My Thoughts on Visions of Glory by John Pontius

Visions of GloryThe first time I heard about Visions of Glory was from my father-in-law. I’ll admit, I pretty much dismissed it. My thoughts: It’s about a man’s dream or vision. It’s not prophecy or revelation. That comes from the prophet.

I won’t go into what the book is about as I think that can be covered elsewhere. I’ll simply share my thoughts from having read (listed to) it.

How I came to Read Visions of Glory

My father-in-law had actually recommended a few books by John Pontius. I never took the time to read them though. It wasn’t until he loaned me his copy of Journey to the Veil and I read a few excerpts that I got much more interested in John Pontius and his writings. But that is another story I’ll blog about later.

Ultimately, after getting to know John Pontius better I became far more interested in Visions of Glory and decided to purchase the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts

I thought this whole book was fascinating. I started listening to it alone, but my wife joined in and listed with me on a long trip from Salt Lake City to Boise, Idaho. It took the whole trip there and back to complete the book from the point where I had left off.

While I found it fascinating, I really didn’t want to be deceived. I did more research to hear others’ thoughts on it. The man who had the visions remains anonymous. He is referred to as “Spencer” throughout the book.

After reading the book I could certainly understand why he wanted to remain anonymous and I couldn’t argue with his reasoning.

I found some people take his vision very literally, while others completely dismiss it.

My Current Thoughts

Throughout the book, I didn’t notice very many glaring contradictions to what I have learned throughout my life in the church. I don’t think the book is perfect and I don’t expect it to be. I believe as Joseph Smith stated the the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth.

But I still find his visions and interpretations of his visions fascinating. Are they literal? I don’t know. I believe they possibly could be. But Spencer reiterates often that this vision was to teach him and was for him. We may gain insights from it, but we should seek our light and knowledge through study and prayer and seeking to learn by the Spirit.

If the events described in the book from Spencer’s visions are literal, then what? Well, it makes me want to be more prepared spiritually and temporally. It makes me want to get things in order. These are good things that the prophets have been encouraging us to do for years.

What bad could come from it? I suppose one could make all their decisions based on the information in this book and ignore the Spirit and the prophets of the church. But it is emphasized by Spencer that this is not what we are to do. So a careful study of this book should not lead you down this path. Instead, if you really believe this book, I can only see it bringing you closer to Christ.

A few scriptures come to mind. First, Mark 9:38-40 where the Savior essential tells his disciples than a man working miracles in His name is on His side.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

For he that is not against us is on our part.

For as much as Spencer testifies of the Savior and the restored gospel, you would be hard pressed to say he is doing more harm than good.

Second, in the Old Testament as Joel is speaking about the last days, in Joel 2:28-29:

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.

We are basically told here that it will not just be prophets, seers and revelators that will be allowed to see visions. Yes, they are called as special witnesses to testify of Christ and lead his Church. But they have told us we are all entitled to personal revelation.

So if you find the events leading up the second coming of the Savior a fascinating topic, I highly recommend this book. It deals with more than just that – other stuff that I found very interesting. I still ponder on this book and feel it has brought be closer to the Savior and his teaching. Therefore, I would say this is a good book and I highly recommend it to anyone willing to read it.

Faith to Heal

Stories of the Prophet Joseph Smith never cease to amaze me. The following was taken from pp 26-27 of How To Pray and Stay Awake:

One of the best known incidents in church history is when the Prophet Joseph Smith healed the impoverished and dying Saints in the swamps of Nauvoo. Have you ever wondered why the elders had not begun administering to the sick before conditions had become so acute? The truth of the matter is that the elders had not waited. In fact, elders, seventies, and high priests had been administering to the ill for days, time and time again, but all in vain. Parley P. Pratt tells us that after the prophet had healed those on both sides of the river, he was surrounded by many of the brethren, most of whom had just been made well by the power of Christ. To this group, which included some of the Quorum of Twelve, the youthful prophet made this statement: It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal or let them cease to minister the forms without the power!

(Life and travels of Parley P. Pratt p. 294)

It makes me wonder how many times I’ve “ministered the forms without the power”.

[tags]Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, LDS, healing, sick, priesthood[/tags]

Mafia to Mormon

Mafia to Mormon:
My Conversion Story

A couple weeks ago I went to the library during lunch to return some books and check out one I had on hold. I decided to browse through the LDS section. I decided to look for a small book that would be an easy read. I’ve got a goal to read a non-fiction book every month. I only made it through half of a book last month. I found a book with the title Mafia to Mormon. It’s a true story about the conversion of a man named Mario Facione. It was basically an auto biography. I couldn’t put it down. I read a couple chapters during lunch, then when I got home, my wife had a baby shower to go to, so I read the whole time with my two kids climbing all over me. I finished the book before going to bed that night. I’ve never finished a 100+ page book that fast before. I was just so impressed and amazed at his whole story. The man was a central figure in many big crime operations and he was able to walk away from it all with the Lord’s help. It was very inspirational. I pondered it all day the following day while doing yard work. I think there are two things that really stood out to me about his story:

  1. In the Mafia, a promise is life-binding. You just don’t go back on your word, or you die. It was by someone’s word that made Mario’s life safe from the mafia. Mario left the mafia because he made a promise to God. With his background, I’m sure it’s very hard for him to understand why anyone would break a covenant with the Lord.
  2. Mario saw a video about the temple in one of his early discussions. He felt he had to get inside that temple. That was a driving force that led to his conversion and determination to put his life on the line to leave the mafia.

I highly recommend this book. It is an easy read really. It has a fair number of typos and obvious grammitical erros as it is in Mario’s own words.

Word of Wisdom Insights

Losing It!: 5 Keys to Successful Weight Loss That Work

I’m reading a book right now entitled Losing It!: 5 Keys to Successful Weight Loss That Work. Although I’ve only read the first chapter so far, there were a few things I found interesting that I had never really though of and had some questions to.

First, D&C 89:11 – “Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.”

The author points out: “The word herb refers to plants and vegetables that are nourishing and healthful for man. ‘In the season thereof’ does not mean we can eat fruit and vegetables only at a certain time. Rather, these words meant that fresh foods have a superior value, and that we should not eat decaying or damaged foods. If fruits and vegetables are properly preserved, which is a common luxury in today’s society, they should be enjoyed through the year.”

I had wondered what the term “in the season thereof” meant.

Second is in reference to eating meat “in times of winter, or of cold, or of famine.” (D&C 89:13)

Again, quoting the author: “The phrase ‘only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine’ has caused many people to think that meat should be eaten only in the winter. However, when the Word of Wisdom was revealed, methods for preserving meat were primitive. We now know that storing meat at appropriate temperatures is vital to prevent serious and even fatal food-bourne illnesses. Modern refrigeration now makes it easy for us to eat meat safely in any season.”

She points out that the key term for eating meat is moderation. The average recommended portion size by many nutrionist is about the size of a deck of cards.