Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Transparency

Time has been so short of late.  So much ruckus going on in the world; so many things to consider.  So much in the news and so much in the scriptures.  As I watched the tail end of the Presidential Debate last night between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I realized how easy it is to be confused by the news, and therefore the truth of which way is up and which way is down.  Good is so often called evil, and evil called good.  One thing that cannot be adulterated, however, are the heavens.

Untouchable, immovable by the finger of man, the stars, moon, and sun cannot be changed to our liking.  We cannot adulterate them, their positioning, or their rotation.  The Lord has said that the lights in the firmament are to be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14).  So what have we of signs of late?  Of seasons?

Last week marked the turning of the autumnal equinox.  It was fun because at our home we studied this "corner of the earth" during science class with my new homeschooler.  Neither of us could say "autumnal equinox" very well without getting tongue tied.  I was grateful that our little nature science book called it to attention, because otherwise I might not have given it much thought.

Joseph was visited by the angel called Nephi (in my opinion, despite the bulk of the LDSs believing it is Moroni) on the night of September 21, 1823.  I will summarize the key points of the message Joseph was given, however I acknowledge this will not do the message justice.  So I am simply highlighting for brevity.  This can be found in the Joseph Smith History 1: 30-54.

  • Joseph's name would be had for good and evil throughout the world.
  • There was a book deposited written on gold plates, giving the account of those who lived on THIS continent, and contained the fulness of the Everlasting Gospel as delivered by Christ to these people. 
  • There was also something called the Urim and Thummim deposited with the plates, which were "seers" used for translating the book. 
  • He quoted Malachi 3 and 4, and cited some critical points differently than in the King James Version.  (Another post on that...)
  • He quoted Isaiah 11, saying it was about to be fulfilled. 
  • He quoted Acts 3: 22-23 exactly as the KJV.  Declared that prophet was Christ. 
  • He quoted Joel 2:28-end.  Said it was not yet fulfilled but would soon be. 
  • Said the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in.  
  • He quoted many other passages of scripture, explaining much. 
  • He gave instructions regarding the plates. 
If that isn't a download of vast information I don't know what is.  But after leaving, again Nephi returned again, and again, and again.  

During the second visit he added a warning of great judgments coming to the earth.  

During the third visit the previous was recited, with an addition that Satan would try to tempt him to use the plates for growing in wealth.  He was warned to not use them for any other motive than building his (God's) kingdom.

During the fourth visit, everything was recited AGAIN, with the addition of instruction to go share the message with his father, Joseph Smith, Sr. 

Joseph describes in his history that it took four years of visiting the hill where the plates were deposited before he was able to remove the contents that were buried there.  Still, it was the night of September 21, 1827 when he retrieved them.  

In the Jewish way of thinking, the new day begins at sundown.  Joseph was visited by the Israelite, Nephi, on the autumnal equinox.  I'm not a calendar genius, however I'd suggest that we Americans label this time as September 21, and an Israelite might reference the Hebrew calendar's recognition for September 22.  

Interesting things transpired on this end of the Jubilee year.  

  • I am told that September 22 is the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, according to those who use the stars/heavens to recognize the holy days.  (Thanks, Melissa and Jonathan for the tips!)  This is the festival, the holy days remembered as an ordinance from year to year by the Jews, in recognition of the Exodous out of Egypt.  It began this year on September 16, which date also witnessed a penumbral lunar eclipse. 
  • In Utah, in the north of the state, near Ogden, there was reportedly an F1 tornado. 
  • In Utah, in the south of the state, near Panguitch, there was also reportedly an F1 tornado. 
  • In Utah, in Salt Lake City, a new skyscraper was dedicated on the very date of September 22, 2016.  It is reportedly built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' subsidiary named City Creek Reserve.  Let's examine it a bit.  Feel free to break to read it: http://www.sltrib.com/news/4386439-155/new-mormon-church-owned-skyscraper-brings-high  
Some points of concern for me regarding the skyscraper: 
  • Address is 111 Main.  111 is often called an "angel number".  The number 1 symbolizes God the Father.  Repeated three times symbolizes resonance of that number, as well as Father, Son, Holy Ghost.  Main street denotes the primary street in town, the center of the town.  A vast number of towns in America have this street name somewhere running through them.  The repetition of the number one reminds me of other numbers with scriptural references which are repeated three times.  
  • It is 24 stories high, totaling 387 feet high.  In average sized building standards, this would be aprox. 38 stories.  
  • "It is clear Salt Lake City has a new icon," said Mayor Jackie Biskupski, "and this is just the beginning."  The definition of "icon", per Google: 
1.a painting of Jesus Christ or another holy figure, typically in a traditional style on wood, venerated and used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches. synonyms: image, idol, portrait, picture, representation, likeness, symbol, sign; 2. a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something. "this iron-jawed icon of American manhood" synonyms: idol, paragon, hero, heroine
  • "City Creek Reserve declined to share the cost of 111 Main. But a similarly sized tower just down the street, 222 Main, sold for $170.5 million in 2014, a record price for downtown real estate at the time." 
  • "For Mormons, "this is sacred ground," Caussé said before leading the crowd of about 100 people in prayer."  Caussé is the Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church. 
Soooooooooooooooooooooooo.  Let me put some Chlorox in our muddy water of what's going on here.  

On the autumnal equinox, the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the largest denomination which hails Joseph as their leader and dispensation head decides to dedicate a building, a "Tower", mighty high and mighty expensive, (which are edifices NEVER spoken of in positive terms in any scripture,) only available to the "high end" customer to rent?  And two tornadoes blow through the north and south ends of the state, covered with a high population of Mormons?  

Am I missing any other signs?  

It would do the reader well to study the book of Malachi, as well as Hugh Nibley's Approaching Zion, which can be found and read online with a simple Google Search.  (EXCEPTIONAL book.)  Malachi in particular is a warning to the priests and teachers of Malachi's day.  They were scolded for their misuse of tithing funds, having robbed God with the tithes and offerings.  I suppose the tornado was indeed a sign.  It might have been more shocking and startling had the tornado ripped through the city center during the dedication, but God love and cares for his chickens children, ever covering them with his wings.  I don't understand all the signs, the turning of the seasons, or what it all means.  But He does.  Hopefully we can use these signs as just that: signs.  Not flukes of nature, or random occurrences.

In all the earth, when Christ was born, the only individuals who know of his birth without being informed by heavenly messengers or visions were the wise men.  They knew how to find Him because of the new star.  It would be wise to be informed, to study, and to pay attention to these things.  In asking, God can explain it to us, and let us know how to be prepared ourselves to travel from afar, should it be needed.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wheat and Tares

This afternoon my heart was pondering on the symbolism of the wheat and the tares.  Jesus shares a parable, which we have quoted in Matthew 13:30, which highlights what will happen to the "weeds" among us.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
My memory remembers this parable particularly well, and in my mind I always envision a field of wheat, which has been overrun by tares.  Due to the instructions of the parable, I view the separating that is to come as is narrated in Matthew.  However I never stopped to consider particulars.  For example, in the verse above, the tares are first gathered, bound and burned.  And meanwhile, the wheat is separated out and gathered into the owner's barn.

D&C 86:7 shares more thoughts on the concept.  

Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.
In pondering whether I am a wheat or a tare this afternoon, I remembered the line "separate the wheat from the tares".  Looking more critically, there is a field, overrun with tares.  But in this verse revealed from the Lord through Joseph Smith, we receive instruction and clarification on the idea presented in the parable.  The wheat is gathered first.  "Then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat..."

When I have heard members of various churches refer to this sifting that is coming, the common undertone of the idea is that when someone leaves a church for any reason, they are a weak tare.  They are obviously not elect, not celestial, not worthy of enduring the refiner's fire.  But what if the Lord, in His mercy, is doing the gathering already?  Is it possible that He is removing the wheat from the tares which have overrun His church?

Wheat is the substance of which bread is made.  It is called the "staff of life" in D&C 89.  In opposition to the tares, it bears fruit which gives life, rather than thorns which injure, puncture, and wound.  When someone suggests that your beliefs may classify you as a tare, be girded up in your mind and heart.  Consider the tender mercies of the Lord in gathering the wheat from among the tares, whoever they may be.

God bless the wheat to receive sufficient nourishment to survive the day of the burning which is at hand.

With love,
~Jen:)  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cogs and Ribbons

I'm dedicating this post to my dear friend, Leslie.  

Recently I was pondering why some people enjoy being called to repentance and others do not.  I believe the difference is a broken heart.

A hard heart is impenetrable.  Through years of hardening, it is incapable of being broken.  It is a force to be reckoned with, and nothing, not meekness, love, passion, integrity, anger or force will break it or penetrate it.  

A soft heart is breakable.  It can only be broken by permission.  CHOICE.  It too is a force to be reckoned with.  It thrives on being pricked, allowing the darkness and sin to escape out through experiences, and begs for cleansing and healing waters.  It receives fullness with meekness, love, passion, integrity, and joy.  And so much LOVE.

I was also pondering what it means to a soul to have experienced a broken heart, and contrite spirit.  

Whereas those who have not experienced a broken heart are impenetrable, those who have experienced a broken heart are easily broken, again and again.  And yet while they are broken, they long to be put back together again.  They long for their darkness to be poked out through their holes, whether it be God doing the poking or other humans.  When they find themselves offended, they are more willing to be put back together through forgiveness.  Hard hearts refuse to forgive.



When our hearts are broken and put back together, and we unite in community with others whose hearts are broken and put back together, we become like cogs in a wheel.  We make up one great whole, which operates the unit, although as a cog we may not even know that we are functioning as one, at least not yet.  Without our individual rivets and divots, we would not function together.  But with our unique shapes and forms, talents and blessings, put together we rotate as one – or ONE.  

And then there are what my friend Leslie calls "ribbons of love".  I believe when we will be sealed through the power of the Holy Spirit, it will be also done with literal ribbons of love.  Just as God spoke and the word "was" a literal thing, so is love a literal thing, although most of us cannot see it with our eyes.  These ribbons of love connect us, wrap around us, and the extend to others.  Some may call these ribbons by different names.  Energy workers call them "cords".  Christians may call them "workings of the Spirit".  We use different names but the principle is the same.  Invisible ties that "bind" or "seal" or form connections that are invisible yet present nonetheless.  

Zion will be formed by those who have received or experienced a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  And then our hearts will connected with these ribbons.  We will CHOOSE to be like cogs in a wheel, not forced to work together, but individual units who find pleasure and purpose in fitting together.  Whether it be our spouse, or others in this society, I see that Zion – the pure in heart – will connect like cogs in a wheel.  Freestanding on their own, but when connected they are very powerful indeed.  

With this new experience of broken hearts and contrite spirits, we have a responsibility to actively take our frustrations and discords out of our relationships.  Should we be frustrated with a fellow broken-hearted friends, I believe those who are truly broken will receive the disagreement with meekness and gratitude for the correction.  The Lord chastens those He loves, and sometimes He uses us mortals to help one another along these paths.  

I believe it is by this we may know whose spirits have been born again.  We will be able to receive correction, chastening, and calls to repentance with gladness, so long as the sins are legitimate and the correction is not intended to destroy, badger, or control.  And I believe by this we will recognize fellow members of the Lord's family because of the fruits of a contrite spirit and broken heart.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pure Faith

Last year on this day I was enticed to spend a year focusing on love.  Pure love of Christ.  I know I haven't been perfect at it, but I feel like grace has been given to me, to rise and increase in the amount of love I have been able to give, receive, and nurture.  It's truly been a blessed year.

This morning when I asked where I should read, I was led to Ether 12:14-15:

Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. 
Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
The last few days have been tumultuous here.  Emotions have run high, and tension has nearly matched it.  I find it beautiful that the Lord led me to these verses first thing in my day.  My faith has been lacking.

I tend to believe that while the Lord has awakened me from a deep sleep, it is unlikely that He will awaken those I love.  I tend to forget that He is all wise, all merciful, all knowing.  He knows when people need to awaken.  He knows I also need to exert and grow in faith.  So while the past year I spent hyper-focused on LOVE, I hope that this coming year I can focus on FAITH and see if by my faith I might find those I love encounter baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.  And perhaps even miracles like those witnessed among the Lamanites.

ROCK ON.  Let's bring down those walls, baby!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Heart Singing

Today in church we sang this song.  Oh how my heart sings with it.


This afternoon I got to hear "Sister Sally" share her witness of Yeshua.  I haven't finished it yet but have heard about half so far.  My heart is also singing with some of the new things I learned, particularly how Jesus will speak to us in our learning language.

For example, if we are visual learners, we may learn through visions or dreams.  If we are auditory learners, we may learn through audible lessons.  People who are kinesthetic learners may learn through feeling and touch.  WOW!  What a rich insight!!!  I never considered this before.  Perhaps I ought to more intensely explore my own gifts and talents and expect that I may find Jesus waiting there for me.  I highly recommend giving her witness a listen.

From the song above, Even So Come, by Chris Tomlin:

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon
Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon
LOVE!!!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In the Attitude of Self Righteousness

In my opinion alone, 

I believe the typical atmosphere of Sunday School, Relief Society and Priesthood classes lends to an attitude of contention, self-righteousness, and pride.  I confess I am guilty of these heinous sins and contributing wholeheartedly.  

The constant need to explain our own interpretations of scripture or feel-good quotes lends to the natural belief that our interpretation of the matter at hand is the best and correct one.  We take pride in offering the most unique and thoughtful explanation which no one has considered before.  We do this on a weekly basis, for two hours.  And then some of us go a step further and take it to online forums.  

When we suppose weekly for two hours that our correct interpretation is better than the interpretation of the person next to us, our beloved brother or sister, we fill our hearts with pride.  We place enmity between us, and our heart is grows harder.  

Add to this the preceding hour of talk & testimony of participating in the "one true church" which is more special, peculiar, and wonderful than the church across the way and we have a beautiful, luscious, delicious recipe for pride, haughtiness, and self-righteousness.  We have found and thereby now possess it all!  We have no need for more light, knowledge, or progression.  I don't think that's what the Lord intended when He called us his church.  And I don't know that that compliment still holds true.  Should He join us in our meetings, would He approve of our discussions? 

"They draw near unto me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  

Not a one of us is guiltless.  At least not this one.  

Bravo, saints.  Bravo, one true church.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Voice after the Destruction

My children and I were studying 3 Nephi 9 tonight.  We have been sloshing through 3 Nephi at a snail's pace, which is actually great because it has allowed me to really study these verses so closely. Tonight I noticed a pattern in this chapter.  Some things of note: 

  • There were 15 cities destroyed, which are described by name by the Voice, Who speaks to the remaining inhabitants of the land.
  • The city names of those destroyed or changed are Zarahemla, Moroni, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno, Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, and Kishkumen.  
  • Zarahemla was the Nephite capital.
  • Moroni was named after Captain Moroni.
  • Moronihah was likely named after Moroni's son, Moronihah.
  • Laman, named after first Lamanite leader. 
  • Kishkumen was one of the first participants in the development of secret combinations preceding the destruction of the government prior to Christ's visits. 
The number 15 is significant.  The most prominent thing that comes to mind is the 15 leaders of the LDS Church whom are considered and sustained as "prophets, seers, and revelators".  

These phrases of destruction are repeated: 
  • I have burned with fire (vs. 3)
  • I have caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned (vs 4)
  • I have covered with earth (vs 5) 
  • I have caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up (vs 6)
  • I have caused to come up in the stead thereof (waters) (vs 7)
  • I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof (vs 8)
  • I buried up (the inhabitants) in the depths of the earth (vs 8)
  • I caused to be burned with fire (vs 9)
  • I did cause them to be burned (vs 9)
  • I caused to be burned with fire (vs 10)
  • I did send down fire and destroy them (vs 11)
  • And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land (vs 12)
A tally of the above yields these stats: 
  • Burned: Zarahemla, Jacobugath (where secret combinations were housed), Laman, Josh, Gad, Kishkumen = 6 cities
  • Sunk into water: Moroni, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Jerusalem = 4 cities
  • Sunk into valleys and hills: Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno = 4 cities
  • Covered with earth: Moronihah - 1 city
However of most note is the repetition of this line, in various forms, which is the answer of why the destruction happened: 
  • Because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people (vs 2)
  • Because of their iniquity and abominations (vs 2)
  • To hide their iniquities and abominations from before my face (vs 5)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them (vs 5)
  • To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 7)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them (vs 7)
  • To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 8)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them (vs 8)
  • Because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth (vs 9)
  • Because of their secret murders and combinations (vs 9)
  • For it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land (vs 9)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them (vs 9)
  • Because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations (vs 10)
  • Because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them (vs 11)
  • That their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face (vs 11)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them (vs 11)
  • Because of their wickedness and their abominations (vs 12)
When I read verses with children they tend to tune out when the same lines are repeated over and over.  So it is peculiar to me that the Voice repeats the culpability of each city, name by name, with details of each one individually.  As though each city were a child, asking, "What have I done wrong?"

It is also curious that these are the very first words the people hear from the Voice.  A line by line explanation of what has happened to them, and why.  Prophets, saints, and those sent are listed jointly in some combination six times.  Abominations are listed seven times.  Wickedness listed eight!!! times.  Iniquities listed twice.  Sin listed once.  Blood of prophets (PLURAL) and saints (PLURAL) listed five times.  All repeated in detail.    

Additionally, when I think of these things that are worthy of destruction, I tend to lump them all into one big issue.  But why would the Voice break them down so many times?  Does sin = iniquity?  Does iniquity = wickedness?  Does wickedness = abominations?  And do murders = combinations?  Or do combinations = murder?  If "wickedness" is listed eight times, it would be interesting to discover all the other verses in the Book of Mormon where "wickedness" is used as an adjective, and explore what was going on to merit that descriptor.     

How would it be to do a case study on each city, and discover its personality?  I know off hand that the city of Moroni was quite literally on the beach, in the south-east, much like modern-day Florida.  And it was sunken.  And the city of Moroni's son, Moronihah, the great military leader, covered with dirt.  Where the choices of destruction significant?  

But despite all this, 
"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins and be converted that I may heal you?  Yea verily I say unto you if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life!  Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you and whosoever will come, him will I receive and blessed are those who come unto me.  Behold I am Jesus Christ the Son of God."  - 3 Nephi 9:13-15 (part), punctuation changed

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pure Love of Christ

Moroni 7: 47-48
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
I have fallen in love with Moroni 7 this week.  The entire chapter seems to be written in reverse.  Today I feel to highlight these verses above.  I never seem to have time or words to do this verse justice, but feel it's important to put this out there.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, you have been blessed with being filled with this love.

What love?  The pure love of Christ.

If you have not yet received it, pray unto the Father with all the energy of your heart to receive it.

As can be seen by studying the entire chapter, this pure love of Christ is the basis upon which faith to move mountains is built.