Monday, April 24, 2017

The Parable of the Medallion



       There is a parable that the Lord shared with me on Jan 4th, 2014. My daughter was taking a nap and I was reading scriptures and praying. While in the midst of this I fell asleep. I had one long continuous dream that was separated into different sections. Each section was related to the next but each also revealed something different. I'm leaving out a few parts that pertained to me personally but I am sharing the parts that had a broader message. The second part of the dream is where this begins. Christ was there standing beside me and He was showing me things. We watched a scene together. While we both stood watching the story unfold the Lord shared insights about what we were watching. The scene zoomed in and focused on a particular man in a community of believers who were seeking after God. I was a part of this same community.


        "There was a man whom the Savior loved very much. The man was on a quest to find his lord. During his quest he became acquainted with the idea of a medallion . It was a medallion that one could wear around around their neck. He wanted the medallion because he was told that it would endow the one who wore it with power from on high and he greatly desired this. During his pursuit for the medallion he began to lose himself in the search. The Savior stood by watching and waiting for the man to look and find Him there but the man did not see Him standing there. The Adversary also stood by and watched the man in search for the medallion. Satan was happy to find the man so focused in his search for the object of his desire. He devised a plan to place in the mans path the object the man was searching for. As time went on the man became completely consumed by his search. He never looked down to notice that the clothes he was wearing were tattered and torn and that he was covered in dirt. The Savior still stood by waiting for the man to look over and find Him standing there but he still did not see Him. Then one day at last, he found the medallion and was delighted that his search finally paid off. He put it on himself. When he put it on something powerful did indeed happen. The medallion seemed to magnify all of the desires of his heart and he was completely corrupted by it until he became the object of his desires and he and the medallion became one. After this his identity became lost. He was no longer recognizable as the foolish and weak man on a quest to find his lord. He had become an anti-christ fully and completely working against the Savior and His purposes.  He went about attacking those who testified of what they witnessed of his transformation and what he had become." After this scene ended the dream shifted and I was shown another separate but related scene that I will share next but for now I wanted to offer a couple keys of understanding that were given to me in order to understand this parable and scene more fully.

    Some understanding was given to me by the Lord as we watched the scene but a fuller understanding was given to me later as I prayed and pondered over what I had heard and seen. I originally had a lengthy explanation and discussion of these scenes and the parables themselves written out to help whoever reads this to come to the understanding that I was given over time but after taking more time to think about and pray about how the Lord would have me share this I decided I would instead share some scriptures that I was given and leave the rest to the reader to interpret and come their own conclusions about the parable with the aid of the Holy Ghost.

         The scriptures that came to mind were from Doctrine and Covenants 121.

34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
      Later I came across a quote from Oliver Cowdery giving further context to what Joseph received which is written in Doctrine and Covenants 85. I copied his quote in my journal. Oliver wrote about this passage in January 1834: "Brother Joseph says that the item in his letter that says that the man that is called and puts forth his hand to steady the ark of God, does not mean that anyone had at that time but it was given for a caution to those in high standing to beware lest they should fall by the shaft of death as the Lord had said. " (Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Vol 2, p 320, footnote 161.)

   I have often heard this caution given to church members with the context of the caution changed to mean that lay church members have no right to voice disagreements about things done in the church and that only those with certain authority or positions within the church are allowed to have such a voice. This attitude is backwards to the nature of the warnings given within these verses. In both doctrine and covenants 121 as well as Doctrine and Covenants 85 the warnings are given to those "who have been called" and those who "have authority as they suppose".  The warnings in Doctrine and Covenants 121 are clearly directed towards priesthood holders. The verses in doctrine and covenants 85 are specifically directed towards those who have been called to the " High Priesthood." If the verses themselves are not clear enough as to whom the warnings are directed towards Oliver Cowdery's quote offers yet further context and another witness as to the nature of the warnings as a caution to those "in high standing."

      That being said, I believe there are applicable lessons from these verses that can and should be applied to each of our lives about how we should approach trying to influence others and the troubles that follow whenever any of us seek to use control or compulsion and thereby seek to remove another persons agency. I have found these verses incredibly instructive in my role as a parent and I strive to learn how to implement them in my daily life. I fail often but welcome the lessons that come through the introspection of those failures. I recognize that those who have been called to such positions in the church have a greater burden and responsibility placed upon their shoulders and I have compassion for them and pray for them. I'm grateful for the efforts of those who are called to serve. I have been blessed to know local leaders and church members who are the humble followers of Christ.  People who know me personally know it is not in my nature to want to assume the worst of anyones motives but the warnings that are offered in those verses are not from me. They are from the Lord who is a reader of the intents and thoughts of the heart. I seek to judge no one and leave that to God but I do disagree with some teachings and practices within the church and believe it is my right to disagree and to do it openly in the light of day. This is a right afforded by the Constitution of the United States which I believe was brought about by the hand of God.  I have no standing over others  from which to use to control, coerce or persecute others and I would not want the kind of standing or authority that would permit me to do so. I have a hard enough time just figuring out how to be a good wife, parent, and daughter of God. I am grateful those things alone remain my personal struggle.
 

             That's all I will comment on in regards to those verses and the parable I shared. I'll move on to the next scene I was shown:

         I saw a city. It was run down and poverty stricken. People were walking the streets in tattered clothing and were all bare footed. The buildings in the city all were run down and neglected except for one building. It was a church building. When I approached it, it reminded me of a catholic church somewhat and yet I knew it wasn't. I understood when I saw it and entered in that it was really a universal church. It was all the earthly churches in one. It represented what they all inevitably become over time. Once inside I came upon some priests. They were dressed in priestly apparel. Their dress was very fine with expensive fabrics and ornate designs. I came to a veil that was red in color. I saw a poor woman approaching one of the priests. She was desperate for food for her children and she was participating in sexual acts with the corrupt priest in exchange for food so she could feed her family. I was completely horrified by what I saw. I then saw another priest who had become aware of the first priests actions and approached him. I was so relieved at first thinking he would confront him, put a stop to this and help the poor women and children. 
          Instead of putting a stop to things he only intended to use the information to bribe the first priest for his gold and silver. He did not care for the women or the children at all. He didn't care for the poor, the needy, and the destitute. As I observed the scene I was given to know what was in his heart and what he was thinking. I knew he had already devised a plan to steal the first priests wealth if the bribe didn't work. For both priests their ambitions and lusts were all they seemed to be focused upon. Both priests didn't hesitate to extort others and use their institutional positions over others to get gain. The impression and message that rang through loud and clear as the scene unfolded was that they were ALL corrupt. I had supposed the second priest would act as a savior to the woman and that the desires of his heart would be better than the firsts but my expectations had been wrong. The scenes that I witnessed within this universal church were focused upon the priests. After this I saw the world around and how most people were just out for themselves. Mens hearts were failing them and everybody seemed to be left to their own devices. It was truly a sad and depressing scene. The next part of the dream was something that pertained personally to me again and then I woke up. When I awoke I remembered it all with such clarity that it surprised me.


 
            Just as reflection and prayer about the previous scene had brought scriptures and insights to mind so had this one. Multiple prophecies and scriptures from the Book of Mormon have come to mind but I'll post these from Mormon 8:

         
           34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.
35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.
            I'll just leave those verses and I won't say anymore other than to say that I believe these prophecies were truly written for our day and our benefit so we could avoid the judgements that will surely come not just to the nation and to the world but to those of us who believe the Book of Mormon is the inspired word of God but fail to apply it to our lives. President Monson recently shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon during general conference. I appreciated his testimony and I gladly add my voice to his about this book:

         “This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.” 
                 

         

 
       



           
         

              
           


           
     
           
         
       








   




   

                 

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