REFLECTION on Joshua, Moses’ assistant

As I continue my goal to read the Old Testament before the end of the year, I come to the Book of Joshua. I noticed that first verse in King James Version calls Joshua, “Moses’ minister.” Because of the modern connotations of word minister, I believe the word can be misleading. Other Bible translations use the word “attendant,” “helper,” or “assistant.” And in Exodus 33:11, we read that “Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” We can infer from these two verses that Joshua spent a lot of time with Moses and at the temple. He probably thoroughly understood the laws and ordinances of the tabernacle and knew, better than one else, how Moses thought and acted. It reminded me of when King Benjamin explained to his people:

For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

Mosiah 5:13

Maybe it was from Moses’ example that Joshua learned how to be “strong and of a good courage […because by neither turning] to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 1:7) he could maintain the presence of God with him and knew that, by so doing, the Lord would never forsake him (Joshua 1:5).

Perhaps, it was from Moses’ that he learned the value of keeping of the Law of God on his lips and meditating “therein day and night” (Joshua 1:8). We see that, from proper preparation, Joshua was able to successfully bring the Children of Israel into the promised land. I believe there is a life lesson found in this, and other examples in the Holy Scriptures.

The Bible recounts that Abraham and Issac, as they went toward Mount Moriah to sacrifice, “they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:8). The famous Jewish Torah commentator, Rashi, states that the Hebrew means they were “with the same ready heart” (Rashi on Genesis 22:8:2). More specifically, as commentary by Radak says, “they were of one mind and of one spirit” (Radak on Genesis 22:8:2). After working with, and learning with, his father, Abraham, Issac probably thought and acted a lot like his father. Like people say: “like father, like son” or, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

John 5:19

This statement shows that Jesus felt confident enough that he knew how Heavenly Father would act. Jesus felt so familiar with the Father he, later, said to his disciples that if they have seen him, they have seen the Father, because the Father dwells and works in him (John 14:7-11).

What kind of person do you want to be? The key is to find people that are like the person you want to be and spend time with them—they will rub off on you. (Beware: this is a double-edged sword. If you spend time with those who do not share the same standards as you do, they will rub off on you as well.) Now, there may not be a group of people that are similar to the person you want to be because the traits or skills you seek are rare. Plus, I do not believe it is enough to just have within our mind’s eye “the stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13); although, I certainly believe it is necessary for our spiritual understanding and growth. Nevertheless, you need a mentor! Somebody in the physical world. Someone who has experience and can guide you. I heard a quote that says that for someone to continue progressing they need someone above them to learn from, someone equal to them to challenge them, and someone below them to teach.  [I am sorry, I do not have the exact quote. I heard it in an audiobook I listened to called, The Ego is the Enemy. When I find the quote, I will update this post.] In that light, there is bound to be a group of people who show interest in the same goals that you have. Remember: You will become like the people that surround sound you. You will become the thoughts that occupy your mind.

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Reflections after the Novel: Flatland (April 3, 2017)

No wonder we can’t comprehend eternity…

Mathematics and Science currently claim there are ten dimensions. By way of day-to-day experience, all animal life can easily navigate three-dimensional space and human beings, having been endowed with the gift of language and logic, can comprehend it. Every day we see fluid movement forward, backward, side-to-side, and up and down.

If one were to imagine a world of living shapes on a piece of paper, they would comprehend north, south, east, and west; but could hardly understand the notion of up (or height) of an object—the possibility of the existence of a 3D object would be unfathomable.  We, as three-dimensional beings, can see the insides of the shape-creatures on a piece o paper; that would not be possible for someone in a two-dimensional world to do. Not only that, we could touch the insides of these shape-people, or appear out of nowhere. Maybe spiritual beings and the Spirit of God reside in one of these high dimensions, that is why they can pass through walls and “dwell in us” (D&C 130:22). This idea does not contradict the word of God (that the Spirit World “…is right here” [DBY p. 376]) or scientific reason. One might say, “but isn’t the time the fourth dimension?” In a ten-dimensional multiverse, time would be an additional dimension—making them eleven in total. The concept of multiple dimensions explains a lot of spiritual and supernatural phenomena. In a ten-dimensional universe, God could literally see the end and the beginning, arrive faster than the speed of

Maybe spiritual beings and the Spirit of God reside in one of these higher dimensions, that is why they can pass through walls and “dwell in us” (D&C 130:22). This idea does not contradict the word of God (that the Spirit World “…is right here” [DBY p. 376]) or scientific reason. One might say, ‘but isn’t the time the fourth dimension?’ In a ten-dimensional multiverse, time would be an additional dimension—making them eleven in total. The concept of multiple dimensions explains a lot of spiritual and supernatural phenomena. In a ten-dimensional universe, God could literally see the end and the beginning, arrive faster than the speed of light, and be with us spiritually and physically. This would allow him to hear all prayers. And, a God existing outside of three-dimensional space, would allow him to put all things in their proper place in order for all anthropic coincidences occur or to engineer DNA for the existence of life.

I am grateful for the existence of language, math, and science that has opened my eyes to understand new concepts. Unfortunately, science, at this point, has no way of proving the existence of extra-dimensional space—perhaps that is part of our veil. I know God lives and knows us each individually and can literally be there for us when we call upon his name. I hope that, in the future, I can comprehend all ten dimensions o the universe that math and science have identified.

Reflections on the Cross (Easter 2017)

Then​ said Jesus unto his disciples, If any ​man​ will come after me, let him ​​​deny​ himself, and take up his ​​​cross​, and ​​​follow​ ​​​me​. (Matt. 16:24)

What does the cross mean?
As one of the most universal symbols in the world, to Christians it means their dependence on Jesus Christ—a reminder of their faith. To people under Roman rule, it surely meant death. The Romans sometimes punished people to death by crucifixion—an excruciating, drawn-out, public form of asphyxiation. This image must have been deeply ingrained in the minds of the people of Judea during the ministry of Christ. During his ministry, Jesus invited them to ‘take up the cross and to follow him’ (Luke 9:23). This may have been quite a morbid invitation and it must have been prophetic to see the Master literally carried the cross to His death. It was through this death that God made an atonement for all Creation.  So, was Savior’s invitation to ‘take up the cross and follow him’ an invitation to martyrdom? Mostly Christians focus on the following him through good works. However, there are many lessons that can be extracted from the sacrifice of our Redeemer (e.g.: love, humility, diligence, temperance, patience, consecration, etc.). Besides the salvation of our souls, the atonement must also be a life lesson, too. What is that ultimate teaching? 

Even though The Quran and The New Testament are at odds about many details of Jesus’s life and death, but there is one title that stands out to me and they both agree on: Word (John 1:1-5; Quran 3:45, 4:171). For the Christians this means, ‘the word made flesh’ (John 1:14). Christians claim he is the Son of God, while Muslims state he is not; rather, Jesus is the Word because God (Allah) caused the Virgen Mary to conceive miraculously through it being a creative mandate—His word. “Indeed the likeness of Jesus to God as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was” (Quran 3:59).In other words, The Quran says that Jesus is a manifestation of God’s creative power in the same way that Adam was. Because: “it is He [Allah] who gives life and causes death; and when He decrees a matter, He but says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is” (Quran 40:68).

No matter how one sees Jesus as being the Word, there no doubt that Jesus lived by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4, Deut. 8:3). Appropriately, the word Muslim literally means “one who submits to God” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Muslim). Jesus definitely submitted to the will of the Eternal Father in all things. Perhaps, it is through continual communion with the Spirit of God that Jesus can say “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (John 5:19). The ultimate lesson of from the cross is to allow your old self to die and be reborn as a disciple of Jesus Christ, who was ‘the Word made flesh.’

[This reflection was the result of conversation with my wife’s about her Young Women’s lesson on Easter Sunday.]

Additional reading: https://www.islamreligion.com/articles/229/descriptive-titles-of-jesus-in-quran-part-2/

Reflections from Sunday School: The True Value of the Bible (Apr. 9, 2017)

The last couple of years, I have enjoyed reading books on philosophy, science and classic literature for learning and faith (D&C 88:116). Brigham Young said:

It is our duty and calling as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels…or any of the various and numerous different sects and parties…it is [our] business to gather all truths in the world… (DBY, 248)

In this reading venture, I am, in part, searching for little gems of truth (D&C 93:24) that can be found in writings of philosophers, authors or have been passed down in various world religions. Ever since my eclectic approach of devouring books, I feel like I have become quite competent at evaluating writing prose.

In Sunday School, we were talking about the purpose of gathering. The teacher stated simply that the Lord gathers His people is for temple worship. He said that the bringing of Israel out of Egypt and, the eventual returning into the promised land, was not complete until King Solomon built a permanent temple; and, so it is now, that God is gathering the saints for them to build temples. This concept rang true to me. I, then, began to ponder on the significance of temples. Then it dawned on me: the value of the Holy Bible is not its great literary prose, irrefutable truths and wisdom for all humanity (although there are many), or well-developed stories—they are the covenants! The Bible is proof that God personally makes and keeps covenants with His children. A covenant is, as the LDS Church traditionally defines it, “a two-way promise.”

The Old Testament is full of covenants, here is a list of a few of the far-reaching ones:

  • God promises not to flood the Earth again. (Genesis 9:8-17)
  • The Abrahamic Covenant: a promised land for Abraham’s descendants [the House of Israel] (Genesis 17:6-8), his seed multiplied as “the stars of the heaven” and the sand of the sea shore (Genesis 22:17), and a blessing for all families of the Earth through him [Abraham] (Genesis 12:3).
  • The promise of a Messiah. (e.g.: Deuteronomy 18:15, see Act 7:37)

The Abrahamic Covenant is especially significant, in my opinion, because it is the reason why God is so concerned with gathering the House of Israel—to fulfill his promises. Moses brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt to bring them back to their promise land. God keeps inspiring prophets to call them to repentance and to turn back to the one true and living God. (Jeremiah 10:1-15) Later, prophets began to prophesy that the twelve tribes of Israel would be scattered among the whole earth to be regathered in the last days (See Jeremiah chapter 10 as one of the many examples). Jesus came to make “a new covenant with the house of Israel” (Jer. 31:32) and “[he] put the law…inward” (v. 33). (The Sermon on the Mount is a great example of how Jesus taught the law should be put in the hearts.) Jesus taught the Apostles to give His followers bread and wine in memory of His body and in His blood (Matt. 26:26-28), which is the “new testament [i.e.: covenant].” God knows the beginning to the end. His covenants are for all His children.

It was necessary for Jesus Christ to come among the Jews, and then be rejected and killed as “an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53); so that the promise God made to Abraham to bless all families of the Earth could be fulfilled. How could God not offer salvation to all when His chosen people rejected “the Word made flesh?” (John 1:14) And so the Jesus was a “light to the Gentiles, that…[he] mayest be… salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) Now, by lifting up his “hand to the Gentiles,” and setting up His “standard” through the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 49:22) after the “falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), he can bring the Children of Israel back to their promised land on gentiles shoulders; so that all shall know that God makes and keeps promises with His children.

I am grateful that the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon testify of the covenants of a loving Heavenly Father with His children. (Ezekiel 37:15-28, 2 Nephi 29) The Bible is still the most popular book in the world (http://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-10-most-read-books-in-the-world-infographic-2012-12) —perhaps it’s the covenants!

Reflections from Piazza della Signoria

Even after nearly 500 years, Florentine architecture and art, especially sculpture, has stood the test of time as great accomplishments. Twenty-first century eyes try to imagine humans building five-story high arches and ceilings; and, not only that, painting masterpieces on them. We have created sculptures in the exact image of man—every vein and muscle. 

Nature doesn’t seem to respect it. The birds will stand on their heads and defecate. Water from the sky will leave leave mineral deposits to mare its image. Only by knowledge of history can we appreciate these edifices. 

Nowadays, we can program machines to build these things. We can print a 3D image of everything. Does the Architect of the universe scoff at how we worship the creations of our own hands? We surely do not hold nature up on a pedestal, or put it on a shrine. We will destroy it until we are left without sustenance for life. 

Every generation believes it is the greatest, neigh unto a god, even to the discrediting of His existence. Nature knows of our nothingness, although it fears our ignorance. I hope that generations of this century can find a solution to our ignorance—to become one with the Great Creator is to enter, uninterfered, with His ecology. His creative genius brings endless variation in design and unique consciousness to everything that has life. Our current path to diety is unsustainable and will end in our own demise.

(19 June 2016, Florence)

Snow Flakes

Today in Salt Lake City, was the first snow of the season that is sticking. Snow coats everything in white, turning the city into a winter wonderland. Growing up in the central coast area of California, where it doesn’t snows, the beauty of snow never ceases to amaze me. When it is cold and the snow light enough, sometimes you find little snow flakes stuck to the windows or sitting on your jacket sleeve; I love to see all the different shapes, sizes, and patterns they come in.

image

I can’t help but think that we too, as human beings, come in different shapes and sizes with different attributes to offer to the world. What magnificent thing this is!