Thursday, December 24, 2020

Waiting for Santa? or Celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus? or....

 Waiting for Santa? or Celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus? or better yet, Worshipping Christ the Lord? 

Today is Christmas Eve. It falls between two birthdays that we observe this week. Joseph Smith was born yesterday and we traditionally celebrate Christ's birthday tomorrow. I think Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. A day of excitement, hope and anticipation. A day that we read from the scriptures about the birth of our Savior. I wanted to share two things today. First a short essay written by my wife's relative and a short video entitled, The Shepherd. May we all fall on our knees to worship him, not because we were compelled to by catastrophe, but because we love Him. 

Three Levels of Christmas

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. We love the excitement, the giving spirit, the special awareness of and appreciation for family and friends, the feelings of love and brotherhood that bless our gatherings at Christmastime.

In all of the joyousness it is well to reflect that Christmas comes at three levels.

Let’s call the first the Santa Claus level. It’s the level of Christmas trees and holly, of whispered secrets and colorful packages, of candlelight and rich food and warm open houses. It’s carolers in the shopping malls, excited children, and weary but loving parents. It’s a lovely time of special warmth and caring and giving. It’s the level at which we eat too much and spend too much and do too much – and enjoy every minute of it. We love the Santa Claus level of Christmas.

But there’s a higher, more beautiful level. Let’s call it the Silent Night level. It’s the level of all our glorious Christmas carols, of that beloved, familiar story: “Now in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus….” It’s the level of the crowded inn and the silent, holy moment in a dark stable when the Son of Man came to earth. It’s the shepherds on steep, bare hills near Bethlehem, angels with their glad tidings, the new star in the East, wise men traveling far in search of the Holy One. How beautiful and meaningful it is; how infinitely poorer we would be without this sacred second level of Christmas.

The trouble is, these two levels don’t last. They can’t. Twelve days of Christmas, at the first level, is about all most of us can stand. It’s too intense, too extravagant. The tree dies out and needles fall. The candles burn down. The beautiful wrappings go out with the trash, the carolers are up on the ski slopes, the toys break, and the biggest day in the stores for the entire year is exchange day, December 26th. The feast is over and the dieting begins. But the lonely and the hungry are with us still, perhaps lonelier and hungrier than before.

Lovely and joyous as the first level of Christmas is, there will come day, very soon, when Mother will put away the decorations and vacuum the living room and think, “Thank goodness that this over for another year.”

Even the second level, the level of the Baby Jesus, can’t last. How many times this season can you sing, “Silent Night?” The angels and the star, and the shepherd, even the silent, sacred mystery of the holy night itself, can’t long satisfy humanity’s basic need. The man who keeps Christ in the manger will, in the end, be disappointed and empty.

No, for Christmas to last all year long, for it to grow in beauty and meaning and purpose, for it to have the power to change lives, we must celebrate it at the third level, that of the adult Christ. It is at this level—not as an infant—that our Savior brings his gifts of lasting joy, lasting peace, lasting hope. It was the adult Christ who reached out and touched the untouchable, who loved the unlovable, who so loved us all that even in his agony on the cross, he prayed forgiveness for his enemies.

This is Christ, creator of worlds without number, who wept because so many of us lack affection and hate each other – and then who willingly gave his life for all of us, including those for whom he wept. This is the Christ, the adult Christ, who gave us the perfect example, and asked us to follow him.

Accepting that invitation is the way – the only way – that all mankind can celebrate Christmas all year and all life long.

by William B. Smart,  Messages for a Happier Life, (Deseret Book, 1989), 33-34.

 The Shepherd | The Chosen


Monday, December 21, 2020

The Great Conjunction: Signs in the Heavens on the Winter Solstice 2020

Here are a few photos taken this evening with my family on Antelope Island, on the certified International Dark Sky parks.  One of the best place to observe the Lights in the Firmament. The sun, moon and stars(and planets) were meant to be first for signs, then for seasons, and then for days/years. We read in Genesis 1:14

"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days, and years"

The Great Conjunction occured tonight on the Winter Solstice. This alignment falls almost directly between the two Total Solar Eclipses that will crisscross over America. These signs in the heavens form an interesting chiasm. 

August 21, 2017 Total solar eclipse.

          approximately 3 ½ years (1218 days)

               December 21, 2020 Great Conjunction

          approximately 3 ½ years (1204 days)

April 8, 2024 Total solar eclipse.

We have examples in the Book of Mormon that many of the people began to disbelieve in the signs in the heavens. Maybe because they didn't know the meaning. They became less and less astonished.  We read in 3 Nephi 2:1-2

“and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from Heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen,”
Christ prophesied in Luke 21:25 that in the last days there shall be signs in the heavens. 

"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars;"

A sign in the heaven is what is visible to our eyes without a telescope while standing on the earth and gazing into the heavens. It is meant to be seen by us. The Total Solar Eclipses, Blood Moons, Great Conjunctions that that haven't been seen for hundreds and hundreds of years. So is there any special meaning to all of these unusual signs in the heavens?  Is God trying to tell us something? Are we hearing Him? 

A few more photos from Antelope Island tonight. It was a beautiful, peaceful night to not only observe the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn but also the Winter Solstice. 

 "and let them be for signs and for seasons"

Interesting as we were driving out there was an "alignment" of birds flying across the sunset

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The COVID vaccine — a modern-day seagull miracle?

Received this in our ward newsletter today:

"After hearing so many medical experts marvel at how rapidly the COVID vaccine was developed and how effective the testing has been, I have commented several times that this was all obviously an outcome of Pres. Nelson’s April 2020 call for prayer and fasting for the Lord to help us overcome the pandemic.

The writer of this letter goes a step further in likening the miracle of the seagulls saving the early Pioneers in Utah with the vaccine saving the lives of so many in our time."

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I think one of the most beloved stories we tell is the miracle of the seagulls. The beleaguered Saints arrived to Utah in July of 1847. The lateness of the season and the parched earth of the Utah desert made for a scant harvest in the fall of 1847. The winter of 1848 was brutal. Food and hope were both scarce commodities. The potential crop of 1848 was the only thing keeping the Saints alive, physically, mentally and emotionally.

When an infestation of crickets threatened the crops, it must have felt to many like God had abandoned them. After much prayer, thousands of seagulls from the Great Salt Lake descended on the crickets, and for two weeks the seagulls ate the crickets consistently. The crops survived, saving the Saints. Many said it was a miraculous answer to their prayers.

I believe in miracles. I believe as we turn our hearts to God and unite our faith we see His hand. It’s not so much that we can change His will or awaken Him from a slumber and now draw His attention to His desperate children. More so I believe miracles are when we tune our hearts to seeing that which God was eager to do for us from the beginning.

In April 2020, President Russell M. Nelson, current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked not only members of his faith, but also the world, to join in fasting for a cure for COVID-19. I think today we are seeing the beginning of another seagull-like miracle. I see how quickly this vaccine has been developed, approved and ready to be distributed as a miracle, a direct consequence of those who united their faith. Like the seagulls, this vaccine brings with it hope. This is the miracle we have been praying for. This is the seagulls of our time.


I don't even know what to say after reading  something like that. I see things so much differently. Maybe the miracle might be the pandemic itself, which I view was a call for us to repent.  And as for the "modern-day seagull miracle.. maybe the miracle was the crickets themselves which the pioneers could have eaten for amazing protein, like the Indians in the area did. This story that was published in today's Deseret News is a highly exaggerated claim, not only about the perpetuating the Seagull myth but this claim about the President Nelson and the vaccine. 


The seagull-cricket miracle has been exaggerated through the years. First, ornithologists don’t regard the arrival of seagulls as particularly unusual because the seagulls around the Great Salt Lake often eat insects in the adjacent valleys. Also, some historians don’t believe that the gulls were as widespread or as effective against the insects as is often supposed. Many pioneer journals recount the frosts and the insects, but no seagulls.

Chapter 8 of “New Mormon History” is titled: “Mormons, Crickets, and Gulls: a New Look at an Old Story” by William G. Hartley.

In this heavily referenced essay, Hartley (a BYU professor of history and church history) makes the following points:

1) The gulls were not strangers to the valley. They are natural enemies to various insects including crickets.

2) Gulls habitually regurgitate the indigestible parts of insects they have swallowed.

3) Gulls did not arrive until after severe cricket damage had already occurred in 1848.

4) In 1848, Mormon crops were seriously damaged by three enemies–frost, crickets, and drought. The Gulls dealt with only one problem and too late at that.

5) The “miraculousness” of the event was not clearly recognized by contemporaries (including newspapers, diaries, and official church correspondence).

6) Since 1848, gulls frequently have been on the wing to feast on crickets and other insects, making the 1848 encounter hardly unique.

7) Like other popular accounts of important and unusual historical events, over the years the details of the 1848 crickets and gulls have been oversimplified, improved upon, and been given somewhat legendary characteristics.


and before anyone rushes out to get the "miracle" vaccine, please educate yourself.

FDA reveals long list of serious health conditions that may result from covid-19 vaccinations, including death

Behind closed doors, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has discussed a long list of serious health problems that will be caused by new covid-19 injections. These “adverse events” are not publicized because vaccine companies and their media cohorts need everyone to believe that the vaccines are “safe and effective.”

FDA reports 22 serious health issues caused by covid-19 vaccination

These health issues include transverse myelitis, a serious nervous system disorder. The vaccine can cause the immune system to attack its own cells, interrupting the messages that the spinal cord nerves send throughout the body. This issue is similar to paralytic polio infections and can cause pain, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory problems, or bladder and bowel dysfunction. The condition requires extensive rehabilitation and some people are left with major disabilities. This list includes other autoimmune diseases that may arise, along with arthritis and joint pain. One of the most troubling autoimmune diseases that could occur is acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a condition marked by sudden, widespread inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

The FDA also warns of potential for negative pregnancy and birth outcomes. The vaccine is designed to attack coronavirus spike proteins transcribed by the vaccine’s messenger RNA, but these spike proteins contain syncytin-1, a protein created by endogenous retroviruses for placenta development in humans. After covid-19 vaccination, an individual’s immune cells will be trained to attack syncytin-1, leading to potential miscarriages, birth defects and infertility.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Deleting and reposting a few posts that were getting thousands of spam comments. Blog post numbers: 96, 146, 151, 224

I am deleting and then reposting them in a new post because my blog got hacked I was getting thousand of spam comments on these blogpost. 


Once upon a time, there was a city where the people became so busy that they oftentimes didn't have time to prepare their food. They preferred to "eat out" instead of cooking for themselves, which gave them more time to accomplish the things they wanted. Over time, these city dwellers actually forgot the basics of cooking and became dependent on the restaurants to cook for them. The restaurant owners liked this, since they began to profit from the people not knowing how to cook. Over the years, there began to be alot of different types of restaurants popping up all over the city. While the menu varied from one eating establishment to another, they all shared one thing in common... all of the food lacked flavor. Despite all serving bland food, each restaurant owner claimed and boasted they served the best food. They wanted more patronage in to secure financial stability since there was so much competition between the restaurants.

One day a young and upcoming man who loved food, desired to find which restaurant actually served the best food. He was determined to find out. He concluded after eating at all of the restaurants, that while the food was prepared differently and called different things on the menu .. all of the food tasted about the same. It was lacking flavor and never satisfied him.

This young man remembered reading in the town's history book about a very old man who lived far outside the city limits who used to teach people how to cook. Back in the day, the old man was considered the finest teacher in the culinary arts. But over time, people lost interest in taking cooking lessons. This old man even established his own restaurant at one time. But, since his restaurant was not conveniently located and his patrons needed to patiently wait for their food to be prepared, people stopped coming to eat at his restaurant.

This young man searched out this old man. He went out alone and found this old man's house and knocked on his door. The old man was still alive and at home. The young man told the old man of his desire of wanting to find the best food. The question was asked and an answer was given.

The old man said that all of today's chefs lacked the proper ingredients needed to make the food taste good. Not only did they cooks lack the ingredients, but the current food they served would make the people sick over time since it not only lacked flavor but also the important nutrients needed to sustain life.

The old man offered to teach the young man how to find, prepare, and then cook food which would be not only delicious for the young man to eat, but the importance of sharing this knowledge with others. The young man accepted the offered and embarked on this new journey. Many years of training was required for this young man to become a culinary specialist. The old man entrusted in the young man to impart old family recipes of some dishes and food never before tasted for many generations.

Word got around in the city that this young man was taking cooking lessons. He was mocked by most, but those who ate his food, knew this man truly was not only a great cook, but a baker, and a master chef. This man eventually set up his own restaurant, serving food that no one in the city had ever tasted before. The other restaurant owners despised this new restaurant opening. Unfortunately, this amazing chef and restaurant owner was killed tragically way before his time.

With the tragic loss of the founder, the restaurant was of need of leadership to replace the beloved cook, baker and chef and founder of the restaurant. A powerful entrepreneur volunteered himself to take on the role even though he knew only how to cook a little, he was never considered a chef or a baker. He would be known as the new President of the Restaurant.. Fortunately, many of recipes remained in the hands of who helped run the restaurant. Little by little as word continued to spread of the flavorable food being served at this restaurant, more and more people became regulars.

As the years passed, more and more talented and successful leaders were hired to help run the restaurant. It was not a requirement for these managers to be a chef, or a baker.. or even a cook. Due to some public relations problems with the staff and patrons, the current owner of the restaurant felt it best that those coming into the restaurant address him with the same titles that were reserved only to the Founder of the restaurant. So he was no longer just referred to as the President of the Restaurant but also as the Cook, Baker and Chef. The upper management also wanted to be referred to as cooks, bakers, and chefs as well. With the added titles, they received the respect from their employees and the patrons. They could do no wrong.

Some of the old recipes began to change depending of suggestions made by those who ate at the restaurants. Polls were conducted on how best to adapt to the tastes of the people. From the results from the surveys, the management thought it best that some of items on the menu were removed. Some recipes of the entree's were altered. People seemed to be happy with the changes without realizing that the food was beginning to start to taste just like all of the other restaurants in the city.

People who loved to eat at this restaurant started to become concerned that the food was beginning to lose it's flavor. They began to find out about the old recipes and how over time they had changed. They no longer wanted to be dependent on a restaurant cooking their food for them, but wanted to learn to cook for themselves with the right ingredients. They searched out to find the old man who lived outside the city. They went out and knocked on his door of the old man's house that still was standing. They had the faith that He would be on the other side to open the door and teach them how to cook once again.


In Abraham's day, the world was in a desperate state, ripe for destruction. And Abraham's own society was the wickedest. Included were the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the most depraved society in all the universe: (Moses 7:36).

With all the world going in one direction, Abraham steadily pursues his course in the opposite. When all the inhabitants of the earth had been led astray in their own pride and self-sufficiency, Abraham still believed on the Lord, who then made a covenant with him. Abraham received his covenant only after he had made the first move. Speaking of him, "the prophetic spirit rests upon man only when he has first bestirred himself to receive it." Again, "the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is no stirring above till there is a stirring below."

It was Abraham's unique merit that he loved righteousness in a hard-hearted and wicked generation, without waiting for others to show him the way.

A wonderful illustration of this principle is set forth in the newly found 1831—32 account of Joseph Smith's first vision, in which he recounts how for three years he sought diligently for something that apparently interested nobody else, and finally "I cried unto the Lord for mercy, for there was none else to whom I could go . . . and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness." This was exactly the case with the young Abraham, who at an early age angered his father by questioning all the values and beliefs of his society.

So he did the only thing he could do and, exactly like Joseph Smith, appealed directly to God at an early age—it was he who made the first move, according to Abraham 2:12: "Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee."

In short, he wants happiness, peace, rest, righteousness, knowledge, and light, and he wants to be able to hand them on to others—to his own progeny and to the world. The world is not interested in such things, but Abraham was willing to pay any price for them.

In theses most inhospitable of worlds, Abraham was the most hospitable of men. It was said that charity was asleep in the world, and Abraham awakened it.

excerpts from Hugh Nibley's "Abraham in Egpyt"



At the end of a busy and tiring week, I was cleaning up the clutter of toys scattered on our floor. With hands full, I tripped over a 10 pound dumbbell. The impact to my toe was so great, that I fell to the floor in extreme pain. My wife came running into the room. We carefully removed my sock to see that my toe was badly bleeding and my entire toenail had been ripped off, just barely still attached. My wife gently removed the rest of the nail and then comforted me. The exposed new skin that used to be under the hard protective shell of the nail was now cut, bare, raw and bleeding. My wife calmly washed and cleaned the blood, and then anointed my toe with healing oil. By adminstering constant care, we patiently await until the new nail begins to grow.



When a particular movement of the body is repeated over and over again, a long-term muscle memory is created for that action, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This is called muscle memory. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, dialing a phone number, typing in a PIN number, shooting free throws, or playing a musical instrument.

Somewhat related, when a lie is repeated over and over again, it becomes true in our minds. Living in this fallen world, all of us have been exposed to lies and believe misinformation which we hear over and over again. Even though the repeated information is false, we believe it must be true, especially if this information is told by someone we trust. Mainstream news, advertising, propaganda, correlationists, and public relations professionals all understand this principle and use it to their advantage.

I want to share a brief analogy. For a few years now, we have been teaching our kids how to play the piano. Before they learn to play a new song, we place the original sheet music in front of them that was written by the original composer. We will then play the music for them so that they hear how the song was intended to be played by the person who wrote the song. We usually go over the music, note by note, to make sure they are familiar with the notes so they are able to practice the song on their own. Our kids practice the song by themselves during the week and then on Saturday morning we sit down for their lesson and see how their progress is coming along. I have found that if our child played the wrong note repeatedly throughout the week, thinking they are playing the right note, they developed an errant "muscle memory" that is very difficult for them to break.

When first played, the wrong note will sound incorrect but when that note is played over and over again, it begins to sound correct in their ears. Sometimes the wrong note actually might sound better to them. So despite having the original music in front of them, and having heard what it should sound like, they begin to play a different variation of the song. In their mind they are playing it correctly and/or they prefer the new notes. Even after you correct them, they will often times lapse back into playing the wrong note. Often times our kids get mad when we correct them. Likewise, it is tiresome and difficult for us as parents to repeatedly correct them. But because we love them, we will continue to correct them.

Botton line, if you choose to play the song with deleted notes, added notes, or incorrect notes, the song takes on a different tune and is no longer what the composer had in mind.

I use that analogy as an introduction to posting about the LDS Church newly released official statement/essay entitled RACE AND THE PRIESTHOOD. Much has been written about it on the internet. I don't mean to add to the chatter, but wanted those who might not be aware for the reasons behind the release. Here is a local news report about one of the possible reasons behind the releasing of this very controversial subject. NEWS REPORT
According to this news report, we can look forward to additional releases on other controversial and/or doctrine issues that will be addressed by the LDS Church. Hopefully all of us will be prayerful to decide for ourselves if these releases are scripturally, and doctrinally correct and not just politically correct.