More development by the Church to the multi billion dollar City Creek Center. The Church plans to now take over the development and build a 24 story high rise office building on Main Street next to the City Creek Mall. This morning on Channel 2 news, it was reported that the 111 Office Building on Main Street which was originally being developed by Hamilton Partners will now be developed by the LDS Church's CCRI (City Creek Reserve Inc.)
The proposed 24 story office building will feature retail space, while the upper floors offer 440,000 rentable square feet of office area with the average floor size consisting of 21,000 square foot customizable sections, column-free design, floor-to-ceiling glass, with 9-foot ceilings and 16-inch raised floors throughout.
A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of the mother of our close friend. Our friend spoke at the funeral as did all of the siblings. They each gave tribute to their mother in their own unique way. The common remembrance shared about their mother was that she loved to laugh and was always smiling. It was said that their mother loved life, and truly made the world a brighter place wherever she went. I came away from the funeral wanting to be a better person, smiling and laughing more.
I came across a youtube the other day that made me laugh. I think we all need to laugh more. Life is too short. This video is a short comedy act by Nina Conti, a ventriloquist. As part of her act, a man is brought onto the stage and is transformed into a human puppet. The comedic ventriloquist has complete control of what he says and operates his “mouth mask” to open and close his mouth to look like he is speaking. It is clever and I thought it was pretty funny.
Here is the link to the embedded video:
The video prompted me to make a simple observation.
A “puppet” can be defined as a person, group, government, etc., whose actions are prompted and controlled by another or others. The "puppet" is usually a charismatic person and holds a position of power or authority over others. However, the one(s) controlling the puppet have all of the power. While the "puppet" appears to be the one saying or acting on their own, it is the person behind the curtain that is actually doing the talking. Those in control are usually called the "powers that be". The "powers that be" always have an agenda.
In powerful corporations, there is always a sole leader that speaks for the entire institution. They usually have staff members or committees who help write or edit their speeches. The corporate head is the mouthpiece for the company. There is a delicate balance to make sure that what is said by this spokesperson will not offend a large amount of people. Furthermore, if a change in direction is desired for the institution, a delicate balance needs to be maintained between keeping the original practices versus changing and “implementing” new policies which might too difficult for the members of the group to accept. To avoid making these mistakes, institutions use focus groups, surveys, and opinions polls to help assess what will be currently acceptable to the larger group.
These institutional leaders need those under them to support and sustain them in order to maintain power and control. However I think Albert Einstein said it really well:
“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
Fortunately, the Lord doesn’t use social sciences to declare His word. His mouthpieces speak His word. I am grateful that the Lord continues to speak to us today through His prophets in order to point us to back to Him. The scriptures teach us the importance that the words spoken by true prophets come from the Lord. He is not pleased when the messages do not come directly from Him.
One interesting scripture found in Jeremiah 23:30 (New Living Translation of the Bible) says, "Therefore," says the LORD, "I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me.”
Recently there has been a lot excitement about the recent Church policy change to lower the missionary age for the Elders to age 18 and for the Sisters to age 19. A few weeks ago, a member of the Quorum of the 70's met with local ward mission leaders. The General Authority asked the ward mission leaders why they thought the age requirements had been lowered.
He then said that he and all the 70's had a conference with two members of the Quorum of the 12 and they posed the same question to the 70's. The apostle told the 70's that the missionary age was not lowered to "save" all of these youth -- although that's a nice thing. They said there was only one reason it was done. It's because the Lord said so, to hasten his work---- that's it.”
Some might have watched the special report that aired in between the General Conference sessions that reported on this decision to lower the missionary age.
Here are a few interesting quotes from the above link.
“The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, they say, have studied this idea for years. Eighteen year old men have been serving in 48 countries throughout the world for the last ten years, because of university entrance and military qualifications in those nations.”
"Many might not know this is not the first age change for serving missions. The age for missionary service for men used to be 20 years olds prior to 1960. Elder Jeffrey R Holland was one of the first missionaries called when the age was lowered to 19 years."
Around 13: 43 minute mark in the above video, there is an interview with Elder Jeffrey R Holland.
Elder Holland states: “I was in the first wave of 19 year olds when that change was made in 1960. President Monson, as this was all being discussed with him, and as he was giving leadership to it, we asked his opinion in this and in all other matters about the age change . . . and he said, 'I was a Mission President, I was presiding in Toronto when the 19 years old change came and we didn’t miss a beat'.”
I found it interesting that he states that the decision to lower the missionary age was discussed with President Monson and that they asked his opinion about lowering the age. Faithful members would likely say that they believe that this was divine revelation given to President Monson, as the Lord's prophet. And the reason why it was lowered was because the Lord said so.. in order to hasten His work.
Anyway. . . sorry to digress. I thought the video of the human puppet was pretty funny and wanted to post it in case it might make another person laugh and/or at least smile. If it didn't, smile or laugh anyway because it helps brighten these latter days that we live in.
There’s never been a time in the history of the world when we can communicate with a wider assortment of people, while simultaneously fostering a shallower connection. We electronically communicate using technology and cell phones, send photos to each other that can only be viewed for a few seconds, and text acronyms instead of words. We rarely talk with each other using our voices and seldom in person. We are losing the personal and emotional bonds that last. We’re becoming masters of disconnected communication.
Two recent movies depict what happens when a loss of communication happens. I found it ironic that both movies were released around the same time. The movie, All is Lost, involves a man, in the middle of the ocean.. stranded...unable to transmit via his radio the need for help. The other movie is about a woman astronaut, who is adrift in space after a tragic Space Shuttle mission. Both movies contain a lot of symbolism. Both were in a "vehicle" that they were expecting to "remain intact" and transport them safely back home. Instead their vehicle became damaged resulting in a loss of communication to the only ones who can save them.
To connect means to bring together two people, to join, to become in contact with, or to establish a relationship with. While we might be more "connected" with each other here on earth, we are probably becoming less connected to the heavens. However, there are few who are beginning to understand the importance of connecting with the Heavens in preparation for the foundation of Zion.
"The foundation of Zion consists largely in reconnecting the children as a consequence of the promises that were made to the fathers, back again to the fathers. This is so there might be a welding link that connects the children who are on the earth with the fathers who are in the heavens. Not a connection to the dead who are in the Spirit world. They who are dead are in desperate need of your ministration to save them. For in connecting yourself to them is to connect yourself essentially to the damned, the dead, the disembodied. The fathers who are in heaven are the ones to whom you need to form the link. The whole purpose behind these promises and prophecy delivered to Joseph by Moroni was to fix this problem. Because if it were not so, the whole world would be utterly wasted, utterly wasted at His (and “their”) coming." Lecture on "Be of Good Cheer, Be of Good Courage."
We think that by expanding worldwide, building more and more temples, buildings, apartments, even malls, that we are hastening the work of the Lord and establishing Zion. But frankly I don't think we know what Zion is. The problem exists because no one has, and the scriptures are very careful to not include, a model for Zion. Is the model for Zion have a centralized control and command hierarchy? What happens when that command center becomes corrupt? The only way it can be fixed is requires knowledge about things that world doesn’t have. Only the Lord Himself can bring again. I don’t think we have the first inkling yet of how Zion is going to come about, or what it will require of us who are so hungry for it. Quite possible we might have the wrong picture in our head.
What I do know is that individuals need to connect to Christ. Him Alone. We do not go through any man to communicate with Him. He employeth no servant there. (2 Nephi 9:41) Once individuals have connected with the Lord, they become one in heart and mind. And in that desire towards Christ.. they hopefully move forward, until Christ comes among them.
Christ speaks of Himself as the “true vine” in John 15:1-6 to which we must connect if we are going to bear fruit.. None of us can bear fruit unless we are connected to the true vine. The vine is a genealogical term, it is a family of God term, it is a son of God term.
"Joseph received, in this first interview with the angel Moroni, an announcement about the first indications of the restoration of God's intent, to restore a holy family. God is telling us what He wants. He, God, wants to have upon the earth again His family. This is your dispensation, this is your time. You came down here with the intent of living and finding the things that will bring you back. This is your opportunity. Don't let some other group claim that it doesn't belong to you. These Scriptures are only going to be fulfilled when enough people awake and arise to realize that it is devolving upon you the obligation to find, to heed, to seek, to search, to pray, to obey and to form what is necessary in order to fulfill the promises and the covenants that were made to the fathers."
Lecture on "Be of Good Cheer, Be of Good Courage."
The only way we truly connect with others is through communication. A true Connection can not happen without communication between both parties, speaking with each other face to face.. without any digital device.
“We speak to each other in physical, analog ways. Our vocal chords vibrate. This initiates waves in the air, which are also physical. Those waves hit the eardrums of others, causing them to vibrate, which in turn creates tiny electrical signals that transport those vibrating patterns to the listener’s brains. In turn, the signals initiate neurons to zip around our brains, distilling the concept that the speaker wanted to convey. The key concept is that these are physical, mechanical phenomena. We don’t hear with our ears, we hear with our brains. Our wonderful ears are converter, they transform mechanical into electronic signals. So far as we know, these physical, mechanical waves that convey speech don’t work in space, where there is no atmosphere. So if two astronauts took off their helmets on the moon and tried to talk to each other, it wouldn’t work, because there is no air in which vibrations can be converted into waves. So they need to talk electronically, not mechanically.
This is a long way of saying that you should not expect God to speak to you by these physical waves that your ears collect. Rather, He dispatches the Holy Ghost, which is the Spirit of God to you, and His spirit can communicate to your spirit inside of you directly to your brain or your feelings- without going through mechanical-electrical conversions in your ears. A lot of people get confused because they try to hear God’s voice with their ears, and they don’t hear anything. Instead you need to listen inside your self. Sometimes you detect His voice as ideas, words, or sentences that just emerge inside your head as thoughts. More often you detect His message as a peaceful, warm feeling inside your heart. It is as if the Spirit of God went inside of you and gave your spirit a warm hug to say that “This is right”. The Power of Every day Missionaries by Clayton Christensen pg 96-97
I believe that on one level God speaks to us through the Holy Ghost, but I also believe He can and will speak to us face to face. It is that connection, that personal connection to the Living Vine, that we will need to have in order to survive the coming days.
At first glance, I thought this was an image of downtown Salt Lake City. However this is not Salt Lake, but the city of Philadelphia where the LDS Church is planning on building a 32 story residential building . The tower looks exactly like the one they built in City Creek Center where some of the condominiums were selling for over a million dollars.
Just to give you an idea on how tall the building will be.. the LDS Church Office Building is only 28 stories. This new building development will be 32 stories. Taller than any other building in Salt Lake.
Artist rendering of the Mormon meeting house and 32-story residential tower
The announcement that the Church plans to build this 32 story tower was printed in the Philadelphia news with the article titled, "Mormons to build 32-story tower near Center City."
"The Mormon Church plans to build a 32-story apartment tower and a public meetinghouse on a vacant lot next to the Vine Street Expressway, filling in a key piece of the no-man's-land that has long separated Center City and North Philadelphia's rebounding neighborhoods.
The private development by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints calls for 258 apartments, 13 townhouses, and retail shops at 16th and Vine Streets.
Tenants need not be Mormons to rent an apartment or townhouse in the development, officials said. They said the units would rent at market prices.
Wednesday's announcement is the next step in the church's commitment to invest in Philadelphia, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. Church officials said the development would complete their local building plans.
The total cost of the project is not yet known, church officials said.
We read in Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." One of the tactics that Satan has used from the very beginning to exercise control and dominion is to attempt to break the bonds of marriage between the husband and the wife. In the garden, Adam and Eve were both tempted by Satan. Once Eve was alone, away from Adam, Satan was able to beguile her. I have wondered if Adam and Eve were together when Satan tempted them that he would not have been successful. Instead of partaking of the fruit when tempted, they could have counseled with each other and waited for further instruction promised by the Lord. When the husband and wife are connected together with God and seek guidance from Him, then Satan is more likely to not have power over them.
Currently we are in a war. We are wrestling against the rulers of the darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places. Below is a 2 minute trailer of a movie documentary that will be coming out this Spring. The movie is called "Irreplaceable". I look forward to seeing it.
Marriage has been a hot topic lately on whether it is a right or privilege. In the 1828 dictionary, Marriage is defined as "The act of uniting a man and woman for life" or the "union of one man and one woman" Ultimately, this union is meant to be fruitful and result in children. Our society is now trying to redefine the word marriage. .
Here are a few thoughts on marriage and some advice that I wanted to share that I have heard. I thought since it is Valentines Day on Friday that this would be a good time to post this.
Marriage demands commitment, passion, humility, love, and respect. These traits are most evident in a person who has an intimate relationship with God. Communication in marriage is one of the main problems that can plague relationships. Communication is the foundation of every good relationship, especially marriage. In Colossians 4:6, the apostle Paul exhorts us, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Too often this exhortation is ignored in marriage relationships and a lot of hurtful things get said. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”
If emotions are overheating, give one another permission to take a timeout to cool off. Studies show that marriages that fight dirty with a lot of hurtful speech will erode over time and chip away at the relationship until there is nothing left. James tells us that though the tongue is a small member; it can kindle a great fire, and has in it the power of life and death. "Choose today, to tame your tongue, as a soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Prov 15:1). Determine to replace the harsh tongues in your marriage with words of graciousness that will bring life rather than death blows.
Forgiveness is foundational to every healthy relationship. We are an imperfect people and we hurt each other and let one another down regularly. Learning to forgive each other is crucial for preserving loving relationships. It's been said that these nine words can save your relationship, "I was wrong, I am sorry, please forgive me." Use them often as they have great power in maintaining closeness in relationships. Forgive early, don't allow a lot of time to go by, often the greater the time lapse the greater the damage done to the relationships. Jesus sets the bar in forgiveness, we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us and no we don’t deserve it. Jesus said, "if you do not forgive, neither will your father in heaven forgive you" (Matt 11:26). Choose to be one who forgives quickly and often, allowing God’s grace to prevail in your relationships!
The first step in re falling in love is to start paying attention again. Do you remember how much attention you paid your mate before they were married to you? The quickest way for you to put spark back into your marriage is for you to start affirming and appreciating and admiring again the strength of your spouse instead of focusing on their weaknesses. You know how affectionate you were during your courting days; it needs to be a part of your marriage each day. You had adventure when you were having romance. You've lost the adventure. Everything is predictable. Predictability kills in a marriage. All work and no play makes a dull marriage. The family that plays together stays together. Revelation 2:4-5 "You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen? Repent and do the things you did at first."
Sidenote: To the men out there.. a reminder that this Friday, February 14th, is Valentine's Day. Some of you probably know that St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of a Christian saint named Valentinus. There are many legends about Saint Valentine. One of the more popular legends of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians. The Roman Emperor Claudius II supposedly forbade his soldiers to marry in order to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. According to legend, in order "to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment", giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine's Day. (Frank Staff, The Valentine & Its Origins, 1969, Frederick A. Praeger)
I recently noticed that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the proud sponsors of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. In fact, the Church is not just a sponsor, but it is one of the Chairman Level Sponsors along with American Express, Wells Fargo and Intermountain Health Care. In addition to the LDS Church, the Deseret Management Corporation is also listed as a chairman sponsor. The Deseret Management Corp is the management and holding company for all of the "for-profit" businesses owned by the LDS Church. This Corporation was established by the President David O McKay to hold already existing church assets. The following subsidiaries of the LDS Deseret Management Company are:
Beneficial Financial Group (insurance, investment and retirement services)
Bonneville International Corp (television, radio stations, satellite company,)
Deseret Mutual (medical, dental, life and disability insurance)
Deseret News Publishing Company
Temple Square Hospitality, Lion House, and Joseph Smith Building
Large companies who have a financial interest in Utah pay to be part of the Salt Lake Chamber. Salt Lake Chamber is Utah’s largest business association with the slogan of “We stand as the voice of business, we support our members' success, and we champion community prosperity." In order to be one of the sponsors you need to donate at least $50,000.00+ annually. According to the website, here are a few of the benefits for being a Salt Lake Chamber Chairman Level Sponsors ( full list of benefits.)
Guaranteed spot in each Leadership Utah class
Special promotion to all Chamber events
Special promotion on printed Chamber Material
I didn't see any other religious organization listed as a chairman sponsor. In fact if someone saw the Catholic Church listed as one of the Chairman Sponsors of any business association, they might think it odd for the Church to use their member donations in such a way.
In the upcoming month of April, the week of General Conference, the 8th annual Utah Economic Summit will be held at the prestigious Grand America Hotel (Salt Lake City's only 5 star hotel). This yearly summit has become Utah’s premier event for advancing the states local and global economic position. The slogan for the summit is "Executing the Fundamentals of Economic Development for a Better Bottom Line." The Summit is designed to enhance Utah businesses across the local, national and global marketplace... to help increase companies profits in order to get a "better bottom line."
Here is the full page spread as it appears in the Deseret News.
All of the listed speakers at this event are LDS leaders. Governor Gary R. Herbert is the featured speaker. He was appointed to serve as governor after Jon Huntsman was appointed the United States Ambassador to China by President Barack Obama. The Keynote Speaker is Clayton Christensen, LDS author, an Area Authority 70, and professor at Harvard Business School. Additionally, Richard Marriott, Chairman of the Board of Host Hotels, will be a major speaker, son of JW Marriott who was also a Area Authority.
There seems to be a desire to expand Utah businesses to other areas of the world, including China. Many might think that this is the Lord's way of getting the missionary work into this country.
One of these companies who is expanding in China is Nu Skin. A year and half ago on September 21, 2012 it was reported that Utah-based Nu Skin Enterprises planned to triple the number of stores and sales support centers in China by 2017.
However, it was reported last week that Nu Skin along with the President and Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Financial Officer are been sued with a class action lawsuit because of failing to disclose “its fraudulent sales practices and non-compliance with Chinese laws and regulations,” (Ironically, Nu Skin's President and CEO is President Truman Hunt who is a Stake President for the LDS Church. Some might recognize his name in connection with a LDS author who has written a book about Church History.) It is reported that Truman Hunt certified the Company's materially false and misleading quarterly reports. There are three law firms hired for the lawsuit in the states of Utah, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Read more here: Deseret News Article
For some time, Nu Skin's China operations have been under attack by Citron Research. Citron said in early August that Nu Skin was operating in China as a multilevel marketer in which distributors earn commissions through recruiting new distributors, a business model that is illegal in that country.
As many know, Multi Level Marketing or Pyramid Schemes are great for those at the top, but the pits for hundreds of thousands beneath them, who become its victims.
Each of these men should be familiar with the question: "Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?" Local leaders such as Bishops and Stake Presidents ask this question in interviews to members seeking to enter the Temple. There should be no doubt in the members minds that these religious leaders can answer all the questions correctly. So it is somewhat puzzling to hear of prominent leaders being slapped with a class action lawsuit for being dishonest causing investors to lose billions and billions of dollars..
For those who not have attended the Temple in the last few weeks might not be aware that an entirely new movie with a completely new cast is now being shown. Six months ago, the LDS Church began using the first new film for temple instruction in 20 years. Sources have shared that in addition to these two new Temple movies, that a third movie that has also been filmed and edited. The release of the third movie has not be released , but my guess that it will be probably be later this year.
In a recent Deseret News article reports, “An additional temple film is now in use," said Cody Craynor, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "As with previous films, this second instructional presentation is rotated with the film released this past July to give variety.
The new film amplifies the different emotions and personality characteristics. While the first released movie focused on the cunning and more deceitful nature of one of the main actors in the film, this second film focuses on his joker and trickster characteristics.
I found this quote interesting in the Ecclestiastical History by Mosheim.
“There is no institution so pure and excellent which the corruption and folly of man will not in time alter for the worse. Many unnecessary rites and ceremonies were added to the Christian worship, the introduction of which was extremely offensive to wise and good men. These changes, while they destroyed the beautiful simplicity of the gospel, were naturally pleasing to the gross multitude, who are more delighted with the pomp and splendor of external institutions than with the native charms of rational and solid piety, and who generally give little attention to any objects but those which strike their outward senses." The church leaders of that day sought to give splendor and add to the rites and ceremonies and ordinances "by way of accommodation to the infirmities and prejudices of both Jews and heathen."
Mosheim, Ecclestiastical History, Century II, Part II, chapter 4.
Irony is characterized by an incongruity, or contrast, between what the expectations of a situation are and what is really the case.
Instead of reading the Book of Mormon as a warning to us of what we are doing wrong, we use the Book of Mormon as proof that we are right.. and the only true church. Instead of using the book as a prophetic blueprint of what not to do, we use it to hasten our efforts to proclaim the message that we are building Zion. Instead of admitting our mistakes and repenting, we follow along and maintain the status quo.
Our existence was designed for us that we might have joy, yet in this world we are seeing more and more sadness. A recent article in the LA Times reported that that Clinical depression is now the second-leading cause of global disability, according to new research, with the highest rates of incidence affecting working-age adults and women more than men. These depressive disorders were second only to lower respiratory infections. LINK
We see innocent life lost while the guilty live. Last week a family in our neighborhood were driving home when an intoxicated undocumented illegal immigrant hit their car and their 3 year old was tragically killed. The man who hit their car attempted to flee the scene, since he is un-insured and without legal documents to be in the country.
Those who have the role to protect life are the very ones who destroy life. Here in Utah over the past two weeks , a mother killed her two daughters and then killed herself. A Utah police officer killed his wife, his 7 year son and his 5 year old daughter, and his mother in law before killing himself.
We punish and cast out those who tell the truth and stand up for their convictions.
We desire to have love in harmony in our homes, yet we spend little time nourishing our family relationships. Instead we abuse, neglect and eventually separate causing heartache, despair, and pain to those we should love the most.
We are taught the importance of seeking out receiving Christ in the flesh in the Book of Mormon, yet we don't believe those who testify of Christ, who have seen Him in the flesh and instead we label them as deceivers, Anti-Christs, and apostates.
The list could go on. In his final words before passing the records to his brother Jacob, Nephi teaches the doctrine of Christ, “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. And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.” 2 Nephi 32: 5-7