A Season of Growth, Strengthening, and Pressing Forward

I write this article to inform all of those who read my website and follow my ministry that I am on a hiatus from article-writing until the coming Spring of 2017. I will resume writing articles around that time, and until then, I will be busy with many things.

My last article, written in July of this past summer, came at a time when I have been in the middle of going through much spiritual warfare and change in my life. This change is for the better. No one really has known the depth and gravity of what I have been going through, save God alone. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” What a perfect quote to describe what I have gone through! Those who may think that despair is never-ending are wrong; for I know that I will fully come through the spiritual warfare. Never before have I been able to relate to the book of Job than now. Also, I hang on to what Jesus said in the gospel of John: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

I am needing this time off from article-writing to focus on my family, my current role at work, and moving forward with things in my life. My wife, Hannah, and I are expecting another child! My wife is 15 weeks pregnant as of now, and our new child’s projected due date will be April 18, 2017. Our daughter, Ingrid, will turn 2 years old on Thanksgiving Day this year! During my time off of writing articles, I will be focusing on taking care of my family (as I have before), but there is so much going on in this season of life for me that I need to really hone in and get our house ready and rearranged for a second child.

Also, the Lord provided a new job for me on May 31, 2016 as an Enrollment Counselor here at Bethel University. I work in the Post-Traditional Admissions Office; meaning, I enroll students for our M.A. in Counseling and our M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program (the latter of which is a Bethel Seminary program). I am so excited to be in this role, and I have been blessed by so many divine opportunities and divine appointments while in this role.

Latter-Day Sense Ministry is not going away- definitely not. My calling is ministry, missions, and outreach to the Mormons, ex-Mormons, Mormons in transition, those thinking of joining Mormonism, and those who have been hurt and deceived by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My calling will not change, for He has chosen me for this life of service. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” -Matthew 22:14. God has called, and I have answered that call. I have tried to run from it, looked at other options, the Devil has tried to make me give it up, and so on. But I will no longer run from my calling any longer.

Many that I know, including family members, do not understand what God has for me to do in this life on this side of the veil. Often those closest to us do not know how to respond when we share our desires, dreams, and call in life. Take a look at Jesus Christ himself: the Bible says that He was not accepted in His own hometown. (Luke 4:24) He couldn’t even perform miracles there because of the people’s unbelief. Why? Because people were familiar with him to the point where even one man said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” (Matthew 13:55) This is because our families have seen us grow up- they know our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our spots of rebellion during our teenage years, our failures, our attempts, our losses, and they think they know what we are ‘supposed’ to be doing. After all, society says that once we graduate high school, we go to college, find a normal job, get married, have few kids, settle down in the suburbs, and lather, rinse, repeat. But my life is different from that- my calling is different. Yes, I am happily married; yes, I am a proud father; but I am meant to not just sink into a job routine in the long run- full-time ministry will take over my job one day, and I look forward to that day with patience now.

Usually family get-togethers for me can be filled with, “So what do you want to do?” And once I explain my calling to minister to Mormons and establish a ministry, I often get myriad responses. Some don’t know what to say. Some change the subject. Some say I won’t make enough money. Some deep down wonder when I’ll stop dreaming and instead sink into ‘reality’. Some just nod their head and say, “Oh… Okay…”

But then some are encouraging, which means the world. As my grandmother Lee has always said, “People often criticize what they don’t understand.” So true. If only people took a genuine interest, then they will understand.

It is often those who do not know us well or are meeting us for the first time who say, “Wow, that sounds amazing what you want to do!” If only this could come from family members, for often one close family member’s encouraging word can mean more than 1,000 confirming words from a stranger. I don’t pity myself for not having the support of every one of my family members, but what I am encouraged by is that I can use God’s calling and my life and run with it! For at the end of the day, it is not my calling, it is God’s. He gets the glory anyway, so I might as well attribute any success I have to Him.

Though I know that I am not supposed to reveal to everyone what my calling is and what my visions are for the future. After all, it can be dangerous to tell what is precious to you to just anyone. Jesus says in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

Many parents simply want us to fill their shoes, live close by for convenience, fulfill something that they didn’t get to fulfill. But when God shows up and says, “Go and do,” then I know that I know that I need to simply, “Go and do.” But “going and doing” is not that simple. Things take time. My character needs to develop. My patience needs to sharpen. My impatience needs to be eradicated.

Latter-Day Sense Ministry is not going away- it will one day expand, grow, and develop. But that time is still down the road, and I am okay with that now. I need to living where God wants me to live now. That doesn’t mean that I can’t plan for the future. After all, I am a visionary and a dreamer. This is how the Lord communicates with me. But I love the ways in which God brings an inner peace about where we are at along the journey, and I have known no one better at knowing and operating in this kind of communication with God than my wife, Hannah. We are in agreement together with what we will be doing in the future, and we know that we will be guided by God, with both God’s visions for our future, and for God’s plan for us in the here-and-now. Hannah balances me out. We balance each other out. Thank God for a wife as amazing as her! All we want is what God wants for us, and that is what we will do.

Pray for me during this time. There are a handful of Mormons who hold mid-level positions in the LDS Church who have emailed me with threats, bribes, rebukes, and even damnation over the past 3 years. One of them finally stopped after a year-and-a-half of harassing emails after my first interview out in Utah. This was after I had repeatedly told him to stop emailing me and it took him 18 months to stop emailing me. I reminded him that if Mormons believe in free agency, which is the God-given privilege for us to choose for ourselves and decide what we want to do, then he needed to respect my choice to have him stop emailing me. Things like this do not discourage me- they actually encourage me because I am on the right path and just when you start stepping into what God wants you to do, more challenges come your way! If we are not doing anything for God, we are not a threat to Satan. If we live a normal routine life, not serving the Lord, then the Devil already has us where he wants us; but if we step out in faith and serve the Lord, then we will go through things. After all, one thing that Jesus Christ promises His followers is this: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) If we follow Him, it’s a guarantee- we will have tribulation/trouble. But He overcame the world so that we could overcome the world.

What the Devil has put me through internally in the past 5 months nearly cost me my life. What the Devil had in store for me is no more. Now, what the Lord has in store for me is more. What the Lord has in store for me cannot be stolen by any person or any dark spiritual being in the heavenly places and atmosphere. We live in a seen world. Though, there is an unseen world all around us that is veiled from our eyes, and really, for our protection. If we could visibly see into the spiritual realm, we would see a war going on between God’s angels/seraphim, and Satan’s demons/fallen angels. Ephesians 6:12 says, “ For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” High places means the lower part of our atmosphere beneath the mountains, meaning, the sky above us and the sky around us. Our battle isn’t with each other, our battle is with the Devil. But, this is God’s battle to fight, for He already won the war and Jesus Christ Himself holds the keys to death and Hell. (Revelation 1:18)

Thank God for the victory!

Since the Devil has not stopped me yet, with God’s grace, I know he will never stop me- for I know the Lord God, I know my personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, and I have the Holy Spirit within me. I have been baptized with His presence- and I will always be in covenant with Jesus Christ, my King, and my God.

I will press on- I will move forward in His calling in my life, and I will always return to Him when I stumble.

I will press on- knowing that at the end of my life, as the Apostle Paul so plainly put it, I will also be able to say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

-I declare this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.-

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