Dr. Mark R. Grandstaff, PhD., a former Presidential Advisor and Fellow of numerous leadership think-tanks, is President and CEO of Renaissance-Thinkers, a leadership consulting firm. An emeritus associate professor of History and Institutional Leadership at Brigham Young University, he has lectured at UC Berkeley, UCLA, Oxford, the London School of Economics, The University of Victoria, New Zealand and The University of Maryland, College Park. He assists people in getting to know themselves better through tying their work into their larger life journey — hence, finding a renewed sense of calling and mission, excitement, and satisfaction in their careers and lives. His Church assignments have spanned Ward, Stake, and Area callings. He and his spouse, Amy L. Dixon, Esq., reside in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. He recently served a mission to Germany and as an advisor to the welfare employment department at Church Headquarters. He can be reached at Mark.Grandstaff@gmail.com.
“Is It I? I am He, and what would you have me do Lord?”
1 Now there came a man of the Pharisees whose name was Nicodemus, a member of the council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could do the miraculous signs that you do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus replied, “How can these things be?” John 3: 1-9
Truly…how can these things be?
We learn from Luke in Acts: Acts 10:38
“God Anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [Indeed he] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed…, for God was with Him.”
And as Christ was anointed with power it was the same was with His disciples. We are told of the event in Matt 10: 7-8 where Christ admonished them to travel around, and let people know that the kingdom of heaven has come. Take care of the sick, waken the lifeless, get to the root of suffering, and banish the demonic.
And So it is with US His latter day disciples… and…
In order to do this we must feel the promptings of the Spirit…the Holy Ghost or as it says in the Greek Coptic version of the Gospel of Thomas (v3)…we will be impoverished indeed…for we must recognize the Father of light as we are Children of Light.
Unfortunately, we like Nicodemus (often) fail to open our heart and develop sufficient humility (humus or of the earth) to do so.
In (3 Ne 9:20), we read Christ speaking to His people on this continent:
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost…
Is The Holy Ghost Dormant?
“that members of the church have received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, but in many… it lies dormant.”
Why is this connection to the Holy Ghost so important? Well because ultimately it is the Holy Ghost which leads us back home to the Father and the Son as we hearken to its council.
As it is revealed in Moroni 7 the spirit of Christ will show us the ways we should go. Elder (Apostle) Charles Penrose and President Marion G Romney would agree when they said that the Holy Ghost is a greater and higher endowment of the same spirit which enlightens every man and woman that comes into the world. Indeed this higher endowment comes through the Spirit of Christ—to our conscience-as we obey the will of the Lord.
We find similar sentiments in DC 93 (vs 36-39) in which we are told that the spirit of Christ is pure intelligence or light and truth which forsaketh the evil one. The verses point out those two things which will darken that spirit which guides us back to God. First, sin. Second, the sins of the father.
Let’s look at them both. In old English “Sin means “to take away…to hide. And what are we hiding from or what is being hid from us? The Father… as nothing impure can enter His presence. From light into the darkness an at-one-ment…a reconciliation must be made in order for us to re-enter that light again…from Darkness into the light constant repentance—or a repentant state of heart allows us to feel when we deviate from the path back to God.
Now what about the idea of the sins of the Father obfuscating the Spirit of Christ. Let me make a quick and somewhat obvious suggestion: Do you remember the story of the rich man who came to see Jesus for advice about what he should do to become a disciple? Christ would tell him and he would go away sorrowfully… I make no judgment upon him as I do not really know the circumstances there. But I do know that Christ told his followers that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
I believe that it is not a stretch that “by rich man” He meant any human being entangled with possessions… physical, psychological, spiritual—that is all of us. The path to God…at least what I have learned in my life… is found in unbinding the attachments that constitute one’s preferences, desires, or inclinations.” To find God, one has to empty oneself of oneself, to make room for God to enter.
Now How Do We Do This?
First, by recognizing who we are and to what we are called in our life. Let me add a caveat here…one person (Carl Jung) who I admire greatly once said…It is not so important that we live the life Christ lived as much as it is to live our life as well as He did His.
So again, how do we do this? Reading from the Gospel of Thomas: The kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. [Those who] become acquainted with [themselves] will find it; [and when you] become acquainted with yourselves, [you will understand that] it is you who are the sons and daughters of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”
To Know…or to dwell in Poverty
Let’s look at Christ’s early ministry. Does he know who he is?
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Matt 4: 1-11
Who are you? To what are you called?
Five times on the way to the Cross he is asked the same question…are you who you think you are…self-doubt. Remember we are Children of the Living Father. Christ Remember this foremost.
In the wilderness and here in a lone and dreary world you must—Know who you are and to what you are called.
Here Am I (Sins of the Father—get rid of the baggage) Familial…socio-economic and political systems enculturate us and cause us to see life a particular way.
We must begin to clear it all away.
How? I think through daily meditation and contemplative prayer.
President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Boyd K. Packer and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf have admonish that we need to find a quiet place daily so that we could cease our thinking and to be still to know that the Father is God.
May I suggest that you start a practice daily of contemplative prayer as some of my Catholic Jesuit and Diocesan friends do.
Pick out a situation in which you were involved in and think about it…write about it. Become introspective…pray for insight…and listen.
But I ask you to consider one difference.
Become aware of your projections. An example of this is took place at the Last Supper:
17 In the evening he cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.
Let us know when our hands are in the dish and repent.
Another question lies in the story of Saul’s transformation to Paul in Acts (9:1-20)
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Who art thou Lord?
What will you have me do Lord? Find out what He will have you do and do It!
So here are 3 things to ask:
- I am he
- Is it I?
- What would you have me to do?
Through this path, I believe, that the Spirit of Christ as refined by the Holy Ghost will lead back to the Father.
Let me end by citing Section 84: 42-47 of the DC. 43
And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. (See Bednar, 2011) 44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. 45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. 47 And everyone that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
Now what about our friend Nicodemus…for him to see beyond his narrow view of the law and his psychological baggage and projections he needed a complete shift in his thinking from birth to death from water to baptism from fire to the Holy Ghost.
Did he have it? I would like to think so…It would be he who stood up for Christ in the meetings of the Sanhedrin. It would be he (among others) who claimed the body of Christ upon the Savior’s death…and it would be his costly embalming spices which the body of the Messiah was wrapped in and from which the Holy Christ would arise.
Like Nicodemus, we in order to truly obtain the Spirit which takes us home, one must be able to make sound judgements and ask tough questions…no harder than these three, however: I am he? Is it I? What would you have me do Lord? The Result: A sacred disciple’s mindset