Strange Incense Indeed

nadab-abihu-strange-incenseAs you can imagine I get all kinds of emails. Most bloggers do. There are many readers who desire to converse about the subject of a post, but prefer to keep the dialog private, thinking what they have to share might have more meaning or make a greater impression in an email. Perhaps they don’t want everybody and their dog commenting on some new and tentative thoughts.

One of the most disturbing private dialogs in which I’ve engaged was with a man who claimed to be in communication with spirits from the other side. Now by itself, such a claim is not all that disturbing, but once he started sharing the conversations, I knew these spirits did not have his best interests in mind. I did not doubt his claims but I was concerned for the safety of his soul.

I’ve seen lots of people who converse with spirits from the other side. Mostly I see them in the streets, shabbily dressed, unwashed, unshaven, pushing a shopping cart heavily laden with all their worldly goods. I’ve met them at gas stations, at entrances to shopping centers, at grocery stores, and on lots of freeway onramps and off-ramps, especially the 405 and Santa Monica Blvd.

Promptings of the Spirit

I’m confident I’ve conversed with unseen spirit beings throughout my life. I can almost always tell what they want by the things they suggest to my mind. An impression will come to review a certain gospel subject, to ponder a gospel theme or read a little more from a book in my library. A quiet voice will whisper to call, email or text someone, or inspire the subject of a new post.

On the other hand, there are promptings, impressions and yes, even voices that respond in less than encouraging ways to things I’ve done or said. I’m sure you’re familiar with the tone of such comments. They are derogatory, demeaning, belittling, or just plain nasty. They seem to be full of accusations and insults, put-downs, patronizing rudeness and especially personal attacks.

The worst kinds of spirits are those who specialize in making bad ideas seem good. They cause you to believe certain actions will bring a special connection to heaven. Such is the case of the man who shared with me a few of his private writings, which he said were from a Godly source. The words from “Jerome” had a form of godliness, but asked him to do some unusual things.

Willing Participants in Deception

ReturnFromTomorrowI won’t provide details but I’ll give you a clue. Suffice it to say, the suggestions were spiritually damaging. Read George Ritchie’s “Return From Tomorrow,” especially the scenes in the bar. Note carefully what happens when the sailors pass out drunk. There is a reason God gave us a protective energy shield around our spirits. Some people call it our aura. The word fits for me.

Why do otherwise intelligent, spiritually-sensitive people allow such spirits inside their shield? Why would they allow themselves to be used as instruments of deceptive spirits in the things they write or do? Why are they willing to go beyond what the Lord has outlined as the means for communication between God and man? They accept as revelation the whisperings of evil spirits.

I know a thesis should be in the first paragraph, but here’s mine: I believe there are good people out there who are so hungry for spiritual communication, they have convinced themselves it is acceptable to go beyond the safety of the methods God has ordained in study and prayer. I’m not discounting spiritual gifts such as dreams and visions, but do NOT encourage the strange spirits.

Spiritual Gifts and Talents

I’ve worked for a large part of my life at developing what I believe is a spiritual gift in the area of writing. There are so many people who are way more talented than me, but I’m not concerned about that. I got a late start in life, due to a delayed realization – gifts require work to develop. I did poorly at writing in school so I focused on a subject I enjoyed – computers and logic.

I began to enjoy writing in a college business course. I had to laugh at some of the examples of terrible writing that came from executives of multi-million dollar corporations. I decided then and there I would learn how to write a decent business letter and later, how to communicate effectively in email, which is a whole different animal where less is more, and takes practice.

I focused on business writing – especially proposals, business plans and annual reports – to the exclusion of creative writing. I don’t recommend that for anybody. I picked up creative writing later in life and have enjoyed it immensely. I suppose there is a season for everything but there is a lot to be said for balance. Don’t give up creative outlets your soul needs – writing, music, arts.

Writing by Way of Revelation

Scripture comes by revelation. We can each receive and record revelation. I suggest we keep our own book of revelations where we have studied things out, then gone to the Lord in prayer and asked for understanding – fine-tuned to our way of thinking – that qualifies as revelation. A few of my posts have come precisely because I asked for revelation after reading everything I could.

I don’t know why it has to be that way and maybe it’s not for others, but the only time I feel qualified to ask for revelation is if I have studied something out from every source at hand. At times, the Lord will direct me to a new source, either online or in book form, that will give me the enlightenment I seek. And in the end, the process of receiving revelation is illuminating.

For me, there’s a feeling of safety, and “rightness” about asking for and receiving revelation on a subject after I have studied it out. I study both sides of an issue. I want to know the logic of a question because that’s my background by profession – reducing things to logical components. Oddly enough, sometimes when revelation does come, it can, at first, seem to be a little illogical.

Confirming Our Revelations

That’s why it’s a good idea to take revelation to the Lord in prayer for confirmation. He can give you additional ideas, sources and scriptures to help you understand. I’ve even been directed to go to certain individuals to help me understand what the Lord has shared with me. I don’t always tell them so, but invariably, I come away with a greater understanding of the subject I’m seeking.


One safety check we can always employ is by comparing what we receive with the scriptures, especially the words of Joseph Smith. It’s also best to compare them to original revelations where possible. That’s why I’m so grateful for the Joseph Smith Papers project. I’ve learned quite a few things have changed over the years in the editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.

I’ll offer a word of warning. If you feel you have been given a “special” angel who gives you – and only you – revelations about what to believe or do, you might want to think twice. I’m not denying we have guardian angels, nor am I suggesting the Lord won’t answer your prayers through the ministration of angels – He does. Just please confirm such revelations with God.

Recent Communications

When Denver wrote his post on Strange Incense the other day, he elaborated on the extreme result – death – that can come from changing the ordinances of the House of the Lord. There is a reason things are just so and we don’t always know the reason unless we ask. Even then, the answer may be “here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.” In other words, trust God and obey.

We are at a new season in the work of the Lord. The Christmas Day post contained much joyful news of multitudes who have been baptized anew. Accounts were shared of communities using tithing to meet the needs of the poor among them, a sure sign of Zion to come. Conferences are being called and men are rising up in the authority of God to perform the necessary ordinances.

In the December 22nd post on Strange Incense, we read, “Vanity, pride, looking beyond the mark, self-will, arrogance, and reckless enthusiasm all proceed from a lack of gratitude to God for what He gives us. Instead of accepting in gratitude and practicing it with patience, we demand more, insist we can improve on His ways, and charge ahead into the pass to be destroyed by the beast.”

The Beast In the Pass

Remember, Denver has no spokesman. I’m not trying to interpret anything for anyone. I’m just sharing a few thoughts about what I felt was a warning in that post. One of those warnings had to do with charging into the pass. If you wonder to what he is referring, you can find it toward the end of the 2012 Temple Fireside. He has referred to the beast several times since that fireside.

The beast attacked those who were impatient. They were brought to a certain point – the pass – and told specifically to wait for the return of the Lord. Seeing the glory of the fathers in the distance, they went on ahead and were killed or maimed by the beast. The point of the vision, as I understand it, is even if you have received the Lord, wait for Him to lead you further ahead.

Strange Incense referred to additions to temple rites. In our day, perhaps we can interpret this to be adding things to our conferences and worship services beyond what the Lord has authorized. I suppose that’s one of the risks of not having a correlated source for our conferences. All I know is I felt a warning voice in that post, which to me, had to do with added activities in conferences.

Trust No Man or Woman

Another warning recently offered: “You must assume the burden of distinguishing light from darkness, truth from error, and pretenders from those sent by the Lord with counsel from Him. Trust no man. Go to God and ask Him about everyone who teaches and everything taught.” This can be a new and difficult responsibility for those used to checking everything with the Brethren.

Just because a post appears on my blog from another author does not mean I endorse or agree with everything found in the post. I believe in revelation. I believe in inspired writing. I also believe individuals can be 100% convinced, converted and confident they are correct in what they declare, sometimes even in the name of the Lord. You still should check with the Lord.

The same goes for everything I write. Sometimes I am convinced I am correct on some point of doctrine only to discover, sometimes years later, I am in error. I appreciate correction. That’s one of the reasons why I blog. I appreciate the public comment and the private emails. This truly is a new day. We are ploughing new ground. We may make mistakes. Verify everything with God.

The House of the Lord

Contained within the Dec 22nd post we find these words: “There is no accepted House on earth today wherein God dwells. We are therefore free to observe whatever we think will please God in our individual houses of worship.” My home is my house of worship today. Within my home I strive to remember the things I was taught in the house of the Lord. In other words, I practice.

I practice remembering. I practice ceremonies in private. I administer the sacrament. I pray. I worship the Lord before my altar. This was something commonly practiced in the early days of the Mormon faith. If you desire, I can share a copy of an unpublished monograph describing the practice of the home sanctuary in great detail. It contains keys to receiving heavenly answers.

I look forward to the day when the House of the Lord will be built. I still give credence to the words of my patriarchal blessing, which I believe was uttered by an inspired man. I received it in a day of fasting and prayer. In it I am promised I will be able to contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of God here upon the earth preparatory to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.


I seek to do all I can so God can fulfill that promise. I pray I’ll not hinder His efforts in any way. May God bless each of us to wait patiently at the mouth of the pass until He leads us by the hand to the glory of the Fathers. I am not ready for that day. I have much work to do. Repentance is always in order as are the practices of service, patience, humility and submissiveness to the Lord.

Pillar-of-FireBeware of Strange Incense, no matter the source. You may even find some on my blog either in the posts or in the comments. I haven’t said much about Mother in Heaven. I’ve prayed about it and have felt to keep my thoughts to myself. I’ve only added one comment to the post on Mary. It was from one of Denver’s posts about the identity of the angel in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I hope and pray you each had a blessed Christmas holiday. There is a lot of symbolism in that old Christmas tree. Look up Axis Mundi and think about the Pillar of Fire or Pillar of Heaven. The day will come when that Pillar of Fire returns to dwell. The Lord will appear there. He will send angels to visit and open a fiery corridor between heaven and earth. Will we be ready for that day?

19 thoughts on “Strange Incense Indeed”

  1. Tim, how could we obtain a copy of that unpublished monograph describing the practice of home sanctuary?

  2. Here is the vision of the beast in the narrow mountain pass:

    And while in prayer, I saw a great mountain and upon the top thereof was the glory of the fathers. To reach the top, all were required to enter through a narrow pass. In the pass was a great beast, cruel and pitiless.

    The Lord brought people whom he had chosen to the mouth of the pass, and there He told them to wait for him, and He went away. The people did not wait for Him, but began to move forward into the narrow pass. The beast killed some and injured others, and none were able to pass through.

    After great losses, many deaths and terrible suffering, the people chosen by the Lord withdrew and departed from the mountain. After four and five generations, the Lord again brought some few back to the pass and again told them to stay at the mouth of the pass and wait on Him. But again there were those who tired of waiting, for they could see in the distance the glory of the fathers, and they desired to be there. These, being overtaken by their zeal, did not wait, but moved into the pass where again the beast killed or hurt them.

    Among those who waited, however, was a man who knelt and prayed, and waited patiently for his Lord. After a great time, the Lord came to this man and took him by the hand, and led him into the pass where the great beast guarded the way. As the Lord led, however, the beast was ever occupied with attacking others, and therefore its back was turned to the Lord and the man. And so they passed by unnoticed, safely to the top. The Lord sent the man to the fathers, who when they saw the man inquired of him, “How came you to be here and yet mortal; for the last who came here were brothers who had been slain, and you are yet alive?” And the man answered: “I waited on the Lord and He brought me here safely.”


  3. Tim, I too have felt the desire to worship at the alter made of my own hands in my home, yet I am uncertain on how. This document relating to the practice may be an answer to prayer.

  4. Happy holidays and new year to you and yours, Tim!
    Thanks for another great post. I see you have included a link to the “home sanctuary” document I am very interested in. Excited to worship in such a way inside my own home!
    Much love and respect,

  5. Proceeding with caution

    To all Denverites. I am so thankful that Denver included on his Latest post on Dec. 25th in which he said

    “one word of caution, new things taught using the scriptures give pretenders, ambitious and cunning men an opportunity to improve thei deception. Information can be abused, and there are those who are eager to deceive to get power, popularity and financial gain. You must assume the burden of distinguishing light from darkness, truth from error, and pretenders from those sent by the Lord with Lord with counsel from Him. Trust no man. Go to God and ask Him about everyone who teaches and everything taught.”

    I was rather disturbed by his post being on Christmas and yet no testimony of Jesus but instead flatter and praise for those who are following denvers counsel. Last night I was awakened in the middle of the night twice with the following question and I pose it to you. “What would you think of a religious leader who spoke to a large group on Christmas Day and never testified of Jesus, nor talked of the miraculous birth, but instead took that opportunity to pat people on the back for following instructions given them?” The day we celebrate the most significant gift ever given to us from heaven …. And the focus was to celebrate following Denver’s counsel? There is a disconnect for me.
    Does anyone else see this or am I the odd man out? Was Denver’s Christmas post strange incense?

    1. Thank you for your thoughts; however, labeling people is a habit since the earth was established with mankind. Perhaps a label, if we need to use one, I would like to see more prolific, is “Followers of Christ”, if any label has to be used. Snufferites, Denverites, apostates, TBM’s, etc., immediately establishes a sort of separate discounted or non credible group. We then seem to maybe look a little different toward them. This imposes a different judgement upon them and seems to clear us from this judgement, because we do not use words; we have already established it with a label.. That is just how it appears to me. I realize we do not intend this, but it can be a judgement we are not aware of. Since we are all helping each other through the transition of finding the Way, perhaps we can best do this without descriptions. Just my personal opinion and doesn’t need any confirmation. Thanks and have a wonderful Christmas.time.

  6. The First Presidency offered theirs on the 5th of December:

    Denver offered a few thoughts on the Savior on Christmas Eve.


    We celebrate our Lord’s birth tomorrow.

    What a wonder He was and is. Although He was the greatest and “more intelligent than they all,” (Abr. 3:19) He came to serve, kneel and wash the feet of the unworthy, bless, instruct and endure abuse. He was meek and lowly (Matt. 11:29), yet spoke as one having authority (Matt. 7:29).

    He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

    He bore our infirmities.

    With His stripes we are healed.

    The world took little note of His arrival on that Spring day. He was born in the springtime to herald new life, resurrection, and rebirth. We celebrate it in the darkness of the winter which can likewise testify of the end of darkness and increase of light–for all things testify of Him. (Moses 6:63.)

    The heavens themselves were stirred at His birth. Stars aligned, signs appeared, heavenly choirs sang, and prophecies, covenants and promises were vindicated through His birth, lowly life, exalted teachings, and sacrificial offering. All this before the eyes of a blind, murderous generation, who would kill their God. (2 Ne. 10:3.)

    He preferred Isaiah and the Psalms to other scripture of His day. He used a small canon of scripture to expound and teach.

    How wonderful.
    How mighty.
    How meek.
    How lowly.
    How great.
    How kind.
    How worthy was the Lamb!

    There is none like Him, dead or alive. We are all lost to the grave and prison without Him.

    His rescue mission extends to all mankind. We will all be rescued from the grave. He intends to work to bring about our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39), even if this requires worlds without end (D&C 76:112).

    A Roman centurion and his cohort said it best: “Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54.)

  7. Proceed ping with caution

    Thanks Tim. I just think Christmas and Christmas Eve both should be dedicated to our God. I dont mean to be critical … I have to remember that even Denver is mortal and he was probably just anxious to get the word of encouragement out … Maybe that was Denver’s gift toneveryone. His words of caution are important. No matter the messenger, take the message to God for confirmation. We have to be so careful not to worship Denver but to hang on every word of and from God. Thanks again for the correction.

  8. Tim, what did you mean by this:

    “Strange Incense referred to additions to temple rites. In our day, perhaps we can interpret this to be adding things to our conferences and worship services beyond what the Lord has authorized. I suppose that’s one of the risks of not having a correlated source for our conferences. All I know is I felt a warning voice in that post, which to me, had to do with added activities in conferences.”

    Is this a warning about the May conference we are going to have? Or what did you mean by adding activities to our conferences?

  9. Hi Lizzie. We meet in fellowships or small groups, some only in their own families, to partake of the sacrament, pray, read the scriptures, review the principles covered in the ten lectures, share thoughts and feelings and to strengthen one another.

    Many fellowships or groups have been established – mostly in Utah. The intent is to meet regularly and often. Thousands are participating. Others are not able to meet so often or regular. I fall into that later category so I cannot speak authoritatively.

    I suppose we should ask ourselves what is the purpose of a conference. On page 32 of the Phoenix lecture a conference is described as way in which to organize. In other words, it is a gathering of at least seven women to sustain priests for ordinances.

    I have searched through all the material I have from Denver in regards to the purpose of a conference. It is minimal. Only in the Phoenix lecture is it mentioned on pages 15-16, 32 and the last page as an invitation to get started. And some did so right then.

    The May Conference has been titled a “Remnant Family Retreat.” By the very nature of the announcement and the number who have RSVP’d, it is obviously more than a simple conference Denver described in which local groups convene to organize.

    It is a bit more formal with scheduled speakers, break-out sessions to “practice Zion principles,” and opportunities to meet in both small gatherings and large groups. It is obviously an experiment to bring people together in larger numbers for strength.

    I am looking forward to the additional information promised to be forthcoming next month. I agreed to lend the support of my blog to publicize the event. Carol created the flyer. I will be watching carefully to see how well the retreat helps strengthen.

    I am not privy to the additional activities planned for the May conference so I can’t comment on that. I am as curious as the next person to know what they are. The wording “retreat” makes me think of a gathering to step back and evaluate things.

    A conference is to organize and move forward. Remember, there is no central leadership in this second restoration movement. In my post, I was simply wondering if we are introducing strange incense by going beyond the purpose of a conference.

    1. Tim,

      I know you are treading softly on this. This is new and all the history we have ever known is about leaders and strongmen organizing, so moving forward is a “new thing”. I appreciate your careful and thought out understanding with this.

    2. So you didn’t necessarily mean that activities in conferences were not a good thing.

      So, if not, what activities of a negative nature, outside the Lord’s “way” were you warning about in other conferences?

      I’m honestly not trying to be negative here, or suspicious, I just don’t understand what you meant.

      1. Hi again Lizzie. Great question. I’m glad you asked. One thing that immediately comes to mind is the presentation of new scripture. I guess that’s what I had in the back of my mind as I wrote the post. My friend who sent me his writings from “Jerome” caused me to reflect on how easy it is to be deceived – because so many are so desperate to “hear” something, anything – they don’t check with the Lord to verify authenticity.

        So imagine this scenario: A group of saints gather as part of their weekly worship service. By agreement, one of the priests conducts the meeting, the group sings, prays, a sister feels inspired to share a few thoughts from the scriptures, the priests bless and pass the sacrament, a family sings a musical number they have prepared, a brother asks if he can share some thoughts on his scripture study that week, and then it happens…

        A new member of the group stands and says he has received a revelation. He proceeds to read it to the group. Some are unsure how to respond. They look around at each other. The brother bears his testimony as to the veracity of the revelation, which contains wording directing the group members to build a small meetinghouse. Several members of the group are now obviously agitated. One raises his hand and says, “I don’t believe this is the right thing to do.”

        Strange incense? What would you do? I have an answer but I value your thoughts and wonder how you would respond. Let’s say the group has been meeting in your home, which has served the group well. There are at least two issues I brought up in this scenario. Can you identify the issues and have they already been addressed in scripture or in the material in the Zion lectures?

        1. Yes, I see then. We must be wary of new exciting revelations and teachings…and we must check and pray before we can choose to accept them or not.

          It is indeed easy to be deceived if you believe everything that is said in a meeting. I think that’s how we got into some of the trouble that we are in to right now, in the LDS church. Believing that everything the church said was true, just because they held that BoM copyright.

  10. Very timely advice. I think sometimes I get overzealous in my attempt to be “open-minded.” This warning is definitely appreciated. c:

  11. Tim,

    Thank you for this post of caution. Recently I have felt a bit over-whelmed
    in the amount and type of information that has been on this and several other blogs. There seems to be a great deal of new information to consider. As Denver said in his Christmas Day post… “Trust no man.” I’m sure that includes himself. Though I have found his lectures interesting, I personally have not had confirmation that all he has said is from the Lord, while others seem to be satisfied enough to use this materials in their study… as if it were scripture.

    As far as spirits are concerned… because we are so diligently trying to be lead by the Spirit of the Lord, I think we have set our selves up for spirits that do not have our welfare in mind and caution must be taken seriously. Thank you so much for the reminder.

    I agree that we should study every possible avenue available before going to the Lord for confirmation. I too appreciate the fact that the Church has released the Joseph Smith Papers because it takes us back to source. However, even those sources should be taken to the Lord in prayer.

    I find my personal growth is considerably more “immature’ than so many who respond on this blog. I seem to be muddling around in very elementary things because of new insight and understanding. Being more mindful of the “Poor” has been a quest I have taken since June when, I read something on Waterman’s blog that pierced my heart. I loved Log’s post entitled “The King of the Bums” and used some of his material in a Relief Society lesson I gave on Sunday to support Elder Holland’s conference talk: Are We Not All Beggars?”

    As we all mature in our journey toward Zion, I appreciate all commentary, whether I agree or not. Food for thought is always stimulating to me. So… thanks for allowing the diversity.

    As we begin the new year, may we continue to challenge and support each other, no matter where we are on the path.

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