Governing Ourselves, Part 5

I’ve received dozens of communications from people asking why my site is down, who have expressed concerns over my family’s well-being. In this post I will address this topic. 

My Blog

I began this blog in 2014. I had just been released as a bishop and felt a strong inner compulsion to share some things publicly… anonymously. Initially, no one knew my identity, not even my wife. 

Candidly, I didn’t think anyone would even find, let alone read my blog and so I assumed it would just be a cathartic experience. 

I needed to at least try to share my concerns. As a bishop I had witnessed things that shook me to the very core and for my own conscience, I could not let everything I witnessed just be covered up. Not by my silence.

In my time as a bishop, I had to call the legal hotline numerous times and as a result I interacted with top church attorneys. In that process, I observed their subversive methods and learned that they would lie about and cover up even the most serious sins in order to protect themselves. 

I witnessed firsthand that they would destroy anyone that might expose them. Myself included.

Needless to say this revelation broke my heart and caused me to have a church-faith crisis.

After a Lifetime of Searching

In 2009, just before being called as a bishop, I was given a book called The Second Comforter. The person who gave me the book was an active LDS Church member (still is today) who had been a dear and trusted spiritual mentor and friend. That book led me to buying all of this author’s 7 books in print at the time, which I read in a two week period. 

I eventually went to meet this author and ended up hiring him as an attorney. He represented me in a legal matter that lasted 7 years. I was being sued by a dishonest man, while trying to provide for my family, run a struggling business, and while trying to be a good bishop in my ward. Even thinking about the experience is hard for my wife and I today.

Eventually we were vindicated and we went through more than 7 lawyers in the process. In the end only one of them stood there with me when the judge banged his gavel in our favor, literally on the last day of the 7th year of the case. 

Defending ourselves cost everything we had and left us in an unimaginably awful financial situation. It was the most painful experience we’d ever endured and yet it also became the greatest witness to us of God’s Hand in our lives.

This man’s books began to change my life and helped me get through these difficult experiences.

At the time, he was still a member in good standing in the church and was not only considered active and worthy, but his own stake president told me that “he was the best member of his stake” and he said he believed the author had indeed seen and met with the Lord. 

When this author spoke as a high councilor, people came from other stakes to hear him speak, leaving standing room only in the chapel and overflow. It was the same response for his gospel doctrine lessons. 

His message was and is one that attracts and inspires – His message saved my life, at a time when I felt hopeless. He helped me turn to Christ and in the process Christ healed me and manifested himself during my darkest hour in ways that proved to me He was there and that He knew me and that He cared for me and my family.

This man’s message spoke to my heart. I knew his words were God’s words. I recognized them. I could feel them. They softened my heart and caused me to shout praises to my Lord. They led me to repentance and even re-baptism while still a bishop. (Privately of course). 

After that private re-baptism, light began to come back into my life. This man’s message was truly everything I had looked for and waited for all of my life.

Many of you have had this same experience.

By the time I was called in 2010 as a young bishop in a Utah ward with numerous CES teachers, 50+ former bishops, the current stake presidency, former and current mission presidents, and high ranking Church general authorities, I had the most amazing, unique opportunity before me. I was granted by God a front row seat to both the Church and to this author. I interacted with both almost daily. 

In hindsight I see how truly amazing the Lord is. He provided the “perspective” I needed, given my situation and given my loyalty to the tradition I inherited from my convert parents to be devoutly loyal to the Church, no matter the cost.

When the author wrote another book called Passing the Heavenly Gift, in 2012, he asked how I liked it. By this time I had been a bishop for a couple of years. I had been teaching the principles of this author’s other books with tremendous success, all while keeping his name anonymous (which he recommended). 

I witnessed so many miracles sharing the words of this man who was simply expounding the Scriptures from beginning to end, in a prophetic attempt to cry repentance and to save souls. 

One of my dearest friends and former ward members joined this path as a result, for which I will always feel grateful. Another friend from many years ago also became acquainted with the message and believed. He was the one I trusted enough to re-baptize me under cover of night and who I knew would honor my desire to not tell my ward, my stake leaders, or even my wife. 

I needed that sacred trust to be able to approach God on my own terms. Where I was. In a safe and private place. Where He could show me whether this message was from Him or not. At the time, I felt as though my life depended on it. 

But this last book was different. It had been written, ironically, to help people stay in the Church and to convince them to not abandon faith. In the process, however, the author offered a rare faithful LDS view into the weaknesses of early church leaders and while using their own words, any reader could quickly start to see the uncomfortable truth that ultimately, the Brethren were NOT connected to heaven as was Joseph. Something importantly tragic happened to the Church as a result of the martyrdom.

I asked him if he thought he might get in trouble with this new book. He responded that he hoped not but that they might be upset by it. I then told him something I’ll never forget. I said, “I need you to know that my church membership means more to me than my own life.” 

And that’s where my mind was still in 2012 and 2013.

My affiliation with this author led to a rather abrupt and painful end to my calling. That is a whole ‘nother story I won’t share here. 

Just for some additional context, even though this man was my attorney and was defending me and my family from crooks who were trying to destroy us and even though my wife was cautiously grateful to him for that unrelenting advocacy, she at the time did not agree with his teachings and was very concerned that he might now be excommunicated and thus hurt our legal case and worse, affect my membership in the Church.

Like any thoughtful LDS person, my wife saw her temple marriage and eternal sealing to me and our kids being jeopardized. She saw that we could be ostracized in our small community. She saw the obvious potential legal peril with the church with what I witnessed. The list goes on and on and on of the sacrifices people might make for faith.

Suffice it to say, me starting a blog to both share my concerns over the Church and inspirations from this author, was something that she was not comfortable with or ready for. 

When the blog surprisingly “took off” (relative term of course), I felt like I needed to tell my wife about it. As expected, it created tremendous stress for our marriage that over the next several years we worked through. In looking back, we can both now see how those hardships helped us grow and confront issues we needed to work on.

For some time, only a handful of people knew who I was. Even today, some of our kids and many other family members have no idea. 

My main reasons for blogging ultimately though were to point to this author’s message. And to hopefully inspire people to be willing to consider the truth as it relates to the Church and to our nation in order to be more willing to listen to the only message under heaven that I believe offers salvation from the destruction fast approaching.

I tried to do it in a way that didn’t focus on me. I preferred that no one knew who I was so that those reading might be more open minded in reading my posts. Eventually nearly every post would be linked to the author’s posts and to his talks. I prayed that my awkwardness and weakness would not get in the way and that somehow, somewhere, there might be even one soul that would come unto Him, as a result.

Many of you have known who I am for many years. It’s been an interesting social experiment. Everyone has generally respected my desire and my reasons for not wanting my name linked to my website. There are others dealing with similar dynamics who have done the same. For their own reasons. Respecting my privacy and helping keep me anonymous outside of our community of believers has been so greatly appreciated. To those of you who have done so, thank you. It means a great deal.

Our journey has been our own. It’s been filled with the highest of highs and with the darkest and deepest of lows. Perhaps the greatest high for me, which is very personal and very sacred to me, is that just a few years ago, my wife of 30+ years finally joined me on this path. God converting her is perhaps the greatest miracle of my life. God heard my prayers. God heard your prayers. And most importantly, God heard HER prayers. I can literally say that God is a God of miracles and can attest to you that my wife’s testimony of this message is more mature than my own.

This blog was a small but important part of that journey. Many of you have also been an important part of our journey. 

But, sadly, someone recently decided to use my blog as a weapon. Despite our pleadings to not do so, they did it nonetheless, as a form of extortion for not giving them information they wanted regarding a private proceeding. 

My next post will tell that story. It will likely be the last blog post from this site that I’ll write. 

Until then.

Governing Ourselves, Part 4

IF by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!