I found the fascinating near-death experience of Tricia Barker yesterday morning. Her joy is contagious, so I am sharing it with you today.
At 22, Tricia was on her way to run a 10K race in Austin, Texas when she was hit head on at 65 miles per hour. She died for two and a half minutes during surgery, but came back with the story of an incredible encounter with angels and God who gave her a very clear mission.
I bought Tricia’s well-written book on audio immediately and listened to the entire recording in one day. It was heart crushing, as profound, devastating, and haunting as it was redemptive.
I was amazed and even shocked by what she has been through in her life. Some people make incredible sacrifices to be able to teach others how to live life joyfully. I believe Tricia Barker is one of those people. Her YouTube channel is Near Death Experience: Healed by the Light.
We often hear that “no man [or woman] knows the day or the hour” of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This phrase comes from Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, recorded by Mark and Matthew:
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son,1 but the Father. (Mark 13:32; see also Matthew 24:36).
What is less common is a grasp of what this and other phrases reflect about a traditional Jewish wedding.
At the time of Jesus, when a bridegroom legally betrothed a bride, the last thing he would say to her is, “I go to prepare a place for you.”2 Well, that sounds familiar. Jesus echoed these last words of the bridegroom during the Last Supper:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2; emphasis added.)
After the betrothal, the two were legally married but the bridegroom would not see her again until the marriage feast, which would happen immediately after he was finished building a house where the two would live. It often took a year to build the new home and was usually attached to the house of the bridegroom’s father.
It is also commonly understood by Christians that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church represents His bride. He is already betrothed to His bride but the marriage feast—His Second Coming—has not yet happened, but perhaps soon will.
Back to the marriage tradition. A friend of the bridegroom would often visit the bride and update her on the progress of the couple’s new house. She, her family, and those close to her would then know when the time was short and would be prepared for the announcement of the wedding feast.
The bridegroom’s father would inspect the construction of the new home and once it was completed to his satisfaction, the marriage feast could take place. In this sense, no one knew the day or hour of the wedding feast except the bridegroom’s father, as he was the one to ultimately decide when the house was ready and worthy of the bride. (Reminds me of the parable of the marriage of the king’s son in Matthew 22:1–14.)
Once ready, heralds would shout the good news that the bridegroom’s procession would soon arrive to lead the bride to her new home:
Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord. (Doctrine and Covenants 133:10; see also v. 19.)
The waiting period between the announcement and the procession’s arrival was no later than a half hour.3 This is reminiscent of the silence for half an hour before Christ’s glorious appearance at his coming (see Revelation 8:1; Doctrine and Covenants 88:95). This means that the bride had to be well prepared and ready for the bridegroom shortly after the announcement came to her ears (compare the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25:1–13).
Likewise, the time to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—is now. I believe the time is short. We have had plenty to warn the senses in 2020, have we not? When will the Father declare that His Son’s house is ready?
Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12.)
It is my faith that if we take the Holy Ghost as our guide, and repent of what is keeping us from having the Spirit with us from day to day, we will be prepared:
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. (Doctrine and Covenants 45:56, 57.)
The Joseph Smith Translation deletes the phrase “neither the Son.” The other synoptic gospel, Luke, does not record this verse.
How about a real change of pace? We all could take a break from 2020.
It’s hard to believe that Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” was released over 30 years ago. I’m really impressed by Jason “Magic” Jones’ hard rock cover of the classic. I keep listening to it over and over. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
I got to know Jason recently when he helped me record an audio book. My first. He made the experience so easy, I am excited to record another one with him soon.
Check out Art City Sound. He has a great studio and the view from his place is absolutely stunning.
Over the last few months, the Lord’s Spirit has whispered these words to me, “Brace yourself.” These words have been repeated to me many times. I am taking them quite seriously.
In the last two weeks, I’ve encountered videos online where two unrelated people have witnessed that they are hearing the same prophetic words, “Brace yourself.” I can’t help but feel that I must take these words and these times very seriously.
I appreciated very much these two videos by Michal B. Rush which he published earlier this month (July 2020). He briefly puts into clear context the prophecies in 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, and 3 Nephi regarding the last days and what we can expect when the remnant of Israel which will return before Christ’s Second Coming. These are great reminders of how seriously we need to take the scriptures, study them for ourselves, and not put off our devotion to learning and understanding them any longer. The time is short. In my heart I feel that the days of the Lord’s forbearance are few.
I am doing my best to be prepared, to brace myself as I have been instructed. I would not be surprised if some of the readers of this blog have heard and are heeding the same or similar words from the Holy Spirit in the last few months.
I cannot speak to your experience, but the sun-bright message of the Lord to me is “the time to prepare is right now.” The season of taking His counsel lightly has passed, but rest assured, we can find protection and peace in His sacred Word and in our covenants with Him.
The intrigues, criminal enterprises, and secret combinations of those we normally would trust at the highest levels of our governments, worldwide are soon to be revealed, much to the shock of the world. As a friend and someone who cares for your spiritual safety, I repeat: Brace yourself.
I love the United States of America. My country, your country, our country—the country that enshrined true freedom in the soul of the world.
She is not without flaws. We are painfully aware of her sins, misdeeds, and even atrocities—but that does not wipe out the goodness of her people, or the billions of gracious things her citizens have done for their fellow citizens around the world. She is the best thing that freedom loving people have ever had going for them on this planet.
I stand with her. I believe in her. I always have and always will. May God bless and forgive her, today and forever.
Please enjoy this new recording of “God Bless the USA” featuring Lee Greenwood, the Singing Sergeants, and Home Free. Recorded in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Nashville on June 30, 2020. Lyrics below. From the YouTube channel George.
I cannot listen to this recording without crying.
If tomorrow all my things were gone, I’d worked for all my life. And I had to start again, With just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars, To be livin’ here today. Where the flag still stands for freedom, And they can’t take that away.
And I’m proud to be an American, Where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, Who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up, Next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.
From the lakes of Minnesota, To the hills of Tennessee. Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston, And New York to L.A. Well there’s pride in every American heart, And its time we stand and say.
That I’m proud to be an American, Where at least I know I’m free. And I wont forget the men who died, Who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up, Next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.
I was reading last week about a dream that a young missionary had while in the Missionary Training Center (MTC). Here’s what his mission president reported it:
This elder of ours from southern Idaho had been serving in a neighboring mission. The creation of new Scottsdale and Gilbert missions in 2013 resulted in boundary adjustments throughout Arizona and into New Mexico. This happened just before our use of digital devices. This elder was among 18 missionaries who joined us from a neighboring mission that would not be using digital technology.
After the iPads were distributed zone-by-zone to our missionaries, he sent me an email citing a journal entry recounting a dream he had while in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He had dreamed about being among missionaries gathered in a meetinghouse cultural hall, where they were each given an iPad and directed to do online proselyting on social media platforms, such as Facebook. He ended his entry noting he woke up and said, “Yeah, like that will ever happen.”
It did happen — through boundary realignments and a reassignment, he joined the Arizona Phoenix Mission that was using tablets. He then used online methods to share the gospel from Arizona to his hometown friend in Idaho.
From an email from the Church News, “The Power of Missionaries on the Internet,” by managing editor Scott Taylor, June 23, 2020.
This reminds me of something the prophet Joel told us centuries ago:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
We are living in the prophetic times that Joel saw. The Spirit of the Lord is present in the lives of His saints who are seeking His will and His face. The gifts of God are available to anyone who will prepare to receive them.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. If we are discerning, we can see the same breed of wolf lurking among us today that Paul saw in the early church, that is, wolves in sheep’s clothing, tearing apart the flock. He once warned the early saints of Ephesus:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous [vicious, savage, fierce] wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28–30; emphasis added.)
He also spoke of certain characters arising to speak perverse—distorted, twisted—things, seeking to draw away followers after them. The times and technology have changed, but people have not.
The goal of this post is to help free someone, anyone, from the jaws of such wolves in the last days, from those who would lead us away from Jesus Christ.
How can we discern between a true follower of the living Christ and someone who has hidden, dark motives? How can we know when someone is telling us the truth or is not telling the truth? We can know them by their fruits, as Jesus warned.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15–20.)
I have struggled to discern this dichotomy since my teens. After trial and error, I’ve come up with a chart of “fruits.” Here it is. The characteristics on the left are positive while the ones on the right are the opposite, negative characteristic. An honest, reliable person will show more traits from the left column and a dishonest, unreliable person will hover over the right. None of us will fit perfectly in either column, but it can help us pick up on trustworthy trends.
Are they . . . ?
Or are they . . . ?
Immodest, showing off
No regard for personal gain
Covetous, greedy, taking personal gain
Impatient or exasperated
Abusive, insulting, threatening
It’s tricky business. People just don’t fit easily in one column or the other. A wolf may not demonstrate all the characteristics on the right, but he or she will show many of them. We all tend to show up on both sides. I’m talking about spotting trends and tendencies, not putting people in boxes.
This isn’t virtue signaling. I’m not pretending to fit 100 percent in the left column. I am just saying I’ve come to know the difference.
I have met and discerned some wolves over the years. They didn’t know they were wolves, but they were. Some have led people away from the Church, unwittingly or knowingly. Some are in prison.
Earlier, I’ve called anti-Mormon literature, so called, scornograpghy. I believe it is just as damaging as pornography. Does pornography contain elements of beauty? Perhaps it does. But it’s sinister purpose is to pervert human relationships, to conquer, addict, and enslave men and women to be preoccupied with a distorted view of sex. Does scornography contain elements of truth? Perhaps it does. But it’s sinister purpose is to pervert and twist the truth to make something to appear other than it is, to seduce, conquer, and enslave your emotions so that hatred, spite, fear, and unbelief fester where love once flourished.
So stop fooling yourselves! Evil companions will corrupt good morals and character. (1 Corinthians 15:33, TPT.)
Please don’t mistake my intent. Good people make mistakes, sometimes big ones. Good people commit crimes. Every human being is a disappointment, to themselves and others. It’s the nature of mortality. I make it a personal rule to not drink in other people’s vices, to allow the bad behavior of any person, living or dead, to diminish my connection with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I also choose to not judge anyone. Judging another is an arrogant gambit. Assuming that we know enough to judge another is a shallow, conceited act.
Think about it . . .
Adam and Eve did something they were forbidden to do, but mankind is on the planet because of it.
Noah built an ark and saved a generation, but later he got drunk and lost his clothes in the process.
Moses led Israel through the Red Sea, but later gave himself a little too much credit.
David slew Goliath but was later slew himself with lust. But he repented and stayed faithful for the remainder of his life.
Judas, one of the twelve apostles, turned out to be a thief and betrayed his Master for 30 pieces of silver. He hung himself the next day.
Peter denied knowing Christ, but went on to boldly testify of Him and die a martyr’s death.
Paul hauled early Christians to prison, some to their deaths, but his New Testament letters have converted millions to Christ.
Blah blah blah. So what? Just because someone does something bad, or something I can’t understand, doesn’t erase the immeasurable good they have done or may do. Our mistakes, our sins, don’t define us. The healing power of Jesus Christ defines us.
Since I was a small child, I have never let other people form my views and opinions for me. Not my parents. Not my friends. Not my closest intimates. I was a subversive kid.
But I do not trust scorners or their writings or their videos, no matter how clever and sophisticated or convincing they are. I have learned, through research and experience, that I cannot trust what they say. I’m not going to buy what they are selling or drink their poison. I sincerely try to listen intently to the voice of the Lord and try my best to trust, understand, and follow that voice.
I am a sinner, but first and foremost, I am a believer. I always have been a believer, in God and in His word. I hope I never stop believing—or trying to move myself into the left column. I have a good ways to go. But at least I know this: “From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul told us “that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). Other translations render the word perilous as times of stress, hard, grievous, dangerous, distressing, difficult, extremely fierce, terrible, terrifying, and violent. I think it’s evident to any watchful believer in Christ that we are in the last days and that we are currently living through “perilous times.”
In his letter to fellow disciple Timothy, Paul went on to list what to look for in these times (see 2 Timothy 3:2–9). What we are seeing in on our city streets right now—vandalism, rioting, looting, violence, and murder, under the banner of a worthy cause—is a reflection of Paul’s list. We seem to be at a precipice.
Let’s review that list. I’ll add synonyms from other translations (other than the King James version) and my own comments along the way. You can decide for yourself if you are a witness of prophetic times:
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves” — selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered, the opposite of the love Christ shows to us
“covetous” — obsessed lovers of money, desiring the rightful property or relationships of others
“lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” — self-indulgent, sensual, led away by a variety of lusts, preferring physical pleasure over loving, honoring, and serving their Creator
“having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” — pretending to be holy, acting like followers of God or higher principles but denying, mocking, and abusing God’s power
Paul advises us “turn away” from such and tells that this “folly shall be manifest unto all men.” I believe Paul meant we should turn away from people who behave and live like this, but I also think it means we must turn away from all these evils ourselves. This isn’t about judging others; it’s about living for Christ.
Turning away, for me, includes turning off the popular media voices who want to flip our world upside down while claiming to be full of virtue. I believe among the politically righteous there are wolves in sheep’s clothing, matching Paul’s descriptions of self-congratulating end-times characters.
We are and have been misled and deceived on a massive scale. Could this current unrest—a good measure of which appears to be legitimate protests co-opted by more nefarious actors—be an attempt to distract a nation from what is really going on behind closed doors? I believe it is.
If we deny our Creator, we will remain “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Always learning something new but forgetting God. Always seeking “the truth” but coming up unhappy and short. “These also resist the truth” because they are “men of corrupt minds, reprobate [lost] concerning the faith” of Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the way [and] the truth” (John 14:6). If we want to find the truth, we have to first find ourselves in Him. There is no other way. Any other path is a false path.
There is hope for all of us through Christ, through humility and faith on His name, the faith to exercise sincere repentance and obedience to Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and God.
I invite you, plead with you, to turn or return your heart to Jesus Christ so you may be led away from the coming calamity. This is not doom and gloom: this is a way out.
Be safe and lean on Jesus. I promise to do my best to follow my own advice.