Monday, August 30, 2010

The Day Dawn is Breaking

Photo taken this morning of the sunrise over Mount Olympus
as it peaks out behind the clouds on August 30, 2010.
The Day Dawn is Breaking
The day dawn is breaking, the world is awaking,
The clouds of night’s darkness are fleeing away.
The worldwide commotion, from ocean to ocean,
Now heralds the time of the beautiful day.
Hymn No 52.

I woke up early this morning to thunder and lightning. A powerful storm including hail passed through the Salt Lake valley. As the storm was passing, I watched the sunrise. It was a beautiful sky including the unusual low hanging clouds in the valley. In the above photo, you can see the peaks of Mount Olympus. Also, you can see a patch of blue sky. In this one photo you can see the mountain peaks to climb, the stormy skies to weather.. counterbalanced with the glory of sun coming out and blue skies of hope visible.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Then and Now

Photo composited of two photos:
The replica city of Jerusalem at the Israeli Museum
and the City of Jerusalem taken from the Mount of Olives on May 2010
Photo of the Dome of the Rock taken from the Mount of Olives on May 2010

"Then Solomon began to build the House of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah,
where the Lord appeared unto David his father."
2 Chronicles 3: 1
The best known temple mentioned in the Bible is the one built by Solomon in Jerusalem. It was destroyed in 600 B.C. by the Babylonians and was restored by Zerubbabel almost a hundred years later. Part of this temple was burned in 37 B.C., and Herod the Great later rebuilt it.
The above photo is a replica of the Herod's Temple that existed at the time of Christ. The temple was destroyed by the Romans and never rebuilt again by the Jews. It was replaced by the Muslim shrines in the 8th Century AD which still stand there today, with the Golden Dome of the Rock - the city's symbol.
The rock is in the center of the shrine, and according to Jewish tradition was the place where Abraham came to sacrifice his son Isaac. According to Muslim tradition, prophet Muhammad ascended to the heaven from this rock. Jews believe that it was on this rock that Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and this stone may have once stood in Solomon's Temple.
On the walls of the Dome of the Rock is an inscription in a mosaic frieze that includes the following words; “Such was Jesus son of Mary and peace upon him on the day of birth and on the day of death and on the day he is raised up again. It is a word of truth in which they doubt. It is not for God to take a son. Glory be to him when he decrees a thing he only says be, and it is."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Supporting Circles get smaller as you reach the pinnacle

Photo taken in August 2010 of the Salt Lake Capital Building
"Thus of divine necessity, the supporting circles around Jesus
gets smaller and smaller and smaller."
from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland talk, "None were with Him."
The Capital Dome or Rotunda is the tallest part of the Capital and has been described as it's "symbolic and physical heart." Domes have been called the perfect architectural shape: it is a circle, symbol of heaven, executed in three dimension (width, length, and height). In religious architecture domes proclaim the glory of God. The word "dome" comes for Latin "domus" meaning... a house. In Italian, the word for dome, "duomo," meaning a house of God.
The oculus or eye of the dome is considered the Gateway of the Sun. From this gateway at the top of the dome rises the world axis (a sphere) or link between heaven and earth. Domes, therefore are considered thresholds or gateways to the spiritual world.
Personally when I see the dome, I am reminded of Elder Jeffrey R. Hollands talk when he said that as the Lord approached His final mission, the Atonement, the circles of support (His friends, disciples and family) grew smaller and smaller and smaller. It became a solitary event.. truly an "at one ment". or "at one moment". So to as we aspire upward, circles get smaller, less distraction,.. we too have that "at one moment" when we recieve our Savior.. the pinnacle and moment when heaven meets earth.. the link.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

Photo taken from Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City,Utah on August 10, 2010
Photo taken on May 18, 2009 from Buckingham Fountain in Chicago, Illinois
With the exception of my mission, I have only lived in two states, Utah and Illinois. I have been fortunate to live in the suburbs of each state's major city.. Salt Lake City and Chicago. Both cities have a prominent landmark building. Chicago has the tallest building in the United States, formerly called the Sears Tower, and now called the Willis Tower (the black building seen in the above photo). The most recognized/prominent building in Salt Lake City is the LDS Temple.
While the Willis building towers 108 stories above in the sky, and can been from miles away... The Salt Lake Temple is more difficult to see now with the high rise buildings being constructed around the temple block. While possibly blocked from visibility from areas in the city, the temple is visible and is a prominent place for those on the other side of the veil.
As a sidenote: Illinois and Utah are significant states in LDS church history.
Illinois is the final resting place for the prophet Joseph Smith.
Utah the state where Brigham Young came for the continuation of the Church that Joseph Smith restored.
It would be interesting to hear what both Joseph and Brigham (whose primary goal was to build Zion in their day) would say about these two modern cities. Are we any closer now than we were then to building Zion?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

City set on a hill cannot be hid.

Photo taken of the Italian coastal city, Riomassiore in May of 2009.
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
Matthew 5:14

In the ancient world, a city on a hill would have signified strength and protection. It was for the purpose of self-defense that cities were built on hills—it was easier to defend a city when attackers had to come up to you, than if you were in the middle of a wide open plain. It gave you a valuable tactical advantage.

For the first hearers of the Sermon on the Mount—his disciples—the phrase a “city on a hill” would likely have had a fairly specific connotation. Jerusalem. For a Jew, Jerusalem was the city on a hill that represented the hopes and aspirations of Israel, as God’s chosen nation through whom the nations would be blessed.

The above "city" in this photo is not only pictoresque , it is an example of a city set on a hill, with homes built on foundation of rock.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Feeding the Hungry

Taken from our bedroom window in July 2010

"And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—
that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day,
that ye may walk guiltless before God—
I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor,
every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief,
both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants."
Mosiah 4:26

The above scripture is from King Benjamin's farewell address to the people gathered at the temple. It is a scripture that makes me uncomfortable, it calls me to repentance... How many of us walk guiltless before God? Do we impart enough of our substance? How much of our substance do we keep for ourselves for our "needs" before we impart to the poor?

Last Saturday, I was asked to help down at St. Vincent DePaul, a "soup kitchen" where those who are hungry and homeless can come get a hot meal. I had helped before about 6 months ago. Most of the people that came in 6 months ago where mostly middle aged men who lived on the streets of Salt Lake. To my surprise this Saturday, it wasn't just men who came to eat... but families, women with babies and small children. The small dining area now has 8-10 high chairs to accommodate the growning number of infants coming in with their mothers and/or fathers.

The economic downturn does not look good. I am not sure these trends will reverse any time soon. Foreclosures, Lay-offs, Bankruptcy, Debt, and Divorce are all rising. It is one thing to see adults go hungry, but like these helpless little birds in this photo waiting for their mother to bring them something to eat.. unfortunately there are a rising number of children in our own backyard who also are going hungry.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sending our children into the world

Photo taken today of my oldest daughter
going to her first day of Junior High. (photo courtesy of my wife)

"And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning."
Abraham 4: 1

Junior High. The Beginning of seventh grade. I have been a worried father for years that I would evidently have to send my daughter to junior high. For many, it is one of the hardest years in our life, but it can be the most exciting. We are no longer in the safe enviroment of the one room class in Elementary school with loving teachers for 7 years (K -6). Instead, we have a whole new school to go to where we don't know anything about or what to expect. Multiple classes, multiple teachers. We walk the halls amongst a sea of other students. We hear and see things that we have never been exposed to before: Profanity, Obsensities, Crudeness, Immodesty. To top it all off, we are experiencing changes to our bodies which makes us somewhat unsure of ourselves.

In thinking all about this, I couldn't help be think of the similiarities of when we left our pre-mortal experience to come into this terestial world. The scripture in Abraham refers to going DOWN.... not UP. We read: they WENT DOWN. It is a lower, base existence. No longer are we in the presence of a loving father and mother in heaven. We come down and see/hear some of the evil and corruption the world. We have multiple choices and experiences to choose from. We exercise our agency to choose between the good and evil. We experienced a change in our bodies.
Many things in this photo of my daughter is symbolic. She looks happy, but I sense a slight nervousness in her eyes and smile. Possibly the same emotions we had as we left to come down here to earth. She is holding in her hand her class schedule. This could represent our life assignments/our life mission that we need to fulfill. We have been preordained to come down here to accomplish certain tasks. She has a backpack on, symbolic of all the knowledge and information/intelligence that we gained prior to coming to earth. The tools and information will help us have advantage here . (D&C 130: 19)


In this photo, the sun is being blocked by dark over hanging tree. symbolic of the veil we had to pass through. The sun is still there, but blocked from our veiw. She is innocent... all of us born as children pure, not stained yet. She is looking back over her shoulder, possibly saying goodbye one last time.. of our remembrance of our Heavenly Home. There are others who are walking in front of her that she is following. We choose who we follow. Others will try to mislead us. We have only one we should follow in this life.. our elder brother, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sacrifice brings forth life.

Photo taken in Israel in May of 2010.
Christ's Life of sacrifice culminated with the sacrifice of His life.
"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things
never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvaton".
Joseph Smith, "Lectures on Faith"
The word sacrifice comes from the Latin words "sacer" meaning sacred and "facere" meaning to make. So sacrifice means "to make sacred." We mostly think the sacrifice to be a negative, as something hard, painful, or having to give up something we don't want to. We focus on what we will lose out on.... doing without something, or giving up something. The more correct way of looking at sacrifice in our own life, is that it is the process of making our lives sacred. We will gain, not lose... but need to "lose" our life, to gain.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Taken on the Fourth of July, 2010 at Disneyland waiting for the fireworks to start.
"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart,
and shalt cleave unto her and none else."
D&C 42: 22
Happy Anniversary... Number 16!
Even though we have been married for only 16 years. I have known my wife since 8th grade. That would make 28 years since we have meet.
I read this quote last night from the Journal of Discourses (JD 19:270) that I thought was beautiful about the relationship of the husband and wife.
"There can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female. Not only is the female God equal with the male, but neither would be God without the other."


Friday, August 13, 2010

Powers of darkness will prevail upon the earth.

Photo taken in Jerusalem in May 2010.
" For all flesh is corrupted before me;
and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth."
Doctrine and Covenants 38:11.

By posting this photo of this priest under my headline, someone reading this might think I am suggesting that this "man in cloth" and/or the Catholic Church are the powers of darkness.

However, I am not passing judgement, but use this photo to illustrate something that stood out to me as symbolic. The priest is walking under a dark tree. I think that is significant and possibly could represent each of us... of our clouded understanding of truth, our disconnect with the heavens above, our unbelief, our inundation with philosophies of men, our pride and arrogance, and our unwillingness to seek and call upon the powers of heaven for personal revelation.

Let's read the scripture again... For the scripture states that ALL FLESH is corrupted... not just those in the Catholic church. We live in a time that the powers of darkness does prevail upon the earth. What does "ALL" mean? Does that include me?

How about the word "PREVAIL" mean? Definitions include: more powerful than opposing forces, widespread , to be greater in strength or influence.. TRUIMPH.

WOW! For those of us who prefer light, we have our work cut out for us. So, are we doing anything about it? What do we do in our lives to bring about more light in this world? Or do we find that we are "adjusting" our eyes to the prevailing darkness, and become complacent by accepting and thinking that All is well. Just because our eyes have dialated in the darkness does not mean that the room has gotten any lighter.. it just means that we have become accustomed to the darkness and accepted it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Searching the scriptures

Photos taken of Catholic Priest and Jewish Woman in Jerusalem in May 2010
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of me."
John 5: 39
In addition to taking pictures of the sites and locations in Israel, I tried to take pictures of the people. Not easy to do without feeling that you are invading their privacy and without asking for their permission. Jerusalem is a sacred city for the 3 dominant religions in the world. Christianity, Muslim, and Judiasm. All 3 religions have their individual scriptures: The Bible, The Torah, and Quran.
Most of us upon this earth are searching for truth, many do not know where to find it. Many feel that they have God's word and don't need anymore.. the very idea that God can or has spoken .. (and will) to others is disturbing. It requires us to learn more, and may require us to change. But new information from God should always be welcomed. It should be exciting.. even if it requires to change.
We as Latter Day Saints have the Book of Mormon. Many of us still don't fully understand this additional testament of Christ. Should other scripture come forth.. how will we react?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Taken from the LDS Church Plaza on August 11, 2010
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy,
for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
I Corinthians 3: 16-17

I took this picture yesterday on the Church Plaza. The color blue is my favorite color. When water is pure, clean, and still... it will reflect the sky/the heaven above. Are we not similar to the water? When we are pure, clean, and still in our lives, do we not also reflect heaven here upon this earth ?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Teaching my Children.. actually teaches ME.

Photo of my daughter Brooke mowing our backyard on Aug 5, 2010.
"I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight."
Isaiah 45:2

Last week, while my wife was out of town, I gained a greater appreciation/empathy for my wife.. as well as those in this world who are single working parents (those who have the overwhelming responsibility of working, parenting, and taking care of the house and yard ALONE.) Too much for one person.

As I was trying to get the house/yard looking good before my better half returned home, my middle daughter asked if she could help me.. and next on my list was mowing the lawn. My first response was.. "oh, that is okay.. daddy will do it." Probably somewhat disappointed from my declining her wish, she just stood outside watching me mow. Justifying my actions, I thought to myself .....I still have alot to do.. and letting her help would a) take more time and b) not look as good since I am very meticulous in having the lines straight when I mow.

Then the "teaching moment" happened.. to ME. I had the strong impression that I was to allow my daughter to mow the lawn. So, I stopped the mower, I called her over and said, okay... Let's mow the lawn together. Concerned that she wouldn't hurt herself.. I walked beside her as she held on to the gas powered lawnmower. She would come to the end of the lawn and stop. I would then turn the mower around and then she would proceed to mow the other direction. Back and forth.. until we finished. I tried not to correct the crookedness and unstraight lines. Looking back.. the lawn never looked so good.

The prompting to teach my daughter to mow, actually was a lesson from the Lord to teach me. Even though He is all-powerful, He allows each of us to learn, make the mistakes, walk in crooked paths as He walks beside us. He will turn us around when needed. He is patient. Only through Him can our crooked paths be made straight.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chaistic Structure

Photo taken on the roller coaster ride in Park City, Ut on July 28, 2010

I took my kids up to the Alpine Slide in Park City a couple of week ago. The rolller coaster ride looked a little safer for my 6 year old to ride, so we decided to ride the roller coaster ride instead. Luckily I brought my camera on the ride... I snapped this photo quickly while riding on the track. This is the best illustration of a chiasm in the man-made world.

I have posted about chiams before on my blog, but for those who are unfamiliar with the term, a chiasm is usually referring to a literary structure used in ancient literature where concepts are placed in a symmetric order to emphasize them. The ideas converge at the center or the focal point of the thought. In the scriptures the focal point is usually Christ.

Here is a beautiful one that I just found in the New Testament in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come unto me:

All ye that LABOUR and are HEAVY laden.

.........take my YOKE upon you

...................LEARN of me

.................................FOR I AM meek and lowly in heart

.....................FIND rest unto your souls

...........for my YOKE is easy


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thorns and Thistles.. My dad comments on my bee post.

And again, he saith thou shalt be as the blossoms of a thistle,
which, when it is fully ripe, if the wind bloweth,
it is driven forth upon the face of the land.
Mosiah 12:12

This is a continuation from the last post. My dad called me today and made some great comments about bees, and the importance of honey in the scriptures. In all the great exoduses we read in scripture, Honey was an essential survival food. We read in Exodus that the Israelites in the wilderness survived on manna which had the taste of honey. Exodus 16:31.
In the above picture you can see on the left, the thistle in full bloom compared to the blossom stage on the right. The thistle is a prickly, obnoxious weed, yet it flowers into a beautiful, perfectly round ball. After the fall of Adam, The garden of Eden was "cursed" to bring forth thorns and thistles to test and try us... yet in the end if we bring forth fruits of repentence we can turn our thistles into something beautiful.
Sidenote: There are many other references to honey are found throughout the New and Old Testament. The Word of God is compared to honey.. "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth". Psalms 119: 10

This scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants deserves it's own post and photo, (I hope to expound on it in a future blogpost,).. but for now just quote it. "And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh; D&C 38:18

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bees and the Hive...a Zion-like society

Photo Taken in a cemetary in Park City, UT on July 28, 2010
"And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee."
Ether 2:3
Like most kids, we were taught early in our lives to run away from bees. We didn't want to get stung. Bees were never seen as "good"... we just wanted their honey. When I took this picture, since I was not fearful of the bee.. it did not harm me. It was fun to watch it gather the pollen from this flower.

I wanted to post some interesting things that I learned about bees from reading a chapter written by my friend, Yvonne Bent.

"Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had a very good understanding of bees. Utah was originally going to be named Deseret, which meant ‘Honey Bee”. The product of the bees is the most perfect food on the earth. The Jaredites ate this food while on their journeys across the waters in the barges. Lehi and his company carried bees with them to the promised land. There is an obvious message that the properties of honey is important to make this earthly journey with success and health. We would do well to examine the bee and benefits of honey closer.

Bees wear their lives out in the service of the hive. Everything the bee does is for the benefit of the hive. All the product the bees deliver, (for example: the resin used to protect the hive, the royal jelly for the queen so that she can continue in the reproduction and life of the hive, the honey for the life of the bees, and the wax for their housing); ALL of this is turned into the good of the hive."

Sounds like the bees live in a Zion-like society.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August Sky over Mount Olympus

Taken from my street corner on August 1, 2010

"Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!
Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power and goodness
and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth."
I Nephi 1: 14
I took this picture yesterday evening on the first day on August. It was a beautiful and unusual sunset. The mountain seen in the background is Mount Olympus. The other Mount Olympus is in Greece, which is the highest mountain in their country. In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was regarded as the "home of the Gods", specifically of the Twelve Olympians, the twelve principal gods of the Classical Greek worlds.

Salt Lake City happens to be the home of 12 men, not" gods".. who we refer to as "apostles" in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. During his ministry, Christ called 12 disciples. What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle? Are they synoymous terms or is there a difference?

In researching this.. I found that the term disciple means "learner" in Latin..while the term apostle means "messenger, or one who is sent forth". So the difference is ... a disciple is one who learns from a teacher...and an apostle is sent to deliver those teachings to others.

I don't think the terms can be mutually exclusive. A true apostle of the Lord would also need to be a disciple.. learning from Christ Himself, to know the messages that Christ would have him teach...

It is interesting to note that Jesus, Himself, is referred to as an "apostle" in Hebrews, one of His titles, a designation meaning that He is the personal and select representative of the Father... or a "messenger, one who is sent forth".