To some of you, this article might just be the most disgusting parable that you’ve ever read, but please, bear with me.
When I was a teenager, I volunteered to sit at a booth for our city zoo at a scout show. I’ve always loved animals and it’s a good thing too because during this event, I was holding a black and white checkered tegu lizard, had about three giant hissing cockroaches climbing on me and a big black scorpion in my armpit, I guess it liked the warm and cozy environment.
As I sat tending to the various critters crawling all over me, I noticed something odd going on in a small container that had two different cockroach species in it (I know, we had a lot of cockroaches). One of the roaches was beginning to molt, and in a brownish environment surrounded by other brown roaches, the bright white roach emerging from its old skin caught my eye.
He struggled quite a bit to get out of that old, hardened skin of his. I took note of how vulnerable he looked and was amazed at how white he was; I had never seen a white cockroach before. At the same time this one roach was molting, I noticed that another roach started acting strange – it was giving birth – live birth! I didn’t even know that roaches did that. A cylinder of white emerged and then broke apart as these tiny white baby roaches began to scurry all over the place.
What struck me is how the big roach and the baby roaches were both this pure white color. I thought of how when we are born, we are pure and innocent but after being exposed to the world, a hardened exoskeleton of sin eventually envelops us. However, like the adult roach, we can shed that exoskeleton of sin and become pure and clean once more.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from the humble cockroach it seems. The prophet Alma testified that “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it…do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). I guess he was right.
Maybe you’ll think twice before squashing another roach ;)
First off, let’s start with the word “worry”, it actually doesn’t appear anywhere in the King James Bible. In Matthew 6, however we see the phrase “take no thought” which is often translated as “don’t worry” or something along those lines. The Greek word used as the source of these translations is “merimnao” which means “to be anxious about”.
If we take the word “anxious” and look it up in the good ‘ol 1828 Dictionary it can mean that one is “Greatly concerned or solicitous, respecting something future or unknown; being in painful suspense;” What purpose does worry serve? I can understand worry because I often find myself plaguedRead Full Post
In the September 2012 edition of the Latter-day Saint publication The Ensign, David Brent Marsh wrote:
God foresaw our day and called the Prophet Joseph Smith to bring forth the Book of Mormon to help us. Of the 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon, 174 (73 percent) deal with war, terrorism, murder, political conspiracies, secret combinations, threats, family collusions, and other hostilities. [source]
Consider Ezra Taft Benson’s words:
The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 3; or Ensign, May 1987, 4)
Consider how each of these realities apply today:Read Full Post
While pondering the blessings that surround us in our time, I also considered the many distractions and noise around us that pollute our thinking and our peace.
I thought about how many prophets lived and died over the course of millennia who saw through eyes of faith the future that was not yet, but would one day be. I found it easy to be envious of these prophetic powers, spiritual gifts and the grand visions of what was to be.
As I turned a corner, I looked out across the city where I live and saw the Las Vegas temple shining in the sun at the foot of a mountain. God was listening to my pondering and unveiled some truth to my understanding in His unique way. Seeing with new eyes, I was crushed at the realization that I was beholding with eyes of flesh the literal fulfillment of the visions of the past. There stands the work of God before my eyes and all around me and I stand as a living witness of promises fulfilled and can drink from those waters at my leisure.
They were privileged to behold what was to be while we are witness to what is.
If you are familiar with the articles here at oneClimbs, you’ll probably see a “climbing” analogy from time to time. I’ve been rappelling a few times and played around on some rock walls in the past but other than that, I have no mountain climbing experience. I grew up in South Texas and never really saw a mountain until my mission to Idaho.
I’ve lived around mountains since then and try to spend time in them as often as possible hiking with my family. Even in casual hiking on trails, the journey can be somewhat difficult so I can’t imagine what it must be like to tackle a treacherous rock face!
To meet God at the top of the mountain, you have to climb; there are no spiritual helicopters. You must do it alone, hand over hand, rock by rock all the way up.
Think of the temple as the peak of the mountain and the requirements that must be lived to enter as the climb. Every now and then I’ll see a discussion of the temple online or on a T.V. interview where some individual laments the fact that the temple has such ridged requirements for entry. Some might ask “Why can’t the temple be open to anyone so that all of us can know about these teaching and receive these blessings?”
The irony is that anyone can enter the temple and receive the blessings but only if you have ‘climbed’ God’s mountain. Climbing takes effort and sacrifice, the temple symbolically teaches that there is no shortcut into God’s kingdom; there is but one way and the path is clearly marked. There is only one way up.
But it goes deeper than that…
This is something that anyone can do, the requirements are not secret, they are open to the public and all one needs to do is climb.
Occasionally I will hear the subject of “mysteries” brought up in a church class or in conversations with other church members like it is an off-limits subject; “Don’t go delving into those mysteries!” I often wonder if they know what mysteries are.
Then there are those not of the Latter-day Saint faith that are concerned about the so-called ‘secrecy’ aspect of Latter-day Saint temples.
In an attempt to shed some light on a subject that ironically is meant to shed light in and of itself, perhaps something can be gained by understanding and pondering the word “mystery”.
First off, although there are limits set to receive mysteries, they are not off-limits. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi had “great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me” (1 Nephi 2:16 ). In another place he also stated clearly that:
For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. (1 Nephi 10:19, emphasis added)
What does the word “mystery” mean to you? Here is a modern definition of the word pulled right off of Google:Read Full Post
Did you know that Moses had to veil his face around the Israelites? Read the account is taken from Exodus 34:29-35 CEV:
Moses came down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments. His face was shining brightly because the Lord had been speaking to him. But Moses did not know at first that his face was shining. When Aaron and the others looked at Moses, they saw that his face was shining, and they were afraid to go near him. Moses called out for Aaron and the leaders to come to him, and he spoke with them. Then the rest of the people of Israel gathered around Moses, and he gave them the laws that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
The face of Moses kept shining, and after he had spoken with the people, he covered his face with a veil. Moses would always remove the veil when he went into the sacred tent to speak with the Lord. And when he came out, he would tell the people everything the Lord had told him to say. They could see that his face was still shining. So after he had spoken with them, he would put the veil back on and leave it on until the next time he went to speak with the Lord.
The apostle Paul referenced this account in a letter to the Corinthians:
The Law of Moses brought only the promise of death, even though it was carved on stones and given in a wonderful way. Still the Law made Moses’ face shine so brightly that the people of Israel could not look at it, even though it was a fading glory. So won’t the agreement that the Spirit brings to us be even more wonderful? If something that brings the death sentence is glorious, won’t something that makes us acceptable to God be even more glorious? In fact, the new agreement is so wonderful that the Law is no longer glorious at all. The Law was given with a glory that faded away. But the glory of the new agreement is much greater, because it will never fade away.
This wonderful hope makes us feel like speaking freely. We are not like Moses. His face was shining, but he covered it to keep the people of Israel from seeing the brightness fade away. The people were stubborn, and something still keeps them from seeing the truth when the Law is read. Only Christ can take away the covering that keeps them from seeing.
When the Law of Moses is read, they have their minds covered over with a covering that is removed only for those who turn to the Lord. The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and the Lord’s Spirit sets us free. So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord. (2 Cor. 3:7-18 CEV)
Most people are familiar with a bride wearing a veil as part of the wedding ceremony. There are some deep roots to this tradition that traces back to Rebekah and Jacob in the book of Genesis. The Jewish tradition incorporates a veiling ceremony known as “Bedeken”. An article over at Chabad.org features some intriguing points behind this tradition:
There are a number of interpretations of the veil’s symbolism, all of which reflect truths that are worthy of being dramatically enacted before the wedding service.
The veil is a symbol of the married woman. It expresses a dignity, which Isaiah (3:18) calls tiferet, and which was reserved for women of station. Ezekiel (16:20) speaks of “covering with silk” the woman he loves. Interestingly, Rebecca does not wear a veil while on the journey in the company of the servant, Eliezer, but instinctively dons it when sighting Isaac. This may account for the insistence of major authorities that the groom himself veil the bride, and that it should never be done without him—it is only his presence that makes her veil significant.
The veil is symbolic of her new unapproachability to others, not only sexually, but as hekdesh, a sanctified object in the temple. The sacred objects of the tabernacle were “veiled” before being taken up to be carried by the Levites. The betrothal ceremony is likened, in a legal sense, to those sanctified objects of the temple. This is the significance of the term kiddushin: the groom, in marriage, sets the bride aside as hekdesh. The analogy strikes deeper if we compare it to the face of Moses, which radiated light after he received the commandments. Moses placed masveh (a veil) over his face as though to imply separateness, withdrawal, almost an other-worldliness. [source]
See also: White Cloth, Fire and the Glory of God
I have been thinking about priesthood service; what it means and the principles upon which it operates.
D&C 121:36 reveals a simple truth:
…the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
We also learn that “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood (vs. 41).” While it is true that man may hold the authority, or in other words the potential, to act in the name of God, the power of the priesthood is only in effect when certain conditions are present.
What are those conditions?
Having pondered on this subject, I have concluded that the conditions required for the power of the priesthood to be in effect can be summed up thus:
“Be worthy, be there.”
The principles of worthiness are based off of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants that man has made in relation to it. Worthiness is “To be personally righteous and to stand approved in the sight of God and his appointed leaders” (The Guide to the Scriptures).
To be “there” means to be where God desires you to be. On any given day, you go about your duties to provide for your family and attend to other services and activities. If you are living worthy of the Spirit then God will often direct you toward someone in need of his blessings; you have your agency to respond or ignore these directions. If you respond and are where God desires you to be then you will be a conduit for the power of the priesthood.
These two simple conditions provide a simple vision for any priesthood holder to understand his role and obligation toward his family and fellow man.
If one ponders this simple vision, they will observe that these two principles are not limited to priesthood holders. Whether we are men or women, whether we hold the priesthood or not, the path that each of us must walk is the same.
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated – And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20,21)
In the battle of churches, everyone is promoting their church as the gate that stands between you and your salvation. Other say that you don’t need a church, you can just go to God himself. There are many other ideologies as well, so what is true and how can you know it?
I can only speak from my own experience on this and I’ll leave others to speak from theirs. One way I look at the message that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers is in the context of “terms”. By “terms” I mean a state of agreement, a concord, a mutual relationship between man and God. The purpose of the church is to expound the terms of certain conditions pertaining to this life and the hereafter.
Covenants and Joy
“Men are that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25) taught the prophet Lehi, and God desires us to have this joy now and forever. However, I think it is self-evident that outside of God’s covenants, people find great joy because joy can be found whenever true principles are lived. The birth of a child, the achievement of goals or learning something new can fill us with a lasting joy.
So how it this joy found through covenants? Do covenants imply a course of action or a pathway through life? How is joy obtained through this particular path?
Perhaps the only way to know is to walk the path ourselves.
What if we have walked the path but we find ourselves depressed, frustrated, laden with guilt, worried, fearful, angry and overcome with life around us? Where is the joy that God has promised us? What does God mean by “joy”?
In the verse “Men are that they might have joy”, maybe the word “might” can teach us something. Might can mean “may or may not” but it can also mean “strength or power”. What strength or power is being conveyed and where does this strength originate? Joy seems to be a conditional principle, but then again, so are covenants.
If we find ourselves joyless, perhaps we should examine why that is and what we are basing our joy in. Maybe the path to joy requires us to become something different by making it through and rising above things that are the antithesis of joy. Maybe a complete joy as promised by God through his covenants can only be known this way. Maybe the way is personalized to each of us and our own situations.
Consider Jesus Christ; was he joyful there, hanging from a cross, freshly beaten and abused, bleeding, with metal spikes driven through his hands, wrists and feet? What does that say about him? What does that say about us? What does that say about joy?
I’d like to expound a little on some thoughts that were expressed in an email exchange with a friend of mine this morning (Thanks, Chris!).
Attend any LDS sacrament meeting on the first Sunday of the month and I can almost guarantee that you will hear the phrase, “I know the church is true”. I’m pretty sure that this is an expression derived from Doctrine and Covenants Section 1 verse 30:
And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—
I’m not doubting that some believe, have strong convictions or even “know” that “the church is true”, but what does that mean? Does simply knowing something change you? If so, how does knowledge change you?
Consider the common knowledge that exercise is important, yet how many people are overweight?
How does ‘knowing that the church is true’ change your life? What do you do with that knowledge? Do you repent? Do you expel anger and hatred from your life? Do you allow the love of Christ to fill and change you? Have you found redemption in Jesus Christ? Has he come to you? Do you know him?
My father has worked for most of his life in residential marine construction and I used to spend a lot of time on job sites throughout my childhood. We worked down by the Gulf of Mexico and were well-acquainted with the sea life there.
There were a variety of jellyfish species that lived in the water and while I didn’t know all of their names, I knew which ones to stay away from! There was a small kind of jellyfish that would be plentiful in the waters from time to time. Whether they were babies or full-grown, I don’t know, but there was something fascinating about them that I’ll never forget.
In the water the jellyfish looked almost identical to this Ctenophora “Comb Jellyfish” pictured below:
These creatures were covered in flashing lights and in the water they were beautiful, they had form and structure and were like nothing else that you would see outside of the water. I would want a closer look so I would cup my hands and capture one; but this is what a jellyfish looks like when you remove it from the water:
It looks like a dull, amorphous blob. Interesting how something so beautiful can look so plain, unattractive and meaningless just by removing it from its element.
To see their beauty, temple teachings must remain immersed in a temple context.
Some are so sure that God exists while others are so sure that he doesn’t and then there is a vast spectrum of those in-between. Over thousands of years, where has all of the debating got us?
If God does not exist is there a purpose to the existence of the universe? Does purpose necessitate a God? Is purpose necessary? The elements we observe in the universe behave with predictable results along discernable laws and mathematics. Do these laws constitute order? Can order come from chaos? Is the universe really chaotic? Can the universe be “chaotic” when order is observed almost all throughout it?
If God exists, then he is hidden from us. If God desires to be hidden, can man reveal him? If God desires to be foundRead Full Post
“Let, then, our first act every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
– Mahatma Gandhi (SL NO. 14, 4-5-1919)
The symbol of a mountain is a common archetype in religious traditions and is it any wonder? Their everlasting stability, their untouchable heights and the way the light paints them in quiet mornings and sets them afire in evenings have always inspired man.
Within the LDS faith, the mountain has a special meaning. I suppose that one of the most immediate correlations would probably be to the temples.
The same way that the Lord’s voice can be heard through scripture, he speaks to us through number, shape, color, light and movement in nature, in temples, in our dreams and visions and in many other circumstances. Everything in our perception can teach us if we have ears to hear, eyes to see, hands to touch and a heart that yearns for virtue.
The mountain; it is a striking visual symbol encompassing many ideas, sermons and truths. Perhaps the mountain peak represents the final destination of man or the ultimate height one can achieve with only God as a way to ascend higher. What I find especially fascinating isn’t the mountain itself, but the climb.
The climb teaches us, it requires strength and in turn makes us strong, it is brutal, unforgiving and perilous.
It seems safer to stay at the bottom, but is it? What if the point of life isn’t to make it safely to death? What if we spend our lives dragging our way to the top but never make it? What is at the top? Is reaching the top of the mountain really even necessary if the point is the climb?
Perhaps the climb begins with covenants. Under covenant, life and every experience of every moment are another rock, another precipice, another dreadful cliff, treacherous winds and a host of spectacular terrain.
Everything becomes the climb; what you do right after you wake up, how you treat your family, friends and enemies, what you do and think when you are alone, how you apply your talents, how you deal with fear, how you handle knowledge and what your attitude is concerning the things you encounter.
The climb; you will either discover what awaits you or you will spend eternity contemplating two words, “what if”.
Will you climb the rock
Or wait at the bottom for a free ride up
Will you look to the top
And wonder what it would be like
Or will you stand up and climb?
– (Lyrics from the song “Lemonade” by U-turn)
Meet “Peter” the Lego Friends character who also happens to be the object of the latest source of contention in the Reed household.
I’m going to try my best to accurately capture a discussion that just transpired minutes before writing this article involving myself, my seven year old and five year old. For the sake of privacy, I will refer to the 7 year old as “Mary” and the 5 year old as “Tina” (I let them pick the names).
There was a conflict over a toy that belonged to Mary, the toy was “Peter” as pictured above. Tina had come along and picked up the toy while Mary had momentarily been distracted and small riot ensued as Mary realized that her toy had been seized without her permission. It just so happens that I had spent the afternoon pondering the principles of justice and mercy, so I declined my initial instinct to barge into the room and fulfill Bill Cosby’s uncomfortably familiar observation that “Parents are not interested in justice — they want QUIET!”
I decided to be interested in justice…and mercy and take this unique time on a Sabbath-day afternoon to try and teach about both.
I gathered them both together and told them thatRead Full Post
There are two consequences in history: one immediate and instantaneously recognized; the other distant and unperceived at first. These consequences often contradict each other; the former come from our short-run wisdom, the latter from long-run wisdom. The providential event appears after the human event. Behind men rises God. Deny as much as you wish the Supreme Wisdom, do not believe in its action, dispute over words, call what the common man calls Providence “the force of circumstances” or “reason”; but look at the end of an accomplished fact, and you will see that it has always produced the opposite of what was expected when it has not been founded from the first on morality and justice.
– Vicomte François René de Chateaubriand, Memoirs from beyond the Tomb (Chateaubriand was a forerunner of the romantic movement in French literature, and a royalist of the Bourbon stamp in politics. He served the restored Bourbon monarchy, after Napoleon’s fall, as ambassador to England and Germany and as Minister of Foreign Affairs. His most famous works were The Genius of Christianity andMemoirs from beyond the Tomb.).
I have felt lost at various points in my life; for different reasons and in different ways. I would like to focus specifically on the question of “Where does one begin?” in the context of finding the point in which one begins to return to God and in what manner it is done.
When I began, my path was full of detours, looking beyond the mark and simply being confused in mists of darkness. If I had understood the scriptures properly I might have found what I was looking for earlier on, but fortunately, we have a very patient and intensely wise Father in Heaven who never gives up on us.
So here we go then; I hope the information provided here can be of help to others that are searching as I was.Read Full Post
I enjoy Denver Snuffer’s books and his blog where you can glean some wonderful little nuggets from time to time. I thought the following quote was great advice:
“It is in the private, unobserved moments when you learn the most about yourself. What you think, what you do, how you act when you think you are alone reveals more about your heart than anything else. If you are distant from God, begin to return in those moments alone.” – Denver Snuffer (Emphasis Added) [source]
After detailing all of the places and situations in which we should cry out to God, Amulek adds “But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.” – Alma 34:26.
Indeed these moments alone are important. When free from the influence of others we have God as our audience, or is it the other way around? It is then that we really begin to understand ourselves but perhaps we don’t like what we see. If this is the case, we can cry out to the Lord without restraint or distraction.
I also like how Bro. Snuffer will sometimes ask searching questions along with the information he is presenting so perhaps I’ll include some in my posts from time to time. Finding truth is all about asking the right questions.
- What do we worship when we are alone?
- Do we believe that God does not see us just because others are not around?
- Do we believe that God cannot hear us in our solitude?
- Do we make time to be alone with God or are we too ‘busy’ for him?
- What would happen if we changed things today?
These insightful words from Brigham Young are interesting to ponder in light of the responsibility that comes with receiving revelation:
There is one principle that I wish the people would understand and lay to heart. Just as fast as you will prove before your God that you are worthy to receive the mysteries, if you please to call them so, of the kingdom of heaven–that you are full of confidence in God–that you will never betray a thing that God tells you–that you will never reveal to your neighbour that which ought not to be revealed, as quick as you prepare to be entrusted with the things of God, there is an eternity of them to bestow upon you. Instead of pleading with the Lord to bestow more upon you, plead with yourselves to have confidence in yourselves, to have integrity in yourselves, and know when to speak and what to speak, what to reveal, and how to carry yourselves and walk before the Lord. And just as fast as you prove to Him that you will preserve everything secret that ought to be–that you will deal out to your neighbours all which you ought, and no more, and learn how to dispense your knowledge to your families, friends, neighbours, and brethren, the Lord will bestow upon you, and give to you, and bestow upon you, until finally he will say to you, “You shall never fall; your salvation is sealed unto you; you are sealed up unto eternal life and salvation, through your integrity.”
Let every person be the friend of God, that whatever He reveals to you, you can wisely handle without asking Him whether you shall tell your wife of it or not…I say this that you may learn to reveal that which you ought, and to keep the rest to yourselves. By so doing you prove to God that you are His friends, and will keep His secrets.
The world may howl around you and plead for the secrets of the Lord which he has given you, but they will not get them. When the Lord has proved His children true to what He has given into their charge, and that they will do His bidding, He will tell such persons anything that they should know. A great many desire just enough of knowledge to damn them and it does damn a great many. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.4, Pg.371, underline added)