Coming Tests, Trials and Glory

Dear UnBlog Family,

My sister Faith recently introduced me to this incredible talk by Elder Bruce R. McConkie which he gave in April 1980 General Conference, entitled “The Coming Tests and Trials and Glory.”  It is a riveting and prophetic discussion of the pre-millennial condition of the world, the trials we will endure, and the incredible blessings that await!  Some of Elder McConkie’s thoughts seemed to parallel “Visions of Glory”, which was interesting to me.  I hope you all will enjoy reading this stunning address, as I did.  –Terri Pontius

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We stand today on a mountain peak, on a majestic, glorious peak in the midst of the mountains of Israel. To gain this height, we have climbed over peaks of peace and trudged through the valleys of despair.

Below us lie the deserts of sin and the forests of evil; below us stretch the swamps of carnality and the plains of passion; below us rage the roaring rivers of war and hate and crime, through all of which we have struggled to reach this summit.

Above us, stretching crest on crest, are yet greater and grander peaks. Each one is rimmed with rivers and forests and cliffs and crags. There are deep canyons and steep precipices.

Along the way we shall yet climb, hidden in the underbrush, is the lair of the lion and the hole of the asp. Venomous serpents are coiled on ledges beside the path and jackals lurk in dark caves by the wayside.

Our onward course will not be easy. The way ahead will be blocked by a landslide of lasciviousness; an avalanche of evil will bury the trail.

As we trudge forward, sharp rocks will cut our feet; rivers of lava will melt the soles of our sandals; and we shall be hungry and thirsty and faint. The way ahead will be hard and the path rugged.

But far in the distance—its heights hidden in the clouds, the divine Shechinah resting upon its summit—far in the distance stands Mount Zion, the grandest peak of all.

Through the morning mists we see Mount Zion, whereon is built “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” where there is assembled “an innumerable company of angels,” on whose height is congregated “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:22–23).

From where we stand, on the peak of 150 years of progress, the view is glorious indeed.

Looking back with pride, we see the spring of 1820 when the Gods of heaven, the supreme rulers of the universe, rent the heavens, appeared toJoseph Smith, and ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times (seeD&C 112:30).

We see Moroni flying through the midst of heaven, sounding the trump of God, and revealing the book which whispers from the dust with a familiar spirit (see Rev. 14:6).

We see other angelic ministrants come, bringing keys and powers and authorities until all of the keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth.

We see the little stone cut from the mountain without hands beginning to roll forth toward that coming day when it shall smite the Babylonian image, break in pieces the kingdoms of men, and fill the whole earth (see Dan. 2:34–35).

We see the elders of the kingdom going forth to many nations, crying repentance, gathering Israel, and assembling the faithful in the tops of the mountains where stands the house of the Lord (see 2 Ne. 12:2).

We see converts and stakes and temples. Gifts and signs and miracles abound. The sick are healed and the dead are raised by the power of God, and the work of the Lord goes forward.

But amid it all there is sorrow and toil and testing. The Saints are tried to the full to see if they will abide in the Lord’s covenant even unto death (seeD&C 98:14).

Our gaze falls upon Carthage, where murderous devils in human guise shed the best blood of the nineteenth century.

We see Nauvoo in flames and the holy temple of God desecrated by depraved and cursing fiends.

We see snow and cold and death and graves, as a weary people follow a new leader to their promised land.

We see a people cursed and smitten and driven as they lay their all on the altar, and we hear them sing with their might, “All is well, all is well” (Hymns, no. 13).

We see prophet follow prophet as the faithful seek to prepare a people for the Second Coming of him whose witnesses they are.

But our joy and rejoicing is not in what lies below, not in our past—great and glorious as that is—but in our present and in our future.

Nor are the days of our greatest sorrows and our deepest sufferings all behind us. They too lie ahead. We shall yet face greater perils, we shall yet be tested with more severe trials, and we shall yet weep more tears of sorrow than we have ever known before.

We honor our forebears and reverence our prophets. We rejoice in the goodness of God to them and thank him and them for the heritage that is ours.

As we ponder these things and count our blessings, we seem to hear a voice acclaim, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5).

But we know that our work is in the living present and our glorious destiny lies ahead.

From the top of the peak where the soles of our feet now tread, we can look forward, crest upon crest, to the Zion of God which one day will be ours if we walk in the course charted by those who have gone before. We cannot see the whole course; many things are hidden from our view. Mountain trails wind through valleys and over crests, around ledges, and through forests. We do not know the length of the journey nor the perils that await us.

But what we can see causes us to rejoice and to tremble. We tremble because of the sorrows and wars and plagues that shall cover the earth. We weep for those in the true Church who are weak and wayward and worldly and who fall by the wayside as the caravan of the kingdom rolls forward.

We rejoice because of the glory and honor that awaits those who come forth out of all this tribulation with clean hands and pure hearts (see Ps. 24:4).

Looking ahead, we see the gospel preached in all nations and to every people with success attending.

We see the Lord break down the barriers so that the world of Islam and the world of Communism can hear the message of the restoration; and we glory in the fact that Ishmael—as well as Isaac—and Esau—as well as Jacob—shall have an inheritance in the eternal kingdom.

We see congregations of the covenant people worshipping the Lord in Moscow and Peking and Saigon. We see Saints of the Most High raising their voices in Egypt and India and Africa.

We see stakes of Zion in all parts of the earth; and Israel, the chosen people, gathering into these cities of holiness, as it were, to await the coming of their King.

We see temples in great numbers dotting the earth, so that those of every nation and kindred and tongue and people can receive the fulness of the ordinances of the house of the Lord and can qualify to live and reign as kings and priests on earth a thousand years.

We see the seed of Cain—long denied that priestly power which makes men rulers over many kingdoms—rise up and bless Abraham as their father.

We see the Saints of God, who are scattered upon all the face of the earth, rise in power and glory and stand as lights and guides to the people of their own nations.

We see our children and our children’s children stand firm in defense of truth and virtue, crowned with the power of God, carrying off the kingdom triumphantly.

We see the faithful Saints perfecting their lives and preparing for the coming of him whose children they are, preparing for the glorious mansion he has promised them in the kingdom of his Father.

But the vision of the future is not all sweetness and light and peace. All that is yet to be shall go forward in the midst of greater evils and perils and desolations than have been known on earth at any time.

As the Saints prepare to meet their God, so those who are carnal and sensual and devilish prepare to face their doom.

As the meek among men make their calling and election sure, so those who worship the God of this world sink ever lower and lower into the depths of depravity and despair.

Amid tears of sorrow—our hearts heavy with forebodings—we see evil and crime and carnality covering the earth. Liars and thieves and adulterers and homosexuals and murderers scarcely seek to hide their abominations from our view. Iniquity abounds. There is no peace on earth.

We see evil forces everywhere uniting to destroy the family, to ridicule morality and decency, to glorify all that is lewd and base. We see wars and plagues and pestilence. Nations rise and fall. Blood and carnage and death are everywhere. Gadianton robbers fill the judgment seats in many nations. An evil power seeks to overthrow the freedom of all nations and countries. Satan reigns in the hearts of men; it is the great day of his power.

 But amid it all, the work of the Lord rolls on. The gospel is preached and the witness is born. The elect of God forsake the traditions of their fathers and the ways of the world. The kingdom grows and prospers, for the Lord is with his people.

Amid it all, there are revelations and visions and prophecies. There are gifts and signs and miracles. There is a rich outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God.

Amid it all believing souls are born again, their souls are sanctified by the power of the Spirit, and they prepare themselves to dwell with God and Christ and holy beings in the eternal kingdom.

Is it any wonder that we both rejoice and tremble at what lies ahead?

Truly the world is and will be in commotion, but the Zion of God will be unmoved. The wicked and ungodly shall be swept from the Church, and the little stone will continue to grow until it fills the whole earth.

The way ahead is dark and dreary and dreadful. There will yet be martyrs; the doors in Carthage shall again enclose the innocent. We have not been promised that the trials and evils of the world will entirely pass us by.

If we, as a people, keep the commandments of God; if we take the side of the Church on all issues, both religious and political; if we take the Holy Spirit for our guide; if we give heed to the words of the apostles and prophets who minister among us—then, from an eternal standpoint, all things will work together for our good.

Our view of the future shall be undimmed, and, whether in life or in death, we shall see our blessed Lord return to reign on earth. We shall see the New Jerusalem coming down from God in heaven to join with the Holy City we have built. We shall mingle with those of Enoch’s city while together we worship and serve the Lord forever.

And so, as we view the endless course ahead, the glory and wonder on each succeeding peak seems to swallow up the shadows and sorrows in the valleys below.

With our souls attuned to the infinite, we seem to hear a heavenly choir whose celestial strains resound through the mountains of Israel. The music purifies our souls and the words become a psalm of worship—the Psalm of the Restoration. From peak to peak the echoing strains acclaim:

Glory and honor unto the Lord our God. Let heaven and earth acclaim his name, for he hath wrought wondrous works in all the earth.

Sing unto him, for he sendeth his holy angel and restoreth his pure word. He calleth truth from the earth and raineth righteousness from heaven.

Blessed be his great and holy name. He restoreth the kingdom to Israel; he gathereth his elect out of all nations; he inviteth the Gentiles to join with his people.

All glory to the Lord our King, for he cometh to reign gloriously among his Saints. He cometh with fire, and the wicked are as stubble. He cometh with loving kindness, and his redeemed inherit the earth. Glory and honor unto the Lord our God. Sing unto him for his wondrous works. Blessed be his great and holy name. All glory to the Lord our King.

And as these psalmic words echo and reecho in our hearts, we hear other things that it is not lawful for us to utter; and there comes into our hearts that sure witness that he who called his ancient covenant people, he who guides and preserves us at this hour, even he will be with us and ours everlastingly.

Our souls are at rest.

— Bruce R. McConkie – April 1980 General Conference

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Testify

Seagull_Book_March_2014_MailerSince “Visions of Glory” and  “Journey to the Veil” were  published, Seagull Book has not only carried, but also championed, sales of these books to tens of thousands of people.

Now, it’s come to our attention that Seagull Book has received some (an undisclosed number of) negative letters regarding these books.

We would like to counterbalance those types of letters and demonstrate to Seagull Book they made the right decision to carry the books.

If you would be so kind, we invite you to write Seagull Book’s corporate office this week (because of the uncertainty of email spam filters, etc, it is thought that hard copy letters would be better). Feel free to share your testimony, and how one or both of these books have had a positive impact on your spirituality and relationship with the Savior:

Susan Condie
Vice President of Merchandising, Seagull Book
920 E State Rd Ste A
American Fork, UT 84003-3337

Thanks!

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How do you distinguish between spiritual voices?

Question: How do you distinguish between the voice of God, the voice of Satan and your own (internal) voice?

Replies:

“Several years ago a brother in my ward, during his talk in Sacrament Meeting, quoted a statement from an author I did not recognize that has profoundly changed my ability to distinguish the origin of my thoughts. He said, quoting the author, that 80% of our thoughts are not our own.

Inwardly, I disagreed and decided at that moment that I would monitor my thoughts for 1 month, to prove him wrong and to satisfy my curiosity about how much of my thoughts really are not my own.

The first week of the experiment, I found that i monitored few of my thoughts in a day. I was accustomed, as most of us are, to function on auto-pilot while being influenced by many of these random thoughts.

By the beginning of the second week, I was determined and much more focused. As a thought would manifest itself (and again, I had to make my thoughts one of my highest priorities during this time period), I would filter it through a series of qualifying questions:

(1) Was it negative? Did it tear down myself or suggest I tear down another? Did it inspire selfishness or self-centeredness? Did I feel worse for having entertained it? Did it breed fear, anger, jealousy, hopelessness, impatience?

(2) Was it positive? Did it lift and inspire me to accomplish more? Or while recognizing a weakness, did it give love and encouragement? If it neither built nor tore down, was the thought random, “pure inspiration,” clear pure thoughts that “came from nowhere”? Was it “brilliant?” Did it give insights on how to solve a problem? If it gave direction, and if I was uncertain about it being my thoughts, did it provide a feeling of peace and stability with the information? Was I “arguing with myself”?

(3) Did the thoughts follow a logical pattern, step by step process of thinking through a problem or situation, or if scattered, have an obvious initiation from something I had just seen or heard? Did my thought seem whimsical, wishful or a realization of a need?

I generally followed this thought process until I had categorized it. As each week built upon the previous week’s success, not only my awareness of my thoughts increased, but also my ability to more quickly and confidently label my thoughts.

With this increased ability came the responsibility to then act accordingly. Although that may sound obvious, it proved to be more difficult than the original exercise. I discovered that I had developed bad habits of entertaining negative thoughts that took great effort to abolish.

I discovered, also, that obedience is much simpler when I am only aware of about 1/2 of my thoughts as I now realized that I received many promptings and insights in a single hour.

And, yes, I discovered that over 80% of my thoughts were not my own. Even years later, with some laziness having crept in, I am still much more keenly aware of my thoughts than I ever used to be, and much more confident about recognizing which camp I am in and determining to move if in the wrong one.

I encourage any who truly want to develop confidence in recognizing promptings to try this exercise for one month. I truly believe you will find it surprising, trying to monitor your every thought, and very rewarding.”

Lora Smith
“This is a great question. We know that in our fallen state men are carnal, sensual and devilish (Mosiah 16:3, Moses 6:49). We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As fallen beings, our desires often conflict with Gods desires. For example,Joseph Smith was warned that if he followed after “the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall…” (D&C 3:4)

So when we desire something, or feel inspiration regarding something, how do we know if what we are inspired or not?

It is important that we purify our desires. Alma tells us that God, “granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life…unto salvation or unto destruction” (Alma 29:4). According to this, it is possible for a person to feel inspired about something, even if it is not what God wants for that person. Jacob (brother of Nephi) tells us that is what happened to the Jews. Since they despised words of plainness, God gave them things which they could not understand, because they desired it, even though it caused them to stumble (Jacob 4:14).

In order to avoid this, it is essential that we purge our carnal desires, and yield to the enticings of the holy spirit (Mosiah 3:19). Once we are in tune with the Holy Ghost, he changes our hearts. Alma the younger tells us there was a change wrought in his father’s heart according to his faith (Alma 5:11-12).

As we exercise faith and are obedient to God’s laws, our desires change. When we have the Holy Ghost in our lives, the fruits of the Spirit are present. Paul tells the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, righteousness and truth (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:9).

Scriptures tell us to ‘search diligently in the light of Christ’ (Moroni 7:19). When we are connected to truth, we are connected to light (D&C 84:45). Light and truth go together and are often used synonymously.

How can we discern if what we desire is in harmony with light and truth?

We can discern this because we can feel light. But how does light feel?

Have you ever had an experience where you said, “I feel lighter now.” Light carries with it certain emotions, the fruits of the Spirit. Darkness brings a different set of emotions, negative fruit. People say things like, “I feel down and depressed.” Those feelings come from darkness, they certainly are not the feelings that come with light.

Try this: Imagine a person full of light. What emotions would that person feel? Ponder on that for a minute. Wouldn’t they feel good emotions like love, hope, joy, gratitude and peace?

Now imagine a person full of darkness; what emotions would that person be feeling? Wouldn’t that person feel fear, anger, worry, stress, hatred, etc?

For me, it helps to look at this in two separate columns:

Light & Truth           Dark
Love                           Fear
Hope                          Despair
Joy                             Anger
Gratitude                  Worry
Peace                         Hatred
Patience                    Stress
Confidence                Doubt

Both of these lists could could include other feelings; you can add your own. Pay attention to these emotions of light and dark when you are seeking inspiration, and stay on the light side as much as possible. Scriptures tell us: “And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; “ (D&C 50:23-24) When we are feeling light, we are feeling God’s influence.

Elder George Q. Cannon, also taught:

‘Whenever darkness fills our minds, we may know that we are not possessed of the Spirit of God. … When we are filled with the Spirit of God we are filled with joy, with peace, and with happiness, no matter what our circumstances may be; for it is a spirit of cheerfulness and of happiness. The Lord has given unto us the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is our privilege to have that Holy Ghost reign within us, so that from morning till night and from night till morning we shall have the joy, the light and the revelation thereof.’ (George Q. Cannon, in Brian H. Stuy, comp., Collected Discourses Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others, 5 vols. (1987–92), 4:137).”

Arden Compton

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Walking and Talking with God, Part 2

This is from an Anonymous Unblog reader…


The prophets of old — they who walked and talked with God — were clearly not “pray three times a day” kinds of people.  Their hearts contemplated the things of God continually, and behaved accordingly.  They were able to fill the voids in between morning, mid-day and evening prayer with a quiet, inner communion that enabled them to walk and talk with God.  Their strategy could be summed up in three words: They “prayed without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17):

  • The prophet Samuel said “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you…” (1 Samuel 12:23).
  • Nephi told us “that ye must pray always” (2 Ne. 32:9).
  • Alma and his fellow laborers admonished their brethren “to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:39).
  • Ammon encouraged others to “prayeth continually without ceasing” (Alma 26:22).
  • Jesus told the Nephites to “watch and pray always”, then a few verses later, said we “must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:18-19).
  • Later, his disciples prayed “steadfastly, without ceasing” (causing Christ to “smile upon them”; 3 Nephi 19:24,30).
  • While Peter was inprisoned, the church prayed for him “without ceasing” (Acts 12:5).
  • Paul made mention of others “without ceasing” in his prayers (Romans 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:3).

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (quoted above) is an interesting verse.  When read in the original Greek, we learn that it actually means “Pray without intermission”, without allowing prayerless gaps to intervene between the times of prayer. (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, http://bible.cc/1_thessalonians/5-17.htm).

“When the apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonians to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thes. 5:17) and when Alma instructed the church members of his day to ‘pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things’ (Mosiah 26:39), they were not only advising them to pray formally, but also to feel and react to the presence of God in their lives” (H. Dean Garrett, instructor, Tempe Arizona Institute, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Feb. 1978, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/02/i-have-a-question?lang=eng)

In my opinion, praying continually does not mean we are always (physically) on our knees or vocally calling upon God; doing so would clash with other parts of our lives which should be attended to.  Instead, it means that we are letting all our “thoughts be directed unto the Lord” (Alma 37:36) and counseling “with the Lord in all our doings” (Alma 37:37).  We live all of our hours and days so conscious of God, that we are actually (to one degree or another) keeping company with him…always.

(Click here to read more about the doctrine of “Walking and Talking with God”)

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