Monday, April 16, 2018

443: SPINE-TINGLING THRILL TO BE IN HIS COMPANY

Below photos are from the Mormon Newsroom





From the LDS Press release:

"Over the weekend, the group will visit the Holy Land as Jesus Christ’s apostolic witnesses and minister where Christ taught during His ministry."

“This is a legendary land,” Elder Holland said. “It's a spine-tingling thrill for me to realize that I'm in the company of President Russell M. Nelson, a modern prophet in every sense that they were ancient prophets [in Jerusalem in biblical times] with the same authority and the same priesthood and teaching the same gospel.”

Elder Holland continued, “Our living testimony today is we have a living prophet this very hour on this soil standing in this land teaching that same doctrine. The significance of that for Latter-day Saints and for the world cannot be overstated. That's at the heart of the thrill I feel today."

so my question to Elder Holland is... Really?  Spine-tingling thrill to be in the company of President Nelson?  You are in Jerusalem...   How about a spine-tingling thrill that you are walking where Christ walked?

Reading things like the above statements from Elder Holland cause me great concern because I believe that we speak too much about having a living prophet and following him.. instead of following Jesus Christ. . It was hard not to notice that in this past LDS General Conference which took place over Easter weekend, more was said about following President Nelson than about Jesus Christ. Starting from the first session of Conference.. three of the apostles talks were entirely on President Nelson instead of speaking about Jesus Christ... and it was Easter Weekend.

Do we ever see in the New Testament of the apostles testifying and talking all about Peter who was basically the President of the Church after the Jesus Christ ascended into heaven?. Does Matthew, Mark, Luke or even John even mention Peter's name in any of their epistles? Does Paul?  Or do the New Testament apostles focus solely on the Lord Jesus Christ? I am sure Peter was great.. but as a apostolic witness of Jesus Christ.. isn't it your role to testify about Jesus Christ? or are you a witness of another man's  job title?


Here are a few quotes from the first opening session of General Conference.

Elder M Russell Ballard:

"With our raised hands, we promised to hearken unto his voice (President Nelson)....

"I am a witness that the hand of the Lord has been preparing him  (President Nelson) to become our presiding apostle and prophet...


Elder Gary Stevenson:

"When I envision a Christlike heart in daily practice, I see President Nelson. I have not met anyone who exemplifies this trait at a higher level than he does. It has been a remarkable tutelage for me to be in the position to observe firsthand the manifestations of the Christlike heart of President Nelson."


Elder Neil L Andersen:

"There are many logical reasons to follow President Russell M. Nelson.

"We embrace President Nelson as we would have embraced Peter or Moses if we had lived in their day."

"I promise you that as you remain resolute in following the prophet, your faith in the Savior will increase.

"In a future day, looking back on our mortality, we will rejoice that we walked the earth at the time of a living prophet. At that day, I pray that we will be able to say:
  • We listened to him. 
  • We believed him. 
  • We studied his words with patience and faith. 
  • We prayed for him. 
  • We stood by him. 
  • We were humble enough to follow him. 
  • We loved him. "


But I digress from the original intent of this post...Back to the media releases on President Nelson' World Minister Tour.




Most if not all of the public messages we hear from these "apostolic witness" are being read from a teleprompter. Above is a image of President Nelson giving a video address this past week in Jerusalem. I am reminded of the Lord's direction to His apostles when he said,


"Take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: 
but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: 
for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost".



Sidenote Commentary:

When we decide to follow only a disciple of His, even if it is a true disciple, we miss the mark and fall to a Telestial state and are no better than the liars and thieves. (See D&C 76: 98-104.) So even when it is a man whose example we list or refer to, it is only to the extent that the man illustrates the correct manner to follow the Son of God.


The phrase “follow the prophet” does not appear anywhere in scripture. It does not appear there because it is an institutional invention designed to reduce resistance to centralized church decision-making. It was implemented deliberately during the administration of David O. McKay. It is an idea which is altogether alien to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, what appears in the scriptures is a curse pronounced on those who follow man or put their trust in man’s arm. (See 2 Ne. 4: 34; 2 Ne. 28: 31; D&C 1: 19.) Nephi’s final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord. (See 2 Ne. 28: 31-32.)

 The difference between truth which can save and error which will damn is so fine a line it is sometimes compared to a two-edged sword, cutting both ways. Encouraging people to find that edge and to rightly divide between truth and error oftentimes will offend. It is still the truth. We really ought to fear God and not man. (D&C 3: 7.) The One who keeps the gate of salvation is not a man or men, for He alone will open or shut that gate. There is “no servant” employed there. (2 Ne. 9: 41.) If you arrive at that gate having been misled regarding your obligation to Him, having “followed the prophets” you will be among those whose eternal opportunities have been curtailed, no better off than liars and whoremongers. (D&C 76: 98-105.)

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and lastly... speaking about any this to TBM will not be very well received. A close friend of mine sent me the following email this morning which prompted writing this blogpost.. with permission I post it below:

I’ve been trying to understand why I’m met with such apathy, resistance and anger from Mormons, particularly my own family, whenever I try discuss the new truths I’ve been exposed to if we are a church that believes in continual revelation.

It came to me this morning that the issue is with insecurity. And the thing they are insecure about is their knowledge of God. It is the great affliction of all Latter-Day Saints from the lay member to the president of the church. Ironically, it was knowledge of God that once defined Mormonism among all other Christian sects in the beginning of the restoration. Joseph claimed to have it and wanted his friends and family to have it likewise.

The reason Mormons will not wake up to a message of truth sounding in their ears like a dinner bell, is because they believe that how they perform on earth does indeed make a difference in the afterlife.....and in general, they are not very secure in their standing before God for various reasons. Deep inside, they feel guilt for whatever reason about how they have lived their lives. Maybe they feel they have not been honest enough, moral enough, thoughtful or loving enough. Maybe there is some sin they have not repented of. Maybe they engage in worldly lusts, etc. And so they live out their lives with the uncertainty of whether or not their performance on earth will merit Celestial glory rather than those other scary places of lesser glory where there is not chance for advancement.

To deal with all this uncertainty, they cling to the one thing in their lives they feel they CAN do perfectly which will ultimately provide for them the salvation they are uncertain of. They can be completely loyal to a church which gives them a promise of receiving a pass ticket to the Celestial kingdom given certain milestones are reached and endurance to the end with a Christ-like attitude is practiced. If they can have fidelity to that here on earth, it will ultimately make up the difference in the long run. Responsibility can be laid at the feet of the church rather than upon their own shoulders. It’s the one thing they feel they can do perfectly when everything else they do in their lives is imperfect.

So when you present them with the notion that their one safety net may not be a safety net at all and that they cannot depend on their membership in the "one true church" or their temple recommend to earn for them their ticket, it rattles their senses so much that they have to either ignore the message or tune it out completely. And when they are confronted with enough truth that they cannot ignore it, they usually lash out in anger as a coping mechanism. Deep down it's all about insecurity. If they were secure in what they believed, they would not hesitate to discuss and consider new truths and they certainly wouldn't be angry about what you are trying to say. They would rejoice that you care so much. I mean, if you knew what a pencil sharpener was because you own one, you wouldn't take any offense to someone who had never seen one discussing their views with you of what they think it is. You would just laugh to yourself and not be rattled one bit.

In essence, Mormons lack knowledge of God in a religion that is supposed to have the most of it and it makes them feel insecure. This process of obtaining knowledge of God exists on a spectrum with belief on one end and knowledge on the other end as outlined in Alma 32. The knowledge we all seek is an actual witness that God really does exist and that this is not all just a big fairy tale. Knowledge of God was always meant to REPLACE or FINISH our faith in Him. Nobody ever feels peace and security until they can finally leave their uncertainty behind and know something for certain. Getting to that point involves moving from exercising belief, to acting upon your beliefs to produce faith, then moving along various steps of faith until you arrive at knowledge. Think about it, how many times have you asked God for a sign that He is real? We all do it...because we are all insecure.....and that is because we don't have knowledge of it yet. So he sends us a sign but then our short-term memories demand more. But if you had knowledge of Him, your curiosity and uncertainty would at last be laid to rest.

I think that deep inside, Mormons know all this but they are too afraid to search it out because nobody around them is doing it and sadly, their leadership discourages it as well saying it is too dangerous. This is because they, like you, do not have knowledge of God and are insecure about it as well. But in their case, they know the whole church is looking to them for guidance so they cannot convey a message of insecurity. They must maintain the appearance of being in control and confident. They have produced nothing of their own that we would look to as a “special witness of Christ” and thus cannot stand on their own merit. To compensate for that, they fall back on the only doctrine that commands respect (follow the prophet) to instill in the hearts of the members a sense of security which will compensate for all the knowledge that they (the members) lack. The Lord actually addressed this very thing to the Sanhedrin when he said:

"Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."

It’s all about the human reaction to insecurity.

Friday, April 13, 2018

442: DISPATCHED - CONSCIENCE OR CONFORMITY


I just finished reading a book written by my friend, Eric Moutsos. In the book, Eric tells his untold story of how he served as a Salt Lake City Police Officer and was later placed on administrative leave for voicing his conscience. The title of the book is Dispatched: Conscience or Conformity.

Definitions of the book title (courtesy of Mr. Webster) 

Conformity
The act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. Norms are implicit, specific rules, shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others.

Conscience
The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives,impelling one toward right action.

Dispatched
To dismiss, send off, to depose of promptly,  or even the act of putting to death, execution

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Here are a few quotes from the book:

Our culture has accepted two huge lies, The first is that if you disagree with someone, you must not like them....the second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.



Friday, March 30, 2018

440: FACES OF CHRIST

This is an important, historic weekend as it aligns the Jewish Faith, all Christian Religions and the Mormons with the sacred days of Passover, Easter and LDS General Conference respectively ( and not to mention maybe the Pagans with their April Fools Day.)

Today is Good Friday. A Somber Day to think of all the events that occured today. My family plan to go see the latest movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ. As most  know,  Paul went from being the most infamous persecutor of Christians to Jesus Christ's most influential apostle.

Also,Tonight at sundown begins the Jewish Holiday of Passover.

Christians believe that the resurrection took place on a Sunday. After the First Council of Nicaea in 325, it was determined that Easter should always fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. The Full Moon is on Saturday and it will also be a Blue Moon. The moon rises about 7:09 PM tonight and will set at 7:37 AM tomorrow morning.. and then rise tomorrow night at 8:16 PM.  I hope to take a photo of it and post it later but wanted to post this beforehand.

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SIDENOTE:
For millennia now, believers and nonbelievers have wondered what Jesus may have looked like and grasped at any and all evidence in their search. In 2011, a 2,000-year-old, credit-card-sized, lead booklet was found in a cave overlooking the Sea of Galilee bearing what looks to be the oldest portrait of Jesus Christ, perhaps made during the lifetime of those who knew what he looked like and, perhaps, the “true” face of Jesus.

From the earliest days of Christianity up until Rembrandt’s 17th century, the idea of portraying Jesus as anything other than a supernatural Divine being was considered blasphemy. 

Rembrandt shifted away from Jesus as the heroic superbeing of antiquity towards a more human,  and painted a more accessible to believers, and, perhaps, truer face of Christ.

He used as his model a young Sephardic Jew from the neighborhood in which he lived and worked. He painted portraits of Jesus Christ from various angles and shown in various states of mind and mood. Below are a few of these paintings that have been preserved.. some of which are believed to have been painted by his students.  There is only one that is believed to have been painted by the master's hand.





Rembrandt loved the story of Jesus at Emmaus for its depiction of Christ as teacher, opening the eyes of His disciples to the truth of his being and his continued connection to them. Rembrandt reconnected in a deeply personal way with Jesus by choosing a Jewish model—an outcast, like the outcasts with whom Christ (and Rembrandt himself) chose to keep company.

These faces were used as inspiration for the cover on the newly published scriptures. The beholder of the books will see a faint resemblance of some of the."Faces of Christ" which Rembrandt painted. It is only through reading the scriptures will we ever be able to see Christ and know His True Identity.


In the final version, the image of Christ's Face is almost undetectable to the viewer.. but only a fingerprint like image to allow the reader to come to know Christ themselves. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

439: PRESERVING OUR DIFFERENCES


Words of Wisdom:

People are very different one from another. Not only are men and women different from one another, women are different from each other and men are different from each other. Personalities are always going to be ill-fitted. Getting people to mesh together… that is not going to result in somehow this universal “similarity of personality”. 

It is important that people preserve their differences. It is important that people have the gifts that have been given to them by God preserved intact and not suppressed because someone doesn’t like the way their gifts get expressed. It is important that people preserve their differences.

Zion is going to have people whose artistic outpouring is going to be fabulously different from one another.

Look at the:
  • Totem pole artistry of the Native Americans
  • Carved artistry of the Hawaiian Islands
  • Sculptures of Michangelo


These examples are Radically Different one from another. So much so that you are bridging these enormous cultural divides to look at these different sculptures.

Why would we ever want to have a studies school of artistic discipline that produces nothing more than some uniform product when beauty and artistry can find so many unique forms of expression. Why would we ever want that?

(Sidenote: Why would you want to go to a church meeting in Uganda, a fellowship in the Phillipines and a fellowship meeting in Spain and hear the same lesson on the same Sunday everywhere throughout the world. That is managerial overkill designed to destroy the unique spirits of the  sons and daughters of God.)

Facial recognition works because no one else has the same face as you. Fingerprints distinguish everyone of us from one another. So much so that is you leave a print and everyone else leaves a print, we can distinguish yours from everyone else. Every single snowflake crystal is unique. Every leaf of every tree is unique. Nature cries out that God treasures the differences that exists from one soul to the next.

And when describing the gifts that are given, the gifts are very different but how the gifts manifest themselves even if one possess the exactly the same gift.

Everyone one of us are unique, and when we deal with one another, the objective is not to compel you to be me.  The objective is not to compel anyone of us to be the same as another one of us. The objective is to rejoice, and to respect and to hallow the work that God has been done in making us so unique from one another. Even twins are dissimilar.

Headbutting is not a bad thing, as long as It is not done in a way as to break hearts, create division and make people hold ill will toward one another.

Below are a few more photos I took on my trip down to Arizona. Notice the beauty of all the different rock formations. The beauty of God's artwork indeed.!








And lastly... a small tree with the best view on earth. The Grand Canyon. May we all survive with deep roots in our testimonies of Christ and thrive the difficult circumstances where we find ourselves.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

438: RUMORS AND PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEKEND'S LDS GENERAL CONFERENCE

Prediction: A new buzz word will likely emerge from this upcoming LDS General Conference. The word is 'minister'.

The word 'minister' and other forms of word like "ministry" are already starting to circulate in the headlines on LDS.org. Below are some of the latest headlines found on Mormon Newsroom  which is the official resource for the Church News.



and


Like the catchy word "ponderize" which became infamous from Elder Devin Durrants Talk in the October 2015 General Conference or "Hastening the work" in the 2013-2014 conferences, the word "minister" might be heard more times in this upcoming Conference than the words "Beloved Prophet"

In Christianity, the title of minister is defined as a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. 

While used primarily in other religions, the term 'ministry' has not be commonly been used in our LDS lingo. However I vaguely remember it being used prior to the 1990's  in a report given by Peter, James, and John after being down to observe the telestial world where they reported finding the Satan there, with his ministers, preaching all manner of false doctrine and striving to lead the posterity of Adam astray. 

And for those who recall hearing this, they will remember that the man Adam didn't want to have ministers. He was looking for Messengers. And if I might add, not just any type of messengers, but Adam was looking for Messengers that were sent from the Father.  He was found waiting for the further light and knowledge that Elohim (plural for Gods.. or more specifically, God the Father and Our Mother in Heaven) that They would send through Their Messengers, not ministers. 

I wonder if it would be better to follow the example set forth by.Adam and Eve and listen to "True Messengers" sent from the Father instead of "ministers."

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In addition to above predication, there are rumors circulating that there will be an announcement in General Conference that home teaching and visiting teaching will being replaced by “Ministering Brethren” and “Ministering Sisters.”

Interesting to see what unfolds in the coming days, ...months and years. 



Monday, March 26, 2018

437: A "MONUMENTAL" WEEKEND



The word 'monumental' is defined as something that is great in importance, extent, or size.  This past weekend was monumental for me....not only because of the things I saw and heard, but also because I spent the weekend camping in Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  Monument Valley is located on the Utah-Arizona border not far from the Four Corners region. It is a Tribal Park owned and managed by the Navajo Nation. There is a 17-mile loop that you can drive that takes you to the main sights, however there are restricted areas that can only be accessed with a Navajo Guide.  
We were able to spend the night with a Navajo family on their land next to their hogan and witness one of their ceremonies that lasted the entire night and into the morning. Below are some photos I took on our trip. Difficult to put into words the sites and sounds we experienced so I will just let the photos speak for themselves.  




























Tuesday, March 20, 2018

436: RESTORING LIGHT

Today is the Spring Equinox. A time when everything is in balance, light and dark are balanced and nature everywhere from pole to pole is showered equally with the light and life of heaven. During the equinox, most places on Earth will see approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.

Today for a brief moment, light and dark seem to be equal, however, it is not possible for us to remain static. We are either gaining more light or losing light. We are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy by removing, forgetting, and/or altering truth.  


Below is the first video in a new series that will focus on the The Christian Reformation. There will be seven videos in this second series. Releasing this video today is further attempt to remember and  restore truth that has been lost.




_____________________________________________________________________



Sidenote #1:

It was reported yesterday that President Nelson has decided to discontinue with the nearly 50 year tradition of writing a First Presidency monthly message that was published in the Ensign. 

Starting in January 1971, the First Presidency's appeared each month as the first article in the magazine and was to be used as the Home Teaching lesson. That tradition will end next month with the final official message from the First Presidency that will appear in the Ensign. Below is the link to the Deseret News article:






Sidenote #2: 

A few weeks ago my friend was contacted by the Correlation and Research Department of the Church to participate in an online survey. The survey was an option poll to gather feedback on two new videos produced by the Church. Questions were asked on the viewers overall impression of the videos. Below are links to watch the videos. This video is a "pilot" project and not available to the general public yet. Not sure how long the link will be available. 





I  found it interesting that in one of the last segments of this video on the Restoration only shows Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph Smith. One of the main tenants of the LDS Religion was the fact that both God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to the young 14 year old boy. I realize that the video is a highly simplified, almost Saturday morning cartoon style video to hopefully appeal to a mass audience and therefore  might not what to get into more complex truths about the Restoration.



One thing I found interesting was the use of black man and a white woman flirting with each other. In the past, the Brethren have consistently opposed marriage between different ethnicities.  Nearly every decade beginning with the church's formation until the 1970s has seen some denunciation against miscegenation, with most focusing on black-white marriage. President George Albert Smith stated.  "Social intercourse between the Whites and the Negroes should certainly not be encouraged because of leading to intermarriage, which the Lord has forbidden."  For instance, Church apostle Mark Petersen said in a 1954 address that church doctrine barred black people and white people from marrying each other.  In 1966, a white woman who had received her endowments was banned by local leaders from going to the temple and was told her endowments were invalid because she had since married a black man. Church president David O McKay agreed with the ban on going to the temple, but said her endowments were still valid.

The current President Russell M Nelson gave a Conference talk in 1995 where he said that probabilities of a successful marriage are known to be much greater if both the husband and wife are united in their same ethnic background. 

The discouragement of marriage between those of different ethnicities by church leaders continued being taught until 2013.

On December 6, 2013 the LDS Church published an essay entitled Race and the Priesthood on its official website. The essay disavowed the theories advanced in the past that interracial marriage was a sin, indicating that it was influenced by the racism of the era.

Today the Church is now producing videos that appear to encourage romantic interracial marriages. 




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.
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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/

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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"


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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.