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Thursday, February 28, 2013

152: PRESERVING THE SHELL




On December 17, 2010, a fire started inside the Provo Tabernacle. It basically destroyed everything inside the walls. Because the Tabernacle is such an iconic building that has been apart of tradition in Utah Valley since 1883, the outer structure has been preserved. Currently nothing is inside these walls. It is hollow, it is a shell.  The plans now are to built a temple within the confines of the shell.

This is quite a project for the Church to undertake.

This photo brought a few thoughts to my mind. This is my opinion, but too often, I think we limit ourselves in our sacred experiences when we have restrictions, walls, and barriers that we need to fit things into.  I wonder if instead of outside appearance/walls  directing or dictating what the inside will look like....that we were free to have the inside direct what the outside looks like.

I have always liked this quote by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Lord works from the inside out.
The world works from the outside in"
....


PS... I  have appreciated the well wishes to my toe for those who read my previous blog. For the record, I did not keep my toenail/shell. I am patiently allowing a new nail/shell to grow in its place.

Unrelated News Story:
Some unrelated news item was left on a previous post about the LDS Church business partner  in the building of City Creek Shopping Center. Interesting times we live in:  City Creek Taubman LINK
...

Monday, February 25, 2013

151: A PARABLE OF THE SMASHED TOE.

The Shedding of the Old, and The Beginning of the New
...

At the end of a busy and tiring week, I was cleaning up the clutter of toys scattered on our floor. With hands full,  I tripped over a 10 pound dumbbell. The impact to my toe was so great, that I fell to the floor in extreme pain. My wife came running into the room. We carefully removed my sock to see that my toe was badly bleeding and my entire toenail had been ripped off,  just barely still attached. My wife gently removed the rest of the nail and then comforted me. The exposed new skin that used to be under the hard protective shell of the nail was now cut,  bare, raw and bleeding. My wife calmly washed and cleaned the blood, and then anointed my toe with healing oil. By adminstering constant care, we patiently await until the new nail begins to grow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

150: CONNECTED TO THE LIVING VINE


Below is a statue I discovered in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.  It depicts a young man lifting his friend to higher ground. They are connected by holding on to each others arms. It is difficult to see the delineation between their two arms. It is as if they have joined and melded together, There is no separation. They are unified, and they are one. 

It is a blessing when friendships like this can be formed here in mortality. These friendships give us insight on the type of relationship we need to have with our Savior. Christ uses the example of a living "vine" to describe himself in John 15:1  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." This description suggests that we should have a living connection to the Him. A living connection implies you are in contact with Him. You hear from and listen to Him. He is a part of you and an active part of your life and growth.

A friend of mine stated, "How each of us received contact with God, how we hear His voice, and what gifts we possess are unique. There is no single, universal way for one to hear His voice and know that He is. And so it is a mistake to ignore your own unique talent for "hearing" your Father in Heaven. He did not send you here powerless to hear Him. But it will require you to develop the capacity. Relying merely upon your "feeling" or "emotions" alone is insufficient; you must learn to hear His voice."


Sidenote:

Here is another quote about the importance of friendship from a blog that I think is worth reading:  Weeping for Zion

"One thing I am eternally grateful for is friendship.  Having others around me, to lift me up when things get hard or to share in the best moments of this wonderful life is a precious gift that we should always try to nurture.  Those who connect like this often feel like there is a tangible feeling of ‘oneness’ that is invaluable for both and all parties."

The author of the blog is currently expounding on the Book of John. He is currently on chapter 15.

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
These things I command you, that ye love one another."

John 15: 12-17

Friday, February 15, 2013

149: MOUNT UP WITH WINGS AS EAGLES.


"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31


This statue is located in a small upstairs room in the Church History Museum in Salt Lake. I stumbled upon it last year trying to find a secluded place. It was a tender mercy. It is symbolic to me in many ways.  Here is the story behind the sculpture:

 The Hopi tell the story of a chief’s son who was given an eagle to raise for a ritual sacrifice. The boy grew to love the eagle, and rather than see it killed, he set it free. As punishment, the boy was banished from his village. In the wilderness, the eagle protected the boy and taught him to fish and hunt. Becoming lonely, the boy decided to return to his village. His people were frightened by his survival and knowledge. Assuming that he had survived by magic, the villagers had him bound. In an effort to drive him away, the youth of the village tied eagle feathers on his arms and back and taunted him. Hearing the eagle’s call, the boy ascended a cliff and leaped. At the moment of leaving the ground, he was transformed into an eagle and he flew to the sun.
..................................................................................................

"And he said unto them,
Wheresoever the body is gathered; or, in other words,
whithersoever the saints are gathered, thither will the eagles be gathered together;
or, thither will the remainder be gathered together"
JST Luke 17:37
............
"And now I show unto you a parable.
Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth."
JST Matthew 1:27
..................................................................................................


Thursday, February 14, 2013

148: OUR DESIRES

DESIRES OF AN "IDEAL"  MAN vs. AN "IDOL" MAN

According to a survey that I found online, the most desired thing most Americans (men and women) want is more money. Rounding out the list of other desires include the following:
  • wanting to look better
  • wanting to get a higher paying job
  • wanting to save more money
  • wanting to be popular
  • wanting more free time
  • wanting more fun, recreation, and pleasure
  • not wanting to be lonely
  • wanting to be comfortable

In complete contrast, we read in Abraham 1:2, the desires of Abraham' heart.  In just one verse, here are a few desires that  he sought after.
  • to be a greater follower of righteousness
  • to be one who possessed greater knowledge
  • to be a father of many nations and a prince of peace,
  • to receive instructions and  keep the commandments of God
  • to become a rightful heir, a High Priest and hold the right belonging to the fathers.
I think it is important to point out that this verse in Abraham 1:2 is in chiasm form. Here is the entire verse in the chiastic structure.

1: And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me:
   2: I sought for the blessings of the fathers,
      3: and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same;
         4: having been myself a follower of righteousness,
             5: desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge,
         4: and to be a greater follower of righteousness,
              5: and to possess a greater knowledge,
                     6: and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace,
              5: and desiring to receive instructions,
         4: and to keep the commandments of God.
      3: I became a rightful heir, a High Priest,
   2: holding the right belonging to the fathers
1: It was conferred upon me from the fathers."

The center of the chiasm is to be a Father and to be a Prince of Peace. Once again, the reference to Christ who is the IDEAL... the Prince of Peace.
....................

CHARACTER TRAITS OF AN "IDEAL"  MAN vs. AN "IDOL" MAN



Unlike the surveys conducted for popular magazines found at the checkout lines at the grocery stores.. which list the qualities an "ideal" man from physical attributes like large muscles, and his possessions from cars, to his job and  his  income. I've been reading Hugh Nibleys book, Abraham in Egypt. I came across a paragraph that outlines a few characteristics of an "ideal" man using Abraham as the example. This list is complete contrast to what the world considers as the "ideal man".
  • He is dependent on God's guidance and mercy... 
  • He is a pillar of strength to others in time of crisis, 
  • He is the support of all in time of need,
  • He is concerned before all for the care of the poor and the weak.  
  • He is self-disciplined and good-natured, 
  • He is utterly devoid of any trace of meanness, arrogance, or covetousness,
  • He is kind-hearted and fair to everyone
  • He is bold and independent in thought and action
  • He has quick intelligence to "solve difficult problems"
  • He has a special concern for the helpless,
  • He is ever aware that the secret of survival in bad times is working together.
  • His hospitality is boundless.
  • He wants everybody to be happy in serving God.
  • and finally he seeks "not for prosperity but for the salvation of men."
...............................


Sidenote: 
A friend of mine asked me the other day what my greatest desire of my heart is .It is a question that we all should ask ourselves. He sent the below link to this video. I think it is well done.   .



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

147: BEING ADDED UPON

"and they who keep their second estate
shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever."

ABRAHAM:
THE FRIEND OF GOD because he was the FRIEND TO MAN.

From Abram to Abraham, to Father Abraham, we see a beautiful progression in names and titles being added upon to Abraham. Because of his lifelong practice of unwavering faith, God gave Abraham covenant blessings, including that his descendants would be as numberous as the stars.

His unquestioning trust in God and the beautiful friendship he built with the Most High brought these covenant promises into his family and they persist to this day.  Millions of Arabs acknowledge Abraham as their lineal parent, as do millions of Jews.  Latter-day Saints hold him as their forefather, as well as more than one billion other Christians and Muslims consider Abraham to be their father in a symbolic sense.

We read in Hebrews 11:  "But without faith it is impossible to please him:  for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Hugh Nibley writes, "The wonderful thing about Abraham is that he always does the right thing, whether anybody else does or not. He had to get along with all sorts of people, most of them rascals, and he treats them all with equal courtesy—he never judges any man. After Pharaoh had tried to put him to death, and after he had taken his wife away from him, Abraham could still not refuse his old enemy in his need and laid his hand upon his head and healed him.

He was "the Friend of God" because he was the friend of man. Abraham knew that the priesthood operates "only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness" (D&C 121:41); it may command the elements and the spirits, "but never force the human mind."

When Melchizedek was instructing him in the mysteries of the priesthood, he told him that Noah and his people were permitted to survive in the ark "because they practiced charity." On whom? Abraham asked, since they were alone in the ark. On the animals, was the answer, since they were constantly concerned with their comfort and welfare.

Again, Abraham once beheld a great vision (described also in the Book of Abraham) of all the doings of the human race to come; what he saw appalled him—he had never dreamed that men could be so bad, and in a passionate outburst he asked God why he did not destroy the wicked at once. The answer humbled him: "I . . . defer the death of the sinner, [who might possibly] repent and live!"

Monday, February 11, 2013

146: PURSUING THE OPPOSITE COURSE OF THE WORLD

In Abraham's day, the world was in a desperate state, ripe for destruction. And Abraham's own society was the wickedest.  Included were  the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the most depraved society in all the universe: (Moses 7:36).

With all the world going in one direction, Abraham steadily pursues his course in the opposite. When all the inhabitants of the earth had been led astray in their own pride and self-sufficiency, Abraham still believed on the Lord, who then made a covenant with him. Abraham received his covenant only after he had made the first move. Speaking of him, "the prophetic spirit rests upon man only when he has first bestirred himself to receive it." Again, "the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is no stirring above till there is a stirring below."

It was Abraham's unique merit that he loved righteousness in a hard-hearted and wicked generation, without waiting for others to show him the way.

A wonderful illustration of this principle is set forth in the newly found 1831—32 account of Joseph Smith's first vision, in which he recounts how for three years he sought diligently for something that apparently interested nobody else, and finally "I cried unto the Lord for mercy, for there was none else to whom I could go . . . and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness."  This was exactly the case with the young Abraham, who at an early age angered his father by questioning all the values and beliefs of his society.

So he did the only thing he could do and, exactly like Joseph Smith, appealed directly to God at an early age—it was he who made the first move, according to Abraham 2:12: "Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee."

In short, he wants happiness, peace, rest, righteousness, knowledge, and light, and he wants to be able to hand them on to others—to his own progeny and to the world. The world is not interested in such things, but Abraham was willing to pay any price for them.

In theses most inhospitable of worlds, Abraham was the most hospitable of men. It was said that charity was asleep in the world, and Abraham awakened it.
......................

excerpts from Hugh Nibley's "Abraham in Egpyt"
.

Friday, February 8, 2013

145: A TIME OF WORLD UPHEAVAL


"finding yourself on the wrong way on a freeway during rush hour"

We live in times when the world is in great upheaval. This has always been the case whenever there is a transition from one dispensation to another. Not only is there always great wickedness amongst the people, it is also accompanied with climatic earthly destructions.

We are not the only ones who have and will experience this. Past dispensational heads like Noah and Abraham also lived in times little short of an earthly hell.

Below are some excerpts from the writing of Nibley that I wanted to share. I have a new found respect for his work and the things he wrote.

"If we fancy Noah riding the sunny seas high, dry, and snug in the ark, we have not read the record—the long, hopeless struggle against entrenched mass resistance to his preaching, the deepening gloom and desperation of the years leading up to the final debacle, then the unleashed forces of nature with the family absolutely terrified, weeping and praying "because they were at the gates of death," as the ark was thrown about with the greatest violence by terrible winds and titanic seas."

After all that...

"Noah went forth into a world of utter desolation, as Adam did, to build his altar, call upon God, and try to make a go of it all over again, only to see some of his progeny on short order prefer Satan to God and lose all the rewards that his toil and sufferings had put in their reach."
....

In Abraham's day, men had perverted the order of life, so God altered the order of nature. The problems he had to face were forced upon him largely by the evil times in which he lived.

There is a definite correlation between the behavior of man and the behavior of nature. The universe is so organized, according to this, that when man revolts against God's plan of operations, to which all other creatures conform, he finds himself in the position of one going the wrong way on a freeway during rush hour: the very stars in their course fight against him.

As it was in the days of Noah, so in the days of Abraham, a very old Christian writing explains, the world was ripe for destruction, according to the principle that whenever men fall away completely from God, destruction must follow.

.......

In desperation, men turned to worshiping idols.

The sophisticated people of Abraham's time wanted the sanction of holy beings which at the same time were one hundred percent compliant with their own interests and desires, just as people today search out those scriptures which support their interests and push the rest aside.

There were displays of astonishing luxury and sophistication, the style being Babylonian rather than Egyptian, and apparently already in a state of decadence just before its destruction by an earthquake.

It is not surprising that "the men of Sodom were the wealthy men of prosperity, on account of the good and fruitful land whereon they dwelt. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were not condemned for their ignorance of the God of Abraham but rather for their greed; they were destroyed because they did not strengthen the hand of the poor and heeded not the needy.

For them everything existed for the sole purpose of being turned into cash. One cannot help thinking of the church builders in Mormon 8:37 and 39, who adorn themselves "with that which hath no life" while calmly ignoring the needs of the living.

That this emphasis on wealth and status was the real wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah is attested by both the Bible and the Pearl of Great Price.
.....

Excerpts from Hugh Nibley's "The World of Abraham".
.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

144: THE CENTER PUZZLE PIECE

 I find it interesting that the four gospels in the New Testament are titled.. 
  • The Gospel according to St. Matthew
  • The Gospel according to St. Mark
  • The Gospel according to St. Luke
  • The Gospel according to St. John
Each of these apostles of Christ wrote their accounts "according to" what they saw, heard and witnessed. It is their testimonies.  "According to" is defined as "as stated or indicated by, or determined by". 

Everyone has their own testimonies, perspective, and interpretation of things. Some seem to vary or even conflict with one another. In the end,  hopefully each are sharing what they know to be true and belong to the whole picture, a greater truth.
It reminds me of this parable of the Elephant and the blind men.

A group of blind men touch an elephant. Each man touches only one part of the animal. The man who touches the trunk says, “The elephant is like a tree trunk.” The man touching the tusk says , "The elephant is like a solid pipe.” The man touching the tail says, “The elephant is like a rope.” The man who touches the leg says, “The elephant is like a pillar.” Though they described the same animal, each man had his own point of view that was limited in perspective. Without honoring one another’s perspective, and without the will and skill to intelligently communicate, misunderstandings about what is “real” could escalate and cause conflict—each man believing he is right and the other wrong, when in actuality each is experiencing just one dimension of a greater truth.
.
In the last days, many will be decieved. Even the very elect may be deceived. (Matthew 24:24) Discernment is one of the most important gifts that we can recieve from the Lord. We need to constantly be asking for discernment. Many have part of the truth and they are pieces of the puzzle. Some see and feel the "trunk" of the elephant, others the "tail".  Few can see the entire elephant. We need to make sure that all of these pieces we see and feel connect in with the center puzzle piece.. Jesus Christ.
.


 Behold, my beloved brethren,
THIS IS THE WAY;

and there is none other way nor name given under heaven
whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.

........ 
Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ,
and the only and true doctrine of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost,
which is one God, without end.
Amen.

2 Nephi 31: 19-21
.



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

143: ASSURANCE

This past week, The Church News celebrates President Thomas S Monson's five year anniversary as our sustained prophet, seer, and revelator. It also marks his 50 years as being called as a General Authority. There are several articles that are interesting to read that honor his dedicated service. Here are a few of the article titles:
  • Worldwide travels
  • The Prophet's ministry
  • Teachings of the Prophet
  • Timeline of noteworthy events during his five years as prophet.
  • Message from the President Thomas S Monson.
I read the article that contained his message and the following word stood out.. The word 'assure'.

President Monson states.

"I assure you that the Church is in good hands. The system set up for the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve assures that it will always be in good hands and that, come what may, there is no need to worry or to fear."

Assure: . To make safe as from risk. To convince, persuade, or sooth. To tell someone something positively to dispel any doubt they many have.

We live in such a blessed time, I am so glad that the system that is set up for the Brethern assures that is will always be in good hands.


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


Footnote:
 I did a scripture search on lds.org for the word  'prophet' and the word 'assure'. This was the verses that came up:

"..behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. (meaning the prophets gives the people assurance of peace)

Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed." Jeremiah 14: 13- 15.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

142: HOW QUICKLY WE CAN FALL

We read in the first part of the book of Alma about his experiences in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  After baptizing thousands into the church...there was peace and harmony. No contentions, nor wars around the city of Zarahelma. The Church was established more fully, and many joined and were baptized. In fact 3,500 souls united and were baptized over the following year. They all enjoyed continual peace for a season.

However....
ONE YEAR LATER...

The people of the church began to wax proud. But they had every reason to be... they were members of the true church. They had been baptized by the hand of Alma,  the High Priest.   Notwithstanding, The people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and set their hearts upon the riches and upon the vain things of the world.  They turned their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry.
Those who could see what was happening, beheld it with great sorrow.

How unfortunate for the people of Alma. They should have known better. Didn't they read their scriptures and remember that this happens over and over again? Couldn't they get it right?... Didn't someone tell them that there are three things we can not avoid in this life.. taxes, death, and avoiding the pride cycle?.
.......


Isn't it great that we have finally gotten it right? We have the restored Church, we have living prophet who can't lead us astray. This could never happen to us in the Latter Day Church. :)


.........

Personal Sidenote:

Both of these photos were taken around 4:00 PM yesterday above the Salt Lake Valley. In a previous post I mentioned the pollutions and hazardous air quality in Salt Lake City. The only escape is to ascend to higher ground. For those living in the city, it is difficult to see the type of air you are breathing until you rise above it. In fact from in the Salt Lake valley, the air is so thick it is almost impossible to see the mountains and the majestic peaks covered with white snow. The sun can barely penetrate through the dark polluted air. The sun can only be seen in higher elevations.



On a quick hike above the city yesterday, the scriptures opened to the 5th chapter of Alma.

 "O ye workers of iniquity;
ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world,
ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness
nevertheless have gone astray,
as sheep having no shepherd notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you
and is still calling after you,
but ye will not hearken unto his voice!"
Alma 5: 37


But the next verse gives us hope:

"Behold, I say unto you,
that the good shepherd doth call you;
yea, and in his own name he doth call you,
which is the name of Christ;
and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd,
to the name by which ye are called,
behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.

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

 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men,
for the arms of mercy are extended towards them,
and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.

Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life;
yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely.
.................

What a blessing and gift the Book of Mormon is to us.

Friday, February 1, 2013

141: INCREASING THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD





"I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness”
Isaiah 41:10

The Ancients who understood spiritual energy have found that when one raises one's arm to the square, as when taking an oath, the arm acts as an antenna to draw spiritual energy, increasing and magnifying the power of the spoken words.

Moses raised his right arm in the parting of the Red Sea and the elements obeyed his words.

Christ with his right arm to the square as he spoke the words for Lazarus to rise from the grave.

Native Americans raise their right arm in a greeting, increasing the power of their saluation of hello.

When taking on an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, the President will raise their right hand to the square. Those entering the militiary as well as any public office will also raise their right arm to the square. Those testifying in court raise their right hand to the square.

When a church member is newly baptized or moves into the geographic boundaries of a ward or branch, the individual's name is presented to the congregation and members are invited to raise their right hand to welcome that member. We also raise our right hand to sustain or give a vote of thanks for those in their ward callings.

There are many other examples that I could share, some of which are sacred.

I found this interesting that all through the generations on this earth we can see the importance of the arm raised to the square..which is a symbol as well as a literal means to increase and magnify the power of the spoken words.


Sidenote:
Some scriptural references:
“The predominance of right-handedness provided a ready basis for metaphors and geographic perspective in the Ancient Near East…In social concourse, oaths and agreements were affirmed with the right hand (Gen. 14:22; Ezek 17:18; Dan 12:7), expressions of fellowship were sealed with a right-handed handshake (Ezra 10:19), and giving and receiving were done with the right hand (Ps 26:10; Gal 2:9).” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery 727-728)