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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. 
 


Monday, September 15, 2014

279: ONCE A LIVING BODY OF WATER IS NOW AN EMPTY VESSEL.

 
At the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon there used to be 4 beautiful natural lakes of living water. They are named the "sister lakes": Lake Mary, Lake Phoebe, Lake Martha, and Lake Katherine. Many years ago a dam was built at Lake Mary.  Lake Mary grew in size and became a reservior instead of a natural body of living water. The level of the Lake Mary rose so high that it eventually combined with Lake Phoebe into one large lake. This large body of water was the home to rainbow trout fish and other wildlife. The water was also used for drinking water. My family loves hiking the 2 mile round trip to have lunch and feed the chipmunks on the shores of this Lake.
 
Here is a recent photo I took of the Lake Mary:
 
 Additional few photos of Lake Mary courtesy of other photographers:


 
Last weekend I have been struggling with some serious questions and needed direction in my life. I needed some answers to some difficult questions. My heart and mind were at odds with each other. I felt prompted to spend the day praying and pouring out my heart to the Lord on Friday, September 12, 2014. I need to spend some time alone and planned on hiking to a Mountain Peak that I usually hike to. Once I got into the car, I felt that I needed to hike to Lake Mary instead. I would spend the time listening and reading and praying along the shores of this beautiful lake.. (actually a man-made reservior now).
 
Once I reached the lake. I was shocked at what I saw.  The lake was gone. No water. Completely empty. The natural lake, converted into a man-made reservior, used to contain living water full of fish and wildlife was  now all dried up. Here are a few photos I took:
 


I was stunned. However, this was a profound symbolic answer from the Lord to one of my questions. I talked to another hiker who was equally shocked to see all of the water gone. He had just hiked to this lake a week ago and he said that the lake was completely full. In a short amount of time... all of the water.. I mean.. ALL of the water with the exception of a tiny remnant of water was GONE.
 
 The scripture in D&C 121:37 came to my mind.  Whenever we exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon anything the Lord has created including the souls of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. (and the living water that used to exist is gone) 
 
Any attempt to control or use compulsion on living water will eventually become an empty vessel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

278: LET'S DO THIS THING.

A week ago today, my wife and I, along with dear friends started our descent down into the Grand Canyon. The trip had been planned for months.  Preparations were made and the necessary permits obtained to hike and camp in the backcountry. One thing that we didn't know how to prepare for was the weather. A week before our hike, I began watching the weather reports. It was forecasted that severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall were likely due to Hurricane Norbert on the only two days that we were planning on hiking.  
 
I prayed to have at least 10 minutes at the beginning of the hike to at least see the view of the Grand Canyon before the storms came. We arrived at the South Rim and black clouds and storms were all around us. However... while the storms surrounded us, they never fell upon us... but caused massive flooding in surrounding areas.  Here is one video showing the torrential rain that caused road closures.  FLOODING . Also in the Phoenix Area they broke records for the amount of rain they received in one day.
 
Despite the forecast and potential thunderstorms and flooding, we were determined to still hike. My little two year old using the phrase, "Let's do this thing" before we go somewhere. It was the same phrase we all said right after our prayer before we descended down on our hike. In my mind, another phrase came into my mind, Let us go down. We did go down, a full vertical mile. Words can't describe the gratitude to the Lord for protecting us from the storms and to be able to see His hand in all things as we descended down into the depths of the Grand Canyon and then our ascension back to the top.
 
 In the previous blog post, I posted a photo of Zoroaster Temple.  It is often said that the Grand Canyon is America’s Cathedral/Temple. In that case, Zoroaster Temple–the most symmetric and beautiful of the dozens of towers rising improbably from the center of the Grand Canyon–is the Holy of Holies. 

This past week a friend of mine taught me what a temple is. A Temple is a place to learn how to  make our ascent back to God. Anciently, a Temple was called, "the Mountain of Ascent." A temple means "dedicated land", a place found through revelation. It is a sacred spot. It is a nexis point between Heaven and Earth. It is a place where we receive revelation. It is place were we are in tune and in touch with heaven. It is a place to commune with Heaven and receive answers from Heaven. It is a place to understand the Heavens. It is a place to get your direction and come into alignment with the Heavenas.  It is a place to come into the presence of God. It is a place to reenact a ritual drama through symbols. It is a place to make covenants. It is a place to be washed, anointed, to receive blessings and power to survive in this world.

I have struggled to put into words in relaying our experiences from our hike. It is hard to convey in words. Instead, I hope some of these photos can speak a thousand words. The photos appear in chronological order.
 
 
  


     
















 

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

277: SIPAPUNI: "THE PLACE OF EMERGENCE"


The Hopi Indian believe that the Grand Canyon was the Sipapuni, or "place of emergence" from whence their ancestors had emerged after a Great Flood had destroyed the third "world" of mankind that had preceded the current, or "fourth" world.

The "Sipapuni" is the name for the feminine opening from the depth of the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The sacred place allowed mankind to come "out" of darkness in the deep recesses of the earth into the world of sunlight and life.


 
Photo taken this past Sunday on our descent hike on the 7th day of September, 2014
The past three days have been quite a journey for me. My mind is still spinning. I thought I would share a few thoughts from our symbolic hike down into the Grand Canyon this week, similiar to a previous post entitled, 190:  "Ascending before the Storm".  ( LINK  )
 
The following words have had deep significance and symbolic for me these past few days... number seven, 7, flood, water, sacrifice, re-birth, light, darkness, descend and ascent... and the Tree of Life.
 
Bear with me.. As I try and get my thoughts together.
 



Friday, September 5, 2014

276: IS OUR CHURCH MILES WIDE.. BUT ONLY INCHES DEEP?

A couple of weeks ago I attended BYU Education week. One of the speakers was Thomas Wayment, a Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU and the publications director at the Religious Studies Center. He is currently serving as a Bishopric counselor. He shared in his first class that the Church is estimating right now that 60% of all returned missionaries will leave the church. They say that of the 60% that leave the Church, roughly 20% of those will come back. We are retaining of all those who serve missions only around half. He said that these statistics were given at a recent Leadership Training Meeting about six months ago, but are not published..But he didn’t think that means that this information was secret or not to be shared. Another statistic that he gave was that only 12 to 15% of young men actually serve missions. Those are not good numbers. So basically, with the current hastening of the work with over 80,000 missionaries serving, if these numbers are accurate, a little less than half end up leaving the Church or becoming inactive during their life.

In an article on msn.com ( LINK ) the following was reported, "While an estimated 40 percent of returned missionaries become inactive sometime after completing their mission, only 2 percent become apostates, meaning that they request to have their names removed from church rolls, or are formally excommunicated."

A recent study in 2013 at Utah Valley University ( LINK ) found that nearly three quarters of missionaries who return home early experience a deep sense of failure.

What is happening?  

A friend of mine sent me a article written by Hal Lindsey, an American evangelist and Christian writer, which said the following, "The modern church is miles wide and inches deep. We try to convince the world that they should accept us because we are like them, not because we have the answer or because we stand for something greater." He went on to describe today's lukewarm Church. It isn't cold enough to be easily identified as a false Church that has lost its fundamental purpose.... and it is not hot enough to preach the Gospel and make disciples no matter the cost in persecution and sufferings for Christ's sake. We have forgotten that it is either all about Him or not at all about Him."

Is statement only apply to the other Christian denominations or can it be said about our Church as well?

SIDENOTE:

Last week I went to one of the first public screenings of “Meet the Mormons”, the new full length motion picture that will be released in select theaters nationwide. The Church is beginning to promote this movie including billboards along the Interstate 15. In next month’s General Conference, the movie will be mentioned in one of the Brethren’s talk, rumored to be Elder Holland. It has been under production for four years. It opens on October 10, 2014. I have written a little bit about it ( HERE )

 
I really don’t like hearing about movies until after I see them..so I won’t really share much about my feelings… since I like to go without having any prior expectations (either low or high). That being said.. one might think this is the best movie and is part of the Lord’s hastening the work.. or another might think the stories, the people, and the locations were carefully selected in this movie as a type of promotional infomercial. No doubt, we want to be a Global church and like what Hal Lindsey said.. we want to convince the world that they should accept us because not only are we wonderful people, but we are like them. (Sidenote: For example, the only two Bishops that are shown in the movie are both Afro-American, as well as one of the featured members receives an award from President Obama and actually shows him receiving a hug from the President.)

No doubt we as a Church want to proclaim the Gospel to all people around the earth. I can think of no better Church that spends its resources to accomplish this... But to what end? What is considered success?

Is success for the Church only bringing thousands of people to the bottom of the Mount Sinai... only to eventually be told to just follow and/or worship another idol? Or is success for the Lord actually through teaching, guiding, encouraging those to accept the invitation from the Lord and ascend to the top of Mount Zion and speak with Him face to face. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

275: THE GULF THAT SEPARATES US FROM GOD... FROM ZION.



Photo taken in September 2012 on Jacob's Ladder trail climbing to Lone Peak.

My wife and I will be hiking the Grand Canyon this weekend with a couple of friends before hearing a friend give his final lecture in Phoenix.  There is something about ascending a mountain that is symbolic. I especially like to start very early in the morning while it is still dark in order to be on the summit to watch the sunrise.  I am excited to hike this weekend, since we have never hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon before.

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders. It is the largest land gorge/gulf in the world.  We will be descending down over 5000 feet (a vertical mile ) and camping at bottom of the canyon. We will then wake up early in the morning to ascend back to the top.  Near our campsite there have been kivas found dating back to as early as 1050 which were used by Native Americas.  A kiva is a room used for religious rituals. Among the modern Hopi, and most other Pueblo peoples, kivas are square-walled and underground, and are used in their spiritual ceremonies.

This hike will be different than all other hikes we have been on. On this hike, you descend first, and then hike up and ascend last. Also, at the beginning of the hike the temperature is cooler and as you hike down it gets hotter. Instead of your destination point at the top of the mountain, it is at the bottom. Your view is looking up at the wonder, instead of looking down.

Here is a beautiful video of part of the hike.

 


Unless you have been to the Grand Canyon, you can not appreciate or understand the great gulf that exists between the two sides of the canyon. However, this is small compared to the great gulf that exists between us on Earth and our Father in Heaven, between the foolishness of man and the holiness of God. 

Today more than ever there are great gulfs that are being created. There is a great gulf that exist between those who claim to speak FOR God and those who actually speak WITH God.  There is a considerable gulf between knowing the gospel of Christ and actually living it. There is a  tremendous gulf between what is required to build and live in Zion and the direction we are actually headed as a people. There are gulfs that exist inside families and between husband and wives.

The gulf that separates us from God can only be bridged by His Son, Jesus Christ. The gulf that separates us from Zion requires us to KNOW HIM.. and not just know ABOUT HIM. Until all shall know the Lord, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying: The Lord hath brought again Zion. D&C 84:98