What if my personal revelation doesn’t match that of my husband’s?

What if my personal revelation doesn’t match that of my husband’s?

Question

 

Gramps,

My husband and I have been married for many years.  We have 5 children and I have felt for quite some time that we need to add to our family.  My husband does not feel the same.  I have prayed with much sincerity to know my Heavenly Father’s will and continue to have this feeling of another Spirit in our home.  Should I just forget about the impressions that I’ve had and drop the subject?

Angie

 

Answer

 

Dear Angie,

There are times in our lives when it is difficult to understand the mind and will of the Lord, and then to trust it.  You seem to be in one of those moments, you feel that the Spirit is nudging you to have another baby, and yet your husband doesn’t feel the same way.  The scriptures are full of stories of people asked to do difficult things which required them to trust the Lord and often to wait for His timing.

I assume you have already talked to your husband about this so my counsel is not to try and persuade him.  Take your concerns to the Lord.  Pour out your heart to him about how you feel prompted to have another child and your husband is not on board.  Then ask the Lord to change your husband’s heart, or yours as needed.  Be willing to trust the Lord’s timetable, like  Abraham and Sarah.  Though I don’t think He would literally make you wait that long…but possibly longer than you would hope.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

 

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

 

Gramps

 

Would it be appropriate to “cast lots” to receive revelation?

Would it be appropriate to “cast lots” to receive revelation?

Question

Gramps,

Would it be appropriate (or even effective) to “cast lots” in order to obtain revelation? It was done in the Bible quite often. In certain situations could you flip a coin, draw straws, or roll a dice to receive/ confirm revelation?

Dice Guy

 

Answer

Dear Brother Guy,

The casting of lots is mentioned throughout the scriptures as a method for receiving revelation. Proverbs places great trust in it and reflects two sides to it (how appropriate!). On the one hand, there’s a very practical side to it. Those that bind themselves to the lot cannot claim favoritism or impartiality on the part of the caster. “The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty” (Proverbs 18:18). Another wise saying takes it to the next level by attributing to the Divine that which is actually quite pedestrian. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).

That second proverb suggests that the casting of the lot is essentially a coin toss. Others have suggested that it involved blindly drawing either a black or a white stone. Hugh Nibley has written about the use of arrows in ancient Arabic cultures in this role of divination or lot casting (comparing this with the use of the two-spindled liahona, see Since Cumorah, pg 287-296). Suffice it to say that the precise ritual and order surrounding the practice has largely been lost to us, and for that reason I would be reluctant to assume that a simple roll of the die manifests the Lord’s will.

In examining the scriptural examples of lot casting used in the scripture I see examples that could be classified under either proverb (I have discounted the occasions mentioned in scripture where the practitioners were outside the covenant, such as the story of Jonah and at the Crucifixion). For instance, the Levitical rotation for temple service (particularly the hymnists) was assigned by casting lots (1 Chronicles 25). I don’t think it necessarily mattered to the Lord as to who served on any given day as they were all worthy and of the right lineage. What was proper (as it is today) was that all who served felt equal. When Joshua cast lots, it was to assign the tribes to their given land (Joshua 18). At a first reading it strikes me as an attempt at fairness. If the tribe elders are setting the boundaries for tribes (including their own), everyone has an incentive to be completely equitable since no one knows which land will be allotted to them. Joshua, however, elevates this chance-driven event to something revelatory by testifying “I … cast lots for you here [at the tabernacle] before the Lord our God” (vs 1, 6). Similarly, Saul has lots cast to secret things only known by the Lord (1 Samuel 14:42). We even find the practice in The Book of Mormon. Nephi and his brothers cast lots to determine who will get the plates from Laban. Depending on your leanings based on other scriptural examples, this could be read as an example of Nephi attempting find a fair way to select one person to make the attempt (thus minimizng risk); it could also be read as the Lord manifesting that it was Laman’s right as primogenitor to obtain the family records (1 Nephi 3:11).

I think it is very worthwhile to note that we have no pre-Mosaic reference to the practice – suggesting that it was part of the lesser law given to a people who would not receive the Holy Ghost. This position is further bolstered by the final example of casting lots in the Bible – selecting a new apostle (Acts 1:15-26). The general authorities of the time gathered to consider who should be called to replace fallen Judas. After studying the matter out, and liberally applying a healthy dose of prayer, “they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” By narrowing down the candidate list to two, and by “[giving] forth their lots” instead of casting them, this experience sounds like more than the application of the tools of chance. Notably, this last instance occurs before the Gift of the Holy Ghost is poured out at Pentecost. Once the Revelator was generally available, the practice of casting lots fell out of favor. After all, why suck on a damp rag when there’s a fountain right next to you?

Finally, the Doctrine and Covenants includes an example of casting lots. The High Council casts lots to determine speaking order and (especially in the case of disciplinary councils) to “prevent insult and injustice” (D&C 102:12,17). Once again, as in the case of the Levites, it doesn’t matter so much what the order is; this is a simple matter of avoiding favoritism and injustice. Each member of the Council is blessed with the Holy Ghost and should have learned the principles of revelation by this point so I don’t think this is necessarily to determine who the Lord wants speaking first.

With all this in mind, I think it could be appropriate (and even effective) to employ some modern variations on the casting of lots. First, I would keep in mind that such methodology is a lesser form of revelation and continue to practice learning the ideal. Second, I would also practice it in the manner of the 11 apostles or the modern High Council by prayerfully narrowing down the selection to actions that the Lord would approve regardless. Finally, I would continue to follow up through prayer that the course I am pursuing is still (and indeed) the Lord’s will. You’ll note that this is the same general pattern of revelation employed by those who are blessed with the Gift of the Holy Ghost – with the exception that when the supplicant is left at an impasse, the course forward is determined by a coin toss, instead of either a form of analysis paralysis or selecting a course based on best judgment.

 

Gramps

Mission or music career?

Mission or music career?

Question

Hello Gramps,

I hope you’re doing well. I’m a young man of 18, just out of high school. I now have my entire life ahead of me with several possible life paths to choose from. I have a solid testimony of this gospel, and I’m fully aware of the importance of intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual progression versus material gain and secular praise and “success.” Unfortunately, I struggle on and off with marijuana and alcohol consumption, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m in a band, and extremely serious about music. It’s the most effective conduit for The Spirit in my life. I plan on touring extensively, and to be a career musician. I also have a burning desire to serve a mission however, and I just don’t know when I should do it. Everyone’s plan is different, you know? I’m very committed to my band right now, so I was thinking of waiting a few years or longer. How should I seek The Lord’s guidance in directing my own life? I wish to serve and please Him, and I want to follow his plan for me. Thank you for all that you do. I trust your wisdom.

Anonymous

 

Answer

Anonymous,

I can relate to facing two options and the difficulty in choosing between them. At the same time, there are some points I’d like to bring up to you.

First of all, let’s just go over the Word of Wisdom matter, as you have brought it up. It relates to serving a mission in an important way. One of the most important ways to prepare for a mission is to strengthen your testimony as much as you can. A relevant question in your case would be: How strong is your testimony about the Word of Wisdom? Any testimony can be strengthened, but could you picture yourself testifying about the principle as you are today?

The problem with both marijuana and alcohol is quite simple. Using either one of them makes it more difficult to feel the Spirit. The effect is quick, and difficult to get past once it begins. This is part of why we are commanded to avoid such substances. Any time something interferes with the Spirit, we risk missing important revelations and guidance that Heavenly Father wants us to receive. Imagine trying to talk on a phone through a pillow. It is all but impossible. If your musical goals are contributing to your Word of Wisdom concerns, there’s reason to examine just how strongly the Spirit is operating in your life. I know it would be stronger without those chemicals in your body. If you are serious about feeling the Spirit direct you to serve a mission, this is something that you need to resolve right away. The sooner you remove those addictive habits from your life, the easier it will be to let them go. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be. This brings me to the other point I want to discuss with you.

Both serving a mission and pursuing a musical career are noble desires. However, you won’t always be able to serve a mission, even if you are ready and worthy. There is a cut-off age where the church would rather see you find a wife, get sealed in the temple and begin raising your family. If you wait too long to decide, the option will pass you by.

On the other hand, a musical career doesn’t really have a cut-off date. It does require regular practice, determination, and focus. I have a feeling that if you chose to serve a mission first, the Lord would not only help you prepare for two years of serving Him, but I am confident He would help you in your efforts to improve your talents in music once you had completed an honorable mission.

This is just how I see it, and you are certainly free to choose, as you will. However I can promise you that the blessings that come from serving an honorable mission will follow you for the rest of your life as you continue in faith. Such blessings, in my experience, far outweigh whatever the world has to offer.

I pray you will seek the Lord’s guidance in reaching your decision. Pray and listen to the answers you receive. I promise you’ll be much happier as you do so.

 

Gramps

Aren’t we just convincing ourselves that our religion is true?

Aren’t we just convincing ourselves that our religion is true?

Question

Gramps,

I have a friend who feels that people of all religions want their religion to be true so badly that they convince themselves that their religion is true. He feels that any spirit or power felt by an individual is caused by a strong internal desire to feel something to solidify their belief. What is your opinion on this subject? What is a good way to refute his argument?  Thanks so much! You’re the man.

Austin (more…)

Who Do I Believe?

Who Do I Believe?

Question

Gramps,

Some questions I have asked you I have asked other people before and after I’ve seen your answer. Who am I to believe?  Sometimes my Sunday School teacher will give me a different answer than my Seminary teacher which might be different from your answers. Who should I listen to and know what is right? I’m going through a time where I cannot receive revelation due to my personal sins and life.  Do I need to wait until I can before I can know who is right?

Joey (more…)

What is revelation?

What is revelation?

Question

Gramps,

Please explain revelation to me.

Linda

 

Answer

Linda,

What a question! I could go on for pages, but I doubt that would be a preferred response. Instead, let me describe how I have received revelation in my life.

Sometimes it comes as an epiphany, or a sudden falling-into-place of several elements that were previously somehow misaligned in my mind.

Sometimes it comes as a peaceful feeling regarding a decision I have made. Sometimes it is a feeling of trouble or danger regarding a decision that needs to be changed.

Sometimes it comes as a piece of truth that instantly fits perfectly with what I already have as a testimony of Christ and His gospel.

Not even these are all the ways that revelation comes to us. What revelation is, however, is pure truth given to us from God, and confirmed by the Holy Ghost whose mission it is to testify of all truth.

Revelation can be about anything ranging from major financial decisions, to how best to fulfill a specific challenge in our church calling. Major family decisions, career choices, questions about our testimony, even talks we are asked to give in sacrament meeting can all be reasons we seek and receive revelation.

The key in receiving revelation from God is an attitude of willing acceptance of the answer, regardless of what that answer may be, including the willingness to act upon the answer without doubt or hesitation. After all, we’re asking Heavenly Father what we should do or what we should believe. If he doesn’t see we’re willing to obey him, he may not give us an answer until we are.

Gramps

How do I know if I am really receiving personal revelation?

How do I know if I am really receiving personal revelation?

Question

 

Gramps,

When I have an important decision to make or just need some answers, I fast and pray and study my scriptures. When I receive what I feel is my answer, I do my best to act on it faithfully. But some of these important decisions have ended up with less than favorable outcomes, and I start to doubt my ability to receive personal revelation. So, how do I know if the ideas I receive come from Heavenly Father, or from random thoughts I would have had anyway? How do I know if I am really receiving personal revelation or not?

SoCal Girl

 

Answer

 

So Cal,

Years ago, I had an idea for a business I wanted to start. Like you, I prayed about it, studied it out legally, financially, etc. I received an answer that I thought was an approval, so I went ahead with it.

At first it was going well, but in time, it headed south and didn’t quite recover like I wanted it to. I examined the situation after I sold off the assets of the venture to find out what went wrong. I discovered that it could have been any number of things. The business could have just hit a hard financial market, my marketing and advertising could have been off the mark, I could have made basic errors throughout the process that crippled my chances of success….and on and on.

The fact is that the world is a complex place, and even when we’re doing the right thing, other influences can knock us off our feet. It’s important to remember that an answered prayer is no guarantee of success. For example, I could ask myself of my experience, did I prayerfully consider my decisions at all after I received my initial answer, or did I just shoot from the hip, so to speak? Was this business idea really supposed to be the career of my life?

Finally, I have found it true that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Thomas Edison said of his failures in making the incandescent light bulb that he didn’t see them as failures, but different ways he learned that the idea would not work.

As for receiving personal revelation, don’t give up hope, and don’t stop asking for answers. In all these struggles you’re having, try to see if there’s something else the Lord is trying to teach you. Sometimes it takes a while to see the lessons, so patience is key. Trials of faith are never easy, but the rewards for passing through them intact and full of faith are amazing.

 

Gramps

 

 

Modern revelation

Modern revelation

Dear Gramps,

I am concerned for friends of mine who say “that if a living prophet can say things that sets aside what a former prophet has said, what faith then can we take in what the prophets tell us today if their words can be set aside by a future living prophet”. My friends are wanting to only stick with the scriptures and words of Joseph Smith, saying that we are getting away from original teachings. Other then bear my testimony what else can I say?

Sincerely,

Frustrated (more…)

Revelation gone wrong

Revelation gone wrong

Gramps,

When I was being set apart to go on a mission my stake president specifically said that because of my service my marriage would come about in a special way. I wasn’t really worried about marriage at that point and never thought much about what he said. After my mission I became college room mates with a former mission companion. He set me up on a date, to a young woman who I was eventually sealed to. A decade later she divorced me for very wrong reasons. So why would this revelation come to my stake president? It’s confusing and it’s one of those revelations (and there are more) that would be better off kept unsaid because they only confuse me.

Anonymous (more…)

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