Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Remembering C.S. Lewis

This last weekend while making the 12-hour drive from our family property in northern Idaho to my apartment in Provo, Utah, I was able to listen to The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis on audible.  It's a book that parallels the end times of the earth and the state of humanity before the Second Coming of Christ.  It has to be one of the deepest and most thought-provoking novels I have ever come across, and although it is the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, it can be read and comprehended without having to read the other books in the series. I would highly recommend it! (And you if get it on audible, you will be blessed to hear it narrated by Professor Xavier aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard aka Patrick Stewart himself!)   As I was compiling my thoughts about the book, I discovered that C.S. Lewis' birthday was in just a couple days.  So I decided to publish this post on the 29th to commemorate and show my appreciation to him and the beautiful and deep truth he has conveyed to the world through his literature...    

Blindness of Mind

In The Last Battle. a cunning ape and a stupid donkey come across the carcass of a lion. Using the fur and mane, the monkey sews a suit for the donkey to wear so that the donkey, too stupid to stand his ground and refuse the ape, can pretend to be Aslan, the Great Lion, guardian, and savior of Narnia.  With this scheme and some additional trickery, the Narnians mistake the donkey as the real Aslan, and havoc spreads about the land as they submit to the false-Aslan.  Because the false-Aslan has a form a godliness but lacks the power thereof, the ape becomes the sole spokesman and mouthpiece for Aslan, thus preventing others from discovering the lie.  To keep the creatures from questioning why they cannot speak directly with Aslan, the ape then strikes fear in their hearts by making the Narnians believe that Aslan is angry with them and therefore can not speak with them face to face, lest in his rage he would devour whoever comes into his presence.  The ape uses his authority to compel obedience and obtain riches and wealth.  In order to maintain authority and control over the people, he perpetuates this lie by twisting the scriptures to mean something they do not in order to maintain his power, and in the process completely twists and alters the Narian's perception of their once beloved Aslan.

Over time the Dwarves became observant enough to finally recognize the imitation of the pretend Aslan and his false-spokesman the Ape. However, when Jill and Eustace, a Daughter of Eve and Son of Adam, are sent by Aslan to help the Narnians, the dwarves dismiss them- refusing to believe they are who they say they are, and instead reject their authentic testimony of the true Aslan.  The dwarves hearts have become so hardened by the lies of the Ape that they no longer believe there is such thing as Aslan.  When the time comes to fight against the corrupt Ape, they refuse to help.  Instead, out of the hardness of their hearts, they become self-serving and betray the Narnians.

This is a perfect analogy of what is happening in today's world. The hearts of men are hardened to the true Christ because of false doctrine taught and enforced by false prophets and false teachers. I have written a much more expansive blog post as to why the precepts of men are the poisoning of religion, and why is it that most people who leave a ridged correlated religious organization will completely abandon their faith in God altogether to become Atheist. You can access that blog post by clicking here.

In this book, there are portals in which the Narians and humans use to travel between dimensional realities. The entrance to one of these dimensional realms is through an old stable. The dwarves unknowingly pass through this portal into a paradisiacal land full of fruit trees, sunlight, fresh breezy air, and the scent of wild violets, however, they are unable to perceive with their senses where they truly are. Instead, they think they are in an enclosed a small, pitch-black, dirty, and smelly stable-prison. They can not see, feel, or smell the beauty that is all around them. Fresh flowers are even brought right under the nose of one of the dwarves, yet he is unable to perceive what is directly in front of his face, believing it to be stable-litter.

Even the Great Aslan is unable to heal them from their own blindness when he tries to help them: 

Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs' knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn't much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn't taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had a bit of an old turnip and a third said he'd found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said "Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey's been at! Never thought we'd come to this." But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarrelling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:
"Well, at any rate there's no Humbug here. We haven't let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs."
"You see, " said Aslan. "They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do."

Jesus says, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed" (Gospel of Thomas verse 5)

The dwarves were unable to recognize what was right before their faces.  The Pharisees during the mortal ministry of Christ also experienced this similar dilemma, Jesus describes it like this:   

The light and the life of the world; a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; The same which came in the meridian of time unto mine own, and mine own received me not(Doctrine and Covenants 39:2–3)

Why is this?

Because what separates us from God is a veil.  That veil is our unbelief, and that unbelief is what causes us to remain in an awful state of wickedness, hardness of heart, and blindness of mind. (see Ether 4:15)  The dwarves were fed unbelief by what the false-prophet Ape taught concerning Aslan.  That unbelief caused the dwarves to remain in an awful state of wickedness.  You see this come to full fruition when they betray their fellow Narnians. 

A hard heart is what prevents us from receiving what God offers:
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning the mysteries of God.  (Alma 12:11)
Because the dwarves were hard-hearted, they were unable to recognize and receive the help Aslan was offering. This caused them to remain trapped by the blindness of mind, or as Aslan puts it, the prison of their own mind.  Are we too unable to perceive the light that shines right before our faces?

Separating the Sheep From the Goats

While Aslan is the King, Lord, and God of the Narnians, there is another group of people in this story who worship a different God.  These are the people of Clamormen, who serve a four-armed, bird-head, demonic deity named Tash.  At the end of the book, one of the Clomorinien finds himself in the heavenly realm in the presence of the Great Aslan.  He gives an account of his experience in chapter 15:

"Then I looked about me and saw the sky and the wide lands, and smelled the sweetness. And I said, By the Gods, this is a pleasant place: it may be that I am come into the country of Tash. And I began to journey into the strange country and to seek him."So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant's; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.  

"Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in. Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly.  

"And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog -"

After listening to the Clomorinien's story my mind was brought to the parable of the sheep and goats found in the Matthew chapter 25

¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:31–40)

We often presume that we are sheep and not goats because of our affiliation with a particular religion, or because we believe that since we have accepted Jesus and can call ourselves Christians we are automatically "saved".  It is true that there is none other name given under heaven whereby men are saved, save it be the name of Jesus Christ.  (Acts 4:12, 2Ne 21:31)  However, taking Christ's name upon us may have a much deeper meaning than simply calling ourselves Christian.   Consider the Hebrew roots of the word "name":

When we see a name, such as "King David" we see the word "King" as a title, and the word "David" as a name. In our western mind, a title describes a character trait while a name is simply an identifier. In the Hebrew language, there is no such distinction between names and titles. Both words, King and David, are descriptions of character traits. The Hebrew word melekh (king) is "one who reigns," while daviyd (David) is "one who is loved". Both of these words are titles, describing the character of David. It is also common to identify the word "Elohiym" (Elohiym) as a title and “YHWH” (Yahweh) as a name. What we do not realize is that both of these are character traits. YHWH is both a word and title meaning "one who exists" and Elohiym is a word and a title meaning "one who has power and authority". The Hebrew word "shem" more literally means "character". When the Bible speaks of taking Elohiym's name to the nations, he is not speaking about the name itself but his character. When we are commanded to not take Elohiym's name in vain, this literally means not to represent his character in a false manner. This is similar to our expression, "have a good name," which is not about the name itself, but the character of the one with that name.  (Ancient Hebrew Research Center)

Because name in Hebrew more fully means characteristics and attributes and is not simply used as an identifier, to take upon Christ's name is to take upon his characteristics and attributes- to become as He is.  Perhaps this why before Christ instituted the sacrament to the Nephites in America (an ordinance where believers witness to "take Christ's name upon them"), He spent a whole day giving a discourse very similar to the “Sermon on the Mount” (Beatitudes) – a discourse that expounds upon His name, His character, His attributes.  Perhaps this is why before communion was instituted to the apostles at the last supper, God needed to send His son, Jesus Christ, down to earth to show the world who God is- to show the world all of what the Father’s name consists of, manifested and embodied in the perfect son.

The true name of God is not something you can pronounce in any human language.  It's a name that can only be expressed by what you become, and communicated to others through the life you live.  This is why someone who has never been taught by a church about Christianity can have a much deeper relationship with Jesus than the self-proclaimed Christian if that person embodies the character and attributes of God.   This why the Clomorinien was accepted by Aslan even though he operated under a different religious tradition - because he stilled lived what James described as the pure religion: to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. In fact, in that same chapter in the book of James it states:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights (James 1:17, emphasis mine)

There is only one name under heaven whereby men are saved, but that name transcends all human languages, cultures, and religions.  

Further Up and Further In!

In the closing chapters, CS Lewis gives a vivid description as the redeemed Narnians embark on an inter-dimensional journey through portals, ascending into higher and deeper realms, all the while abiding by the mantra, "Further up and further in!".  They enter through these gateways showing that whole worlds without end can be contained in, or accessed through, a seemingly small and simple thing.  As they explored the deeper realms, they discovered that each higher dimension of "New Narnia" was like the previous one they ascended from, but deeper and purer. C.S Lewis explains it like this:

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a lookingglass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different - deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.

This world, Old Narnia - the world in which we live, is simply a reflection, or type and shadow, of something far greater.  I had the privilege of spending a weekend this last October hammocking and "Jeeping for Jesus" in the St. George desert with a couple of my dear brothers in Christ.  While sitting around the campfire during one of those starlit evenings, we were discussing the change in our outlook on life since the beginning of our spiritual awakening.   It was apparent that the three of us could describe our new perspective in a similar way.  That despite the vastness and depth that comes with a more heightened spiritual sensitivity, that depth and wonder could be unveiled in the simple things that typify of Christ.  Because of our new outlook, the people and things given to us by God in this world had become more real, more beautiful, and more precious to us.   Yet we have only received a minute inkling, a mere breadcrumb, of the immense light and truth God desires to bestow upon us.   We can only wonder in awe at how much deeper, richer, and purer things will become as we ascend further up and further in - drawing ever nearer to Christ.   As I was listening to the narration of the awe and wonder of  New Narnia, this scripture came to my mind:

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

If you understand the language in which the Gospel of John was written in, Greek, this scripture can also be rendered as follows:

In the journey through my Father's realms are many stages with temporary abodes.  If it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare an abode for your upward journey.  (The Testimony of St. John 14:2-3)

As the characters journeyed through the realms, going “further up and further in”, the thought entered my heart that I was not merely listening to a fictional story, but that I was hearing a testimony of an actual experience conveyed through a mythical tale of magical lands and talking animals.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

David Bednar vs Joseph Smith

How Can I know If I am Doing the Lord’s Will?

I don’t give much thought anymore to the actions of the religious organization I had to leave - I have moved on to much greater things.  However, last Friday it was impressed upon my heart to attend Bednar’s devotional at the Utah Valley University LDS Institute building.   As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am under a degree of obligation to defend my Lord from those who misquote his servants (Joseph Smith being one of those servants) and who misrepresent Jesus by invoking Christ’s name in vain.  I give very little mental energy to the words of general authorities, recognizing that they are preaching from a platform of religiously ingrained traditions of presumed spiritual authority, and not necessarily from the direct presence of God.  It does not benefit me to waste valuable time critiquing their teachings, however, there are LDS UVU students who are honestly seeking for truth who will find themselves gravely disappointed years down the road if they continue to live from the spoon-fed, mundane, philosophies of men mingled with scripture.  So this post is for them.  My prayer is that this message will bypass the hard-hearted while reaching the hearts of those who are truly seeking. 

Recording of the devotional was prohibited, and the institute did not do a video/audio recording or transcription ( I asked), however, I do have the notes from people who attended, as well as my own fresh memory.

A question presented to David Bednar: How can I know if I am doing the Lord’s will?

He began his answer by quoting the Lectures on Faith but without specifically referencing those “rejected scriptures”.  Instead he simply said:

“Joseph said that three things are necessary for us to exercise faith in God. First, that God does actually exist; second, correct ideas of his character, his perfections, and attributes; and third, that the course which we pursue is according to his mind and will”  (Lecture 3:3-5)

I was excited to hear this! I had hope that since Bednar began by quoting the Lectures on Faith, that he would actually teach what Joseph Smith taught in response to that exact same question of knowing if you are doing the Lord’s will. 

Bednar continued his answer by explaining that we don’t ask ‘who should I marry’, ‘what career should I follow’, or ‘what we are supposed to do’, but we need to follow the covenant pathway. He explained that the covenant pathway is temple ordinances. He then uses Lehi’s dream to explain that Christ is the tree, and to hold to the iron rod is to accept other covenants.  He made it clear that those covenants are offered by the CHURCH.  He then concluded that you can know that you are doing the Lord’s will by keeping the commandments, which is to remain faithful to the church and worthy to go to the temple.

Sacrifice was not mentioned in Bednar’s answer

Simple answer, right?  But is it simple unto the expounding of plain truth, or is it simple unto the pacifying of one’s soul into the carnal security of salvation through an organized institution? 

You can ask a Jihadist,  the Conquistadors, the Spanish Inquisition this question and they would give you a very similar answer that entails loyalty to their church.

Now if you have attended the devotional, or have read this far, I want you to read Joseph Smith's answer to the question of knowing God’s will, and compare it to Bednar’s response. The contrast is as the daylight is from the dark night if you have the eyes to see. 

The Lectures on Faith: Lecture Six

‎            1 Having treated in the preceding lectures of the ideas of the character, perfections, and attributes of God, we next proceed to treat of the knowledge which persons must have that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation.

2 This knowledge supplies an important place in revealed religion; for it was by reason of it that the ancients were enabled to endure as seeing him who is invisible. An actual knowledge to any person that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God, without which no person can obtain eternal life. It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing (not believing merely) that they had a more “enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34). 

 3 Having the assurance that they were pursuing a course which was agreeable to the will of God, they were enabled to take, not only the spoiling of their goods and the wasting of their substance joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). 

 4 Such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; for such has been, and always will be, the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God, against the pure and unadulterated religion of heaven (the only thing which ensures eternal life), that they will persecute to the uttermost all that worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will, and drive them to such extremities that nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven, and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God.

5 For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge; realizing that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. 

 6 For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God. 

 7 Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. 

 8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.  

9 It was in offering sacrifices that Abel, the first martyr, obtained knowledge that he was accepted of God. And from the days of righteous Abel to the present time, the knowledge that men have that they are accepted in the sight of God, is obtained by offering sacrifice. And in the last days, before the Lord comes, he is to gather together his saints who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Psalm 50:3-5: “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant unto me by sacrifice.”

10 Those then who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled through faith to endure unto the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith; therefore, they cannot lay hold upon eternal life, because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do; and without this guarantee faith could not exist.

11 All the saints of whom we have account in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight, through the sacrifice which they offered unto him. And through the knowledge thus obtained, their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure as seeing him who is invisible; and were enabled, through faith, to combat the powers of darkness, contend against the wiles of the adversary, overcome the world, and obtain the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls 

 12 But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their minds; and where doubt and uncertainty are, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak; and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.  

(Note: This lecture is so plain, and the facts set forth so self-evident, that it is deemed unnecessary to form a catechism upon it. The student is therefore instructed to commit the whole to memory.)

I end this post by echoing the warning of Nephi concerning the vain religion of the latter-day gentile church. 

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell
(2 Nephi 28:21)

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)

If your desire is to know if you are doing the Lord's will, May God bless you with the courage to make that necessary sacrifice.

Monday, November 6, 2017

" A Constant Scene of Violence and Bloodshed"

Yesterday was the international day of prayer for the persecuted church. Yesterday, while worshipping with a local Christian church, we were praying for those persecuted and those who persecute. Around this exact time, a man entered a Texas chapel and opened fired on the First Baptist Church congregation killing 26 people. My heart mourns, and my prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Sadly, I believe violence is only going to increase in this country.
I've been recently studying the connection between the solar activity of the sun and its effect on human consciousness. Not only does coronal mass ejections and celestial phenomenon effect seismic activity and weather patterns on Earth, but it also affects the human heart. It can manifest externally whatever is internally deep within the heart. So on a worldwide scale, it can bring about great social change and advancements for humanity, or it can bring about violence and destruction. It all depends on what is in the heart of the individual in how they will respond to heavenly signs. Unbeknownst to me of this connection at the time, it was during the season of the Tetrad (4 blood moons) when I was spiritually awakened.
Before the Second Coming as cosmic activity increases, the world is going to polarize between good and evil, light and dark. It will result in what has been prophesied as "fratricidal and genocidal warfare" and "a constant scene of violence and bloodshed." My friend explained that fratricidal is defined as "a person who kills his or her brother" or "the act of killing one's brother."
Whatever has taken root in the heart of man will be exposed and brought to light. Philip in his gospel found in the Nag Hammadi library in the sections titled, "Hidden Parts", " The Root of Evil", and "Revelation of the Seed" talks about this. He explains the need to dig down after the root of evil within us and pull it out of our hearts from the roots, because whatever takes root in our heart will produce fruit in our reality. Before the heavens shall shake with gladness and earth will tremble with joy at the return of the city of Enoch (JST GEN 9), so "Every plant that My Father in heaven has not planted will be pulled out." (Philip 85,21-32) This is why the hearts of men will fail, and the whole world will lieth under sin and groaneth under darkness before that Great and Terrible day, because what has taken root in the hearts of man must be exposed and brought to light.
Alma says that we are our own judges, whether we do good or evil, and whatever state of being we have attained to here, whatever has become our nature, will be restored unto us again. (Alma41). He also counsels us not to procrastinate the day of our repentance. (Alma 13) Philip explains that we cannot be ignorant of the wickedness deep within us. That we must not simply cut away the branches of sin or just chop that tree down at the trunk, (managing our sin life) but that we must lay the axe unto it's roots (crucify, completely destroy, the sin life, Matt 3:10) so that it will not sprout up again.

Its easy to act like godly Christian whene everything is calm in your world. But what I've learned that it is when everything in person's life comes crashing down, when everything they previously relied upon in this world for security and identity is taken away- that is when their true heart manifests.
It will be like this for us in the coming years as we face persecution and trials as this world polarizes. Today, before the turmoil complete covers the earth, we must become pure in heart to see the face of God. (Matt 5:8) We must defend peace when everyone is seeking vengeance and retribution. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matt 5:44)
We must become SUPERNATURAL beings of LOVE when the world sees it natural to be a creature of fear.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Reality Exists Only Where the Mind Creates a Focus"

~ Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism~

Maybe this is why King Benjamen said that there are diverse ways and means we can sin that he cannot number them but told us to watch ourselves, and our thoughts. (Mosiah 4:29-30)
Or as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7)
And why Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to that person."
And why its the pure in heart that shall see God. (Matthew 4:8)
And why the Lord promised us that if our eye be single to His glory, our bodies shall be filled with light and He will unveil his face unto us. (D&C 88:67-68)
I like Jeeps a lot, and since buying a Jeep I always see them around everywhere I go. I somehow always end up finding an open parking spot next to them.
In quantum physics, the observer becomes a participant of the experiment by simply becoming aware of the variables. Conscienceness effects reality, and although this has been scientifically proven on the microscale, maybe we can prove it to ourselves on the macroscale by increasing our level of awareness, or in other words filling ourselves with light and truth, which is the glory of God or intelligence, which is to know things as they are, were, and will be- in other words, to become fully conscious. (See D&C93)
Maybe if we did this our perception of reality would change, and we would become aware of forces and beings that have been all around us, but that only an eye single to the glory of God could behold. We could obey what Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed"
Maybe if we took seriously what Joseph Smith suggested, and really "expanded our mind to the utmost heavens", we could actually pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven", because we would actually know what heaven is like from being there, and bring that heaven to earth because the kingdom of God would be in us. As a quantum being filled with a higher degree of conscienceness, or light and truth, we would become active participants in this experiment called life.
We often equate, in a large measure, repentance with whatever we are doing with our genitals, but perhaps it has much more do with what we are doing with our heart and mind. Maybe repentance is not is not about abstaining from certain activities but is about engaging in ones that enlighten the understanding, enlarges the soul, and expands the mind. (Alma 32)
Perhaps sin is to occupy our thoughts with superficial information, thus keeping ourselves unaware and darken without light and truth. And because quantum physics requires an awareness to affect the outcome of an experiment, by remaining in ignorance we limit our potential to cause an effect in our reality, and thus remain subjected to the natural environment, or in other words, the world and the flesh, and we, therefore, become carnal, sensual, and devilish. (Alma 42:9-10)
Maybe this is why Joseph Smith taught that knowledge is power and that we are saved no faster than we obtain knowledge. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg217)
Maybe who we are and what our perception of reality is is just the sum total of every bit of information that has ever been filtered through our brain and entered into our heart. But if we learned to connect to a larger mind, rend the filters in our brain that control perception, and feed off of a greater consciousness, that higher intelligence would flow through and purify our hearts, transforming us while unveiling a greater reality.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Mountain of the Lord

This is a concept I once received while crying unto the Lord over my weaknesses. Today while worshipping in the Utah Valley University prayer room this analogy was again used to teach me some more important things.  

There is this mountain that must be climbed because at the peak is where we will meet our Lord.  It is the Mountain of our Lord and the way to salvation is to arrive at its summit.  The way up is rugged and rough and it will require strenuous effort on our part to reach the destination.  At the base of this mountain, there is a deep, massive, cavernous pit.  The path into the hole is initially smooth and level but becomes more and more steep and treacherous until finally, it becomes a sheer cliff.  Its depths are unfathomable.  The darkness of the hole is so thick not even light can escape its jaws.  This is no ordinary pit.  It is the gulf of misery and endless wo.  It sucks and extinguishes light because in its depths lies a black-hole. 

A black hole is a former star.  A star is a sun which is the source of energy for a solar system.  Our sun gives off 3.86 x 10^26 joules/sec. (that’s a lot!)  The sun is constantly giving its light and glory away providing energy for all planets in its orbit.  A fallen star does not share its light and energy.  Instead, this star consumes its own light and collapses in on itself.  It then consumes everything around it.   It does not surrender its glory, instead, it seeks to keep the honor for itself.  Satan was once a star but fell because he had not charity.  He is now enslaved by his own hatred and seeks to make others miserable like unto himself.  Like a black hole, he sucks the life and energy out of others to feed his never-ending appetite of pain. 

The closer you get to the great pit, the stronger its pull becomes, and the more susceptible you are to being dragged in.  The lower you go down the mountain, the less light there is.  Its base is encompassed by a mist of darkness.   Demons are rampant in these lower elevations because darkness is where they thrive.  Not only do demons prowl here, but many lost and wandering souls reside in the abyss. 

I’ve climbed a little ways up this mountain, but I am still too close to the great pit.  On days where I am fatigued I feel its ever-present pull.  Those are the days I get ransacked by demons.   I’ve learned that you can never get rid of the demons, you can only learn to live above them.  They are much easier to defeat, to crush their head under your heel, from higher ground.  So despite their attacks, I will continue to climb upwards.     

It is dark where I am, and although at times greater light breaks through and I can see my destination through the foliage, it is still often dark and difficult to see.  During those dark times, the only thing I have to light my way is this flame on a candle stick.  It's surprisingly a very durable candle because it doesn’t really melt, but I do have to safeguard and treasure the flame from being extinguished.  It is a tedious task but it gives sufficient light to continue my hike. 

I am blessed because of this flame God has lit for me, but there are others around who do not have any light to guide their way.  I know I am supposed to share the light for all to see and perhaps use the flame on my candle to ignite their own candles, but I am apprehensive.  Like the wicked and slothful servant, I am afraid that I may lose what little light I have in an attempt to share and multiply the light around me.  Because I feel fear, shame, and unworthiness I place my candle under a bushel, or in other words, I hide my single talent in the earth.  This makes me no different than Satan because instead of sharing the good light can offer, I suck it in for myself.

Which is self-defeating because a flame needs oxygen to live.  If you hide a flame under a bushel, you limit the oxygen it receives. You actually increase the chances of it dying.  But if you go out and share your light with others, lighting their candles and embarking on this upward climb together, more light is created for everyone.  If your flame does blow out, you now have the flames of others whom you shared your light with to reignite your flame.  Surely, the journey up the mountain of the Lord is much better if you bear one another burdens and share what light you have been given.

However, it may appear that there is no one to share the light with because most people are ignorant and complacent living in the dark, and out of those who are aware there is a mountain, only few will make the effort to climb. It makes the trek lonely and difficult.  At times it leaves me exhausted and defeated, collapsed on the ground.   The beautiful thing about mountains is that although they are wide and broad at the base, they become more and more narrow the closer you approach the peak.  As you continue to climb, you will meet others who have embarked on the journey to meet God.  Although you may have started the hike from completely different locations, there is only one summit which will bring your paths together.  So don’t give up, pick yourself up, keep that fire burning, share the light, let it shine, and those who are seeking will be drawn out of the dark to it.  Continue the upward climb! 

I'm not an artist, but there is my quick sketch

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Take and Reaction to the 2017 Signs

I find it incredible that although the sun's diameter is about 400 times larger than that of the moon – the sun is also about 400 times farther away.  So the sun and moon appear nearly the same size as seen from Earth.  It allows for a perfect eclipse.  God designed it this way so that the lights in the heavens (the sun, moon, and stars) can be for signs. (Genesis 1:14) 

In 1776 a solar eclipse took place during the same year our nation was born.  

This is the path of that eclipse. In that year the USA was just 13 small states, but its was as if God was declaring to the earth the land which he has set aside for the United States to possess and have dominion of.

We read in the scriptures that covenants or cursings pronounced on groups of people usually last unto the "third and fourth" generation.  Back in 1776, the average life expectancy was about 40 years.  Today in 2017 people live to be 80+ years.  Given the advances in healthcare that have taken place since the Revolutionary War, the average life expectancy between then and now is a little less than 60 years.  

2017 - 1776 = 241 years
241years/4 generations = 60.25 years/generation

If a generation is measured by 60 years, 4 generations have passed since we declared independence.  

In 1776 a nation was founded under God.  God acknowledged that nation and gave this land to that people.  He gave this land to the United States based on a promise He made previously to ancient inhabitants.  

And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
(Ether 2:8–12)
The way I see it is that the United States has a lease from God on this land.  The duration of that "contract" last 4 generations and can be renewed, or the inhabitants must be vacated so that the land can be given to another people who will honor the terms and conditions God has enacted.  The terms and conditions are the Book of Mormon, and if you are a gentile, you need to comply with the conditions that Jesus Christ has laid out for you in 3rd Nephi chapters16-30, or you will have no promise or hold to this land and be swept off.  

Additional insight: I think its also interesting to note that in 1620 the Pilgrims established a Colony on North America.  In 2020, 3.5 years between the two eclipse, it will mark 400 years of Native Americas under European/Gentile sovereignty. 

I was in a fellowship this last Tuesday and my friend shared some interesting observations concerning the Eclipses. 

On Aug 21, there will be a solar eclipse that crossed America.  No other land mass will experience the eclipse other than the US. The 2017 eclipse exits America at Charleston (Fort Sumter) South Carolina. If you read D&C section 87, it deals with Joseph Smith's prophecy about the civil war. However, its language suggests that it’s prophesying about much more than just the civil war.  Fort Sumter was the location that started the civil war.  It has symbolized the divide between the North and South, it now marks the end of the sign (2017 eclipse) that may be pointing to the greater divide when "war will be poured out upon all nations" according to section 87, and according to current visionary experiences people are having.   
The eclipse of 2024 happens on April 8, 2024, 6.63 year after the 2017 eclipse.  If it was 10 days further, it would be 6.66 years.  Perhaps the 10 days has some significance because 666 diffidently has end-time significance.  The lines of the two eclipses makes an X through the US. The intersection of the two eclipses happens at Cedar Lake IL (an actual lake, not the name of a town), which is located in the Trail of Tears State Forest, in the heartland of America. The "Trail of Tears” is the name of the infamous deadly march forced upon several Indian tribes from 1830 to 1850, removing the Indians from their traditional lands and forcing them to live on reservations located in Oklahoma; and the name symbolizes all the scattering and abuses of the American Indians by the Gentiles.  Its name now marks the spot that symbolizes the reversal of fortune prophesied by the Lord in 3 Ne 16 and 21, in which the Gentiles will be trodden down and the land will be given to a remnant of Jacob as their inheritance.  The letter X is a symbol for a chiasm.  The chiasm that is being represented is “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”. This will be fulfilled with a remnant of Jacob, who were first given this land, but lost it to the Gentiles, will lastly be given this land again as an inheritance. 
The intersection also take place on the Mississippi River (the exact point is 12 miles east of the river, but the overall intersection of darkness still lies on the Mississippi). The Mississippi is the dividing line of the US nation.  Joseph Smith gave the prophecy about the waters (particularly the Missouri River, which is the Mississippi River at the eclipse intersection) causing much destruction (Section 61). That great destruction has not occurred yet.  The fact the Eclipse's intersection takes place at the Mississippi, points to something physical or symbolic about the Mississippi River in the last days. People have been having visions about the swelling of the Mississippi River, which may have to do with the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Section 61. The point for now it how interesting these eclipses are and the exact places they are pointing to. 

A good landlord will ensure that his property is clean and presentable before allowing a new tenant to rent it.  If a covenant for this land needs to be renewed, this land will likewise need to be sanctified. How will sanctification come about when the inhabitants who possess the land are ripe in iniquity and have defiled it through wickedness?

The 2017 eclipse will occur 33 days before a once-in-7,000 years Revelation 12 sign in the heavens. There is a lot of persuasive evidence that this sign may mark the beginning to the 7-year tribulations.

The 2017 eclipse will trace the 1,700 mile "crack across America" while the 2024 eclipse will trace through a second large fault running Northeast from the New Madrid seismic zone. 

These cracks divide the land of this continent. If the solar eclipse can be likened unto the sword of justice which divides the righteous from the wicked, what does it mean to have the eclipses run along places of divide for our nation? 

In the Mosiac sacrificial rituals, the priests would cut open the animal and split it apart in order to wash the inwards parts so that it could be of a sweet savor- presentable unto the Lord. (see Leviticus 1) Perhaps God is signifying that He will divide this country so that He can sanctify the land in order to make it presentable unto the Father.  

I don't spend much in my gospel studying speculating the dooms-day destruction of the end of the World.  I'm not going to wait for some terrible day of the Second Coming to see my Lord face to face.  I am trying to get to know Jesus today. 

So for the next 7 years, while the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, I am going to offer myself up to God as a living sacrifice.  I am going to allow my High Preist, Jesus, to open me up to sanctify and purify my heart.  If my heart belongs to Christ, it will not fail.

I understand that it will be increasingly difficult to recognize and give love in a chaotic world, but that will be the test of true charity.  It will be the magnet that gathers Christ's people while everyone else destroys each other.  

Responding to the Signs in Heaven by Manifesting My Own Sign On Earth Through Baptism

My good friend and I were having sacrament the other night.  I was expressing to him my fears of not being able to stand against the trials to come in my personal life because many of the things I have leaned on for support this past year have gone away, and it was a difficult year. While talking about being nervous of not having many of those things in my life this next year which got me through last year he told me, "but you will have a covenant"

click here to learn about Jewish weddings 
I find it fascinating that with all the signs manifesting, God is extending his hand to a people again.  

There is an ancient Hebrew custom that took place before a man and woman were married which is intricate but beautiful.  They would meet together with their families and write out a "ketubah" or "marriage contract".  When the contract was finalized they would signify their commitment to be married by drinking a cup of wine.  They would enter into this period called "betrothal" where they were engaged but to remain apart from one another while the groomsman would prepare a place for them to live. (It was often just a room in the groomsman's father's house)  The groomsman would not drink wine until the wedding.  

Before the ketubah or the betrothal period would take place both the individuals would participate in a ceremony called "mikveh".  This was a ritual immersion in water that represented spiritual cleansing needed in preparation of the ketubah and betrothal period.  

Because I will be entering into a covenant, a ketubah, with Christ and desire to prepare I have decided to participate in my own mikveh through baptism. The signs are being presented to the world warning us of what is to come, calling us unto repentance. Because of the division that will take place on this continent when the sword of Justice falls, I want to be found on the right-hand side of God.  In my personal journey, a chapter of my life is closing while a new one is opening up.  I need Jesus now more than ever.  I need His love and His guidance.  Therefore I desire to repent, which is to turn from ignorance to receive greater light and truth. This covenant is an opportunity for me to repent, and the first fruits of repentance is baptism. (Moroni 8:25) I embrace opportunities to repent because it means I will know God more.  Coming to know Him is my greatest hope in all of this.