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Thursday, September 27, 2012

106: BECOMING LIKE A LITTLE CHILD


Yesterday was Yom Kippur. One of the things I did to observe this day was to not drive my car. I walked and took the Trax to work. It took me over an hour. However, it was one of the most peaceful and enjoyable hours that I can remember. I walked through the park, I listened to the birds, I walked next to the slow moving river. I read on the train. I was at peace.

Like most people, I drive to work on the freeway and find myself impatient with others who are not driving fast enough for me. Yesterday was a strong contrast from my usual daily life. If only everyone would take one day a year and slow down.. and even leave their cars at home like they do in Israel on Yom Kippur. Here is a picture taken in the busy city of Jerusalem of the empty roads yesterday, and a little boy playing with his ball on the usually busy freeway full of cars. 


  
In an  ever increasing busy and chaotic world, we need to find peace and quiet in our lives. We must return to what we were in a more innocent time. 

Christ’s admonition to us all is to “become as a little child” (Matt. 18: 3). In order to go forward we must go back to acquire the attributes that a child possesses.. That is, returning to a child-like time of faith, innocence, and openness to new knowledge. We cannot develop without returning to a time when we were willing to develop. For the child, every day is filled with discovery and delight. For the elderly, oftentimes new ideas are threatening. Minds close down, attitudes harden and learning is resisted as we age.

'What people need are not more answers, an answer ends the discussion. What you need is a question.. you need a question so that you will open your mind. .you need to open your mind so you can become like a little child ….you need to become like a little child so you are in a suitable environment that revelation can take place, and you need to have revelation take place so that you can reconnect with heaven, and you need to reconnect with heaven, so you can get to know who God is, and you need to get to know who God is so that He can in turn can make you a member of His own household and redeem you from this current plight that you find yourself in darkness and distrust."
quote from a lecture given at Chiasmus Conference given by Denver Snuffer.  

Here is a video that shows the simpleness of life from a viewpoint of a child.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

105: THE MOST SACRED OF DAYS: Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement

Tonight begins the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion. It is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. We read in the Old Testament referring to this solemn day --"For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God" (Leviticus 16:30) It is the Day of AT-ONE-MENT with the Lord. According to the Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur begins at sundown tonight, (Tuesday September 25) and ends Wednesday evening (September 26) at sundown.  

Last night as I sat down with my family, I tried to explain to my kids the best I could about Yom Kippur, and how it fits in with the other “feasts” or “appointments” of the Lord.  Really briefly this how I explained it on a level of an 8 year old. I am still learning as well, and know there is much I don't know.

We have special days when we celebrate and remember important things. For example, Christmas is a very special day when we remember the birth of Jesus. Easter is another special day when we remember Jesus' resurrection. 

Other people have special holidays that help them remember Christ as well. It is important for us to understand these other holidays. They call them “feasts” which means an "appointment", or a day that we shouldn’t forget, kind of like when we have an appointment to go see the Doctor. But these appointments are even more important, these are appointments we have with our Savior.

In the Jewish Religion, there are seven “appointments” or holidays  that have special meaning and are very symbolic. Each one of these seven “feasts” teach us more about Christ and prepare us for His Second Coming. The first three feasts happen in the Springtime... around Easter time. They are called:  Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the First Fruits of the Harvest. These special “feasts” help us remember what Jesus Christ did when He came to the earth over 2000 years ago. Those days help us understand Christ mission when He was willing to lay down his life for us as the sacrificial Lamb. (The Passover) Because of His Atonement we can be washed clean from sin (Feast of the unleavened bread)  and because of His Resurrection we can once again live again back into His Presence. (Feast of first fruits of the Harvest)

Fifty Days later, is the fourth feast which is called the Day of Pentecost or Feast of Weeks. It happens in the summer. This day represents the day that the Lord calls to us to become one with him. In essence it is as though He has asked us to be  “married” to him. We are the bride and He is the bridegroom. We are basically “engaged”. During the engagement, the Lord leaves us to prepare a house for us. While He is gone, we are not faithful to Him.

The last three feast are in the Fall. They are symbolic of when Christ will come again. It is about the Second Coming. But because He loves us so much, the Lord sends a messenger to let us know that He is coming back and that we need to repent, or turn back to Him. The 5th feast is called the Feast of Trumpets.  On this day we blow a special trumpet called a shofar. It is actually a ram's horn. It is a reminder for us to turn back to Jesus and repent. It is the day we prepare for our "marriage" to Him. Angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith on this special holiday 5 years in a row. We put the Angel Moroni on top of our temple and he is blowing a trumpet to help us remember that the Lord is returning and we need to prepare.

During the feast of trumpets is also a time of creation. When new life is created. It is part of the wedding ceremony and honeymoon. This is also very sacred.
The sixth feast is Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement.  It is a sacred and holy day. Blood is shed for new life to come forth.

The last feast is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the symbolic of the celebration of the wedding. Kind of like the wedding reception... a time of peace and joy. It is the Millennial season.   


So in these simple terms, I am beginning to understand this important dates as well as my family. IMuch more could have been said, but this is only a beginning... and I am learning more.
...................

Following is an excerpt from an email I received from a friend yesterday that sheds more light onto the importance of this day, the Day of Atonement:

"But what does this Holy Day point to for us?

First we must look to the Book of Mormon to understand the role of the law of Moses in teaching us about what is to come:  (Mos. 16:14)

What most may not remember about the Law of Moses is that Moses was ALSO given the 7 Holy Days as a major component of the Law of Moses, which were to be strictly observed "in all their generations, and in all their dwellings, forever". Hence, the 7 Holy Days or "Feasts" have much to teach us about, "....those things which are to come".  They are indeed a "shadow" that serves as an invaluable blueprint of what the future holds for us. One that we ignore at our own peril.

So, that brings us back to the question of what, exactly, does Yom Kippur foreshadow in these, the last days?

One of the duties of the High Priest on Yom Kippur is to sprinkle the sacrificial, "cleansing" blood at several places in the temple, including the Holy of Holies. Typical usage of the word "sprinkle" denotes a few drops here and a few drops there. But that is not the case on this holy day as it actually involves gallons of blood! And therefore, upon completing his very sacred duties involving copious amounts of blood, the High Priest emerges from the Holy of Holies with his white linen clothing effectively soaked in crimson colored blood...all the way down to his  bare feet which too had been stained red with great drops of blood... (which I submit, would appear to the careful observer, as one who had just "trod the wine press".....hmmm, a stirring image, wouldn't you say? Certainly no coincidence.)


Yom Kippur is all about His RETURN to earth as the great High Priest ! Who, because of HIS Great Atonement, will be wearing RED as a symbolic reminder of the copious amount of His blood that was spilled in Gethsemane and Golgatha 2,000 years ago. And therefore it is absolutely incumbent upon us to know about Yom Kippur and to make it mean something to us personally, collectively and to finally SEE what it is trying to prepare us for.  It would be a travesty, in my opinion, to chalk it up to some "Jewish Holiday" that we as Mormons don't need to know about because the law of Moses is dead. Fulfilled. Nothing we have to "worry about anymore"...because nothing could be farther from the truth!  Yes, blood sacrifice was done away with when the Savior died on the cross, that is true.  But the 7 Holy Days were not done away.  Just the opposite. In Leviticus, the Children of Israel were told to observe them "forever...in all their generations."  

Ask yourself why. Why would He, Jehovah, want them (and "them" includes the Nephites---the Book of Momron makes that absolutely clear) to participate in and observe Yom Kippur and the others from year to year?  Because each of those 7 Feasts or Holy Days testifies of HIM, HIS MISSION, HIS LIFE and as we see with YOM KIPPUR, HIS Atonement and Return to earth.

I encourage all of us to take some time to ponder on the importance of Yom Kippur this Wednesday and perhaps even "afflict your soul" as you see fit... Simply identify something that brings you comfort and then, for just one day, place it on the altar as a small token of gratitude for HIS sacrifice."
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Sidenote:

Our Jewish brothers and sisters take this Holy Day very seriously.  Here are a few of the things they do and do not do on this day:

·         They fast from food and water
·         They do not wash or anoint their bodies
·         They do not wear leather footwear
·         They abstain from marital relations
·         They request and receive honey cake, (symbolic that we are all recipients in God's world and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year)
·         They immerse in a preparatory mikvah  
·         They give extra charity
·         They eat the pre-fast meal
·         They bless their children
·         They light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles
·         They hold five prayer services
·         They read from the Book of Jonah
·         They acknowledge/confession of sins eight times in the course of Yom Kippur,
·         They recite from the book of Psalms every available moment
·         And lastly…. it is a fact that even to this very day on Yom Kippur, nobody in Israel drives a car. Even the secular Jews observe this Holy Day in that they will typically fast and refrain from driving a car.  They say it is so eerily quiet in Israel on Yom Kippur that it is otherworldly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

104: BUILDING THE HOUSE OF THE LORD WITH CONCRETE?

Natural Stone vs Man-Made Concrete:

From the days of the Old Testament, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples, sacred structures where He could teach, guide, and bless them. Our Temples have always been a sacred building to symbolize our devotion to the Lord and a place where we make covenants with Him.  

Symbolically, it has been important to use natural stone to build our temples. Stones have a special significance. In building of Solomon’s Temple, the people were commanded to bring “great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation” of the Lords house.

Similar to ancient times, Our modern temples have been constructed using stone. The Salt Lake Temple is built using large granite stone. The Ogden Temple as well as the Bountiful Temple are also built with granite stone. The St. George Temple is built from native red sandstone.  The Manti Temple as well as the Logan Temple are both built with Limestone. Usually the stone used is native to the area surrounding the temple, the Draper Temple was built with white granite shipped in from China.  

Yesterday at the Brigham City Temple dedication, Elder L Tom Perry stated in his opening remarks that we no longer build with stone, but use concrete now. Concrete is a manmade building material which combines cement, water and an aggregate (crushed up rock or sand).

We believe that Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of our religion. If a temple is oriented correctly,  the cornerstone is on the southeast corner of the temple where sunlight will hit no matter the season. In memory of marking this sacred part of temple, the cornerstone, President Boyd K Packer ceremonially used mortar to put into place the precast concrete “cornerstone”.  Mortar is not needed with concrete, but it was done only symbolically prior to the Brigham City temple dedication yesterday. Other things in the temple are administered only symbolically as well these days.

 I am not sure, but my guess would be that we don’t use stone anymore because it is probably easier and more convenient to use concrete that having to use natural stone from the earth.

For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness;
and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall"

II Nephi 28

Friday, September 21, 2012

103: FALL EQUINOX



Observing the Vernal, and the Autumnal Equinoxes and the Solstices was something done from ancient times, in ceremony and in ritual. Whole cities were built aligned to the cardinal directions of the compass and the lights of heaven. The lights of heaven were given to us first as "signs" and secondly as "seasons."

Don't let them pass by unnoticed. Otherwise you note less than even the plants and the animals whose life cycles and behavior acknowledge the passing of such events.

People who live where there are the four seasons tend to be more advanced. They are productive during the proper season (spring/summer) and then in the harvest time  (fall/winter) is an resting period when they can observe, write, and reflect. (Not sure why we think important civilizations lived on or near the equator in MesoAmerica)

The Fall Equinox is when there is equal day and equal night. Light and Darkness are in balance. For us who live in the Utah Valley.. sunset will occur close to 7:30 PM and the sunrise tomorrow will also be around 7:30 AM. We live in the Mountain Standard Time Zone (with Daylight Savings). Daylight Savings is a manipulation of what the time really is.  If we were not on Daylight Savings time and  because we are a half an hour west of Denver, CO where the Mountain Time is set.. our sunset tonight would be  properly be at 6:00 PM and tomorrow's sunrise would be at 6:00 AM. On a face clock you would have the large minute hand straight up on the 12... and the small hour hand straight down on the 6. Equal balance. A straight line from Heaven above to Earth Below.

After this weekend.. the balance is broken..  Less light (meaning the amount of sunlight) and more darkness (meaning longer nights) comes upon the earth little by little each day until the darkest day of the year which occurs on December 21, 2012...the winter solstice. Another important day of transition.. even the beginning of a new age.. (The Age or Zodiac Sign of the Aquarius.  the Sign of the Aquarius in not just the water bearer. But actually the Sign of Fire as well.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

102: THE HUMAN CRY: THE SOUND OF THE SHOFAR


Tonight at sunset began the Feast of the Trumpets. I received an email from a friend that I wanted to share an excerpt:


"Tonight, on this sacred and momentous night, as the haunting call of the Shofar cries out to the world to prepare for HIS coming judgement, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kipppur) along with his imminent return, I feel a deeper sense of urgency to listen, to HEAR the shofar and let it pierce not just my ears, but my heart. As the events of these the "last days" in which we live continue to remind us that time is short, may we hearken to the soul stirring call of HIS Shofar, pleading with us to prepare and repent and to break down the walls around our hearts that would prevent us from doing so.
...............................


"There is one form of communication that comes from a place so deep within our souls that words cannot easily manipulate or control. Crying bursts forth involuntarily when we are touched to the very core of our being as a result of shock, tragedy or joy. Crying is the primal voice of the soul that bursts through to the surface.

The sound of the Shofar represents the human cry.Each note signifies a different emotion and the Shofar is meant to penetrate the deep recesses of a person’s soul and spiritually express the thoughts and feelings that words alone cannot describe.

What is it about the sound of the Shofar that elicits such a response? One of the basic concepts of Judaism is that the inner will of every soul is to connect with God in the deepest way possible. This desire does not always manifest itself readily because of a wall of resistance created by the evil inclination that inhibits the heart from breaking through. It is the blast of the Shofar that breaks down this wall. Like the fortifications surrounding Jericho, the Shofar cuts through all obstructions and frees us to do what is truly in our hearts – to love and connect with God. That freedom is fully expressed on Rosh Hashana, the day in which we are so acutely aware of our inner selves that no power or force can interfere with.

There is therefore no more appropriate way to announce the Jubilee Year, when all slaves were released, than with the clarion call of the Shofar. The instrument which liberates our soul from its shackles each year on Rosh Hashana has an unparalleled ability to inspire and is therefore the perfect way to “proclaim freedom throughout the land for all its inhabitants.”
written by Rabbi Tuly Weisz

Friday, September 14, 2012

101: TEN DAYS OF AWE


“These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations,
which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.”
Leviticus 23:4


Next week begins the Fall Feasts in the Jewish religion. The first three spring feasts which occur around the vernal equinox point to Christ's first coming, and the last three feasts in the fall (which occur around the autumnal equinox) point to His second coming.

The word ‘Feast’ is a King James translation. The word ‘Feast’ comes from the word that means ‘appointment’. When we hear the word “feast”, we think it refers to a time to eat alot food, but the actual meaning of the word ‘feast’ is an “appointment” of the Lord, even a Holy convocation. The word 'convocation' means a “called assembly.” Another literal meaning of the Hebrew word, ‘mikraw’, or 'convocation' is a 'rehearsal' - rehearsal meaning to "re-hear" what has been taught, but the modern-day accepted meaning of rehearsal, is a practice session for a later event.

Thus, the above scripture in Leviticus means these feasts of the Lord are: an appointment to practice for an coming event and/or rehear what has been taught.
There were seven feasts or “ appointments” that were to be rehearsed seven times a year in their appropriate season. So we are to rehearse seven times a year what you are to “do” or better what you are to “be” because you have an appointment with the Messiah. So you must come to rehearse how to come meet your Messiah when He does come.

The first Fall feast is Rosh Hashanah which is known as The Feast Of Trumpets. Rosh Hashanah is  celebrated both in joy and solemnity. Jews believe that God's judgment on this day determines the course of the coming year. On this feast, a ram's horn, or in the Hebrew, a shofar, was blown as well as eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey. The blowing of the shofar is a call to repentance and a return to God.  It is interesting that it was Moroni who appeared to Joseph Smith every year for 4 years on the Feast of the Trumpets, on the Fall Equinox. We also have Angel Moroni blowing a trumpet on top of our Temple as a possible symbol of this feast and the need for the call to repentance.

It is interesting on what would also happen on the Feast of Trumpets. In the Jewish religious text , it states that three books of account are opened on the Feast of Trumpets, wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of an intermediate class are recorded. In between the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) are 10 days, known as the Ten Days of Awe. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur. In addition, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year At the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets, the names of the righteous are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life, and they are sealed "to live." The intermediate class are allowed a respite of ten days, until Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent and become righteous. The wicked are "blotted out of the book of the living forever.


Disclaimer:

There a few minor errors in the calendar below, but hopefully it gives the overall idea of when these feast occur.  While we can debate when these feasts actually should occur, it is more important to understand the meaning of the feasts than which day it actually falls on. Below are the dates currently being observed within the Jewish faith in 2012. Although the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle, so that the first day of each month originally began with the first sighting of a new moon, since the fourth century it has been arranged so that Rosh Hashanah never falls on a Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday, currently the Jewish festivals follow the Gregorian calendar.




According to the Gregorian calendar, The Feast of Trumpets begins after sunset on September 16, 2012 through the nightfall September 18, 2012. The Feast of Trumpets is a 2 day feast because it is the only Feast of The Lord that no man know the day or hour, no not even the angels. To this day it remains a 2 day celebration because no man knows the exact day or hour of the FEAST of TRUMPETS.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

100: SO WHAT NOW?..

A few weeks ago, I felt that this 100th post would possibly be my last one. I started this blog as a repository for some of my thoughts and observations about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which I am an active member.  I have remained an anonymous writer, but I think some of my concerns are shared by other active members of the Church.  It is unfortunate that we can not openly discuss our concerns with family members, friends, and our local authorities without them thinking we are going astray and questioning to much. For those reasons, my family is not aware of this blog, (with the exception of my wife). My ward, bishop and Stake President have no idea about this blog. I am not sure what they would think if they read some of the posts, but I hope the day will come when we can opening discuss these things without raising redflags... and forcing us to put a big scarlet letter A on our chest.

I realize that most of my posts are not flattering.  Some people have asked me after reading some of the posts on this blog… why I stay in the Church

Well..

My answer is...

 I love the Lord. I love His Gospel, and I am grateful for the Church for being the vehicle to carry forth the gospel to others. Despite the current state that it is in.. this is still His Church.

It was foreseen and foretold that we (meaning the Gentiles) would eventually reject the fullness of the Gospel. While very few see it or care to admit it, we are no different than past “chosen” generations, and due to our pride we too have became idolatrous. We worship the things we build and see with our physical eyes. We don't search and seek out using our spiritual eyes. We are blind and deaf. We have become dependent on the arm of the flesh. We seek out the things of this world. We desire acceptance. The road map to success (especially for Priesthood holders) seems to be receiving higher and higher callings within the church. We believe that those in high leadership position are the most righteous. We are latter-day, ladder-climbing Saints. Unfortunately, those who seek their own glory will fall, while those who seek to humble themselves will rise again.

So what now?
What are we to do? What can we do in this awful situation we find ourselves?…

Well...
Here is the answer:

WE NEED TO REPENT…

And time is drawing to a close.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REPENT?

words from a true prophet, one who crys repentance:

“To repent is to turn to Him. To turn to Him is to face Him, listen to Him, heed Him and pay attention to what He is, says, does. It is to seek to be in contact with Him. If you are in contact with Him, He will teach you all things you should do. Constant contact between you and Him can and will occupy your desires, thoughts and deeds. But turning to face Him is left to you. He cannot enter where He is not invited. He may want to be a part of your life more than you want Him to. It is your choice to let Him in.

"The means to having that conversation is within your grasp. Do what you already understand is required of you. We need to ask with real intent, repenting and seeking to have His will revealed to  us. Act without hypocrisy. Be willing to take upon you His wishes for you. It is the "system" He has ordained for us to come back to Him. It is not enough to hear it, or read it. It must be done.
So do it."

...............

"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;

Thursday, September 6, 2012

99: RECEIVING THE HONORS OF MEN


Below is the newly built Jeffrey R Holland Building to be dedicated tomorrow on
September 7th by President Uchtodorf of the First Presidency

Here is the half page invitation that appeared in the Deseret News Sunday's edition
to invite all those who would like to join in the celebration. 


Tomorrow will be an exciting day for one of the Apostles, Elder Jeffrey R Holland. A six-story 170,000 square foot building which towers above the school campus in St. George will be dedicated and receive his namesake.  The formal ceremony begins at 10 a.m, and will include remarks from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. The dedication festivities will include the official ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by the dedicatory prayer offered by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. Following the ribbon cutting, Dixie State will host an open house with refreshments. link to story

(sidenote: President Monson received an honorary doctorate degree from Dixie College last year.)

.................
In some unrelated News.

Mitt's Romney's VP selection, Paul Ryan flew into Utah yesterday. There has never been more excitement for our Mormon Presidential Candidate and his Vice President choice than after the Republican National Convention last week. It was a perfect time for Paul Ryan to come to Utah while the enthusiasm is at it's peak. His main reason was to receive money donations. He only meet with the very elite, and prominent members supporting Romney. If you were willing to spend 25,000.00 dollars per plate,. you had the privilege to have an exclusive dinner with him. If 25 grand was too much for you to spend, you had the option to spend  just 3,000.00 and shake his hand at a VIP reception.  A general admission ticket where you might only be able to see him from a distance was 1,000.00 per ticket.

I had a lot of respect for Paul Ryan when I heard him say in a radio interview before his RNC speech last week that he had run a "2 hours and 50 something" marathon. After running a marathon myself, anyone who can run a sub 3 hour marathon ranks very high on my list. They would be classified as an "elite" runner.

However, it was just recently discovered that Paul Ryan had exaggerated his time, and the one and only marathon he ran was a time of 4 hours,1 minute and 25 seconds. For those of you who have run a marathon you know your time just as well as you know your birthday. You never forget your time.

It is always a difficult thing when the truth is exposed.

When we make false claims to receive more honor, power or credibility in the end destroys not only the person who made the claim, but those who follow them.
We would do well to give greater heed to the words of the prophets in the Book of Mormon.

"I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh;
for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.
Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm
2 Nephi 4: 34