of this I will just quote a good friend.  Realizing that truth can be anywhere and we can all know it by the Power of the Holy Ghost, which is in you.

“This life will end.  But you will be raised up.  You know when you are lifted up in the last day it will be this power of God that raises you.  Such power as God employs to lift a man up confers upon such a person eternal life.  The promise alone is a power, conferring the right to lay hold on eternal life when the moment comes.  No power in earth or hell can rescind God’s word. (D&C 1: 38.)  It cannot be done.  Therefore, you have knowledge that you will not only be raised from the dead, but “lifted up” as well.  Powers, principalities, dominions, exaltations are all promised as yours.

This is how you attain to “rest.”  It is the “rest of the Lord” as soon as the promise is made by Him.  It is His rest when you inherit it in the last day.  The words of the promise are enough to guarantee the inheritance.  Therefore once the promise is made it is true enough that you have entered into the rest of the Lord.  However, until you depart this life, you remain subject to the difficulties of mortality.  Graduation is assured, but you must tarry for a little while here.” (Denver C. Snuffer.)  We have no better illustration of this than from Nephi saying:  “O wretched man that I am!  Yea my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.  I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.  And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. (2Nephi 4: 17-19.)

Now a word as to why I have sent this to those who received it.  You are all the leaders of this people.  You have been or are the bishops and shepherds of your flocks.  You all have those who look to you. You are charged to teach, not to close your mouths and say “I have received a great truth.  I will hold it to myself and not share it.”  As one hopefully trying to, or possessing this kind of hope, and thus being filled with faith, hope and charity, it becomes your responsibility to raise up others.  Hence the ministry of Alma, and Alma’s exposition on the ministry of Melchizedek.  God does send true messengers.  They can lead you in the way of life and salvation.

Keith

Chronicles of a changed person

ON CONSUMPTION OF WINE
Many of us grew up as members of the LDS church or otherwise were raised with the teaching that the consumption of drinks containing alcohol was forbidden.  After I had settled down from a protracted phase of rebellion, I declared in my new-found conversion, with my face to the heavens, that I would never take another drink of an alcoholic beverage again.  I looked with envy upon those few stalwart individuals I knew, who I felt honestly could approach their God at death, and declare “alcohol has never passed these lips.”  In my minds eye I could envision Heavenly Father wrapping them in His arms, pressing them close to His bosom, and for that one act of heroic abstinence declaring to them, “Well done, my faithful son, enter into My kingdom.”  Actually I could imagine this about many more women than men that I knew, but that’s an aside that takes this in the wrong direction.

Early on, in my [as of late] re-new-found conversion to true principles which include remembering the restoration begun by Joseph Smith, I was invited to a Sacrament Service where wine would be used as the emblem to represent the sacrifice of the Lord’s blood.  I was asked to make the wine because of an off the cuff remark I made about wanting to try my hand at wine making sometime, because that would now be “legal” under the idea of remembering the restoration.  With trepidation I agreed, and proceeded in my idiocy of the topic to dump twelve bottles of grape juice with the whole grapes still in the bottles, which looked like they were getting old in our fruit room, into a five gallon bucket.  I mashed the grapes in the juice with an old plaster stirrer (looks like a big potato masher), covered the bucket with cheese cloth, because it was fruit fly season, and set the bucket in a dark place to turn itself into wine.  Within three days, I knew it was on its way, because you could smell it all over the house.  Oh! Those were days never to be forgotten.

The Sacrament emblems were to be partaken of two weeks from the day I began this new wine.  No problem, I thought, the way this stuff has taken off we’ll have plenty of time.  The day before the big day, my wife and I poured the stuff in the bucket through the cheese cloth, and tasted it.  YUK!  We both looked at each other with that look which says, “I’m sure we just poisoned ourselves.”  I thought we’d be dead within fifteen minutes, for sure.  Well, that didn’t happen, and when we finally realized it was probably harmless and just tasted bad, we knew we could fix that.  Four or five cups of sugar should just about do it, and five did it.  Kind of on the order of, “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…” (you supply the melody.)  Well, to make this story shorter and to get on with what I really want to say;  everyone at the Sacrament Meeting lied and said the “wine” really tasted good (how would they know? None there knew what wine should taste like), and a couple of individuals exhibited signs of it really “gladdening their hearts.”  Prohibition had finally ended for this small group with a one-half-full plastic cup each.

Preserving the Restoration is now in full swing.  D&C 89 is no longer a stunting hinderance to pure worship, but has resumed its rightful place as a “Word of Wisdom, not by way of commandment.”

We can now eat and drink our fill, not only because of an admonition “to be free,” (with which I heartedly concur), but the wine these days sometimes really tastes good, and goes down real smooth.  “You’ve gotta love it, baby!” (Hotrod Huntley.)  In fact we’ve come so far that in the wilderness south of Moab a few weeks ago, a table was covered with dozens of bottles of wine of every label and ilk.  I personally contributed five bottles of a ruby red, clear, delicious wine of my own make.  The wine flowed freely; in some circles without inhibition.  Every last drop of the labeled, and the ilk, was drunk.  Some boasted with somewhat slurred speech they had gladdened their hearts with 5 or 6 cups full, as they fell into the long lines in front of the Porta-Johns.

Has the pendulum swung?  Do we now “drink?”  Or do we yet “Partake” of our Lord’s Sacrament?  Is the emphasis on the wine, or on “the blood of the Lamb?”  Well, I have come upon a barometer of wine consumption, with decorum being exhibited in the lower degrees of the scale, while the upper would tend to bawdiness.  Actually this scale was developed in 375 B.C.  It says:

Three bowls (archaic for glasses) only do I serve for the temperate:
one for health, which they empty first;
the second for love and pleasure;
and the third for sleep.
When this bowl is drunk up, wise guests go home.

The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to violence;
the fifth to uproar; 
the sixth to drunken revel;
the seventh to black eyes;
the eighth is the policeman’s;
the ninth belongs to biliousness; and
the tenth to madness and hurling the furniture.
—Eubulus (ca. 375 B.C.)

Recently I also stumbled on to something which I have read many times, but only just recently have I seen it.  “That inasmuch as any man [or woman] drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves to offer up your sacraments before Him.” (D&C 89: 5. Emphasis is mine and is what I saw.)

If we combine the wisdom of Eubulus with the wisdom of The Word of Wisdom, it would seem to me, to be logical that in partaking of wine in our sacraments, we should seldom, if ever, exceed one glass.  It would also seem illogical that our assembling together to offer up our “Sacraments” before Him should include a second glass whose stated effect is to induce a desire for love and pleasure, or for sure a third glass, whose purpose is to produce drowsiness in an assembly whose avowed purpose is alertness to promptings of the Spirit; And Eubulus points out everything after this just goes down hill.

Many of us, perhaps I would say most of us in this movement, are making a cultural switch from total abstinence, to the ingesting of wine two to three, and even more times per week.  In a culture where alcohol is completely forbidden there was no process to model and foster a constructive use of wine.  But research has shown that when communities come together, and the first instructions to their children include the teaching of appropriate benedictions for bread and wine, and wine is taught as something sacred, it is much less likely that members of that society will abuse alcohol.  Children learn to understand drinking as an act of communion, and drunkenness as a profanity; a perversion of the sacred use of wine.  The more the consumption of alcohol is tied to the socialization process within the family and the community, the more responsible all become.  In the family, children, and adults learn how to drink, and simultaneously how not to drink.  Hence the requirement in the above quoted verse:  “…Only in assembling yourselves…” [in every possible vein you can think of that in].

As every chronicle should have a summing up and a conclusion, here is all I can think of to propose based on the foregoing facts:  If you are going to drink at that upcoming sacramental wedding,  fill that glass to the 5-7 oz mark and revel in the gladdening of a more healthy heart, and how joyous the occasion has become.  Then as someone fills the wedding couples second glass, the attending company toasts with the remaining drops of their first glassful the departure of the happy couple, who, when they arrive at their nights lodging will just be coming into the glorious effects Eubulus proposes for that second glassful.  The residue can then drive home, neither too sleepy, nor over the legal limit.

And now if you will all excuse me, dinner is on the table, and I think I will break the seal on that Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve been saving, to pair with that enticingly aromatic ribeye steak sizzling on our plates; after which I fully intend to pour for ourselves that second glass. Mazel Tov!

Keith Henderson

The Gift Of The Holy Ghost By The Laying On Of Hands

As we continue the work required by the Doctrine of Christ of bringing those who are seeking truth into the waters of baptism, we bump against the question which is asked by this inquiring individual:

“As I’ve been studying in the scriptures about baptism by water and baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost I’ve also been wondering about receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, per 3 Nephi and D&C 20. Are there any individuals that you are aware of that have received authority from the Lord to perform this ordinance? If so, how does one qualify or seek out the reception of such?”

The following is my answer to this individual. It, in no way is presented as a discouragement against attempting to receive this great blessing, but is a presentation of scripture which indicates that there is, more than one way for an individual to effect that which he/she so greatly desires, upon themselves.

_________________________

The Lord set the pattern for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands when He touched each of the twelve Disciples during his visit to the Americas after His resurrection. (See 3 Nephi 18: 36-37.)  It was His (Christ’s) laying His hands upon the Disciples, along with the words which He spoke, which gave them the power to do the same. (See Moroni 2: 1-3 for the words which He spoke.)

It is the same today.

When a man is brought into the presence of Christ, and He lays His hands upon him, and speaks to him the authority to bestow it in like manner, he then can have power to do this by calling upon the name of the Father in mighty prayer for permission or approval to bestow it in such like manner upon him or her whose desire it is, from the Father, to have it bestowed in this manner.  They will then do so in the name of Jesus Christ.

The authority and the power to do this is very limited, and would seem to belong in that same category of ordinances which are mentioned in JST Genesis 14: 30-31, where is says, “For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; …etc.” These things have always been, and still are very tightly controlled by that which follows in verse 31 where it says “…According to His will, according to His command.”  The person capable of doing this has already met the requirement as mentioned in Helaman 10: 5, which is, “…For thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.”

This thing is not the prerogative of the seeker, but is that of the Lord.  I would propose that if someone wants this thing he should approach the Lord God in humble and mighty prayer himself, and if it is the will of the Father, He will send His disciple to the seeker, and give him what he seeks. But, let him be prepared, for it comes not alone, but as part of a greater whole, and with consequences that are staggering.

On the other hand, there is the promise of the Father to every person who seeks to be obedient to the “Doctrine of Christ” through baptism or re-baptism, that if he/she truly repents and believes in Jesus Christ, and then is baptized, Christ bears record from the Father that, that person will be visited by the Father with the Baptism of Fire, and with the Holy Ghost. (See 3 Nephi 11: 35.)  It is also the promise made by Moroni that when a person studies the things of the Book Of Mormon, and actually receives them unto himself, if he then asks of the Father in the name of Christ, he can receive a manifestation of the truth of those (and all things) by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10: 4-5.)

It is a fable taught to us by leaders and others who do not understand the role of the Holy Ghost that these things and this great gift cannot remain with us. They are with us for as long as we seek, and strive to remain worthy.

Consider Joseph and Oliver Cowdery:  When they came up out of the waters of baptism on May 15, 1829, the Holy Ghost descended upon them. They both prophesied immediately afterward, and then found that they had increased powers to understand the more mysterious parts of the scriptures in their true meaning and intention, (See Joseph Smith – History 1: 73-74.) which remained with Joseph all the rest of his life. And then consider the Lamanites, which Christ spoke of, who had been baptized by fire, and the Holy Ghost after their conversion, and knew it not. (3 Nephi 9: 20.)

The promise is already there.  It is up to us to accept it, and awaken to it.

Keith Henderson

Marriage

After holding a series of meetings involving many individuals and prayerfully discussing the need to address marriage, a conference on this subject has adopted the following statement to be published on the Recorders Clearinghouse website:

Introduction:

To preserve the restoration begun by Joseph Smith Jr., it is necessary to revisit the ministry of Joseph. He was called as a prophet of God, and thus had access to the mind and will of God – even in regard to such sacred matters as marriage between a man and a woman.

To follow Joseph’s example regarding marriage, and show how the things he did are still applicable today, that which follows will visit some of the issues facing couples when they elect to marry outside of their traditional institutions. Some of these are: Who can perform a wedding? What about sealing authority? Did Joseph seal couples? Can I? And how does section 101 of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants fit into the picture?

Joseph began marrying couples in Ohio on November 24, 1835 with the marriage of Newel Knight to Lydia Bailey. Within the next two months he had married ten more couples and by June 19, 1837 he had married a total of nineteen. He felt that his authority to do so came to him from God, as a minister ordained by Him (God). It was never proven against him that he did not have the authority he assumed, although several made the attempt.

Many of the things Joseph did, and the way he did them are applicable today. Hopefully that will be clarified below.

Who can perform marriages?

First, every state and nation has local laws that need to be consulted. In many states, like in Utah, there is a uniform code standardizing procedures. These will be discussed for Utah, to guide others in examining their state’s requirements. If a marriage is valid in the place it is performed, then the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution makes it valid throughout the United States.

In Utah, these are some of the ways a person can become legally qualified to perform marriages:

A. One of the really interesting things about the statute in Davis County, Utah is spelled out in 30-1-5. It says:
A marriage solemnized before a person professing to have authority to perform marriages may not be invalidated for lack of authority, if consummated in the belief of the parties or either of them that the person had authority and that they have been lawfully married. This section may not be construed to validate a marriage that is prohibited or void under Section 30-1-2.

B. Utah, among a host of other States, allows Common Law Marriage. Many people think they want to get a “common law marriage.” All that is required is to live together as husband and wife and hold yourself out to others as married. By living together, assuming the responsibilities, and rights of married partners you are considered married, but you will not have a marriage certificate without involving the State. If you ever need to collect insurance benefits, survivor’s benefits, inherit property, and other things, you may need proof in the form of a marriage certificate. If that is the case, you may discover it would have been cheaper and less of a hassle to have been married and had your marriage recorded in the County of your residence in the first place.

C. In Utah, [almost] anyone can qualify before the County Recorder to be authorized to marry any [lawful] couple. This is a one-time only permission. You just get a form called Single Ceremony Marriage Designee Appointment and Agreement from your local County Recorder. You are required to sign it along with the couple being married, and you are good to go. The couple pick up a packet which includes a blank marriage license, and a marriage certificate to be handed to the couple at the completion of the ceremony, and the officiator returns the signed and witnessed license to the Recorder’s office within a month after the ceremony. About three weeks later, the Recorder’s office sends two certified copies of the license back to the couple. Most all Counties have some variation of this process. Check with your County Recorder’s office.

This seems to be the least restrictive, and cheapest way in the long run to become legally recognized as the minister of the ordinance.

D. You could become ordained as an online minister. Just google it and they will all ask for your money and give you an ordination certificate.

We all want our friends, family, and acquaintances to attend our wedding. For that purpose Joseph approved the following, which was once section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

“1. According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies; Therefore we believe, that all marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose: And that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority. We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination so to do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (D&C 101: 1. 1835 edition.)

The section then gives instructions in verse 2 as to how the marriage should proceed, which should be followed verbatim.

It then gives one particular statement which made it offensive to those considering or practicing polygamy:

“…Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: We declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

So, who can marry? And what will the effect be? From the foregoing, almost anyone can be certified to marry anyone else. Just follow one of the outlined steps above.

But—

Joseph felt priesthood ordination was also necessary. Today that priesthood has become one, integrated priesthood: The Priesthood of the Holy Order of the Son of God. The individual becomes authorized by a hands-on ordination either previous to April 2014 in the LDS church, or thereafter by a hands-on ordination by a current priesthood holder. This ordination is then ratified by seven women, which must include his wife, if married, and their signatures affixed to a priesthood certificate. Of course, as always, a father has prerogative to act as a priest within his own home and family without regards to any certificate.

The last step in obtaining power (as opposed to mere authority in the priesthood) is to petition God for power from on High to officiate in any priesthood ordinance, and have it recognized above as it is performed on earth. Nephi said it very succinctly when he wrote, “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” (2 Nephi 32: 9.)

Next, sealing authority will be discussed as it pertains to marriages outside the mainstream LDS tradition.

As the foregoing is public and festive, what follows should be more solemn, and perhaps even closed to those who would judge or ridicule.

Did Joseph Seal Couples? Can I?

Until a man attains to the “office of priesthood” (See D&C 124: 91) as did Joseph and Hyrum Smith, he does not have sealing power residing as a right within himself. He must rely upon the servant who has communed with the Lord and obtained a covenant, which is then embodied into ordinance or rite. Joseph and Hyrum were given this authority to seal. But they could not pass it along. It is given by God alone. These servants are no longer available, and so we rely on the sealing authority established in the ordinance as the covenant from God. This is the law until another covenant is offered by God, which is expected before His return.

If the covenant established by God in the ordinance given to Joseph Smith has been changed or broken (Isaiah 24: 5), then our only recourse to having an eternal marriage covenant is to petition God for the power from heaven to seal our marriages, and for us to then rely upon the “Holy Spirit of Promise” to ratify marriages for eternity.

Much is made of “keys” in order to exercise God’s authority, but the only real definition provided by the scriptures regarding “keys” is that they give a man the ability to ask of heaven, and get an answer.

Joseph and Hyrum had keys to ask and receive an answer. We can read of their receiving the sealing power from God, (See D&C 124: 94-96 & D&C 132: 45-49) but they were killed. If they left an ordinance of sealing, the question must be asked: has it been changed or broken?

To insure its preservation, Brigham Young had the temple sealing ceremony written and typeset for the first time in 1876, one year prior to his death. This original typeset version is still available. But it was over three decades after Joseph and Hyrum were martyred that it was written out. Was it the one Joseph left? Most likely, the ordinance was changed shortly after Joseph’s death. Regardless of the answer, whether yes or no, the temple rites have undergone many changes since.

We know of no man on the earth today claiming at this time the right to seal by virtue of the rites and ordinances he has received from on High. Therefore, it defaults to each man desiring power from heaven to ask and receive his own answer, and then have his actions ratified by our Savior, Jesus Christ, in His capacity as “The Holy Spirit of Promise.”

Even after Moses was taken, the rites established through the Law of Moses were approved by God as His covenant. Wicked and corrupt priests performed these rites, and the Jews reaped benefit from them. The power was established by God through Moses, and remained viable so long as the ordinances remained unchanged.

If we have inherited a broken covenant, we can still have our intents, and the desires of our hearts, ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. This has been accomplished many times, even in LDS temples, where a witness of the Spirit has been given to the couple and even the officiator, that the marriage has been sealed in this fashion.

So here is the pattern recommended:

The father of one of the couple, or another who has been chosen to officiate, asks and receives from heaven, power to officiate. Having done so, he invites the bride and groom to kneel (or stand, if more appropriate) before him and to take each other by the right hand. The following discussion and announcements are then to take place:

OFFICIATOR: Brother ________, do you take sister ________ by the right hand and receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife for time and all eternity, with a covenant and promise that you will observe and keep all the laws, rites, and ordinances pertaining to this Holy Order of Matrimony in the New and Everlasting Covenant, and this you do in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?

GROOM: Yes.

OFFICIATOR: Sister ________, do you take brother ________, by the right hand and give yourself to him to be his lawful and wedded wife, and for him to be your lawful and wedded husband, for time and all eternity, with a covenant and promise that you will observe and keep all the laws, rites, and ordinances pertaining to this Holy Order of Matrimony in the New and Everlasting Covenant, and this you do in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?

BRIDE: Yes.

OFFICIATOR: By virtue of the Holy Priesthood and the authority vested in me, I pronounce you ________, and you ________, legally, and lawfully husband and wife for time and all eternity, and I seal upon you the blessings of the holy resurrection with power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection clothed in glory, immortality, and eternal lives, and I seal upon you the blessings of kingdoms, thrones, principalities, powers, dominions, and exaltations, with all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and say unto you: be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. All these blessings, together with all the blessings appertaining unto the New and Everlasting Covenant, I seal upon you by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, through your faithfulness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

You may now kiss each other as husband and wife in this true order of matrimony.

Heaven can now do its work until the groom and bride are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

A note about temples:

LDS people will recognize this language from the LDS temple sealing ceremony, and may be surprised to see the ordinance used outside a temple. However, Joseph Smith sealed many couples, and he never did so within a temple. The covenant is contained in the words of the ordinance, regardless of the location it is performed. It can be performed in a home, out in nature, or anywhere meaningful to the couple.

Similarly, some may expect the need to be ordained as a “sealer” to perform this ordinance. Again, as stated before, the covenant is dependent on Joseph Smith who established it, rather than on the ordination of the one reciting the words. Any priesthood holder can seek and receive heaven’s ratification to perform the ordinance. It then falls to the couple to seek and receive sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

And it is worth noting, even if the ordinance has been changed since Joseph established it, it is still the closest we can come to Joseph’s original wording, and using it shows acceptance of Joseph’s ministry. Those who honor what remains from Joseph show their willingness to accept the everlasting covenant when it returns.

Conclusion:

Two patterns of marriage have been discussed. One is very public, festive, and attended by all who desire to come. The other is a solemn occasion, attended by those the bride and groom would invite for this sealing ceremony. It may make sense to have both these ceremonies separated by some amount of time wherein the newly wedded couple can grow to know each other, and be sure their desires for each other are for eternity. However, we invite you to consider having them performed close together, perhaps even on the same day, in order to create an expectation of preservation and permanency between the couple.

The foregoing is offered merely as advice, and not an attempt to command anyone. Ultimately, any wedding ceremony should be a matter between the couple and the Lord.

May God bless us all that He may renew His covenant with us all.

Keith Henderson
And all of those who have worked on this from this side or the other of the veil. The foregoing has been a collaborative effort culminating in a Conference On February 20, 2016 wherein the men and women who met reached a consensus. The foregoing required a Host (in every sense of that word).

Symbolism of The Wine

In the first part of this treatise I suggested that there should be people throughout the fellowships engaged in making the Sacramental Wine, and gave a couple of recipes for beginners. I believe that this emblem of the Sacrament is so symbolic of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice that I would like to attempt to lay out some of the facets of the making, and compare them to that sacrifice.

As I turn this over in my mind it almost seems like a diamond with its many facets that when turned slowly radiates streamers in a spectrum of light – none ever the same, and oh! so many.

Given that the Atonement is eternal and the thoughts of my mind so finite, there will always be something else which can be added to these words. But to get those creative juices flowing, the following is what strikes me at this moment.

Harvest – The picking of the grapes usually coincides closely with the Autumnal Equinox – that pillar of the earth when light and darkness come into balance, and immediately afterward darkness begins to exceed the light. This is when the sugar in the grapes reaches its peak, and the juice is at its greatest content. This is when the terroir of the soil, and the weather, and the plant itself have completed the pouring of their strength into the manufacture of the fruit of the vine. This is perhaps representative of the Lord being sacrificed at the peak of His life, at the apex of His powers, at the highest and sweetest point of His love for His Father and His children.

De-stemming & crushingThis is when the fruit is fully separated from the last vestiges of the vine. The grapes in times past were put into a large vat and then crushed by treading underfoot. This released the blood of the grape so it could run freely. It is the process where the skin and seeds begin to separate from the inner body of the grape so it can begin the breaking down process to become something completely different. Anyone involved in this process gets his hands, arms and legs and the hem of their garments stained a deep reddish color. The Lord has let us know that it was He that trod the wine press alone. His return will be in red robes.

Pressing – After the grapes are crushed, the skins and seeds are left for a time in the juice to impart color, tannins and acids which are necessary in a good wine to impart correct taste, mouthfeel, and aroma. At a certain point it is necessary to remove the skins and seeds and press out all the remaining juice. The press I use is very simple and illustratively very symbolic. A piece of nylon window screen laid over the open mouth of a bucket receives the juice with skins, and seeds, all together. At first the dark red juice runs freely through the screen as it holds back the skins and seeds. eventually the remaining juice no longer runs freely, but must be pressed out of the skins. Gathering the edges of the screen and twisting them entraps the seeds and skins and begins the pressing out of the remaining blood of the grapes. The more you twist, the tighter the bag presses the grapes. At first the juice runs freely again, but as the press gets tighter and tighter the skins press against the pores of the screen and you begin to see the phenomena of the screen bleeding at every pore.

Fermenting – An older dictionary I have gives as part of its definition of the word ferment, “to agitate or to excite, to effervesce.” With the introduction of yeast into the juice, the juice begins to ferment. It actually becomes a different product from the benign, sweet juice from which it started. As the yeast finds itself in a sugar rich environment it begins to grow and multiply exceedingly fast as it essentially eats the sugar. In the process it gives off carbon dioxide, and turns the sugar to alcohol. When the sugar is all converted you now have a beverage of which a significant portion is alcohol. As the process of fermenting changed the juice to wine, so the alcohol, when consumed in the Sacrament, changes the nature of the individual, indicative in my mind of how the Atonement should change the nature of the individual also.

Racking – is an ancient term for the venerable step of removing the wine from the lees. A few weeks – possibly a couple of months after the finish of the fermentation, the wine has gone fairly inactive. The dead yeast and other solids have begun to settle out of the liquid and pile up at the bottom of the bottle. This stuff may not be evidently active, but in fact the dead yeasts and other things are slowly beginning to break down. Like fallen leaves in a forest they are beginning to decay, possibly adding funky flavors to your wine. The wine needs to periodically be taken off the lees so it becomes clear and tastes clean. This taking the wine off the lees, and putting it into a fresh clean bottle is called racking, and is done by siphoning. For our illustration here we will call upon the scriptures:

Zephaniah 1: 12; “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: That say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a booty and their houses a desolation.”

And even closer to home we get D&C 58: 6-8. “ Behold verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you – that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come. And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; And that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor: yea a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail.”

Well this is enough to show that makers of the wine experience a new level of the symbolism of the wine. This is by no means exhaustive, or even inclusive of all the things that could be said about the wine. Those that embark upon this adventure will see things, and make connections that will be amazing!

We need to have makers all throughout these fellowships that know these things and can bear testimony – not only through the product they lovingly produce, but also how it symbolically represents the atoning sacrifice and mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to save as many of His Father’s children as possible.

Then In Zion there will be many who can add to the mowing of lawns, working in the bakery, and picking the fruit of the orchards; the making of the wine that will be used in sacred Sacraments, and perhaps also in that most holy Sacral Meal where Christ will sit with us and partake.

Keith Henderson

Wine in the fellowships

Since many of us come from an LDS background, and very few have ever made wine before, I have taken it upon myself to give a couple of recipes that make a very acceptable wine for use in our fellowship sacraments.

My credentials in this area are broadening every year. I know what good wines should taste like. I have a huge investment in tasting medal winning wines :-) I currently make about 250 bottles of wine per year of the very wine I am giving the recipes for, and many have drunk my wine at some of the conferences which have been held and in 3 or 4 local fellowships close to me. And no, I’m not interested in expanding! I think there should be wine makers throughout the fellowships. So here goes:

We will start by making only a gallon or two at a time, and you can expand from there. A gallon of finished wine will produce 5+ wine bottles full of wine. If your fellowship is small and a bottle full of wine is too much you can bottle the wine in beer bottles or soda pop bottles (no twist offs) and you will get approximately two bottles for every wine sized bottle, or about 10 bottles per gallon. You will need the following equipment and supplies:

1 – 5 – 6 gal food grade bucket w/ lid.

3 – clear gallon jugs. You can get the jugs free if you go to a liquor store and buy gallon jugs of any red wine they have. Drink the wine for a few sacraments and keep the jugs. Wash them out with water only. NEVER USE SOAP! I have suggested 3 here because if you want a gallon of finished wine, you need to probably start with 2 gallons, and you’ll need the third when you rack. (See below.)

2 – rubber plugs (the ones that fit gallon jugs) that are pre-drilled through the center to accept an airlock. About $1.50 ea.

2 – airlocks. These are necessary during fermentation and aging. They come in many configurations. I use the ’S’ type lock. They cost about a buck apiece.

BTW All these supplies or materials I list here can be purchased from your local beer and wine supply store or on line. I buy my stuff from The Beer and Nut shop in SLC.

1 – wine making hydrometer. This will cost about $12.00. These are very fragile. I usually break a couple a year.

1- Plastic siphon pump + hose. Make sure it fits in the neck of your gallon jug. Cost is between $8.00 – $12.00.

5 – 10 wine bottles. Used are good. Wash them clean with clear hot water. Again, NO SOAP.

1 – bottle corker. This is a must have item. It will probably be the most expensive item to buy so far. When you use it for real, wet the corks. I think they cost about $20.00.

1 small bag – #9 corks (about 30 count).

1 pkg – Wine yeast. I use Red Star brand and get the Pasteur Red type. One package will make from one to five gallons of wine.

1 bottle – Pectic Enzyme.

1 bottle – Acid Blend

1 bottle – Campden tablets.

1 bottle – Yeast Nutrient

5 lbs – Sugar.

This is all the equipment and supplies you need to get started. Now to the recipes. There are two, and they are for either Concord grapes or Concord juice. I specify Concord because they are plentiful locally, and they make a good tasting wine regardless of how far in the air the connoisseur sticks his nose up at the mention of “Concord.” There are about 7 or 8 varieties of Concord. Buy from a farmer that has a variety that produces a deep reddish-purple juice.

RECIPE WITH FRESH GRAPES

Don’t use store bought grapes
12 lbs Fresh Grapes
10 pts Water
6 1/2 cups Sugar (needs to be in solution so add about 1/2 – 1 cup water and bring to boil) Pour into bucket while still hot.
1 tsp Pectic Enzyme
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
2 Campden tablets (crushed)
1 pkg Yeast (add later)

Wash the grapes. De-stem the grapes; Just the big stems. Don’t pick off each little stem on every grape. Put grapes in bucket and mash gently with a potato masher (or whatever.)

Add water and sugar solution.

Add all other ingredients except yeast. Stir well but gently. Cover with lid and let stand in a warm place for 24 hours.

After 24 hours add yeast. Before adding, pre- dissolve yeast in water between 100 – 105 degrees Farhenheit. Use a thermometer to get exact temperature. Gently stir yeast into “Must.” (That’s what this concoction is now called.)

Check the specific gravity of the must with your hydrometer. It should read 1.090 – 1.100. This will make a wine of between 12 – 14% alcohol. If S.G. is too low add some more sugar solution. If too high, add more water. Be careful on adding both.

Cover bucket, not tightly, and in about 24 – 48 hours it should begin to ferment. It will bubble, and the grapes will rise to the top and form kind of a hard cap which needs to be pushed down and stirred in twice a day. (Gently!) During fermentation try to keep temperature between 75 & 90 F.

Check S.G. periodically. When it reaches 1.030 (usually about 3 days) take all the grape skins and seeds out, and press all the juice you can get out of them (I use a mesh bag or a piece of nylon window screen.) Throw the skins and seeds away and add the juice back in.

Now pour (better to siphon) the wine into the glass jugs (no more than 2/3 full) put in a stopper and an airlock (be sure to put water in the airlock) and put it in a warm place to finish fermenting. You can tell if fermentation is done because the airlocks will quit bubbling and the water will equalize. Or your hydrometer will read 1.000 – 0.992 S.G. This will usually take from 3 – 5 weeks.

When fermentation is done, “rack” wine (it is now wine) into a clean bottle. This means to syphon the wine out of the full jug, off all the junk (lees) which settled to the bottom, into a clean glass jug. Fill the bottle to about 1 inch below the stopper. ( At this point oxygen sitting on top of a bottle of wine is your worst enemy.) Re-fill the airlock with fresh water and put it in the stopper. Put the filled jugs in a dark, cool place, to be undisturbed.

I re-rack into clean bottles every 2 months for at least 3 times. The wine during and because of this racking should become ruby clear. About a year or so after I began this process it’s now time to bottle, unless you have priesthood power like unto God, then it’s possible to do it more quickly.

Time to learn how to use your new corker and how to cork a bottle. Fill each bottle to about 1/2” below the cork. Wet the corks before trying to push them through your corker if it’s just a hand corker. They go in much easier. After bottling, store in a dark cool place until you are ready to drink it. ALWAYS lay a bottle down, or up end it, so the wine is against the cork, when storing it.

RECIPE WITH BOTTLED GRAPE JUICE

Always buy or make grape juice without added sugar or preservatives. If it has any preservatives in it it probably will not ferment. Always use homemade if possible, that way you’ll know for sure.

6 pts pure juice
10 pts water
6 1/2 cups sugar (in solution)
4 tsp Acid blend
1 tsp Pectic Enzyme
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
2 tablets Campden, crushed
1 Pkg Wine Yeast

From here the way of making the wine from juice is the same as for the grape recipe, except where it makes reference to washing grapes, crushing, and pressing the grapes. In the juice recipe this has all been previously done. Everything else is the same, except you will notice this one calls for acid blend. The skins and seeds in the grape recipe provide the needed acid for that one.

Make sure to taste the wine as every stage. These recipes make a very dry wine which most non wine drinkers think is very bitter. There are tannins and acids and other things going on in the wine that contribute to that taste we call bitter, but which are necessary, and really desirable in appropriate quantities, in the wine. This is your opportunity to drink of the “bitter cup”, as they say.

SWEETENING THE WINE

We have found a way to make with this wine, a sweeter presentation to those who just plain think it is nasty. You (just before drinking) add one bottle (1 quart) of R.W. Knudsen “Just Tart Cherry” (at any Walmart store) to two bottles (full size) of our delicious dry wine. You now have three bottles of wine where before you had two, plus a glass full to enjoy. This also reduces the alcohol content by about a third. And adds a tart semi-sweetness to the wine. Not for me, but others seem to like it very much.

And, have you all noticed that “Sacrament” in D&C 89 has an ’S’ on the end of it?

Happy making and drinking.

Keith Henderson

Finding Christ Through The Darkness of Our Day

We are going through a period of intense distraction. Before our eyes, we are seeing two great ideologies duking it out as to whether the one, which has lost favor and priesthood in the eyes of God because of its worship of men, thereby practicing abominable priestcrafts before God, or the other, which has always been a scriptural “abomination of desolation” in the eyes of God, should receive our sympathy or allegiance. We are asked to give intense scrutiny to the one or the other as though one side or the other should be absorbing all our time, energy, and resources, and the truth of it will provide salvation for those of the one, and everlasting burnings for the other, when that argument is really between two sides of the same coin. Both arguments are part of that great and abominable church whose founder is the devil.

I propose it is a distraction, and has had its similarities all through history. I propose that the way to God and His salvation has always been narrowly defined, and lies in a straight course before us.

One of the poignant examples in the scriptures which defines how we find the truth we seek, and end up returning to God, or continue floundering here in this toxic Telestial environment is found in the 17th chapter of Luke:

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: Thy faith hath made thee whole. (Luke 17: 11-19.)

What a magnificent event, filled with profound doctrinal implications and symbolism, and as we will see, truth, before this message is ended. I will not discuss much of what is available to be seen and known within this story; only that which projects the distractions, which make it nigh impossible, for those who don’t see them for what they are, to return and experience the glory of God.

This is the part which the story of the ten lepers records, which is the most profound of all:

There was only one of the healed who, upon seeing he was freed from his disease, “turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.” Only one returned to Christ. The other nine were still on their way to the priests to receive their washings and anointings, and the deeper meaning of this story can only be understood by answering what Christ then asked: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”

“The most obvious answer to the questions Christ asked would be, they were doing what He told them to do. But the real answer to His question is that the other nine lepers failed to understand who the real Priest was. They were blinded by what had been taught to them, and what was going on around them, all their lives. Nine went to the priests who performed ceremonies. They went to see the symbol of Christ. But they went without the understanding that the priests officiated merely as a substitute symbol, which pointed to Christ. One, however, came to the True Priest. Only one understood, and did exactly as Christ directed. He alone came to the True Priest.”

Christ tells us through another comment how almost resigned He was (is) of how few will recognize Him, when He said: “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” The others went to see the symbol of Christ, to become ceremonially clean, seeking comfort from the symbols and ceremonies. Only one returned to be in fact, cleansed by the Master, Himself, and as a consequence receive the Master’s pronouncement, “Arise, go thy way: Thy faith hath made thee whole.” Christ’s, personal declaration to a man is more important than any other party’s self proclaiming argument as to the correctness of their views, and that declaration from Him will never be found by siding with abomination in whatever form it takes.

Only the rare person realizes where light and truth, which is the glory of God, can be found. For all the rest there is an abundance of rites, ordinances, observances, rituals, arguments, symbols and, yes, even law. All these may point to the real thing, but they are not the real thing itself. Therefore we find still that “there are not found that return to give glory to God, save [a few].”

“We are being tested to determine whether or not we can be blinded by traditions, presumptions, trappings, and priestcrafts; or if we can see through those things to find the Son of God.” And it is so easy to put our effort where it will not yield us the desire we seek.

Keith Henderson