Monday, February 12, 2018

435: NEW LDS PROJECT UNDERWAY: WRITING A NEW HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

Writers, researchers, and Church historians have teamed up to produce a new history of the Church. It will be a new four-volume history.  The first Volume One will be published later this year. It is called Saints, The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days.

This new project was announced in this month's February Ensign. See below highlighted in yellow.


Elder Steven E. Snow, a General Authority Seventy and Church Historian and Recorder announced the new project for the Church in an  article in this month's February 2018 Ensign.  Elder Snow Taken announces that "together, the four volumes tell the story of the Lord’s Church striving to fulfill its mandate to perfect the Saints". He describes that the new style for writing the history will be in a narrative style. Snow took Brigham Young's advise to do so. He says in his Ensign article:  

In 1861, President Brigham Young (1801–77) urged Church historians to change their approach. “Write in a narrative style,” he advised, and “write only about one tenth part as much.”
The story on the next pages follows that counsel. I am pleased to introduce a new four-volume series called Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days. Chapter 1 is included in this issue, and subsequent chapters will be published in this magazine over the next several months. The first book will be available later this year, and the other volumes will follow.
Saints was prepared in response to the Lord’s commandment to “keep the church record and history continually” (D&C 47:3). Unlike past histories of the Church, it is a narrative history written in an engaging style that will be accessible to both youth and adults.
---------------------



It will be interesting to see how the new history of the Church will be received. I find it interesting that the title of the four-volume of the new Church History is called "A Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days. As we all know, everyone loves a great story. My youngest enjoys having a story read to her before she goes to bed.

The word 'story' defined in the dictionary has several meanings. Here are a few of them.
  • an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment
  • a fictional narrative shorter than a novel
  • a widely circulated rumor
  • a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader
The Church has revealed the cover art for the new book that will contain the  "New History of the Church". It is a painting of what looks like a fairytale landscape. But instead of the typical castle, there is beautiful finished Nauvoo Temple on top of a hill. 



If anyone who has read HISTORY and not the narrative STORY, will know that Nauvoo never looked like this. Because the Saints had to abandon Nauvoo, the Temple was not entirely completed. 

Construction was only half complete at the Death of Joseph Smith in 1844. The basement with its font was finished, as were the first floor assembly hall and the attic. When these parts of the building were completed they were used for performing ordinances (basement and attic) or for worship services (first floor assembly hall). After a succession crisis, Brigham Young was "voted" in as the church's leader by the majority of Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo. As mob violence increased during the summer of 1845, he encouraged the Latter Day Saints to complete the temple even as they prepared to abandon the cityThe Nauvoo Temple was in use for less than three months. Most of the Latter Day Saints left Nauvoo, beginning in February 1846, but a small crew remained to finish the temple's first floor, so that it could be formally dedicated. Once the first floor was finished with pulpits and benches, the building was finally dedicated in private services on April 30, 1846, and in public services on 1 May. In September 1846 the remaining Latter Day Saints were driven from the city and others from the neighboring region entered the near-empty city and vandalized the temple. The temple was evidently damaged by fire and a tornado before being demolished. 
...

The history of the Church that I have read is far from this fairytale looking and "picture perfect" image on the cover of the New History of the Church. The history that I have read keeps me up at night. However, if I want to fall asleep  maybe this might be a good story to read. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

434: THE SUPER-FULL-BLUE-BLOOD MOON IN JANUARY 2018

There were two full moons this month in January. The first one happened on the first day of January and the second was on the last day of the month. Alot happened between those two full moons. The two major things were President Thomas S Monson passed away and President Nelson was sustained as his replacement. The below photo I took on January 1 of the first full moon called the Wolf Moon as it rose above the Wasatch Mountains.



I wish I had a great photo to post of the second full moon which happened to also be a Total Lunar Eclipse. But I don't.. all I have is the below cloudy dark photo with the city lights from the Salt Lake Valley.


The cloud coverage was unfortunate, because seeing a super blue blood moon is a rare event (which also happened to be on Tu BiShvat.)  There is potentially alot of symbolism on surrounding these events which I am still trying to process.

Despite knowing that the weather wasn't going to be promising,  I still got up really early to hike in the East Foothills above Salt Lake City to get a good view of the eclipse in the western horizon. However, all I saw were dark clouds. This is the first major sign in the heavens that I missed due to cloud cover.

This is what I was hoping to see, but didn't



So, maybe instead this post should be titled instead sharing the EVENTS we did NOT see that we wish we could have (like the Lunar Eclipse).. how about  EVENTS we DID see that we wish we had not. So here it goes:

434: "RECENT EVENTS THAT WE WISH WE HAD NOT SEEN"


EVENT 01:
HUNDREDS OF DEAD BIRDS FALLING OUT OF THE SKY IN DRAPER:

Just prior to the Super Blood Moon on Tuesday, there were hundreds of dead birds that fell from the sky in the Southern part of the Salt Lake Valley.

“It’s one of the rarest things I’ve ever heard of,” said Sergeant Chad Carpenter with the Draper City Police Department.
“As I was driving, these birds were just falling out of the sky,” said Draper resident, Lacey Brown as she was driving down the street on 300 East in Draper.

Here is the link to the news story that aired on Channel 13.
  http://fox13now.com/2018/01/30/hundreds-of-birds-fall-from-sky-in-draper/

------------------------------------------------

EVENT 02:
TELEPROMPTERS  PRESENT AT PRESIDENT NELSON'S PRESS CONFERENCE:

What should be a non-scripted press conference where reporters can ask the new First Presidency any question, it appeared that there were teleprompters used. These teleprompters can be seen from the photos on the  LDS newsroom website where you can see them in the photos. (Personally, I think President Nelson did a great job for a 93 year man and I  am okay with having a 93 year old man needing help to not say something that might come out wrong, and/or having prior knowledge of the questions beforehand.. but I prefer a true non-scripted, correlated press conference)





Sidenote from the Press Conference:  I am impressed to see such oneness in the First Presidency alreaddy. It seems as though President Oaks know exactly what President Nelson is going to say next. One, Two, Three.. JINX. 




EVENT 03:
ORDAINING and SETTING APART OF THE NEW FIRST PRESIDENCY WITHOUT A SUSTAINING VOTE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH : 

We read in the D&C that EVERY calling in the Church requires a sustaining vote by the members of the Church. Traditionally the protocol is that a person after accepting a calling, they are presented to the members of the Church for a sustaining vote prior being ordained/set apart in that calling.  It would be like showing up to Church and finding out there is a new Bishopric, or a new Relief Society Presidency only to heard that they have already be SET APART in that calling before there was a sustaining vote of the members of the ward. Probably not the same, but kind of like having the POTUS taking the oath of office prior to a vote from the public.

Reference Scripture Doctrine and Covenants 20: 65 
"NO person is to be ordained to ANY office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church"


EVENT 04:

GROUND HOG SAW HIS SHADOW.
Yep..Today is Ground Hog Day and the little fury creature apparently saw his shadow which means... SIX MORE WEEKS OF WINTER. However that might be a good thing because here is Salt Lake City.. we haven't really had winter yet. We might be hurting this summer with the lack of water that comes from our snowmelt. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

433: FUNERAL SERVICE FOR PRESIDENT MONSON

Here are a few excerpts from each of the speakers at today's funeral service for President Thomas S Monson.  The screenshots are taken from the livefeed from ksl.com. May the Lord be with and comfort those who mourn today at his passing.

President Russel M. Nelson was the concluding speaker at the funeral services for President Monson. Here are his closing thoughts:


"I solemnly proclaim that 
President Thomas S Monson was a Prophet of God.
He taught as a Prophet and testified as a Prophet.
He had the courage as a Prophet and the kindness of a Prophet.
He received revelation as a Prophet and responded as a Prophet.
He lived as a Prophet and died as a Prophet."



















__________________________________________________

Elder Ballard Opening Prayer:
"How grateful we are to thank thee for sending to us 
our beloved prophet"


__________________________________________________

 Ann Dibb: 
"May each of us continue to Follow the Lord's Prophet"


__________________________________________________

Elder Uchtdorf:
"...and his stories, which I consider parables of 
a Modern Prophet of God."


__________________________________________________

Elder Erying
"The Full Priesthood Keys were Restored. 
Those keys were passed in an unbroken line to President Monson."

__________________________________________________



Sidenote: I couldn't help but notice the two men standing next the First Presidency at the funeral. In an organization that how you enter a room or where you stand is important. I wonder if this might be some indication on who one of the next two apostles might be. 

Elder Whitney L Clayton and/or
and Elder Craig C Christensen


Candid shot at each of the expression of some of the Twelve in order of seniority from Right to Left.




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

432: BLIND LEADING THE BLIND

The past few days in Salt Lake City we have been experiencing heavy fog in the valley. Fog reduces our visibility, distorts our perception and causes many fatal car accidents each year.

Once a car first encounters fog, the driver immediately slows down.

Unfortunately, the longer you stay driving in the fog, you get more confident and you begin to accelerate.

If you think you are safe by following a driver in front of you... but who also can't see in the fog, unless you stop, or slow down, most likely you both will crash.


Example video to watch until the end:









Thursday, January 4, 2018

431: A NEW YEAR 2018 ... AND WITH THE DEATH OF THOMAS MONSON, A NEW ERA HAS BEGUN

This has been an eventful week.. An ending of one year and the beginning of a new. An ending of one era with the death of President Monson, and the beginning of a new era of Church Leadership. An era is defined by Webster as a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy.

This week started with a hike up in the mountains with a few others who braved the cold winter air.
Photo taken 12/31/2107 on Sunday morning, New Year's Eve.


Photo of the last Sunrise of  2017.








These photos were taken on the last day of 2017, which happened to fall on a Sunday. Most people might think it crazy to wake up in the middle of the night to hike to a summit to see the sunrise. Grateful that my daughter is not one of them and was willing to come with her Dad. As we were  heading up the canyon, we saw two moose standing next to the road, probably startled to see humans braving the winter cold. They represented to me Nature's two witnesses that we indeed hiked that morning.

Much has happened this past year. It has been a difficult year for many. One of the reasons for hiking on New Year's Eve was to leave up on the mountain all of the things we would rather forget about 2017 and look forward to the upcoming new year of 2018. Each of us carried up a block of wood to be placed in a fire on the summit. The piece of wood represented something different to each of us. For some it might have been a grievance, or a sin that they would like to leave behind.  For another, it represented the willingness to sacrifice all.  I learned alot from this hike. I am grateful for experience.

Some interesting things have and will happen in this first month of the year.

For starters:

In this month of January there will be two full moons. Both of these full moons will be Supermoons. Supermoons occur when the moon is at it's closest point to the earth making the Full Moon brighter and larger. The first full moon was called the Wolf Moon and happened on Monday night, January 1st.  The next Full Moon will be on January 31th.  This will be a Blue Moon, a name given to the second full moon that occurs in the same month. However, this particular Blue Moon will not look blue, but will likely look red because it will cause a total lunar eclipse, also known as a Blood Moon.

Photo taken on December 31, 2017

Photo taken on January 1st, 2018.. The Wolf Moon.


Another big event this month has been the passing of President Monson

There have been alot of media articles and tributes to President Monson over the past 24 hours. He was loved and adored by many. He was a gentle and kind man.  One of the articles mentioned three things that we will be remembered by... his warm fuzzies, his ear wiggles, and his eye rolling about the fire  he started when he was 8 years old.  I might add that he has been known for his motto of "to the rescue" and helping the widows. I think all will agree that he will be remember most by the stories he told in conference and his incredible memory to share events from his life.

Shortly, the new President of the Church will be selected. The Church members will then refer to him as the new Living Prophet.  The LDS based newspaper outlet released this story on how the process of how the Prophet is selected.

"The senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who is the man who has served in the quorum the longest, presides in a meeting where quorum members determine one of two outcomes: should the First Presidency be reorganized or should the church continue to be governed by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the time being?
"Following a discussion, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then vote. If the group chooses to reorganize the First Presidency, a president is selected by unanimous vote. Traditionally, the new president has been the senior apostle. Once a president has been identified, he selects two counselors to make up the First Presidency."

I find it so fascinating that that the new president is chosen by a vote of the Quorum of the Twelve (I could be wrong, but I presume the two prior counselors also get to vote which would make 14 men.. not just the Q of 12)  However, if that is the case, there are only 13 men in this situation since Robert D Hales past away during the last General Conference and has not been replaced.

Unlike in the scriptures where God, Himself calls His prophet, the modern day "prophet" today is instead chosen by men via voting. Truly, as prophesied in Nephi's vision in 2 Nephi 28:5 "for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men."

The news article failed to explain who ordains the new prophet. I have always believed that only one who has a higher power can ordain/set apart someone to that position. That is why in the beginning of the Church, the Church Patriarch who was equal to the Church President would always be one set apart/ordain the New President.. never was another apostle able to set up the President/Prophet of the Church. Maybe they vote on that too. :)

___________________

Sidenote Trivia:
Just saw part of George Orwell's classic movie 1984. Here is just a little date trivia.

The famous date “April 4th, 1984” appeared in one of the early pages of George Orwell’s most important novel '1984'.  The novel was a warning to readers about the continued threats to the world of a future totalitarian, corporatized, and militarized police state. The novel was set in Oceania, which was once a thriving democracy but had then been economically, structurally and morally torn apart. People were criminalized for the things they thought or believed.. They were called thought crimes. If they didn't follow the existing authority they were cast out.  The date April 4, 1984 was the first entry in the diary of Orwell’s main character, Winston Smith.


Completely unrelated, I came across that same date from the movie in reading the bio of President Nelson who was called as an apostle and sustained in General Conference in April 1984. 



Thursday, December 21, 2017

430: RETURN TO LIGHT




This morning at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2017 was the exact time here in Utah when the Winter Solstice began. Starting today, we begin the return back to longer days of light after experiencing the longest night and duration of darkness. It is a time of returning and heading back towards the Light. Symbolically it is similar to repentance.   I took the above photo this morning as the sun broke through the clouds and through the dark branches of the trees. I thought it was interesting in the photo that the sun rays on the left there are hues of blue.. and on the right there are warm shades of red.

Light is so important to seek after. With increased light we can discern truth and error.
We should always be on a quest to seek after further light and knowledge. Adam and Eve patiently had to wait upon the Lord for further light and knowledge. God sends further light and knowledge in the form of true messengers sent by Him.

Below is a comparison of words of two men who claim to be a witness of the Lord. The first account is a witness of Jesus Christ in name only and the other is a Eyewitness of the Lord Himself. There is a difference. An important one.

In my opinion, the only thing really similar with  these two testimonies is that they were both given recently.  I think it is important to compare the two.

 Witness Number 1: From the credentialed apostle claiming authority:

"Brothers and Sisters I’m asked often, what’s it like to be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ? I always answer that question in this way. You tell me… because you are a witness of Jesus Christ and I am a witness of Jesus Christ in the same circumstance. Why? Because Men and Women, Boys and Girls who have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost have the privilege and duty of being a witness of Jesus Christ because the mission of the Holy Ghost told again and again in the scriptures is to testify of the Father and the Son. That is your responsibility as well as well as mine.

You read in the Doctrine and Covenants that an apostle is a witness of the NAME of Christ in all the world. What is the difference between a witness of Christ and a witness on the name of Christ? That is a big subject, I wrote a book on that a long time ago that went into print and out of print faster than any other book I am aware of. It was just too much doctrine to be bought and given as gift any way. The one that benefits from a talk is the one who prepares it, and the one who benefits from a book is the one who writes it. And in a word ‘The name of Christ’ of which I am a witness is ‘The authority of Christ’, ‘The mission of Christ’ including the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation and ‘The essence of Christ’ including Godhood.
I am a witness of those great realities. In addition of being a witness of Christ, I witness of his mission of His divinity to which he beckons each one of us on condition of covenants and repentance and faithfulness and of His authority of which I am privileged to hold the keys of and that is another unique position of an apostle. And out of all that I testify to you that we have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we have the power of the priesthood and we have the mission as we understand it of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in whose name I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
Elder Dallin H Oaks during a youth conference Q&A in Kansas, Wichita in 2017.



Witness Number 2: From one who has seen Christ.

   "As I mentioned, the days of Noah have to include Noah, have to include Enoch, or in other words, in addition to all of the wretchedness that we look forward to, the world disintegrating and devolving into, there will be an opposition to that, a hand sent from God in the form of prophets, apostles, someone with a message. When I use the word apostle I mean the word in the same sense in which it is used in the New Testament, that is: someone with a message coming to deliver a message from God to those to whom he speaks. I’m talking about someone to whom God speaks and says, “Go tell the people thus.”

   We believe we are approaching a moment in which the Lord is about to return. Read that chapter, Matthew 24. All of the signs that He speaks of will occur in one single generation.

   If you’ve not noticed, the signs have begun to appear. It means you are living within a generation in which a great deal is to occur. As it was in the days of Noah so is it about to be. That means dreadful things are coming on the one hand, and it means prophets are going to be among us again, people with messages that come from the Lord.

   I’m not here on my own volition. I’ve not done anything that I’ve done throughout the last number of years on my own volition. I do what I do, I preach what I preach, I testify to what I testify to, because, like Paul, I’ve been sent.
   I would rather understate than overstate the case but let me end by telling you Christ lives. He died and He was resurrected. I know this to be true because, like Paul, I have seen Him. I don’t tell you that to make this seem sensational. I tell you that to give you cause to believe in Him. He is real.
   Encountering Him as a resurrected being changed the course of history. It turned cowards into courageous, willing, and enthusiastic witnesses who faced down the Roman empire to their death. They died willingly. They died as evidence of the truth that they were testifying to. That kind of faith needs to return again to the earth. That kind of faith is possible again in our day."
Talk given in Los Angeles, CA on the Fall Equinox on September 21, 2017 





Addendum: Additional Quotes worth noting:

“Reading the New Testament is like reading another person’s mail. It was written to a specific body of believers who had been taught by those who knew Christ. Today it is just as necessary to have that same vital connection to Christ in order to be saved. How can we believe the truth if we are not taught the truth? How can we be taught the truth unless someone is sent from Christ to teach a message from Him? How can anyone pretend to teach the truth if Christ did not send them? See Romans 10:14-15.” (May 4, 2017)


“When the Lord determined to renew His work and allow another people the opportunity to receive a covenant from Him, He spoke to me from heaven and provided instruction. Faithful to those instructions, I have labored for years to prepare the minds and hearts any who wish to receive what is offered by a kind and loving God.” (March 24, 2017)


“Would we have recognized and accepted John [the Baptist] as a messenger sent by God? How would we have determined that this “homeless’ man was “‘sent by God”? If he had no pulpit, how could we know, that for a brief time, he alone could perform an ordinance required for salvation? If he was not part of the established system of religion, why would we give him any heed? If there was an existing temple, a presiding high priest, a governing board in the Sanhedrin, and established synagogues where scripture was recited and messages were delivered each week, why would we expect John to be more relevant to our salvation than the religious system in place? If the entire religious landscape was attributed to Moses, who was known to be a prophet (John 9:29), what makes us think we would choose to believe God sent the outsider, John? Why think salvation today will require anything less of a test than was required when John first appeared and began to preach? Why think we are any different than the Jews who rejected both John and Jesus? If our religion is a comfortable part of our lives, then what is its value?..


“If our religion does not cause others to revile us, members of our families to be offended, or help us understand the life of Christ and the prophets, it is not Christ’s religion. If religion takes us to a comfortable church each week where we are assured we will be saved in heaven, it is not truly Christian. If it does not require sacrifice, then we have nothing in common with either Christ or the prophets.” (Feb 19, 2017)


“What if salvation is not determined by grace alone, by works alone, or even some combination of the two? What if it comes from the ministry of one sent by God to declare salvation? And faith comes by hearing the message like Paul taught. (See Romans 10:17.) Paul was expounding a passage from Isaiah (Isa. 53:1), a prophet sent by God. Paul was likewise sent with a message from God. What if the meaning is that in order to receive salvation it is essential that the believer receive a message from a minister actually sent by God with a message for our day and time?


“What if salvation requires the same thing now as when Isaiah preached and prophesied, and when Paul taught, and when Christ ministered to mankind? What if there is a necessary relationship between the sender of a message (God) and the speaker of the message (one sent by God) in order for the message to actually result in salvation for the hearer-believer?


“Who has believed our report, indeed? And who, then, has saving faith?” (July 8, 2017)

Friday, November 10, 2017

429: A MESSAGE TO ALL CHRISTIANS: PART 2

Below is the latest video in the series of vignettes created as part of  commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Christian Reformation. Three lectures are being given across America specifically targeting a Christian audience. This video is a "trailer" from the first couple of minutes of Lecture 2 that was given in Dallas, Texas last month. The final talk will be given next week on November 16, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sidenote: The city of Atlanta is a very symbolic city for the final talk to be given. Few might not know that the city's  first name was actually "Terminus" which literally means "end of the line". 



Monday, November 6, 2017

428: A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES - A GUIDE AND STANDARD

I attended a training seminar last week at work. It was required for all employees.  We were given instructions on how to resolve conflict with co-workers as well as how to follow correct  procedures and standards in the workplace.  We were also reminded of the company's mission statement and vision. It was helpful instruction.

Most who might read this blog have heard the terms 'Guide and Standard' and 'A Statement of Principles'. They are not just tools used in the corporate world, but also recommended in the spiritual realm as well. However, instead of being beautiful and positive terms, they have recently turned into four letter words. They bring up painful memories of uncompleted assignments, failed attempts despite tremendous efforts as well as personal attacks and heartbreak.

There is a current proposal underway outlining a process to create a Guide and Standard that will hopefully be mutually agreeable to a very diverse and passionate group of people. Despite many valiant attempts to draft such a document, many have become apathetic and  discouraged. This current proposal is a way to hopefully move forward. It is by using the simple process of drawing lots where people will be selected to draft a Statement of Principles.  I think the effort has merit. We read in the scriptures that when there are disputes, drawing lots is one way to resolve the conflict.

The next three days a vote will be taking place for those who are in favor in having this process move forward. Here is the link with more information.




Sidenote: Last week I was reminded of a 'Statement of  Principle' that Joseph Smith gave to an audience of twenty thousand saints just months before he was martyred.  It is contained in what is known as the King Follet Discourse.

"It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did;

Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me.
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave."


I think a Guide and Standard is meant to be beautiful and positive thing. It is meant to instruct, guide and bless. A few days ago I was forwarded a creative poster that contained short phrases. It was compiled as a Guide and Standard. I thought it was well done. Below is a small thumbnail version of it.





...........



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

427: A SIGNIFICANT DAY: OCTOBER 31, 1517 - THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION 500 YEARS AGO

For most, today is just another Halloween... celebrated by millions with costumes and candy. It is a day when we justify eating unhealthy candy and even hand it out in handfuls to little children dressed up as monsters. Not one of my favorite holidays.

I was surprised to see that the LDS Church joined in the celebration this year by releasing this "scary" video of Richard Elliott, the Mormon Tabernacle Organist, playing an eerie solo on the historic Tabernacle Organ. This iconic LDS Tabernacle which has been used for sacred religious services for well over a century now was transformed to look haunted with eerie lighting and filled with fog for this video below.



Sidenote: In my opinion, the above video is relatively mild compared to the event held in a London Catholic Church that was used to host a Satanic Fashion Show last month.  LINK to video.


HOWEVER... Today is should be observed differently than previous Halloweens. Today marks the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation which began when Martin Luther expressed his concerns and took his written greivances, known as The 95 Theses, and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

Today people just blog.

I think Martin Luther chose Halloween, 500 years ago today, which was on the eve of All Hallows Day or known as All Saints Day on purpose.  All Saints Day,  observed on November 1, is the day that the Catholic Church celebrates and honors the worshipped Saints. It was a way to show gratitude to them for allowing their grace and excess good deeds to be sold for the sinner to receive forgiveness. So Luther probably used this important day as one more way protest to show his disgust of the Catholic Church for the corrupt practice of selling indulgences.

So instead of just celebrating today like previous Halloweens, I would recommend taking a moment to read more about the Reformation here or even watching the movie Luther which can be watched for free on Youtube. Below is the full movie. 



Happy Reformation Day!

---------------------------------------


Sidenote:

I received an email yesterday from an LDS ward member. Concerned  that some might have negative reactions over the recent announcements released this week from the LDS Church, he first listed all of the changes that the Church announced recently (see below)...



then said he said the following:

"I for one am grateful that we have been blessed with prophets and leaders who are continuously evaluating programs and policies to determine how they can be improved and then moving forward with necessary changes as they are inspired by revelation from God to act on their decisions. I also believe as members of this church we need to do our best to learn of and support these changes in every way we can." 

BTW: I probably would have included one more to list of the recent changes to LDS Church's endorsed programs. The decision to allow girls into the Boy Scouts. . I found it impeccable timing to have the Friends of Scouting Drive to conclude one week prior to the announcement. After receiving the required amount of money from the LDS faithful, a HUGE policy change was made to have Girls to now become Boys Scouts. LINK TO DESERET NEWS STORY


Friday, October 6, 2017

426: END TIMES?


My Neighbors, Family, Ward Members and Co-workers have asked me my thoughts about all of the recent events after the solar eclipse occured this summer. Fires, Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Flooding, and now the latest with mass murders/shootings in Las Vegas. Things are not quite right when a family from Utah goes on a vacation cruise and the wife started to laugh at the husband and the husband then kills her. He then tried to throw her overboard... or when newlywed husband after taking cold medicine was dreaming he was stabbing his wife and he woke up, and she is dead because he really did stab her in his sleep. Below is from a talk I recently heard:

 "The spirit of God is withdrawing from the world. Men are increasingly more angry without good cause. The hearts of men are waxing cold... This process with the spirit withdrawing, will end on this continent, as it did with two prior civilization in fratricidal and genocidal warfare. For the rest of the world, it will be as in the days of Noah in which, as that light becomes eclipsed, the coldness of men’s hearts is going to result in a constant scene of violence and bloodshed. The wicked will destroy the wicked." 

SO, DESPITE ALL OF THE NEGATIVE GOING ON THIS VIDEO HAS BEEN CREATED.

This video will hopefully give hope despite many reasons to lose it.  My prayer would be that we recognize our precarious circumstance and turn to the Lord and ask for His mercy. We have the choice to ripen as wheat if we only repent.



Friday, September 29, 2017

425: THAT WE MAY BE ONE

Yesterday, I went into the downtown Deseret Book store across from the Salt Lake Temple. Because this weekend is General Conference, the LDS owned book store was more crowded than usual with visitors from all over the world. In the entrance, Deseret Book has on display a huge map of the world where visitors can take a pin and mark on the map where they are from. Most countries had at least one pin stuck in it. Truly the LDS General Conference is a global event.

 I always find it interesting to see the books that are being promoted for all LDS conference attendees during the Conference weekend. This year, the highly promoted and visible book on display is the book entitled, "That We May Be One - A Gay Mormon's Perspective on Faith and Family" written by Elder Todd D Christofferson's brother Tom.

See the photos I took below:




In addition to the book, this months edition of the LDS oriented magazine called LDSLiving has on the front cover a photo of Tom Christofferson with the featured article. "Mormon and Gay". The magazine is sold next the Ensign as well as the special edition magazine called Temples.

Here are a few photos that I took and the article inside the magazine.






In addition to these books and magazines, outside of Deseret Book are banners advertising the LDS Church's mall. The glossy ads show fine jewelry and women drinking wine and beer. The advertising promote the idea that your wish list should include fine jewelry and apparel. In addition, the banners suggest the idea that you should have a drink after work before going home.




Is there any doubt that Moroni lamented when he saw our day?

Anyway...the reason for this post is that I have been thinking alot about what it means to be one and how can a diverse group of people ever come to a mutual agreement. The above book title is interesting to consider.   "That We May Be One" is a profound wish or desire for all people.

We read all through the scriptures the importance of being one.  Not only do we long to be at one with God, but also with our families, especially with our spouse as well as with each other in a larger community. Zion is a place where people are one. They are of one heart and one mind.  We know that the Father and the Son are one and we want to be like Them.  But how is that achieved?
Do we all have to believe the same things? Do we all have to mutually agree on everything? Does mutual agreement have be unanimous? ...Do we all need to believe and think exactly the same thing?

A paper/essay has recently been written that is posted  HERE about this subject about the process of becoming one and what it means to have mutual agreement. . While quite long (around 16 pages), it is a well thought paper worthy of being read. Using the Book of Mormon as a guide and standard of how unity and peace should be achieved, the author has written a paper that is important for all to consider.

And since General Conference might be a little shorter this year since it was announced yesterday that President Monson will not be in attendance nor will Elder Robert D Hales.  NEWS REPORT... some will have some extra time to read it.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

424: A SACRED AND IMPORTANT WEEK

A few photos from yesterday on September 23, 2017. It was an important week not only on earth but in the heavens... and not just for Christians but for those of the Jewish Faith. 





















I have been reading the following in the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 110  is the description of the Lord in the vision manifested to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, April 3, 1836. 
Joseph used the symbol of fire, snow, sun and rushing waters. Important imagery that meant alot to me on my hike. When the Lord appeared it was a Sabbath day meeting. Joseph Smith’s history states: “In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day. After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us.”

Section 110 verses 1-5 

 The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

423: ONE SMALL ACT OF PROTEST CHANGED THE WORLD

The Lord said that the weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones. (I Corinthians 1:27, D&C 1:19). Next month on October 31, 2017 the world will commemorate the small act of Martin Luther posting his 96 Theses to the front door of the mighty and strong Catholic Church which started the Protestant Reformation.

Seven videos have been created to commemorate this event that took place 500 years ago and its impact on the world. Below is the link to the seventh and concluding video in this first of three installments of videos that show God's Hand moving once again on the earth and His involvement in our lives today.  Next week is the Fall Equinox, a time of harvest. Three talks will be given in three major and symbolic cities in the next two months. The first one is next week in Los Angeles.  We invite all to join the live streaming video here on Thursday September 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM MST http://www.christianreformation500years.info/

These videos have been produced as a precursor to those talks.



Sidenote:

There is a beautiful lakeside  village in Austria  called  Hallstatt. Next to the lake there is a small Lutheran church. This church is planning events to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of Protestant Reformation. I took a photo the banner that hangs outside the church. I found it interesting that it is written in 13 different languages including Arabic and Hebrew. Truly the entire world was changed by what began with Martin Luther. A candle that can not be blown out.






Monday, September 11, 2017

422: 16 YEARS LATER....SOMETHING I WILL NEVER FORGET.

This past July, my daughter and I spent a few days in New York City. On the Fourth,  we spent the morning down at Ground Zero and went into the 9-11 Memorial Museum.   Even though this event happened 16 years ago today, I can still remember everything about that morning as if it was yesterday. Below are a few photos I took of a few images I saw at the Museum.

















One of the most symbolic things I saw at the museum was this stuffed animal that found on top of the rumble after the Towers fell. Of all the types of stuffed animals that it could be.. it was a lamb. Below is the placard next to the stuffed animal.


 



....
Yes, The Lamb did survive! He is the way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.   

 ....................


Sidenote: A few letters are on display expressing their thoughts about 9-11. The below postcard really touched me. You can see from the date, it was written on August 22, 2012 almost 11 years after the event. 




This is what Ground Zero looks like today. In place of the twin tower, are twin cascading fountains the disappear into the ground. Each occupying the exact footprint of the towers with all of the names etched around the exterior wall of the cascading pool of water.




 The newly built tower next the 9-11 Memorial that is now even taller than the Twin Towers.