By Rod Johnson

Rodric believes Moroni included special instruction for Modern times and wants to share his unique perspective the same way Moroni shared in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Getting Personal With Christianity: Who is my neighbor?

Conflict resolution has to start with somebody. It might as well be me. 

One of my neighbors blasted vulgar music throughout the entire cul-de sac. I could hear the rancorous lyrics with all the windows closed as they rattled through.

I opened the front door and it assaulted me! I screamed across the cul-de sac to no avail until I said: "Cut that Crap off!"

Two young people, one adult and the other a teen approached. The young woman calmly expressed "My momma pays rent just like you do over here. I will turn it down, but not off."

Upset, I determined rent has nothing to do with blasting the neighborhood with profane music.
"Blast your music in your rented house then," I spit back at her.
As she spoke I smelled liquor and knew that I would not be able to reason with her. "You reek of liquor," came out of my mouth with such venom and judgment that she started to become emotionally volatile.

I warned them, "I am calling the police!" She continued to use vile language because I had upset her when she had approached me with a measure of reason on her side. "Get off," I said pointing to the yard of my rented property.
I was amazed at level of anger and how wickedly I behaved toward my neighbor. I even had my shirt off like I was going to fight!

The boy that was with her had concern in his eyes because we knew each other, but I dismissed that because of the woman cursing at me for telling her what to do at her mother's rented house while standing in front of my rented house.

I called the police, 911. I told them what was going on and was directed to the non-emergency line.
The NON-emergency line! It was not an emergency.

I thought about the police coming to my rented house or going to their rented house. We are both Americans with African descent. They were drinking and playing loud music. I was upset about it, that young woman had become crass and combative.

Those young boys at that house were large, tall, Black boys--intimidating to those who may not know them. They fit the profile for cops to shoot as has been in the news. I did not know what type of cop would pitch up if I called--the nice ones that ask them to keep the music down or the authoritative ones that would agitate things further.

I changed my mind and repented. I waited until I knew I was calm and went out to where there were about seven young men and women talking.
I saw Ree, the intoxicated and easily agitated woman to whom I spoke and apologized for my threatening language. I made peace. We are neighbors.

I can stand up for decency without involving anger and the police.
The last thing I want is to be the means of sending someone to jail or worse, death!

Black lives do matter. I did not understand what that meant until today. I don't agree with the organization that sponsors the big national movement, but I do agree that my neighbor's life matters more to me than for her to go to jail because she is inebriated and not fully intellectually there while being Black.

When I think of Black Lives, I think of all people of color. I think of my son and his friends also, who are Caucasian. My son's life matters to me and to them. His Black life matters. We are all connected by our associations. All lives matter.

My neighbor's life matters enough to try and resolve the issue peacefully rather than call the police immediately like did.

My neighborhood has seen enough conflict without bringing in the police. The police are out every night trying to catch fleeing criminals and I had the audacity to call them because my neighbor played her music too loudly!

The scriptures tell me to love my neighbor as I love myself. I would not want someone to call the police on me for playing my music too loudly. I would want that irritated person to come to me and tell me to turn it down respectfully.

I did not do that, but I made amends and repented of attempting to treat my neighbor differently than I would want to be treated.
O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit... there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge... Mosiah 2:32-33 
If I had continued to list to obey the evil spirit of pride that wanted to avenge my wounded ego that Ree used foul language and was inebriated publicly blasting loud music, events that followed could have radically changed her life and mine.

I would have died in my sins--figuratively first, of course --because hatred would rear its ugly head each time we saw each other. The kids would have felt awkward to associate anymore since the youngest son and daughter of that family went to school and Young Women's activities at church with my daughters. I could have started a rift that would destroy my own family's life.

My punishment for giving into this pride would have been no peace. I talked causally with the youth for about 20 minutes following my apology. I was introduced to another neighbor that I did not know. I was showered with attention and hails of respect.

One young man said that most people would have just called the police rather than talk to them. They all were shocked that I of all the neighbors went out to tell them anything about the music or the police.

I found that they held me, and my family in high esteem. I did not know that, but because I repented, I found out something good about my neighbors that I did not know before or would not have known had I crossed that line into feuding.

They are people. All we have to do is speak respectfully and try to come to a mutual agreement so that we can all feel comfortable in the neighborhood.

Ree, ol' crazy self, told me that she was ready for the police. She, of course, was drunk. I noticed that the other people there, mostly youth, were not drunk or drinking.  I at least know now that they are not bad people as has been rumored to me--at least were not towards me. That is a different issue, though....

Diabetes Leads to Health Problems: Be Warned. The pictures are very Graphic of my Wound

 Off to the right of these words, you will see the result of a abscess the formed on my right foot and became infected.

Okay, actually, what you are seeing is the result of two surgeries and a wound vac.

My foot has healed to a degree now where I can walk, but the scare still remains. Twice I had to go to a doctor and have surgery on my foot because of my weak immune system and the disease that makes it so, Diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic physical illness that describes a malfunction in the way the body's blood uses sugar. Genetically, I was predisposed to this disease.

There are many of you out thee, African Americans, Native Americans, Samoans--all Pacific Islanders, who are more predisposed than others to developing Type II Diabetes.

If you are not eating healthily and exercising regularly the likelihood of something like what you see to the right happening to you at a younger age is higher. This happened to me in my thirties.

If you are fat, not overweight, fat... you are at risk.

Look, a muscular person is overweight. You know you are not just overweight if your belly is hanging out and you have enough tire around your waist to supply the needs of a small city!

Eat right. Exercise. Don't go to the gym one time in the whole year and lie to yourself that because you keep a membership you are tying to stay fit. Actually go. Find something to do to get moving a few hours a day.

Your doctor will tell you to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.  Do more. The only reason they tell us to do that 30 minutes is because telling us to get out for a few hours will cause us to mentally freeze.

You know good and well that thirty minutes of activity a day will not cause you to be fit. What it will do is stop you from being a couch potato. Find a health level you want to maintain, and maintain it before it gets too late and you end up like I have with diabetic health complications.

Do not let genetics and an unhealthy life lead you down a medically frustrating road or even death.

It took months to get back to walking and is taking years to get to a physical condition to take care of myself.

It is not just the wounds that get you because they heal. It is the emotional losses that come into play when you cannot work in the way to which your are accustomed.

It comes into play when you loose the ability to run or jump because the feeling in your extremities has diminished. I know people have found ways to overcome limitations, but with diabetes one complication comes after another. They compound after so many years and even start to be the cause of new issues themselves!.

To my Black people, my Latino and Polynesian people and to my Native American people... We are all more prone to this disease of Diabetes. Be warned! Diabetes is just the BEGINNING of our woes if we don't catch it early and postpone it--even prevent it.

To my kids, eat right or you will end up like daddy.

Getting Personal With Christianity # 8: I Trust Dreams

I dreamed a dream that caused me to think that I will soon be disappointed by a church leader who I esteem highly and should be prepared for it.
Akiane Kramarik vision of Jesus
I know that telling the interpretation of the dream before revealing the dream is not the way Joseph the 11th son of Israel did it, but I felt that I wanted to get it out of the way before I started talking about the dream and talking of dreams in general.
I believe that God communicates to us not only by feelings in our hearts, impressions to our minds, or direct speech, but also through dreams and vision. Since both dreams and visions are highly subjective and colored by the culture in which we live, God provides an interpreter of dreams.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

The gift of the Holy Ghost is the privilege—given to people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, been baptized, and been confirmed as members of the Church—to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost.
How do I know my dream was from God? Well, it is simple. I have the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I can discern if something pertaining to me is from God or just mental release of stored information, which is what dreams normally are.
I am not a prophet, nor do I claim special privilege that other people cannot have. I just know that the dream, or I will write revelation has relevance to me and I am getting personal with my Christianity and sharing it here. 

I did meditate on it and inquired of God if it was okay for me to share my dream. I felt it would be okay. One thing I have learned when dealing with God is that He does not give me things if I cannot keep most of what He gives to myself. ...unless He expressly wants what He gives shared.

You know how crazy people would think I was if I shared everything that God gave to me? I am referring to other Christians too, who would think me insane--let alone the non-believers! If I say that God spoke to me last night, and I have before, I get the raise brow and the knowing nod. 

If I say I felt like God was telling me something, I get approval--almost like if it came down to it I could recant it and say that I was mistaken about my impression without hurting my image or trying the faith of another person. I have misinterpreted things I have received too, but that is a different issue to be addressed.

God Always Does Things with Purpose.
God would not just give me a dream, answer to a prayer, or commandment without there being a purpose behind it in some way towards my benefit and salvation. Now, that goes for everyone on the planet too. 

Every revelation that is from God that humanity has the honor to read or hear has come to us through necessity. Moses had his visions so that he could lead and teach the Israelites after hundreds of years of slavery to be a free people under God.

Joseph Smith had his visions to restore the Church of Christ on the earth with its accompanying priesthood authority from God. God waited on both men to be ready to receive His communications, as he does for all of us--He waits until we can handle it.

What we choose to do with the information after He gives it to us determines how much more He will give to us. The last thing He will do is overload us or overwhelm us with knowledge.

He wants us to be able to gain understanding, which is why I try unsuccessfully to live the Gospel perfectly. By that I mean, I don't repent each time I make a mistake right away; otherwise, I pray too much and ask for forgiveness to think I am going anywhere but Celestial Glory, but that is another topic.

What is the Dream!  I know, I know...
There I was at the home of my stake president with my wife and kids. For some reason we were there doing some type of activity with our families that I did not pay attention to very well.  My wife and I were sitting in the same room with our stake president talking about some particular issue while the president had one of his small children, struggling with him to get the child to comply with some command. It looked like the child was resisting him as he tried to finish dressing him.

As I sat there listening to the president talk, he threw some mild profanity at the child. My wife then exclaimed an affectionate reprimand, "Oh, my Bishop." 
She may have only said those words in the dream, but the president and I understood those three words to mean more. She preached a sermon of loving forgiveness and warning to try to be better. 
In the dream I understood her using the title of bishop instead of president since he was also our bishop before he became the stake president. It was a term of endearment so to speak. He understood the reprimand and apologized for using the language and my wife and he moved on to discuss, whatever it was. I don't remember from the dream.

The president still struggled with the child who fought him on every angle. This same child spoke with us as an intelligent person, but transformed between being a young child and an older one. He was very obstinate, but not wicked as I could tell from the feelings that came off of him.

The president let out a few strings of expletives and I did not know how to receive him after that. I lowered my gaze away from him as he spoke further. My wife again reprimanded him in the words, "Oh, my Bishop!"
After speaking with us for some time, the president asked me, "Rod, what do you think?" He referred to the ongoing conversation we had of which I do not recall. 
I reflected on his question for some time and then said. "I don't know. I can't get passed what you did. I cannot even make eye contact with you because I am so disappointed."

That was all I said, but since it was a dream, it was not all I communicated. In those words I communicated that I was shocked that he would speak to his child in such a crude manner and yet expect me not to comment on it. 
I communicated that I was ashamed and hurt by the experience because I was expected to still view him as a Christian leader to direct my spiritual paths. I communicated hurt and sheer shame!

He replied, "I understand and am glad that you were honest with your feelings."
That was all he said, but what I understood was him thanking me for being willing to point it out and be honest with him instead of glossing it over and having a bad experience later. He admitted to not being perfect and still struggling with life's issues though God had called him to be in the position he held. He apologized sincerely and humbly sough my forgiveness, which I gave.
I left his home with my wife and family afterwards feeling satisfied with him, but aware also that he was VERY human and in need of God's grace as much as anyone else.

That brings me back to:
I dreamed a dream that caused me to think that I will soon be disappointed by a church leader who I esteem highly and should be prepared for it.

The Lord gives multiple interpretations of Dreams and visions
After I thought about it for a while, I put myself in the position of the president and took all of that first impression out of my mind. One of my children became the “me-character” in the dream but my wife remained the same. 

I wonder if my children see me the way I saw the president. I wonder because they see all of me. They have seen me at my lowest and at my best. I am their spiritual guide. The older they get, the more imperfections they see in me.

My wife is my eternal companion and we are both more prone to be tolerant of each other than other people would be including our children who will eventually grow up and move away. 

My wife and I forgive each other of each infraction because we understand life a little more than our children in many respects.
Maybe I was supposed to see it that way also. I know that I cannot hide my imperfections from my children, but I should be quick to apologize if I make a mistake and move to help the children learn from my mistakes and move on. 

So, I dreamed a dream that caused me to think that I will soon disappoint one of my children and should be prepared for it. 
...prepared to ask forgiveness. 
...prepared to let my children understand that I am in as much need of the grace of God as anyone.

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Getting Personal With Christianity: Spiritual Apostasy # 8

One of the most depressing things that I recently learned is that one of the youths that I watched grow up and get married in the temple no longer believes in God.

Many people I know over the years that have left the church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for one reason or another. Most of them have left due to transgression--the ones that I know, which includes family members.

Leaving the church is one thing; but denying God...

It is different with this couple that I mention--it is different knowing that one if not both deny God. I did not grow up with these people. It is worse than that; I watched them mature and become beautiful young adults. I participated in ordinances with them and received edification from their testimonies.

It feels like I just discovered that my own child rejected God!

How does that affect me?

The Explanation

At one time, a brief time, I did not believe there was a god. I could not fathom there being one because of the lack of understanding I had of the Plan of Salvation at the time, but I did not know that I lacked knowledge then.

I thought of how cruel it would be for some supreme being, who could be some malevolent beast that watched in amusement while humanity suffered. I was afraid most of the time because I could not come to grips on what to think! I thought or believed many things depending on the mood or book I was reading.

I believed that there were intelligent beings who planted humanity here as a colony and forgot about us through some great cataclysm or maybe they monitored our progress for some unknown purpose for the future.  I later saw an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where that was the origin of all the humanoid species. I really am a Star Trek Geek! I loved that episode.

I then thought that there was nothing. Evolution happened on this planet and through natural selection, the Homo sapiens beat out all of the other humanoids believed to have inhabited this sphere. I read books and snippets on the web about how the different races evolved, first the Negro, then the Caucasoid and then the Mongoloid.

I trusted the sources of my information and believed that the Asian races were the best of humanity being the youngest form of human evolution. I thought of my own race as the legacy group that evolved from the apes. I am not going to go into the therapy that I had to have after that.

I was confused and believed almost anything, except in a god. That made no sense that some magical being existed. I would prefer a Superman or a Batman to that!

I know how I felt without God in my life. I felt free! I felt free to do anything and be anything! I was the master of my own life and I answered to no person, until...

...until I realized that there were other people out there who controlled my life and that I was the master of nothing

...until I started truly being affected by the racist human origins teachings I had read.

...until I started feeling alone and lost in a sea of philosophies!

Without God in my life, I was my own source of strength or lack thereof.

The Weird Jealousy

I capitulated and began to believe in a supreme manifestation. I sought out spiritualism. I finally settled on Islam, because, I NEEDED to worship something!  I could not live without a god.

After a string of events and manifestations, I was converted back to Christianity and received an undeniable witness that God is alive and well and very much in control of this tiny planet.

One of my issues, my nagging problem was I could not make it without God. It became an issue with me needing God! I would feel like I am cheating life when I prayed to God and received answers to my prayers and divine help in a hard situation. I would dismiss many blessings as coincidence when I was without God in my life, but now, I could not.

I felt ashamed when I prayed over a test or to overcome a hard problem. I was ashamed because when I found God, He answered all, and I mean ALL of my prayers immediately!

Anything I prayed about, I received! I am not talking about getting answers that I can see the Hand of God in if I worked backwards. I would ask for money and I would get money. I asked for my car to start working once, and it started working.

I was ashamed! Other people did not need God like I did, I thought. They could excel with no prayers, which fortified in me that I was the weak legacy chain in human evolution. My ancestors were slaves because of a divine curse I was taught in my Protestant church. I thought little of that until I joined my current church and the priesthood ban was added to that teaching--along with the false teachings that we hedge around it to justify it having happened.


The weird jealousy I had when I first converted to God came back! I actually started think again about how I could not live without a god. 

I did not think that I was less of a person for that truth, but I did have familiar feelings of mourning. I felt betrayed by the missionaries who taught me for telling me to speak to God for the first time. I could not go back. 

I know there is God and I could not un-know it! I could deny it. I could ignore it; but I know it. 

I recall once wanting to go back to my without-God-in-my-life days and feeling angry that God was there answering my prayers! I tried, but I could not ignore the fact that He revealed Himself to me and an unmistakable way!

I was jealous of people who did not believe in God. They were in ignorant bliss. I longed for that! Life is some much simpler when there is no purpose to it.

I accept that this life is not all that there is, but sometimes it is so easy to wish that it was. I think of that couple that I saw married in the temple making those promises... I wonder if they ever believed in God.

I wonder that because I tried not to believe in Him. Now that I know He is there I need Him. He is the only One who can help me to continue living my life in a productive way following this life.

I still think sometimes, "What if it is all a great big lie!"

I then remember that no one forced me to talk to God. I went to Him seeking and He revealed Himself to me. I know that I can do things where I can make it so that I cannot feel His Holy Spirit. I can make it so that I cannot hear the answers to my prayers. Heck, if I stop praying I can make it so that I doubt ever having an intimate experience with Him.

I like myself with God in my life though. I hurt that my young friends are no longer believers. They seem happy though. They seem settled. They seem good. I can only pray that they may find Him some way. 

I am confident that I will not let go of my faith in Jesus Christ and ever deny my Heavenly Father. I am confident!

I know that it is possible. Cain did it. Judas Iscariot did it. Millions do it. I pray that I will endure to the end. I expect to.

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Getting Personal With Christianity: Listen to Wisdom. Seek Understanding and be Wise # 7

I recently spoke to a friend about living my life in a way that would bring me closer to the Lord by using the scriptures as often as possible. Reading for 15 minutes or so a day just so I can say that I have read my scriptures does not fortify me from the spiritual storms of life. In fact, it is like eating a snack instead of a full meal each day and then only one time in the day.

No. It is not enough for me to feed my spirit rations above physical starvation! What is more important than feeding my soul? I mean, I can think of the good I can do for others, but that good can only come if I am doing it with a pure heart.

My intentions were not pure going into this. At first, I thought to humor my friend as we spoke and let him think that he was teaching me something; that is, until I started to actually learn something from him. I reflected on my life and how I draw closer to God by how much I think about Him and His commandments.

If I am not thinking about Him or His commandments, I notice that I am more likely to commit sin. In an effort to follow the sacred counsel I received from the Lord many years ago, and the new counsel from my friend I decided to read one of the books that I despise because it is unlike other scripture, The Book of Proverbs. All it is is the wisdom of one man on temporal and spiritual things.

It is inspired wisdom though. At least that is what I tell myself to encourage myself to read. I don't want to read it. I will admit to that. But I owe it to myself to try and do better than I have in the past with the book. I plan to do the same with the Psalms.

What I hope to gain from reading these books
is a way to put aside my selfish desires to be entertained by everything I do and seek understanding and wisdom from the journey through the scriptures.

So, I don't have a neat bow to wrap around this post. I have faith to go forward and hope that God will direct my path for Good.
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