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Thursday, April 23, 2015

316: WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE

"Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry,
so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ."
Ezra Taft Benson, 1987.
....
"Just as a man does not really desire to see until he knows he is blind,
so he does not desire to see the Lord until he knows it is possible to find Him."
Bare Record, 2015
 

Amazing Grace is a beautiful hymn about being redeemed regardless of sins committed. The lyrics penned by John Newton describe that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God. The history of this song and Newton's personal story of redemption is worth reading.

This hymn was sung by the early Saints. It was included in the collection of sacred hymns selected by Emma Smith for the original LDS Hymn Book. It was hymn number 118.  It is unfortunate that this hymn was later removed. It is no longer found in our current hymn book.  It seems like when Mormonism increased its emphasis on works instead of grace, other hymns were included like "Put your shoulder to the wheel".  :)

One of word in this song is "wretch".  I looked up the definition and a wretch is a banished person, or a stranger in exile. The word reflects the sorry state of someone no longer in the presence of God, who is "in misery, and sojourning in a foreign land. " Nephi uses this word to describe himself in the Book of Mormon. We read in 2 Nephi 4: 17 "Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities."
 
One of the best renditions of Amazing Grace is sung by the four tenors called, Il Divo. Below is a video created using footage from the DVD, The Eternal Christ which was filmed in the Holy Land. However, the closing shot is not from the Holy Land. The footage is of an ocean's wave. There is symbolism in how it is used.

The lyrics to this hymn contain the phrase "was blind and now I see". You will see in the video these words three times. The number three is important and symbolic. Each time you see the word "see" in the video, it is in relation to LIGHT and increases in intensity. (from an olive oil lamp, to the sun, to then translucency and emulating light over water.






Since Amazing Grace song is full of gratitude of one who used to blind but now can see, I wanted to share the following post written yesterday by one of my close friends who writes a personal blog. I do so with his permission.

"Sunday School this week was amazing. The lesson was taught on the experience of the healing of the blind man in John 9. But, seeing the entire story at once, suddenly something significant came to my mind that never before had been considered by me.

Story Summary: Christ spit in the dirt, made clay, wiped it on the blind mans eyes, and instructed him to wash in the spring named Siloam (translated meaning "Sent"). Those knowing the blind man asked him how it came to be that he could see. He told them.

Interestingly, they bring him to the Pharisees (the church institutional authorities at the time). And now the Pharisees question him asking him how he regained his sight. The man said again, Christ did it, and then testified of Christ possibly being a prophet. The Pharisees told him that Christ couldn't be a man of God since he healed on the sabbath. Christ didn't follow the protocols of their institution (craziness, right?).

The Pharisees now bring the blind man before the Jews. Remember the Jews are now the body of the church. They ask again, how are you now able to see? In frustration the blind man responds, "I have told you already, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?" In other words, "I told you already. Are you asking again for the purpose of being Christ's disciples?" The blind man is questioning the intentions of the crowd. He's questioning their hearts. An indirect customized test, but perfect for revealing their true desires.

The Jews revile the blind man saying, "You follow Christ, ...BUT WE FOLLOW MOSES!" And they eventually cast the blind man out, not only out of their presence, but out of their congregational fellowship (excommunicated). They would choose a Moses figure over the Savior Jesus Christ himself.

Then Christ comes to the blind man, seeing that he was cast out for His names sake, and Christ reveals himself to the blind man in his true identity as savior to the world. Is this the blind mans second comforter? His calling and election made sure? Yes sir!

Insight: Christ healed the blind man twice. The first was his physical blindness. And the second, when Christ revealed his true identity as the Savior, was his spiritual blindness. Between the restoration of the physical and the spiritual sight, the blind man was persecuted 3x for Christ's name sake, not having a perfect knowledge before hand. It wasn't until the blind man was completely cast out (excommunicated) for testifying of Christ that the scales of darkness of his spiritual eyes were removed. Christ came ...to him. Now, he was able to see with pure eyes, having known Christ.

Conclusion: This is not a story about "the blind man." The blind man's identity is irrelevant. Because the blind man is YOU! You, like the blind man in the story, have come through the veil "... having been blind from birth." Those who recognize this seek Christ to heal their blindness. But those who don't, think they can see just fine. "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."

Those who recognize they are blind are those who humble themselves before Christ and have faith in Him, and Christ's grace was sufficient to make weak things strong (Ether 12:27). However, those claiming that they know God, when they avoid studying, pondering, conversations, seeking to know God's mind and will in all things, ...these belong to the large and spacious building in Lehi's dream. And they depend on an institutional salvation, substituting the opportunity to partake of the fruit of the tree of life (Christ), casting out those who know Christ, ...hoping that obedience to their institutional laws will provide salvation. Which are you?"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

315: PATIENCE AND FORGIVENESS



Patience doesn't seem to be a popular virtue today, especially when we expect things to happen instantaneously. We can get upset when we have a slow internet connection, or traffic is backed up due to an accident, or family members are demanding.

However, patience does not mean suffering while we wait to get what we want, that is more like impatience. When we are truly patient, we kindly and lovingly allow others the time they need to reach their full potential. We don't resent the fact that progression is a process and resist in putting on undue pressure and unrealistic expectations on others or on ourselves knowing that it will only hinder growth and create frustration. Patience means not despairing when mistakes happen, it means making room for change as we all learn a better way. It means that sometimes we will be offended, but we won't harbor resentment or anger as we work out a solution. Patience inspires us to give people a second chance and the benefit of the doubt, just as we hope they will do for us. Patience is the power that comes from hope and confidence that things will in time improve. 

some thoughts from today's, The Music and the Spoken Word

Sunday, April 5, 2015

314: BLOOD MOON ON PASSOVER AND EASTER WEEKEND


I just received an email from my friend that I wanted to share along with some photos:

"I just checked every lunar eclipse since the death of Jesus Christ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_lunar_eclipses ). Today appears to be the first time since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that Easter Sunday also falls on Easter on the Priest Calendar (1 Jachin) on the day following Passover on both the Hebrew and Enoch Calendars on which there was a partial or total eclipse of the the moon.  Jachin means "Upright" and apparently refers to the dead again standing upright at the resurrection.  On the average, only one Easter Sunday in 24 occurs on that date.  The one possible exception is Sat 12 April 814 (Gregorian) which may or may not have been Passover on the Enoch Calendar. I write this only to show how rare today is and that in some sense it is "exactly" like the weekend of the Resurrection and rare indeed."

Interesting times,
John


 
Here are a few photos I took on our early morning hike in the mountains above Salt Lake City.
The 3rd blood moon in the tetrad taken just before 6:00 AM

The blood moon above the Salt Lake City valley.

Final stages of the lunar eclipse as it descended near the Great Salt Lake.

Friday, April 3, 2015

313: THE SUSTAINING OF CHURCH OFFICERS

In the April 1979 General Conference, the vote of Church Officers consisted of  sustaining 16 men as prophets, seers and revelators. The Patriarch to the Church, Eldred Smith was always sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator along with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. I came across this calendar that was given to members prior to Conference. It states, "As you listen to or watch general conference with your family, see if you can identify each General Authority who speaks by referring to the photographs on this calendar page."



That was the last General Conference that Eldred was sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator. In October of 1979,  Eldred Smith was "honorably relieved of all duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of the Patriarch".

Here is the transcript of the sustaining vote:

It is proposed that we sustain President Spencer W. Kimball as prophet, seer, and revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All in favor, please make it manifest. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.
Nathan Eldon Tanner as First Counselor in the First Presidency and Marion G. Romney as Second Counselor in the First Presidency. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.

It is proposed that we sustain as President of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Ezra Taft Benson. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.

As the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Petersen, LeGrand Richards, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, Bruce R. McConkie, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, and James E. Faust. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.

The counselors in the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.

 Spencer W. Kimball as trustee-in-trust for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.

As Patriarch Emeritus, Eldred G. Smith. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, if there be any, by the same sign.



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


 The following year in the October 1980 General Conference, an interesting thing happened. There were some in the Tabernacle who did not raise their hands to sustain President Kimball, but opposed using the same sign. Here is the transcript. 

"It is proposed that we sustain President Spencer W. Kimball as prophet, seer, and revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, by the same sign.

[A call of “no” from several in the congregation]

Elder McConkie: President Romney, it appears that there are three negative votes. This is to advise those so voting that they may meet with Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve following this session. Thank you.

President Romney: Thank you."

Elder McConkie continued to read the rest of the sustaining for the remaining Church officers, and then said. "It seems, President Kimball, that the voting has been unanimous, with the exceptions already noted, in favor of these officers and the General Authorities."

 .................

What is really interesting, that after there were votes of dissent in that conference, the next SEVEN conferences the sustaining votes did not name President Kimball, nor his counselors, nor the Quorum of the Twelve... but only a vote for those who were newly called or released,.. This is how the sustaining was read:

"With the exception of these brethren whom we have just sustained, there have been no other changes is the General Authorities since the last conference. It is proposed, therefore, that we sustain all of the General Authorities and general officers of the Church as at present constituted. Those in favor please manifest it. Those opposed by the same sign. Thank you."

 .................


 
It wasn't until April 1984 Conference that we again sustained Spencer W Kimball by name and the rest of the Brethern . By then, President Kimball's health was failing.  However, in the following conference in October, when the sustaining vote was read, the following "disclaimer" was given which I find it very interesting... especially with the situation we find ourselves today with the health of President Monson:

"Some people, most of them not members of the Church, worry because the President of the Church is an elderly man. I want to assure you that, under the organization put in place by the Lord himself, there is no need to worry. The President has two counselors. So long as either of them is able to function, there will be an active First Presidency with full powers of decision in all matters affecting the Church.

Associated with the Presidency is the Council of the Twelve Apostles. At times in the history of the Church, when there was no First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve governed its affairs. As a matter of fact, these were some of the most difficult and demanding times in the history of the Church, notably, when our people left Nauvoo, crossed Iowa, established Winter Quarters on the Missouri, and then made their historic odyssey to this valley in 1847. It was not until Brigham Young returned to Winter Quarters that he was sustained as the President of the Church.

The Lord will not allow his work to suffer. He will not allow it to be led astray. He has made that clear. There is much of flexibility and resiliency in this inspired organization. It can accommodate almost any imaginable set of circumstances. It is moving forward in a remarkable and wonderful way. The priesthood of God is upon the earth, and the strength of the Church lies in the power that comes therefrom and in the personal faith and testimony which reside in the hearts of its members."
 

 .................

Tomorrow there will be another sustaining vote most likely in the Saturday Afternoon session. I know that there has been alot of concerns of the current leadership lately. Local Bishops and Stake Presidents have disciplined members for not sustaining the Brethren. To combat the problem that have found ways to help their congregations understand the importance for doing so.. including wearing button that say I Choose as written on this blog. Or including quotes in the Sacrament Meeting Program. Below is a the backside of the Sacrament Program from a ward in our area.

 
Whether you choose to sustain, or to oppose or avoid voting all together in the Saturday Afternoon Session of Conference... use your agency and vote your conscious. While the votes might not be written down here on earth, or even noticed.. I think it is noticed in Heaven.  
 .................