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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

21: MODIFYING OR DELETING PARTS OF THE ORIGINAL

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Do we have the right to modify, change, tamper and/or delete parts of a master’s original work?

Most Mormons appreciate the work of the master artist, Carl Bloch. The Museum at Brigham Young University recently showcased many of his paintings in an exclusive exhibit held earlier this year. The Church often uses his paintings in their publications, manuals and as recently as this month’s Ensign (December 2011).

However, there are elements in some of the paintings that we don’t like. Now that this master artist is dead, we have removed those things we are uncomfortable with to fit our taste, preference and doctrines. We can justify the changes since the opinions of the majority prefer the new look.  We tend to pick and choose from what was created before and take out what we might consider in an error to begin with, since we have more truth today. We don’t like wings on our angels.. so we have “professionals” alter the original work of art.

Below left is Carl Bloch’s original painting entitled, The Resurrection. There is beauty in the composition, the symbols used, and the colors. … but we don’t like the two winged angels that are kneeling. So in this month’s Ensign the new version of the painting has the “new and approved” version of the painting with wingless angels.  

I wonder how the creator of this masterpiece would feel now after a hundred years later since he finished this painting, that we feel we have the right to change and delete from his original painting.  
Obviously, the church felt they had good reason to remove the wings. But I wonder, where does the modifying/changing stop?  If we were in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, would we also remove the wings of the two cherubim? Should we also change the text in scripture, especially in Ezekiel,  when this prophet not only describes personages with two wings but with six?  Wings symbolize “movement forward”, and power. They represent something celestial/heavenly and not earthly. Yet, we feel we need to change things to fit into our present day paradigm of what we think things should look like, even though that was not what the original master and creator intended.  Is this the only example of deletions, changes, altering, or modifying from an original? Have we ever been warned not to change, modify, remove or alter things?  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'… But that is an entirely different post.

Friday, December 9, 2011

20: ETHEREAL SUBSTANCE OF A TRUE PROPHET


My last post was about AWAKING AND ARISING.  Here is some more thoughts on the subject that I just read today that I thought I should share. Quotes are taken from a lecture entitled, “The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered”.

“Repentance is a critical thing. It is the message of the Book of Mormon. It is the greatest message contained in the book of Isaiah and it is the message of all true prophets. There are two things that generally stir you up to repentance. The first thing is to awaken to your awful situation. The second is to arise, and connect with the source that will cure what is wrong with you. We are not self-curing. We are filled with that same shame that came in the beginning as a consequence of doing what we were not suppose to be doing. The greatest way the adversary keeps us in a state of slumber is to prevent us from looking about and awakening to the awful situation we find ourselves. Hugh Nibley commented on more than one occasion that there is nothing quite as annoying as being awakened out of a deep sleep. No one really likes that. When it comes right down to it, unconsciousness is a very pleasurable thing; particularly when what you awaken to what we face here.”

Repentance means change. Repentance actually means you turn from the direction you are facing. Whatever direction you are facing, turn from that direction, and face God. When you turn to God and face Him and let Him be the object of your focus and your attention, then you have repented. ―Facing‖ your job, or your favorite sports team, or your religious hobby, or even your church leaders is not the same thing as facing God.

God imparts intelligence, light and truth face Him. You cannot learn what He imparts if you refuse to  face Him. When you strain His light through another man, even a very good man, you lose a vital connection we are all intended to possess.”


……………………………..
Sidenote:

I taught gospel doctrine last week on first chapters in the Book of Revelations which contain John’s  seven letters to the seven churches. It was interesting to study the historical and geographical information about each of the churches. I saw the pattern of the rapid decline into apostasy from the true gospel of  Jesus Christ.  With the exception of the few humble followers of Christ, most residents of these seven locations where successful , wealthy, and self sufficient. They enjoyed the honors of men as the continued to compromise with the world. Along with the Roman influence of building temples to Deity, they also built buildings that in essence worshipped “men” including their living human leaders which they considered divine.

What I found to be very interesting, is that the final letter to the seventh church did not contain any commendation/praise from the Lord. The church had became lukewarm, seeking unity with everyone, showing tolerance for any doctrinal aberration and interpreting it as love. It is reflective of a Church that at end of the age has come under the influence of the world instead of being an influence in the world. The Laodicean church thought they were doing well and were spiritual. After all they were rich, so of course God must be blessing them. The wealthy mostly dress well and talk about their possessions to impress people. They focus on outward appearances and worldliness. But these people did not know their inward condition; they were blind and could not see.

But, today we have a living prophets to teach us. I just read an article in the Church News that announced the completion of  President Monson’s life-size sculpture which is now on display. The article interviewed the artist and here was just a few lines that I found interesting.

“Studying the life of his subject helped me learn more about President Monson – his fishing stories, his travels,  his many experiences. The artist knew that tens of thousands of people would eventually view the bust during visits to the Conference Center. He hoped the finished product would speak to each viewer. He understood that his artistic charge was to capture more than President Monson’s physical likeness – he had to capture the ethereal substance of a living prophet.”

I had to look up the word, ethereal. I found that the phase, “ethereal substance” was an oxymoron. Ethereal:  lacking material substance, immaterial, intangible. Substance: having physical matter or material, tangible.  I am not sure what ethereal substance is.. but I do know that when reading the scriptures, the only necessary “substance” for a true prophet is to know Christ  and  to preach repentance.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

19: AWAKE and ARISE.... or RISE and FALL

If you drive along the I-15 freeway in Utah, you cannot help but see billboards with the two words “RISE UP”  in large bold font.  These advertisements are not a plea to join the Occupy Wall Street protests,  but instead are part of BYU’s publicity campaign to increase excitement for their football team’s new independent status.



The LDS Church is also making use of the word RISE in their clever slogan for their massive construction project in downtown Salt Lake.  It is called “Downtown RISING,” where billions of dollars have been spent on the new retail shopping center, office space, restaurants, and condominiums that are scheduled to open on spring equinox in 2012.  A spokesman for the church’s real estate development arm is calling next year “the Year of Retail.”    

Below is a photo of the high RISE buildings that have been built up around the temple. Mostly all of the buildings are banks or other financial institutions. I have labeled most of the prominent buildings. All of the names on the right are color coded. NINE of the buildings (in GREEN) are predominantly bank buildings and their offices. SIX of the building (IN RED) are part of the Church’s new Downtown Rising project.



HERE IS THE LIST OF THE NEW STORES COMING TO THE LDS MALL MEANT TO BEAUTIFY THE TEMPLE SURROUNDINGS:

• Tiffany & Co. — Luxury and fashion jewelry and watches; along with leather goods, china and crystal gifts
• Porsche Design — Accessories, luggage, sports apparel, men’s shoes, electronic products and a men’s fragrance line.
• Bose — High-end retail electronics
• Brooks Brothers— High-end business and casual clothing
• Coach — High-end leather goods
• Cotton On — Australian brand men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.
• L'OCCITANE — The France-based brand of skincare, body care and fragrance products
• Love Culture — Fashions and accessories, including clothing, jewelry, bags and sunglasses
• LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics — British brand fresh handmade cosmetics.
• N3L Optics — High-end performance eyewear.
• PANDORA — Hand-finished jewelry.
• Papyrus — Custom-printed stationery, note cards, journals and unique gifts
• Swarovski — Fashion jewelry, accessories and watches, as well as home accessories and décor objects
• TUMI — Premium travel, business and lifestyle accessories


While using the word rise in marketing slogans today might seems clever and positive, the word RISE in scripture usually always has a negative connotation. Definitions of the word “rise” include “to revolt" and "to puff up or become larger… to swell up, expand.” Rise is also word used when speaking about making bread, as it was the yeast—or leaven—that would cause the bread to “rise”.  Yeast was synonymous with sin… since it has the same effects that sin (pride, wealth, and power) has, to cause us to be “puffed up".

It is important to note that leaven or yeast is basically old, fermented dough that is placed in new dough in order to make it rise. You only need to add a very small amount of fermented dough to make new dough rise. Galatians 5:9 describes this very thing, saying, "…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."  Carrying this out to sin, it can be said that "a little sin can wind up destroying the whole body."

Could money be considered a “leaven”?


Surely the prophet Moroni, who saw our day and is writing to us, is probably talking about all the other churches, and not us. Right?
“Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall RISE in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.” Mormon 8:28 

He continues in the verses in 36-38 about our love for money and our substance and our fine apparel.

What are we saying when we have our youth proudly declare that they are the "rising generation"?

On the flip side, all throughout scripture, the Lord repeatedly commands us to ARISE…not RISE. There is a remarkable difference.

ARISE means "to ascend, or move to a higher place…" Arise is a state of being or becoming.

"Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord." Doctrine and Covenants 133:1

However, before we ARISE… we must AWAKE. No one likes to be woken up to their awful situation, but it is the necessary step before ARISING and going forth and meeting the Bridegroom.

Isaiah and Nephi mention several times the importance of arising, counseling the members to "Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion." (2 Nephi 8:25). But unlike the FALL that inevitably accompanies RISING, when one shakes himself from the dust (sins) of the world, they ARISE then SIT DOWN—on their throne as a joint heir with Christ.

They qualify for such, because in the process of accepting this command and invitation to ARISE, they have come to know the very Christ himself, the Holy One of Israel, even the gatekeeper:

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
3 Nephi 11:14
…………………………………………Endnotes:
Leaving the Mountain West Conference improved BYU’s revenues since they could then sign their ESPN contract which brings in close to $1 million per game. Also, the potential of receiving a bowl invitation would also bring in a lucrative amount of money…  And since the Cougars are not in a conference anymore, they can keep the entire payout instead of sharing it with other teams. 
………………

“SOME RISE BY SIN, and SOME BY VIRTUE FALL.” William Shakespeare.

Monday, November 14, 2011

18: DON'T UPSET THE APPLE CART

Here is something I read yesterday. I wrote this in an email to friend who asked if I had any gospel insight for him. Not much insight, but thought I would post what I wrote to him on this blog.

It has to do with Samuel the Lamanite.  As we all know know, Samuel was chosen to be a prophet.. to prophesy, to preach repentance and to warn of the approaching destructions prior to the Lords appearance and ministry. This introduces a change from predominant culture/tradition of the Nephites who previous prevailed in having prophets, seers, and revelators come from amongst themselves and the approved line of authority.  I find it quite interesting that of all places the Lord sends Samuel to preach.. is right in the epicenter of the Nephite religious headquarters in Zarahelma where the Temple was located.  No wonder the Nephites didn’t like Samuel. I mean what credentials did Samuel have? Who was he? He was their enemy.. a Lamanite!

But even still.. the voice of the Lord came unto Samuel and he did what he was asked. We read in Helaman 13: 5…  “Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people.” I love that scripture.

But that isn’t really what  I wanted to share… What I really enjoyed reading was one of the fulfillments of Samuels prophesies which was NOT written down by the religious leaders/apostles.  In 3 Nephi 18, the Lord wonders why they did not do so. This is the Lord speaking to Nephi and the other disciples.

Verily I say unto you, I (the Lord) commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so? And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled. And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them? And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written. And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded.

So what I find beautiful is that MANY saints arose from the dead.. appeared to MANY and ministered to them. I find that amazing. What a story to tell and to record.. I look forward to reading those records sometime.  J

Monday, November 7, 2011

17. TWO CONVERT FAMILIES:

The Story of Two Convert Families.

A few weeks ago, two families were baptized in our stake. I have felt prompted to share their stories, but have changed their names to keep their privacy.

The first is the Jose and Maria Ramos family. They have two twin daughters. They live in the poorest area of our stake. The apartments where they live are considered some of the worst in the city.  Earlier this year, some of the apartments were badly damaged due to a fire. Jose  lost his job and has been in need of welfare assistance. Not yet a member of the church, Jose came to see the Bishop for some help. The Bishop offered assistance, but asked him to attend Church. Jose attended church that following Sunday and has attended ever since. In addition, Jose has been diligent in fulfilling the other requirements to receive the welfare needed for his family. The Ramos family were invited to take the missionary discussions. They had taken the discussions previously, but were not baptized. Jose and Maria’s twin daughters have been against their parents joining the church, which was a probable factor that the parents were not baptized earlier. The Ramos family are poor, yet humble and sweet people.. salt of the earth. After overcoming a few things needed to qualify for baptism, they were baptized two weeks ago,  the night before our Regional Conference. It was a simple baptism with a few ward members present.  Those who attended felt an outpouring of the Spirit.

The second family is Ricardo and Anna Castillo family.  Ricardo is a wealthy successful business man who has experienced both successes and failures in the corporate world. Currently his business is doing extremely well. He and his wife recently moved into our stake and bought one of the more expensive homes in the area.  He has been taking  the missionary discussions and attending one of the more affluent wards in our stake even though he lives in a different ward boundary. Ricardo is an intelligent and charismatic man.  The Castillos were also baptized two weeks ago on the morning of Regional Conference. The Stake Center was packed with cars. The entire Stake Presidency was in attendance as well as many of the High Council. I had run by the Stake Center that morning and thought maybe there was an morning leadership meeting since there were so many cars in the parking lot. I am sure those that attended also felt and outpouring of the Spirit.

The number of baptisms were mentioned in both the Leadership Session and the Adult Session of Stake Conference that day.  However, Richardo and Anna Castillo were mentioned by name and  highlighted in one of the Stake Presidencies talks.  Furthermore, in the Adult evening session during his talk, our Stake President actually turned over a block of time to Ricardo Castillo to bear his testimony (via an interpreter since he preferred to speak in Spanish instead of English) Instead of bearing testimony, Ricardo said he would like to share something else.. which turned out to be his story of his business ventures.. his successes and his failures.  

Now, I am grateful that two families have joined the church. However, when I read the Book of Mormon, I find that we don’t realize that could easily fall into having our church being separated into classes. We tend to lift up those with financial wealth and discard those who are the poor among us. We usually recognize and cater to the successful, and despise those who are poor because of their poverty as to the things of the world.  My purpose in sharing this is to show how sometimes we tend to apply different rules to the affluent. Give more attention to those who have wealthy and overlook those who are the few humble followers of Christ.  2 Nephi 28: 14

Sidenotes:
  • No one from the Ramos family was asked to bear testimony. Even their names were not mentioned in the meeting even though they were in attendance.
  • Despite the strict directive from our Stake President that each member should attend the ward where they reside.. currently the Castillo’s are still attending another ward. Apparently the rules do not apply to them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

16. ENCROACHMENT OF BABYLON

photo taken from Ensign Peak on September 22,2011

 I will write more about this shortly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

15. CHURCH AUTHORITY

photo taken of SL Temple and Church Office Building looking westward
on September 23, 2011


LDS leader dismissed after criticizing Friends of Scouting –

Kenny Thomas says he could not in good conscience lead the annual Friends of Scouting fund drive in his LDS ward in Herriman without first sending an email to members to tell them that the money helps pay high salaries for Boy Scout executives and doesn’t stay with their local scout units.
He says that upset his stake president, who persuaded his bishop to release him after four months as president of the ward Young Men organization. The stake president sent him an email saying he was “appalled” at “misinformation” Thomas spread and suggested he did not “follow the prophet.”
David C. Roth, president of the LDS Herriman South Stake, told The Tribune that Thomas was “released because of his unwillingness to support scouting in general,” which is an activity arm of Young Men in the church, “and not just because of what he did with Friends of Scouting.”
Thomas says, meanwhile, “It’s pretty clear I was released because of what I did with Friends of Scouting,” and says he only distributed what he feels is truthful information from such sources as The Tribune. “I don’t think any member of the church should be afraid of standing up for the truth.”
The episode comes after The Tribune last month reported about how the LDS Church locally uses higher pressure methods for its Friends of Scouting drives than do other groups nationally, including having stake presidents and bishops ask members for $50 to $100 each, and sending armies of Scouts to knock on every door in their boundaries (including people who are not LDS) to seek money.
The story also noted that money from the drives helps pay big salaries. Local scout councils declined to give the current salaries of executives. But past tax forms showed, for example, that former Great Salt Lake Council executive Paul Moore made $228,000 annually before leaving to head a council in Los Angeles where he is paid $383,500.
Thomas said he had already been looking into — and was upset by — how the Boy Scouts spent Friends of Scouting money and other funds. He said that started a year ago when he saw his ward was paying far more for what he calls “ramshackle” Scout camps than it was for higher-quality girls camps run by the church.
“Facilities were awful, and the latrines were literally unusable,” he said. “Friends of Scouting money was supposedly going to help fund the camps, too, but it didn’t appear to be percolating down. And anytime a boy wanted to do something there — like shooting or rappelling — they charged an extra fee.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

14. ARE WE NOW LOWERING THE BAR and SACRIFICING LESS?

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently approved changes in the policies regarding length of senior missionary service and missionary housing to encourage more couples to serve full-time missions and to improve their missionary experience.The new senior missionary policy comes as the church watches its missionary ranks thin from a high of 61,638 volunteers in 2002 to 52,483 in 2010.

As of September 1, 2011,
  • couples may choose how long they would like to serve... including just 6 months even if you choose to go to a foreign country.
  •  Missions, temples, or area administration offices now will locate and secure appropriate housing and pay all housing costs (including rent, utilities, and furnishings). Missionary couples will then reimburse some or all of those housing costs up to the cap.
  • Missionaries from the United States, Canada, western Europe, Japan, and Australia will be expected to reimburse the cost of housing up to the cap, while those from all other countries will be expected to reimburse the costs up to but not to exceed $1,400 a month. Couples will continue to pay for food and other personal expenses.
Joseph Smith taught: "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things." (Lectures on Faith, 6th lecture, paragraph 7)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

13. Passing the Heavenly Gift


There is much symbolism in this book cover.
Here is the back cover text.


Mormonism has undergone four distinct phases. The first began in 1820 and ended with Joseph Smith’s death in 1844. The second began upon Joseph Smith’s death and ended with abandonment of plural marriage, publicly in 1890 and privately in 1904. In the third phase Mormonism denounced as apostasy its practice of plural wives, marking the first time an orthodox practice became grounds for excommunication. The fourth phase began with David O. McKay and is still underway. In it Mormonism has adopted corporate management techniques to consolidate and direct central church decision-making. The first phase was innovative and expansive, continually adding doctrine, scripture, teachings and ordinances. Subsequent phases have curtailed, abandoned, even denounced earlier teaching and doctrine. Phases two through four have all abandoned doctrine. Growth in these subsequent phases has been defined in terms of political influence, financial gains, cultural inroads, and population growth; while the underlying religion has been curtailed. Today, marketing the institution has become more important to Mormon success than preserving the original religious content. The changes from phase to phase have completely transformed Mormonism, sharing a vocabulary but redefining the terms. Modern Mormonism has now institutionalized change. For the first time in this book Mormonism is candidly described in terms which track the changes by examining doctrine, teachings and practices. Interestingly, the passing of the heavenly gift was anticipated by Joseph Smith’s prophecies and the Book of Mormon



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

12: "Yea, they have ALL gone out of the way; they have become corrupted."

photo taken from Temple Square of the new corporate headquarters for Deseret Book and Utah Woolen Mills flagship clothing store on June 23, 2011

The 28th chapter in 2 Nephi is about how many false churches will be built up in the last days. We tend to think that the true church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) is immune from ANY of these bullet points below that describe the awful situation that the religious churches will find themselves. Here are a few of them.

  • Every church will say that they are the Lord's church.
  • They shall teach with their learning and own understanding.
  • They will say that  Lord has done his work and now given His power unto men.
  • Puffed up in their hearts.

However we read... THEY HAVE ALL GONE OUT OF THE WAY... and become CORRUPTED

BECAUSE OF:
  • because of pride, false teachers, and false doctrine.
  • and they rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries and of their FINE CLOTHING....
So basically ALL churches in the latter days have gone out of the way due to:

  • False Doctrine
  • Fine Clothing 
  • Expensive Buildings. 

Surely OUR church doesn't fit into any of these categories.

The photo above is taken from the Temple Square. They are new buildings which are part of the church's multi-billion dollar remodel to beautify the surrounding area of the temple. I find the photo to be significant and symbolic. 
  • Utah Woolen Mills does not sell Fine Clothing. (wait.. what is their tag line seen in the photo)
  • Deseret Book does not sell books containing False Doctrine. (wait.. does fictional stories of church history, vampires, or even commentaries by scholars contain any false doctrine?) 
  • We help the poor ( but wait... is the billions of dollars spent on these LDS buildings better served to adorn our buildings?)
Is the Book of Mormon really true? Did the Book of Mormon prophets see our day? Are they warning us, our church? Do we need to repent? Are we the Gentiles that will be sweep off? Important questions to answer honestly.

Yes...some things to think about ....but many will think we don't need to worry.. all is well.. JUST FTP!  
....

sidenote:
A biography was recently commissioned by one of our beloved leaders to be written about his life of service. It was then published by Deseret Book and then released during their peak of book sales at General Conference. But since then, sales have slowed. In order to boost sales, each book has now been personally autographed by the leader himself and available at Deseret Book's flagship store across from the SL Temple. If that wasn't enough incentive to purchase the book, a discount ticket to Lagoon, a local amusement park, is given upon purchase. It sound like is would be a great biography since the first line in the book reads.. "He is more Christlike than the rest of us. ...."

The book is now 20% off.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

11: NEVER BE LEAD ASTRAY

Our last Sunday School lesson was on the importance of following the prophet. We read quotes given in General Conference. Here are a few of them:

"If we listen to the voices of the world, we will be misled. But if we listen to the voice of the Lord through His living prophet and follow his counsel, we will never go astray....There aren’t many guarantees in this life. There isn’t a car made with a warranty that covers everything. No bank on earth can absolutely guarantee that your money is completely safe. Even the Good Housekeeping seal of approval has a disclaimer written right on it! Nothing man-made or man-controlled can ever be truly guaranteed! But here’s the miracle. The Lord has given some marvelous guarantees without any disclaimers. And this is one of them: He will choose the prophet, and He will never let that man lead us astray. Imagine for a moment the impact of that promise. There is at least one place we can turn for pure, unpolluted guidance." Virginia U Jensen,  First Counselor in the RS General Presidency.

The quote that he will never let that man lead us astray comes from Brigham Young. There is an "IF" clause in the orginal quote that we don't include these days. I find it very important.

"The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and He will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth (JD 9:289)
so there is the qualifying statement "if you are found doing your duty."


The “if” clause Brigham uses...  makes the blessing of the President never leading the Saints astray happen ONLY if they are worthy of the blessing As a people we haven't really been "doing our duty" since we failed in Jackson County - at least since 1832 when the Lord condemned the whole church for failing to receive or enter the New Covenant, even the Book of Mormon. We read  - We are ALL gone astray and have and are all, save a 'few'.

"If He should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be lead astray... it would be because they deserved it."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 4:297-298.

"I told the people that if they would not believe the revelations that God had given, He would suffer the devil to give revelation that they - Priest & people - would follow after. Have I seen this fulfilled? I have. I told the people that as true as God lived, if they would not have truth, they would have error sent unto them & they would believe it."
Brigham Young, Deseret News, June 8, 1873.

"We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the Prophets, Seers & Revelators."
Elder James E. Faust, CR Oct. 1989.

"I make no claim of infallibility."
Spencer W. Kimball, Improvement Era, June 1970, p.93.

"Even the President of the Church has not always spoken under the direction of the Holy Ghost."
Elder J. R. Clark, quoted in 'Faithful History, Essays on Writing Mormon History', p.82.

"Pres. Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom & experience, & we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God & when 'Thus saith the Lord' comes from him, the Saints investigate it, they do not shut their eyes & take it down like a pill."
Elder Charles W. Penrose
Here are two different charts to compare the difference:

Here is a different approach that I find based more of what I read in the scriptures:

"A righteous priesthood leader always strives to lead people to Christ and never to look to himself as a source of truth. Be ware of anyone who might block the way to Christ, by teaching that the people need to go through himself or other leaders to get to Christ. We need to establish that direct link to Christ by direct communication with Him through personal revelation, the rock upon which our own personal salvation is built."

Elder Richard G Scott,. May 17, 1992 Layton Northridge Stake Priesthood Meeting

Brigham Young taught:
There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges and aids to exaltations, principalities and powers in the eternities of the Gods. (JD 10:32)

Young also stated,"The First Presidency have of right a great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness, each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray." (JD 6:100)

George Q. Cannon taught:

Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an apostle or a president; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support will be gone; but if we lean on God, He will NEVER fail us. When men and women depend upon GOD ALONE and trust in HIM ALONE, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. (DW 43:322 [Mar 7, 1891]).

Monday, August 8, 2011

10: GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE

I hope to explain these painting in more detail when I have some time. There is alot of symbolism and meaning behind each one of  these paintings.




Monday, August 1, 2011

09: Is our tithing not enough?

Here are some sincere questions…

·         Is our tithing not enough?..or does the church need to own, build and develop more shopping centers?
·         Do we really need to receive profits from worldly commercial projects?  

I have expressed my concerns about the church’s  SL downtown rising project. BILLIONS of dollars have been spent on building upscale condominiums, an outdoor retail shopping mall (complete with a retractable glass roof which converts it to an indoor mall in inclement weather), as well as building restaurants and leasing commercial office space.  We are told that this is ALL in the name of beautifying the surrounding area of the temple grounds… to “preserve” this sacred area and  environment and to kept it “untainted.” form the world. 
Similar reconstruction is underway at the Ogden temple.  The church news reported that the remodel of  Ogden temple and surroundings  “is a huge investment — it basically is the same cost as building a new temple," http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58811/Ogden-temple-renovation-to-include-significant-architectural-face-lift.html

I don’t claim to understand nor should I judge how church finances are spent (both tithing and for profit church businesses). While, I can “somewhat” accept spending money to update and beautiful our sacred temples, and/or support a business whose purpose helps to fulfill our responsibility to bring us to Christ…I have I do have some questions.

I just learned today that the church is developing close to a 40 acre shopping center in West Valley. It was announced this week that, the church owed company Suburban Land Reserve has the green light for development, starting with the construction of the 135,300 square foot anchor store, Target. This shopping center is called Highbury Centre. Deseret News also reported this, but left off the fact that the Church are the developers of the land.

Below is a photo of the report in last week’s The Enterprise, Utah’s Business Journal.



In researching to find out a little more about one more real estate arm of the church, I learned that the President’s name is W Kent Money. (Great name) I didn’t know this either, but a couple of years ago, Deseret News sold their downtown property back to the church through this company. What I don’t understand is that the Deseret News and building was already another one of the church’s subsidiaries.  While I thought the church owned all things in common and is  one happy family, (Zion right).. this must not be the case. This, however, must be similar to internal family sales like an older brother selling his toys to his younger brother. Usually the toy was originally bought by the parents, yet one sibling can make money off of another sibling . This is another topic though. In case you are interested, here is the link to the sale from one arm of the church selling to another arm.

So my question is.. Is not tithing sufficient to do the Lords’ work or is Mormon talking to us when he said in last couple of chapter in the Book of Mormon (8:37)?
For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.”…

Thursday, July 28, 2011

08: BUILDING ZION

photo taken from the top floor of ZIONS BANK.


This was written by a friend of mine with permission to post.


“Zion is not in our power to create or build, except as we individually repent, be baptized and come to the Lord individually (especially for us Gentiles).  The Lord will take care of Zion...it is His to build...not ours.  We have never been given any kind of deadline or time line to create it...can't be done.  We can only create the image of it , which might be fine, but it can't come before the "first thing,” or our hearts. We won't find Zion in spending billions "fixing up" downtown SLC, in order that our self-proclaimed sacred places won't be defiled. This is not Zion, for Zion is not to be protected by the influx of large sums of money to pretty it up. The Lord will dwell there (literally) and will sustain and protect it (the inhabitants). The shadow by day, and pillar by night. We desperately want Zion (and who can blame us, we really do want peace and beauty), but we think to create it by our own hand, works, and money, and not in the Lord's way (by literally seeking his face out). This is the only way for us Gentiles to "get in."  This is difficult and appears to distract us from building it. Nothing is further from the truth. Zion is, after all, like the definition of "the church."  It is found wherever one has entertained the Lord. And here's where we see truth from darkness: can Zion be built in such a way as to desire to "exclude?”  Indeed not. The pure in heart do not wish to exalt themselves. They wish to descend below all in service.  This is a good indicator, I think. Such attitudes of service and descending below all are the hallmark of those who would follow Him and live in Zion. But we feign those attitudes. "Here we come, to the rescue!" We have this serious need to affirm to ourselves that we are in fact "doing the real thing," that we indeed have Zion, that we can actually reach out and rescue others (implying we ourselves are saved).  I'm not so sure we are/do.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

07: FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW: Tribute to the Military

photo of a full page ad in the Deseret News
This weekend we celebrate Pioneer Day or what we refer to in Utah as the 24th of July. This day is to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley after being forced from Nauvoo. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir have chosen an interesting theme this year for its performance in the sold out 21,000 seat Conference Center. The advertisement in the Deseret News appears that instead of honoring the pioneers… we will be paying tribute to those who serve in the U.S. military. It is ironic because it was largely due to the U.S. Government and military threat that our pioneer ancestors had to move out west.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to pay tribute to the military and those who have sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom. However …on another holiday. That is what the 4th of July is for me. Not sure why we are paying a militiary tribute on the 24th of July instead of the real reason we celebrate the 24th of July. It is kind of like going Trick or Treating on Thanksgiving. Two separate holidays for me.

I also think that paying tribute to “FOR THOSE THAT FOLLOW” is quite interesting. It is almost like a subliminal message for me. We as members of the church are exceptionally good at following. We are taught, sing and testify of the importance of following the prophet. It gives us security to know that we will never be led astray. We should be honored for following. I mean… we are the chosen people, right? Since the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, most of the LDS members who live in the greater Salt Lake Valley have now become Uber Americans,  Uber Republicans, Uber War on Terrorists supporters, and Uber Mainstream Christians. We have become  generally respected and admired. Two potential candidates for 2012 election for President of the USA are LDS leaders and successful businessman. Even more interesting is the new Award winning Broadway play about a Mormon missionary and tickets are sold out almost for an entire year in advance.

We have finally arrived.. we have become accepted.

Here are some an interesting quotes given by Brigham Young, the man largely responsible for why we celebrate the 24th of July:

“There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges, and aids to exaltations, principalities, and powers in the eternities of the Gods.” (Brigham Young, April 8, 1862, JD 10:32)

“And when the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then; which I pray may never come.”(Brigham Young, May 31, 1857, JD 4:326-327)

I will end  with this quote by Spencer W. Kimball in his conference talk, "The False Gods We Worship".

“We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel -- ships, planes, missiles, fortifications -- and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I love those men and women who have died for our country. They deserve our respect and our love for preserving our freedom. So do the pioneers.  They both deserve their own holiday and concert tribute. Let’s keep the holidays separate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

06: WILL I RECOGNIZE HIM.. or is it possible that I am a MODERN-DAY JEW?

If I lived over 2000 years ago, would I have been just like the law abiding Jews steeped in religious tradition and assumptions and not have recognized Christ?
 
An interesting event occurred last week that has caused me to think about the answers to this question.

On July 8, 2011, there was a news report of an arrest and imprisonment of a homeless man who requested to meet with LDS President Thomas S. Monson.  The charge that led to his arrest was "stalking" which if convicted could be a felony.

36 year-old Benjamin Tucker Staples, who goes by the alias Jesus Christ, was booked into the Salt Lake County jail Friday where he's being held on two Class A misdemeanor charges.

Police say Staples was taken into custody after making repeated visits to the LDS Church's administration building in downtown Salt Lake City where he demanded to meet with President Monson.

He reportedly made five such visits since June 25th and in each instance had to be removed from the building by Salt Lake Police. Church security officers had warned Staples not return to the property and had issued a written trespassing order. Bond for Staples' stalking charges total $26,850. His case is being heard in Salt Lake's Third District Court. For a homeless man, coming up with that bail money might be very difficult, he probably will be in prison for awhile.

The predominant religious leaders at the time of Jesus Christ were the Pharisees. One of many of the religious sects responsible for the imprisonment and ultimate crucifixion of Our Savior. I have always been taught that that the Pharisees were wicked and evil men. But in reading the definition in the LDS Bible Dictionary, I found that I had much in common with them. 
Quoting for my scriptures,

"Their belief included the doctrine of immortality and resurrection of the body and the existence of angels and spirits. They prided themselves on their strict observance of the law, and on the care with which they avoided contact with things gentile. They encouraged self-sufficiency and spiritual pride."

The Pharisees were temple-going and a very religious people who observed the Law passed down to them by God through Moses. They followed the ancient prophets and followed the high priests who had the authority to sit in Moses’ seat.

Yet, here comes a man named Jesus Christ, one who did not have the recognized authority by the current religious leaders. He did not have social standing, and probably would be considered a man without a permanent home… basically homeless. Would I have agreed to have him imprisoned if he did not fit the mold of my religious leaders or asked to speak several times with the Presiding High Priest?
 
This recent news event has now given new meaning to the scripture found in Matthew 25: 35-36

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

05: GOD IS IN CONTROL

 Apostle Orson Hyde, in April of 1846 received a revelation with a magnificent and profound message:
In my meditations this morning, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was moved to write:
And being grieved in my spirit on account of false pretenses by evil designing persons to gain power, and lead away the flock of God, it whispered [to] me and said: Evil men, ambitious of power, must needs arise among you, and they shall be led by their own self-will and not by me. Yet they are instruments in my hands, and are permitted to try my people, and to collect from among them those who are not the elect, and such as are unworthy of eternal life. Grieve not after them, neither mourn nor be alarmed. My people know my voice and also the voice of my spirit, and a stranger they will not follow; Therefore such as follow strangers are not my people.

(Unpublished Revelations, vol. 1, comp. by Fred Collier, pp. 104-105)

Some things to look for in true messengers:

 1.They speak against the wicked.
 2.They defend the gospel fullness.
 3.They oppose false prophets.
 4.They sustain all the commandments of God.
 5.They proclaim all of Jesus' teachings.
 6.They prophesy, have true revelations and visions.
 7.They follow the living Lord.
 8.They are appointed by the Lord.
 9.They may not be educated.
10.They are spiritual.
11.They enjoy spiritual gifts.
12.They do not change the ordinances.
13.They are not worldly.
14.They sustain the dead prophets and their teachings.
15.They are filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
16.They do not boast of their calling.
17.They have Power in the Priesthood.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

04: STEPPING AWAY FROM ZION

Every step in the direction of increasing one’s personal holdings….. is a step away from Zion.”
Hugh Nibley

Most of the multi-billion dollar “remodel” and construction project being built by the LDS church around the Salt Lake Temple is complete. Some historic buildings have been preserved like the original Zion’s Bank (below right) located on Main Street. It would seem an important building to preserve not just because the architecture resembles Herod’s Temple (photo left) but because of the long history the bank has with the LDS church.  


My friend is currently reading Temples and Cosmos written by Hugh Nibley and sent me the following quote from the book.

In our day, as in various other times in history, the sanctity and the authority of the temple have been preempted in the religion of mammon. For example, our banks are designed after the manner of ancient temples, with imposing fronts, ceremonial gates and courts, the onyx, the marble, the bronze — all are the substances of ancient temples. The sacred hush that prevails, the air of propriety, decorum, and dedication; the pious inscriptions on Zion Bank's walls are quotations from Brigham Young (the one man who really had it in for business). The massive vault door, through which only the initiated may pass, gleams chastely in immaculate metal. The symbol makes the reality of all that is safe and secure — that is, the Holy of Holies. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. This is the Lord speaking.”  Hugh Nibley

Since I don’t have an account with Zion’s, I had never been inside this historic building until this week.  Above left is photo are oil paintings of the past bank presidents … the men all look familiar since they all happen to be past Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Each one of them have served as director, president and/or chairman of the Zion’s First National. Above right is the newly remodeled Zion’s Bank (with the ZCMI building in the front (gold building). On the 18th penthouse floor of Zion’s Bank in the executive conference room, also hangs paintings of the prophets portraits.


Today, Zion’s bank seems to be still flourishing today (despite recently of being fined  8 million dollars for money laundering totaling over 12 billion dollars). The desire or wish to get rich and dispose of it to our own advantage is counsel given to us by Brigham Young, the founder of the bank. In large letter inscribed on wall when you first walk into the bank is this quote. It reads:

If you wish to get rich save what you get.
A fool can earn money, but is takes a wise man to save and dispose of it to his own advantage.”
Brigham Young, Founder.

It is important to note that no longer does the sitting president of the church act as director since the bank is now a publically traded company. However, the past two Presidents of the Church have used their church position to dedicate the newly built Zion’s Banks. (Hinckley dedicated the one in Salt Lake, and Monson the newly built bank in Provo)… In a recent Deseret News article, it was reported that the new  Zion’s bank “was part of the vision that President Nathan Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had to ensure the vitality of the downtown area. It's a commitment that the church has continued to uphold, as this Zions Bank Building becomes an anchor for the marvelous new development that will rise up around us.”

“May it ever be a bright and shining star… and may its influence extend and be felt across the nation” are the exact words used by both Hinckley and Monson in their dedicatory prayers referring to Zion’s Bank. Below is the photo of the Brigham Young’s quote inscribed on the wall and the photo on the right is of President Hinckley and Presiding Bishop Burton cheering just after the dedication.



Side note:

From the words of the Prophet Mormon (of whose name we call members of the LDS church):

“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are NONE save a FEW ONLY who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of fine apparel.. . and your churches, yea EVEN EVERY ONE, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love MONEY, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, MORE than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. (Mormon 8: 35-37)

It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself.. and when Christ comes back to rule and reign, Will he unfortunately have to drive out the moneychangers again in and around the temple?

There is always hope though. Despite the Father knowing that we, the Gentiles, WILL sin against and reject the fullness of the gospel due to our pride, he promises us in 3 Nephi 16:13, “But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, said the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people.”

It is time to repent and return.