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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.