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Thursday, August 29, 2013

196: SYMBOLIC DREAMS



Dreams are symbolic in nature and usually pertain to things in our personal life. A dream has significance if you can recall it and it has details which are perhaps meaningful. I have learned that dreams oftentimes employ symbols to tell us messages. The specifics are not intended to be taken literally, but symbolically. I had several friends have portent dreams this past week including myself, all involving destruction. I asked for permission to share one of my friend's dreams:

...
 In the dream, I was by a beautiful river walk close to a city. It was park like area with benches and a sidewalk that meandered along the river. My family and I were sitting at one of the picnic benches just enjoying the beautiful day and scenery around us. I felt drawn to walk down the river 20-30 yards and look at something. My family was still sitting at the bench talking with each other. All of the sudden, alarm hit all my senses with a knowledge that a wall of deathly water both, at that moment unheard and unseen was headed our way. I shouted to my family to RUN!! They all took off toward our truck and I was running right behind them. While running towards the truck, I was thinking how grateful that they didn't pause to inquire why I was so alarmed, but heeded my voice of warning.

All at once, I realized that they left my wallet on the bench in their haste to get to the truck. I remember that the internal decision to take a short detour and grab my wallet was met with a warning that I would not make it if I did. I reached the truck with my family and sped out of the parking lot yelling for any strangers around to jump into the back. All at once, a huge black wall of water came crashing down the river with great ferociousness. My last memory of that dream was going to higher ground safely in the truck and so grateful that we were safe and that I had not gone after my wallet
.

....

A few days ago, I came across this link of video that was recently released. It is fairly long, but if you watch it from the very beginning to the end, you will be amazed at enormity of the destruction. What starts out a calm day despite hearing warning sirens, the tide of debris and water that comes through this city is unbelievable.




 
Sidenote: I found this video to be highly symbolic as well. The symbol of our country, the Golden Eagle flies above the audience pridefully shouting USA, USA.. and then you see the bird crash into the glass wall.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

195: PAPAL SUPREMACY

Because of recent events, I want to share a few things.

A few weeks ago I had a conversion with my neighbor about religion. He is Greek Orthodox. I asked him to explain how his faith differs from Roman Catholicism. He basically said that it all comes down to the fact that they don’t believe in papal supremacy. Basically, he said that he doesn’t believe that the Pope speaks with God, whereas the Catholics do. My neighbor did say that the Pope probably means well and is likely a wonderful man. 

Papal supremacy refers to the doctrine that the Pope, by reason of his office, is the earthly representative of God and holds all keys for the entire Christian Church. He has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered. In brief, "the Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls.”

My neighbor and I share some common religious beliefs, since I don't believe in papal supremacy as well. 

A religion that believes in papal supremacy, would likely teach and sing songs like “Follow the Pope, follow the Pope.. don’t go astray. Follow the Pope, follow the Pope, he knows the way.” In their religious services, they would frequently speak about their love of their Pope, there would be stories told about him, illustrated books of his talks would be published, biographies would be written about his life. He would be called a Beloved Pope. Faithful members would have to sustain him as the only one who holds and can exercise all keys. People would hang on their walls pictures of the Pope, along with quotes like “When the Pope speaks, the thinking has been done”. It would be frowned upon to question the infallibility of the Pope. All of this would be required for continued growth and dominance of the Church. The Catholic church leadership would safeguard and maintain this orthodoxy of faith by bringing its members into compliance with this doctrine and its leaders or they are cast out. 

References in well known LDS books have linked the Roman Catholic church to the Great and Abominable church, and the Whore of Babylon. I wonder if the doctrine of papal supremacy is one of the main reasons. Any time we set up a man to be a mediator between us and God is abominable. While the Lord sends true messengers to preach and point His children to Him, the Lord employs no servant to come between us and the Lord.

I recently heard a quote attributed to Hugh Nibley, “Do not serve men who require your obedience, your adulation. Only one is worthy of disciples, and that is the Savior.”

True messengers sent to us from the Father will say things like.. Follow the Savior, follow the Savior. They would speak about their love of the Lord. They would not tolerate any attention towards themselves. They would say, forget about me, don’t write biographies about my life, I am not important. In fact, I am a fool. Look to the Lord, and His scriptures. In fact, please open up your scriptures in Sacrament Meeting. Read them and learn more about the prophecies. Stop hoping that someone “presiding” is going to lift you to heaven. No one can do that. There is only One who matters. When you focus on some man as a leader, you are an idolater. Put an end to your idolatry and look to Christ. The heavens are open. Connect with Him. Stop looking around – look up.

However, when these true messengers say such things they are usually mocked, labeled as apostate, and cast out and exed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

194: CONDITIONING AND INDOCTRINATION

Our daughter is now old enough to go into nursery during the 3 hour block at church. Childen can start going once they are 18 months old. These first couple of weeks I have been going in with her. It has been interesting to see what we teach our children from the very beginning before they can even talk.  During singing time, one of the songs they sing each week is “Follow the Prophet”. When they sing the song, the nursery teacher selects one of the children to hold a large photograph of Thomas S. Monson. She has the child hold up this photo, and then march around the room having all of the other children follow behind chanting the words “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, He knows the way.” Every week this song is sung a couple of times allowing more of the children to have the opportunity of being the “prophet” and having the other children follow behind them.

We teach at the very earliest of age, before our children can even talk, to follow the Prophet and that he will not lead us astray.

 This topic has been discussed extensively on many blogs and forums. The debate still continues.   It is a probably the most divisive and sensitive subjects to talk about in our LDS culture. One side accuses the other for being apostate for thinking that the Prophet is fallible.  The other side accuses the mainstream members for not being more awake and too leader dependent.

 I came across a blog written by a very faithtful member of the church that was interesting. I don’t know the author, but his mindset and analogy that he used probably very typical of 99% of active LDS members. 

I quote his words:

"...I was talking with a friend that has a hard time with our leader worship in our culture. I gave him this analogy: It feels like this, you want to go to the Louvre in Paris to see the Mona Lisa. To get to the museum you have to pay to get in. You get inside the museum and you immediately are met by the tour guides. And the tour guides are talking about how they know this is the only museum that has the Mona Lisa and they know without a shadow of a doubt that the curator of the museum has all the keys to the museum. And they know without a shadow of a doubt that no one can behold the Mona Lisa unless they come to this museum. It is the only museum on the face of the earth that has the Mona Lisa. - Well all of that is true with regard to the Mona Lisa, but in my view, completely irrelevant, because I came to the museum to behold the Mona Lisa; not the tour guide; not the keys that the tour guide has; not the keys that the curator has. I respect all of that and I recognize all of that as necessary. I recognize all of that as part of the function of the museum. I do recognize that the museum has the Mona Lisa. But in the scale on my mission, my purpose, why I'm there - am there for one reason and one reason only. I am there to behold the Mona Lisa. If you can just realized that is just the museum being the museum and that is just the tour guides being the tour guides. They are doing their best, however misguided or overbearing or what have you they might be. But you can still see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Of course the Mona Lisa in this metaphor is Christ and the tour guides may not be the most knowledgeable people on earth about the Mona Lisa. There may be people outside the Museum, in fact there are people outside the museum who know a whole lot more about the Mona Lisa than some of the tour guides. Some of the tour guides are great. I especially like the ones with the German accent; that is one of my favorite tour guides. I have been told that we are not supposed to have favorite and less-favorite tour guides, but there are definitely some that are more favorite than others when I go to the Louvre.”

Although he doesn’t specifically say this, but the analogy could continue by saying that the curator is the only one who can have access to Mona Lisa, who would have the key to open the glass and touch the painting.  As you know the Mona Lisa is in a sealed enclosure, behind 1.5 inch thick glass with security guards and cameras making sure that no one gets close or even touch the Mona Lisa.

How sad if this is our mindset and doctrine we teach? Is this the Christ we worship, untouchable to all except one man? What about those outside the museum? Are they ever allowed in, or banded from ever seeing the Mona Lisa?  What about those who actually enter into the museum and actually find the Mona Lisa? Are they not allowed to feel and touch the painting? Do we even believe that it is possible or even try? And if it is possible, and we then tell others that we have touched the Mona Lisa, will we be chastised, or thrown out of the museum?
A true curator after touching the Mona Lisa would want all to come and touch as well. To think that “Tour guides” and “curators” are the only ones that have more access is completely false doctrine and not the Gospel of Christ.



Sidenote:

A few weeks ago I needed to renew my temple recommend. Before the member of the Stake Presidency began asking me the questions, he told me that he felt by the Spirit that he wanted me to share my testimony about the prophet after he asked me if I sustain him as the prophet, seer and revelator and recognize him as the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys. I thought it was odd. Why not ask me to bear my testimony about Christ after he asked the question about if believe in God the Eternal Father and in His Son Jesus Christ? I talked to a friend about my experience, and he said that this a way they receive more information without asking questions on our obedience to the leaders.

.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

193: JUST A COUPLE OF HEADSCRATCHERS

Here are three interesting things that make me scratch my head. I offer no commentary on this. I allow the reader to come to their own conclusions.


PROMOTING ACCEPTANCE

Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and his wife Barb are scheduled to give the keynote address at an upcoming conference promoting acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Mormon Church. The three day conference will be held in Salt Lake City on September 13-15.

The article states the Youngs are committed members of the LDS Church. Barb and Steve are happy to be part of Affirmation’s International Conference, where they hope to lend their voices to the healing work of making our families, our society and our church more welcoming places for our LGBT brothers and sisters.


LINK to the KSL article

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


BOY SCOUTS CAN NOW EARN THE THOMAS S MONSON AWARD


The Thomas S. Monson award may be earned by youth and adults of all ages.  It will be introduced at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, and will then be available for others to receive after July 2013.  Pre-orders are accepted immediately, and will be shipped August 1, 2013. To earn the Thomas S. Monson Award, complete the following two requirements and at least four electives.



Requirements

1. Read “100 Years of Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” which is included on this card. With your family or a Scout leader, discuss two things you learned from this history. 

2. Read “Run, Boy, Run,” which is included on this card, and write your feelings about this story in your journal.


Electives


1. Complete at least two requirements toward earning the Genealogy merit badge.
2. Complete at least two requirements toward earning the Family Life merit badge.
3. Memorize the thirteenth article of faith, and discuss with your family or a leader how this article of faith and the Scout Law support each other.
4. Meet two youth outside of your area and discuss with them how Scouting has benefited your life or the life of a Scout you know.
5. Share your feelings about doing your duty to God with your family, a friend of another faith, or a leader.
 
http://ldsbsa.org/lds-bsa-centennial/thomas-s-monson-award/LINK to the award

....

TWO NEW BOOKS ANNOUNCED IN TIME FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE


A new illustrated book with the teachings and stories told by Thomas S Monson during 50 years as an apostle and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is titled
Consider The Blessings: True Accounts of God’s Hand in Our Lives” . This book is scheduled to be released just in time for October General Conference..



The other book is titled “I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Erying,” due out in the fall as well. This is the biography of President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency.

LINK to the Deseret News article



192: A FLAME OF UNQUENCHABLE FIRE



"For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God,
and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ,
it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.
O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus,
that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white,
having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day."
Mormon 9:5

....
 
 

 

TYPE and SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME?
 
Here a few photos taken over the past couple of days in Salt Lake. There have been some devastating fires started by lightning which have destroyed many homes in Summit County. Last night, due to the all of the smoke covering the sky, the sun was darkened and the moon turned red in color.




photo taken at Guardsman Pass on August 12, 2013



photo taken of the sun from our front yard at about 6:00 PM on August 14, 2012

photo taken around 9:00 PM on August 14, 2013 from our front yard.



"And they shall see signs and wonders,
for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above,
and in the earth beneath."
 
"And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.
And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened,
and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven."
D&C 45: 40-42







Wednesday, August 14, 2013

191: HEEDING THE WARNING CALL FROM DANGER


A friend of mine called after we returned home and asked if we went to Waimea Bay. I told him we did. He then proceeded to tell me of an experience that he had with his family when they were there. I share it on this blog because I think it is a great parable.

Waimea Bay is a famous beach for swimming, surfing and cliff diving with its beautiful waves, rocky cliffs, and white sandy beach. When my friend took his family up to this North Shore beach, a storm off the coast had begun to produce some really big waves. The waves were larger than normal and were enticing and fun to swim in. His son went out swimming in the ocean joining the others who were already in the water. After some time, the lifeguard on the shore could see that a very strong riptide was beginning to form which started to pull and carry out his son as well as the other swimmers farther out into the ocean. 

The swimmers were now in danger. Instead of jumping into the riptide himself, the lifeguard grabbed his megaphone, walked to the edge of the water and proceeded to speak in a loud voice and give the swimmers directions on how to get out of this dangerous and life-threatening situation. The instructions were simple. They needed to swim parallel to the shore until they were no longer in the riptide. All of the swimmers knowing that they were in trouble and now farther and farther out in the ocean, listened to the lifeguard and began to swim until they were no longer in the riptide … except for an older man. The lifeguard could see that the old man was not listening to his instructions and probably not completely aware of the danger he faced. Frustrated, the lifeguard jumped in the ocean, risking his own life to save this old man. Fortunately the lifeguard was able to reach the older man, swam with him under his arm with his floating device and saved him. Once they reached the shore, the lifeguard told the man that he was done swimming for the day, and that it might be best that he went home for the safety of all involved.

Monday, August 12, 2013

190: ASCENDING BEFORE THE STORM

After posting the last blog, a friend sent me some additional information about Homer's 'The Iliad and the Odyssey'. For those who have not read the epic tales, the Iliad is tragic tale, while the Odyssey is more hopeful. The Odyssey describes a man who journeys far, and even though he suffers much while trying to return home,  it ends in harmony and acceptance.

The Iliad and the Odyssey do have a few things in common. They both deal with the struggles and hardship of mortal life. They both deal with the gods interceding in human affairs. The mortals in both stories have to struggle against fear, anger, and other ego-based emotions of human existence. Both stories give us insight into the minds of the inhabitants of the earth during this time period and their perception of reality. The reality of the “gods”, angels and heavenly messengers, was common knowledge for most people during that time. Today, the existence of the gods is dismissed by most, questioned by many, and known by few.  I wonder if it is our choice.. whether our journey will be more like the Iliad or more like the Odyssey. I wonder if one of the factors depends on if we truly know God.
...

The following is a brief account of a personal experience of hiking what is called the "Stairway to Heaven". It is also known as the Haiku Stairs which entails climbing approximately 4000 vertical stairs that ascends skyward over the towering ridge lines of a volcanic mountain range. These stairs were constructed during World War II and were originally wooden ladders spiked into the steep Hawaiian cliffs in order to build a radio transmission tower at the summit. The radio antenna on the tower was capable of transmitting very low frequency radio signals which could actually reach US Navy submarines across enemy lines, as far away as Tokyo Bay even while submerged.

After the war, these "stairs" became a popular hike. However, due to safety and other concerns, the station and trail were closed to the public in 1987. Access to the stairs is prohibited, and a guard is stationed at the bottom of the stairs to make sure hikers do not attempt to climb the stairs anymore.

Here is a view of the stairs to give you an idea of what the hike entails.



Here is a photo of trailhead before reaching the Stairway to Heaven. The peak of the mountain is not visible because of the clouds.

 

Here is a photo of a portion of the stairs. 
 
 
One of the ridges along the hike. There are parts along the way where you descend only to then ascend higher along this very steep and what feel like a razor thin ridge line.


 
...
 
On our recent "odyssey", I hiked the stairway to heaven twice. The first time was with my adventurous and amazingly strong wife. The day we hiked it, we woke up around 2:30 AM, drove as close as we could get to the stairs and began our  hike into the jungle at about 3:30 AM. We were fortunate enough to have arrived at the same time as 5 others who also were attempting to hike it that morning. A member in their group had hiked it before and knew the best path in the jungle to get to the stairs. We were grateful since it was extremely dark and we possibility could have gotten lost. When someone has actually been to a place or experienced something before, they make for a good guide. When someone claims they know the path but has never taken the path.. they are a false guide.

All of us hiking had headlamps fastened to our forehead. It would have been impossible to hike this trail without your own personal light. You could not rely on someone else's light. It would be too dangerous. My wife and I also brought reinforced gloves to help us hold on to the handrails which is your only source of security to avoid falling. We reached the stairs before the guard and  bypassed  the security gates and fences. As we began climbing the stairs, we noticed more hikers above us that had begun the hike earlier than us. It was helpful to see their lights above us to see the direction we would be heading up.

About 30 minutes into the hike, I was sweating profusely, not only because of the humidity, but the intense never ending "Stairmaster" workout. While I knew it would be steep, I was unprepared for how steep it got. Completely vertical. It was more like a ladder than stairs. One slip and there was nothing to stop you below, and if there was another hiker behind you, you would take them out as well.

At literally the steepest part of the climb, the strap to my wife's headlight somehow came unattached. While trying to grip the handrail with one hand and try and fix the strap with the other, my wife tried to fix her lightsource.  I used my headlamp to help give the needed light for my wife to correct the problem with her light source. After several minutes of intense fear, my wife fixed her headlight and we began climbing again. Prayers were answered.

We finally  reached the first of five platforms and enjoyed the needed time to rest our legs and drink some water before we got too dehydrated.

From this first platform, we could see the road and city lights below us and could see car lights of the guard who was now on duty. After our much needed break, we continued on our ascent. By this time, clouds has rolled in and it started to rain heavily. It never stopped. This made the stairs and handrails very slippery. We needed to climb with extra care, with patience, with long-suffering, and with persistence to make it to the top. One step at a time. You could not hurry or try to skip a step, even if you thought you could. The risk was just to great and it was not worth potentially slipping and falling.

We reached each platform and rested at each station until the final push to the top. I never lost the hope that the storm would pass and we would reach the summit in time to see the sunrise. We finally made it to the top before 6:00 AM, after hours of never ending stair/ladder climbing. Tired, wet, and cold, we waited in small enclosed area of the abandoned communication tower. There were others that had made it to the top as well before us... all waiting for the storm to break and for possibly seeing the sunrise. I had brought an extra set of clothes to change into. I was grateful that I had done so,  since I was wet to the bone. Now with dry clothes and no longer cold and wet, my wife and I huddled together. The clouds were still thick at the top and the wind was blowing hard. We made the decision that we needed to get back to our kids and could no longer wait to see if we could get a glimpse of the sunrise. As we descended, I could feel the presence of the sun that it was now visibile. It was no longer dark and we no longer needed our flashlights. However it continued to still rain.

The descent was just as difficult as that ascent. In fact, it some parts it was more frightening. Instead of constantly looking up, we were looking down and could see the peril. It was slippery as well, and one dumb mistake could cost you your life. In fact, some hikers in front of us had lost some of their equipment including their glasses, making it hard for them to see.

After about 2 hours of descending carefully, we made it to the bottom. My wife and I were very glad to had this experience especially without injury.  A few days before our odyssey would come to an end, I climbed the "Stairway to Heaven" once again, but this time I hiked it with "my brother." We hiked it on the morning when the Tropical Storm Flossie was due to hit the island. The prompting to "ascend before the storm" was heeded and I am grateful for the blessing, the inspiration, and personal revelation that I received on that second hike. We were able to summit and descend before the storm came. Here is a photo that I took as I was driving home and I could see that the storm was now approaching.


Here is a view of the top of Stairway to Heaven mountain that you summit.

Monday, August 5, 2013

189: THOUGHTS FROM A 33 DAY ODYSSEY

 
 photo taken on July 6, 2013
...
 
An odyssey is any long eventful journey, especially when filled with notable experiences. In High School, I enjoyed reading Homer's "The Odyssey". This Greek epic poem describes Odysseus's adventures in his ten-year attempt to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.

Most importantly, we can read in the scriptures the records of divine "odysseys" by those who have ascended back into the Lord's presence.

All of us have an individual odyssey to complete. All of us are fellow travelers in this world. I am grateful for those who share their experiences from their personal journey. It increases my faith.

 In gratitude, I hope to share a few thoughts over the course of the next several blog posts about a 33 day odyssey which began on June 30, 2013 and ended on August 1, 2013.  It included leaving behind work and home, the computer, emails, blogs, phone.... and even a watch.  It was life changing, it was life renewing, it was divinely orchestrated. The past 33 days included ascending to the highest of peaks, to descending below to the depths of the sea, as well as entering inside into sacred places where heaven meets earth.

Just a side note: the number 33 is significant.. A few things to note about the number 33.  Jesus Christ’s mortal life in the meridian of time was 33 years. The New Testament records Christ performing 33 miracles. The spans of years between Joseph Smith’s death and Brigham Young’s death was 33 years. (1844 to 1877). And in a popular novel, the number 33 was discovered to lead to the essential meaning of life. ("The Lost Symbol.” by Dan Brown)

Yes, all of us in this mortal world are on our individual journey, an odyssey, filled with notable experiences, with high and lows and everything in the middle. May we always take note, and all recognize the hand of the Lord in all things, and His patience and love guiding us on our odyssey back into His presence.