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Sunday, December 29, 2013

229: "DESOLATING SICKNESS SHALL COVER THE LAND"

Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death from a mysterious illness, bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen. At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive. Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died. One of the eagles was found in Farmington Creek, suffering from the same symptoms as 16 other eagles that died. Another one, less than a year old, was found in the West Point area on Christmas night.

Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=28156434#mblEz8wwfDiGWV5y.99
Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death from a mysterious illness, bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen. At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive. Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died. One of the eagles was found in Farmington Creek, suffering from the same symptoms as 16 other eagles that died. Another one, less than a year old, was found in the West Point area on Christmas night.

Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=28156434#mblEz8wwfDiGWV5y.99
In a revelation given on March 7, 1831 about the signs and wonders to attend the Second coming, Joseph Smith stated in Doctrine and Covenants Section 45 that "desolating sickness shall cover the land" in the last days.

Sickness is defined as a state of the body in which the organs do not perfectly perform their natural functions. It is when we are in a defective or unsound condition. We tend to think that a sickness is only physical, but sickness can also describe a people who are not living in harmony with God and how He would have us treat others. I offer the following true story to illustrate this:

There was a native tribe that lived in peace and harmony for hundreds of years. Every day the routine was the same. Hunters would go out from the tribe to gather food and returned back from the hunt with the food to share equally among the members of the tribe.

No one went hungry when food was available. Not even the weak, the sick, or the elderly. One day the most skilled hunter said, "I am the best hunter, I kill more than my share of deer, why should I share the bounty of my hunt?"

  And from that day forward, he began storing his meat in a high mountain cave. Then other skilled hunters said, "We kill more than our share of deer too, shouldn't we have the right to keep the bounty of our hunt?"  And then they too began to store their meat in high mountain caves. And then, something began to happen to the tribe that never happened before. Some people, especially the old, weak, and the sick began to go hungry, while others were well feed.

In fact, it became so common place that no one thought it was unusual that others were starving while others had more than they needed. And what is even more strange, the tribal leaders began to teach their young to emulate the hoarding habits of these few.


 Now that story isn't true because it happened, it is true because it is happening.  We are that tribe.

There is one fundamental law that nature obeys that mankind breaks everyday. Now this is the law. Nothing in Nature takes more than it needs. For example, the Redwood Trees do not take all the soil nutrients, just what it needs to grow. A Lion doesn't kill every gazelle, just the one he needs to food.

When something in Nature takes more than it needs and breaks that fundamental law,  it will eventually die off.

We have a term we use for the body when it takes more than it's share. We call it Cancer.

From the book, Man's Rise to Civilization by Peter Farb is that "Traditional cultures considered the idea of accumulation of private property beyond your needs was considered a mental illness." Truly, a "sick" human being would find joy and happiness in having too much of what one needs.... while others go without. Greed, Selfish, and Pride is one of the desolating "sickness" that covers our land.

 A prophet of God who saw our day, said the following, "NONE save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel,... and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted."

Besides our greed and lack of helping those in need, there are very real desolating sicknesses that is covering our land. This  news story is extremely foreboding and symbolic.  Bald eagles are dying in Utah — 20 in the last few weeks alone — and nobody can figure out why.  The Bald Eagle is a powerful symbol of the United States, a symbol of our Freedom. Earlier this month, however, hunters and farmers across five counties in northern and central Utah began finding the majestic birds lying, listless, on the ground. Many of these birds suffered from seizures, head tremors and paralysis in the legs, feet and wings.

Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen.  At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive.  Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died.

This was also reported yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.

Sidenote:

 A few days ago, I drove early in the morning into downtown Salt Lake. I couldn't help notice the unhealthy and polluted air that we breath. I quickly took a photo of the rising sun as I passed the refineries just west of downtown Salt Lake.



Photo taken December 27, 2013 on the I-15 southbound freeway driving into downtown Salt Lake City.
The State Capital and the LDS Church Office Building can be seen in distance the smoggy air. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

228: THE BEGINNING WHEN LIGHT CONQUERS DARKNESS

 
"If my people,
which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,
and pray,
 and seek my face,
 and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal..."

2 Chronicles 7:14
 
Taken yesterday on the Winter solstice from the front door of our home.

Friday, December 20, 2013

227: ON THE EVE OF THE DARKEST DAY OF THE YEAR.

This afternoon on the eve of the darkest day of the year, same-sex marriage is one step closer in becoming legalized in Utah. What usually happens politically from the powers of the government, the church has historically has followed to avoid persecution. I wonder how long it will take.

NEWS ARTICLE: "A federal judge has struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional.  U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling Friday saying Utah's law passed by voters in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.  Shelby says the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way, and the state's unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify deny allowing same-sex marriages.

Many similar court challenges are pending in other states, but Utah's has been closely watched because of the state's history of staunch opposition to gay marriage as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."


2014 will be a very interesting year.

226: WINTER SOLSTICE 2013

 
In my opinion I feel that time is speeding up as things are starting to wind down on this earth. The above video is a time lapse video that I came across. I have a great appreciation and love for God's Creations. I have heard people who read a great article say, "I wish I had written that"... well, likewise.. "I wish I could have filmed that".  link to youtube video
 
 
Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice which marks the shortest daylight period and longest night of the year. Beginning tomorrow, Light begins to conquer Darkness and for the next six months, the days again grow longer as the sun increases and ascends after 6 months of decreasing and descending from the lowest point in the sky.  
 
In preparing to observe this important day, I hiked up into the mountains a few days ago and took a few photos of the snow. I was able to zoom in with my camera and I could see the intricate detail of the fallen snow. Snowflakes are essentially ice crystals whose shape are determined by the organization the water molecules are in when they freeze. Temperature greatly influences their final form. Snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the humidity (supersaturation) is low, while more complex shapes at higher humidities. More adverse conditions create more intricate snowflakes.
It is amazing to see the beauty formed from just one drop of water with two basic elements of hydrogen and oxygen.  Just image if we allow the God, the Creator of all, to shape our lives and become His work and His masterpiece.
 
May we reflect tomorrow how each of us can increase more Light into our life in the coming days ahead when darkness has been gaining momentum and power.
 


 
 
 
Sidenote: However, to see some really amazing photographs, a Moscow-based photographer captured dozens of amazing close-ups of snowflakes. See some of these images here: SNOWFLAKES
.
 
 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL? Some classes to consider taking 2014

This past year I took a few night classes from a friend of mine, John Hall who has been a BYU professor for 30 years in ancient history and languages. Along with taking a few beginning Greek classes from him, I enrolled in a seven month course in which we studied Nibley's  "The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment".  Below is a list of the classes John Hall will be teaching next year, along with the course descriptions and text books. If you are interested or would like additional information, please email him directly at  itsgreektome@hotmail.com

 
 Winter Term 2014 Classes and Tutorials

Prelude to Apostasy: The Churches the Apostles Left Behind and the Fractionation of Early Christianity in the First and Early Second Centuries.
Wednesdays Nights at 7:45-10:00 PM
January 8, 15, 22, 29

The course will consist of lectures and discussion about Early Christianity as it formed in the first century and was transformed in the later first century and the second century as a result of apostasy. Texts to be consulted include: Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity; W.H. Wagner, After the Apostles; Raymond Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind.
.........................................................................................................................

The Original Greek New Testament for People Who Can’t Read the Ancient Greek.
Friday Night at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
January 10, 2014 

Translation, commentary, elucidation and discussion of various New Testament scripture passages where the original Greek provides greater doctrinal insight than English translations. No knowledge of Greek required on the part of participants.
........................................................................................................................

Advanced Greek - Reading the New Testament
Wednesday Nights from 6:15 - 7:15 pm.
January 8, 15, 22, 29

Reading the New Testament in the original Greek text enables the reader to go beyond the translation errors of the KJV and other English translations.
.........................................................................................................................
Beginning Greek - Salt Lake County class
Tuesday 7:30-9:00 pm.
January 7, 14, 21, 28

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley Porter. ISBN 9780802628279
.........................................................................................................................
Beginning Greek - Utah County class
Thursday 7:10- 8:45 pm.
January 16, 23, 30

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley Porter. ISBN 9780802628279
.........................................................................................................................

Spring Term 2014 Classes and Tutorials
.........................................................................................................................

The World of the New Testament
Wednesday 7:45 - 8:45
Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar. 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 16, 23, 30; May7, 14, 21, 28

The class is designed as a lecture-discussion course about the context of the New Testament, and the background, foundation, and development of Christianity in the early first century. Considerable information will be provided about the Roman world, the eastern Mediterranean Hellenistic cultural sphere, and the Jewish traditions that comprised the primary cultural background of Judea in the first century. Finally, the text of the New Testament will be carefully perused in its literary and historical settings. The primary text will be Welch and Hall, Charting the New Testament. Other texts that may be consulted are Hall, Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church; Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity.
.........................................................................................................................

Beloved John
Wednesday 9:00-10:00
Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar. 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 16, 23, 30; May7, 14, 21, 28

The class is designed as a lecture-discussion course that will investigate in detail the life and writings of John, known as Beloved Disciple, Apostle, Evangelist and Revelator. Works to be considered include not only the Epistles, the Gospel, and Revelation, but also the Apocryphon of John. Emphasized will be John’s role as Witness of Christ throughout the dispensations. In addition to Johns own writings, texts include Hall, New Testament Witnesses of Christ, and Hall’s other works in progress.
.........................................................................................................................

What Happened Between the Testaments?
Thursday 8:50-10:00.
Feb. 6, 20, 27; Mar. 6, 20, 27; Apr. 3, 17, 24; May 1, 15, 22.

The course will examine the events and religious writings produced in the approximately 500 years between the conclusion of the Old Testament and the inception of the New Testament. This is the era of the formation of modern rabbinical Judaism, the rise of the Pharisees, the Maccabees and their confrontation with Hellenism, The Jewish Diaspora through first the Persian and then the Greek Hellenistic kingdoms, and the consequent restrictiveness and differentiation of this developing religion from the earlier first temple Judaism. To be followed by the departure of Jewish sects, such as the Essenes, into the wilderness Writing to be examined include Dead Sea Scrolls, Baruch, 2-4 Ezra, Macabees, Ben Sira, Philo, etc. Texts to be consulted include Peters, The Harvest of Hellenism and Gruen, Heritage and Hellenism.
.........................................................................................................................

The Original Greek New Testament for People Who Can’t Read the Ancient Greek.
Friday 7-9
February 21, March 14, April 11, May 9.

Translation, commentary, elucidation and discussion of various New Testament scripture passages where the original Greek provides greater doctrinal insight than English translations. No knowledge of Greek required on the part of participants.
.........................................................................................................................

Advanced Greek - Reading the New Testament
Wednesday, 6:15 - 7:15 pm.
Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar. 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 16, 23, 30; May 7, 14, 21, 28

Reading the New Testament in the original Greek text enables the reader to go beyond the translation errors of the KJV and other English translations.
.........................................................................................................................

Beginning Greek - Salt Lake County class
Tuesday 7:30-9:00 pm.
Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25; March 4, 11, 18, 25; Apr. 1, 15, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20, 27.

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley Porter. ISBN 9780802628279
.........................................................................................................................

Beginning Greek - Utah County class
Thursday 7:10- 8:45 pm.
Feb. 6, 20, 27; Mar. 6, 20, 27; Apr. 3, 17, 24; May 1, 15, 22.

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New
.........................................................................................................................

Once again for further information e-mail itsgreektome@hotmail.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

225: "HEY DAD, ARE WE IN APOSTASY?"

On Sunday, my daughter asked me if our Church is in Apostasy. She is still quite young. This question along with other questions like..  "Where do babies come from?" or  "Is Santa real?" is when we as parents earn our stripes in how we answer our children.

Coincidentally, a friend of mine sent me photos from an LDS coloring book that used to be sold at Deseret Book. I thought I would share some of them. I think the book is now out of print and was sold about 10 years ago. These pages in the coloring book are trying to teach children about the apostasy that happened after Christ first established His Church. Interesting to see how much of these coloring pages could apply to us today. It was a good way to talk to my children.

Image 1: 
 
 
Are we a new and improved church? Do we interpret scripture correctly? Are true apostles who have seen the Lord face to face necessary anymore? Are we told to not open our scriptures in Sacrament meeting? Do we bring our own doctrines?
.................................................................................................................................
 
Image 2:
 
 
Are we a solid structure on a firm foundation or do we accommodate to the world around us and try to be politically correct?  Is a new restoration needed?
.............................................................................................................................................
 

Image 3:
 
 
 
Do we know the true identity of the God we worship?
Have we abandoned the Lectures of Faith?
.......................................................................................................................................
 
 
 
For those interested, here is the cover of the coloring book.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

224: IF YOU REPEAT A LIE OFTEN ENOUGH, IT BECOMES THE TRUTH

When a particular movement of the body is repeated over and over again, a long-term muscle memory is created for that action, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This is called muscle memory. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, dialing a phone number, typing in a PIN number, shooting free throws, or playing a musical instrument. 

Somewhat related, when a lie is repeated over and over again, it becomes true in our minds. Living in this fallen world, all of us have been exposed to lies and believe misinformation which we hear over and over again. Even though the repeated information is false, we believe it must be true, especially if this information is told by someone we trust. Mainstream news, advertising, propaganda, correlationists, and public relations professionals all understand this principle and use it to their advantage. 

I want to share a brief analogy. For a few years now, we have been teaching our kids how to play the piano.  Before they learn to play a new song, we place the original sheet music in front of them that was written by the original composer. We will then play the music for them so that they hear how the song was intended to be played by the person who wrote the song. We usually go over the music, note by note, to make sure they are familiar with the notes so they are able to practice the song on their own. Our kids practice the song by themselves during the week and then on Saturday morning we sit down for their lesson and see how their progress is coming along. I have found that if our child  played the wrong note repeatedly throughout the week, thinking they are playing the right note, they developed an errant "muscle memory" that is very difficult for them to break.

When first played, the wrong note will sound incorrect but when that note is played over and over again, it begins to sound correct in their ears. Sometimes the wrong note actually might sound better to them. So despite having the original music in front of them, and having heard what it should sound like, they begin to play a different variation of the song. In their mind they are playing it correctly and/or they prefer the new notes. Even after you correct them, they will often times lapse back into playing the wrong note. Often times our kids get mad when we correct them. Likewise, it is tiresome and difficult for us as parents to repeatedly correct them. But because we love them, we will continue to correct them.

Botton line, if you choose to play the song with deleted notes, added notes, or incorrect notes, the song takes on a different tune and is no longer what the composer had in mind.


I use that analogy as an introduction to posting about the LDS Church newly released official statement/essay entitled RACE AND THE PRIESTHOODMuch has been written about it on the internet. I don't mean to add to the chatter, but wanted those who might not be aware for the reasons behind the release. Here is a local news report about one of the possible reasons behind the releasing of this very controversial subject.  NEWS REPORT

According to this news report, we can look forward to additional releases on other controversial and/or doctrine issues that will be addressed by the LDS Church. Hopefully all of us will be prayerful to decide for ourselves if these releases are scripturally, and doctrinally correct and not just politically correct.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

223: PROGRESSIVE CHANGES

At church on Sunday, an announcement was read notifying us that The LDS Church has altered the name and program for its annual Christmas devotional. Known for 40 years since the early 1970s as the "First Presidency Christmas Devotional," the event traditionally has featured a talk from each of the three members of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as Christmas songs performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The church's press release, website, and tickets to the event this year call the event.. Christmas Devotional. The name change signals a change to the program.

President Monson opened the devotional and gave brief remarks. He spoke for less than 5 minutes. Instead of President Erying and President Uchtdorf speaking, the two Priesthood leaders that spoke were Elder Rasband and the concluding speaker was Elder Russell M. Nelson. Also, this is the first time that a woman spoke. It was Sister Rosemary Wixom the General President of the Primary.

It would be interesting to know the reasons behind the changes.

During Elder Nelson's talk, there was a video that played of Elder Russell M Nelson and young children circling around him and singing to him.
















Sidenote: Elder Ronald Rasband was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation. In April 2009, Rasband became the senior and presiding member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Russell M Nelson is the fourth most senior apostle among the ranks of the church hierarchy. Recently, both of these men have been influential in the decision making to remove the church membership of local author for writing a book about Church History.


 

Monday, December 9, 2013

222: WANTING MORE

 Many of you have probably heard the quote, “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Using that definition, how many of us are happy?

Too many people have more than they need, but yet still want more.. They don't want what they have.. they want more of what they don't have. Yet I know some that have actually less than they need, but yet are happy and actually want what they have (or even less) :) 

People are waking up and hoping for a better way of life. People are yearning for Zion, including weeping for it. Unfortunately, we have only a few chapters in scripture as a guide/record about an established Zion Society. We basically have 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Since little has been written , I think we suffer from too many assumptions of what a Zion society is. We have lived in a culture that is completely Anti-Zion. We also suffer from slothfulness, and our self-importance. We are truly a diseased culture. The change that is required seems almost insurmountable and even unattainable. Despite all of our efforts and even after years of preaching, what the Lord can do in months and possibly with a few cataclysmic events, will create the groundwork. After his servants preach, He will do the preaching.

I received an email from friend that I want to share a few excerpts. I thought during this time of year it is especially important as we are bombarded with advertising and pressure to buy and purchase more.

The email subject line was entitled: Wanting More. 

“In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was commanded by the Lord to hide himself by the brook Cherith, where he was fed bread and flesh by the ravens morning and night, and drank from the brook daily. The Lord decided the meal plan and when it would be provided for Elijah. What was offered was enough. It sustained him, until the Lord wanted him elsewhere.

When the brook was dried up, he was instructed to go to Zarephath where a widow woman had been commanded to sustain him. When Elijah found her, she was gathering sticks to make the last meal for herself and her son “that we may eat it, and die.”

Elijah instructed her to make him a little cake first and then one for her and her son, “for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the ruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” I think about the faith it required for the woman to believe on the words that had been spoken to her. I wonder in what way she had been commanded by God to sustain Elijah. Was it a dream? Was it a voice? Was it a thought or an impression? Did she know who Elijah was? Did it matter? She, and her house, including Elijah subsisted for a period of time on oil and flour in the form of a cake……. And it was enough!

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God brought forth an amazing miracle where manna from Heaven’s kitchen was provided to the entire group. All they had to do was go out and collect ONLY ENOUGH for that day. Anything more would spoil. The Israelites had a difficult time understanding the life-sustaining gift that was provided daily was in fact enough. They murmured and complained about the cucumbers and melons that were no longer items on the menu. They complained, and murmured……….always wanting more. There are profound lessons in these two stories, some of which are the power of gratitude, recognizing God’s hand in our lives, abundance and plenty in the idea of enough, and scarcity vs. abundance.

One of the great sins of our day is ingratitude, and always wanting more. We think we are entitled because we see ourselves as special or deserving, or it makes us feel better about ourselves to have more than the next guy.  

Years ago, I read a book called Wanting More. The author spoke of the fall of the Roman Empire being based on the greed selfishness of a society having more than enough, but always wanting more. The society went from building coliseums, to even bigger and better ones. And the games held within went to bigger and better ones, from authentic bullfights to bulls fighting slaves where one or the other had to die. And then to slaves fighting slaves. The people hungered and thirsted after blood and gore. It excited them for a while but eventually the wanted more. Prostitution rings were set up outside the arena, drugs, gambling, and violence all became part of the games. Their obsession with being titillated by violence and filth became more than the leaders could provide. An entire society was corrupted according to this author because of the greed, violence and unquenchable appetite of the people, never having enough, always wanting more.

I think of the simple, yet profound miracles the Lord displayed to the Israelites, and to the widow and Elijah in sustaining them with enough compared to the insatiable appetite of even our society and wonder when we will ever decide that what we have is enough and more to share. The point of the book was for us to see that happiness/joy/peace was really simple. It came down to wanting what you already have.

Abundance and happiness comes in the heart when we are willing to share the little we have. In fact, like the widow’s mite, the blessings that come from the sacrifice of sharing the little we have are far greater than the blessings that come from giving of our abundance.”