Sunday, February 22, 2015

All Things Point to Christ

This is a portion of a talk that Todd B. Parker gave at a devotional at Brigham Young University. He gives examples from the scriptures and other things that are types of Jesus Christ. His testimony is better than I can tell it, so I am going to quote from his talk.

“I believe you can find types of Christ in events, travels, topography, seasons, people, names, and so forth. For example, in the Bible Dictionary under “Pauline Epistles” for the book of Hebrews, we read that Israel’s journey typifies our journey toward eternal life (see 6b). Israel left Canaan, went to Egypt, and fell into bondage. They were led from bondage by Moses, were purified in the desert, and then returned to their home in Canaan. Likewise, we leave God’s presence, enter a fallen telestial world, are delivered from spiritual bondage by Jesus, pass through a purifying terrestrial millennium, and return to God’s celestial presence.

“Let’s look at Moses as a symbol or type of Christ and compare the two deliverers. Moses was Israel’s physical deliverer. Jesus is our spiritual deliverer.

“Moses’s first plague to get Israel out of Egypt was turning water into blood. Jesus’s first miracle in His ministry was turning water into wine.

“Moses’s last plague was the death of the firstborn. Jesus’s last miracle was the resurrection of the Firstborn.

“How did Moses free Israel from Egyptian bondage? He had the Israelites take a lamb—male, unblemished, firstborn, with no broken bones—and sacrifice this lamb by shedding its blood. The Israelites then put the blood of the lamb on the lintel and the two side posts of each of their doors. When they did that, the destroyer passed over them. The blood of the lamb saved them from physical death. In our lives we have to accept the Lamb of God—Jesus Christ—and symbolically put the blood of His Atonement on the doorframes of our lives. The blood of the Lamb of God will save us from spiritual death.

“Those lambs used for sacrifice had to be firstborn. I don’t know if you have considered Jesus’s birth in the light of His being the Lamb of God. To whom did the angels go to announce the birth of the Lamb of God? Specific shepherds were assigned to tend the flocks of sheep to be used in temple sacrifice. Only certified firstborn lambs could be used. The shepherds were the eyewitnesses of which lambs were firstborn. So when the Lamb of God was born, where did the angels go? To the shepherds. Why? Because that was their job—to witness the birth of firstborn lambs.

“Moses tells us in Leviticus 1:11 that the lambs to be used for sacrifice were to be slain on the north side of the altar. Where do you suppose Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed? The Crucifixion took place just north of the temple altar in Jerusalem at a place called Golgotha. The Lamb of God was sacrificed north of the temple altar. All things testify of Christ.

“After Israel left Egyptian bondage, they went to the borders of the Red Sea. In the movie The Ten Commandments, Yul Brynner played the part of Pharaoh and said, “The god of Moses is a poor general to leave him no retreat.”

“Not really. Moses went there on purpose. Why? Because they had to go through the Red Sea. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1–2 that Israel passing through the Red Sea was a symbol of a baptism by water and a baptism by fire. Israel was saved by water. That is why there had to be a wall of water on each side. Israel was “baptized by immersion” in the Red Sea. The fire held the Egyptians back. Hence Israel was also saved by fire. It is the same with each of us. We need to be saved through a baptism of water and a baptism of fire.

“When Israel got to the borders of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire came around behind them. There was first a separation of light and darkness. It was light to the Israelites going through the Red Sea, but it was darkness to the Egyptians. What did God do on the first day of creation? He separated the light from the darkness. What did God then do on the second day of creation? He separated the waters from the waters. What did Moses do? He separated the waters from the waters, and Israel went through on dry ground.

“They went into the wilderness. The wilderness is a symbol of purification. They were there forty years. When we get into the Millennium, we will have a thousand years of purification.

“What did they eat while they were in the wilderness? They ate manna. What is manna? It is bread from heaven. Who is Jesus? He is the Bread of Life. Where did He come from? Heaven. And where was He born? He was born in Bethlehem. And what does the name Bethlehem mean? Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” By chance? I don’t think so.

“What did they drink? They drank water. Who is the Living Water? It is Jesus (see John 4:14). Where did they get the water? From a rock (see Exodus 17:6). Who is the rock? The Rock is Christ (see Helaman 5:12). By chance? I don’t think so.

“When Israel went into the promised land, they went through the Jordan River. Why go through a river? You have to be “born again” (see John 3:1–5). Who led them through the river? It was Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew name for the Greek word Jesus. It was “Jesus” who caused them to be born again and led them through the Jordan River back home to the land of their fathers. They crossed the river at Bethabara—the same place where Jesus would later be baptized. That section of the Jordan River is the lowest body of freshwater on earth. Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that Jesus’s baptism at Bethabara symbolized His descending below all things (see “Self-Mastery,” Ensign, November 1985, 32). All things testify of Christ.

“Consider names—simple names, like Joseph Smith. Joseph in Hebrew is Yoseph. Yoseph means “may God add sons.” A “smith” is someone who forges or fashions or beats something out of raw material. So if you are God and you want to establish a kingdom out of raw material and then add sons to it, how do you describe that? “Joseph Smith.”

“What does Hyrum mean? Hyrum means “my brother is exalted.” By chance? I don’t think so.

“Consider the seasons. When was Joseph born? Joseph was born at the winter solstice, when light is coming into the world. What was the sign to the Nephites when Jesus was born? It was three days of light. When was Joseph killed? Joseph was killed at the summer solstice, when light is going out of the world. What was the sign to the Nephites at Jesus’s death? It was three days of darkness. All things testify of Christ.

“Moses 6:63 states, “All things . . . bear record of [Christ], both things . . . in the heavens above, . . . on the earth, . . . in the earth, and . . . under the earth.”

“The sun itself is a type of Christ. It comes from the east. Christ will also come from the east. The sun gives light and life to all things. Its heat can also consume all things. (Those who live in Arizona understand that.) It does both. The Light of Christ gives “life to all things” (D&C 88:13). Christ’s glory will also consume the wicked at His Second Coming (see D&C 5:19). People whose lives are filled with darkness will be destroyed by the light. People whose lives are full of light will be saved by that light—“as by fire,” to use Nephi’s words (1 Nephi 22:17). Doctrine and Covenants 88:25 states that “the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom.” Well, what does the earth do? The earth revolves around the sun (s-u-n). What should we do if we are to abide by the law of a celestial kingdom? Our lives should also revolve around the Son (s-o-n).

“The universe was designed to testify of Christ. Consider hibernation. Every creature—every squirrel, insect, snake, or bear—that hibernates and lies dormant during the winter appears to be dead. Each one that comes alive again in the spring testifies of Christ and His Resurrection. Every tree, every plant, every leaf that becomes green each spring—all testify of Christ. Do you think it was by chance that all of these things come to life after appearing to be dead at the same time of year when Jesus came alive again? I don’t think so. All things testify of Christ.” (“True Doctrine, Understood, Changes, Attitudes and…”), Todd B. Parker, BYU Devotional, January 20, 2015)

I add my testimony to Brother Parker’s. I know Jesus is The Christ and there are many witnesses in the scriptures that testify of Christ, every prophet testifies of him. I testify of him. He lives and because of his atonement and resurrection, we will live again and can enjoy exaltation with our families.

The comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Do I Love Thee?

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. What did you do for those you love? My wife and I went to our student stake’s Sweetheart Ball. We had a wonderful dinner and then a live band provided the music for an evening of dancing. There were about 300 couples at the event and everyone had a great time.

At the 1st Stake Sweethearts Ball
Sweethearts Ball Fun

Expressing love and appreciation to those who love us, especially our spouse is vital to keep that love strong. Elder Richard G. Scott spoke of some of the things he and his wife did to show their love for each other:

“I learned from my wife the importance of expressions of love. Early in our marriage, often I would open my scriptures to give a message in a meeting, and I would find an affectionate, supportive note Jeanene had slipped into the pages. Sometimes they were so tender that I could hardly talk. Those precious notes from a loving wife were and continue to be a priceless treasure of comfort and inspiration.

“I began to do the same thing with her, not realizing how much it truly meant to her. I remember one year we didn’t have the resources for me to give her a valentine, so I decided to paint a watercolor on the front of the refrigerator. I did the best I could; only I made one mistake. It was enamel paint, not watercolor. She never let me try to remove that permanent paint from the refrigerator.

“I remember one day I took some of those little round paper circles that form when you punch holes in paper, and I wrote on them the numbers 1 to 100. I turned each over and wrote her a message, one word on each circle. Then I scooped them up and put them in an envelope. I thought she would get a good laugh.

“When she passed away, I found in her private things how much she appreciated the simple messages that we shared with each other. I noted that she had carefully pasted every one of those circles on a piece of paper. She not only kept my notes to her, but she protected them with plastic coverings as if they were a valuable treasure.” (“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”, Richard G. Scott, General Conference, April 2011)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the poem “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) it goes:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaking to the students at Brigham Young University the day after Valentines Day a few years ago had this to say about showing love:

“I have taken for a title to my remarks Mrs. Browning’s wonderful line “How do I love thee?” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese [1850], no. 43.) I am not going to “count the ways” this morning, but I am impressed with her choice of adverb—not when do I love thee nor where do I love thee nor why do I love thee nor why don’t you love me, but, rather, how. How do I demonstrate it, how do I reveal my true love for you? Mrs. Browning was correct. Real love is best shown in the “how,” and it is with the how that Mormon and Paul help us the most.” (“How Do I Love Thee”, Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional Address, February 15, 2000)

One year for Valentine’s Day, I bought a package of the little valentines that kids take to school to give everyone. I put them all over the house in places that were not easily found. For months my wife would be cleaning something and find one. That was one of the best Valentine’s gift I could have given her. Every time she found one she was reminded of how much I loved her. She would always say that it gave her a tickle in her tommy every time she found one.

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)

Elder Holland described the type of Christ’s love that Paul spoke of:

“True charity, the absolutely pure, perfect love of Christ, has really been known only once in this world—in the form of Christ Himself, the living Son of the living God. It is Christ’s love that Mormon goes to some length to describe for us and that Paul the Apostle did as well some years before, writing to the Corinthians in New Testament times. As in everything, Christ is the only one who got it all right, did it all perfectly, loved the way we are all to try to love. But even though we fall short, that divine standard is there for us. It is a goal toward which we are to keep reaching, keep striving—and, certainly, a goal to keep appreciating.” (“How Do I Love Thee”, Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional Address, February 15, 2000)

I hope that we will all remember to express our love to our parents, spouse, children and friends as often as we can. Doing so will strengthen that love and help remind those that are dear to us that they are loved and cherished.

I invite you to watch a 3-minute message from Elder Holland’s talk and then share your comments and questions below.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Boats that Won't Float

In the early seventeenth century the king of Sweden, Gustav II Adolf, wanted to build the most powerful gun ship ever. He commissioned the best ship builders and used the best materials. The ship was called the Vasa and was to be made of oak, a very valuable wood. If someone would cut down an oak tree without a permit they would be guilty of a capital crime. The wood from the oak trees was cut and prepared for the width called for in the design.

“After construction had begun, Gustav Adolf ordered the Vasa to be made longer. Because the width supports had already been built from precious oak, the king directed the builders to increase the ship’s length without increasing its width. Although the shipwrights knew that doing so would compromise the Vasa’s seaworthiness, they were hesitant to tell the king something they knew he did not want to hear. They complied. Gustav Adolf also insisted that this ship have not simply the customary single deck of guns but cannons on three decks, with the heaviest cannons on the upper deck. Again, against their better judgment, the shipwrights complied.
“Over the course of several years, shipwrights, carpenters, rope makers, and others worked diligently to build the Vasa. Over one thousand oak trees were used to complete the ship. It had sixty-four cannons and masts taller than 150 feet. To give the ship the opulence befitting a king’s flagship, several hundred gilded and painted sculptures were added.
“On August 10, 1628, the Vasa began its maiden voyage. In view of countless spectators, the ship left its mooring directly below the royal castle in Stockholm. After being pulled along by anchors for the first several hundred feet, the Vasa left the shelter of the harbor. A stronger wind entered its sails, and the ship began to tip. The Vasa righted itself slightly, but only temporarily. Before long, as recorded by an observer, “she heeled right over and water gushed in through the gun ports until she slowly went to the bottom under sail, pennants and all.”1 The Vasa’s maiden voyage was about 4,200 feet.
“Despite the Vasa’s magnificent appearance, the ship was not seaworthy. The alterations in its construction resulted in it not having sufficient lateral stability to enable safe seafaring. Gustav Adolf’s desire for an extravagant status symbol ruined the design of what would have been a magnificent sailing vessel, the mightiest warship of its time. The shipbuilders’ reluctance to speak up—their fear of the king’s displeasure—deprived the king of their knowledge and insight. All involved lost sight of the goals of the enterprise: to protect Sweden and to promote its interests abroad. A ship that attempts to defy the laws of physics is simply a boat that won’t float.” (“Constructing Spiritual Stability”, Dale G. Renlund, BYU Devotional, September 16, 2014)

If we are to navigate the waters of our mortality and be worthy to enter back into the presence of God we need to have spiritual stability. Brother Renlund explains that there are four things we need to do to build spiritual stability:

1.              Obeying God’s Commandments
2.              Heading Counsel and Becoming Lifelong Learners
3.              Serving Others
4.              Make Jesus Christ Our Foundation

The Savior speaking to his disciples said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). Keeping God’s commandments is the best thing we can do to give us spiritual stability. There are so many voices in the world today teaching that it does not matter what we do, as long as we don’t infringe on someone else’s rights or break the law we are ok. There are also many that are teaching that evil is good and good is evil. How do we know what is right and wrong. We can know through the teachings of the scriptures. The scriptures teach that wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:10). Bro. Renlund said:

“Working with the physical laws related to lateral stability in the ship’s construction might have felt restrictive to Gustav Adolf, but the Vasa would not have sunk before its mission started had it complied with these laws. Instead, it would have had the freedom and flexibility to accomplish what it was intended to do.
“So, too, obedience to God’s laws preserves our freedom, flexibility, and ability to achieve our potential. The commandments are not intended to restrict us. Rather, obedience leads to increased spiritual stability and long-term happiness.” (“Constructing Spiritual Stability”, Dale G. Renlund, BYU Devotional, September 16, 2014)

The second principle for spiritual stability is to head the counsel of church leaders and be lifelong learners of the truth.  If we do not heed to counsel of our church leaders we are like King Gustav who ignored the laws of physics when constructing the Vasa. We risk sinking spiritually and becoming subject to the Devil if we ignore the inspired counsel of our leaders. We also must always be seeking to know the truth on all matters both spiritually and temporally.

Third we must be willing to serve. It is through selfless service to others that we become closest to the Savior and the example he set for us. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin taught,  “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are in the service of God”. (Mosiah 2:16)  Brother Renlund had this to say about service:

“Eternity stays in clearer focus when we focus on others as we seek to help Heavenly Father’s children in some way. I have always found it much easier to receive inspiration when I am praying to find out how I can help another than when I am simply praying for myself.(“Constructing Spiritual Stability”, Dale G. Renlund, BYU Devotional, September 16, 2014)

The final principle for spiritual stability is making Jesus Christ our foundation. The Apostle Paul taught that we would be “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) unless we were built on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner.” (Ephesians 2:20).

Again Bro. Renlund counseled:

Without Christ, we are driven like a vessel tossed about upon the waves. We have no power because we have no sail. We have no stability, especially in times of storm, because we have no anchor. We have no direction or purpose because we don’t have anything with which to steer.

If we wish to avoid navigating through life in a long, skinny, top-heavy ship, we must make Christ our foundation and seek His counsel. The ultimate in educational hubris is to believe ourselves to be so wise that we do not need to seek direction from the Lord through the Holy Ghost. Remember, “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29; see also verse 28).

In order to face, overcome, and be prepared for the crosswinds and crosscurrents of life, we must obey God’s commandments; become humble, willing, and determined lifelong learners; serve others; and establish Jesus Christ as the foundation of our lives. As we do so we dramatically increase our spiritual stability. Unlike the Vasa,we will be able to return to safe harbor, having fulfilled our destiny. (“Constructing Spiritual Stability”, Dale G. Renlund, BYU Devotional, September 16, 2014)

We live in a world that is constantly being tossed around by the winds of secularism and evil. If we are to navigate these turbulent waters safely we must have spiritual stability. We will never make it if we break God’s commandments, ignore the counsel of our priesthood leaders, fail to have charity for others by provide meaningful service and have Jesus Christ as the foundation of our lives. Without these things we like, the Vasa are a boat that won’t float.

Your comments and questions are welcome. (If there are no comments yet, click on the no comment link below)