Breathtaking Blast Offs

The following is from Patrick…


Not more than a year ago I believed the Lord would be there for us whenever we needed him, but that he really wouldn’t be involved in the details of our lives–like if we bought a car or other routine, worldly duties. I believed we should use our experience and knowledge to take care of these small (or large) tasks and leave the life-changing events to the Lord.

I was wrong.

My change started with a good lifelong friend of mine, Troy. Several years ago we had read “The Cleansing of America” by W. Cleon Skousen. Later Troy came across “Visions of Glory” and he instantly called me and bought me the book so we could read it at the same time. The similarities of these two books were amazing, and how both books came to be published is even more of a miracle. To me, this testifies to the truth of Spencers vision.

Spencer’s vision helped me realize how much the Lord does help us and always provides the assistance we need, that angels are always standing by. We only need to come closer to the Spirit and constantly pray to overcome our fallen state to be in tune with that Spirit.

Spencer also shared how quickly our thoughts can summon the souls that are trying to deceive us, and how important it is to constantly fight that influence. We need to surround ourselves with positive uplifting activities, and most importantly, service.

After reading “Visions of Glory”, getting a glimpse into the building of Zion, and reading the many experiences revealed to Spencer and how close we are to the veil, I was changed. I looked at the world differently, I looked at people differently. The best way I can describe this is that I started seeing the world in a more eternal nature; the veil became slightly thinner to me. It made me realize how much I needed to change if I wanted to prepare myself or my family.

Up to this point in my life I had been whatI call a part-time member: I went to church, paid my tithing and did OK in my callings. At this point I had also had plenty of trials and lessons in my life. I was a 42 year-old divorced father with custody of his kids. I was raised in the Church, and had had a life-changing moment where I was “born again” twenty years ago.

Yet now for the first time in my life I looked forward to fasting, and fasted with a purpose. I put more dedication into my church callings. I prayed more fervently; instead of asking for what I wanted, I would pray for the path that the Lord wanted me to travel. I started teaching myself to pay more attention to the Spirit and try to discern my own thoughts from those of the Lord.

I have received many experiences where I have identified the Spirit speaking to me, helping out in my everyday life. They were such small whispers that I would have previously missed them. One example is when I was working in my office and leaving for the day. I started to close the door when a simple command stated, “Don’t lock it.” I paused and sat there for a moment. I questioned my own thoughts on why I would think that, but I didn’t lock it. As I started walking to my car I realized my keys were still in the office. I normally kept them in my back pack but had taken them out to get into another door during the day and placed them on the desk instead of back where I kept them.

This was by no means a life-altering event; at the worst I would have been delayed a few hours until I could have gotten the door unlocked. As a single father, I would have had to call and have a pizza delivered for the kids to eat.

So why would I get what I felt was such an insignificant whisper from the Spirit? It was nothing more than an inconvenience that I was saved from. But since I had started listening to the Spirit, I quickly identified that it could have come from no other source. I had locked that same door every day, yet this time a simple command stopped me from doing what I had always done. It was at this moment I received my own testimony about what Spencer had described, which was how very much the Lord is involved in the details of our lives.

The Lord is constantly giving us experiences and placing lessons before us to sculpt us into who He needs us to be. He loves us, He wants us to be happy, and by obedience to the Spirit we will be shown the way. Trials and burdens will still come upon us; Joseph Smith learned this in D&C 121 & 122. But instead of feeling regret, fear or despair, we will understand the reason why this trial was given to us, and what we should learn from it.

In “Journey to the Veil”, we read;

“When anyone sets his or her heart on a course of obedience and taps daily into the empowerment and grace available through the Atonement of Christ, they will soon accomplish all of this much more quickly than they ever thought possible…..A commitment to total obedience will blast you off so fast and high that it will be breathtaking, with a spiritual height that’s unimaginable, and the promised blessings will be very near.”

Since making this change of heart, I find myself constantly recommitting to the life-long struggle of total obedience. As a result of that commitment, the missionary moments have increased, and I have more joy in my heart. I find more joy in service. I work to stay on the path the Lord wants me upon, and I find myself living without fear. There is nothing to be afraid of because you know you are supposed to be there. Such a small effort can make a profound change in your life.

The reason I am sharing this story with you is a result of listening to the still small voice and making a comment to someone that needed to hear it. I didn’t even know at the time it was the whisperings of the Spirit until I received an unexpected response from the other person, confirming it to me.

My friend Troy and I have made this journey together; we compare notes and see the significant changes in our lives. This is an amazing miracle that can only be experienced to explain.

Thank you, Spencer, for sharing your eternal experience. Thank You, Brother John, for setting the example. Thank You, Sister Pontius, for carrying the torch. All of you have changed our lives and brought us closer to God.

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Mighty Prayer

Note: This is a reader submission by a dear UnBlog family member, Veronica Clarke.

nat-day-prayerShortly after the death of my husband, I was awakened in the middle of the night with instructions communicated through the spirit by my husband. I took my iPad into the bathroom and began to type as they flowed. I typed as fast as I could until I literally felt exhausted and drained. The information was still coming, but I begged to be able to just rest for a while. I climbed back into bed and fell quickly asleep only to be awakened an hour later with more instruction.

This pattern continued the entire night until morning. I remember thinking, “I understand now how Enos prayed all night.” I used to wonder how someone would have enough to say to pray an entire night. Now I understood that Enos’s prayer was one of two-way spiritual communication. Enos was learning and listened as much if not more than he was speaking. On occasions, this experience has been repeated on a much smaller scale during my personal prayers; it has helped me to understand what it meant by ‘mighty prayer.’

As a result of the experiences with spiritual communication right after my husband’s death, I have learned to keep a note pad or iPad near my bed. I have found that communication often comes to me after I have concluded my prayer and when I am in that sleep/wake period in the morning hours. Elder Scott also confirms spiritual communication that can happen during this period. He says, “Revelation can also be given in a dream when there is an almost imperceptible transition from sleep to wakefulness” (Richard G Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life”, April 2012).

I think perhaps it is when my body is most still, that my spirit can take the forefront. I have also experienced this after fasting. Elder John H. Groberg shares this idea in his talk The Power of God’s Love. When the body’s senses are dormant because of lack of sustenance or shutting down from resting, spiritual senses can take the forefront. These are times when we can be more sensitive to, and perceptive of, the spirit. I have found that the words often start in my mind. If I do nothing and simply listen, I often fall back to sleep and forget what was being communicated to me.

However, if I am diligent and begin to write, then the promptings continue and more and more is given to me. At times, I have written for several hours. The words flow easily, and I am learning as I am writing. When I go back and read what I am writing it is as if I have never read it before. The information is new and surprising to me and does not follow previous things that I have reasoned or thought on my own. These key things, in addition to the reverent feeling and peace from the spirit, tell me that this is personal revelation and not my own thoughts.

Sometimes the information is for my personal enlightenment or to answer questions that I have been searching to understand. At other times, the information is things that I need to share with my children, with a friend that I am trying to help, or with people I am over in my callings. I find that information always comes easier when I am seeking for knowledge to help someone else.

I have also found ‘mighty prayer’ through the process of studying the scriptures. This also isn’t prayer on one’s knees, but active communication with the Lord that is aided in writing. I do not study the scriptures or the words of the prophets without writing. Elder Richard G. Scott has been a great mentor to me in this process. He says,

“When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often, more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures” (Richard G Scott, How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for your personal life, April 2012).

The death of my husband accelerated me on this track because I had a deep desire for direction and I was willing to sacrifice all practices in my life that distracted me from the spirit.

I was also willing to be obedient to any prompting at all costs. Elder Scott confirms,

“One must be ever mentally and physically clean and have purity of intent so that the Lord can inspire. One who is obedient to His commandments is trusted of the Lord. That individual has access to His inspiration to know what to do and, as needed, the divine power to do it.”

Mighty prayer takes deep dedication. It takes implicit trust in the Lord.

As I have listened to and obeyed the promptings of the spirit, as I have sought to have more powerful prayers, those promptings have guided me line upon line through the process. If we are diligent, humble, pure in our hearts and action, and we are seeking direction to further the Lord’s work on this earth, then the spirit can be unrestrained in our life. That is my solemn witness.

– Veronica Clarke

Blog: not4naught.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/not4naught

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Announcement: “We Three Kings”

Synopsis: When the signs of the Savior’s birth appear, Nephi witnesses another miracle—the Liahona starts working again after 600 years of being idle! Determined to find and worship the King of kings, Nephi takes his brother Timothy and skeptic Cephus on a journey across the ocean that ultimately changes their lives—and the course of history—as they become the legendary Three Wise Men.

Synopsis: When the signs of the Savior’s birth appear, Nephi witnesses another miracle—the Liahona starts working again after 600 years of being idle! Determined to find and worship the King of kings, Nephi takes his brother Timothy and skeptic Cephus on a journey across the ocean that ultimately changes their lives—and the course of history—as they become the legendary Three Wise Men.

Sometime next month, Cedar Fort International will release John Pontius’ fictional book, “We Three Kings”. It’s story is not only entertaining, but also has a wonderful spiritual message which can be life-changing.

At it’s heart, “We Three Kings” is about coming unto Christ — and encouraging others to come unto Christ — using (in part) the God-given tools we have in our possession. As these tools are miraculously activated, they lead us on wonderful, sometimes breathtaking, adventures which ultimately culminate in us finding ourselves bowing in His presence.

Get A Free Copy of “We Three Kings”

All of us have similar stories of how we, too, have been led through (sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes tragic) journeys which changed our lives and culminated in us discovering the Savior in a profound way.

That’s why, starting today, I’m offering ten free copies of “We Three Kings”. Yes, there’s a catch: You need to submit your real-life story (about yourself or someone else who is alive and has granted permission for their story to be told) of coming unto the Savior. A few of us who run the UnBlog will read these submissions and will narrow the list down to ten. Then, soon after “We Three Kings” is released, we’ll contact the winners, send them their books and start publishing their stories on the UnBlog.

Please keep in mind:

  • Submissions must include your name, email address and phone across the top (when posted to the UnBlog, we’ll only post your name).
  • They must be 800-1200 words long (any more or less than this will be disqualified).
  • Must be based on events which really happened to you (or another; see above); no embellishing.
  • If you can’t think of anything and need suggestions of topics to write about, please consult our Reader Submissions page.
  • Should be done in Word.
  • Must not have been previously published (they are “copyright free”).
  • Must be e-mail attached and submitted to jmpontius@gmail.com by 11:59PM Sunday, August 31.
  • It is not my intention to publish these in another book; just the UnBlog.

I look forward to reading your stories of coming unto the Savior, in celebration of the forthcoming release of “We Three Kings”!

Love (and good luck!),

Terri Pontius

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Saving Faith in Christ – Part II

Here is Part II of a blog post re: Saving Faith in Christ.

Terri

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handcartfamilyThen comes the final requirement for obtaining saving faith: an actual knowledge that the course of our life is pleasing to God.

If we are picking and choosing which promptings or which commandments we are going to obey, then this latter and greatest knowledge cannot exist in us. Only by obeying all of the commandments and all of the promptings does one come to this knowledge. HH And, it is possible to obey them all only because we correctly understand God’s unfailing love and eternal consistency in blessing the faithful.

This is where the rubber of our souls hits the road of consecration. It takes most of a lifetime to arrive at a point where we can willingly, joyfully consecrate every act, and all of our heart, might, mind and strength to flawless obedience. But when through the grace of Christ we do, imperfect as we still are, recognizing our utter dependence upon the atonement of Christ–the heavens open and the Father informs us, “Ye shall have eternal life!”

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:20)

We call this event “Having your calling and election made sure.”

This is the glorious fruit of saving faith in Christ.

Brother John

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Saving Faith in Christ – Part I

Here is another blog post from John that would be good to follow up on our recent discussions.  I have divided it into two parts.

Terri

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How-to-Show-Faith-in-Christ-517x268-2011-12-09Hebrews 11:6 informs us:

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Joseph Smith added to this very valid truth:

“Three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

“First, the idea that he actually exists.

“Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.

“Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.” (Lectures on Faith 3:2-5)

It seems obvious to you and me that one must believe God actually exists to have faith, but to one struggling with believing in God, it is a nearly impossible obstacle. I have a beloved relative who is very brilliant. He has a photographic memory and a very high IQ. We have at times talked about faith, and how it is impossible for him because he has been unsure much of his life that God actually exists.

He told me a few years ago that he had been studying the replication of DNA. He observed that as the double helix unwound to separate, that it tangled, just the way two spiral telephone cords being pulled apart do. Science has observed that there is a little protein machine (for lack of a better word), an intelligent, purposeful, organic device within every cell, which goes down the helix and snips it at the entanglement. The little, intelligent machine then stays with the strand, and once it is free, reconnects the strand, then goes up and down it to check for integrity. If the strand is up to specs, the little machine disappears. If the DNA is flawed, the little machine triggers a destruction sequence of that DNA strand so that it cannot create a mutation.

As a logical scientist, he knew it was an intelligent design. It was too perfect, and too genius to have come from random evolution. He told me that that evening he had gone for a long walk, and somewhere during that walk, he looked up and asked out loud, “Is there a God out there?” He said he heard an instant reply, an audible voice that said, “I am here.”

He now says, “I know without doubt that there is a God; I just don’t know what He is like, or what He wants from me.”

This is where Joseph’s second requirement for saving faith arises so powerfully.

We must have a correct understanding of His attributes and perfections. As Hebrews 11:6 states, we must know — not merely believe, but know — that God is a rewarder of them that seek Him. How will we ever know this? We learn by accepting and accessing the grace of Christ, which leads to acts of faith, which are followed by unfailing blessings from God. As we obey we come to see that God never fails us, but that He always faithfully pours down blessings every time we obey His laws. He never changes. His laws function the same yesterday, today and forever. In addition, He never asks us to serve Him or sacrifice for Him without preparing a way for us to succeed, by empowering us with His grace and atonement to achieve every task before us. And then He incredulously rewards us a hundredfold!

Without this essential understanding of God’s attributes, one would falter at the altar of sacrifice, doubting that God would follow through, thinking our sacrifice might be in vain. We might look at a covenant we are being asked to make, or to live faithful to, and doubt that God would keep His end of the contract.

But we need not worry, because we obtain an understanding of the attributes of God through our experience. We turn fully to Christ, who enables us to choose obedience to some law or prompting; and then year after year we observe how He always blesses us, how He is faithful and anxious to prosper and uplift us. We pray year after year, and receive answers year after year, until we no longer just believe, but we are sure witnesses that God has faithfully blessed us when we sought and obeyed Him.

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UnBlog Reader Submissions on Judgment

judging“I remember clearly the exact moment I realized that God did not want me to judge His children.

I was driving through Las Vegas, NV and I saw a man sitting on the curb of the street. He had not bathed in many days, his clothes were so dirty, and he held a paper bag with what appeared to be a bottle in it. My initial reaction was not one of unconditional love, but instantly, I felt my heart swell as the thought entered my mind that that man was my brother.

I began to cry for his situation. How blessed I was to have the life I had been given! Instead of judging him, I prayed for him, right then. In that moment that I turned my heart to prayer for this man I did not know, I became a better person. This man I would never see again gave me a great gift that day. He was right where I needed Him to be — no, he was right where God needed him to be so that I could become more the person He needs me to be.

Now, when I see someone doing something I don’t agree with, I try very hard to watch my thoughts. If a negative thought begins to enter my mind, I think “cancel”, and I replace it with either a prayer for them or I change my focus. It also helps me to remember that I am not perfect and that I don’t know what is in another person’s heart. We are all children of our Heavenly Father and He loves us all! He is no respecter of persons.

No matter what a person does, I have learned that I can judge the thing they did as good or bad, but I cannot judge them. It is a lesson I get to learn all the time.”

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“There is a freedom that comes with not judging. Your spirit feels lighter. It’s about avoiding negativity, and attracting positive energy and light. I believe that as we ascend the ladder to higher levels, not judging becomes easier, because we have knowledge and experience.”

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“‘Judgment’ is always connected to ‘structures’ or ‘forms’ and comes with a host of emotions. It has ruined more relationships, individuals, families, homes, tribes, cultures, business, governments, religions, nations, countries, races, friendships with broken hearts, despair, lies, greed, separation, lust, war, anger, worry, stress and hate than any other characteristic or attribute of the human character! It is poison to the soul! It cunningly damns any individual who embraces it! The only way to get rid of it; is not to use it or engage in it; it is that simple! To be aware of it is the first step of healing, but to give it our energy and obedience is damming.”

 

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My Sheep Hear My Voice

This UnBlog from December 9, 2010 is one of John’s that illustrates a time that he heard and obeyed the Holy Spirit, which saved his life. It builds on basically the same topic we addressed in our previous Unblog posting.

– Terri

* * *

vwbugI was about seventeen when my dad gave us kids a 1964 VW Beetle. It was the ugliest car on earth at that time, and only became “cute” to later generations–which I admit I’m still not a part of. He gave the three older kids the VW as our teenage car. We paid for gas and oil, and he maintained it. It was a sweet deal.

One of the huge drawbacks of the early VW Beetles was that they had virtually no heaters or defrosters. It was very difficult to get one warm inside, and almost impossible to defrost the windows. I’m told Germans still don’t heat their homes, so maybe it seemed fine to them! To me it was always a frozen, miserable trip. I appreciated having transportation, but it really seemed like a bug, a cold metal insect to me. Did I mention that it had very poor headlights? I mean, light a candle and hold it out the window if you really want to see where you’re going! But the little thing started every single time, had great traction in the snow, and almost never left you stranded.

It was late one snowy afternoon with heavy fog when I was heading home late from Roy High School. The VW windows were predictably frosted over, of course. It was dark, and I could just barely identify the road enough to drive on it. I used to like to follow other vehicles, because I could see better from the reflected light of their headlights than from my own; but there didn’t seem to be any other cars venturing out into the weather at that time, so I was making my way through the fog alone.

Between the school and our home was a long hill. There were train tracks at two places on the hill. The upper one was a single track. The rails were rusty, and I had never seen a train there. The lower track was a double set, and trains crossed daily on that one. The crossing was marked by a big white X. There were no lights, or arms or bells. Just that white X.

I was coming down the long hill, shivering and anxious to get home. I could see the crossing sign up ahead and decided it was safe to cross.

I distinctly heard the Spirit whisper, “Stop.”

I came to a stop and looked closely. There was no train, and I was concerned that a car behind me might rear-end the VW as I was stopped. I put the bug back into first gear and started to move over the tracks.

The Spirit again said “Stop!” a little louder. I stopped again, rubbed a glove over the inside of my frosted windshield to see better, and again decided it was safe to proceed.

I had gone a couple of feet when the Spirit plainly said, “STOP! Roll down the window!” I was startled, and stopped again because the prompting was almost audible this time. I rolled down the window, and through the muffled effect of softly falling snow heard the distinct “clickity-clack-clickity-clack” of a train. I switched my lights on bright, which made a little difference, and was utterly terrified to see train wheels. Not a train–train wheels, going past my bumper no more than a few feet away. I was literally inches from driving under the train.

Time and again, I suspect for millennia before I was born, and through my few years of mortality, this one lesson has been taught to me over and over.

“My sheep hear my voice.”

Brother John

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