Tuesday, October 28, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Another interesting sidenote change:

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014


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


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

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

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

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

Are Mormon’s Christian?

Becoming Like God

First Vision Accounts

Race and the Priesthood

Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Peace and Violence among 19th –Century Latter-day Saints

Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham

Book of Mormon and DNA Studies

Book of Mormon Translation

Temple Garments

The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage

Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo

Sidenote:  Too much transparency?

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2014


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

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

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

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

You can apply to get your tickets HERE

Friday, October 17, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Monday, October 13, 2014


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

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

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

Spectrum of Color prior to the sunrise

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

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


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

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

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

Following our leaders, following the brethren, following the prophet is not scriptural. Instead we read in the scriptures where we only should have trust in the Lord and not man. Nephi exclaims, "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." 2 Nephi 4:34.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 3, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, October 2, 2014


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

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