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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

299: STRANGE NOTIONS AND FALSE SPIRITS

Before I go to bed at night, I open our front door and let our dog out. If I am not careful while the door is open,  flying insects will see our inside house lights and immediately fly in from the darkness and into our home. Bugs are attracted to light. We prefer not to have bugs flying freely in our home, so I am really careful to not keep our door open when it is dark outside... (plus we try and keep the heat inside the home and not escape out into the cold.)












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Whenever there is an increase in spiritual manifestations, there is always an increase in both true and false spiritual phenomena. When you have more light, it is usually accompanied by more darkness. You do not get one without the other. All of us will sooner or later be confronted by false spirits and/or be invited to participate in gatherings where they are present. Many amongst us are going to be seduced by false spirits and be deceived. Others will be able to discern between the two and avoid the deception. False spirits abound all around us. Those who want to lead others, have an audience or following can easily be misled. False spirits can prop up our egos and feed our pride... which eventually will lead to mischief and ultimately darkness.

These things are all around us. But this is how it should be.

The false spirits need to be unleashed. They need to be exposed. We have a choice to either withdraw from it, or join the deception. In the process, there will be some ugliness. Zion can not happen until those false spirits have been identified and weeded out from the community.

Ambition in spiritual gifts leads to acceptance of evil influences.

I recently read the following. "In Kirtland, new converts who were overzealous to participate in the new heavenly manifestations coming as a result of Joseph Smith's claims, opened themselves up to receiving influences they could not understand, and did not test for truthfulness. They were so delighted to have any kind of experience, they trusted anything "spiritual" was from God. As a result, there were many undignified things, degrading conduct, foolish behavior and evil influences which crept in among the saints. Joseph received a revelation in May 1831 concerning this troubling development. In it the Lord cautioned there were "many false spirits deceiving the world."  That Satan wanted to overthrow what the Lord was doing. The presence of hypocrites and of people harboring secret sins and abominations caused false claims to be accepted. It is required for all people to proceed in truth and in righteousness if they are going to avoid deception. Meaning that unrepentant and unforgiven men will not be able to distinguish between a true and a false spirit. Just because you have a "spiritual experience" you cannot trust it will invariably be from God."  (Read D&C 50: 1-9). As part of the same problem in Kirtland, in September of the previous year, Hiram Page wanted to be like Joseph, and was able to attract a deceiving spirit to communicate with him through a seer stone. But the commandments he received were designed to lead him into error.

Here is a quote from History of the Church concerning a branch of early saints in Kirtland, 1831. 

"The branch of the Church in this part of the Lord's vineyard, which had increased to nearly one hundred members, were striving to do the will of God, so far as they knew it, though some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them. With a little caution and some wisdom, I soon assisted the brethren and sisters to overcome them." (HC 1:146)



How do we discern between strange notions and correct ones.. between false and true spirits?

Here is some guidance I read. "All spiritual gifts, including distinguishing between true and false spirits, requires the Holy Ghost, given through obedience to the truth, which allows a person to distinguish between truth and error.  The truth is like light, and when you follow the light of truth it grows inside you until you have a "perfect day" in which there is no more darkness, but everything is illuminated by the light of the spirit within you."

But this only comes as a result of repenting of all sin. Truth will not leave you confused, but will enlighten your understanding.

From this you can see how necessary it is for each of us to continually repent, conduct our lives in conformity with such truth as you presently understand, and avoid deliberate wrongdoing in order to be able to distinguish between a true and a false spirit. You must attract light. It is attracted by obedience to such light as you already have. When you proceed forward using the light you already possess to attract more light it will grow in one, consistent and truthful manner from a lesser to a greater light. All of it conforming to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Do not think all spiritual experiences can be trusted. There is no difference between the activities of deceiving spirits today and those in Kirtland, as well as those in the New Testament times. If you follow the Lord you must still test the spirits and only follow those which point to Christ. Even Joseph Smith had to ask God about some of the phenomena going on in Kirtland before he knew which were of God and which were deceiving.

And lastly... As far as gathering, there is no reason to gather to fail again. Without appropriate preparation of people beforehand, angels will not gather them in. Angels do the gathering, not men. Not even men with good intentions. Zeal and haste will prevent Zion from coming and will destroy it if it's here.

 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

298: WILLING TO MOURN, COMFORT, AND BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS.

In Mosiah 18, we read the simple requirements for baptism. Alma mentions five things that are needed before entering the waters of baptism. These five things are: 
  • The desire to come into the fold of God and to be called his people.
  • Be willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.
  • Be willing to mourn with those that mourn.
  • Comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
  • Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.
Today, before anyone is baptized in the Church, the baptismal candidate needs to answer the following questions in a formal interview. There seems to be alot more requirements today than there were in the days of Alma. The bar has been raised. :) Here are a few of the questions asked in the interview:
  • Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? 
  • Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
  • Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? 
  • Do you believe that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
  • What does it mean to you to repent? 
  • Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
  • Have you ever committed a serious crime? 
  • If so, are you now on probation or parole? 
  • Have you ever participated in an abortion?
  • Have you ever participated in a homosexual relationship?
  • Are you willing to obey the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman?
  • Are you willing to obey the law of tithing?
  • Are you willing to obey the Word of Wisdom?
  • Are you willing to obey the Sabbath day, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members?
  • When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?
If the above questions are not answered correctly, I don't think the candidate can be baptized even though they could have passed Alma's requirements. On the other hand, I wish today we were asked to do some of the things that people in the Book of Mormon covenanted to do before being baptized. ...

The people at the Waters of Mormon covenanted to be true disciples of Christ. They promised to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort others in need of comfort. They promised to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places. I think our wards and stakes would be more Zion-like if we actually bore one another's burdens, mourned with those who mourn, comforted those who need comfort.
 
I know alot of people who have great burdens, who mourn, who need to be comforted. This week was the first year anniversary of the passing of my friend's 11 year old son. His son died unexpectedly at home a year ago on Sunday. This past year has been a difficult year for him and his wife.  A couple of days ago, a father of 7 who lives in our neighborhood died after a long battle with cancer.  I wish I knew how to mourn with them, or even know what to say or do for them. I recently watched a video that probably most of you have already seen. It shows how we really lack empathy for others. While we might have some sympathy, we lack empathy. We lack knowing how to truly mourn, comfort and bear one another's burden.
 

On a positive note, just as we should mourn with those who mourn, In Romans 12:15, it says that we should also rejoice with those who rejoice.
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Sidenote:
I have been studying a little about Early Christianity and thought this was interesting.

In Early Christianity, as a follower of Christ, the person was baptized and immediately was anointed with oil. This would then give the recipient access to the Spirit. The person had a portion of the Spirit before the baptism, but after receiving the annointing you have the Spirit in greater abundance.  This Christian practice of anointing after baptism was called chrismation. In chrismation, they would anoint the person's forehead with the holy name, "that they might with open face behold glory of the Lord.” 

The chrismation was a type of “confirmation”. They didn't have confirmation like we do today and confirm someone a member of the Church. Instead, the early Christians performed the chrismation ceremony where the name of Christ was symbolically written on their forehead.

Since that time, this ritual has been modified and changed. What the Catholics do today is they sprinkle a baby with water, which is what baptism has turned into for them, they then take holy oil and make a little cross on the baby's forehead.

Also, early Christian baptisms took place at sunrise, which they could be reborn like the sun and in some regions could only be performed at Easter. Also, Baptism in early Christianity was not for infants or young children, but for adults.

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Unrelated Sidenote:
Here are a few photos from an early morning hike on the 8th of November, 2014.
 
In the first photo, after ascending over a small hill, I was surprised to see hundreds of sheep. They were too numerous to count. I have never seen anything like it. I sat and watched them. Some were lying down, and others were on their feet. However, it seemed like they were all asleep because they were so still, almost frozen in place.  It  wasn't until the after the sun rose over the mountain and the sunlight descended down on them that they awoke, rose and began moving around grazing on the grass.  
A field of hundreds of sheep just before sunrise.
 
First sunlight hitting the tops of the mountains with the full moon still visible in the sky in the upper right.

Sunrise. The most sacred and peaceful time of the day.
 
Natural twin springs coming directly out of the mountain.








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In closing: I wanted to share this quote that I really like. It is from a speech given at the International Interreligious Colloquium at the Vatican City by Pres. Henry Eyring:
 
"Where there is selfishness, natural differences of men and women often divide. Where there is unselfishness, differences become complementary and provide opportunities to help and build each other. Spouses and family members can lift each other and ascend together if they care more about the interests of the other than their own interests."
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

297: WICKED, PERVERSE, AND STIFFNECKED.


Wicked, Perverse, and Stiffnecked are three adjectives that Moroni uses to describe those who build up churches to get gain. (Mormon 8:33) "O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?"

To get gain means to obtain a profit. It is the act of acquiring, of building up, of increasing in size.  We can ask ourselves, who exactly is Moroni calling wicked, perverse, and stiffnecked?   He said "I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing." Mormon 8:35.  Is Moroni  talking about the Catholics? the Protestants? or us Latter-day Saints? Moroni knew exactly which Church it was. Christ showed Moroni who they were. Did he see us?

But surely, it can't be the LDS Church. We are the Lord's Church. Is it okay that we build other buildings to get gain, after all..they aren't churches we are buildng. Do we really think it is pleasing to the Lord that we build high rise buildings, malls, condos, office complexes, housing developments for us to own, operate and get gain?  Can we decorate and beautify Zion with profit making buildings of Babylon? and make money in the process? Are these the principles that Zion is built on?

Below are three condominium projects built up by the Church around Temple Square.  The Regent (left), 99 West (middle) and Richards Court (right).



I recently took a tour of 99 West, the upscale highrise pictured above in the midde. This 30 story condomium tower sits on the southwest corner of Temple Square and was built a few years ago. I asked the real estate agent how many of these condos have now been sold. She said that only 57% of the building has been sold or is under contact. Almost half of the building still sits vacant. Not a good sign that things are going well.

The units are selling upward to a million dollars each to over three million. The price of the condos per square foot is a little under $1,000.00 after everything is said and done. That is 10x the average selling price per square footage in Salt Lake. Most homes sell for about 100 dollars per square foot. I asked her how can the Church justify selling property for such a jacked up price? She said it is because of the view of the Temple. So in other words because of the Temple we can sell property at higher prices and get gain. Does that fall into the category that Moroni was referrring to in Mormon 8?

These condos are described as "a home where enduring architecture and mastercrafted finishes embody your style . . . your refined taste. A place where you awake to breathtaking views and fall asleep to soothing sunsets. Your home at City Creek offers a new approach to life simplified . . . living close to everything you love to do. City Creek provides a new style of urban living in Salt Lake City, featuring a cosmopolitan atmosphere in three new residential towers."

LINK to the website.

Below is a chart of 99 West Building which shows the selling price of each condo. The condos for sell are shown in the white boxes and in the blue boxes. The green boxes are the condos that have already been sold. In case anyone is interested, a 3 bedroom, 3076 square foot unfinished condo on the top floor is still available. The asking price is 3,126,000.00.
 
 
I heard from an inside source that when these condo projects were first being built by the Church that tithing records were used to find those members who could most likely afford to buy.  Marketing material was then sent to the top tithe paying members of the Church. I hope that is not true that personal tithing information is available for marketing purposes.
 
Sidenote: In case you aren't in the market to buy real estate and just want to rent... the Church also owns and rents out apartments near the Temple. If you can afford paying 1,899.00 a month for a one bedroom, one bath apartment that is a little over 1000 square feet than City Creek Landing Apartments would be perfect for you. Here are a few photos of one of the apartments.   I am surprised there are some willing to pay close to 2,000.00 for a one bedroom, one bath apartment.
 
 

We would do well to read the scriptures and see if we fit any of the scenarios that the Book of Mormon prophets warn us about. There is a recurring theme found all through the Book of Mormon that warns us to not build up to get gain. We read it in the books of Nephi, Ether, Helaman, and 4 Nephi. Here are a few examples:

"Therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another. Hel. 6:17

"And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ." 4 Ne. 1:26

"And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God." 2 Ne. 27:16

"And they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain." Ether 10:22

"But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world." Hel. 7:21

 "He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion."  2 Ne. 26:29

I share these things not to be critical but to show how far we are from becoming a Zion Society. There is a tremendous gulf between Zion, and what is required and who we are as a people today.

And to quote a friend, "We speak of Zion while marketing Babylon. We ask "what will sell" before we undertake any project. We study the trends of the fallen, wicked and perverse in order to adapt our faith, our words, and our conversations to appeal to Babylon. The social statistics of Latter-day Saints run about 7 years behind the larger population. We're all headed to hell, but console ourselves that we remain "peculiar" because we are slower in our descent than the larger population. It never occurs to us that a complete break will be needed."


Addendum: Here is a LINK to an interesting news story.

"The Vatican plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It’s an unconventional move, even for a pope who constantly preaches that more should be done to help the poor. It also could rankle traditionalists as the homeless line up to wash beneath the extravagant apostolic apartments."

This would be a great idea for the LDS Church to consider doing  at the City Creek Center across from the Salt Lake Temple.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

296: CHANGES: A TIME OF APPROACHING SHADOWS

Yesterday, I spent the day up in the mountains with my family.  We went on a beautiful hike, probably the last one before snow falls and we have to wear our snowshoes. A few isolated clouds rolled in over the mountains as we drove up the canyon and it began to snow on us. It was a strong reminder that winter is approaching. This time of the year is often called the "time of approaching shadows".. since the Sun is lower in the sky creating longer shadows.


 
Photo taken on October 27, 2014 of the Wasatch Mountains
 On our hike in the mountains, we were visited by a beautiful moose. We came within 20 feet from this majestic animal. The moose is an symbolic animal.

Taken up Big Cottonwood Canyon on October 27, 2014
 Even though moose are large and powerful in size, they are known for being invisible because they are able to camouflage themselves...like the powerful being who appears as a common man, like a lowly shepherd, a carpenter or beggar.

This animal has great depth perception and is known for its speed and grace negotiated through rough environment than often “trip’s up” others. This animal is a dual/contradictory animal, it appears awkward… yet graceful in how it moves.

The male moose is connected with glory with its crown of antlers as well as represents the primal feminine energy since they are often seen in water...(lakes and marshes).. a place of rebirth.

The female moose or "cow" is very protective of their young.. it has one of the strong maternal instincts.. and no animal who knows better would attempt to get between her and her offspring.
A moose has the ability to dive and be completely submerged in water … The moose will do this for food…representing the ability to go back into the depth of water and draw new life and nourishment.

They are known for their keen sense of smell.. and discernment. … represented by the large nose. The moose also represents the harvesting season, peaking in October.. a power season when a new cycle is about to begin.

Photo taken on October 27, 2014 looking up Silver Fork Canyon




Sidenote: The weather is not the only thing that is changing. I read today that BYU will be changing their  religious curriculum.  NEWS LINK

 No longer will religious classes be required for the students to graduate that focused on the Books of Scripture (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price)  but these classes will now be substituted with four new “thematic” classes.

The older scripture-based classes will be phased out over the next few years.  This new curriculum will also be initiated in all Church owned campuses, and throughout the Church Education System.  Some sources say the BYU faculty of Ancient Scripture initially voted 33 to 1 against this proposal.

 Here is quote from another blog: "I find this new curriculum shocking, but at the same time not surprising. There is already a sharp decline in scripture use and study in the Church. It's being slowly replaced by conference talks and other church approved manuals etc... This new change will just speeds up the trend already under way.  All leading to scripture study in the LDS Church being nothing more than completely decontextualized proof-texting. Proof-texting: The practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a proposition."    We're using isolated scripture citations to prove what we want to say. Not what the scriptures themselves were communicating.  By choosing themes one can not only mingle philosophies with scripture easier, but you can altogether let lots of scriptures go permanently unread. This, in my view, is how you show absolute ingratitude for the scriptures, and create a body of members who does not understand them, nor study them as God gave them. The letter indicated that the current set of scripture courses will continue to be offered as "elective" classes."    LINK  

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Another interesting sidenote change:

I always find it interesting to see what is added and/or deleted from the published transcripts from General Conference.  Elder Robert D Hales in his closing testimony said the following:

“I bear my special witness that our Savior is Jesus Christ, that He lives, that our Eternal Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us, that we have a prophet in this dispensation to lead and to guide us. The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true to each who goes and seeks the knowledge. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

However, in the published version on his talk.. this was added in red.

“I bear my special witness that our Savior is Jesus Christ, that He lives, that our Eternal Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us, that we have a prophet in this dispensation—even President Thomas S. Monson—to lead and to guide us. The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true to each who goes and seeks the knowledge. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

I am sure glad that was added for us so we would not be confused as to which prophet he was referring to.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

295: PARTIAL ECLIPSE

A partial solar eclipse darken North American skies this afternoon on October 23, 2014.  Many parts of the United States and Canada will see about half of the sun's disk obscured by the moon. Solar eclipses occur when the moon, sun and Earth line up, with the moon blocking all or part of the solar disk from viewers' perspective. The last one occurred on April 29 of this year.  A total solar eclipse will occur next year on March 20th, 2015 on the Spring Equinox, but will not be visible in North America. We will need to wait until August 21, 2017 to see the next eclipse here in Utah.  
 
Here is a photo I took from downtown Salt Lake City.
 


294: ESSAYS AND NEWSROOM RELEASES = CHURCH DOCTRINE?

The LDS Church has been posting on it's website carefully worded essays about touchy topics that have caused some members to question their faith after researching and/or hearing about controversial issues. Many of the younger generation are learning for the first time about such topics like polygamy, multiple first vision accounts, and blacks denied the priesthood. This information has caused some to question and/or leave the Church. These essays have been written by scholars aimed at helping these members to better understand these difficult theological and historical issues surrounding our faith. The scholarly postings appear on www.lds.org under the heading "Teachings" and then under "Gospel Topics".

A memo dated Sept. 9 from the church’s "Priesthood Department" to "General Authorities; Area Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents" explains the purpose of for the controversial articles.

"The purpose of the Gospel Topics section is to provide accurate and transparent information on church history and doctrine within the framework of faith," the memo said. "When church members have questions regarding [LDS] history and doctrine, possibly arising when detractors spread misinformation and doubt, you may want to direct their attention to these resources."

Here is list with the links to each of these essays:

Are Mormon’s Christian?
https://www.lds.org/topics/christians?lang=eng

Becoming Like God
https://www.lds.org/topics/becoming-like-god?lang=eng

First Vision Accounts
https://www.lds.org/topics/first-vision-accounts?lang=eng

Race and the Priesthood
https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?lang=eng

Peace and Violence among 19th –Century Latter-day Saints
https://www.lds.org/topics/peace-and-violence-among-19th-century-latter-day-saints?lang=eng

Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham
https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng

Book of Mormon and DNA Studies
https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-and-dna-studies?lang=eng

Book of Mormon Translation
https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation?lang=eng

Temple Garments
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/temple-garments

The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage
https://www.lds.org/topics/the-manifesto-and-the-end-of-plural-marriage?lang=eng

Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo
https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng


Sidenote:  Too much transparency?

This week a new video on the Temple Garment was produced and posted on the Church's website as part of the essays on Temple Garments. I was surprised to see images, photos, and panning footage of our sacred temple clothing and garments. Some have been excommunicated for exposing this information in the past.





I wonder what the reaction would be if a Relief Society teacher displayed as her centerpiece all of the Temple clothing and Temple Garments as part of her lesson on the Temple. I think most would think that was inappropriate... even if she was displaying them in a Church building in front of members of the Church. If a table display as part of a Relief Society lesson would be deemed inappropriate, how is creating a news release with video footage for the entire, uninitiated world to see any different?

Monday, October 20, 2014

293: LESS FOCUS ON CHRIST... AND MORE ON POPULARITY?

Over the years I have been surprised to see who the Church invites to be the headliner for the annual Christmas concert at the LDS Conference Center. From Dancing with the Stars to American Idol singers...It seems like the trendy entertainers and popular singers are selected.. (possibily to help with DVD sales and CDs that are sold through Deseret Book?)  This year is no exception. Who better than to invite one of the actors/voices from the hit movie Frozen.

From the  lds.org website is the following news release. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square have announced their guest artists for their annual Christmas concerts. Broadway star Santino Fontana who played Hans in the animated Disney movie Frozen will join the choir for several concerts in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on 11, 12 and 13 December 2014. The artists will also appear on the weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast and mini-concert on Sunday, 14 December.



In addition to the Frozen Prince, the “Sesame Street” Muppets will also join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for the Christmas concert in the Conference Center this year.


Anyway.. I probably should just LET IT GO...  but if there is ever a time of the year that we try and focus on Christ, or should focus on Christ.. is Christmas. It is becoming harder and harder as the world and commercialism has taken over. Good thing that LDS Church provides its annual Christmas Concert to help us forget about what is popular in the world, and focus on the birth and life of our Savior and worship our Lord, remember His mission, His message, and His ministry.

You can apply to get your tickets HERE

Friday, October 17, 2014

292: TEACHING TRUTH IN A DAY OF APOSTASY




These are words of Paul giving a solemn charge to preach the gospel in a day of apostasy. This newly released Bible video shows the ultimate fate of Paul for teaching the truth and crying repentance. Since the beginning of time, standing up for truth in this wicked world has never been popular, well received, liked, or praised. Instead, standing up for truth usually results in being mocked, ridiculed, falsely accused, cast out and ultimately "cutoff." 

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."   Timothy 4: 1-8


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

291: READING THE WORDS OF A PROPHET

 In order to follow the prophet we must read and listen to his words. The words of a true prophet are God's words. If a prophet makes an effort to have his words published into a book,  then it would be important to buy and read that book. We could assume the words contained in that book are likely scripture.

I took the time to read the latest book written by President Monson entitled, "One Little Match".  He has personally autographed all the books being sold at Deseret Book. The book contains only 711 words.  I thought I would save you each 20.00 bucks and share all 711 words on this blog for you all to read. (you can also read these words on www.lds.org)


"When I was growing up, each summer from early July until early September my family stayed at our cabin at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon in Utah. One of my best friends during those carefree days was Danny Larsen, whose family also owned a cabin at Vivian Park.  Every day he and I roamed this children’s paradise to find the best spot on the river to fish. Besides catching fish, we collected rocks form the stream or found other treasures, like an empty bird’s next or a discarded antler. It was even fun to find dead bugs for my bug collection. There were always plenty of trails to hike and trees to climb.

Danny and I enjoyed each minute of each hour of each day. One morning as we sat on the cabin steps, Danny asked, “What should we do today, Tommy?”

I thought about all the possibilities. Suddenly, I had a new thought. With a bit of excitement, I said, “We should have a campfire tonight with all of our canyon friends!”

“Great idea!” Danny said. “But we’ll need to clear a space big enough for all of us to fit.”

“I know just the field,” I smiled. Our quick walk to a nearby field took only a few minutes. The tall June grass that covered the large area had become dry and prickly.

“No one’s going to want to have a campfire here,” Danny complained.

“Not a problem,” I assured him. “We’ll just pull out the grass until we clear a circle enough for the campfire and all of our friends!”

We began to pull at the tall grass, but our enthusiasm didn’t last long. We tugged and yanked with all our might, but all we got were small handfuls of the stubborn weeds. And then what I thought was the perfect solution came into my eight-year-old mind. I said to Danny, “All we need to do is set these weeds on fire. We’ll just burn a circle in the weeds!”

He readily agreed, and I ran to our cabin to get a few matches. For one little moment, I remembered the many lessons that my parents had taught me about the danger of fire. In fact, at the young age of eight I wasn’t even permitted to use matches without adult supervision. However, Danny and I needed to clear the field, and using a match would be the fastest way to do it. Without even a second thought, I ignored the warning and found the box of matches in the kitchen. I grabbed a few matchsticks, making certain no one was watching, and quickly hid them in one of my pockets. Back to Danny I ran, excited that in my hand was the answer to our problem. I recall thinking that the fire would burn only as far as we wanted and then would somehow magically extinguish itself. I knelt down next to Danny and took out one little match. I struck it on a rock and set the parched June grass ablaze.


 

 
 It ignited as though it had been drenched in gasoline. At first, Danny and I were thrilled as we watched the weeds disappear- but I soon became apparent that the fire was not about to go out on its own.

 We panicked as we realized there was nothing we could do to stop the blaze. The menacing flames began to follow the wild grass up the mountain side, endangering the pine trees and everything else in their path. 

Finally, we had to run for help. Soon all the men and the women at Vivian Park were dashing back and forth with wet burlap bags, beating at the flames in an attempt to extinguish them. After several hours, the last remaining embers were finally smothered


Danny and I were exhausted and humbled. We felt terrible about what had happened. If ony I had acted differently in that one little second and never picked up even one little match. I learned several difficult but important lessons that day. Perhaps the biggest lesson was the need for obedience. Rules and laws are created to keep us safe. When we obey those rules, we can avoid the dangers that can come from something as small as one little match.


......

 If we "Follow the Prophet" (meaning the President of the church), and "Stay in the Boat" we are not only guaranteed that we will not be deceived and but we mostly likely will receive our gold star on our forehead after we depart from this world. There is little else required..., pay your tithing, keep some dietary restrictions, be moral, dress modestly in conjunction with wearing specific clothing, attend church meetings, keep good family relations and make sure you don't improperly use matches. Wow, this mortal estate isn't that hard. :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

290: FOUR ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS


In order for things to grow in this world it requires the cooperation of four essential elements. A seed will only grow as a result of the natural action of water, earth, wind (air) and light. As mortals to reach our full potential we too need four elements - faith, hope, love (charity), and knowledge. Faith can be compared to the earth, that in which we take root. Hope is the water through which we are nourished. Love is the wind through which we grow. Knowledge, then, is the light through which we ripen. We read in D&C 4:5 that "And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work."  (We know that the Glory of God is intelligence (knowledge) or, in other words, light and truth.)

The path back into the Lord's presence is an individual one and it is not likely to be accomplished while in an group. However, we can petition together to have Heaven take notice of our desires and pray for one another. We all know that the Lord will one day associate with a group in a city; and that group will be comprised of individuals who have sought diligently to connect with Heaven and who have previously met Him.
...

For those interested. below are a few photos from an early morning hike last weekend.

Spectrum of Color prior to the sunrise

Moon still visible as the sun rose. The far right rock peak was the summit we reached prior to the sunrise.
The Beginning of a New Day






The now waning moon a couple days after the lunar eclipse (the second blood moon in the tetrad)  
 
The summit where we stood to watch the sunrise. 
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

289: THE ECLIPSE: TO OBSCURE OR BLOCK OUT LIGHT

I set my alarm last night for 4:00 AM to watch the lunar eclipse. There was some cloud cover over the Salt Lake Valley but as the eclipse began, the clouds gave way allowing visibility to see the full blood moon. Here is a photo I took right at 4:44 AM.

 
The word 'eclipse' means to obscure or block out light. It is to deprive someone or something of light, acknowledgement, power or prominence.  In the case of the lunar eclipse, the earth's shadow blocks out the light that would otherwise shine on the moon. 
 
On Sunday morning, I personally felt that there was another "eclipse". Synonyms for the word eclipse are: overshadow, surpass, exceed, outstrip, outdo, top, trump, outshine and upstage. In the Sunday morning session of the LDS conference, the first three talks focused solely on the President of the Church eclipsing the Lord Jesus Christ. To illustrate this better, I took these three conference talks and made a word cloud. A word cloud is generated by giving greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. The word  'Prophet'   alone was spoken over 74 times, the word 'President' was mentioned 55 times, and 'Church' was said 53 times.
 
The name 'Jesus Christ' was said only 12 times. The Book of Mormon makes it clear that there is only one name under Heaven that we might receive salvation. In Mosiah 3:17 is reads: "And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent."
 
 
 
Furthermore, in the Sunday afternoon session, the first talk given by Elder Ballard emphasized the Prophet and the apostles of the Church. We were instructed to keep our eyes and focus on the leaders of the Church.

Elder Ballard said, “Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. We will not and cannot lead you astray.....And as you teach your missionaries to focus their eyes on us."


Following our leaders, following the brethren, following the prophet is not scriptural. Instead we read in the scriptures where we only should have trust in the Lord and not man. Nephi exclaims, "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. 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.
 
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

288: SECOND OF FOUR BLOOD MOONS TONIGHT

Tonight there will be another lunar eclipse. This will be the second blood moon that promises to be bigger and brighter than the first. Each one of these four blood moons occurs on sacred Jewish Holy Days. This particular lunar eclipse will coincide with the rising of the Sun. In some areas of the world it will be possible to actually see the sun and the blood moon at the same time. A very rare occurrence. In Salt Lake City, the eclipse will be from 3:18 a.m. to 6:32 a.m., being full between 4:27 a.m. to 5:22 a.m. MDT.
 

  ...........................................
 
"Long before astronomy disclosed the vastness of space, or the brilliant birth of the new stars along with the ominous presence of devouring black holes, men and women look at the dark star encrusted vault of the heavens and drew inspiration from that vision. One of the images arising from the contemplation of the night sky is the contrast of the innumerable points of light with the heavy blackness upon which they seem suspended. A dark bowl or lid seems to cover our world and closing us in oppressive opacity (darkness) yet this inverted sphere is riddled with specks of light that are easily imagined as perforations in the black veil hinting at boundless worlds of light from where the light of the stars proceeds."  Stephan Hoeller, Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing
 
Photo taken of Orion which was beautifully seen above Lake Katherine
early in the morning before sunrise on the Day of Atonement on October 4, 2014
 
Sidenote: Here are some additional photos taken in the morning on Saturday, October 4, 2014.
Photo taken on the morning of the Day of Atonement.

John 6:3; Matthew 14:23; I Nephi 16:30; Mark 6:46
.........
Red light casting on the mountains above Lake Katherine on the sunrise on the Day of Atonement

"Saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18

Photo of a Grouse Hen seen near Lake Katherine on October 4, 2014
....

"How oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart."
3 Nephi 10:6
 
 
 Photo of a perfect reflection on Lake Katherine. Mirror Image.
 
"Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:
and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Matthew 18:18


Friday, October 3, 2014

287: IMPORTANT DATE: OCT 4TH, 2014: THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

Tomorrow, October 4th, 2014 is an important date. Not only is it important for Mormons who will gather for their 184th Semiannual General Conference, but it is important for Jews who will be observing Yom Kippur, or "Day of Atonement". This is the holiest of all the Jewish holy days. I think it is interesting that both religions have roughly 15 million members world wide. Both religions have been referred to as God's chosen and covenant people.  Both religions know the importance of receiving God's word via prophets. 
 
 
Photo taken from the 28th floor of LDS Church's City Creek Condo Project

Last weekend in Sunday School we learned about the importance of prophets. I think the lesson was given specifically to prepare us for General Conference this weekend. Our Sunday School teacher taught us about the prophet Amos. The prophet Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small and obscure town in Israel. He was unknown. He did not live in the highly religious City Center of Jerusalem. He did not have ranking or status. He was not the High Priest, nor did he officiate in the Temple or have any part of a hierarchy.  Yet, he was called of God to preach repentance to the Temple going, covenant making, ordinance working, law abiding, religious people of Israel. He preached repentance to God's chosen people in Israel who because of their love of riches and oppression of the poor had gone astray. Amos confronted them with their sins.  He warned and prophesied about dire penalties and about the latter days. He did not speak using smooth words, share feel good stories, relate emotional anecdotes, used stirring music, or produced inspirational full length documentaries. He taught truth, however unpleasant it was to hear. The Lord calls prophets to wake His people so that they are not lulled away into a false sense of security, and say that all is well.


I hope to hear a similiar message of repentance that Amos preached to the people in Jerusalem in General Conference. I think it is important to listen and give heed to any words given to us by the Lord, about the Lord and returning into His presence. While prophets are important to wake us up, they teach us the importance of our responsibility to connect to God ourselves and not depend on them. Otherwise, we would be like the Israelites who wandered in the desert just following Moses around. I have often wondered if Joseph Smith were alive today, what would he speak to us about. I wonder if he would ever repeat the things that he shared to the Relief Society on May 26, 1842. He said "if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves." (TPJS, pp. 237-238.)
Below is a trailer produced by the Church advertising General Conference.



A few people have asked me to share more about the significance of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. I have written a few blog posts about this, but thought I would share some additional information that I received from friends.. In a nut shell, the Day of At-one-ment is the holiest day of the year in the law of Moses, which Christ followed and then fulfilled. This day is a chance to wipe your slate clean and be inscribed in the Book of Life. It would be the equivalent of being re-baptized. This is the proper day to make covenants with God. It's part of a process of examining how they behave and how they can improve ourselves in the coming year. It is a day of Repentance which means to return or turn around. It involves confession of the sin and resolve not to do it again.

It was likely the day when a crowd was gathered to hear John the Baptist at the river Jordan. The observing Jews would all be off work that day and looking for a good speech about reconciliation with God. Men were to perform a Mikvah, a ritual, purifying bath in preparation for the Holy Day. This points very strongly to the reason Jesus Christ would have likely been baptized on Yom Kippur. This holy day could mark the start of His Mission that lasted 3 1/2 years ending at the Passover in the Spring. 

Some more interesting things to note:
 
Some restrictions on Yom Kippur are as follows:
  • NO eating or drinking (Fasting(
  • NO bathing or washing
  • NO anointing yourself with perfumes, makeup or lotions
  • NO marital relations 
  • NO wearing leather shoes as they denote high class, dignity and comfort.
  • NO gold is worn in connection with the Golden Calf incident.
  • NO driving (even the Arabs don't drive for fear of offending their Jewish neighbors, All of the airports shut down, the radio and TV stations become totally silent, it is a mandatory state holiday, as it is the most solemn and holy day of the year
These restrictions are not be seen as sad or mournful and aren't done for negative or punitive reasons, but for the purposes of emulating angels and being exalted and Holy like unto the angels (since angels don't eat/drink, wear makeup and perfumes, have marital relations or wear shoes. So truly the point is elevated emulation of the angels. This is a time of great JOY. Not to be found in sackcloth and ashes but to know that they have been given a gift of Atonement. Everyone wears white clothes. It is customary for men to wear a Kittel which looks like a white robe that goes down just past the knee and is sometimes accompanied by a white hat. And a tallit is worn all day by the men....even to bed.
 
 
 
It is a day of prayer and singing. Songs are sung by whole congregations. It is done in a really joyous upbeat way sung to a joyous and happy tune. The reason it is joyful is because they are basking in the joy and relief that God is granting them an opportunity to repent and receive a remission of their sins. They know that forgiveness will come and they will no longer have to carry this heavy burden of sin.
 
Sidenote: This photo was taken this week on the First Day of Snow. It is a photo of Lake Katherine. Katherine mean "pure". I can't think of a better place to be tomorrow morning on the Day of Atonement as well as hike to see the sunrise.

 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

286: FIVE EMOTIONS

This is a little out of the norm for me, but I thought I would post after reading some recent comments.  Today, Disney released the first trailer for the movie called Inside Out. This movie will be coming out in the summer of next year. The movie stars five major emotions that we all feel at some point in our life. Most of us might feel all of these emotions every day. Those emotions are:  JOY, FEAR, ANGER, DISGUST, and SADNESS. All of us are human. Part of our mortal experience is that we feel these emotions. What we do with those emotions is up to us. Enjoy the trailer:
 

  • Men are that they might have JOY.
  • Pure love casteth out FEAR.
  • The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to ANGER, and of great mercy.
  • For godly sorrow (SADNESS) worketh repentance to salvation
  • Abhor (having DISGUST) that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
May we all have Joy, cast out Fear, be slow to Anger, Abhor evil, and have godly Sorrow which worketh repentance and Come Unto Him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

285: BE NOT FAITHLESS... BUT BELIEVING


We are living in the Dispensation of the fullness of times, in which God is bringing together all things in heaven and earth. Unfortunately we are too controlled and too disciplined in wrong ways and not sufficiently taught and encouraged in the right ways. We need to become inspired, Spirit-filled, Spirit led. If we are filled with hope, we can be a great help to our family, friends, and fellow Saints. WE have a wonderful opportunity in this life to repent, forgive, seek, pray, fast, and study to gain a greater measure of truth and light.

This video was created over three years ago for a presentation we had at our home. It portrays a story about receiving a personal witness of Christ, and Thomas who doubted due to lack of faith and his unbelief.





"After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses…

 Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; …when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions-Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the First Born [Teachings Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 150-51].

Monday, September 29, 2014

284: SOUNDTRACK FROM MEET THE MORMONS

Last night, we attended a youth fireside at our ward. The speaker was David Archuleta. He recently has returned home from his LDS mission in Chile. As part of the fireside he sang one of the songs from the soundtrack to new movie, Meet the Mormons. The song is called 'Glorious.'

There is a huge marketing push to have members of Church to go see the theatrical release of the film the next weekend after General Conference. The movie was orginally intended to be shown only on Temple Square.  However, after showing it to test audiences, the Church's research department analysized the results and a decision was made to have the movie released in nationwide theatres.

Below is a video of Elder Holland's introduction of the Meet the Mormons movie. He clarifies exactly what the movie is .. and is not.





It will be interesting to see how the movie is received by the public. No doubt that most if not all of those paying money to see this movie on the opening weekend will be faithful members of the Church, especially since they are being asked to see it by our leaders.

In any event. I did enjoy the words to the song Glorius. I do hope the movie does well, and that it does lead to having others have faith in Jesus Christ, and turn to Him and repent and be baptized.

Here are the lyrics to the song Glorius, sung by David Archuleta:

There are times when you might feel aimless.
You can’t see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose.
It’s been there within you all along.

And when you’re near it, you can almost hear it.
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part.
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies

In each one of us,
Ohhhh, It’s Glorious
And you will know how to let it ring out
As you discover who you are.

Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts.
It’s so amazing what we’re all creating
It’s like a symphony just keep listening

 It’s Glorious


Saturday, September 27, 2014

283: THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST


 
Photo taken on the morning of September 27, 2014 at 8:00 AM

 
 I like "if" statements. An "if" statement is always followed by a "then" statement. If the requirements of the "if" statement are satisfied, then there will be an expected result or outcome.

If I agree to do something, I understand that a then statement will follow. There will be a result or consequence to my action.  For example, if you scratch my back, I will then scratch yours.  If you keep my commandments, you will then be blessed.  Depending on the "if" statement,  the "then" statement could be either positive or negative. 

"If and then" statements are commonly used in computer programming.  When an "if" statement is used in code, and all the mandatory requirements are true, the code will proceed to the "then" statement. This is common across many programming languages. 

We also see "if and then" statements in scripture. A very important "if and then" statement is found in II Nephi 31:13. Here is the verse in bullet points.
 
IF ye shall:
  • follow the Son with full purpose of heart,
  • acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God,
  • follow the Son with real intent,
  • repenting of your sins,
  • witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ,
  • following your Lord and your Savior down into the water by baptism.
Behold,

THEN shall ye receive the Holy Ghost;
  • yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost;
  • and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels,
  • and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
 
Sidenote: There is an "if and then" warning however in the next verse:
 
IF:
  • ye have repented of your sins,
  • witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments,
  • baptized of water,
  • received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost,
  • and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels,
  • and after this should deny me,
 
THEN:
 
 it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
 
....

The above "if and then" statement is basically the doctrine of Christ. We read in II Nephi 32: 5-6.

For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
 
...

Friday, September 26, 2014

282: WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY


                    Photo taken today on September 26, 2014 at 8:00 AM. It is the sun rising over the Wasatch Mountains.

 
With great power comes great responsibility.

Credit to this above phrase has been given to Stan Lee, the writer of Spiderman, as well as Franklin D Roosevelt, and even Winston Churchill at various stages.  However, the first literary record of this can be attributed to Francois-Marie Arouet aka Voltaire.

Much like Victor Hugo, Voltaire was disturbed by the sickening abuse of authority and privilege by those in power whilst the poor and deprived starved and suffered around him.

However, the founding principle that with 'great power comes great responsibility' is found in the scriptures. In Luke 12:48 it reads: "To those who much is given much is required".

 It is necessary to be meek first before being trusted with great power. Without meekness a man cannot be trusted with such a power. We need to ask rather than demand. We need to petition rather than decree.   The things of God matter.  Ordinances that connect us with Him matter a great deal. When done correctly, they have power.
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

281: FALL EQUINOX 2014


Today is Monday, September 22, 2014. The Fall Equinox is at 8:29 PM on Mountain Day Light Saving Time. Here is a photo from this morning sunrise.





Today marks the beginning of the seventh year since I first began observing the Fall Equinox. It is the first year that I observed it with my family. We hiked to a rocky peak above the Salt Lake Valley. Below is a low resolution photo of our hike last night. Yesterday was an important day.



Adam and Even were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. In doing so, they could have joy and rejoice in their posterity. They were also told not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Even though the Lord promised He would visit them again to give them further light and knowledge, Adam and Even moved forward on their own after being deceived by the adversary. Instead of waiting for further instruction on how to proceed, Adam and Eve instead partook of the fruit and fell..

When we are given a commandment by the Lord, He will give us further instruction if we ask Him. He will give further light and knowledge to those who want to do His will instead of acting hastedly on their own. The Lord does not need freelancers or zealots, but instead trusted servants. True servants do not trifle with the souls of men.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

280: THE REST OF THE STORY

Back in the 1970's, Paul Harvey hosted a radio program called The Rest of the Story.  It consisted of little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line "And now you know the rest of the story."
 
The last blog post described one element/symbol shown to me on my hike up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Here is one additional photo of Lake Mary that I took from a higher vantage point. On the right, you can see the man-made dam that controlled the living water. On the left you can see just a small pool of water remaining. It is hard to see but the lake probably was a least 40 feet deep.
 
I thought I should share some additional  "little known" key facts/symbols from the hike.. so if anyone reads this they can know the "rest of the story" from the hike.
 
... 
The MOON:
The weather on the day of my hike was hot and sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear day. When I began my hike, I was surprised to see the moon still visible in the Western sky. Usually the moon is no longer visible at that time of day and has descended below the horizon. It was interesting to note how close the sun and moon were to each other, both still visible together.

 
 ... 

SEVEN WOMAN:
I was not the only one  hiking this trail to Lake Mary. A group of women had already hiked to the top and were descending down. They passed me. I thought I counted seven women, but my wife was able to see an eighth woman in the photo. (one is not clearly visible in the photo). It was symbolic for me to first see the moon that late in the day, and then to see a group of women consisting of at least 7. There was a lesson for me to learn from that.


...
 
WHITE HAWK:
Usually on my hikes I will see symbolic wildlife. Once I reached the peak of the mountain, I was able to see Mount Timpanogas in the distance. I hiked Mt. Timpanogas last year on the Summer Solstice when there was still in the snow on the trail.  In the highest tree I noticed a beautiful white bird. (you can see in perched on the left pine tree).
 

Here is a zoomed-up photo of the bird. I am not sure what kind of bird it is. To me it looks like a type of hawk that is white. It looked very stately. I found the bird to be majestic and beautiful.  It was watching me and did not fly away. Most times I am unable to get a photo of the wildlife that I encounter because I can't get my camera out in time.
 
 
...
 
 LOST KEYS:
As I was hiking down, a woman was hiking up and stopped me. She was distraught and in her frantic state asked me for some help. She had lost her keys and had no idea where to look and how they all of a sudden were missing. She was wondering if I had seen them on the trail.  Unable to go anywhere since they were keys to her car and her home, she was stuck. I told her I had not seen them, but I would keep my eyes open for her in case I came across them. I continued hiking down and saw something shiny on a rock. It was a set of keys. I picked them up and noticed it had a white plastic barcode key tag on her keyring. I was stunned to see that it said City Creek on it. It was her membership to the City Creek Gym. There was a message for me on these lost keys.  I turned around and hiked back up to find this woman. I returned the keys to her. She was overwhelmed with gratitude that her keys had been restored to her. I asked if could take a picture to tell my wife this story. When I took the photo, I noticed the gold tree on her key ring.  I only noticed this once the keys were given back to her. This emblem looked like the Tree of Life.
 
 

 
 
SUNFLOWERS:
I couldn't help but notice the abundance of sunflowers on my hike.  They radiant warmth and appear to be the happiest of flowers, and their meanings include loyalty and longevity. They are unique in their ability to provide energy in the form of nourishment and vibrance, an attribute which mirrors the sun and the energy provided by its heat and light. With brilliant yellow petals that surround the flower’s center, sunflowers have an unmistakable sun-like appearance. The  sunflowers open up and follow the Sun throughout the day. 
 
 
 ...
 
LIVING WATER:
This last image is of Lake Katherine. It is the highest lake of the sister lakes up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It mirrors the sky in heaven. What is seen and done above is reflected down below in the water.