Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heading to the beach (hopefully oil-free)

Photo taken of my three girls on Newport Beach, CA
"For I the Lord thy God will holy thy right hand, saying unto thee,
Fear not; I will help thee."
Isaiah 41:13

Not sure how many read/follow this blog.. but in case you do..This will be my last post for about 10 days. We are headed down to our home away from home.. Newport Beach. Away from anything electronic.. no phones, no computers etc.. .just the sound of the ocean. Looking forward to swimming in the ocean on the Pacific side hopefully free from the contamination of the oil spill. It is devastating to me to see the destruction that is happening all around us. We are to not Fear.. but put our trust, our hand in the Lord's hand.

Pools of Bethesda: Part 3

Photo taken of flower on top of the Mount Precipice, May 2010
"because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." John 4: 16-20

This scripture tells us who Jesus was sent to preach the gospel to: The poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and the bruised.... the people found at the Pools of Bethesda.

I recently spoke to a friend on the phone who is a therapist. She said that she was asked to do some volunteer work at a addiction/abuse clinic. At first, she was hestitant to go, since she thought it would be difficult to work with people described as being at the "bottom of the pool". However, after working with some of this people.. "the captives, the bruised",.. she realized that many of them where finding ways to rise back to the "surface". One patient asked her, "Is it okay to pray to God all the time during the day?.. (since she was worried that she would be bothering God.) She continued on to say that praying to God is the only thing that get her through another day. Only if we who might find ourselve above water to be as reliant on God, as we should be.. instead of being prideful to think we can do things ourselves and don't need His help.

We find ourselves on all different levels in the pool of life.. Some floating easily on the surface.. maybe on floating devices (possibly with some of the air starting to escape and they beginning to sinking). Others without a device are in physical shape to tread water day after day. The weaker ones seem to swallow water and are sinking. Some have already hit the bottom of the pool. While some stay at the bottom of the pool, others are finding ways to rise back up to the surface.

What is our role as disciples of Christ? Is it not our role to help those at the bottom of the pool to rise back up to the surface?

I chose this photograph to close my thoughts on the lessons I learned from the Pool of Bethesda. and use the photo of a flower from ontop the Mount Precipice?
Why the significance of Mount Precipice? In John chapter 4, tells the story about how angry Jewish worshippers drove Jesus away from the Synagogue, attempted to throw him off the cliffs, and he disappeared before their eyes "in the midst of them". This photo is taken of a flower on top of that cliff mountain.. known as Mount Precipice (meaning a very steep cliff)

We read, "And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong."

This flower is very symbolic for me. It is an example of a juxtapostion. High on the cliff, this flower rises and blooms out of little to no water, thorns, weeds, and rocks. It was here on these cliffs that Christ was supposedly cast down by his enemies, yet He rises above. Using this example of this flower, we have the choice to either stay down (where we were pushed down or jumped ourselve).. or rise up..despite our circumstances.

We also have a responsibility as followers of Christ to help those found at the "depths of the pools of Bethseda".. the downtrodden, to rise up... and walk.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pools of Bethesda: Part 2

Photo taken of an open, arched courtyard near the Pools of Bethesda in Jerusalem.

" Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called.. Bethesda.
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered,
waiting for the moving of the water. "
John 5: 2-3

Here are some key insights/facts in John's account of Christ healing of this elderly man.
When? During the Feast of the Jews: mostly likely referring to Passover. (I think the visual image and symbolically of this miracle happening on Passover is significant. Like tHe did for the Israelites, Christ did not "passover" this man although this sick man was an outcast/hidden)
Location? at the Pools of Bethesda, the word Bethdesda which means House of Mercy or House of Grace.
Who was present? A great multitude of impotent, blind, halt, withered men/women/children
Why did the sick congregate here? It was a sacred place where an angel had made the water cleanse the infirmed.
What is Troubled water?.. I need to do more research on this. Please comment if you have info.
Who was this Certain Man? A man who had been infirm for 38 years and who tries to cleanse himself in the pool but others "steppeth down before him,".. How many times do we find ourselves either being passed over.. or passing in front of others?
What happens? Christ asks if this man wants to be made whole, and then tells him to Rise, Take up thy Bed and walk.. 3 Things. Rise, Carry, and Walk.
The story doesn't end there because the religous leaders were upset that Christ would do this on the Sabbath. Not only did Christ heal on the Sabbath, but He was telling the man to "work" or take up his bed and walk. There were strict laws against such things on the Sabbath. Due in part, The Jews persecuted Christ and sought to slay Him.
Christ answered them basically saying this is what my Father would have done.. quote, " My Father worketh hitherto, and (therefore so) I work.

Pools of Bethesda: Part 1

Carl Heinrich's Painting, "Healing at the Pool of Bethesda"
"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case,
he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?"
John 5:7-9
Christ healing the man at the Pools of Bethesda is a beautiful story and I wanted to share a couple of insight in the next couple of posts. I wanted to first post a picture of the original painting that I was able to see when it came to the BYU Musuem a couple of years ago. I was shocked to see how big the original is: It is 9 feet by 10 feet. With all of the detail and the sheer size, it allows the viewer to experience this miraculous event as if it were happening before their very eyes.

I saw a reproduction of this painting in the Jordan River Temple this morning and felt to write some thoughts. The sick man is hiding under the cloth. Christ had to seek and find.. raise the heavy cloth to uncover and see the face of the man. How easy would it have been to pass by such an individual. We learn from the scriptures that his man has been ill for 38 years. Whether we are physically sick or spiritually sick.. it is never too late to be made whole again with our faith in Christ.

Here is some more description of the painting from the artist's website;
"Christ uncovers a man under a shelter of cloth, sticks and straw. The man is elderly and frail, having suffered infirmities for many years, lying by a pool believed by many to heal. Christ, in heavy, white robes gestures to him to arise, and be made whole. The man appears surprised, yet hopeful as his arms are raised. There are many ill people gathered around the pool. Christ’s companion, looking anxious, can be seen behind him on the left of the composition. Behind them are three bearded men paying close attention to the miracle worker’s actions - as it is the Sabbath. Looks of contempt and scheming glances are seen upon the conspirator’s faces.

Two meager men on the other side of the column sit eating and talking. Beside them a poor, lame man in green stands above them - watching and perhaps hoping for a share in their meal. A poor sickly man in a bright red cap, sits next to the scene - discretely observing the goings-on. As it was a quite competitive event to reach the waters first to be healed, he is perhaps watching closely to see what events occur from this strange encounter between the majestic man and the ailing individual."

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Tree of Life: An Olive Tree?

Photo taken of an Olive Tree on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
“the olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us."
Doctrine and Covenants Section 88

I have always wondered what kind of tree is the Tree of Life? Growing up I always pictured in my mind an apple tree.. but instead of red apples... they were white apples. Probably not accurate, but that was what I always imagined.

So, do we really know what kind of tree was the tree of Life/Paradise?... With the above information found in D&C 88...If the Tree of Paradise is the same as the Tree of Life.. then is it an Olive Tree?

In the Book of Mormon account of Lehi's dream, the tree of life is said to represent the love of God... even Jesus Christ, who is the incarnate love of God.
We read in Nephi 11: 21-24 "Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him. "

Is the olive the fruit of the tree of life? I have mentioned earlier on my blog that the olive oil (the essence of the fruit) represents the spirit, power, or glory of God. The olive oil serves as a cleansing agent, a preservative, a fuel for lamps, an aid to cooking, and a fragrant ointment to condition and protect the skin... but most importantly used in annointings and ordinances.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Chewed Shoe and the Watchman on the Tower.

Photo taken of my daughters' shoe this morning after our puppy got a bite of it.
"And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer."
D&C 101: 54

This morning I found my daughter sobbing with uncontrollable tears. To begin this story, my wife and I had brought home from Israel a pair of leather shoes as a souvenir from Jerusalem. My daughter loved these shoes, and wore them all the time. The soft leather and the ease of putting them one her feet...made these shoes her favorite.

Unfortunately we have a puppy who loves to chew.. (and bark.) We love Patch, but his natural dog instincts has created problems with our neighbors, our furniture, our carpet... and now our shoes. Daily, we constantly have to remind our children to put their shoes away.. so that they won't be used as chew toys.

Last night in putting the dog to bed, I had the impression to make sure all shoes where in a safe place. I found one pair vulnerable.. but didn't see the other pair under the table. This morning once the dog was let out from his "cave"...unwatched and left to himself, Patch found my daughter's favored shoe and went to town on the cowhide. Luckly my wife walked in on the guilty puppy and stopped the devastation before the shoe became unwearable...

This shoe takes on a new meaning for me and my family...

Yes, A favored and still wearable shoe shows a bite mark, but a gentle reminder that anything of value to us needs our constant viligiance to make sure that it remains in tact. I am reminded of the parable of the "watchman on the tower" that falls asleep and the enemy enters in to the Lord's vineyard. A good Family Home Evening lesson. See the above scripture.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All things bear record of me

Photo taken on my hike this week of the white mariposa lily

"And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me”

Moses 6:63
Due to the late spring.. the wild flowers have been slow to bloom this year. One a hike that I took this past week, I came across this beautiful flower.. the white mariposa lily.
Like all lilies.. they have 3 petals and 3 sepals that looks like petals. Mariposas is Spanish for butterfly. The markings inside the cup of the flower do indeed look like a butterfly. They also look like butterflies from the side.
It reminded me of the Star of David... so I superimposed the star over the photo. The colors are also very symbolic of Christ.. The white: purity and holiness. The red: the atoning blood, and the green: everlasting life.


"the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord"
Mosiah 24: 15

This is my wife and I cliff jumping with my kids at Lake Powell. This is a different type of picture than others that I have posted.. but I think a great lesson can be learned by this photo. First of all, Jumping off a cliff is terrifying. It never looks as high until the moment you are about to jump. (Jumping with others especially with your spouse makes it a little easier). I think we are all on different levels or heights with the Lord.. but the experience is the same. Each has to submit.. fully commit and leave the secure ledge we stand on with the faith that we land safely in the water. (the water.. symbolic of the living water of Christ). Our life jacket is an outward symbol of our faith and hope that we won’t sink, but raise to the surface after we fall. Once we take that leap of faith, we are completely at His mercy and show our willingness to follow Him.

Another analogy of “jumping” can be compared to our descending from our Heavenly Home into this world. We leave His presence and enter this world (into and through water/birth). The Spirit that come down here..instead of “cliff jumping”.. they are heaven “jumpers”.. entering into a new world/realm.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Light Shall Break Forth

Early Morning Sunrise over the Mount of Olives taken on May 15, 2010
"And when the times of the Gentiles is come in,
a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness,
and it shall be the fulness of my gospel. "
Doctrine and Covenants 45: 28

I took this picture on the last morning I was in Jerusalem. This is taken from the Wall of the Old City looking east towards the Mount of Olives. It is difficult to see in the dark, but the BYU Jerusalem Center can be seen on the very left close to the top of the hill. On the lower right of the photo is the traditional setting of the Garden of Gethsemane.

While the "light of the sun" rises in east every morning over the Mount of the Olives, we know in the not to distant future that the "Light of the SON" will descend upon this mountain in the east. This mount of Olives has been and will be one of the most sacred places on this earth. The Lord has descended below all things on this mount, and then ascended above all things. He will descend again in His glory as "a light shall breaking forth among them that sit in darkness."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

Photo looking up at the Dome rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulture in Jerusalem.

"This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made." D&C 88:7

Today is the beginning of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. As a result, at high noon on the first day of summer, the sun appears at its highest point in the sky, its most directly overhead position in the Northern Hemisphere. Some important facts about the summer solstice: The ancient Eygptians, built the Great Pyramids so that the solstice sunset, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the Pyramids. Associated with agriculture, the summer solstice was a reminder that a turning point in the growing season had been reached. Starting today, marks the beginning of losing less light each day until the Winter Solstice where we then begin to receive more light each day.

Important Dates in LDS history around the Summer Solstice:
In June: Translation of the Book of Mormon completed.
In June: Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred.

Observations in the photo: There are 12 large rays that come out from the center of the circle with 24 smaller rays.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Standing on Higher Ground and Lifting others Up

Photo of bronze sculpture in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
"And he who is faithful shall overcome all things, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
D&C 75: 16
"When men are cast down, then thou shalt say,
There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person."
Job 22: 29
This photo has a wonderful story behind it. Probably too long to write in this blog. I used this photo in a Stake Priesthood Talk that I gave last year, as well as a presentation at a conference. I I have entitled the photo: Standing on Higher Ground and Lifting other Up. I will write more about the symbolism in the photo.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One More Branch in the Tree

The Christenson Family Tree

Not sure if the "branch" will be named Jacob David or Rebecca.

Expected Date of Delivery: February 1, 2001

A Higher Perspective

Photo taken from my plane leaving from Salt Lake looking down at the Wasatch Mountains.
" I will give them power that they may behold and view these things as they are."
D&C 5: 13, 24
In the upper left part of this photo is Mount Timpanogas. From this perspective it doesn't look as impressive as it does from the valley in Utah County. However the ridge line of the mountains in the foreground are beautiful and impressive from this perspective above... yet, from below in the valley, this commom mountain range is not viewed to be as beautiful as the landmark Mt. Timp... yet from above.. it is magnificent.
Perspective: The manner in which objects appear to the eye from any distance and situation, real and imaginary.
View: The whole extent seen. Sight, power of seeing.

How is our perspective on things in this world? Is our perspective from the "valley's" the proper view of how things really are? What do things look like from the higher perspective? Could the things that don't look as impressive from "below" actually be viewed amazing from above? and vice versa?

We learn in the Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord will grant unto us the the view of the things which we desire to see if we do not exalt ourselves.. but humble ourselves sufficiently in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of our hearts. (D&C 5: 24)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Safe on the base

Photo of my daughter Brooke playing baseball.
..."whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe"
Proverbs 29: 25
What does it mean to be safe? Are you standing on a "base"?
SAFE: securing from harm, not exposing to danger.
BASE: the foundation, the support, that which is set.
In our world, it is difficult to find a "base" to where we can stand to be secure from harm. There is only ONE base. Jesus Christ. In baseball, when a player is standing on the base, they can not get out. No matter what happens, as long as they are standing on the base, they are protected and safe. As soon as we leave the base.. even just an inch, we are vulnerable to getting tagged out by the opposing team.
When we find ourselves "off-base" from the sure foundation or "base" of Jesus Christ in our lives, we are vulnerable to the adversary. Even if we think we are doing what is right, if our focus is not on the Savior than we can be in danger.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Come unto me as a LITTLE CHILD

Photo taken of a father and son in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.
"Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive,
for of such is the kingdom of God."
3 Nephi 9:22.
This photo shows a father with his infant son on his lap. This little child is completely dependent on his father for his every need. Symbolic of the relationship that we need to have with our Heavenly Father.
The above scripture was given AFTER the destruction of many people and cities for their wickedness, but BEFORE Christ appeared to them in the land Bountiful. . Christ tells the people to Repent. and Come unto Him a little child. What does that mean to come unto Christ as a little child? In one of the best sermons given, King Benjamin described becoming as a child with the following: submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

This is so contrary to what Christ teaches, the world teaches us ...

Instead of being submissive, the world teaches us to be assertive.
Instead of being meek, the world teaches us to be strong.
Instead of being humble, the world teaches us to be proud.
Instead of being full of love, the world teaches us to be competitive, with the desire to be better than others.
Instead of being willing to submit, the world teaches us to be agressive, independent, and in control.

To submit means to yield ourself to the power of another; to give up resistance.
The thought occured to me, if we are successful, independent, strong, rich, etc... why would we every need a Savior. Do we sometimes think we have acheived these things ourselves? Do we forget the Lord?

Maybe that is why the Savior says.. REPENT.
Will this same pattern happen to us in our day... will we choose to repent? or will we be compelled to repent?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Millstone and Offending others

Photo taken of a millstone used in this olive press in Nazareth, Israel
" And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."
Mark 9:42
I uses to think in the above scripture that "little ones" only meant little children...and is referring to those who offend, abuse, and harm the underaged. However, I learned from a friend that term can also refer to adults as well. Middle Eastern teachers, when conveying their love and closeness to their disciples, will address them as “little children”. According to custom, people call or address unlearned men, no matter how old they are, as “little children.”.. or "little ones". When God called Jeremiah to preach to the people, the prophet said: “I am a child.” This means “I am unlearned.”
Many times, when we learn of new things we are zealous in sharing these truths with others who might be "little ones"... yet might be older than us in age. I have learned that we are all on different levels of understanding and knowledge. It is important that we don't "offend" others by taking away what they know to be true... but only add to their knowledge.. add light to the light they already have. If we offend or hurt these little ones... then it would be better that a millstone be hung around our necks.. Seeing an actual millstone .. one would reconsider how we not only treat little children.. but those who are "unlearned".. I now understand why the Savior most oftentimes taught in parables.
So here are some rules to follow:
Rule #1: Learn to love people as much as you love truth.
Rule #2: All truth is not for all people
Rule #3: Be careful how you judge.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stark Contrasts: Truth is our Greatest Weapon.

Photo taken of my mom with an armed Israeli militiary police offficer on May 16, 2010
"Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace;
and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
2 Corinthians 13:11
First of all.. I have a beautiful mom. Hope that I can look as young when I am in my 70's. Many of you know that my family and I just returned home from a trip to the Holy Land. A land of contrast.. most notable is the war, violence, and control that has dominanted that country for centuries verses the peace, love, and freedom that came through the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ.
In this photo we see stark contrasts. A man Armed with Guns and ammunition.. verses my mom armed with love. My mom, like all moms represents hope, peace, love.. and truth. Standing side by side with a symbol of violence, war and weapons. I know that many could view the soldier as a symbol of defense (which is a good thing).. but what is truly our best defense against evil? guns and bullets? No. Our weapon is the truth.

"In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell.

Observation: My mom is wearing an ear headset to listen to a receiver. Symbolic of recieving inspiration from our Father in Heaven. Do we listen to the world, the televison, newspapers, radio for truth.. or do we go to the scriptures, in prayer and recieve personal revelation from the source of all truth.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mountain, Hill and Valley: The Three Divisions

Photo taken on May 29, 2010 near Landsend Mountain, Colorado.
"Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths."
Isaiah 2: 3
I recently returned from a mountain climbing adventure with my friend who lives in Colorado. On the way to our hike, we passed this natural "temple-like" rock structure. It is a focal point in the fertile valley near the city of Paonia (an Indian reservation) surrounded by majestic mountains.
At first glance one might not see the symbolism in the photo.. of the division of earth and sky... and also the three divisions of the earth: the flat green valley, the upward, sloping hills and the rock mountain. Division yet forming a whole structure. Balance.
I just recently learned about the reality of the Spiritual Division of "three " in an email from a friend.
In our modern competitive culture we have three divisions in almost everything we do. We have the First, Place, Second Place and Third place in our teams, our competitions, and our awards.
In the physical world we have the 3 precious metals of gold, silver, and bronze. The 3 Semi-precious metals of copper, brass, and iron.. and the 3 common materials of rock, wood, and clay(dust/mud).
There are also Spiritual Divisions.. of people. (Celestial, Terrestial, and Telestial)
In Isaiah, we can read of the Lord referring to 3 types of people in the Last Days...We have those who see God (who meet Him when He comes), these are those who are protected as a hen under her wings. The next choose not to be protected and suffer for it throughout the tribulation... however some of these survive the calamities of the last days (they are part of that group that needs to repent – and does), and finally there are those who are part of the destruction, who are trodden down.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oil Lamp: Restore Light to a darken room

"Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom."
Doctrine and Covenants 33:17
I took this picture in Nazareth, the “hometown” of Jesus. About an hour before I took this picture an interesting thing happened. We experienced a power failure, and all the lights had gone out due to the excess/overindulgence of power needed to keep all the manmade equipment functioning. For about 5 minutes, we stood in darkness. We don’t realize how much we depend on manmade electricity until we don’t have it. (We would be wise to remember that when we overuse power.. there will always be a failure)

However, on the flipside….It is interesting to see how a small flame from an insignificant oil lamp can quickly restore light to a darken room.

The importance of the Olive Tree and the Olive Oil:
I understand better the symbolic comparison of the olive oil to our Savior. For those who don’t know, the process in creating oil requires first for the olives to be mature, unblemished, and qualified to be picked. The olives are then placed in a stone basin and are bruised and crushed by a large millstone. The crushed and broken fruit is then collected into baskets, which are stacked one upon the other. These are then placed under a weighted stone press, where overwhelming pressure is applied to them. This process slowly crushes the oil from the fruit. The pressure that is applied is extremely strong, firm and fierce, steadily increasing over time until the red-stained oil contained therein is extracted from the once unblemished fruit. It is any wonder that the place where the Savior atoned for our sins was on the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane (which means Oil press).

Other scripture references to the Olive Tree and Oil:
Olive Oil used for healings and anointings (ritual for kings and priests). The parable of the 10 virgins and their oil lamps. One the best parable is the allegory of the olive tree. Lehi compares his family to an olive tree. The tree is a symbol of life and vitality. The olive branch with the dove is a symbol of life and renewal referencing to when the dove returned with a branch to the ark in the days of Noah after the waters subsided in the flood.

We are the darkened room. The Savior is our only True Light..Through the atonement we can have the light restored back into our life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Without Warning...Unleased flood and rising tide

Photo taken on June 7, 2010 of Big Cottonwood Creek which caused flooding and damage.
We spent last night and early morning hours, sandbagging to help prevent flooding after an unexpected water level rise in the river we live nearby . The flooding came without warning. The water was swift and powerful. Hundreds of volunteers showed up to help contain the powerful deluge of water and debris. While we were able to contain and protect some homes, unfortunately many homes were flooded and damaged.
How symbolic this powerful surge of flooding water is to the turbulent times in which we live. The rising flood waters can be compared to sin, wickedness and filth that is rising and covering the whole world. Joseph F. Smith back in the early 1900's made this comment. "Today a flood of iniquity is overwhelming the civilized world".
Once sin and chaos has been unleased, it is difficult to contain. Pornography, Immorality Abuse, Addiction are destroying those found caught in the path of this flood water and are carried downstream. There is only one way to stand firm and steadfast and safe against the path of destruction. Our faith and reliance on the Savior.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Defense and a Refuge

, Photo taken on top of Masada in Israel on May 14, 2010
"And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth."
D&C 115: 6
Masada is situated on top of an enormous, isolated rock. It was on top of this mesa that the Jews fled and built a city to escape the Roman invasion and their enslavement. Yet the religious Jews, encamped in the fortress, could never feel secure; every morning, they awoke to see the Romans hard at work, constructing battering rams and other weapons to conquer and take captive these religious and devout group of men, women and children. Even a physical place that would appear a perfect defense and a refuge was not enough to keep these people safe. However, the Romans did not give up, and after many months of building a rampart to invade the city, they finally breached the wall of the fortress only to find the religious group's mass suicide, people who preferred death to surrender/enslavement.
My friend was asked to give a talk in church on how the CHURCH is a defense and a refuge from the storm. While the church can offer some protection.. the only true defense and refuge is our Savior Jesus Christ. If our testimonies and lives are built on Him. He is the sure foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. So WHEN (not if) the devil sends forth his mighty winds, he will have NO power to drag us down to the gulf of misery and endless wo. (Helaman 5:12)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mount of Beautitudes Tree

Photo taken at Mount of Beautitudes on the Sea of Galilee
May 12, 2010
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu
The greatest sermon that has ever been preached is probably the Sermon on the Mount. The Master taught the Sermon on the Mount, but it is important to know that He was that Sermon. Every thing He taught.. He Is! The first part of this sermon is what we now affectionately call, “THE BEATITUDES”. The Latin word, “beatus” is the basis of the English “beatitude” meaning “to be fortunate.” or to be happy, or to be blessed.
We learn from Christ that the “fortunate ones” are the following:
  • The “poor in spirit” = or the “humble in spirit” or “lacking in pride”
  • Those that mourn..(the humble are usually those who have suffered.)
  • The Meek = gentle, forgiving, or benevolent.
  • Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
  • The Merciful
  • The Pure in heart = (chastity, cleanliness, purity.)
  • The Peacemakers.
  • The Persecuted
  • The Salt of the Earth
  • The Lights of the World

In today’s world we would have a different list of who we think are the fortunate ones: ·

  • The wealthy
  • The beautiful
  • The famous
  • The talented/ athletically gifted and others who we idolize ·
  • The powerful and influential.

The world’s view of their “fortunate list” deal mainly with the EXTERNAL.. while the Lord’s list of the fortunate describes what is contained in the INTERNAL. These two lists are extreme opposites.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lilies of the Field

Photo taken of the "scarlet anemone" flower in the Garden of Gethsemane on May 15, 2010
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin."
Matthew 6: 28-29
When we read "lilies of the field" , we generally think of an actual lily.. or possibly the generic term for flowers in general. However with some research, the exact lily that Christ is referring to could well have been referring to the scarlet anemone. (often times called a poppy).
The Hebrew and Greek word for lily are not limited to members of the lily family .. but more of "the floral bloom of the plain". Upon comparing the Biblical passages in Matthew and Luke with Canticles verse 13, it is certain that the lilies mentioned there were not white, for in the former places they are said to surpass the royal robe of Solomon, and in the passage cited they are color of crimson, and the flush of human lips. We read in Isaiah 1:18, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". How beautiful of a reminder to see these scarlet "lilies" growing on the Mount of Olives naturally and found in the Garden of Gethsemane. Symbolic of the blood of Christ's Atonement and a reminder that our sins can be made white as snow.