I must have had a sense of humor when I was born because I interrupted a temple endowment session.
My father was escorting his friend, Jim Faber, through the Oakland Temple. We lived in Fresno, about 3 hours away from the temple, and my mother was due anytime with me, her fourth child.
In the middle of the endowment session, a temple worker walked in with a note, asking, "Is there a Brother Merrill here?"
My mother had called the temple and asked them to find my father and deliver the message, "It's time."
My father immediately left the session, leaving his friend behind, ("Sorry!") and was so flustered he went down the wrong stairs into the Women's Waiting Room.
He sped home as fast as he could and gave my mother a blessing. They traveled to St. Ames hospital and I was born 22 minutes after arrival.
I was 10 lbs. and have been a big boy ever since.
They named me Timothy ("One Who Honors God") George (after my grandfather).
Four weeks later, I attended Church for my first time.
On April 8, 1979, my father gave me a baby blessing in Sacrament Meeting. He was joined in the circle by his friend Roger McGrady, Bishop Ashcraft and his counselor Ralph Freeman, and by our home teacher, Phil Mallory. The two full time elders also joined us, Elders Rhodes and Neeld.
I don't remember any of this, of course. But my father always kept a detailed journal. And on this day, he wrote:
"Timothy is one of the noble and valiant sons of our Heavenly Father [I probably blushed hearing that] who . . . studied the gospel principles for thousands of years prior to his coming [yikes! no wonder I slept so much as a baby; I must have been exhausted] to be prepared. . . . I blessed him with the power of discernment to know right from wrong and to have the desire to choose the right. . . . I blessed him with a strong voice to call to repentance the Lord's people and with the power of testimony to confound the enemies of the Lord's people."
I did not realize until much later who the most dangerous "enemies" to the Lord's people are. Now I know that the greatest threat to the Lord's people comes not from without, but from within.
Time to Speak Up
All of us can speak with the tongue of angels.
We all have a divine message to share if we give voice to the Holy Spirit within us.
Lately I have observed many people "awakening" to the Spirit of Christ. Together we are flooding the earth with our voices declaring "the word of God, one with another, without money and without price" (Alma 1:20).
Like Amos, I can say:
I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an [attorney], and a gatherer of [Marvel Comics]:
And the Lord took me as I followed the [Brethren], and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
Ever since, I've been trying to declare the good news of the gospel. I've been trying to call the Lord's people to repent.
Before the fullness of the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled.
What Message Does the Lord Want Me to Share?
There are many ways to express our faith in Christ. For me, one of the things I want to share is Christ's pure love, or charity.
I want us to appreciate that authority derives from love and not(!) from priesthood office.
But, in consequence of men valuing power and control over love and sacrifice, we have created a system that is backwards, rewarding us with the spoils of Babylon and causing us to think we're rich when in fact we're dead broke.
We can sense a "nothingness" coming from a religious system that does not act according to charity's commandment.
My beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing.
When we all sense this "nothingness," why would we follow it? Why would we follow leaders who do not produce the fruits of love?
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits.
(3 Nephi 14:15-16)
Why do we honor those who demonstrate by their actions that they value pride, status, wealth and idolatry over love and sacrifice?
Why have we fashioned a Church of, by, and for Pharisees, having replaced following Christ with following the Brethren?
Feel Discouraged? Some Advice
Sometimes I feel discouraged as I've tried my best to declare the word of God. I have found it is not always well received, even (especially) among members of the Church.
What if nothing I write changes anything? What if the leaders and members don't want to leave behind their carnal security and idolatry?
Well, something the Lord has told me helps me press forward:
We just need to warn our neighbors and trust in Him.
You see, it is not up to us how others react. We can't force anyone else to repent.
But we can raise our voice in the celestial chorus that is flooding the earth right now: the voice of Christ calling to his children, his sheep, through thousands of us singing His words.
And they will recognize His voice.
Let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.
We don't have to run faster than we have strength. All the Lord asks is that we warn our friends and family and neighbors. No running required.
Walking in mildness and meekness, we can invite them to leave behind the Great and Spacious Building, the pride that ties us to dead laws and imperfect men, and come unto Christ. . . and live!
I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
And so my dear friends, family, and neighbors, I invite you to behold God with an eye single to His glory, to experience the freedom purchased us in and by Christ Jesus, and live!
Follow the Holy Spirit.
Follow the fruit.
So we will not have to follow the "nothingness" anymore.