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Sunday, April 16, 2017

407: EASTER MORNING SUNRISE

 Photos taken this Easter morning on top of Hidden Peak up Little Cottonwood Canyon.



 
 

Light Conquering Darkness.
Life Defeating Death.
Christ Overcoming All. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

406: A MIRACLE ...THE "PASSOVER" OF THE DESTROYING ANGEL

I was given some advice recently to post more positive and less critical blogposts.

So, I thought I would share the following experience that happened to me this week. As many of you know, this week Christians around the world call this the "holy week" as we observe and remember the last week of Christ's life, his death and his resurrection.

This week is also Passover which began on Monday evening at sundown.  (In Hebrew it is known as Pesach which means “to pass over”.  This sacred Jewish day commemorates liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It also is symbolic of  God "passing over" the Jewish homes marked with the blood of a lamb protecting them from the 10th plague that killed the firstborn child of each family in Egypt.)

On Monday night, right after sunset,  I received a phone call from a nurse in the Trauma unit at our local hospital about a mile from our home. She asked if I would be able to come quickly to give a Priesthood blessing to a young woman who had just been in a car accident. I immediately got ready and rushed over to the hospital with a friend. Upon arriving at the Trauma unit  hospital, I was told that this young woman has been driving her car when she blacked out, crossed lanes of traffic causing a multi-car accident.  She hit a pole and her car was completely totaled. Both airbags in her car deployed. The doctors did not know the full extent of her injuries yet...but from the initial tests it looked like her blackout was caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was medically induced into a coma to help reduce the swelling on her brain and to stop the bleeding.

Along with her mother and a few family members we circled her bed with unified faith. I offered a prayer asking the Lord to hear our plea to heal her of her injuries. We then anointed her head and gave her a priesthood blessing that she would heal.

As if the accident was not tragic enough, this young woman is also a Bride-to-be. Her wedding is scheduled for this Saturday in the Salt Lake Temple. Her fiance lives in Virginia and was not flying out to Utah until this Thursday. So what was to be a beautiful week.. and the most important day of her life was now turned upside down.

After much fasting and prayers on her behalf these past couple of days,  she is now making a full recover. She is talking  and it does not appear that their has been any brain damage. The bleeding in her brain has stopped, the swelling is back down to normal, and she did not receive any injuries due to the car accident. While she will remain in the hospital through tomorrow, the doctors are very optimistic that she will be able to still get married on Saturday. Truly a miracle on this holy week.

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


Now, on a deeper level, this experience has been very symbolic to me. It has many parallels to what I have read in the scriptures  about the bridegroom and us being the bride hoping to be ready for the wedding feast.   Here are a few quick examples of the similarities. The bride "blacked out".. she "fell asleep", only to wake up and find herself in an awful situation. Badly injured, she was in need of the repair, and to start healing(repenting)  in order to get ready for her wedding. Her bridegroom has not been present during this time. However, the best friend of the bridegroom was one of the first ones at the hospital and has made sure she was taken care.  He participated in giving her the blessing. Her fiance, the bridegroom. arrived earlier than planned. He has not left her side since he arrived. The wedding is still planned to happen at 12:00 noon this Saturday. 

All of her family and friends have been fasting and praying in her behalf. They have the faith and hope that she will be out of the hospital in time to be at her wedding (and feast) this Saturday, the day before Easter. Prayers have been answered. Heaven has heard the pleas in her behalf. 
I am grateful to have experienced this miracle as we look forward to celebrate the greatest miracle.. this Sunday.  The resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  A day when we celebrate the rebirth, new life and the promise of Life Eternal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

405: PROTECTING THE "FRONT DOOR" OF THE TEMPLE WITH MARTINI'S AND COCKTAIL DRESSES



In a recent  meeting between LDS General Authority Elder Don R. Clarke, LDS Church Historian Dr. Matthew J. Grow, and Trevor Haugen, the following question was asked.

Trevor: "Why invest in City Creek?"

Elder Don R Clarke: "Do you know what happens to downtowns when you don’t have something like City Creek? Do you want to go to Detroit? Do you want to go with me to Chicago? And that is what happens. The purpose is to keep the downtown, the front door of Temple Square in a decent sort of place."

Matthew J Grow: "The motivation was to protect that downtown area."

I drove by the newest billboard advertising the LDS downtown mall City Creek. Two attractive models on a night on the town drinking what appears to be a martini and the woman in her cocktail dress drinking wine.  Seriously? and this is "protecting" the front door of the temple to be a decent sort of place?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

404: APRIL 6th, 2017

Today is April 6th, 2017. Got up early and headed up for a hike with a friend. It was a warm, beautiful spring morning. The water was pretty cold though.  


 



April 6 is a significant date in LDS Church History. The Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely authorized to reestablish the Church of Christ on this day. Years later  The Church of Christ that was organized by Joseph Smith Jr  became known as The Church of Jesus Christ  of Latter-day Saints. 
Also on this date in 1877, the St. George Temple was dedicated. The St. George Temple was the first temple the Saints built in Utah and the first to remain in continuous operation. In 1893, the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated on April 6th.  And finally on April 6th, 2000 the Temple near the sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York was dedicated. (Some have also considered this date to be the anniversary of the Lord's birth as well.)


 Sidenote:  I received an email summary today which I was asked to post on this blog.



Covenant Offering

For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel; And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.
3 NEPHI 21:6-7

STATUS: Currently there is no covenant people on the earth capable of fulfilling the prophecies found in scripture. (Teachings Post, pg. 1). “There is not a single church body congregation, or assembly, anywhere, that has published and is claiming as their body of governing scriptural material a set of scriptures which include the Lectures on Faith, fully print the “fullness of scriptures” containing every revision Joseph made to the Bible, faithfully reproduces the original revelations in their original words…but there is a draft available for your review.” (St. George 27:20). 

INVITATION: Today is our opportunity to repent and return-by gathering, saying, and doing, what was offered and expected when the Restoration began through Joseph Smith. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 1). “Joseph Smith brought forth words that have never been preserved or accepted.” (St. George 47:16). We must demonstrate the respect, penitence and labor necessary to recover what was lost. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 1). All who intend to receive the light, (D&C 93) and come out of condemnation, (D&84) must not treat lightly what the Lord has offered, but instead “repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments” which God has given. (Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant, pg. 4).   The Fullness of the Scriptures, which Joseph Smith said without the church would yet fail, are now available. (St. George Talk, 15:15).


BOOK OF MORMON: The Book of Mormon has been provided to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. It was also “entrusted to the gentiles for the purpose of gathering the remnant and establishing Zion.” (Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant, pg. 6).

RESTORATION SCRIPTURES: Similar to how the Book of Mormon exists as an everlasting covenant, the Restoration Scriptures also provide an opportunity to reclaim blessings and lay hold on a covenant. (Teachings Post, pg. 1). “When it comes to scripture, corruption happens, and each new dispensation is responsible for fixing the cannon of scripture, to reclaim truths, to correct errors, and to adopt guiding principles applicable to their day.” (St. George 36:07). The Restoration Scriptures are a restatement of what the Lord once offered and what He now offers and instructs. (Teachings Post, pg. 2). The Restoration scriptures are a remedy to past deficiencies. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 10).

GENTILES: According to scripture the Lord plans to use a restoration through the Gentiles to “gather again” the remnant of Israel. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 2). The covenant associated with this work must first be offered to and accepted by the Gentiles, so that a few who repent and return may be numbered among the remnant of God’s people and assist in establishing the New Jerusalem. (Teachings Post, pg. 2). “This (The Restoration Scriptures/Covenant) is necessary for the Gentiles to claim they have accepted a covenant and a law.” (St. George 37:30).

COVENANT PEOPLE: If successful repentance occurs, including being able to obtain accurate language and revelation, then the Lord may provide us with His covenant language. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 1). Those who accept the covenants offered by God will become part of the covenant people of God, be numbered among the seed of the Remnant, and inherit this land. These are they whom God will protect. (Teachings, pg. 3, Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant pg. 11).

THE FEW: Those few who receive Christ and His Covenant will be armed with righteousness and the power of God to guide them. In Him, they will be able to seek for and establish Zion. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 9). According to 1 Nephi 4, “blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. And if they endure unto the end, they shall be lifted up at the last day and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb.”

THE NEW JERUSALEM: “Zion will include people who are willing to receive revelations from God and obey Commandments.” (St. George 38:03). After acceptance by the people, and approval from the Lord, if the people abide the covenant, the Lord will establish a New Jerusalem as a land of peace and city of refuge. These people will be the only ones not at war with one another as the final chapter unfolds. (D&C 45: 65-71).

GATHERING THE REMNANT: Once the covenant is personally accepted, it can be offered by the recipient to other Christians throughout the world. (missionary work). (Teachings Post, pg. 2).  “Accepting the covenant offered in our day includes the obligation and right to gather scattered remnants of Israel…and the right and obligation to assist in building the New Jerusalem.” (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 13). 

ZION UNITY: Any individual can commune with God. But covenants to bring Zion require a people to be restored again by covenant as God’s people. “All of them must unite in accepting a law, a standard, the covenant for those who will help establish the New Jerusalem.” “They must be gathered. Before they gather they must have one heart and one mind which requires them to receive and act on a covenant with the Lord; not only to say, but to do what has been asked of them.” (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenants, pg. 14).

ZION EQUALITY: Zion will involve a people unified into an equal body without hierarchy. There will be one heart, one mind, and no poor among them. All are in need of repenting into this Zion state. (Inquiry and Response, pg. 2). Equality in Zion is unlikely if we do not treat one another as equals along the way. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant pg. 15).

ACCEPTANCE BY THE PEOPLE: In September of 2017, a finalized version of the Restoration Scriptures will be offered for approval as a law and covenant. In addition to possibly fulfilling the covenant initially offered by Christ, ratification by the Saints, and approval from the Lord, could also result in protection from coming judgments.  (Scripture, Prophecy, and Scripture, pg. 11). 

ACCEPTANCE FROM THE LORD: Men cannot make covenants with God. God offers a covenant and mankind accepts or rejects. (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 14). The Restoration Scriptures and associated Covenant will need to be approved and accepted by the Lord. (Teachings Post, pg. 3). If we as Gentiles accept the covenant, and “if a people, adopt a covenant, and receive what has been restored, the clock will begin to tick.” (St. George 48:31).

INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE CHOICE: All are free to accept or reject the covenant offering. (Teachings Post, pg. 3). Just as the Gentiles were free to accept or reject the covenant offering at the time of Joseph, we too today are free to accept or reject the Restoration Scriptures and associated covenant.  (Scripture, Prophecy, and Covenant, pg. 3, 8, 9,16).

 

References:

The Scriptures

St. George Conference Talk, Things that keep you up at night. 3-19-17.



Monday, April 3, 2017

403: THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY - APRIL 2017 GENERAL CONFERENCE


THE GOOD:

The Talk given by Elder Dale G Renland.

He began his talk by quoting from the Lectures on Faith. It was the first time I think that has been done since they were removed the LDS Scriptures in 1921. He focused on Jesus Christ and the importance of Repentance. He said that in our lifelong quest to follow Jesus Christ, His example of kindness to those who sin is particularly instructive. We, who are sinners, must, like the Savior, reach out to others with compassion and love.

One interesting quote from his talk,  which I wonder if he was talking specifically to his associates:
"Church Leaders can not alter God's commandments or doctrine, contrary to His will, to be convenient or popular."
I also liked D Todd Christopherson's talk on the importance of our duty to warn our neighbor. The motivation for raising the warning voice is love—love of God and love of fellowman. To warn is to care.


THE BAD  (LESS THAN GOOD).

Out of the 32 talks that were given this past weekend at General Conference and the 10 prayers that were said,  ONLY ONE WOMAN SPOKE and ONLY ONE WOMAN gave a prayer.  I would think at the very least there would be representation from someone in the Primary Presidency, the Young Women's Organization, as well as from the Relief Society Presidency.  (even if there was a change in the organization this conference)

Another observation I noticed, instead of being told that we should work towards having the Church come out from condemnation as well as individually work out our salvation with fear and trembing (Phillippians 2:2:13), We were reassured, and were given the Lord's loving approval for what we have done. Excerpt from this talk:
"My beloved brethren of the priesthood, my purpose today is to both reassure you and to invigorate you in your priesthood service... I pray that I may be able to convey  the Lord's loving approval of what you already have done and offer you an encouraging glimpse of what you may yet achieve as a holder of His Holy Priesthood."
We were also told that following a man is equivalent to following Christ from this talk:
"When we follow our living prophet President Thomas S. Monson, we look up to Jesus Christ"
Other interesting statements:
"Because the Book of Mormon is true, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lords' Church on the Earth today"
another one from this talk.
"Joseph Smith received the keys of the Priesthood which have been passed on to President Thomas S Monson who exercises them today. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. "
and this:
"President Monson, you are indeed the  Lord's Prophet."

AND THE UGLY: (A LESS THAN PRETTY OBSERVATION)

I went to the LDS Stake Center on Saturday night to watch  Priesthood Session with my father. We arrived about 10 minutes before it started. I noticed that the Stake Presidency was sitting on the stand. The lights were dimmed and we sat down and watched the live preliminary satellite broadcast feed on the large projection screen in the chapel. About five minutes before the session started. The Stake Presidency stood up and signaled to the rest of us in attendance to stand up as President Monson enter into the Conference Center in Downtown Salt Lake. We were not even present and in a remote chapel, yet we were expected to stand up in reverence as we watched our prophet walk in and take his red seat in the Conference Center.  As soon President Monson sat down, and after the Stake Presidency sat down. the rest of us could then sit. However, looking on the bright side, at least we didn't have to extend our right arm outward and slightly upward.

I would be interesting in finding out if this is becoming a common practice in other stakes.  This adoration and reverence for leadership needs to stop. I think it might be offensive to the Lord and is a form of idolatry.

The word idolatry means, at least according to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.” In other words, if we replace the word veneration with its own definition, we come up with this definition of idolatry: excessive attachment or the highest degree of respect and reverence; a feeling or sentiment excited by the dignity and superiority of a person, or by the sacredness of his character, or that which borders on adoration. This idea of granting certain offices or people a perceived superiority takes on even more meaning if we consider these words by Hugh Nibley: “The moment I even think of my priesthood as a status symbol or a mark of superiority, it becomes a mere hollow pretense. At the slightest hint to gloating or self-congratulation the priesthood holder is instantly and automatically unfrocked.” (“Best Possible Test,” CWHN 12:536.)


I can't help but thing that Joseph Smith would not allow for such idolatry. It is reported in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith  a report of a sermon that he gave when Joseph expounded the meaning of the fourteenth chapter of Ezekial in the Old Testament,

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel – said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 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, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.”
(The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 237-238).

The idolatry evidenced in Ezekiel 14 was that the people went to the prophet for their knowledge of God, not to God himself. They set up a stumbling block, a mediator for THE mediator (our Lord and Savior). That is to say that instead of approaching God through prayer, supplication, fasting or whatever method, for knowledge of Him and his Son, we tend to approach a man. No matter how inspired that man may be, the gospel is an individual gospel meant for “the one.” That one, to me, is me. That one, to you, is you. As mentioned above, it is an imperative duty we have to seek an individual relationship and connection with God and when we do not undertake to fulfill that duty our minds must become “darkened.”