Sunday, September 18, 2016

Personal Revelation

I spoke on "Personal Revelation" today (9/18/16) in the LDS Heritage Park Ward. I had an object lesson in the middle that involved using Google assistant on my phone. It had worked fine the half a dozen times I had tried it previously. It worked fine the time I tried after. It did not work during the two times I tried during the talk. That left me a little flustered. Oh well. I'm including the notes I used below.


My first job out of school was implementing signal processing algorithms for the MQ-9 Reaper; also known as the Predator drone. At the time signals intelligence, or SIGINT, for the MQ-9 underutilized its radar due to low fidelity in the operations theater. There was too much noise in the signal, so operators limited themselves to using the camera. They understood that medium, but it also provided a much narrower view: imagine watching an IMAX film through a soda straw.

My project improved that situation by utilizing two radar beams and then combining the results to reduce the signal to noise ratio. I worked closely with electrical engineers as we attempted to stretch the physics involved. We wanted operators to trust the signal coming from the radar enough to allow it to provide the more comprehensive picture that the soda straw video camera could not.

Unencrypted video feeds, hacked using $26 of equipment. Sent “in the clear,” without encryption.

Change gears - a few years later

Cryptography - authentication and secrecy
Caesar cipher, Enigma, steganography
Modern tools: vocabulary
  • Key - always use
  • salt, verification, white noise, Random number generator
Luckily, I am not giving a lecture on cryptography. Instead, I am speaking about personal revelation. How does the Lord get messages to us securely? How do we authenticate them?

MTE5NDg0MDU1MTUzMTE2Njg3.jpgThere is a remarkably close parallel between the problems of the physicist and those of the cryptographer. The system on which a message is enciphered corresponds to the laws of the universe, the intercepted messages to the evidence available, the keys for a day or a message to important constants which have to be determined. The correspondence is very close, but the subject matter of cryptography is very easily dealt with by discrete machinery, physics not so easily.” - Alan Turing

Physics, encryption, revelation

We need to talk about personal revelation so that we can recognize it and seek after it.

Why am I talking about personal revelation?

War in Heaven

The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer.”
Reverence Invites Revelation by Elder Packer (Oct 1991)


“The gate of history turns on small hinges”
Lots of hinges during this time of your lives

“No one of us can survive in the world of today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration. The spirit of reverence can and should be evident in every organization in the Church and in the lives of every member.”
Reverence Invites Revelation by Elder Packer (Oct 1991)


Just tell me what to do!
  • Slothful and not a wise servant
  • Training for what comes after - omniscience

Social media and constant connectivity
“Okay Google! Who is Whitney Newey?”
“Okay Google! How do I receive Eternal Life?”

Law of the Harvest vs. quick and instant response of the information age
  • Forget what’s “normal”
  • Think there’s no other method
  • Things worth working on
Alma 32 - Harvest
Seeds on different ground - Parable of the sower in Mark 4

Alert fatigue in security products: Target breach of Christmas 2013

Ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth

“We all know that human judgment and logical thinking will not be enough to get answers to the questions that matter most in life. We need revelation from God. And we will need not just one revelation in a time of stress, but we need a constantly renewed stream. We need not just one flash of light and comfort, but we need the continuing blessing of communication with God.”
Continuing Revelation by President Eyring (Oct 2014)

What qualifies as personal revelation?

D&C 8:2-3
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

Promptings of the Holy Ghost
Success comes as “inspiration”
I call it luck
In my experience: there’s no such thing as luck

Probably summarize this to: Elder Bednar compared receiving revelation to both an electric light and a sunrise.
A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing. Descriptions of such immediate and intense manifestations are found in the scriptures, recounted in Church history, and evidenced in our own lives. Indeed, these mighty miracles do occur. However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently “distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45). This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3–4). Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). And he did not learn how to build a ship of curious workmanship all at one time; rather, Nephi was shown by the Lord “from time to time after what manner [he] should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1).”
The Spirit of Revelation by Elder Bednar (April 2011)

We as members of the Church tend to emphasize marvelous and dramatic spiritual manifestations so much that we may fail to appreciate and may even overlook the customary pattern by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes His work. The very “simpleness of the way” (1 Nephi 17:41) of receiving small and incremental spiritual impressions that over time and in totality constitute a desired answer or the direction we need may cause us to look “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14).”
The Spirit of Revelation by Elder Bednar (April 2011)

Concrete examples
  • Moses slaughtering wicked Israelites
  • Letter on mission about timing
  • Revelation from Ada’s prayer when looking for my gloves
  • Walking to the office instead of taking the Subway on Wednesday

Example: Wife’s notes under pillows
  • Who to date, or not, in high school
  • Mission
  • Marry Nathan Cooprider
  • This is the time to have a baby
  • Provide a voice of warning
Ultimately life changing, but not what she wanted at the time
Five experiences over 36 years

A good idea that comes to you
Feeling of unease (can be mistaken for anxiety)

“The seventh chapter of Moroni in the Book of Mormon tells you how to test spiritual promptings. Read it carefully—over and over.
By trial, and some error, you will learn to heed these promptings.
If ever you receive a prompting to do something that makes you feel uneasy, something you know in your mind to be wrong and contrary to the principles of righteousness, do not respond to it!“

How do we obtain personal revelation?


No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22; James 4:3; 1 Jn. 3:22; 1 Ne. 15:11; Enos 1:15; Mosiah 4:21; D&C 4:7; and Moses 6:52 are examples.) While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived.”
Reverence Invites Revelation by Elder Packer (Oct 1991)

Moroni 10:3-5
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

1 Nephi 15:6-11: (Nephi and brothers after tree of life vision)
6 And it came to pass that after I had received strength I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations.
7 And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.
8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
9 And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.
10 Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?
11 Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.

Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives.”
The Spirit of Revelation by Elder Bednar (April 2011)

D&C 9:7-9 - translation and revelation (Oliver Cowdery)
7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

Muscle, exercise

“When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.”

Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil.”

Studying conference talks and applying to life, calling
  • Story with quorum on the bus
  • “Lord, is it I?”

“When we are acting as instruments in behalf of others, we are more easily inspired than when we think only of ourselves. In the process of helping others, the Lord can piggyback directions for our own benefit.”

Recording promptings - safe & secure location,

“When it is for the Lord’s purposes, He can bring anything to our remembrance. That should not weaken our determination to record impressions of the Spirit. Inspiration carefully recorded shows God that His communications are sacred to us. Recording will also enhance our ability to recall revelation. Such recording of direction of the Spirit should be protected from loss or intrusion by others.”


We need to talk about personal revelation so that we can recognize it and seek after it.
  • A lot of noise, get signal for processing
  • Authentication
  • Key!


Extra notes

Alma 5: - learned these through prayer and fasting
45 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

Oliver Cowdery - already given the answer in times past
D&C 6:22-23
22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

Personal Revelation and Testimony by Barbara Thompson, RS 2nd Counselor (Oct 2011)

“President Marion G. Romney, quoting the prophet Enos, said, “While I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.”21 Enos then related what the Lord put into his mind.
“This,” President Romney said, “is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one’s mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted.””

“Your body is the instrument of your mind. In your emotions, the spirit and the body come closest to being one. What you learn spiritually depends, to a degree, on how you treat your body. That is why the Word of Wisdom26 is so important.
The habit-forming substances prohibited by that revelation—tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco—interfere with the delicate feelings of spiritual communication, just as other addictive drugs will do.
Do not ignore the Word of Wisdom, for that may cost you the “great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures”27 promised to those who keep it. And good health is an added blessing.”

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