It’s important to get your testimony that God lives.

3 Nephi Chapter 3

Becoming United Under God and Protected Against Evil

I’ve always thought that ridicule is the one of the greatest “Distort the truth” tricks or perhaps one of the greatest “Avoid the Truth” tricks known to man. When a legitimate question is presented you can quickly diminish it by making it funny. We call it “laughing it off”. For example, if you warn a smoker that smoking cigarettes can cause cancer, they can avoid the truth by making the truth into a joke. I admit, I sometimes have trouble facing certain truths and as a result I have a tendency to “clown” things up a bit. I’ve been working on trying to resist that tendency which, interestingly enough, switches into the alternative tendency for distorting/avoiding the truth – the emotional response. Once I decide not to clown it off, I’ll have an urge to get emotional to the question at hand. Perhaps angry or hostile to the question. If I get past those barriers I get to the denial and rationalization phase. But if I can get past denial and rationalization, I’m finally at the place where I should have started in the first place – reason and logic with an open mind, even to where I can challenge my own faith and perhaps even my core values with an open mind. Reaching conclusions can often be like trying to get to the other side of a stream by jumping from rock to rock. Many times people will tell me I’m standing on the wrong rock, but when I look down there’s no other rock to go to. I guess what they are really saying is just jump in the stream like the rest of the world does and get washed away.

When the question is presented on whether or not there is a Living God, it’s assumed by many that you have to take a blind guess and live by it. I prefer to challenge that question a little harder. If God exists and the scriptures are true – then He will eventually answer when I pray. If there is a Christ and His atonement can heal us – then we should be able to easily measure its healing effects. If I fulfill the requirements as given in the scriptures and these things don’t happen, then the conclusion must be the scriptures are false.

There are many reasons why we should strip ourselves of pride and seek the truth on whether or not God lives. One of them is particularly important for us today; if God does live then we can turn to Him for protection from evil, assuming we obey Him. There are many examples throughout History where this has been true, one of the greatest examples is where God delivered the Israelites from Egypt through Moses.

Since I am currently studying the Book of Mormon, I will turn once again to the Nephites and Lamanites in 3 Nephi Chapter 3. This takes place in Central America during the same  time Jesus Christ was in his teenage years in Jerusalem (about 16 AD).  Many of the Nephites have once again dissented from the truth, by mocking the idea that there is a God or a Christ and falling down the slippery slope of political correctness and worldliness until they are once again under a great threat of being destroyed by a quickly growing enemy called the Gadianton Robbers led by Giddianhi.  So great was the threat that the Lamanites and Nephites finally chose to unite together.  The letter that Giddianhi wrote to Lachoneus, the governor of the land has a familiar tone to it.  See if verses 9-11 sound like something in our political discussions today.

Once again, out of fear, the Nephites repented and prepared themselves for what was to become a violent war against them.  The battle was described as the worst the people had ever seen, even since their forefathers had arrived from Jerusalem 600 B.C.  Because they united and repented they were spared, but at a great cost.  The world today has to answer the same questions.  Will we continue to follow the path of evil until evil turns around and threatens us or should we put aside the ridicule and denials and face the sobering question – should we turn to God?   It’s better to address that question now than later.

You can read along and listen to the conclusion here in 3 Nephi Chapter 4.

Posted in Celestial on June 3, 2011 – 9:07 am | Comments (0)

Spared because of a Few Righteous People

Helaman 13 – The Warnings of Samuel the Lamanite

I love the story of Samuel the Lamanite in the Book of Mormon. Helaman Chapter 13 is a great chapter to reflect upon. In order to really appreciate the story you have to start all the way back in the Book of Mosiah and see how the Nephites kept going through the cycle of [Prosperity -> Pride -> Destruction -> Humility -> Repentance -> Prosperity] and repeated over and over.  You also have to understand some of the differences between the Nephites and the Lamanites.  People that are vaguely familiar with the Book of Mormon believe that Nephites and Lamanites are two distinct races of people.  The Book of Mormon is quite clear that Lamanites aren’t necessarily actual descendants of Laman and the Nephites aren’t necessarily descendants of Nephi. (And on a side note, Mormons do not believe that Nephi and Lehi were the first settlers in Central America).  The two groups of people are separated more by ideology, religion, the lust for power and  a lot of misunderstanding than by lineage.  It was common for people to change their names depending on who they associated themselves with.  For a time, the Lamanites were actually lead by apostate Nephite kings that had a hatred towards their own people.  Generally speaking, you could say that the Lamanites were  more wicked and the Nephites were more righteous, however the Lord had warned many times that the Nephites had the privilege of knowing the gospel whereas the Lamanites didn’t always have that privilege, therefore the Nephites were held accountable.  At the time Samuel the Lamanite arrived to Zarahemla the Lamanites had been converted (Read Helaman 5) and were righteous, but the Nephites had many many dissenters that were the cause of much wickedness, mostly created out of pride, lust, and forgetting how many times the Lord had preserved them and prospered them.

I love this commentary from the Book of Mormon student manual regarding Helaman 13:11-16 – “There have been many times when the wicked were spared from terrible destructions and judgments because God considers the righteous, even though they may be few. The wicked people of Zarahemla had the righteous people to thank for their preservation from destruction, though, of course, they did not know it. In a few years Zarahemla would lose this silent and unappreciated protection, and Samuel’s words would be fulfilled (see 3Nephi 9:3 ). Even Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared for the sake of ten people who lived righteous lives (see Genesis 18:23–33 ).How we live does make a difference. The personal righteousness of a few can become a great blessing to others.”

I try to keep my posts short, so I will continue with this thought on my subsequent posts.  Try to read this chapter and reflect how vitally important it is for us today to remain righteous individuals.

Posted in Nebula on May 18, 2011 – 8:53 pm | Comments (0)

“Lightness”

I will file this post under the “Artistry” category.  This will be an interesting “Ear Challenge” for you. It requires a nice set of speakers, or more ideally –  headphones, about 25 minutes of undisturbed time and an open mind.

This particular piece “Chamber of Lightness” (The second one on the album) was created by the British musician Brian Eno.  It’s pretty soft on the ears, but lacks any melody or  beat so it will either make you very comfortable or very uncomfortable.  I happen to be a visual person, so it’s not hard for me to sit back and listen to ambient music and actually see with my ears what the artist is trying to portray.

I don’t believe this album is in print or for sale anywhere that I can find, including enoshop, so this will really be a rare experience for you.  I hope you’ll enjoy.

According to Wikipedia

“The music on the album was made for an Installation – a show featuring music and visuals – that took place at the Marble Palace in Saint Petersburg, which accommodates permanent exhibitions of the StateRussian Museum, from November to mid-December 1997.

After the release of his 1997 album The Drop, Eno relocated to Saint Petersburg for a short sabbatical and began working on music specifically for installations. The event’s music was generated by three CD players, and like his previous album of the same year, Extracts from Music for White Cube, it used the generative capabilities of Koan Pro by layering more than two stereo pairs of sound sources, via the CD players.

The show was hosted in a large, neo-classical, newly-renovated chamber, and Eno was free to design it as he wished. At one end, computer-programmed projectors threw randomized, colourful patterns on a series of screens, while the rest of the room was dark.

He described the Marble Palace event as a “mixture of cinema, fireworks display, environmental music and installation“. The edited highlights that feature on the CD are described as “a 1-hour selection of a hypothetically endless piece“.”

Posted in Artistry on May 18, 2011 – 4:55 am | Comments (0)

What we can Become

“Be Thou My Vision”

God’s amazing love, the common denominator of all good faiths, springs forth with great power like a river. It flows in the beginning like glass without ripples and without sound, giving life and beauty to its surroundings, but as it is met with obstacles and adversities downstream (pride, envy, lust, greed, etc) it becomes distorted and divided, creating noise and chaos.  God’s love is like the sun, the most dominant and all encompassing power from Heaven giving light and life to all inhabitants indiscriminately.  Yet it is so often imitated on a stage giving focus to only the actors and leaving the audience in the dark.

Here are my thoughts on the Final Judgement.

“…The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts–what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts–what we have become.”  Elder Dallon H. Oaks – The Challenge to Become

Suppose there was a music student that was accepted into an undergraduate program.  This person had the basic knowledge and skill to play but he knew he had a long way to go before he could get on stage and play a solo recital for the hour and half that was required.   This great recital was in four years and if he did well he would be accepted into the Master’s Program.  His instructor was not only a  highly recognized virtuoso at the grand piano, but a great teacher as well.  His critique was always carefully delivered in a way as to not offend his students and he never ran out of patience.  Over time, a few students dropped out of the program feeling that they would prefer to enjoy the freedom and indifference of youth more than the drudgery of study and practice.  This one student, however, stayed believing that he could graduate with minimal practice and rely on the tender mercies of his instructor.

As he got to his last year, having practiced very little and only from time time – he began noticing that the recital was quickly arriving.  Other students around him were getting quite good, being able to play Bach, Beethoven,Chopin, etc.  He was able to play a few folk songs such as “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain” and “Home on the Range”.  As the reality began to set in he went to his instructor and asked for forgiveness and help.  Without hesitation his instructor forgave him and gave him his full attention.  All that time that he had wasted was really starting to bother him and he was beginning to panic and yet his instructor patiently worked with him all the way up to the recital.  The day finally came, he got on stage, played the few songs that he knew.  The instructor smiled and the audience applauded, but what was going through the mind of the student when it was over?  These are the questions we ought to be thinking about rather than who will be saved and who will not.

The Great Plan of Happiness is an eternal path of progression that begins with the regular practice of obedience and righteousness until we become virtuosos.  Some days can be difficult and discouraging, but the day will come when God will listen to your recital and will not be concerned about your past mistakes but on what you have become relative to the opportunity you were given.

Posted in Celestial on May 10, 2011 – 5:26 am | Comments (0)

Mother’s Nature

Last year, we bought two little society finches and a bird cage to add a touch of nature to the home. It so happened we ended up getting a male and female. The male quickly built their nest and the female started to lay eggs. Within a matter of a few weeks we now had a family of 5 society finches. It was fun to watch the process. The birds are very social, in fact I could see how the parents taught their young the basic principles of flying, eating and even taking a bath. They would chirp and sing to each other, but unfortunately they were messy. When spring-time came we put the birds outside in the shade where they could scatter seeds and poop to their heart’s content. Eventually we decided that it might be a good time to let the birds be free. The climate was very nice, there’s vegetation everywhere so why keep them confined in a cage. So I opened the cage door with a clip and just let them do whatever they decided. After several minutes I could tell they were getting very curious as they each kept looking out the door. After about a half hour, two of the children flew out and were free. Several hours later the 3rd child flew away and the two parents were left along with a few new eggs in the nest. What I found interesting is the mother bird started to chirp and off in the distance one of the children would chirp back. This went on for a long time, back and forth.

I had left the bird cage outside with the door still open for many hours until it got dark out. I expected an empty cage, but the parents hadn’t left. I did the same thing a few days later. I looked at the birds thinking “Don’t you want to be free? Don’t you want you want to fly away and enjoy life?” They just looked back at me with their little blinking eyes as they kept their eggs warm and protected as if to say – “We will not abandon our little ones”

Well, perhaps a sappy observation but an observation to ponder nonetheless. Every mother seems to have this instinct within them to care for their children. Even mothers that are only a month or two old themselves such as these little birds. I don’t believe a mother’s nature is simply an “evolved” trait, I believe it’s by design from the beginning by our divine Creator.

I am a soon-to-be dad. I feel like a rookie at the whole parenting thing. I’ve read books, taken classes and listened to plenty of advice. The two most commonly mentioned pieces of advice I’ve heard are 1) For the dad, whatever shred of manhood you thought you had – it will all go out the window along with the dirty diapers you’ll being carrying to the trash and the banged up mini-van you’ll be driving. 2) For the Mom, motherly instincts will begin to kick in and she’ll know what to do.

Mothers are truly a blessing. With the amount of sacrifice they go through to raise us, I’m sure the thought has crossed their minds once or twice that it would sure be nice to fly away and be free. Yet they just look at us with their little blinking eyes and say “We will not abandon our little ones”. Thanks Mom!!

Posted in Celestial on May 7, 2011 – 8:49 am | Comments (0)

Temperance

I have a nice Dual CS528 vinyl record player that I had fixed and tuned up a couple of years ago. Last night I listened to the second side of “Fragile” by the group YES. I tried to get Eva to listen to it, but she doesn’t relate to the music I grew up listening to. So I dimmed the lights, laid back and enjoyed it myself. After about 30 minutes the arm lifted up and went back to it’s starting position and turned off. What I love most about listening to a vinyl record is the feeling of temperance and appreciation for the artistry. I’m sure I’ve downloaded hundreds of hours worth of flac’s and mp3’s, all of which get dumped into a program and just play on and on. Lately I’ve downloaded Flac files that were professionally recorded from “1st press Vinyls” and sound very close, but still something seems to be lost. That one small part that demands your attention a little more and keeps you from over-consuming. Even putting the record back into the sleeve and putting the album back into it’s rightful place on the shelf is part of the enjoyment that has been lost. Each artist, of whose work I actually paid for in the past gets some of my time and attention with vinyl.
I suppose there’s something to be said of that. I believe less quantity and more quality is a good philosophy. Temperance in all things.

Posted in Nebula on May 6, 2011 – 9:00 am | Comments (0)

The invisible light

There is something intriguing to me about the human perception of light and the limits thereof.  Once the ability to see is diminished, the question of whether something exists is presented.  For example, take a TV remote or something similar that has an infrared emitter.  Look at the emitters as you press a few buttons, do you see anything?  What if you dim all the lights, are you able to see anything then?  What if you squint your eyes really tight – anything?  Do you have the confidence to say “The Light is there, but I just can’t see it” or are you the type of person who believes “If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist”?

Ok, if you feel you need some help then take a digital camera or an iPhone, Blackberry or whatever you have that can take a digital picture.  Without actually taking a photo, look at the emitters again through the digital viewer as you press a few buttons.  Can you now feel confident in saying that light is being emitted?

Likewise, those who do not consider themselves to be  “Spiritually Inclined”  will normally have a difficult time seeing or understanding the things which are seen by those who put their lives into the purifying light of Christ.  One of the reasons why we were born into an imperfect, mortal existence is to learn to distinguish between light and darkness in a spiritual sense.  As we go through the continual cycle of sin and repentance we get a clearer understanding and vision of spiritual truth by seeing and feeling the stark contrasts.  Just like it’s very difficult to see and comprehend light outside of our visible range without help, it’s very hard to understand or accept things of a spiritual nature simply by human cognition.  One must have help from God in order to move forward.

“Spiritual Vision” can be described as a clarity of conscience, a calm reassurance, or as Alma told the rejected Zoramites – an enlightened understanding .  Alma 32:33-36 It is not an emotional charge or a fleeting rush of excitement.  It’s also not an escape from reality, it’s a warm welcome to it.   It begins by one saying “I have no clue if this will work, but I’ll at least try” to “Ok, this is nice and all, but could I just be kidding myself?” to “Hmm, I’m feeling more at peace with this” and so on.

I recommend you take some time to watch this talk by one of the twelve apostles – Elder David A. Bednar entitled “The Spirit of Revelation”

Posted in Celestial on May 6, 2011 – 12:19 am | Comments (0)

My very first blog post

Uh oh, I have a blog now!
I’ve been thinking of  writing a blog for a while.  Instead of simply categorizing my posts as “Random thoughts’ I decided to categorize them as observances that slowly come to light and understanding over time, similar to how the stars begin to appear in the evening as the Sun slowly sets behind the horizon. I don’t know if anyone will read them, but what the heck, I’ll try.  

Posted in Nebula on May 5, 2011 – 8:26 am | Comments (0)