Friday, May 29, 2015

All that Glitters, Part 1: Book of Gold

And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.
—3 Nephi 26:10

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Ever heard of iron pyrite? You probably know it as “Fool’s Gold” because of its superficial gold appearance. I had a few chunks of it as a kid, which I kept in my “rock collection” and liked to show my friends. But most of them were either smarter than me or more skeptical than me, because, try as I might, I never managed to convince anyone I had a chunk of real gold. How many 6-year-olds do?

Given the texture and shape of iron pyrite crystals, it’s not surprising I couldn’t pull off the deception. I probably would have come closer by spray painting some smooth stones with gold paint.

Iron pyrite does have its uses though (I mean besides fascinating 6 year olds.) But “precious metal” is certainly not one of them. Hence, iron pyrite is cheap, easily obtained, and little more than a curiosity and a distraction from the real thing.

Real gold, on the other hand, is only obtained by much labor. If you want the real thing, it’s going to cost you. And it’s the labor that makes it worthwhile. Gold easily won is easily lost because it is not counted dear.

I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s book, Roughing It, wherein he recounts the tale of discovering and staking claim to a rich gold mine in California. The claim required that the claimants begin working the mine within ten days to retain rights to the find. Only a minimal amount of work was required, but if it wasn’t done, the claim was lost. 

Well, as human nature tends to do, each of the three men who shared the mining claim assumed the other would begin working the strike within the required ten days, while none of the men actually did anything but dream of their certain riches. Of course, the ten days came and went, and the claim was lost.

The gold was there, the intention was there, but the laborers were distracted, and the prize was lost. 

Book of Gold

This, of course, brings us to the Book of Mormon.

Here’s my story. I’ve always loved the Book of Mormon. I remember reading it as a family when I was a child. We would go around the room, each of us reading a verse, until we got through a chapter. There was little commentary, and I didn’t understand much, but I got the idea that this book was important.

Then came seminary, with its required memorization and reading. It mostly seemed like school work to get through the assignments. But I believed it was important and the Lord’s word was in there.

In college, I studied the Book of Mormon as an adult, and began to hear the “evidence” and “origin” arguments. I appreciated and read the works of scholars, who built a case for the historicity of the Book of Mormon. I was convinced and impressed.

On my mission, I read the Book like it mattered. I sought to actually understand it, learn what the Lord wanted of me, and teach it. I saw its conversion power. I received a sure witness from God of the book’s truth.

I’ll bet my story is pretty common. Maybe it’s even similar to yours.

But you know what? I hadn’t yet worked the claim. I had scarcely commenced digging. I found a few gold flakes, and assumed that was the fulness of what this particular mine had to offer. The flakes were pretty, required little effort, and assured me I was doing great. I thought myself richer than the rest of the world, with my minuscule gold dust clenched and held high. 

When I began teaching Gospel Doctrine classes, I studied more deeply and began to understand, just a little, what the Book of Mormon has to offer. I taught by the Holy Ghost, and learned things I didn’t know, even as they came out of my mouth. I could answer most any Book of Mormon trivia question. I could tell you the teachings, and expound them at length. I thought I had mastered the Book of Mormon.

Yet I was a fool, waving my gold flakes and telling the world I was rich. 

About 4 years ago, for the first time in my life, I encountered the message of the Book of Mormon, and it changed my life forever. As I began mining the claim, directed and taught by more experienced miners, I sunk a shaft and struck gold. 

The Book of Mormon is a warning. To us. About us. You and me—our opportunities and failings, our destiny and distraction and destruction. It is a beacon and a rallying cry, with the Lord’s voice ringing out, page after page. It is the instructions and notations for the practical course on how to save your life and receive eternal life. It’s the study guide for the only final exam that matters. The Book of Mormon is the practical survival manual sent to prepare us for the end of the world. You and I will not survive without it.

Record of the Redeemed

Ultimately, the Book of Mormon is record after record of those who are redeemed. By “redeemed,” I mean the Lord’s definition, given to the brother of Jared in the book of Ether:
And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you. (Ether 3:13)
Here, Jesus Christ—the Redeemer—defines what it is to be redeemed from the fall. It is to be brought back into the presence of the Lord, to behold His face, and know Him. 

So starting with Lehi, Nephi, Jacob and Enos, then proceeding through an array of prophet-messengers, we learn the relevant spiritual histories of man after man who knew the Lord personally. These men were in His presence. He spoke with them face to face, in plain humility. These were, and are, His friends—and they’ve written, for us, us a book about Him. 

But it’s not just about Him; it’s about how to know Him as they know Him. It’s a book about how to be redeemed.

Jesus’s friend Mormon abridged and compiled a thousand-year history of such men, selecting what he knew would be most relevant to our desperately deluded situation. Every story, every history, every vignette, every lesson, was selected and included with great care and absolute intention. If it’s in there, it’s there for a good reason. Then Mormon’s son Moroni, also a personal friend of Jesus, finished and preserved the work. 

Fourteen hundred years later, Joseph Smith, another of Jesus’s friends who conversed with Him face to face, translated approximately a third of the sacred record, and gave it to the world. Just as Noah built an ark for the coming flood, Joseph built a shelter for the coming fire. 

But why only a third? Well, to see how badly you want the rest. It’s a test, you see.
And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken.
And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation. Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people. (3 Nephi 26:8-11)
Think of it like the app store. The Book of Mormon is the free version of the app, designed to sell us on the paid version. Those who like the app and desire what it offers will pay the price to receive the fulness. Those who want the gold will dig.

We have the lesser part; yet it is enough to prove us. In fact, it’s even enough to redeem us if we’ll mine the claim and continue the labor of digging and picking until we find the gold. It’s in there. 

I know because I’ve found some. Not all of it—but enough to keep me swinging that pick. 

Have you read the Book of Mormon? Maybe more than once? Good. That’s a start. But sadly, it’s only a start. “Reading” the Book of Mormon may be as far as many get, but it’s only the first step. You won’t find the gold by scratching at the surface.

Have you studied the Book of Mormon? Have you searched it? Labored over it? Pondered and wondered, and racked your brains trying to figure out what a phrase means, or why it is worded in that particular way? Have you asked questions and taken your questions to God? Have you learned to hear His voice giving you an answer you never expected and wouldn’t have come up with on your own? 

The digging is labor, but day by day, inch by inch, the shaft deepens and yields its treasure.

How do you know when you’ve found the Mother Lode? It’s when you’ve found Him. When you are redeemed, when you converse with Him face to face and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. When you become His friend.

And that’s when the Book of Gold will have yielded to you its greatest treasure. Until that day, your fortune—the riches of eternity—remains buried in the ground. Incidentally, at a coming day, you will be buried in the ground as well. Then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. You can’t dig in the dark. Don’t let that day arrive and catch you unprepared. Don’t die without knowing Him. Don’t die unredeemed.
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. 
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. 
Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. 
For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. (Alma 34:32-35)

Procrastinating the Day

Now, if the point is to become redeemed by our Redeemer—and it is—then what is Satan’s best strategy? Well, he’s got to keep that from happening. But since he cannot ever directly prevent us from seeking the Lord, he has to be much more subtle. He has to distract us by diverting our attention. The key is in the scripture above—he just needs us to procrastinate.

In Part 2, we’ll examine the subtle, but highly effective tactics Satan uses to encourage our procrastination and divert our focus from the prize. He's more subtle than you might think.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reunion Report: An Amazing Weekend!

Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.
—D&C 6:32

I've been trying to collect my thoughts for three days since returning from the Reunion in Colorado. It was an amazing, wonderful experience, and to tell you the truth, it's left me rather speechless. I think others have done an admirable job of summarizing the events, speakers, and spirit, so I don't plan to write a day-by-day travelogue. Rather, I'll just focus on a few things that struck me.

People. I can honestly say I've never before associated with such a wonderful, loving, light-filled group. I had the opportunity to meet many people who had travelled from all over, but who shared a common bond of brotherhood and sisterhood in seeking the Lord. Now that I read it, that last sentence sounds a little dour and pious, like this was some sort of Sunday school. The opposite is true. These were people filled with joy, light, happiness, gratitude and fun. I hope I can live up to such a state in my own life. I thank God for the examples I saw. 

I was also surprised and delighted to see a long-time friend who knew nothing of this event or movement, but just happened to be visiting the area. I was so pleased she joined with us in worship.

Places: Many reported feeling something special about the Mesa, and I'll agree it is a breathtaking, beautiful place, and certainly a great place to hold such an event. I'll be honest though—places aren't the primary consideration for me. I believe it's just as possible to commune with God in a closet as it is on a mountain top. But I do appreciate the effort that it required to gather where we did, because it introduced a greater opportunity for sacrifice. Almost everyone there had to make considerable effort to get there. The snow prevented much exploring of the Mesa, perhaps by design, and so the events were primarily confined to established, public venues. I'll add that the venues were well chosen and perfectly suited to the needs. I thank God for accommodating this gathering.

Weather: The weather forecast leading up to the reunion was, shall we say, not promising. But the weather actually turned out to be quite cooperative. Up on the Mesa, the patchy sunshine brought needed warmth to the outdoor testimony meeting, the forecasted 10 inches of snow turned out to be more like one inch, and the contrast between freezing temperatures on the Mesa and warming sunshine below reminded me of God's mercies and contrasts. I thank God for the beautiful weather.

Events: EVERY event I attended exceeded my expectations. The speakers, camaraderie, and activities all increased my desire for Christ and Zion. Highlights for me included the group Jewish dance demonstration, a barbecue with wonderful friends, the men's meeting where I learned from my Godly brothers, taking the sacrament outdoors in a beautiful setting with about 200 people, and hearing many, many incredible, enlightening, and spirit-filled testimonies. The organization and execution of this entire weekend simply couldn't have been better. I thank God for His hand and the hands of his servants to make the reunion possible.

Fear: It's no secret that there was some fear and concern expressed online before the reunion. Some were fearful that this event would displease God, involve bizarre or unholy worship practices, or promote destructive ideas. I'm pleased to report that it turns out there was no cause for concern. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING focused on Jesus Christ and His gospel. I didn't encounter any ideas or practices that weren't absolutely scriptural, uplifting, and approved of God. I thank God for the warnings issued before the reunion that, I believe, helped us all keep an eye single to His glory.

Work: I had a very small part in organizing this event. But even my small part required time, effort, money and attention to detail. Therefore, I'm absolutely amazed by the sacrifice of those who played major parts in putting the reunion together. Venue rental, printed materials, sound equipment, transportation, child care, campfires, food, name tags, scheduling, cleanup, first aid, and a thousand other details were provided by voluntary sacrifice. I am in awe to know a small part of what it took to provide this experience, and my heart is moved with gratitude to everyone who worked so hard and gave so much so that I could experience what I did. I thank God for his servants who saw to the details.

Worship: The scriptures discuss various forms of worship, including prayer, song, dance, music and shouts. I was pleased to participate in every one of these forms at the reunion. Nobody was more surprised than me when I received direction from the Lord that we close our worship service with three blasts on the Shofar and three shouts of praise to the Holy One of Israel (2 Nephi 31:13). I've never experienced anything like it, and even now, it fills me with joy. I shout my thanks to God. 

A Movement among the People: This movement is real. People are waking up, shedding their scales of darkness and unbelief, learning truth, and seeking to know the Lord personally. Spiritual gifts, miracles, and angelic ministrations are manifest. The restoration continues! Oh, how I thank God that the restoration continues!

Messages: I really appreciated the speakers and the messages they offered. Perhaps even more, I appreciated the spontaneous testimonies shared at the testimony meetings. Though the testimonies were not recorded, the speakers were. Here's the link where you can listen to the talks:

Photos: And finally, here are a photos so those who couldn't make it can get a feel for the events. Click any photo to enlarge.

During a break between speakers on Friday night
The end of the Saturday morning meeting, before heading to breakout sessions
The testimony meeting on the Mesa. Note the snow, the clouds, and the sunshine.
A beautiful, young person testifies of her conversation with God
The view on the way up the Mesa
Preparing for the Sacrament meeting on Sunday
Yours truly, speaking on Sunday. You can tell it's me by the empty seats.
After the Sacrament meeting on Sunday

And help us by the power of thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne, with acclamations of praise, singing Hosanna to God and the Lamb! And let these, thine anointed ones, be clothed with salvation, and thy saints shout aloud for joy. Amen, and Amen.
—D&C 109:79-80

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Scripture Overhead Part 3:
Drunkards and Crowns

This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.

—Isaiah 28:29

I'll start by saying that God is amazing. He is clever. He is kind. His signs are without equal. This Blood Moon contained so many signs and so much information, I've had to condense a fair bit just to make this post readable in a single sitting. Even so, there's still a lot here, and even more you can discover on your own if you want to put in the effort.

God is indeed speaking to the world through these signs, but He also wants to speak to you. Go to Him with your questions, and focus on recognizing His answers. He can and will teach you.

Here's some information to get you started:

The Time: 

April 4, 2015

6:00 AM MDT

  • 1st day of Passover

  • 1st Day of LDS General Conference 

  • Day before Easter Sunday 

  • This eclipse had an exceptionally short peak, only lasting 4 minutes, 43 seconds

Click Picture to Enlarge
The Location: 

Like the first Blood Moon, this moon appeared in the constellation Virgo, but this placement put the moon between the stars Spica and Porrima.

The Players: 

Spica is actually a binary star system, with the two stars so close together they cannot be separately resolved through a telescope. Unlike most star names, which are Arabic, the name Spica derives from Latin and means "ear of wheat.”

Porrima is also a binary star and also happens to carry a Latin name; it is named for the ancient Roman goddess of prophecy, specifically dealing with the future.

Virgo derives her name from Latin for “the virgin.” She is traditionally drawn with a sheaf of wheat in her hand, represented by the star Spica. The virgin is sometimes portrayed holding the scales of justice in her other hand, represented by her neighboring constellation, Libra.

Libra: Depicted as a set of scales, representing justice and judgment.

Arcturus: The moon appears directly below Arcturus, which is the brightest star in the northern sky, and therefore usable for navigation. Arcturus is part of the constellation Boötes, and was anciently associated with Enlil, the Sumerian God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance).

Boötes: This constellation represents the plowman, plowing the field, making it ready to sow.

Izar: This binary star in Boötes carries the Arabic name for "veil."

Princeps: This binary star in Boötes carries the Latin name for "prime" or "prince."

Corona Borealis: The “northern crown,” representing a crown or diadem.

The Message:

This is the second Blood Moon of this tetrad to appear in Virgo, serving as a second witness and second warning of what the Lord has underway. God follows the law of witnesses.

As we've mentioned, Virgo is often portrayed with wheat in one hand. But she is also anciently identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, who is portrayed with the scales of justice (Libra) in one hand. And what's in the other hand?

A sword.

As you may recall, when examining the first Blood Moon, we referenced 3 Nephi 20:19. Here's the very next verse:

And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles. (3 Nephi 20:20)
And in the Lord's introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, we find the same warning:
And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. (D&C 1:13)
He's pointed to Virgo twice. The warning should be clear.

As you may recall, the first Blood Moon in Virgo touched Spica, reminding us of the Lord’s promise to gather the wheat from among the tares before the destruction and burning. It also reminded us of the prophesied Gentile destruction.

This second witness Blood Moon gives greater context and depth to these ideas with much more detailed information. Notice the moon in this appearance moves closer to Porrima, representing prophecy, and turning our minds to events long Isaiah.

Oh no! Isaiah AND Astronomy?

Not that long ago the thought of studying Isaiah sounded only slightly worse to me than the thought of studying astronomy. I considered both complicated and opaque. And yet, we’re faced with these commandments from the Lord:

And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. (3 Nephi 23:1-3) 
And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man. And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath. (D&C 45:39-40)
So yes, it is possible to examine both Isaiah and astronomy, and with the Lord's help, gain some understanding of the things He wants us to know. Stick with me and I'll show you what I mean.

The Drunkards of Ephraim

Open up Isaiah 28 and follow along. The chapter begins with this curious pronouncement:

Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! (v.1).
Confused already? Don't be. The opening of Isaiah 28 is actually a warning to the self-aggrandized and opulent leaders of "Ephraim."
  • They are compared to drunks who are overcome with wine (1)
  • Their past glory is fading, and will be devoured (1, 4)
  • They have erred and they are "out of the way" (7) 
  • Their priests and prophets are mistaken (7)
  • Their seers err in vision (7)
  • They stumble in their judgment (7)
  • Their teachings are compared to vomit (8)
  • They shall be trodden under feet (3)
This strong language is reminiscent of the very next chapter of Isaiah, where we find that it's not alcohol that causes the prophets to stumble:
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. (Isaiah 29:9-10)
The warning, then, is directed against those who stand at the head of Ephraim, claiming to be prophets and seers, but who actually stumble and err, glorying in the works of their predecessors, while teaching falsehoods, unable to receive revelation. Ironic that this sign was given on the first day of General Conference.

Will you Receive it?

Back to Isaiah 28, where the Lord asks where he can find anyone open to learning truth:

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (9)
This brings to mind Paul's metaphor, and the need to move on from milk to meat. Are you one whom the Lord can teach knowledge and doctrine? Are you weaned from milk? Do you seek to understand the mysteries of God?

Or are you content to be taught regurgitated falsehoods from a limited and errant lesson manual that contradicts scripture? (Such is vomit indeed.)

Are you watching for the signs, and seeking to understand them? Are you seeking His face? (D&C 93:1)

The Signs

Click Picture to Enlarge
And now, what do we see overhead? All the following references are from Isaiah 28:

Boötes, the plowman, directly above the Blood Moon, is preparing the fertile ground:

Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? (23-24)
The wheat will be separated from the other plants, and planted in its prepared place.
When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. (25-26)
This is how the foundation of Zion will be laid.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (16)
Notice that there is no hastening this work. But in the Lord's prepared time, the residue of the people who remain will receive the Lord for their crown:
In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people (5)
Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, testifies of the Lord's reward for the faithful, and directly contrasts the fading crown of glory claimed by Ephraim's failing leaders, who will fall prey to the overflowing scourge and coming destruction. (v. 1-3)

Click Picture to Enlarge
The Lord will indeed sit in judgment, as attested by Libra, the scales of justice:
And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate. (6)
Lest we take these things lightly, the Lord refers back to the previous Blood Moon, which appeared in the bands of Pisces:
Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth. (22)
The destruction is coming. The warnings have been written overhead.

The Lord's Strange Act

For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. (21) 
The reference to mount Perazim harks back to the events of Exodus, when the Lord's people rejected what He offered, chose instead to "follow the prophet" and therefore lost the fulness of the Priesthood. (D&C 84:23-27) We are in exactly the same predicament today.

What could be more strange than the idea that the Lord's own church, the one He established through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the one which He founded on revelation, and to which He gave the Book of Mormon, should turn away from Him and instead insist upon loyalty to men, belief in false precepts, and denial of gospel truths? How strange it is that the church bearing Christ's own name now casts out those who actually know Christ or seek to do so!

How strange it is to insist that men who never prophesy are prophets, even with Christ's own words ringing in our ears: By their fruits ye shall know them!

The Lord's work is a strange work indeed, which points us back to the drunkards of Ephraim—the false prophets, and their fading glory.

Now, About that Fading Glory

In matters like these, I don't believe in coincidence.

Therefore, I'll present one more sign found in the third Blood Moon: A man-made satellite, or more particularly a spent rocket booster from a CZ-4B rocket, flew directly through Virgo during the extremely brief total eclipse. The transit of Virgo took only two minutes, but those two minutes fell right in the middle of the total eclipse, which itself lasted less than five minutes. The timing was exquisite.

This booster was a spent piece of a Chinese rocket, known as a Chang Zheng, which translates as "Long March." The Long March name commemorates a forced march-retreat of several thousand miles during the Chinese communist revolution, which solidified the communists in power and propelled Mao Zedong to rule China for nearly 30 years. Even today, the Chinese communist party recognizes the difficult Long March as one of the most heroic acts of its forbears, and commemorates the event with parades, celebrations, and re-enactments.

Similarly, the drunkards of Ephraim recognize the forced retreat from Nauvoo and the resulting difficult, long march to the Salt Lake Valley as one of the great, heroic acts of their forbears. The proud descendants of Nauvoo continually commemorate this march with parades, celebrations and re-enactments. This event propelled Brigham Young into his 30-year reign as President of the church.

But the glory fades. New revelation all but ceased with Joseph. The heroic acts belong to years past. The church today is a powerful, wealthy, bureaucratic, politico-corporate entity run by business interests, selling a product called "the gospel," and spending massive wealth on commercial interests, as well as hundreds of opulent temples—using access to these temples as a means to control members.

God, who knows the end from the beginning, placed the signs overhead. Fallen man, filled with pride, points to his own accomplishments. But while God's testimony will remain, man's satellite will fall. And thus it is foolishness to point to the accomplishments of our ancestors as if they could help our current situation.

Isaiah, like other prophets, saw our day and prophesied. And Moroni, upon seeing our condition, lamented:

O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled. 
Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. 
Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. 
And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. 
For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. 
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? (Mormon 8:33-38)
How many holy churches of God are there? If you claim it's the LDS church, then you admit it is polluted. If you claim it is not the LDS church, then there's no point in defending it.

The Sign of Hope

Click Picture to Enlarge
And yet, there is hope.

With all these dire warnings overhead, let's not lose sight of the hope offered in Christ. We can repent. We can seek his face. We can rise up. The Lord is warning us because He loves us, and even in His urgent warnings He has offered a symbolic path to redemption.

Notice the alignment between the Moon, Arcturus, Izar and Princeps in the picture to the right. Let's review what each represents:

Arcturus is the brightest star in the Northern sky. Izar means "veil." Princeps means "prince." And, just to the left, Corona Borealis is a crown.

And thus we see, there is a pathway laid out in a straight course before us if we will rise up. If we look to the heavenly light of the brightest star, we can rise up the straight path through Arcturus, pass through the "veil" and meet the "prince" who waits for us on the other side of the veil with a crown of righteousness. This is not a warning; it is an invitation. Christ is the Prince and He wants us to come to Him.

Will you rise up?

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

—1 Thessalonians 2:19

Therefore, having so great witnesses, by them shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work. And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;

—D&C 20:13-14

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Scripture Overhead Part 2:
The Gospel Net

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh...

—Joel 2:28

In Part 1 of this series, we examined the importance of seeking to understand the signs in the heavens, and we looked at the first Blood Moon of this unique tetrad.

Let’s now turn to the second Blood Moon and see what God has written overhead.

Click for Larger Version

The Time: 

Oct. 8 2014 4:54 AM Mountain Time
Eve of Sukkot (“Feast of Tabernacles”) 

The Location: 

This Blood Moon appeared in the constellation Pisces, covering the planet Uranus, as you can see in the picture. The green, dotted line is the ecliptic plane.

The Players: 

Pisces: This constellation is portrayed as two fish, connected together by a band. As you can see from the picture, one of the fish remains on the ecliptic, while the other rises up.

Uranus: The is the ruling planet of the constellation Aquarius. Unlike the other planets, which are named for Roman gods, Uranus takes its name from Greek and personifies the heavens and the night sky. Uranus represents the “Father Sky” or Father of Heaven.

Aquarius: Traditionally displayed as a man carrying a water pot, this constellation's earliest known identification was with the Babylonian god Enki—"Lord of the Earth," the God of intelligence and creation. His symbolic number is 40.

40: Interestingly, this eclipse took place on the last day of the 40th week of 2014, which is to say, exactly 40 weeks, or 280 days (40 x 7), from the first day of 2014. The number 40 appears repeatedly in scripture, and is usually associated with purging or purification.

The Message:

Denver Snuffer said the following in 2013 when he spoke in Centerville on covenants. He was not speaking about the Blood Moons at the time, but I find what he said very instructive in this current scenario:

When the Lord hung on the cross, and the sun was darkened at noon, if you had looked up in the sky to see what was overhead, you would see the sacrificial sheep in the pattern of the stars; what we call Aries today. Proceeding forth from under the forefoot of Aries, we have renamed it “the bands of Pisces,” but it should be more appropriately rendered as the net of Pisces. Because from under the fore leg of the Lamb, was cast out a net. 
This is the New Testament pattern or church. That net gathers in at least two kinds of fish. The larger one that is gathered in the net is forever circumnavigating the ecliptic, and will do so eternally. The larger group in the star field, though caught in the net cast by the Lamb, will never rise up to the North. The smaller group, the smaller star field of Pisces, which also is caught in that same net, is pointed to the sides of the North, where the Throne of the Father is to be found; that place around which all things revolve and where the Father presides and sustains all of His creations. (Lecture 4, p. 19)
This symbolism refers to Matthew 13, where the Savior said the following:
 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
So according to Christ, at the end of the world, angels will come and sort through the catch, severing the wicked from among the just. The symbolic number 40 represents this purge, and the number 7 indicates it will be complete.

As you can see from the picture, the Moon and Uranus are severing the bands between the two fish. The upper fish is then free to rise up to where the Father is, and the lower fish remains on the ecliptic, forever circumnavigating, round after round.

Not surprisingly, we find ourselves back in 3 Nephi 20 (where the first Blood Moon led us), listening to the Savior quoting Isaiah's prophecy of Zion's redemption:

Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. (3 Nephi 20:37)
The bands are cut. The sorting has begun.

Said the Lord through Joseph (regarding Isaiah 52):

What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse? 
We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles. (D&C 113:9-10)

The Gospel Net

I'm eternally grateful for the LDS Church. It has filled a vital and wonderful role in the Father's plan. The Church, through its missionary efforts, has cast the gospel net far and wide throughout the earth, catching many millions of people, who have learned of Christ's gospel, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. This foundation has led some few hungry souls to seek for themselves greater light and knowledge than what is now offered by the church. Sadly, these are the souls most likely to be cast out of the church.

The net had to capture many millions to ensure a large enough population from which the angels might pluck a few hundred or a few thousand to build Zion. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to assist in casting that net as a missionary. It was a privilege to serve Christ as a fisher of men.

The foundation given me by the LDS Church is a priceless treasure, a pearl of great price, that has led me to seek the Lord. Words cannot express my gratitude for what I have received from the Church, and where that foundation has led me.

Ties that Bind the Blind

But sadly, the LDS church is now fulfilling another part of its divinely appointed role by casting out and persecuting true followers of Christ. In so doing, they disappoint church members who expect something better from the Lord's church. The changes in the church teachings and the persecution of believers are bothering some members enough to awaken them as well. Those so awakened are loosed from their bands so they can rise up to God.

And thus, Elder Nelson's statement in General Conference, just three days before this Blood Moon, is particularly appropriate. In speaking of sustaining the President of the Church, he said the following (emphasis mine):

Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us.
Yeah, he said that. He spoke the truth, too. Make the oath to a man, and remain bound.

The Father's Work

It's important to note the Father's symbolism in this Blood Moon. The planet Uranus and the constellation it rules, Aquarius, both symbolize the Father of Heaven and the God of all Creation, pouring out His spirit on all flesh at the time of these signs in the heavens:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:28-30)
As you may recall, these are the very verses quoted to Joseph Smith by an angel, with the promise that they would soon be fulfilled. (JSH 1:41)

Look up. Do you have eyes to see? The Father's hand is in the events now happening, just as was prophesied:

For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. (3 Nephi 21:9)
The gathering and restoration of Israel are the specific work of the Father. In fact, Jesus refers to His Father 19 times in 3 Nephi 20, and another 19 times in 3 Nephi 21 while explaining the events we're now beginning to witness. For example:
And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name. Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. (3 Nephi 21:26-28)
Angels Gathering

Even the angels' work of gathering out the good is performed with the specific purpose that the Father's covenants may be fulfilled:

And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they [the angels] are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. (Moroni 7:29-31)
The angels gather the good out from the net, teach, empower and prepare them, then send them forth to declare the word of Christ and bear testimony of Him, that the remnants may be gathered and the Father's covenant fulfilled. The Book of Mormon makes this abundantly clear.

And now, let's recall the message of the first Blood Moon. The wheat is being gathered from among the tares. As with the fish, the separation is underway. The repetition of the message underscores it, lest there should be any doubt.

More than just His spirit will be poured out. Destruction and burning await, yet the Father's work will triumph.

And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel. (1 Nephi 14:17)
This is happening now. The angels have already started gathering those who will come. In case it wasn't in your church bulletin, God wrote it in the sky last October.

Please seek Him while there's still time.

Note: For some of this content, I owe a debt of gratitude to good friends who pointed my face skyward with eyes to see. They know who they are, and are gratefully acknowledged.