Friday, May 28, 2010

Captured, Bound and Cast into prison.

“Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him”…
John 18: 12
This photo was taken of a bronze sculpture of Christ with his hands bound that I saw in the House of Joseph Caiaphas, who was the High Priest of the Jews. Captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ was bound, brought before Annas, then Caiaphus. He was interrogated, falsely accused, ordered to be beaten, cast into prison, and condemned to die for sedition under Roman rule. (It was also at this location in the hall of judgement that Peter denied Christ 3 times.)

Interesting to note that it was here that the prisoners were lowered by rope through a hole into the prison cell located in the basement of Caiaphas’ home. This underground, ‘tear-drop’ shaped, stone cell was virtually escape proof.. The location of Caiaphus’ home is on the Southern part of the city of Jerusalem and overlooks/close to the Gehenna Valley. This “scenic” valley was the site of infant (innocent sacrifice) and were the corpses and ashes of animals and people, as well as wastes and garbage were cast and, according to legend, consumed by a constant fire. Gehenna is cited in the New Testament and in early Christian writing to represent the final place where the wicked will be punished or destroyed after resurrection. Basically this is the Jewish version of Hell.

Definitions of words:
Bound: Confined, Restrained, destined, obliged by moral ties.
Rope: a large line composed of several strands twisted together.

It was difficult to see this image of the Savior tightly bound and treated as a slave and prisoner. But then the insight hit me. Christ sees and feels the same about me. How difficult it must be for the Savior to see each of us tightly bound with the cords of sin. Without the Atonement, we would be eternally bound and captive. We read in the Book of Mormon that Satan binds us first with thin flaxen cords. which over time those cords become rope making it difficult to escape. Because of His love for us… He unloosed the bands of sin and death that hold each of us captive. We read in Acts 2:24, but it was not possible that he should be holden of it.. but would loose the bands for all.

On the flipside.. instead of being bound by Satan by sin.. we can be bound to the Lord through our repentance and our covenants we make. The positive connotation/scriptural references to the words bind/bound : (To seal, to make covenants, to fasten to the sure place.. When we make covenants we bind ourselves to Christ)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Can we hear the Lord speak to us?

Photo taken of man praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on May 16, 2010

I couldn't help but notice this man praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall. Religious Jews come here to pray and place written prayers in the crevices of this wall. A place of pilgramage for the Jews, this is the closest permitted site to the Temple mount and considered the holiest spot in Judaism. It is here that the Jews feel that their prayers will be heard. Granted this man might be blocking the noise from all those around him, thus plugging his ears as well as covering his eyes as to not be distracted. But while we we want our prayers heard.. can we hear the Lord speak back to us?

When we are up against a brick wall asking for help, beset with problems..Do we listen for the answer? Do we really want to know, if it is something we rather not hear?

How often do we find ourselves also praying with our ears plugged.. and covering our eyes so that we won't see the Lord's will for us?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tender Mercies and Divine Positioning

Photo taken at sunrise at the Sea of Galilee on May 11, 2010
"One of the ways whereby the Savior comes to each of us is through His abundant and tender mercies...I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence."
Elder David A. Bednar, April 2005 Conference
If I were to use just one word to describe the past two years of my life I would have to use the word: Synchronicity. Elder Bednar defined this "phenomena" of experiencing of two or more unrelated events in your life occurring together in a meaningful manner as tender mercies from the Lord. Another term that I like to use is Divine Positioning. The Lord is mindful of each of us. More so than we realize. Each one of us are known personally by Him. He cares, He is there. Unfortunately many of us don't see Him or even acknowledge His hand in our lives.

Elder Bednar testified in the above mentioned talk that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us. He also said thait is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable. Just as simple as a bird flying right at the exact moment that I was taking the picture, or meeting someone at a specific time and place that happened to say something of importance, or having the scripture open to an exact verse to answer a question... all tender mercies and Divine positioning. We have much to be gratiful for.

An excerpt from an article on divine positioning.

"If you've ever wondered why you were put in a particular place, with specific people, and you've questioned any particular experience of your life, you were positioned there on purpose for a purpose. Every moment in our lives serves us as learning experiences, without regard to whether the experience is positive or negative. How we react, the actions we take, or our decisions to do nothing with our life lessons, measures how far on the journey that we'll advance in our lives with each of these experiences. If you can't or you are unwilling to learn what life is trying to teach you during the moment of your life lessons, you will receive the same assignments over and over again. These life assignments will continue to prepare you for your life experience tests with different people, different situations, and sometimes with more difficulty......until you pass the tests. You can't advance to the next level on your journey, if you can't pass the present tests. They aren't going away. Each time you resist an experience and fail to see and learn the lesson, is a time that you have further delayed your journey.

The life experiences that are necessary and required for our development, is the reason for our current positioning in life. Where you are at this present moment in your life is where you need to be. When we step out of alignment with life and off of our very own unique paths, this results in feelings of confusion and discomfort. You are in your position because it is what's required specifically for you." Dr. Monica Burns-Capers

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Photos from Israel: Dead Sea Scroll Chiasm

Photograph of a Dead Sea Scroll containing a chiasm that is on display in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. Used in ancient scripture, chiasms are a powerful, symmetric pattern of writing. This funneling structure focuses in and emphazises the main concept in the middle. Chiasms can be found all through our scriptures, but many of us are unaware of them. Looking for them is a good exercise to find the "tree from the forest".

Here is one that I recently found in D&C 133: 10

Awake and arise and
........go forth to meet the Bridegroom
..............behold and lo,
.......................the Bridegroom
........go ye out to meet him.
Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.

Seeing this new structure...we can then read the scripture this way: Awake, Arise, and Prepare yourselves for the Great Day… go out and go forth to meet the Bridegroom.. Behold and lo, He cometh…The bridegroom.

Sidenote: The Essenes were responsible for writing and preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls. (which included The book of Enoch, The Temple Scroll and the Isaiah Scrolls) They separated themselves from the other two major sects (the Pharisees and the Sadducees) and became sectarians. A Sectarian is one who has separated itself from the established church, or which holds tenets different from those of the prevailing denomination in a kingdom or state. The earliest Essenes member were likely Sadducees unwilling to accept the status quo establishment.

Christ Anoints the Eyes of the Blind Man

Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Mark 10: 51-52
To begin my first blog, I wanted to share this painting by Walter Rane. The painting is very symbolic for me. It depicts the miracle of Christ restoring sight to a humbled man who is blind. While many of us are not "physically" blind, most of us are "spiritually" blind. Blind to things that are keeping us from "seeing" the Lord in our lives.
  • The man in a humbled position, kneeling, and possibly hurt due to his loss of sight, since his head appears wrapped.
  • The painting is split in half… the man on the dark, left side and Christ on the light, right side. The left side is possibly symbolic of Earth, Mortality, Sin, and Blindness. On the right...Heaven, Light, Vision, Redemption, Spirtuality. Christ is draped in blue and white... symbolic colors of heaven, the sky and clouds).
  • In the upper left side of the painting is a raised cloth above the man (a veil) which appears lifted for a moment. We see the Lord’s hand extended through into the darkness touching the man’s eyes. (symbolic of an extended hand through a veil).
  • We don't see Christ's entire form.... much of His image is left unanswered in the painting.. and left up to ourselves to see. Small detail...we don't see the thumbs of the Savior, only his 8 fingers. Eight being symbolic of rebirth.
Christ has the power to touch our lives, restore our sight, and heal us of our spiritual blindness.

Introduction to this Blog

I have not been as diligent as I should about keeping a journal and/or writing down insights or personal experiences. If nothing else, this is a last ditch effort for me to do so. My goal is to share personal insights along with photographs, videos and other visual images that bring hope, peace and knowledge to others who love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.