Nephi’s Bow

There is a story in the Book of Mormon of a broken bow, but it turns out to be a story about much more than that.

600  B.C.

Lehi has left Jerusalem and taken his family into the wilderness. In order to survive, they must hunt. His son Nephi tells us:

“And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food.

And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food.” – 1 Nephi 16:18, 19

When his brothers find out that his bow has been broken they complain because that’s what they were best at. They complained about everything.. But for the first time Nephi’s father Lehi complains. Lehi, a pillar of faith and strength, complains.

DO SOMETHING

There are two lessons in verse 23. The first is simple and somewhat obvious.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones.” – 1 Nephi 16:23

The lesson is this: Do something. Rather than sit around complaining about your situation, get up and do something about it.  You may not always know what to do right then, but you can do SOMETHING. Even to stop complaining is SOMETHING. When you stop complaining your head will be cleared and you will have an idea of what to do next.

Saint Francis of Assisi said,

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

YOU BUILD ME UP

The second extremely important lesson comes in the last line of verse 23 after Nephi has made a bow and an arrow.

“I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” 1 Nephi 16:23

Nephi was a smart young man. He was obviously a self-starter. He had had great spiritual experiences and had talked with an angel of the Lord. Why did he go to his father to to know where to go to obtain food?  He went to his father because, even at that young age, Nephi knew what the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Geothe taught.

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

For the first and only time in the Book of Mormon, Nephi’s father is complaining about their situation. Instead of going off alone to find food, Nephi treats his father like the leader he ought to be and could be. As a result, Lehi goes to the Lord in prayer, repents of his murmuring, and asks for guidance. The Lord tells them where to find food and the family is saved from suffering.

PLEASE BUILD ME UP

If an employee treats a difficult supervisor like the good boss she ought to be and could be, she will become the boss she could be.

If a parent treats a stubborn child like the child he ought to be and could be, he will become that kind of adult.

After all, isn’t that why we put a child’s drawing on the fridge? We don’t put it there because it is a great work of art. We put it there to tell them what an important member of the family they are.

Copyright © 2013 by Energy Media Works LLC

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Related Information:

The story of Nephi’s bow – The Book of Mormon (source: lds.org)

Touching the Hearts of our Youth (source: lds.org) — Video

More about St. Francis of Assisi (source: Wikipedia)

More about Johann Wolfgang von Geothe (source Wikipedia)

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Image Credits:

Main title image (Desert of Oman) by: Wikimedia commons, Hendrik Dacquin

Posted in Attitude, Book of Mormon Tagged with: , , , , ,

For Goodness’ Sake

Mormon-Media-Network---Continental_Congress_prayer-by-Tompkins-Harrison-Matteson-1848It is believed by many Christians that America’s founding fathers –- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others — were divinely inspired to form the “more perfect Union” called the United States of America. These men have been revered, and rightfully so, for over 200 years. Growing up in America, one comes to see these men as nearly perfect. About 20 years ago it became general knowledge that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, had fathered children with one of his slaves. This shook people up on two fronts.

  • There is no way he had slaves. After all, he was the man who wrote, “All men are created equal.”
  • Even if he might possibly, in your wildest dreams, have owned slaves, there is no way whatsoever that he had children with one of them. He was one of the founding fathers after all.

The first one, the fact that he owned slaves, was quickly and easily laid to rest. Historical documents proved very clearly that he did.

The second one was a much bigger pill to swallow for many people. People seemed to be able to reluctantly accept that he had been misguided by social norms and fallen into the ugly practice of slavery, but it was just inconceivable, and, frankly, a vicious lie that he ever committed adultery with one of his slaves.

Even when historical documents, many in Jefferson’s own hand, proved that not only did he have a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings, but that it was a fairly well known relationship, people still refused to believe it. Today, after DNA tests on Sally’s descendants have confirmed the fact, most people have reluctantly accepted it.

The real challenge for most people was the misguided idea that good things can only come from “good” people.  In many minds it was impossible for someone like THAT to be divinely inspired. However, scripture is full of documented cases of the Lord working through imperfect people. In fact, the only known case of Christ working through a perfect person is…um…. that one time…. no, he wasn’t perfect…. Oh, there was…nope, not him either…let’s see, there has to be one…hmm, interesting; it seems that the Lord works his miracles through imperfect people.

There is no reason to discount any of the good the founding fathers did on account of the faults they had. The “Miracle at Philadelphia” is no less miraculous because of the flaws of those involved.

THE ENTIRE BOOK

There are a lot of people out there doing a lot of great things and we should not reject the good a person does simply because he has a major flaw in some area. Joseph Smith understood this as well as anyone. Often people who revered him as a Prophet expected him to be close to perfect, if not actually perfect.  In his journal he recorded, “I told the brethren I would forgive them their faults if they would forgive me mine.” Knowing his personality, he would have forgiven them theirs whether or not they forgave him his, but the point is made. We are all imperfect.

God looks at our lives as complete stories, not as random chapters. Shouldn’t we afford others the same courtesy?

 

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RELATED MATERIAL

LDS General Conference Talk: The Power of Goodness (Source: lds.org)

LDS General Conference Talk: What Greater Goodness can We Know: Christlike Friends (Source: lds.org)

Posted in Acceptance, God Tagged with: , , , ,

Get in Touch with Your Inner Tortoise

Mormon-Media-Network-School-Work---morguefile-svklimkinUNSTRUNG HEROS

Recently a school in Scotland determined students were being over-worked and over-burdened with homework. It was decided that no student under the age of 13 would receive homework. Highly motivated, over-achieving parents freaked out.

“Our children will fall behind!”

“How will they ever compete if they are not pushed to succeed?”

The Head Master stood by the decision insisting that the children needed more time to play and be children. The parents were promised their children would not fall behind. At the end of the school year, not only had the students not fallen behind, but their test scores had improved by 20% over the previous year.  The students had more balanced lives, and as a result were able to do more in shorter periods of time.

The Prophet Joseph Smith was once chided for playing ball. It was “un-prophet-like.” It was “beneath the dignity of a Prophet.” He took that opportunity to teach a very important life lesson. He told a parable about a prophet and a hunter, clarifying his own philosophy about the relationship of play to work. The story goes as follows:

A certain prophet sat under a tree amusing himself in some way. Along came a hunter and reproved him. The prophet asked the hunter if he always kept his bow strung up. “Oh no,” said the hunter.

“Why not?”

“Because it would lose its elasticity.”

“It is just so with my mind,” stated the prophet. “I do not want it strung up all the time.”

The Scottish Head Master understood this principle and as a result, not only did the students excel, they learned a valuable life lesson.

Mormon-Media-Network-making-a-list-morguefile-jdurhamPENCIL ME OUT

Recently in a Ward Council meeting a Bishop expressed the concerns of a parent in his ward. The parent was frustrated with the number of activities her children were expected to participate in. The youth leaders in the ward, in their sincere efforts to do their jobs, had, in the opinion of this mother, over-booked the youth.  The young mens’ leader, in response to this, said, “Well if we don’t provide things to keep them busy, someone else will.” His meaning was that if the Church doesn’t keep them busy, they could end up getting into trouble. “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”

The Bishop, with great wisdom, said, “You’re right. If we don’t provide something for them to do, other people will. And those other people will be their parents.”

Many families today are too busy. One sign that your family is TOO busy is the dinner table. Are you having dinner together every night? If not, your family “bow” is in danger of losing its elasticity.  Although it is difficult, maybe it is time to pencil yourselves out of some things. It’s time to slow down.

Of all the things Joseph Smith accomplished for the building up of the Church, translating the Book of Mormon would be ranked right at the top in importance. Yet, as important as that was, the Lord counseled him to, “…not run faster or labor more than [he had] strength…” — Doctrine and Covenants 10:4

We have all heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses.”  If you find yourself too busy to do that, maybe you can start by slowing down and at least noticing the roses. Then maybe next time you pass by them you can stop and smell them!

 

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RELATED MATERIAL:

Ensign Magazine Article: “Don’t be in a Hurry” (Source: LDS.org)

I’m a Mormon: “I’m a Mormon, Texan and Mother of Two Disabled Sons” (Source: LDS.org)

Audio Program: An American Mormon in China – Olivia Meikle lived in China with her husband and three boys. She tells how both the young and old in China take time to play. (Source: The Mormon Channel)

Posted in Attitude, Emotional Health, Family, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Meditation, Patience, Peace Tagged with: , , , ,

Judging Others? . . . Stop it!

In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul welcomed newly joined members of the church, telling them they were, “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Paul knew it was important for people to have a sense of belonging and feel welcome.

In 1999 President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the same welcome and asked every member of the church to make a serious effort to make each other feel welcome.

“I plead with you; I ask of you, each of you, to become a part of this great effort. Every convert is precious. Every convert is a son or daughter of God.”

He then listed three things new members of the church need.

  • A friend
  • A responsibility
  • Nurturing with “the Good Word of God” (Moroni 6:4)

Every member of any church needs these three things, and the order of these things is not by chance. President Hinckley showed great wisdom in listing these things in this order.

Mormon-Media-Network---Cookie-FriendsBELONG (a friend)

In any religious group a person should first belong (have friends) and feel welcome. We all want to feel accepted, loved, and appreciated. Christ commanded that we make others feel accepted by not judging. It is extremely difficult to grow in the gospel (be nurtured by the “Good word of God”) if we feel we do not belong or are constantly under scrutiny. The “household of God” should be a safe place where people are free to be themselves, and are loved and appreciated for who they are and who they can become.

BEHAVE (a responsibility)

When we feel we belong we then feel a desire to behave and fulfill responsibilities. Behaving is a life-long process, and no one perfects it. When we join a religious group we accept such responsibilities as obeying God’s commandments, helping and supporting others, being good citizens; in short, doing our best to emulate Christ.

BELIEVE (nurturing with “the Good word of God”)

When we feel we belong and are accepted, we can then take joy in “behaving”. This leads to believing and growing in gospel knowledge.

Mormon-Media-Network---Judging-others---cookie-groupIt is extremely important that we FIRST belong. Without belonging, the other things become extremely difficult, if not impossible. One of the worst punishments a human being can suffer is shunning or isolation. It’s unfortunate that sometimes members of the church get the order mixed up. Sometimes belong gets moved to third place. It’s very sad when a person is accepted only when he behaves. In any organization there are many norms, traditions, and practices, which, in reality are relatively unimportant in the big picture. Unfortunately, some people place an inordinate value on some very trivial things. When this happens people feel they don’t belong and are not acceptable.

One life-long member of the church said he could judge the strength of a man’s testimony of Christ by whether or not the man wears a white shirt to church.

A young women leader judged the morality of young women by the length of the shorts they wore to girl’s camp.

Another man believes that any “true follower of Christ” is clean-shaven.

All of these are trivial and petty and should never be a reason to make someone feel unwelcome. Making such judgments privately is sad, but when the person outwardly shuns or criticizes, it becomes a hindrance to fellow children of God.

Even when people commit serious, grievous sins, we can always extend a welcome hand reminding them they are fellow citizens in the household of God.

In his April, 2012 General Conference address, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave us simple to follow advice.

“This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it! It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters.”

 

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RELATED MATERIAL

TEXT: Every Convert is Precious” President Gordon B. Hinckley elaborates on the three things each member of the church needs. (Source – lds.org)

VIDEO: Judging Others? Stop it President Dieter F. Uchtdorf teaches this simple two-word lesson. “Stop it”. (3:19, Source – lds.org)

QUOTES ABOUT FRIENDSHIP

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. – Albert Camus

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. – Helen Keller

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

See all QUOTES ABOUT FRIENDSHIP.

Posted in Acceptance, Emotional Health, Friendship, Kindness, Patience Tagged with: , , , ,

Lessons from Eden

Mormon-Media-Network---Garden-of-Eden---by-Charles-FosterSometime after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they were commanded to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. An altar was built and an offering given. After many days an angel of the Lord appeared and said:

“Why dost thou offer sacrifices to the Lord?”

Adam said:

“I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”

The angel then explained the purpose behind the offering of a sacrifice. At this point the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam and he understood and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth. He said:

“Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.”

The book of Moses tells us Eve’s reaction to all of this.

“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

“And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.”

There are five lessons to be learned here.

OBEDIENCE

When they were commanded to offer sacrifices, they did it. They didn’t understand why they were doing it, but they did it.

From this example, we learn that we should be obedient when the Lord commands. We should not wait until we understand it, or until we feel like it’s a good idea. We should do what the Lord commands when He commands it.

In order to live that way there are a couple things we need to decide in advance.

  • The Lord wants the best for us.
  • The Lord will not ask us to do something that will not be for the best in the long run.

ASK QUESTIONS

Although we should obey immediately, that does not in any way imply that we should not ask questions. On the contrary, this passage in Moses tells us we should be asking questions. Adam and Eve were immediately obedient in offering sacrifices. When an Angel of the Lord asked why they were doing that, Adam admitted that he didn’t know why; he was simply doing what he had been commanded.

Clearly it was important enough to the Lord that Adam and Eve understand the why behind the commandment that he sent an Angel to explain it.

The Lord does not expect us to obey and never ask why. He gives commandments for a reason and He wants us to find that reason.

TRUST THE LORD’S TIMING

We don’t know how long it was that Adam and Eve had been offering sacrifices, but we do know they had been out of the Garden at least long enough to have grandchildren. (Moses 5:2-3)

The Lord’s timing can sometimes be difficult to understand, especially in today’s world of instant access to information. But the Lord sees the big picture. He sees the past, the present and the future. We need to trust that answers will come when we need them. Occasionally, answers will come immediately. Sometimes, we simply figure things out because we collect all the evidence, add it to what life experiences we have had, weigh it against what we already know to be true and the pieces fall into place. But whether the answers come immediately or years later, they will come when we need them if we do our part and ask.

Mormon-Media-Network---yin-and-yangTHE NEED FOR OPPOSITES

Eve understood the need for opposition. She understood that in order to fully understand and appreciate joy, we need to know sorrow. We can’t appreciate light if we have never stumbled around in the dark.

MOVE ON

The explanation the Angel of the Lord gave Adam and Eve for why they were commanded to offer sacrifices was that the sacrifice of a first-born lamb was a symbol for the sacrifice of Christ that was to come. It was a symbol of hope. It taught them there would be redemption from their fall.

The lesson we can take from this is to look forward. We all make mistakes, but we are not meant to relive those mistakes. We do our best to correct them, make amends, and move on. We should see mistakes as growing and learning opportunities. The Lord did not expect, or want Adam and Eve to live out their lives in the sorrow of their transgressions. He wanted them to use that sorrow as a way of experiencing complete joy.

We cannot write the next chapter of our lives if we keep re-reading old ones.

 

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RELATED MATERIAL:

Scriture: Pearl of Great Price, Moses, chapter 5  (Source – lds.org)

Video and written text: The Past Way of Facing the Future. The lessons of the past prepare us to face the challenges of the future. (14:15, Source – lds.org)

Video and written text:  Face the Future with Faith. Truth, covenants, and ordinances enable us to overcome fear and face the future with faith! (14:30, Source – lds.org)

Posted in Acceptance, Agency, Attitude, Endurance, Exploring Doctrine, Faith, God, Joy Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Salt Lake Temple Symbols

 

Mormon-Media-Network---SL-Temple-with-trees“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

“And many people shall go and say, 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 2:1-2, emphasis added)

The Salt Lake Temple is the fulfilling of this prophecy by Isaiah. At the end of the 19th century the Utah Territory was about to become a state. Church leadership wanted the new state to be named Deseret, after the Book of Mormon word for the industrious honey bee. However, the US government insisted that the new state be called Utah, a Native American word meaning Top of the Mountains. This put the Salt Lake temple, the Mountain of the Lord, in the top of the mountains.

Mormon-Media-Network- TS -Moon-stones-Architect-renderingChurch Architect Truman Angell designed the iconic Salt Lake Temple. He, under the direction of Church President Brigham Young, and with the assistance of astronomer Orson Pratt, designed several symbols into its exterior. There are stars, moons, suns, clouds and others.

Moonstones

In this architect’s drawing of the moonstones we can see that the original idea was to have much more detail in the carvings. The faces of the moons are very similar to the faces on the Nauvoo temple. That temple had a great influence on the original concepts for the Salt Lake Temple.

Mormon Media Network - TS - MoonsThe moonstones that circle the Salt Lake temple had much less detail. Rather than faces, the stones depicted the phases of the moon. The phases change as the stones go around the temple in the same way moon phases change through a 28 day cycle.

There are a few schools of thought as to why the final stones lacked the detail of the drawings. One idea is that the original stone to be used in construction was sandstone, a much softer stone and easier to carve than granite. Shortly after the foundation stones were laid, they were buried and hidden when Johnson’s army was approaching the Salt Lake Valley. There had been false rumors spread in Washington D.C. that the Mormons were planning an uprising against the US government. Fearing that the army would think the temple foundation was the beginnings of a military fort, Brigham Young ordered it covered up. A few years later when the soil was removed to begin building again, cracks were found in the sandstone foundation. Brigham Young ordered the foundation removed and granite became the new material for construction.

Mormon-Media-Network-TS--Earth-Stone-Architect-RenderingMormon-Media-Network- TS -Earth-StonesEarth Stones

Around the base of the temple are earth stones. Symbolically they are at ground level, beneath the sunstones, moonstones and stars. Originally these earth stones were to be detailed with the Earth’s hemispheres, but, like the moonstones, a simpler design was selected when granite became the medium. These stones represent the importance of being grounded, or standing fast and immovable, with your feet firmly planted in truth.

Mormon-Media-Network---TS---CU-Sun-StoneSunstones

In the New Testament Paul taught that there are different degrees of glory in the hereafter.

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” (1 Corinthians 15:41)

The Salt Lake Temple depicts these glories in sunstones, moonstones and stars, which represent the telestial, terrestrial and celestial kingdoms.

There are many star stones carved into the temple’s exterior. Most are purely decorative, but others, along with the moonstones and sunstones, represent the degrees of glory Paul spoke of.

Mormon-Media-Network- TS -CU-CloudCloud Stones

Near the top of the corner towers are cloud stones. These stones depict rays of light shining through the clouds. This represents another prophecy of Isaiah concerning the restoration of the gospel:

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Ursa Major

Mormon-Media-Network- TS -Dipper Mormon-Media-Network- TS -DIpper-with-Yellow-Stars Mormon-Media-Network- TS -Dippier-with-ArrowOne of the most often overlooked symbols is the constellation Big Dipper (Ursa Major).

On the center tower of the west side are seven stars carved into the stones and they form the Big Dipper. In the left photo we can barely see the stars. In the middle photo we have overlaid star images to allow one to see how they are lalid out. The stars are relief carvings, meaning the are convex rather than concave.

In the Northern Hemisphere the big dipper is used as a guide. If one follows the line created by the two stars that make up the front of the dipper, one can find the North Star, and thus find one’s way when lost. In the right photo we can see how those front stars line up and, interestingly enough, point to the actual North Star.

The symbolism of the constellation on the temple is to remind us that the temple and the things learned there should be our guide through life. If we will look to the temple when spiritually lost, we can again find our spiritual North Star and find our way back.

Mormon-Media-Network- TS -BattlemontsBattlements

One temple symbol is not only meaningful, but functional as well. Running along the top of the main walls of the temple – the north and south walls that run east and west — are battlements. Battlements were common features on castles or fortresses. They were used as both lookouts and for defense. They provided protection from attacks by allowing a defending army to fire upon oncoming enemies through a small opening.

The battlements on the Salt Lake Temple are purely symbolic with regards to defense against attack. The temple is often referred to as a place of refuge, and the covenants made there are a protection. Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “A covenant made with God is not restrictive, but protective [ ] Covenants do not hold us down; they elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective.” (Ensign, May 2001)

The temple battlements are not just symbols. They were functional. As you can see in the photo, every other battlement is open. Before the days of modern heating, these served as chimneys for the various fireplaces that heated the rooms of the temple.

Mormon-Media-Network- TS -All-seeing-eyeThe All-Seeing Eye

This is an ancient symbol. It can be found in Egyptian monuments, in religious art, and even on the back of the US dollar bill. There are various interpretations as to what it represents. One is that God is watching you. Another meaning, which makes one feel less threatened and more comfortable, is that God is watching over you. One can look at the all-seeing eye in two ways. One can feel compelled to do good because God sees everything you do, or one can feel loved and protected because God is watching over you in a loving and protecting way. Either way, one can be reminded that God does see everything, and knows everything. To use a contemporary saying, God sees the big picture.

Mormon-Media-Network--TS-Martyr-Niche-w-arrowMartyr Niches

On the exterior of many medieval castles and cathedrals one can find small alcoves known as martyr niches. They are usually found near the door so as to be visible to those entering. Such niches hold statues of people deemed to be martyrs by the local community or parish. The Salt Lake Temple has martyr niches. They can be found next to the main doors. When looking at original architect drawings, it is clear that the intent was that the niches would hold statues of the Latter-day martyrs Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Artist Mahonri Young (1877 – 1957) sculpted statues of the brothers, which were placed in the niches adjacent to the east doors of the temple. Those statues remained there until 1910.

The placement of the Salt Lake Temple niches was not without significance. Around the base of the temple, are large rounded stones known as earth stones. Moving up from there one finds moonstones, then sunstones and star stones. The niches are above the earth stones, but below the moon, sun and star stones. Placing the statues in these niches put the martyred brothers above the earth, yet beneath heaven, meaning they had left earth, but had not yet been exalted. Because the significance was misunderstood by some, many people assumed the church worshiped Joseph and Hyrum. To avoid further questions on the matter, the statues were removed from their niches and placed on the grounds of Temple Square. They can be found today between the Temple and the South Visitors Center. Nowadays young newlyweds stand in the martyr niches to be photographed and few understand the significance.

 

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Posted in Church History, Heaven, Pioneers, Temples Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Tower Builders

Mormon-Media-Network--Philo-Farnsworth

Philo T. Farnsworth

“There you are…electronic television!”

On September 7, 1927, a young inventor successfully broadcast an image from one room to another over airwaves. Philo Farnsworth had invented television. It’s in the history books. He came up with the idea as a 14 year old in Rigby, Idaho. What’s rarely in any history book is that later, when his ideas were coming to fruition, his brother-in-law, Cliff Gardner became a crucial part of the invention.  Philo was, without question, a creative genius, but Cliff was able to see things as they were and see his place in the process. Knowing he did not have Philo’s mind for science, Cliff decided he would learn to blow glass. He saw from the technical drawings that Philo was going to need glass tubes, and couldn’t just run down to Radio Shack and get them. On that day in 1927 (a year before the release of the first talking motion picture) their image dissector camera tube broadcast its first image.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin instructed that a tower be built so he could address his people and be heard over a much greater distance. Like King Benjamin, Philo Farnsworth had a great message to share with the world and Cliff Gardner built the tower. Without Cliff’s glass tubes, Farnsworth’s television would only be a sketch on paper.

Mormon-Media-Network---Cliff-G-w-Tube

Cliff Gardner

There are many tower builders around us everyday. When a church leader has a message for the world, tower builders make it happen. Camera operators bring the message into focus. Audio engineers make it audible. Building engineers make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable. Satellite engineers get the signal into space and back again. In a very real sense, it is a team effort. And none of this would be of any value if no one on the other end made the effort to hear.

No one ever accomplishes something great alone. Fortune 500 CEOs don’t double a company’s value without the custodians who sweep the floors. An NBA player does not win a championship without fellow teammates, coaches, family support, ticket takers, or fans.

A good team is made up of diverse members with different skills, different abilities, experiences and interests. Every member of a team has something to offer even if it is something as simple as a different point of view. When a team is made up of vastly different personalities and experience, the creativity of the team is often greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes the most valuable teammate is the person who disagrees with you. Having someone disagree with you can open your eyes to an entirely new way of looking at something; and looking at things in a new way is the first step in creating something great.

We should never let our jobs, our hobbies, our church assignments or anything else become more important than people. An airplane was delayed and passengers were getting antsy wanting to board. The two agents at the gate worked feverishly to accommodate the demands of the passengers–demands that were becoming more frequent by the minute. Finally, in frustration one of the agents said to her co-worker, “If it weren’t for these passengers, we would have this plane in the air already.” The question begs to be asked. Without the passengers, what would be the point of getting the plane in the air?

In a world that places a monetary value on things, individuals often get placed into value niches. We may see the leader of a congregation as more important than the members of that congregation.  Often a manager in a corporation is valued above those who work to make his vision a reality. God is no respecter of persons. He does not value one of us over the others. God knows us each individually and understands and appreciates our unique talents, and personalities. We each have a role to play and we each will play that role in a way that is uniquely us. As important as prophets have always been, they are not more important than the people they serve. Imagine a prophet saying, “If it weren’t for these people, I could have had this church in the air hours ago.”

If we remember nothing else as we perform our individual roles, let’s remember this: People are more important than anything.

 

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Posted in Goals, Gratitude, Heroes, Kindness, Pioneers Tagged with: , , , , ,

Free to Choose

Mormon-Media-Network---Free-to-Choose---ChristusThere is a statement that has become very popular in the last few years. You will hear it a lot, especially from young people.

“I know that God has a plan for my life.”

If this statement is talking about God’s great plan of happiness, the plan of salvation, then it’s very true; God does have a plan for your life. However, if we are using the term in a way that says God is in charge of my life and I need to simply let things happen as they happen, then we are misunderstanding a great principle and do not understand the very essence of our mortal existence.

THE GREATEST GIFT

The greatest gift we have is life. The greatest gift, other than life itself, is agency. In the book of Revelation we learn about the terrible war in heaven.

“And there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not…”

This war, like many earthly wars, was a war for real estate and natural resources. The real estate the dragon desired to occupy was our minds, and the natural resource he wanted was the free will of each of us. It was a war for control. The dragon fought to have control and to eliminate the free will of the children of God. He understood that if he controlled our minds and will, he controlled everything.

As with any war for freedom, the saddest outcome is the ingratitude and indifference of the benefactors. God has given us each this great gift of agency. How sad and truly ungrateful it is for us to be indifferent, or to refuse the gift.

Mormon-Media-Network---Free-to-Choose---Steering-WheelTHE STEERING WHEEL OF LIFE

Social Worker and Family Therapist Craig Berthold, LCSW, uses a wonderful image with his patients to help them understand the principle of agency, and to help them take control of their lives. He asks his patients to close their eyes and imagine a steering wheel. This steering wheel is the steering wheel of their life. It determines which direction they travel through life.  They then are asked to imagine the hands of everyone and everything that has some kind of control over them; they imagine those hands on their steering wheels. When they have that image firmly in their minds, he will ask them where their own hands are. Often patients are surprised to realize that their own hands are not on the steering wheel at all. Sometimes there is no room on the wheel for their own hands. They have given all control to others. They are then instructed to remove, one by one, every hand from their steering wheels.  Remove your mother’s hands, your father’s hands, your spouse’s hands, your minister’s hands your employer’s hands; remove the hands of the media the hands of your appetites and addictions.  Remove them all – even your Heavenly Father’s hands.  Now place your own hands firmly in the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.

If we have not been behind the wheel before, that’s a scary thing. The natural tendency is to let those other hands back on the wheel, close our eyes, and hope for the best. But letting others drive never gets us to where we will truly be happy.

Often the most difficult thing for faithful people is to take God’s hands off their steering wheels. However, to truly appreciate and implement the great gift that was fought for in heaven, we must remove all hands but our own. To grow and learn we need to exercise our will and steer our lives.  God did not send us here with the intention of steering our life for us.  He will sit next to us. He will give us advice, maps and traffic reports, but He will not drive. We can ask for directions; we can get weather reports; but God will not drive.

Mormon-Media-Network---free-to-choose---traffic-signsFOLLOWING DIRECTIONS

God wants us to arrive safely at the destination that will make us each the happiest we can be. He knows which bridges are out, where toxic spills have occurred and which roads our vehicle can handle. He provides road maps and reports, and fortunately, updates them regularly.  The wonderful part of all of this is we each have the agency to choose whether or not to pay attention to the updates.  And should we make a wrong turn, He has prepared a way to get us back on track.

It’s important to remember that God not only knows where the pitfalls are, he also knows all of life’s beautiful vistas, amazing beaches, autumn canyons, and rest stops. Simply trust, and enjoy the journey!

 

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Christus photo by: CastleGate Media LLC

Steering wheel photo by: morguefile.com, mugur

Construction photo by: morguefile.com, Jusben

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RELATED MATERIAL:

QUOTES ABOUT AGENCY

Critical to our knowledge of the plan of happiness is an understanding of the great governing principle of agency. – M. Russell Ballard

Since the authorship of the agency of man is God’s, should we not look to him for the best media to help us to control our choices? – John H. Vandenberg

See All Quotes about Agency

Life (Video 2:35, Source: lds.org)

The Sting of The Scorpion (Video 2:50, Source: lds.org)

Agency Topics Page (Source: lds.org)

Scriptures about Agency (Source: lds.org)

Information about Craig Berthold

Posted in Agency, Atonement, Faith, God, Grace, Peace Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Be Still and Know that I Am God

Mormon-Media-Network---Buddhist-LionAt the doors to Buddhist temples stand two lions. These statues stand as sentinels on either side of the door guarding the entrance. To enter the temple, one must pass these lions; one is Fear and the other is Pride. If you possess either of these, you cannot pass.

PRIDE

When we possess either of these, we are forgetting the power and wisdom of God. Pride can be a blinder that prevents us from seeing the kindness, the importance and the strength of others. Pride encourages us to depend on our own strength. It tells us that we know best, that we don’t need others. Pride is a slow growing cancer that eventually alienates us from others. In advanced stages of pride, we are bitter, judgmental and selfish. We become less concerned with the good of community and concerned only with what seems good for us. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”

When we are filled with pride, we set ourselves up as all knowing. We depend solely on ourselves and expect others to do likewise. We forget God and what he can do. Jeffrey R. Holland said, “We must constantly remind ourselves that God is God and we are not.”

When we set aside pride, and walk past that lion, we not only see and understand the power and wisdom of God, but we also come to understand the true power within us.

FEAR

Fear is the opposite of faith. The two cannot coexist. In the Old Testament, 2 Kings, chapter 16, the Lord, through the Prophet Elisha teaches this very important principle. The King of Syria wages war against Israel.  Armies of Syria surround the city, trapping the people of Israel. Fearing the worst, Elisha’s servant asked, “Alas, my master, how shall we do?” Elisha answered – and this is the lesson in faith – “Fear not: for they that be with us are greater than they that be with them.”  Elisha then asked the Lord to open the eyes of the servant. The young man opened his eyes and he saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire. The Lord had sent his armies to the aid of the people.

They that are with us everyday are greater than those things that are against us. If we will set aside our fear and walk past that lion in faith, we will see that God truly is God. If we open our eyes, we will see God’s armies around us everyday. It’s unlikely those armies will be horses and chariots of fire; but if we look, we will see neighbors willing to help us through a crisis. We will find a community rallying around a person in the mist of personal tragedy. We will see God’s hand in our lives.

BE STILL

Bad things happen to the faithful as well as to the unbeliever. Setting aside pride and having faith does not protect us from pain and heartache, but it does help us through those difficulties. More importantly, it can help us learn from struggles. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA, said, “Things work out the best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” This teaches us that faith is not a passive word. It is an action word.  As coach Wooden tells us, things work out the best for those who MAKE the best out of the way things work out. In times of trial we need to get on our knees and ask for help, then get on our feet and do something about it.

Although it’s not expected that we sit and do nothing while life turns things upside down, if we are humble and full of faith we can have peace and a sense of calm as we work to make things better. Through all of life’s challenges, we should always remember what God tells us in the 46th chapter of Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

 

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

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Main title photo (Lake with Trees) by CastleGate Media LLC

Temple Lion by Wikimedia commons

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RELATED MATERIAL

General Conference address by Jeffrey R. Holland: “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent” (Source: lds.org)

General Conference address by Jeffrey R. Holland: “The Grandeur of God” (Source: lds.org)

Psalms 46 (Source: lds.org)

If ye are prepared ye shall not fear. Doctrine & Covenants, section 38

Posted in Attitude, Faith, God, Happiness, Hope, Joy, Peace, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

The First Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley – Brigham Young Was Not One of Them

On July 22, 1847, 109 men, 3 women and 8 children arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Two days later, on July 24, Brigham Young and the rest of his company arrived. Among that first group were the following pioneers:

Mormon-Media-Network---Truman-Angell

Truman Angell

Truman Angell worked as a superintendent under architect William Weeks on the construction of the Nauvoo temple. He was later appointed Church Architect. His most well-known design was the Salt Lake temple.

 

 

Mormon-Media-Networ---William-ClaytonWilliam Clayton

William Clayton wrote the lyrics for the hymn “All is Well” (later known as “Come, Come, Ye Saints”) on April 15, 1846. The first company of the saints was camped about 100 miles west of Nauvoo, at Locust Creek, Iowa. It is believed that the inspiration for the hymn was the news that Clayton’s wife Diantha had given birth to a baby boy back in Nauvoo.

 

Mormon-Media-Network---Thomas-WoolseyThomas Woolsey

By many accounts, Thomas Ezra Woolsey was the first Mormon pioneer to enter the Valley. He was a member of the Mormon Battalion. He plowed the first furrow and built the first house in the Salt Lake Valley. He made four return trips to Winter Quarters to assist others on their trek to the valley.

 

 

Mormon-Media-Network---Orson-PratOrson Pratt

Orson Pratt was an original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He was an accomplished mathematition and well versed in astronomy. He gave many science lectures in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City. He published a book on mathematics, New and Easy Method of the Cubic and Biquadratic Equations and a book on astronomy, Key to the Universe. When he died at the age of 70, he was the last remaining apostle from the original twelve.

 

Mormon-Media-Network---Porter-RockwellPorter Rockwell

Orrin Porter Rockwell was a childhood friend of Mormon leader Joseph Smith. On April 6, 1830, the 16 year old became the youngest member of the church, being part of the first group baptized the day the church was organized. In his lifetime, he was as famous as Wyatt Earp. When he died he had been a member of the church longer than anyone else.

 

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All images in the public domain

Main title photo, Wagon Train in Echo Canyon by Charles Savage

 

 

Posted in Pioneers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,