Jesus Christ

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The Three Things Required to Build Upon The Rock of Christ

There are 3 things that Jesus taught that enable one to build upon what he called his “rock.”

Building upon his rock is critical to find safety from the floods and winds that cause one to fall and be received into “the gates of hell.” (3 Nephi 11:39-40,14:27,18:13)

The fact that Jesus mentions building upon his rock 3 times in his visit to the ancient American survivors soon after his resurrection should catch our attention. The number 3 is associated with themes such as divine influence or emphasis and structure. When things come in threes, take note because something important is being shared!

The Rock of His Doctrine

The first way to build upon the rock of Christ is mentioned in 3 Nephi 11 and is part of the first things that he taught the gathered survivors in Bountiful. Jesus expresses his concern about disputations and contention (3 Nephi 11:29-30) among the people and desires to abolish it byRead Full Post

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“If it hasn’t happened to you—it should.”

“If it hasn’t happened to you—it should.” [1] That’s what President Ezra Taft Benson had to say about the changing of the human heart and being born of God. 

I would argue that if this has not happened in your life, then it should rise immediately to the top of your priority list. You may shrug this off thinking that you have been born of God, but have you? You may shrug this off because deep down you know you have not been but admitting it may make you feel foolish.

Maybe you have been an active member of the LDS church all of your life and you thought you had your bases covered because you’ve participated in all of the ordinances of the gospel. You take your covenant seriously and honestly seek to align your will with God’s.

“…behold, I ask of you, my brethren [and sisters] of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” [2]

I don’t ask this question to draw out doubts but to increase faith. I’ve observed my fellow saints for years and I have met many that have been born of God and many more who have not. I see people struggle with faith crisis and all manner of difficulties in this world that would be eased or erased if they had been born of God and known of his love and power.

The Lectures on Faith teach clearly that unless members of God’s church “…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 whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be.” [3]

If you have not yet been born of God, then your sins have not been forgiven and you have no salvation; that’s not my opinion.Read Full Post

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Silent Night #LightTheWorld

My father asked me to put a video together for their ward to help get people into the Christmas spirit and turn their thoughts to the Savior. As I was assembling images, I thought to myself how important it is to consider who exactly was born.

I decided to start the video with some edited clips from the beautiful creation sequence from the movie The Tree of Life. Then, I looked for unique images that I had never seen before (along with some familiar ones). There is some fantastic artwork out there, and this is a unique way to enjoy and share it. The music is Stille Nacht (Silent Night), a classic from Mannheim Steamroller. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

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Potential Literary Patterns in Helaman 5

I was reading the words that Helaman taught to his sons, Nephi and Lehi and noticed some potential patterns. Helaman appears to have taught many things to his sons but we only have a few of these words recorded in Helaman 5:6-12. Whether these patterns were intended or not is unknown. Literary patterns breathe life into mere words by incorporating techniques that produce vivid imagery and emotional effects. Chiasmus is a tool used to draw attention to a particular point or theme and there appears to be some use of it by Helaman.

Usually when I see a word repeated many times or patterns of identical or contrasting text I stop and widen my scope to see if there is a pattern and how far it extends. It certainly causes me to spend more time with a particular section of text whether or not any legitimate literary patterns are being used or not. We don’t know for sure what the author was thinking and some of these patterns may just be coincidental. Nevertheless, they can provide an interesting way of playing with the text and examining the message.Read Full Post

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The Mother, the Dove, Mercy, and the Holy Spirit

For the past couple of years, I’ve been coming across fascinating tidbits of information that appear to show connections between the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Mother. During a recent morning family scripture study in 1 Nephi 11, I noticed a couple of interesting things and I’ll share some of the details.

In verse 16, the angel asks Nephi “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” When Nephi appears not to know the answer, (vs.17) the angel shows him this beautiful, fair virgin again and reveals that she is “the mother of the Son of God” (vs.18) and she is shown with a child in her arms. (vs.20) The angel tells Nephi that this child is “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (vs.21)

The angel then asks Nephi another question: “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” (vs.21) Nephi answers knowingly that the tree “is the love of God.” (vs.22) Nephi then sees many people worship Jesus and explains his understanding of the iron rod and the fountain of water. (vs.24-25)

Now that Nephi understands the meaning of the tree the angel says “Look and behold the condescension of God!” (vs.23) It is at this point that the angel shows Nephi key events in the life of Jesus from his baptism to his crucifixion. What I want to focus on what I believe are parallel elements that follow the two verses that mention the phrase “the condescension of God.”

There is a distinct mother and son presence in these verses, and it isn’t quite apparent at first. We see the Spirit mentioned in direct conjunction with a birth and a rebirth account as well; these things are significant so take note!Read Full Post

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Lehi Likes the Fruit, Nephi Likes the Tree

In Lehi’s vision, there are 18 references to the fruit of the tree of life with only 9 references to the tree itself. (1 Nephi 8)

In Nephi’s vision, there is a larger focus on the tree of life with 9 references to the tree and only 1 reference to the fruit. (1 Nephi 11) When Nephi is explaining the vision to his brothers, he mentions the tree 5 times and the fruit 2 times. (1 Nephi 15) That would make a total of 14 references to the tree and 3 references to the fruit by Nephi in the context of his vision.

Lehi > fruit: 18, tree: 9
Nephi > tree: 14, fruit: 3

Symbolism can convey numerous meanings depending on how the context shifts; herein lies its power.

The tree of life bears a white fruit that captured Lehi’s attention. Immediately following the vision of this tree bearing fruit is a virgin holding a child. The implication is that the tree is synonymous with the virgin, and the fruit is synonymous with the child, or in other words, the tree is Mary, and the fruit is Jesus.

Nephi’s vision tells us that the tree also represents the love of God, as does the fountain of living waters. On another level, however, I believe that Mary may potentially represent Jesus’ spiritual mother as well — our Heavenly Mother (more on that in the future).

What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure yet; I just found this to be an interesting observation, and I’m certain that it is significant.

If the focus of Lehi and Nephi in these visions carries over to their teachings, it makes me wonder if there is more in Nephi’s writings that could lead to a greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother.

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We Witness His Resurrection Every Seventh Day

Every Sabbath day, we witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Symbols of his body and blood rest on trays between white linens in a manner that resembles an actual body. When the ordinance begins, the white linens are drawn back and his body rises from the altar (table). The tokens of his body and blood travel out into the congregation and are placed before every individual member.

With our hand, we reach, grasp, lift and partake. We witness that we are willing to take the name of Christ upon us, to keep his commandments and always remember him. We take all this into our inner-most places, our minds, our hearts, and even our bowels (the seat of compassion).

The bread and wine (water) first enter our mouth on their journey and pass by our mind, then down our throat passing our heart, and then reach the bowels where they are absorbed into our entire bodies as nourishment. These tokens literally become part of us, transforming us; implying something much more profound.

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The Parable of the Two Debtors

Jesus once told a parable about two debtors. The first debtor owed the king 10,000 talents, but when the time came to pay up, he didn’t have the ability to. The king commanded that this debtor’s whole family and property were to be sold to pay the debt. But when the servant pleaded for more time to pay, the king had compassion and forgave the entire debt. Nice king.

A little later, this same debtor went out to find a man who owed him money. He took him by the throat and demanded payment for the 100 pence he was owed. This man begged for more time to pay but was instead thrown into prison.

Well the king found out about all this and wasn’t too happy, he delivered this debtor over to “tormenters” until he was able to pay everything he owed.

How much?

So that’s the story, but it doesn’t really hit home unless you have an idea of what kinds of monetary sums we are dealing with here.

The second debtor owed the first one 100 pence. Back then, 1 pence was about a day’s wage or roughly $180 in today’s dollarsRead Full Post

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Mercy and the Mother

 
I have put the words that I believe are related directly to the divine Mother motif in ALL CAPS AND BOLD. The following verses in this article area all connected to each other and certain key points have been emphasized.

I encourage you to open your scriptures and take the time to ponder them in context and look for other connections because they are everywhere.

The Tree and the Virgin

1 Nephi 11:7
the TREE
which bore the fruit
which thy father tasted

1 Nephi 11:8
I looked and beheld a TREE
the beauty was far beyond
yea, exceeding of all beauty
and the whiteness thereof
did exceed the whiteness
of the driven snow

1 Nephi 11:13
I beheld a VIRGIN and she was
exceedingly fair & white

1 Nephi 11:15
A VIRGIN most beautiful and fair
above all other VIRGINS

1 Nephi 11:18
the VIRGIN which thou seest is the
MOTHER of god after the manner of the flesh [original manuscript & 1830 edition]

1 Nephi 11:20
I beheld the VIRGIN again
bearing a child in her arms (vs.7 – tree which bore the fruit)

1 Nephi 11:21
knowest thous the meaning of the TREE?

Note that the tree itself (not the fruit) and the virgin are both ‘exceedingly’ beautiful/fair and white (another word for pure). The virgin and the tree are synonymous but that isRead Full Post

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Boundaries & Becoming

Boundaries define everything that exists. Boundaries are where chaos ends and existence begins. Boundaries tell us what something is and what it isn’t.

“[Christ’s] salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else;”  Lecture 7:9

If we read the various creation accounts in Genesis, Moses and Abraham we see God dividing things. By dividing light from darkness he created a boundary, whereas before there would have been nothing. He divided the waters of the firmament, the seas from the land, animal life from the seas and land, man from the earth, and the woman from the man. Finally, mankind was divided from God during the fall.

Each of these steps was an act of division. Division is creation because dividing creates boundaries, and in the process something new is defined. Living organisms all start with a single cell that divides billions of times to form what could be any variety of complex life.

Computers work on a binary system that begins with a 1 and a 0, electricity and no electricity, something and nothing. From that 1 and 0, you can create infinite strings of digits that can be crafted to produce entire worldsRead Full Post

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WWJD? or WITWJ?

We all are familiar with the acronym that poses the thoughtful question “What Would Jesus Do?”

But in pondering Matthew 25:37-40, another question came to mind, “What if They Were Jesus?”

In certain situations, it is certainly profitable to wonder what actions might be taken by the Savior if he were in your shoes.

But there is a profoundly different feeling when you look at any person and wonder how you might treat them in that moment if they were, in fact, Jesus. After a while, maybe we could learn that people have value regardless of who we try to project onto them.

We might consider that every person was once a small, perfect baby that some joyful mother looked upon with hope and love. Nobody ever looks into the eyes of a smiling baby and sees a homeless man, or some jerk neighbor or the weird quiet guy who sits in the back row at church; but that is who we see.

What if we learned to see differently? What if we learned to see that original light of purity in all souls and could help bring it back to the surface with something as simple as kindness?

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The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.

Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.

It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.

I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.

I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intentionRead Full Post

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Sharing the Gospel, a Sacrament Meeting Talk

Recently, I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting with my wife on the subject of loving others by sharing the gospel. I thought posting the talk here might be beneficial to someone out there. I attempted to make the point that sharing the gospel is not an end in itself, but a byproduct of personal conversion. So instead of trying to persuade people to share the gospel, I attempted to persuade them to find the love of God and their own redemption. Perhaps many could have done a much better job at this, but it was the best I could do and I know the Spirit of the Lord can do great things through weakness.


“Share the Gospel” what does that mean? We say it a lot and perhaps it means different things to different people.

First what is the Gospel? If someone came up to you and asked “What is the gospel?” How would you define it? Could you define it?

Defining the Gospel

Paul wrote:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, …
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Cor 15:1-10

Then Jesus proclaimed to the Nephites:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you–that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross…” 3 Nephi 27:13-14

The Lord again to his Saints:

And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us–That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, …That through him all might be saved…” Doctrine and Covenants 76:40-42

As a bonus, how about a fourth witness, you’ve probably heard this one from Joseph Smith:

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the apostles and prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

Sometimes when we say “the gospel” we tend to just lump everything in there, but scripturallyRead Full Post

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The Holy Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God

jesus_washing_peters_feet_ford_maddox_brown

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An LDS Meetinghouse in American Fork, UT Emphasizes 8

american-fork-meetinghouse-8

I was up in Utah for a wedding and while driving around American Fork I stopped my car when I saw this LDS meetinghouse. I was immediately reminded of a chapel here in Nevada that I really like.

Just like the Nevada meetinghouse, the American Fort meetinghouse emphasizes the number 8 with a giant round window divided into 8 segments.

But wait, it gets better! There are also Read Full Post

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With Sudden Violence

break-heart

The scriptures often talk about having a broken heart, but what does that mean? Does God want us to be sad? I believe that many of the problems we experience in understanding the ancient concepts contained in the scriptures is because we understand things in a modern way.

Words and their meanings change over time. Today, having a broken heart might mean something like the following:

A broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one, whether through death, divorce, breakup, physical separation, betrayal, or romantic rejection. (via Wikipedia, emphasis added)

Broken

In the profane world, a broken heart is an emotional response to unpleasant events surrounding other people. In the sacred world, a broken heart is a catalyst to wonderful things. Read Full Post

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…And Say Unto You, ‘Receive the Mind of God’

mind-of-god

The Lectures on Faith is a fantastic addition to the doctrinal knowledge base of the Latter-day Saints. They were part of the Doctrine and Covenants for almost 100 years and were separated from the canon on the grounds that they were not specific revelations to the Church. It’s a complicated story that I’m going to have to address at another time.

What I’m going to be presenting is from the Fifth Lecture that contains teachings about the Godhead that may at first seem foreign to our traditional views as we have come to understand them. When we are seeking to learn eternal truths through the insufficient languages of man, we can often encounter things that puzzle us.

As inconvenient as this is, I believe that it plays an important role in our quest for truth. It causes us to question, to stretch our understanding and ponder deeply upon things. So let’s look into one of these teachings and see what profound truths that we can draw from it.

LINDSAY CYNGOT | Scroll Photography

LINDSAY CYNGOT | Scroll Photography

The mind of the Father and the Son

In Lecture Five we read:

“And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father – possessing the same mind with the Father; which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son;”

If you read this literally or within a different paradigm it will sound confusing to you. It almost sounds as if the Holy Spirit is nothing more than some kind of shared consciousness. It might seem that way, but I don’t believe that this is the right interpretation. First of all, in translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith would be well aware of what Nephi said when he conversed with the Holy Spirit in a vision:Read Full Post

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Early Analysis of the Potential Symbolism of a New South Jordan Meetinghouse

jordan-chapel-1

Link to the Deseret News article

I was listening to the This Week in Mormons Podcast when I heard this chapel mentioned. As I looked at the photos, some things stuck out to me.

I wish there were some better photos of this chapel. The only ones I could find were small and, unfortunately, dark and look like they were taken with a camera phone.

I’d like to see a better view of the front of this building, especially the very front were there are 3 areas with some kind of “cross” or “T-like” motifs towards the top. The number three is connected to the following doctrines or themes:

  • Divinity
  • Unity
  • Beginning, Middle, End
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Godhead

Symbolically speaking, the numbers 3, 4 and 8 are perhaps the most appropriate to be featured on a chapel considering the purposes of which it exists. 3 signifies divine unity while four expresses mortality and perhaps the Aaronic priesthood in that the square is a sign associate with this authority. Eight is a symbol connected with rebirth and especially Christ and we see a lot of the number eight in LDS chapel construction.

I love the fact that there are Read Full Post

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Repentance: a process of addition not subtraction

repentance-addition-subtraction

I came across this post the other day that had some interesting perspectives on repentance. How many Saints are focused way too much on the “subtraction” aspect of the repentance process? How many are locked in guilt-laden cycles focused on ceasing behavior instead of receiving the power of grace?

“[Repentance] is a process of addition – not subtraction. It is a process of acquisition, not elimination…You repent by ceasing to try to lessen who you are and allowing [Christ] to increase who you are. In short, you repent by “losing yourself” and “finding yourself”.

From a blog titled: Things of my Soul by post author “Papa D” (some parenthesis removed)

I can testify that the principle of allowing Christ to increase you is true because I have experienced it. You are not saved merely by ceasing your iniquity; sin is sin and once committed, it condemns you without the mercy of Christ. Seeing as how we continue to sin all the days of our lives, we are continually at the mercy of the grace of Christ.

It is only by adding the atonement of Jesus Christ that salvation is found.

Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state. (Mosiah 16:4)

What do you think?

  • What is your perspective on the atonement of Christ?
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The Tomb and the Grove

the-tomb-and-the-grove

The Tomb

In the what is today the first book of the New Testament we have an interesting account at the very end of Matthew. Here, it appears that Matthew is attempting to debunk an anti-Christian rumor that was going around concerning the resurrection of Christ.

Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matthew 28:11-15)

According to Matthew a common explanation for the missing body of Christ was attributed to fraud committed by his followers.

Is it really that far of a stretch to believe that among Jesus’ closest confidants and hundreds of followers that someone might have stolen his body in an attempt to somehow “prove” the resurrection? Or that the remaining apostles could have fabricated the story of the resurrection in order to keep the movement going and save face? Isn’t this the simplest explanation if you don’t accept the reality of miracles or the existence of God?

In the case of the Latter-day Saint claim that God restored his Church to the earth, a skeptic might ask Read Full Post

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