Friday, June 29, 2018

My Wrestle with the Transcendentals in Becoming a Warrior


It's no coincidence I was a wrestler in high school whose mascot was the Warriors and that I had a crazy coach who would recite Sun Tzu, Art of War, in practice.  To wrestle can also be intepreted as to "lay hold".  As sons of God we have been called to fight in the battles with Christ, we must test our strength against Him if we are to be developed and initiated as warriors.  We do that by engaging in the wrestle with God and laying hold to the power he bestows upon us.  The transcendentals (Latin: transcendentalia) are the properties of being that correspond to three aspects of the human field of interest: the good, the true, and the beautiful.   If you are going be a warrior of light in Christ you will need to lay hold to all three.  


The Good 



Fighting for the good: The transcendental of good deals with morality and what is just, which is a damn good reason to fight since morality tends to be the major theme questioned and addressed in religion. A warrior needs that moral compass, and he needs to have it deeply seeded within the purity of his heart if he is to withstand the enticing of the evil one.   There will be times in the hero’s journey when discouragement, pain, and heartache will seek to suffocate the heart.  It is during this vulnerable state that the enticement to kill the heart of flesh and instead opt for a heart stone echoes through the dark corridors of the psyche. Even in the face of what is true and the understanding of what is righteous, the temptation to bargain with the devil, to succumb to the senseless lust, anger, and resentment and use knowledge/power to reap destruction and control in this word, instead of producing life and love to bring heaven on earth, draws out the carnal desires of the natural man.  Its temptation pulls strongly on the ego, not because lustful, selfish, and riotous living is more fulfilling than life in Christ, but because the natural man is a coward.   To live from the heart, to live and love for Christ, requires us to take to risks, to have faith, and most terrifying of all - to suffer.   Loving others always requires sacrifice, which inevitably brings about suffering.  In order to transcend the pain and wickedness associated with that suffering, the warrior must discover its deeper meaning. When he comprehends the purpose of the trials, he is able to overcome those dark nights of soul. The warrior will brave the wilderness and ascend from the chaotic dark abyss more godly, possessing an even greater capacity to love.  

On the other hand, serving Satan by living a life of hate, rage, and lust apart from the heart may cause the individual suffering, but it is meaningless suffering.  It is nihilism, which requires absolutely no assigned meaning and therefore no responsibility.   To love purely requires heroic bravery.  To hate and kill the heart is to be a coward and run from the risk, faith, and sacrifice required by love.

I once took a deep stab to the heart that had yet to fully heal.  After gaining some confidence to fight again I was again wounded in that precise deep place.  God allowed that wound to be poked a bit so that I could confront my demons and turn to Christ for healing, but having any type of wound addressed is never pleasant.  It spiraled me back into a dark and vulnerable place where the devil made an offer to me.   The offer was to kill my heart and live a carnal life apart from the desires of the heart God had given me.  I was told that with the knowledge I possessed I could have anything I want and that I would relish in the destruction I could cause.  I'd be very good at being very bad.  Because of the pain I felt the offer seemed so enticing that I almost took it.   It was an escape from reality and responsibility of love.   I was engulfed by darkness that I could not see past that seductive bargain.  I was so hurt, so enraged, so bitter and full of hate I didn't even possess the strength to properly pray because a wicked and sadistic part of me actually desired the dark over the light.  I had to ask the Warrior's Court (my fellow brothers and comrades in Christ) to intercede on my behalf.  There are demons eager to appease to appetites of our carnal flesh, and the natural man of me did crave to senselessly corrupt knowledge to wreak havoc.  The devil's bargain was not rooted in false claims.  The potential to be absolutely evil lies in all of us and it's a damn foolish sin to believe that we are exempt from falling prey to such malevolence.   What enabled me to resist the devil was the sense of good seeded deep within the purity of my heart.  Although suffocated by the dark, it was that light that broke through the darkness.   


No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it not by lying down. A man who gives into the temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation really means - the only complete realist. 
- C.S. Lewis


That good seeded deep within the purity of my heart sprouted when I was first called into this journey to pursue and know God.  I experienced a mighty change of heart, but through that mighty change, Christ required that core transcendental value of “the good” to be shaken and brought into deep and ponderous questioning.  I was a full-time LDS missionary at the time, and so up until that point in my life the depth of my morality was as shallow as the superficial traditions of the Mormon church culture.  In just a few weeks of divine testing, I was faced with dilemmas that completely shattered my moral compass. I was forced to dig deep into the soul and derive my source of morality, not from a sandy foundation of religion, but from the rock of my Redeemer Jesus Christ the Lord.   This sparked a passion within me to be good, not as the world defines it, but as Jesus declares it.  That fire still burns bright within the depth of my heart today.    If Satan can not control you through ignorance, if he can not intimidate you into passivity, he will attempt to strike a bargain with you when you are either vulnerable to deception or vulnerable in your pain.  In the midst of that dark confusion the offer may seem so completely rational and justifiable that you will lack the sound reason to defeat the adversary in an articulated debate.  You will need to dig deep within the purity of your heart and hold true to that light, but if you have never allowed Christ to breathe that spark of life in you, you will die and something dark will animate your soul.  

Through this process of wrestling with the good also came the aching realization that I was poor in spirit, which caused me to mourn over my wickedness.  This state of humility caused me to hunger and thirst after righteousness, which lead me to the wrestle with the second Transcendental: The True.  





The True


A warrior of light must pursue and fight for what is true. They seek to preserve the truth and the freedom to express it.  When I made a personal commitment to rely wholly upon Jesus Christ for my relationship with God and to know the truth, the Lord began to teach me through the spirit and open up the scriptures unto me.  Before this point, I was barely familiar with the scriptures, but in a just a few weeks the Lord poured an immense amount of light and truth into me.  I became obsessed with the word of God, which is truth.   It was as if there was a conduit of light connecting myself and the heavens through the pages of scriptures, and just like the experience Joseph Smith had after being baptized, I too began to have the scriptures laid open to my  understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.  (Joseph Smith History 1:74)

In less than a month, I became a mini-scriptorian.  I would stay up till 5AM in study or deep discussion with other missionaries about the mysteries of heaven. (or what seemed like mysteries at the time,).   I would thirst and hunger so deeply for the word of God that I would fast multiple times a week, sometimes 2 days in a row,  because feasting upon the words Christ sustained me so well that eating the food of this world became momentarily irrelevant.  

The word of God is truth, which is said to be sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Hew 4:11).  The thing about a two-edged sword is that you may end up getting cut by it yourself when wielding it.  The following is an excerpt from a previous blog entry about the piercing effect truth has on my soul: 


When I was serving an LDS mission in the Philippines the Lord revealed unto me His word as He expounded the scriptures unto me.  I was guilty and therefore took the truth to be hard. (Nephi 16:2)  It literally made me ill!  What He taught caused me to quake as it cut me to the very center.  I reacted to truth with a degree of cognitive dissonance because it went against my religiously ingrained paradigms; dividing the LDS Church from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the precepts of men (the "infaliblity" of the Brethern) from the Book of Mormon, a vain religion from an intimate relationship with God.  The Light of Christ allowed me to perceive the clear distinction and I therefore had to make a difficult choice.  The choice I made required repentance and sacrifice.  Since that time and to this very day as God’s Word is unfolded unto me my paradigms are constantly being shattered as the Truth cuts asunder those big clumps of mixed truths and lies.  As I sift through the remains of my shattered beliefs, that is when I able to separate dirt and sand from the rocks and diamonds, conjecture and tradition from God’s Word and Truth.  From the debris I am able to obtain the pure and strong elements needed to build my foundation upon the rock of Jesus Christ. This is an ongoing process which requires constant seeking, constant repentance, constant change, and therefore constant sacrifice.   (The Dividing Factor of Truth)

A warrior of light does not cower from the chaotic unknown.  They first prepare by spending quality time training with their king, Jesus Christ the Lord of Sabaoth,  sharpening their sword upon the truth.  Then they venture into the wild chaos fully clothed in the armor of God, wielding the honed Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  They battle, they fight, they cut asunder and divide the unbelief from the truth, and return home with more light.  A warrior does not spend their days hiding in a protected sheltered bubble of timid, puritan paranoia of the wicked influences of the world.  They do not freeze up from cognitive dissonance, contradictions, or paradoxes.  They are tough sons and daughters of God possessing a tenacity of soul. They lean into discomfort, wrestle with contradictions, and unlock the paradoxes of the universe.  They leave the comforts and security of their safe groupthink conformity and brave the wilderness to find God. They step out onto the battlefield of the world to liberate souls by helping others discover the good, the true, and beautiful within their own selves.   A warrior of light creates order from the chaotic unknown.  



I love truth.  It has set me free and has fueled a passionate fire within me for the glory of God. The truth has been my pursuit these past three years.  A good amount of posts contained in this blog address the nature of truth while expounding upon scripture. I will be addressing the topic of truth next month at Sunstone.   But as wonderful as truth is, it is not enough to truly inspire a warrior to fight for God, live for Christ, and die for his friends.  Most of the time, the truth merely sits as intellectually stimulating knowledge for the brain - spiritual Twinkies with no pragmatic application toward progression.  Truth struggles to makes its way on the 18-inch journey from the head to the heart, and so it fails to become an actual experience.  It never gets assimilated into our state of being- we never become a living embodiment of the truth.  This is why a warrior must learn to embrace the third Transcendental.  The warrior must learn, not to wrestle, but to dance, with the beautiful.  




The Beauty



It's a Cheesy Country Song, I know
The difference between a mercenary and warrior is the purpose for why they go into battle.  The former is a soldier who fights for mere pay, the latter is driven by a cause far deeper than a monetary reward.  A warrior fights for his family, his country, his God….and his woman. In essence, a warrior uses his strong masculine energy from a place of love.   I emphasize the woman because of how powerful her influence is on a man. Soldiers will carry into battle photo lockets of their sweetheart back home. In The First Avenger, Captain America flips open that locket with the photo of Agent Peggy Carter as he heroically crashes a German plane full of nuclear warheads into the icy ocean.  Even Mormon missionaries desperately keep little photos of their girlfriend-soon-to-be-Dear-John-ex love in the little white handbooks they keep tucked in their left chest pockets, close to their hearts and under their black church name badges. What do the guys in Mulan want? “A girl worth fighting for”!  The Trojan War is said to have been fought over one beautiful woman. My own dad sold his expensive sports car so that he could afford a ticket to go to the Philippines, take my mother out, propose to her within three days, and get married within the month. Whether for good or bad, a woman’s ability to inspire and motivate a man to rise to the occasion and take action is a divine trait of the feminine.  


I can not address the beautiful without first addressing the woman, the "Beauty".  She is the beauty of all of God’s creations manifested in the flesh. Notice Eve’s place in the order of God’s works; she is the very last of all of God’s designs.  As the days progress in the Genesis account so does the complexity, exquisiteness, and the quality of beauty and life of creation.  God keeps one-upping what he did the previous day. Eve is the grand finale to an intricate, magnificent, majestic crescendo of heaven’s glorious symphonic ensemble.  She is the pinnacle of divine beauty, the Mother of all creation. It has recently been shown unto us that Eve actually derives her lineage from a source higher and of greater divinity then Adam- She is truly the greatest gift to man.  In beauty, Eve(the woman) embodies majesty taller than mountain peaks, power greater than the rolling thunder, and depth more than the cracks of the deep places in the earth. Because she is the living embodiment of beauty, she is the messenger of that divine glory.  



So what effect does the messenger of beauty have on the warrior?  Read the following excerpt from John Eldridge's book, Wild at Heart:


There is something mythic in the way a man is with a woman. Our sexuality offers a parable of amazing depth when it comes to being masculine and feminine. The man comes to offer his strength and the woman invites the man into herself, an act that requires courage and vulnerability and selflessness for both of them. Notice first that if the man will not rise to the occasion, nothing will happen. He must move; his strength must swell before he can enter her. But neither will the love consummate unless the woman opens herself in stunning vulnerability. When both are living as they were meant to live, the man enters his woman and offers her his strength. He spills himself there, in her, for her; she draws him in, embraces and envelops him. When all is over he is spent; but ah, what a sweet death it is. 
And that is how life is created. The beauty of a woman arouses a man to play the man; the strength of a man, offered tenderly to his woman, allows her to be beautiful; it brings life to her and to many. This is far, far more than sex and orgasm. It is a reality that extends to every aspect of our lives. When a man withholds himself from his woman, he leaves her without the life only he can bring. This is never more true than how a man offers—or does not offer—his words. Life and death are in the power of the tongue, says Proverbs (18:21). She is made for and craves words from him.


A godly woman arouses her man, not just sexually, but spiritually.  Through her inviting presence, through her sweet kiss, she gives the warrior a taste of heaven, which stirs his appetite into a deeper hunger and thirst after righteousness.  A man who is centered in the divine masculinity will desire not just the mere physical beauty of a woman, but will yearn for the deep essence of her divine feminity. When she looks her warrior in the eyes, the depth of soul contained within her will entice him to fall deeper in love with Jesus Christ. Her gentle touch will enchant the stoic warrior into a vulnerable and romantic lover, causing him to open his heart up to the intimacy of God.   Her words of encouragement will inspire the warrior to become the greatest version of himself, not for her, but for their God so they can enjoy his literal presence. When the Warrior and the Beauty make love it is not merely sexual, it is a form of worship in the purest form. - a worship that is the closest form of deity emulation on earth, a return to Eden before shame, a reflection of the image of God, male and female joined together as one.  


This is great power, or to better phrase it, this is great potential, contained in daughters of Eve and fully manifested in the sacred bonds of marriage. Of this is power the majority of the world is ignorant, and so it has become twisted, abused, and misappropriated.  Man has a tendency to obsess and fixate on things, especially on the messenger in place of the message being conveyed. We tend to bow down and worship angles when they appear unto us instead of the one and only true God, despite their plead for us not to. (Rev 19:10) We love to idolize men we believe to be prophets, revering them as deity on earth and setting them up on pedestals between us and God. Man does the same with the messenger of beauty. They fixate on her making her the center of their universe- which never ends well.

 


A concept taught in the book Wild at Heat is that Femininity can never bestow masculinity. A boy must draw that masculine essence from a father, earthly or heavenly.   When a boy goes to the woman seeking to validate his manhood, when he obsesses over and worships a woman and makes her the foundation of his reality, he emasculates himself.  He becomes overly needy of her attention and ends up being the boy who loves the woman like a little girl, which goes contrary to his masculine core of order, strength, drive, and purpose.  He will either end up with a lady who has to be more manly to compensate for his weak passivity (which is not a good thing nor the purpose of the woman in a relationship) and both he and his woman will wonder why he has lost that stallion passion he once had. He will waste his days rotting in the garage or basement ‘man-cave’ as a dead-beat horse with no individual identity to offer to the marriage. This is masculine strength gone passive which could also result in the guy remaining bitterly single for the rest of his life wallowing in wretched loneliness, pitying his condition as holy righteousness and masquerading his shame in a false facade of pathetic humility.  Or the boy’s masculine strength can go bad. Through the rejection of the woman, he may become resentful towards the daughters of Eve. He will hate women and abuse and hurt them in an effort to validate his dominance over the opposite sex, which is counterintuitive to the insecure boyish man seeking to use compulsion as a show of manhood. The reality is, unrighteousness dominion will never be validated by true masculinity. To be a man for the woman is to condescend below her issues and imperfections, to enter into that dark lair of her soul and fight for her, protect her, and slay the dragons that oppress her true and divine beauty.  The warrior fights for his woman from a place of love and treats and pursue his woman by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, by kindness, and pure knowledge. He fights for her heart- meaning he must respect the beautiful gift of agency in order for her relationship with God to flourish and for that love to be truly reciprocated by her. A warrior is not her sole savior - only Christ holds that position in her heart; but the man is to help the woman be comfortable and secure in unveiling the true beauty of her heart to God. A warrior can not influence her by virtue of his priesthood, or in other words a man cannot compel a woman to be with him on the premises that through his connection with the heavens God told him through revelation or vision they were meant to be and therefore “since God told me this you must obey!”  A man may receive some pretty awesome revelations about his future spouse, but every woman deserves to be caught up in an epic love story, every woman deserves to be romanced. So fight for her heart, not her compliance to what you believe to be true. Pursue her love the way Jesus Christ pursues yours.



The Power of the Warrior’s Sexuality



A prophetic man once stated the following:


Priesthood is not a franchise nor given to control others. Priesthood in its highest form is an opportunity to serve and bless others. This high priesthood is a call to save, redeem, and rescue others from destruction. (4o Years of Mormonism, Priesthood)


The highest form of priesthood or order of God consists of the dyadic relationship between one man and one woman, also known as the patriarchal priesthood.  In the highest priesthood, man is to serve and bless, not to condemn. That power is symbolically manifested through the male’s sexual organ. That organ is circumcised to God and so the warrior’s masculine essence, his potency, his sexuality is consecrated to the Lord.  The purpose of his endowed power is to penetrate his woman, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  The warrior offers her his strength. He spills himself there, in her, for her in all aspects of life.  When a man masturbates he is sabotaging his divine masculine essence, he is wasting the power designed to serve and bless the woman to the carnal traitor within. (the natural man)


Now I understand that statement probably triggered some major dissonance in the majority of my readers, so allow me to clarify. You should not approach your sexual education from a platform of fear and shame, neither should you separate sex and spirituality in your train of thought.   Shame is the ultimate goal of the adversary because the belief you hold to about yourself in shame, the low vibrational frequency you subject yourself to in shame, is next to death.  It is the lowest you can feel, any lower and your feelings register as dead. Masturbation is not an end, its a means to an end used by Satan to get you where he wants you to be- full of shame.  We are sexually broken and have bought the lies of the adversary and religious demons about our sexuality, so instead try to view sex from heaven’s eyes to understand what God's values about sexuality.


I don’t believe masturbation is worthy of condemnation, but I’m pretty dang sure it is not a godly behavior, either.   What I have discovered is that when it comes to lust, that evil spirit loves company. It never attacks alone, it tag teams with other spirits like depression, anxiety, shame, ect...  After the other spirit has finished delivering its blows upon you, lust moves in and takes advantage of your weak and vulnerable condition. What I have observed in myself when it comes to pornography and masturbation is that the temptation only comes when I have failed to be true to my masculine identity in Christ Jesus.  It hits me when I have failed to be the man in life’s situations, whether that be at work, school, dating, social situations, ect… I would retreat into my hollow shell, “hide behind my fig leaf” and sabotage my essence to vain imaginations. There is a quote from a dating coach named Corey Wayne. He states,


   If you hesitate, you will masturbate


If you do not lay hold to your masculine identity when called to rise to the occasion to spill your strength as a man in the service of others, you will seek for that fulfillment through the imitation. Preserving your sexuality is not simply about remaining abstinent.   It's about always using your energy, now, as a man, to be a true man! Instead of trying to abstain from self-stimulation, go out at seize the day: set goals, help a damsel in distress, engage in the battles and confront your fears, be the man, lay hold to your divine masculinity, become a dangerous warrior for Jesus Christ and stop being the wimpy nice guy.  Try this. Test your strength against God and wrestle with Him in this. He will bestow masculinity to you if allow him to father you in your broken manhood. You will feel such fulfillment from God in you that the temptation will cease. This is not about “purity” so much as it is about confidence in your sexuality and masculinity. That energy is a dangerous and wild power, but God expects us to be meek and to know how to use it if we are to become warriors.  




The Beautiful


I'm paraphrasing a bit of Wild at Heart again here. The Warrior fights for the Beauty, but the warrior’s life mission is not the Beauty.  A man has to have an adventure to live that exists outside the woman. The warrior then invites her into that adventure, but that God-given mission will transcend even his relationship with his wife.  If a man makes the woman the focal point of his world he will become like a spiritual vampire to her and complete drain her of all life and beauty. If a man’s orbit is a woman, worlds will collide and uncontrolled chaos will unleash.  The man and the woman together must orbit the Sun and each must individually draw their life and energy from God. A godly woman will inspire the Warrior to pursue that journey in God and to live the adventure. Even the mother of God directs adoration and worship to her son. (Luke 1:46-55)  I love the examples we have in movies like Captain America the First Avenger and Wonder Woman.   In both movies, the male lead role loves the woman and desires a relationship, but in both movies he must answer the call to fight for the greater good.  Despite how intensely they yearn to be with her, it is greater act of love to sacrifice their lives to uphold their higher purpose. In both the boxing/UFC movies Cinderella Man and Warrior, the lead female character pesters her husband for his pursuit to fight in the ring, but despite her objections, at the end of both movies the woman shows up to support her man the final and grand fight.  When a man is true to what God has created him to be, when he is secure in his divine masculinity, it will attract the true feminine heart.

I love the book The Alchemist. It conveys deep spiritual truths to the reader through the best medium possible: an epic story.   The journey Santiago goes through to discover his personal legend and find the hidden treasure resonates with my own spiritual journey.   In the beginning, Santiago is fixated on the beautiful daughter of a merchant in his local town and desires to eventually marry her, but heading the call to adventure he leaves the comforts and routine of shepherd’s life to pursue a prophesied treasure.  He travels through the desert toward the pyramids of Egypt. During his trek through the untamed wilderness, he falls in love with the desert, learning and revering its beauty and workings. In the desert he develops his connection with the divine as he learns to speak its language.  It is during his sojourn through the desert that he meets his soulmate, Fatima, and falls in love with her. She is a woman of the desert, gorgeous and exotic who embodies the beauty of the desert Santiago has grown to appreciate and love.   He asks her to marry him and she promises to do so only after he completes his journey. He is frustrated by this, but later learns that true love will not stop nor must one sacrifice to it one's personal legend, since to do so robs it of truth.

"Fatima is a woman of the desert," said the alchemist. "She knows that men have to go away in order to return. And she already has her treasure: it's you. Now she expects that you will find what it is you are looking for.”-The Alchemist

The warrior must brave the wilderness to find God.  He must embark on that journey of the soul and learn to love the wild before he can come to truly know a woman of the wild. He must not just fall in love with the beauty; he needs to fall in love with what she embodies:  The Beautiful. A man can not just be a warrior for Christ, He must be a lover of God.  What enables a warrior to bleed and suffer and fight? It is love.  That is what enabled Jesus to suffer on our behalf in Gethsemane.

 "All virtue was taken from Him. All the great life force in Him was stricken and afflicted. All the light turned to darkness. He was humbled, drained and left with nothing. It is not possible for a man to bear such pains and live, but with nothing more than will, hope in His Father, and charity toward all men, He emerged from the final wave of torment, knowing he had suffered all this for His Father and His brethren. By His hope and great charity, trusting in the Father, the Lord returned from this dark abyss and found grace again, His heart being filled with love toward the Father and all men."-Come let us Adore Him, Gethsemane
Love is the answer. Love is what lifts us out of the dark abyss and into the light and life of God.  A warrior is only a mercenary if he has not love. This is why Confucius stated, “Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance”.  Meaning if you are not in tune with the lover within you to guide and direct your passion, the fighter will become destructive, without aim.  Masculine knowledge needs its counterpart feminine wisdom in order to be good in the sight of the Lord. A beauty will cause a man to climb mountains and cross seas to be united with his woman, but a warrior who becomes one with the Beautiful will move mountains and split the seas for His God.

Since I began this Sojourn three and a half years ago I have had experiences with God that have brought me to my knees in humble adoration and love, but I can honestly say that the majority of truth I had come to learn merely sat as intellectually stimulating knowledge for the brain - spiritual Twinkies with no pragmatic application toward progression.  It wasn’t until 9 months ago beginning in September 2017 that the truth held in the realm of abstract thought began to embark on the 18 journey from the head to the heart.  Moving from a state of mind to a state of being. Diving into your heart is one million times more fulfilling than running circles in the brain (that's the ratio for subconscious-conscious mind processing power). Being immersed in the beautiful will have that effect on your soul, which is why God has recently taken me more and more away from my enclosed bedroom where I would bury my nose in scriptures, to his wild temple, the mighty mountains and diverse deserts of Utah, where I can soak in and drink up His wonderful beauty.  I have received more light and truth this past season through Mother Earth then through any book and that has caused a tremendous transformation in me that I did not think could be possible.  I am a new man because it. I love this quote by C.S. Lewis in his sermon “Weight of Glory”. He is describing how to receive the glory of God is to make us shine like the sun, and he describes our deep desire to be one with the Beautiful:  
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
My heart has been captivated by the beautiful and oh how I yearn to be united with that beauty.  It is what drives me. The good and true are great reason to fight, but the greatest Transcendental is the beautiful. Its give ultimate meaning to being a warrior.  Since encountering her I have never been more inspired to seek after my Lord Jesus Christ. She has stirred an appetite within me and I do hunger and thirst after His righteousness. She has aroused within me a deeper yearning in my heart to know God in closer communion.   There is the love of God that will bring you to your knees and crush you, and then that love calls you to arise to engage the beautiful. Be the warrior and arise to the occasion, it is worth all the battles, the pain, the suffering, and the sacrifice.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Flowing From a Relationship with God



Value of a Virtuous Woman


Sex is such a taboo subject we hate addressing in churches. Sexuality is so skewed by religious interpretation. It is rarely taught from a place of divine beauty and instead is almost always attached to shame and guilt.
I'm very grateful God is willing to go to those sensitive places of my soul to teach me. I'm grateful He has given me brothers, strong men in Christ, with whom we can bear one another burdens that they may be light.
One of those friends shared this with me. It's given me deeper insight and has helped me become the warrior and lover in Christ I am developing into. With permission, I am sharing it here for those who may need to read this.
Virtue(and it doesn't = preserving your virginity for marriage) is not just a state you can have before you lose your virginity, but is the state of being which can be lived by not only the woman, but the man which she invites into herself. It cannot be lived by yourself, but in tandem with a male counterpart.
It consists of a value system, in which sex(and sex expression) is upheld as sacred(not untouchable, or reserved, but desirable and upheld as one of the highest values). When sex is upheld as sacred, it becomes a form of worship in the purest forms.
This worship is the closest form of deity emulation on earth, as man was made in God's image, male and female. And that is not male and female alone and separate, but joined.
So what is the value of a virtuous woman?
Well it's opposite is a woman which doesn't reserve sacred, or which downgrades the value of sex expression to simply pleasure, biological reproduction, and a system of gratification for self(rather than an emulation of divine).
It is the love of God given physical form.
The pinnacle of creation was Eve, by all definitions a virtuous woman. She is the mother of all living. The Ezer kenegdo. Helpmeet is a poor translation and the Hebrew is used scant times in the Bible, and every other time refers to God alone. Eve is the manifestation of God himself to Adam.
In beauty, Eve(the woman) embodies majesty taller than mountain peaks, power greater than the rolling thunder, and depth more than the cracks of the deep places in the earth.
The woman's role is to invite the man into herself. She is penetrated, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
To the unvirtuous woman, sex is just another thing(object), and valued as a toy.
To the virtuous woman, being penetrated by her man, is gifting him all that she is, and offers unfiltered, unmasked, and unrestrained affection. In her nudity or exposure, the true self is naked to view without shame.
Probed and then reveled in, the act of making love(virtuous in comparison to "only sex") is a return to Eden, before shame, and the worship of God's image.
What is the value of a virtuous woman?
The weight of eternity.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The World's Elevator Music or Heaven's Symphony





I often get impatient with God when I petition Him for happiness and it doesn't manifest immediately in the way I expect it to. I have faith in a God of love who is no respecter of persons, and so I know Jesus Christ has my best interest in mind, but so often in the low dark valleys of life, I lose foresight of His greater plan and become frustrated with reality. Perhaps it would help if instead of asking God for more blessings and happy relationships and experiences, to pray for greater light by which I can understand the depth and profundity of life so that the suffering and trials of this world can cast meaning to my existence.
Men are that they might have joy. (2nd Nephi 2) I believe happiness is only a mere feeling, while joy is a much deeper state of being which only comes to those whose roots reach far down towards hell and whose branches extend high into heaven. (paraphrasing Carl Yung) Or as Joseph Smith said, "Thy mind o man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of Eternal expanse; he must commune with God.”
Joy is refined through the opposition of all things. It emerges through confronting the dark nights of the soul and is purified as we conquer the demons and slay the dragons of life. Sacrifice and suffering gives deeper value to happiness, but it's treacherous and chaotic. It's much more enticing to become complacent with the world's substitute of the shallow mediocre "elevator music". However, a true life of quality and meaning requires that one venture into and embrace the intricacy and profound depth of heaven's symphony. 

Salvation is an acquired taste and only comes to those who are willing to sacrifice and be refined through the necessity of suffering.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Relationship Between Sacrifice, Knowledge, and a Broken Heart




This is a segment from the interview I was in for footage for the Zion's Return Website: https://www.zionsreturn.org

How can I know if I am doing the Lord's will? That is the question many people go through life asking. When it comes to salvation, that is the most important thing one can ask. It is the daunting dilemma many grown adults confront in a mid-life crisis. It is the haunting ache that stirs in the hearts of Millenials just entering that adult world. It was the question presented by Mormon college students to LDS leader David Bednar last November in a Q&A at a Utah Valley LDS Institute fireside. The answer he gave, in my opinion, lacked the spiritual substance to truly address that deep yearning concern. It was a precept of man and a contradiction to what Joseph Smith taught answering that exact same critical question in the Lectures on Faith. Leaders make mistakes and that is a normal flaw of being human, what is important is that we don't believe those mistakes as being an absolute truth from God.

So next Monday, back at UVU, Christopher and I will be giving a presentation and leading a group discussion directly out of the Lectures on Faith addressing that same question, and how the relationship between sacrifice and faith is key to attaining that knowledge. If this is a deep concern that you wrestle with, we encourage you to come. The link to the event is posted below. Our hope in doing this is that you will gain a greater reason to believe in Christ and a deeper resolve to know Him.
I will be presenting and leading a discussion on the relationship between sacrifice and faith from the 6th Lecture of the "Lectures on Faith" by Joseph Smith Jr at 7PM, April 16th at Utah Valley University. It will be held in the Reflection Center in the Student Life and Wellness Center. The room is directly under the gym and across from the bowling alley.

327 W 1200 S, Orem, UT 84058

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My 30 Minute Rant on the MTC Rape Room

My 30-minute rant on the former MTC president admitting to having a "rape room" in the basement of the Missionary Training Center, where he raped sister missionaries, and why faithful Mormons need to stand up to church policies that are wrong. And most importantly why we need to trust in a perfect God and not an imperfect church. Never done a video before, excuse my lack of eye contact and slowness of speech







Friday, March 16, 2018

Why Faithful Mormons Should March to Protect the LDS Children

Recently within the Mormon community, former bishop Sam Young started a movement to protect the LDS children by seeking to gain the support of others to demand that the LDS church stop sexually explicit interviews of Mormon youth that are held behind closed door, alone with an older man.  He is collecting signatures of people who support this cause which he will present, along with a record of testimonies of those abused as children by church leaders, on March 30th to the LDS Church Office building.     If you do not know about the petition and efforts underway to protect the innocent children of the LDS Church, I would suggest visiting protectldschildren.org
I will not be going into detail here about the issue of sexually explicit interviews of Mormon youth.  That has been addressed well enough by others and so for the sake of argument, we are going to assume that the practice is morally wrong.   Instead, this blog post will address why questioning policies and standing up to such issues does not make one an apostate and how as a faithful members, it is your responsibility, and not just the leaders, to see that your church is rooting out the evil so that it can become the bride of Christ - a Zion people ready for the return of the Lord.   




On Thursday, January 25th, Sam Young met with his local church leaders to discuss the book "Sacred Stories of Sacred Children" and Sam's efforts to raise awareness of the issue.    As Sam described some of the trauma and horrible accounts of sexual abuse and misconduct in bishop interviews share by victims in his book his leaders responded saying, 
“Shame on those men.” 

Sam takes it a step further is his response, 

“Shame on the system that enabled the actions of these men.”


I find Mr. Young's response to be a very profound and true statement.  I have repeatedly heard the argument from members of the LDS church that the "the church is perfect, but the members are imperfect".  This is a reaffirming argument for those who believe that church can never lead you astray because inspired leaders of God are infallible since they would be struck dead by God and removed from their place if they did try to lead the church astray.  It is comforting to believe that you can rest in the assurance that the life you pursue and the actions you take are in accordance to God's will so long as you maintain faith in the direction and authority of that perfect church.  It is easier to surrender the personal moral responsibility of following the dictates of your conscience to the idea that "if you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it."

I want to explain why the institution, and not the members, is the primary cause of such abominations and wickedness.   Before you continue reading, I want to first clarify that I do not believe that the sins and abuse administered by men upon the innocent are at all justifiable.  I am seeking to shed light on how a system can enable the wicked actions of seemingly good men so that despite whatever form evil may manifest itself in, we who do seek to follow the dictates of our conscience and who are followers of Christ will have the courage to stand up against wickedness- to put an end to it before it spreads uncontrollably.  If you are Mormon, I hope that by reading this you will recognize that the obligation to see that the organization you serve protects the least among you rests upon your shoulders as members, and that that is a responsibility you can not delegate unchecked to the system.     



The Fruits of a Church are the People Produced by that Church


When we hear the word “church”, we often think of a building with steeples and containing a large congregational hall lined with benches and the echo of bells and organ pipes.  Our minds go back to Sunday school rooms with whiteboards where we were taught from church-issued manuals as we sat, rocked-back on hind legs of metal chairs (or, if you were lucky enough, a comfy, cushioned chair which was smuggled from the Relief Society room).  Images of general authorities in formal business attire, the Conference Center, and temples may also flash across your mind.  

None of these things, however, actually constitutes a church. The words church comes from the Greek word ekklésia, simply means an assembly or collective body of Christians, or of those who profess to believe in Christ.

The Lord defines church in the Doctrine and Covenants, declaring his statement as doctrine with a warning:

Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.(Doctrine and Covenants 10:67–68)
This is the church I am part of.  If you have repented and come unto Christ, despite whatever denomination you affiliate with, I consider you my brother or sister in Christ.  


The church is the people, specifically those who repent and come unto Christ.  Everything else a church may require or produce is more or less.  So the fruits of a religious organization are the people.  If the people are doing bad things, if they are engaging in sexual misconduct, that is the fruit of something amiss in that organization.  That church is, therefore, an imperfect church.  

For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.(Moroni 7:11)


In our personal progression, we are commanded by Jesus to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."  (Matt 5:48) This is the goal and mark for which we must be aiming, but as fallen mortals, we recognize that although this is a commandment, it is an impossible task.   For those who have faith in Christ, however, they realize that with God nothing is impossible and it is Christ's role as our Lord to perfect them.  When we understand the power of the atonement and blood of Jesus, we can reach for the utmost heavens while not to spiraling into self-pity when we fall short because of our weakness.  For our weakness WILL be made manifest as we work on our relationship with Christ.  Ask anyone who has been married for a long enough time and they will agree that being in a serious, committed relationship long enough will bring out all the ugly issues not noticed during dating/honeymoon phase.   Our relationship with God is no different, for He says, 

"...if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."(Ether 12:27; emphasis mine)
If we humbly acknowledge our weaknesses when they are shown unto us and we take them to Christ in penitence, he will make weak things strong.  This is a true principle on the individual level of a believer.  Why would this be any different on the scale of a collective body of believers - a church?  The church is referred to in the Bible as the bride of Christ. (Eph 5:22-23)  In the ancient Jewish marriage process, the bride had to go through serious preparation and ritual cleansing before the wedding day.  As a body of believers, we are not yet married to Christ and still have serious preparation and cleansing to go through before we can become that "perfect" church. The ugly truth will be brought to light as we strive for Zion, for perfection.  This is the natural effect of coming unto Christ so that we can recognize evil exists and have it uprooted.  

As long as the root of evil is hidden, it is strong. When it is recognized, it is undone, and if it is brought to light, it dies. For this reason the word says, “Already the ax is laid at the root of the trees.” It will not merely cut them down, for what is cut down sprouts up again. Rather, the ax will dig down until it cuts out the root. Jesus pulled out the root of the whole place, but others did so only in part.  
Let each of us also dig down after the root of evil within us and pull it out of our hearts from the root. It will be uprooted if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces fruit in our hearts. It dominates us. We are its slaves, and it takes us captive so that we do what we do [not] want and do [not] do what we want. It is powerful because we do not recognize it. As long as [it] exists, it stays active.(Hidden Parts, The Root of Evil - Gospel of Philip) 


What fruit are you? 
If the church is producing bad fruit is it not our duty as members of a body of believers to address the issue and uproot the evil?  Could the efforts of people like Sam Young, who points out flaws in church policies that enable wickedness to abound, be God's way bringing to light such wickedness?  If we choose to ignore such criticism, dismissing the proponents of such arguments as apostates or false-prophets because they shed light on the weaknesses of our church, are we not refusing to humble ourselves before the Lord to receive His sufficient grace to make weak things become strong?  Not all material that sheds light on the imperfect state of the Mormon church is anti-Mormon; some of it may be God's efforts to call his people unto repentance to sanctify his bride before the great wedding day!  We ought to humble ourselves, acknowledge our sins, and repent.  If we choose to remain ignorant or support the legislation of bills that undertake to cover our sins, we allow the evil to take root within us as a church.  That wickedness will grow and as Philip states, it will dominate us.  Jesus said, "Every plant that my Heavenly Father has not planted shall be uprooted." We need to allow our God, the Lord of the vineyard, to do that necessary gardening and weeding within our souls and throughout our church.  



Bad Apples or Bad Barrels? 

“Shame on the system that enabled the actions of these men.”

Throughout recorded history, and most especially in the 20th century, humanity has suffered some the most horrendous and evil acts ever committed on a large scale that a new word, genocide, had to be invented in the last 100 years to describe such massive, wicked acts.  We must never forget how such evil became a justifiable act in the eyes of a society, or it will unfold again in our lifetime.  Now you are probably thinking, "This is escalating fast, I thought this was a post about a church policy!"  

No, I am not comparing the LDS church to Nazi Germany, but wickedness always starts in small doses and can escalate, can dominate us, if we derive our source of mortality in a system and not in values that transcend dogma.  Morality is something we think is fixed and impermeable with us on the good side.  This is false.  Our sense of morality is as changing and skewed as much as we are blind in our devotion to authority and shallow in the dictates of our conscience.  If you are not watchful, you can cross that line without even knowing it. We believe that if we had lived in the countries of the mass genocides we would be good people and choose the right if we were placed in a bad circumstance.  History and psychological and anthropological studies show otherwise.    

The following video is Ted Talk on titled "Psychology of Evil" presented by psychologist Philip Zimbardo.  He discusses what he calls the "Lucifer Effect" which explains how good people will do really evil things if placed in a bad system that enables such behavior.  Now I must warn you, this video is a bit discomforting, but it reveals something terrifying about the natural man we must forsake, and so I invite you to listen and watch.  I believe it is worth your time.  
Warning: The video does contain graphic and disturbing images meant to educate the audience of how evil of acts men are capable of committing.   The images are shown from 5:00 to 6:45.  If this is too disturbing then skip this portion of the video.  






Satan understands the psychology of evil very well. He is the father of lies. He works through deception and secrecy.  He understands that if he can overtake an institution and puppet it, he will lead every soul devoted to such an organization to the gulf of misery and endless wo. The LDS church has been blessed with more scripture then other Christian churches.  They have fewer excuses for not obtaining and comprehending deep truth than others.   Satan knows this and this is why they are targeted and more susceptible to fall.  This is why we must be watchful when presented with opportunities to repent.  This especially why we as Mormons should be on guard against devotion, faith, and confidence in a hierarchy because when the deceptive temptation to engage and allow wickedness come, when we are justified to unknowingly cross that skewed line of morality, the gates of hell are ready and open to receive such.   Please consider the following: 



Lucifer and his followers damn mankind by employing the following strategies. 

Imitate: Lucifer makes what he does resemble what the Savior does. He teaches as closely as possible what the Savior teaches. He claims what the Savior claims. He promises what the Savior promises. But in every case, he does so falsely so that it cannot save anyone. 

Appropriate: He gains control over whatever the Savior establishes. The very best way to insure no one is saved is to take the actual House of God and make it Lucifer’s house.
The weak-minded are easily fooled into believing they have salvation when they only have a powerless imitation. Hence the Lord’s prophesy that many will claim at the last day they did many wonderful things in His name. To them He will say: “I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21-23.)

It may seem challenging, but making the right choices is not difficult. As long as we take this concept seriously (our salvation depends on it) and we study carefully using the scriptures as our guide, it is easy to tell imitation from the real thing. It is also easy to see when the order established by Christ has been misappropriated. The scriptures tell us the test for priestcraft. Do men seek the welfare of Zion, or their own benefit? 
  


Protecting the Good Name of the Church 


In Sam Young’s interview, he was accused as an apostate by his local church leaders, his stake president left Sam with this warning:

You can’t continue speaking in public about this.  We will have to protect the good name of the church. 
Here is Mr. Young's public response: 

I agree that we need to protect the good name of the church.  How about that?  The Church’s reputation is being trashed by a dreadful policy that is doing severe harm to our children.  My fellow Mormons…join with 13,000 of us to protect the good name of the Church.  If this policy is not eliminated, those who didn’t speak up for change will be responsible for the bad name the Church is now accruing.
Here is my response and thoughts: 

I agree with Sam Young.  We need to protect the good name of the church (that is, the collective body of believers).  However, from the eyes of the church leaders, I do not believe this is their real concern...  

This is the definition of apostasy from the Church Handbook of Instructions:

"Apostasy refers to members who repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.”

These grounds presented for accusing members of apostasy are not based on morality or doctrine, but rather upon the failure to submit to, obey, and fall in line with those in power.  In a religious organization that puts so much emphasis upon and equates salvation to "keys" and authority, it can become a greater priority to safeguard the authority and the reputation of the system instead of the moral obligation to protect those the system is designed to serve.  It is difficult for such an organization to have the humility to admit their weaknesses and repent.  Leaders are still mortal men who make mistakes.  Often their belief in their divine calling and institution can blind them and make them ignorant of the root of evil forming in the organization they preside over.  This was the case of King Noah when he had Abinidi excommunicated.   


What Constitutes Apostasy?
“And he said unto him: Abinadi, we have found an accusation against thee, and thou art worthy of death. or thou hast said that God himself should come down among the children of men; and now, for this cause thou shalt be put to death unless thou wilt recall all the words which thou hast spoken evil concerning me and my people.”(Mosiah 17:7–8)

In a sense King Noah is also telling Abinadi, “You can't speak out against your church leaders, stop speaking evil concerning my people, we need to protect the good name of the church, stop this or be excommunicated"

Sam Young is being faced with a similar dilemma as his leaders dangle his membership over the fire, implying excommunication if he does not stop speaking evil concerning institutional policies.




I recently read this in a book.  It's fitting:
When the culture of any organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of a system and those in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of the individuals who serve that system or who are served by that system you can be certain that shame is systemic, money is driving ethics, and that accountability is all but dead.   
This is true in corporations, non-profits, universities, governments, faith communities, schools, families, and sports programs. If you think back on any major scandal, fueled by cover ups you’ll see the same pattern, and the restitution and resolution of cover ups almost always happen in the wilderness when one person steps outside their bunker and speaks the truth.  
- Brené Brown, "Braving the Wilderness"

No institution or its leaders, despite how divine it may believe itself to be, is exempt from becoming blinded by pride or having wickedness creep in and take root.  When those roots of evil are made known, it does not make you an apostate to stand up, question, and seek to make better the organization you are a part of.  In fact, it makes you a true Latter-Day Saint because you are fulfilling your responsibility as a member of the body in purifying the church to be the bride of Christ.  As Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 would say, All parts of the body of Christ are needed and if one part suffers, if the children are abused, the entire well-being of the body is held back.  Zion will not come unless we are one heart, one mind, with no poor among us.  
The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  (1st Corinthians 12:21)
Every individual believer makes up the bride of Christ.  Everyone is needed.  As a member of the body, this is your church.  It doesn't belong to a prophet, or the brethren, or any office or policy.  It belongs to the people.  It is the people.  And as a people, we are preparing to be joined in union with Jesus on that great wedding day and so the responsibility to prepare and be one as a whole belongs to each and every member.  If you are a foot, or a hand, or any other part of the body, and you are hurting or witnessing wrongdoings, you must make it known to the head so that we can become Zion- One heart, one mind, with NO poor among us.   No poor means a system that does not create an environment that perpetuates abuse.   Wickedness will not cease unless it is first brought to the light.         


Sam Young is a warrior and a defender of the children, fighting to protect your kids from a system that enables the wicked actions of men. He is a man speaking out against wickedness in high places to serve the least of these.  He is a what Philip Zimbardo describes as a hero, and is doing what Brené Brown describes as "braving the wilderness".  He is a faithful Latter-Day Saint because he striving to make the body of Christ whole and well.   He is daring to stand alone, even if it means choosing the harder right.  That is courage, that is living the gospel, that is fighting against powers of darkness and rooting out the evil before it escalates into something worse.  He is doing this because he cares about the church and the people its system serves.  I care about the church and the people its system serves.  As a faithful Mormon, these are your people, this is your church. You should care, too.