Monday, May 25, 2015

Bulgarian Rose

Yesterday was a very interesting day of sorts.  I had a busy day planned, but things fell into place in ways I wasn't expecting.

A sweet friend brought me a very exquisite gift.  I don't know that I can convey how much it means to me.  She served a church mission in Bulgaria, and later married a man from there, and he joined her in the States.  When she came to visit me yesterday, she brought me a small vial of Bulgarian Rose oil, held in a Bulgarian Muskal.

There is a lot of grey area in the world of essential oils, and Rose is one where when distilled, it creates what is called an "absolute".  I'm really not much of an expert in this area, however I understand minimal basics.  This little gift says it is Rose Oil, meaning that it is the absolute, added to a carrier oil, and it is a .3% dilution, meaning there is very little of the absolute in it, however regardless, it still smells exquisite and has a divine vibration.  To purchase a vial of 100% absolute is very expensive.  doTERRA values a 5 mL bottle of their Bulgarian Rose Absolute at over $375.  However they don't sell it; they offer it typically once a year (although this year they did not), and to obtain it, one must enroll between 7 new members with an order of at least $100.  I am not keen on pushing sales, so I have never earned it.  However my friend bringing me this Muskal with Rose Oil in it is more valuable to me than had I done the work to earn doTERRA's version, because there is friendship attached to it.  It is a true, heartfelt gift, which words cannot describe.

Rose is well known for being one, if not the highest vibrating oil (absolute) on the planet.  It represents Divine Love, and helps one connect in feeling that Diving Love.  (See Emotions & Essential Oils for more info.)  Tonight I used it as inspired, to help rid my soul of a dangerous implant from a nefarious source, and the felt the Savior cleanse my body with it.  It was anointed oil.

Oils are such a precious gift.  My friend likely had no idea of the significance this gift would hold for me, but she played a very instrumental part in real Christ-centered healing.  Thank you friend.  Thank you Jesus.  What precious gifts You bestow.  <3 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Living Prophets and Dead Prophets

Last evening my dad asked if he could ask me a question.  "Of course," I said.  He asked me if I had to choose between following a living prophet or a dead prophet, which would I choose.  Well, this is a trick question, because the assumption is that one might disagree with another, but the truth is, if they are both true prophets, their message will coincide with one another.  True prophets do not contradict one another.  If they did, one would be out of the way, and creating a God which is changeable.  God is not a changeable God.

This morning I was studying a bit in Isaiah 9.  Nephi also quotes these verses, and his quotation of Isaiah can be found in 2 Nephi 19.  Often I used to wonder why in the world Nephi took the time to copy so much of Isaiah, if he saw our day and knew we would have a copy of the Bible, which contained almost entirely the exact same language.  Did he include this because he thought the Bible might be mistranslated?

I think that question is highly unlikely.  The best answer I have seen was in Denver Snuffer's Nephi's Isaiah.  Isaiah is quoted in all of the standard works.  He is quoted in the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price.  Christ quotes him during his ministry.  Joseph quotes him often, using his words to describe our current condition in ways that would cause persecution if he were to speak outright.  Why does Nephi quote him?

It is likely that Nephi was shown many of the things that other revelators were shown.  Rather than rewriting or adding to scripture,  he quotes Isaiah, and attempts to show us how Isaiah's words are applicable to our day.  It's often difficult to process and understand how Isaiah's words apply to us, however if you focus on what you can understand rather than what you can't, there are some rich gems.  With prayer and inquisition of the Lord, I feel we can find much greater understanding.

Isaiah 9 contains several verses which were utilized in Handel's Messiah.  Every time I've read these verses in 2 Nephi 19, I end up not even really processing the words, but I sing the song in my head.  Even then, I don't really think much about them.  What caught my attention today began in verse 13.
13  For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.
14  Therefore the Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
15  The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
16  For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
17  Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
I don't think it will make anyone happy to suggest that Nephi is quoting Isaiah here, knowing that in large measure, the only ones reading this message will be Mormons.  It will be us.  So let's examine it.

Who are the people he references?  

Who are the "ancient and honourable"?

Who are the "leaders of this people"?

Why shall the Lord have no joy in their young men?

Why she he have no mercy for the fatherless and widows?

Why might we be hypocrites or evildoers?  What is our sin?

The part about every mouth speaking folly reminds me of a message I heard this weekend, from a woman receiving prophecy.  (Her name is Mena Lee Grebin.)  She was commanded to share several of the visions and dreams she had.  Some of which even included a "Thus saith the Lord".  I invite all readers to listen to her message, and ask God if it is true or false.  There ought to be no fear to ask God, as he promises us through James that he upbraideth not to those who ask with sincere hearts.  Either way, her message repeats Isaiah, Nephi, Joseph, and many other prophets, who remind us of those who draw near to the Lord with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him.

Anyways, verse 18 continues to warn of the upcoming calamities.  I'll include them below without comment.

18  For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Other Words

In Alma 32, Alma is talking to the poor of the Zoramites.  He addresses their humility, and willingness to learn.

In many discussions on this chapter, verse 16 is the highlight, and we learn it is better to not need to be compelled to be humble.  We ought to humble ourselves willingly.  But there's more to the verse which is noteworthy.

Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
"In other words."  Alma gives us a way to understand what will make us blessed, or another way to interpret what humility IS.  I often think that humility is removal of pride, and bringing oneself low to the dust.  Another way to look at it is believing IN the word of God.  I suppose that's a bit more than just believing the word to be true, but also believing enough such that ones life is truly in harmony with the word.  Taking upon oneself baptism without having to know all the details.  Or being forced to know.  But simply being willing to walk into pure, living water, be cleansed, and come out refined.  Yea, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.   

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ammon's Flattery

27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.

 28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
 29 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them tobelieve in my words.
 30 And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
 31 And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us. - Alma 17:27-31
Last night when reading with my kids, the highlighted words stuck out off the pages for me.  Ammon was a righteous servant, and protected the king's flocks.  When it came time to win over the hearts of the Lamanite servants whom he was with, he flattered them by his words.

Typically I think of the word "flattery" as meaning that one is complimenting another person, almost to excess.  Google defines it as "excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one's own interests."  

Ammon was on the Lord's errand, essentially telling them to not fear, that he's got this.  Essentially, he gave the Lamanites a pep talk here.  He knew his father, King Mosiah, had the promise that God would not let him be harmed while he was away.  He knew he wouldn't fail in what was ahead.  But why did Mormon use the word flattery here, when on many occasions in the Book of Mormon, flattery is a derogatory term, associated with ulterior motives and associated with pride? 

Are we flattering others, when we encourage them in the various challenges of their lives?  When we give pep talks?  Is there anything derogatory there?  

I know it's far stretch I'm making here.  But just something that made me stop and wonder.  Does this have any connection with Jesus telling his disciples not to call him "good"?  (Matt. 19:17)  Certainly interesting food for thought, especially when pride is an overt message of the Book of Mormon.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Art of Misdirection

I found this video to illustrate a really interesting concept.  Unfortunately Blogger won't allow me to embed it, so click here to watch.

The video is called The Art of Misdirection.  The presenter illustrated how complicated it is for the mind to focus on two things at once, and how by necessity it can only focus on one, no matter how hard one tries.

The concept is highly applicable in many facets of our life.  In many respects, I find it highly applicable to the themes discussed on this blog.  Be sure to check it out.  You'll probably never look at someone's watch the same again.  A few questions to explore:

  • What does our government do to cause distraction?  How many big pieces of legislation are passed while the country is largely distracted?
  • What do churches to do cause distraction?  Anything at all?
  • What do individuals do, to remain in a state of distraction?  What are we avoiding, by not focusing on pressing issues?  
  • Is it possible to spend a whole lifetime distracted, and miss the whole point of being here?  
Would love to hear any insights in the comments, if you have any. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mosiah's Sons and The Second Comforter

In the book, The Second Comforter, Denver Snuffer lays out the difference and need to seek the face of Jesus Christ, personally.  A additional reference has been jumping off the pages at me for the last several days, held in the Book of Mormon.

As the sons of Mosiah were leaving their father and the land of Zarahemla, they are described as taking their "numbers", their bows, arrows, etc. to obtain food as they journeyed towards the Lamanites to preach.  It is assumed that by now they have experienced baptism of water, and of fire, and received the conferral of the Holy Ghost in some form or ordinance.  I cannot imagine them attempting to go preach to a wild and ferocious people without having received such.

Alma 17:9 describes how they fast and pray much that the Lord would give them a "portion of HIS Spirit to go with them, and ABIDE with them".  In verse 10, it says that "the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted.  And they were comforted."

They are receiving Christ through the veil.

This is before Christ was born upon the earth, receiving his mortal or immortal tabernacle.  To have HIS Spirit come and abide with them is also known as "The Second Comforter", which is again promised later by Christ in St. John 14:23, and explained further in D&C 130:3.  Although worded slightly different, there is another reference I recently stumbled across in Moses 5:10, relating to Adam's experience.  "...And again in the flesh I shall see God."

It is to be accomplished in this life, if possible.  The invitation is for now, not just when we die.  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Random Thoughts on Moroni, the Captain

Just a few thoughts about Moroni, the Captain in Alma.

  • He knew and understood the hearts of his enemies.
  • He anticipated the thoughts and intents of their hearts and minds.
  • He prepared to oppose their evil designs.
  • He went above and beyond in preparing for more than the worst he imagined they could inflict upon him.
  • He trusted not in the arm of the flesh.  
  • He was humble enough to seek council with other inspired men, including other Chief Captains.
  • He spread his resources.
  • He was fearless in speaking truth.
  • He understood balance in all things.
  • He was not ignorant to the temporal needs of his men, women and children.
  • He was not haughty or puffed up, despite leading thousands and thousands of men.  If he was, it was not such that those who compiled records, who were prone to observe pride, took any note of it. 
  • He prepared well in advance, sufficient enough to build walls of dirt, walls of timbers (which surely involved cutting down timbers), walls of spears and watchtowers. 
  • He must have had adequate skill, either in defensive war, or in delegation, to sufficiently support training of men to utilize his defensive barriers.  
Yes, he was mortal, and surely had imperfections.  But "if all men had been... and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.  Behold he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God." (Alma 48:17-18)

"Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain.  I seek not for power, but to pull it down.  I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country.  And thus I close mine epistle." – Alma 60:36

Monday, April 6, 2015

Aminadi and the Writing on the Temple Wall

"I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was the same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God."- Alma 10:2
These are the first words of Amulek to the people he was addressing.  He introduces himself, mentioning his forefathers.  We don't have their record contained in the Book of Mormon thus far.  This is all we have to date.  So...

Abraham + Sarah
Isaac + Rebekah
Jacob + Rachel
Joseph + wife
Manasseh + wife
undetermined amount of generations
Lehi + Sariah
Nephi + wife
undetermined amount of generations
Aminadi + wife
undetermined amount of generations
Ishmael + wife
Giddonah + wife
Amulek + wife

 In one line in the Book of Mormon, we have allusion to a story that involves God writing with his finger, on the wall of the Nephite temple.  What all happened there?  I'll make a few assumptions.  

It appears that those who might have interpreted the writing on the wall of the temple were not able to.  Perhaps they were kings or priests.  Why did God need to write a message on the wall of the temple?  Were people not willing to listen to his words through other means?  Why something so drastic?  Were they in a state of apostasy, and only something which could not be erased would be heard?  Or maybe was this just to liven up the history books, so Amulek had some fun family history to pass on to his children?  

And what of the Nephite temples?  Did they require a recommend to attend?  Must one be of the tribe of Levi to officiate?  Must one be worthy to enter the Nephite temple?  Must one have been of a given age to attend?  Were their rites and ceremonies the same as ours today, or were they more like those of the Jewish customs?  Were women permitted to enter?  To officiate?  Was there anything required to prove worthy to be admitted?  

Who was Aminadi, that he is mentioned by name as being someone so peculiar as to be the one to interpret this writing?  Did he use any special tools to interpret it?  Was it just a gift, that he could read these writings?  Did people believe him?  Did he get persecuted for his abilities or for his actions?  Did he have to go into meditation, or a trance, to interpret it?  Or could he read it like you're reading my writings here?  Did the people believe his interpretation?  Did it cause them to repent?  Or did they largely ignore it?  Or perhaps believe, only to fall into a state of ambivalence after awhile? 

Was Aminadi anyone of importance?  Was he a Nephite king?  Or a Nephite priest, working in the temple?  Or just a temple observer?  Was he worthy to attend the temple?  Who was he?  Was he wealthy or poor?  

We learn in verse 5 that Amulek knew of the "mysteries and marvelous power" of the Lord, but he "did harden [his] heart, for [he] was called many times and [he] would not hear; therefore [he] knew concerning these things, yet [he] would not know" (vs.6).  

This story fascinates me.  Tucked inside just 6 verses, we learn about this mysterious story, and the response of Aminadi's descendant, Amulek.  Could Amulek be much like us?  Largely asleep to the history of our fathers?  Perhaps there were just a few generations in between this grandfather and his grandson.  Let's say 3-4 generations.  It was long enough to get to the point where for much of his life, it appears that Amulek just didn't really care to explore such things.  He was aware it had happened, but it probably was too out of the norm to examine.  In fact, it was so out of the norm, that the people where Amulek lived, in Ammonihah, found his restoring of a similar or even the same message to be so objectionable as to kill those who believed it just a few chapters later.  Death by fire, actually.  

I find the similarities uncanny.  It has been 3-4 generations since we had Joseph Smith.  His descendants of 3-4 generations have all passed on, with the passing of Eldred Smith a little while back.  When I speak of Joseph's teachings to those around me, the typical response is that we do not need dead prophets anymore, as we have living ones.  Because of this, it is easy to ignore the revelations and mysteries that Joseph restored.  I suppose this is fine, as long as the living ones are not as blind as the people of Ammonihah.  I hesitate to wonder if we are. 

The idea that God will not allow men to be led astray does not match up to this scripture.  It actually appears to be quite the opposite, if my assumptions are remotely correct.  God will not force anyone to listen to his words, nor to read the writing on the wall.  It's up to each one if they will harden their heart and ears or soften them.