Thursday, July 23, 2020

Amazing Promises for Amazing Blessings

Every so often I notice something in the scriptures that just rocks me simply by analyzing the wording and promises carefully enough.

Probably four or five years ago, it was Jacob 4:12 where he says “. . . for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?” This was after the first time I had read The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister.  Never before had I felt more weight from this one little verse than I did at that point.

Last year, it was 2 Nephi 9:51, which is now the license plate on my Hyundai Elantra (well, it actually says “2NE9 51”), especially the part where it says, “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted…” (That one hit me so hard that I actually also used it for the URL of my website,

Well, another one hit me super hard today. It was part of an answer to prayer for me about having confidence in myself and my ability to receive revelation properly. It is Doctrine and Covenants 121:45:

“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.”

Let’s dissect why this verse is one that every missionary… heck, every member… no, every person on earth should memorize this scripture. What the Lord promises us in this verse is of eternally pivotal and of monumental importance.

What We Need to Do

First, the Lord gives us a few instructions. All of them are pretty loaded if you think about them carefully enough. As charity is the pure love of Christ (and seeing that we mortals have a pretty hard time loving absolutely everyone) the command to be “full of charity towards all men” feels like a tall order as it is. Yet when you know how wonderful it is to feel absolute, unquestionable love for someone right to the core of your soul and then realize that everyone deserves that kind of love, it becomes a constant struggle to match what you know with what you feel. Nonetheless, the promises given if we achieve that level of feeling and action for others is monumental — and I’ll get to that here in a bit.

The next little phrase, “and to the household of faith,” to me, speaks volumes. What is “the household of faith”? This phrase appears in the verse we are dissecting as well as in Galatians 6:10. Both uses seem to imply a respect for sacred things, for the truth, for God’s glory and His plan for His children. To me, this is a reminder of the ever-present conundrum of being in the world but not of the world. Learning to love all men like Christ does and yet also unflinchingly loving the Lord and His plan in a world where so many don’t is a balance that takes most of us a lifetime to achieve.

Then the Lord adds on one more assignment before getting to the promises associated with these instructions: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” This reminds me of what President Nelson said in April 2017 about “reach[ing] up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air.” In the same talk, he said, “It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee.” He’s got the mentally rigorous part absolutely right! When I asked Siri to define “garnish,” she gave the food version and the legal version. The legal definition is to “seize (money, especially part of a person’s salary) to settle a debt or claim.” In my mind, the “seizing” definition seems to fit more given the “unceasingly” part of this instruction. To have virtue seize our every thought every second of every day is something mortal weakness makes so difficult! BUT — and it’s a big but — let’s now consider the ramifications and results of continuously shooting for this lofty goal.

The Promises

In Truman Madsen’s first lecture on Joseph Smith, “The First Vision and Its Aftermath,” he described Joseph’s and Sydney Rigdon’s responses to having visions:

“In 1832, emerging from the vision on the three degrees of glory (Doctrine and Covenants 76) with his companion in the vision, Sidney Rigdon, the Prophet looked strong, while Sidney looked like he’d been through the war. To this the Prophet, with a certain humility as also perhaps with a little condescension, said, “Sidney is not as used to it as I am.” But after the First Vision, he was feeble. It was difficult for him to go home. Similarly, in his 1823 encounter with Moroni, the repetitive encounter, he was left weak, and his father sent him home. He couldn’t even climb the fence, though he was usually a strong and vigorous boy."

The Book of Mormon also says that Lehi was exhausted from the vision he had at the beginning of the book. So when the Lord gives as a promise to us if we meet the above conditions, “. . . then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God,” think about that for a minute. Who among mortals, even including prophets, has testified of standing in the presence of God without feeling utterly inadequate and unequal to the task, constantly needing to plead with God and realizing that without Him we are nothing? And yet He promises us that if we are full of charity for all men and for the household of faith and virtue garnishes our thoughts unceasingly, our confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God. I can hardly imagine standing in His presence and feeling utterly confident in my standing before Him. I mean, I know that one day if I keep my covenants that will happen, but thinking about that now? Take a few moments to allow the gravity of that statement to sink in. That’s what He promises us!

And then the last promise, which is equally amazing! “. . . the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.” The two definitions I found for distill are:

“Purify (a liquid) by vaporizing it, then condensing it by cooling the vapor, and collecting the resulting liquid.”


“Extract the essential meaning or most important aspects of.”

Both create pretty strong imagery when applying them to that last promise. It’s like the quintessence of everything good and holy seeping into our bones and sinews. I’m picturing one of those scenes in a Disney movie where someone is transformed with beams of light coming out of them from everywhere. Almost gives me the shivers with how awesome that would be! And it’s real!

There certainly are many aspects of living the gospel that are, dang it, just plain hard! But for me, when I consider the rewards God promises us for striving for those ideals, the sheer power of those possibilities is vastly more than enough to make me want to “reach up for the Lord’s power in [my] life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air” to be filled with such charity and have my thoughts garnished with such virtue.

It’s a tall order, but an order worth working to fill every minute of every day!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Importance of Eternal Covenants

As I was writing in my journal recently after Collette clocked into work (she works from home on the phone/computer), I overheard a second or two of some very muffled comments about the concept, “Oh, yeah, my last name is Pulsipher now!” I could hear the smile on her face as I heard her make the correction on the call. I beamed and my heart had a sudden burst of peace and joy with that wonderful reminder of her commitment to me and to her eternal covenants, especially the covenant of our marriage.

For the last few days (i.e., the first few days of our marriage), yes, there has been the typical twitterpated expressions of “I love you. I love you more! I love you most!” with the “Get a room, you two!”-frequency of kissing and cuddling. But having been married twice now, with Lorraine’s passing in October last year, and having now been married to two empaths (myself being one as well), I believe there is something much deeper and more wonderful that has come much more quickly in both relationships than many couples experience. God has blessed us in our courtship and marriage with something that I wonder if most couples only dream of.

This whole time, since we met on leap day up to now, after our sealing in the Payson Temple, Collette and I have prayed for and been enabled by God to have an amazing depth of safe, vulnerable, transparent communication, both verbal and empathic. This has allowed us to establish a spiritual and emotional bond unlike any I’ve ever heard of anywhere in or out of the Church, except my first marriage with Lorraine. (With her, the process was the same in principle, but different because of her unique different spiritual energy or “signature,” if you will.) Either way, I reverently witness of the tender mercies of the Lord in leading me to another woman who has empathic and spiritual senses that I believe are like no one else on this side of the veil.

I know Collette and I have been recipients of the blessing described in one of the final scenes in The Wedding Singer. In it, Rosie has some good advice for Robbie. She says,”Robbie, you’ll know when you meet the right girl, because it’s not how you feel about her — it’s how she makes you feel about yourself.” While both of those things are important, there are so many reasons why Collette and I fill both of those roles — how we feel about each other and how we make the other feel about themselves — wonderfully, beautifully, and emphatically.

dance dancingOne that comes to mind is a sweet, tender memory of one of the nights near the time when she first told me she loved me. We were having a deep conversation about spiritual connection and what makes us tick. At one point she began to search my eyes, appearing as if to find some part of me that mortals words cannot describe, and with wide eyes told me that for a brief moment she could see me as God sees me. She said, “Oh, Paul! You are such a beautiful man!” I could feel the charity and energy coming straight from her heart and felt her words and her heart much more deeply than I heard what she said. In that moment, I could feel the same thing about her. I knew and understood, without the slightest shadow of hesitation, the deep, exquisite, abiding power and beauty of the God-made woman she is. Since then, there have been many moments where I have been able to say, with the same intent as Julie Lee’s I See You podcast and James Cameron’s Avatar, “I see you.” It makes the marriage covenant so much easier to nurture and enjoy.

I understand twice as well now why the eternal marriage covenant is the crowning ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The true importance of eternal covenants with God, especially the marriage covenant (the only one of our eternal covenants involving three people!), is something that cannot be overstated. As the scripture on the inside of our wedding rings reads (Alma 26:16):

“Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”

And anyone who has felt the grace of mercy of Jesus Christ as Collette and I have will never be able to say the smallest part which we feel, because His peace “passeth all understanding” (Phil 4:7). As the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “Crazy Beautiful” by Andy Grammar, says, “Isn’t she crazy beautiful? Isn’t she strange, strange and wonderful? I think I love her more than I even understand.”

The bond we experienced on our honeymoon at Zermatt in Midway brought that even further. It’s a really good thing we are both empaths because if we weren’t, I think it would be quite frustrating having to use just words to communicate how we feel. It is with immense gratitude to God that I consider the blessing we have of empathic communication from heart to heart.

I’m grateful that my wife puts Jesus Christ and her covenants with Him first, even ahead of me, because when you make Christ and your eternal covenants with Him the center of your life, He enhances every righteous endeavor you make and turns it into something far better than it could ever be without Him. He has strengthened our courtship more powerfully and quickly than I imagined possible because of our vice-grip on the iron rod and our commitment to make our connection go three ways: between each of us and our Savior and Redeemer. The importance of such a covenant cannot be overstated.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


The last few months have been quite the roller-coaster, wonderfully so, in the way the Lord has been working in my life. So many incredible miracles have happened, and my Book of Mormon studies today has been an accurate reflection of how I feel about it. Interestingly enough, today, on Mother's day 2020, that chapter goes quite well with those feelings and it also has eternal and emotional significance for my fiancee Collette and I. With both of us being empaths, there are so many times where we get a little tongue tied because of the intensity and depth or our own emotions and that of others. We often don't really have words to express how we feel about something until we've have time to process it and sometimes we'll just be like "I feel like... umm... *sigh* ...words... what are they?" Well Ammon does a similar thing in Alma 26.

Verse 16 has become quite special to Collette and I. Pay attention to the end.

Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his great long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
This Mothers day, this one goes out to my mom, my sisters, my amazing Lorraine and my incredible, precious, sweet Collette, about whom I cannot say the smallest part of that which I feel. I love you more that words can express my love, both of you.

You have brought out the deepest part of my heart in the most freeing and joyful ways I could possibly imagine and I know it will only get better from here. As verse 30-31 says in chapter 26 - with a little adjusting for the sake of expressing how I feel about you both - "And [I] have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps [I] might be the means of [blessing the life of women I love], and [I] supposed that [my] joy would be full if perhaps [I] could be the means of [blessing one.] Now behold, [I] can look forth and see the fruits of [my] labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and [I] can witness of [your] sincerity, because of [your] love towards [others] and [your] love toward [me]."

You deserve the best and I will always give your the absolute best of myself that I possibly can. Your beautiful, celestial hearts, your incredible ability to love me both for who I am and who you have seen I can become, your patience with my weaknesses, your love of music and the joy that fills my soul every time you sing, bear testimony or speak of your faith in Christ, your encouraging my righteous goals, your affection and unmatched focus on Christ and all things Holy. I couldn't have dreamed for any better women in my life than you.

For all that you are and every will be... ...words.
Happy Mother's day my love, both of you!

Friday, March 13, 2020

If You Knew Why

When I lived in Canada, there was a period of time when Lorraine (my late wife) and I had our business licenses for web development and piano/voice lessons. Because Lorraine was on ODSP (disability) and we were both on that check, we had to submit income reports to their office downtown at the end of each month. I would take the city bus down there to submit that one little paper with all the info and then come right back up to what Hamiltonians referred to as the “mountain.” It was actually just an escarpment, but to them, it seemed as tall as a mountain.

Anyways, it got to the point where I dreaded going down there because I began to feel an almost palpable darkness and evil just getting off the bus at the McNab terminal downtown. I would rush into the ODSP office building, get the paper submitted, and rush back to the terminal as fast as possible and catch the first bus back up the “mountain.” I eventually called and asked if they wouldn’t mind if I just faxed the report to them each month, which they said was fine.

The reason I mention this is because of all the times I have been the subject of a similar thought pattern for others. I remember all the times people would either avoid us, give us unsolicited advice for Lorraine’s health, or criticize us for not doing things the way they thought they would if they were in our position — and it got very draining. In retrospect, considering how alone I have felt many times since I moved to Utah County at the end of last year, that environment in downtown Hamilton came to mind… And I felt like perhaps I was too quick to want to get away from those people without understanding their why.

I have a very dear friend here with whom I got wires of communication crossed quite badly for a couple days. Yet when they were patient enough to dig a little deeper and learn more about what it means to have Asperger’s, to learn why I communicate the way I do, they were so much more understanding. It was quite a balm to hear them say things like, “I think I understand you better now” and “I’m so sorry you’re feeling so awful” or “Ohhh, I think I understand now.” It was like my soul could finally breathe again!

I wonder how many times I could have felt less oppressed by the environment in downtown Hamilton if I had stopped to find out why someone had an aura of this… almost… dementor-like draining energy about them. Maybe then I wouldn’t have wanted to get out of there so fast. Perhaps I would have actually wanted to stay longer to help them get out of that rut themselves.

At the moment, I don’t remember the exact wording to this quote, but I recall using it in a blog before (which I can’t find at the moment). It goes something like this: “You should never judge someone for their actions because you don’t know their story, and you certainly don’t know what other options they even had at the moment.”

Ask yourself that next time you see someone making a choice that is clearly wrong, “Yes, that choice is certainly wrong — but why are the making it? What other options do they think they have?” Perhaps every other choice they saw in that moment seemed way more painful than the one they made. Maybe their circumstances are so different from anything you would have supposed that even you would have likely made the same mistake had you been in their same situation.

I would never use this logic to suggest that we condone or tolerate sinful, unholy, or impure choices and practices. Certainly there is no exception to the Lord not being able to have the “least degree of allowance” for sin. However, the way we respond to people’s mistakes (including our own) would change drastically if we find out why people make the choices they do by getting down to that “chewy caramel center” of what makes them tick.

Most of the lessons Christ and His prophets taught were always followed up with the phrase “that they may…” or “that ye may…” For example, in 2 Nephi 1:22, 2 Nephi 10:25, Mosiah 18:9, Alma 34:24-25, 3 Nephi 17:3, 3 Nephi 27:20, D&C 45:72, and so many more places in the scriptures (like the sacrament prayers), we are told why the Lord commands us to do certain things. And if we truly understood why people makes some of the bad choices they do — I mean really understand the background behind each choice — it would be much easier to approach the problem the way Christ would and be a more effective instrument in His hands to help Him deliver that person from their sins and pain.

Just remember that the next time you think anything like “Oh, they should know better” or “There’s no excuse for that” or “If they had the gospel, they wouldn’t be make such dumb choices,” dig down to that caramel center and I almost guarantee you there will be come context you are missing that you couldn’t possibly get any other way. I know everyone who has ever done that for me has helped heal my soul immensely — and often their own as well in the process.

Give it a shot!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Nope, Life's Not Fair -- Isn't That a Relief?

Anyone who has read anything else I’ve written on this site knows I collect quotes from every book I read, every movie I watch, every podcast that means something special to me, and more. The book I’m into most recently (besides the Book of Mormon) is Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson.

There is a part in that book that makes me especially thankful that God loves us so much that He doesn’t treat us fairly. The author begins it like this:

“Since Christ and I are one in the gospel covenant, and since in a covenant partnership it doesn’t matter which partnership does what,” [think of this sort of like being a cosigner on a car purchase] “Christ can answer the demands of justice for me, and I can then receive the benefits of mercy from him. This is an arrangement that satisfies both justice and mercy. Yet some people are so addicted to the law of justice that they have difficulty accommodating the law of mercy and grace” (p. 103-104).

He goes on to illustrate that if life were actually completely fair, there would be no cosigner (my wording, not his) on the rewards of eternal life, and we would always get exactly what we deserve. Earlier in the book, he clarifies that if justice was implemented by God in full force, repentance wouldn’t exist and neither would forgiveness of sins or anything else good that comes from Christ.

He continues:

“No, sometimes the gospel isn’t fair, but that is actually part of the good news. It isn’t fair—it’s merciful, and thank it is so, for no human being can stand acquitted before the demands of absolute justice. From the perspective of fallen, imperfect mortals like ourselves, being judged by justice alone is our worst nightmare.”

So wait a minute—if God is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful, how are justice and mercy both served? Alma 34:16 answers that question by explaining that because of Christ’s Atonement, “mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles [us] in the arms of safety.” And who is the embodiment of mercy? The Lord Jesus Christ. The partnership between Jesus and Heavenly Father is a divine partnership between justice and mercy. The Father must be enact justice to the fullest extent. Just look at the following scriptures:

1 Nephi 14:4
1 Nephi 15:30
Alma 42:1,13,22, and 25
Alma 54:6
3 Nephi 28:35
D&C 10:28 

From these verses, it is pretty clear that the Father cannot budge from measuring out justice completely and entirely upon us or He would cease to be God.

That’s where Jesus comes into the picture. He is the enactor of mercy. Something that really makes me even more appreciative of that fact is the following quote from Believing Christ:

“Now here is an odd thing about the nature of mercy: by definition, mercy can only be mercy if we don’t deserve it. For if we deserve something, then it becomes a matter of justice that we receive it. So it ceases to be a matter of mercy. Thus, in this sense at least, to give or to receive mercy is always somewhat unfair. But one of the great beauties of the gospel, some of the best news of all, is that Jesus Christ does not mind this unfairness. He is willing to suffer unfairly and compensate justice himself out of his own person in order to extend mercy to weaker beings like us” (p 109, emphasis added). 

That phrase “if we deserve something, then it becomes a matter of justice that we receive it” explains perfectly how Christ’s Atonement satisfies justice. The fact the Christ suffered unfairly by choice means that in order for justice to actually be served, He must be compensated for what He did. He does deserve us returning to the Father’s and His presence if we repent and choose to live so that we can receive all the blessings that flow from Him because of His Atonement. Him receiving us back on those conditions serves justice because He deserves it. He utterly refuses to take anything else as compensation. If He doesn’t get what He asks for, justice is, in principle, left naked and exposed as unfairly expecting something that isn’t deserved.

There’s a reason why the Book of Mormon teaches us that “in Christ there should come every good thing.” Justice demands that because we have all sinned at least once (because even once is too much for justice), we never return to the presence of God, but the reason mercy even qualifies as a good thing in the first place is because Christ is good! And and since He is the one offering it, life doesn’t need to be fair — it only needs to be the perfect balance of justice and mercy, which it is. That person who hurt you or offended you to whom your bishop was more merciful than you thought he should be? What if it was you in their place? Would you want the bishop to actually be fair to you? To deal out justice in full measure? I doubt it. Christ knows how to keep that balance better than we do and is more than capable of teaching that balance to His ordained judges in Israel.

I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am that life isn’t fair, but that Christ is. I love Him and pray that more people qualify to become His reward in the eternities as time goes by — because in the end, that’s all I want to be: His reward. I want to be someone about whom He can say to justice, “If you don’t give me him back and allow me to exalt Him, I will be robbed of my reward and all of creation with go back into outer darkness and the entire plan will be frustrated!”

If I live so that I can receive that blessing because He deserves to give it to me and I don’t receive it, the entire plan is frustrated? Now that sounds awesome! Thankfully His plan is never frustrated. What a wonderful and foolproof safety net! Thank the Lord life is never fair.