Sunday, November 15, 2015

I See... Almost the Celestial Kingdom

Because we are trapped in the here and now among food and homes and jobs and cars and other temporal necessities, it can be challenging to wrap our heads around what life could be like as resurrected beings in the Celestial Kingdom. Through the prophet Joseph Smith, God restored knowledge of three kingdoms of afterlife glory, with the highest being where God dwells. We know that within the Celestial Kingdom, there are three more degrees of glory, with the most glorious housing those who have entered into an eternal marriage covenant and remained worthy of that gift throughout the rest of their earthly days. Early church leaders granted brief glimpses into the Telestial, Terrestial, and Celestial Kingdoms found it difficult to accurately compare the brightness and joy of these heavenly homes with our humdrum earthly existence; the best Joseph Smith could do is claim that if people “knew what was behind the veil, they would try by any means to get there.”

Hence, every so often, in gospel doctrine classes and doctrinal hypothesizing in the hallways between meetings well-meaning members, worn down by the seemingly endless requirements of righteousness, commiserate about settling for a Telestial or Terrestial afterlife. However, if we know so little about life beyond the veil, why would we be satisfied with anything other than the best? How can we know?

Too many years ago, when my wife and I where young and in love and poor, we saved our pennies and splurged on tickets to a Kenny Loggins concert. He was our rock idol of that day. We looked forward to all our pressing worries of finances and futures melting away for a few hours as we united as one heart to his upbeat, romantic musical musings. Kenny would fix it all for us.
The week leading up to our Friday night dream date was laced with anticipation. I relished the sparkle in my young wife's smiling eyes every evening as we returned from work and excitedly reviewed what we looking were looking forward to. This was going to be great!

I still remember too vividly that fateful Friday evening as we collected our concert gear and prepared to leave our little apartment for the date of the century. We quickly reviewed the tickets to confirm the last-minute essentials that would further heighten the anticipation of ultimate joy- start time, seat location, etc. And then, we met the most breathtakingly stunning disappointment of our young married life- the concert was actually last Friday! We missed it!

In the excitement and expectancy of such immediate ecstasy, we had somehow read the tickets wrong! The sadness was deafening. We had just flushed at least one valuable week of our food budget down the toilet with tickets that were now worthless. Of course we loved each other, and knew we would always have each other. We eventually recovered, but the knowledge of the happiness that could have been haunted us for months.

In retrospect, I'm guessing that's what spending our mortal lives working towards Celestial glory but coming up short in another glorious kingdom must feel like. The knowledge and anticipation of what could have been but wasn't. Except I'm guessing that this disappointment may end up being somewhat more deep and enduring. I learned my lesson via the missed Kenny Loggins concert. I want tickets to the Celestial kingdom, and hopefully, through the grace of God via an atoning Savior, I will remember what I need to do to get there.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I See... The Best Life of my Days

We are all used to using the stock phrase “the best days of my life” to accurately describe a specific time period of our mortal journey here action-packed with events or circumstances that bring great joy and satisfaction. Perhaps it could be when we are young and in love, or old and in love. Or maybe it could reference the days we are raising our babies and grandbabies. They all count.

But the Mormon Third Eye sees things differently. While our Heavenly Father is the ultimate author of all these joys, I'm not sure he wants us to focus too much on them at the expense of more pressing eternal needs. We are taught that earth life could be the most important sliver in the long march of eternity. In light of this fundamental truth, perhaps we should be working more on compiling “the best life of our days;” receiving the ordinances and freely accepting and keeping the covenants that render our life here the pathway to eternity.

Think about it. Are you having the “Best Life of Your Days?”

Monday, October 26, 2015

I See... The Super Silent Sacrament Meeting

Years ago, at the pleading of General Authority whose name I can no longer remember, I was invited to conduct an experiment with prayer- instead of compiling a long list of wants and needs and requiring the Lord to instantly provide them, present Him a long list of received blessings, then wait in silence for revelation to flow forth. It was wildly successful, and since then, when I find my prayers becoming too casual or rote,as if they were being manufactured at and then pumped out of the prayer factory, I spend more time on my knees thanking and thinking.

A large congregation of Saints in their Sunday best, sitting in the chapel and singing a hymn from the green hymnbooks.
However, the Mormon Third Eye, in it's quest to apply more conventional gospel learning strategies in less unconventional ways, thought “what if I applied this same strategy to sacrament meeting? What if, from the minute I walked in the chapel door, until the moment the opening prayer for Sunday School gospel doctrine class concluded, I was completely.... silent?

So I tried it one bright lucky Sunday morning. I told no one, not even my own wife, as I snuck into the lobby. It required some careful planning and a lot of active nodding, aggressive handshaking, and smiling with my eyes in order not to offend fellow ward members genuinely happy to see me, but I made it to our pew without a word. I proceeded to spend the next 75 minutes of sacrament meeting in utter silence, without any spoken commentary about the BYU game the night before, the boy with mismatched socks passing the sacrament, or how many times the youth speaker used “like” in her talk.

The results of this experiment too were astounding. Sacrament meeting was transformed into a river of revelation. So... don't be offended if one Sunday morning I reverently decline to respond to requests about how my week; I could be having a Super Silent Sacrament!

Monday, October 19, 2015

I See... A Temple Without Walls

Recently the Mormon Third Eye heard one of the valiant youth of Zion describe his visit to the Sacred Grove last summer.  He called it "A Temple Without Walls."

Sunlight shines through trees in the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.

I think he nailed it.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I See.. Standing Up for Your Beliefs

We are a peculiar people. We live in the world but are not of the world. Our old-fashioned beliefs in chastity, morality, integrity, and the reality of a tangible yet perfect God who loves us completely and cares for us daily sets us apart, yet draws those with yearning hearts towards us. Hence, except for a few locations in the Western United States overpopulated with Mormons, the daily demands of life regularly require us to stand up for what we believe, often in quietly bold ways.
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I enjoyed such an experience just last night in Buffalo Wild Wings, when I was required to righteously represent two of my favorite institutions, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Brigham Young University. In Raleigh, North Carolina, my grown son and I went searching for a location to watch the BYU vs. East Carolina football game and landed at Buffalo Wild Wings. The server supervising the bar saw us in our BYU shirts waiting in line to be seated and excitedly invited us over. “It's first-come first-serve in the bar and we have the BYU-East Carolina game playing on our big screen!” After we awkwardly settled down on our bar stools he advertised “hey boys! It's four-dollar beer night!” My son quickly smiled and politely responded “we're BYU fans so we don't drink.” His initial disappointment was eventually overcome by successive rounds of Sprite, nachos, and boneless honey barbecue and parmesan garlic chicken wings. We also got used to enthusiastically cheering for our BYU Cougars in a sea of East Carolina Pirates fans.

I'm so glad our Cougars ripped apart the Pirates while we were sipping Sprite in a sports bar. What could have been embarrassing and depressing was actually enlightening and exciting!

Monday, October 5, 2015

I See... Recycling Memories

Recycling waste is critical to saving the physical environment; so why couldn't recycling especially tender and moving memories contribute to saving souls?

Twenty years I was helping my wife raise two talented toddlers. I found pure joy and spiritual satisfaction in wrestling with them in the family room, chasing them around the playground, and reading a few scriptures every night with them after dinner. I was warned by much more senior and experienced parents to cherish these moments because they would be lost forever when the innocence of youth transformed into the hormones and doubts of young adulthood.

Now I'm still helping my wife raise two hopeful and maturing adults in their mid-twenties. I've been spending unexpected but wholly welcomed time with my married son and his wife as they plan their lives together and look forward to finding their place in the workforce and raising a family of their own. I just finished spending an action-packed, ennobling weekend with my young adult daughter as she eagerly embraced prophetic counsel offered at General Conference. My soul seemed to recognize the same pure joy and spiritual satisfaction I embraced two decades ago spending time with these two toddlers. I was recycling memories and strengthening my own soul in the process.

They say that you can't go back; but they didn't say you couldn't recycle. So I've decided to efficiently recycle the memories of my offspring's youth and enjoy embracing their current accomplishments. 

Recycling is the right thing to do.   

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I See... Where in Utah is the Mormon Third Eye?

To celebrate my 425th Sunday blogpost on Conference Sunday next week, The Mormon Third Eye is launching an exciting contest with the most massive prize package ever offered in the history of the Mormon Third Eye: “Where in Utah is the Mormon Third Eye?”

Here is how it works. Sometime during the 29 September- 4 October timeframe, the Mormon Third Eye will be spending six days traveling incognito throughout the great state of Utah: two days on University of Utah campus, 

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two days on BYU campus, and 

two days attending General Conference. 

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 The first person not related to me (sorry, but family members have been declared ineligible) who walks up to me and asks “aren't you the Mormon Third Eye instantly wins this amazing prize package:

1 autographed Book of Mormon;

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all the chocolate you can eat in 10 seconds; and

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complete access to the entire collection of over eight years of MTE blogposts!

Good luck, and may the best human win!  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I See... The Lord's Math

 Old Math. New Math. Algebra. Calculus.  Is 2 + 2 still 4? One respected author describes math as “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” Very few of the masses, however, mention the most influential arithmetic of all- the Lord's Math!
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Basic Math

The Lord's basic math refers to relatively simple but powerful if/then doctrinal statements that can be easily reduced to a straightforward mathematical formula:

  • (keep my commandments) + (endure to the end) = eternal life. (D&C 14:7) 
  • (repent) + (baptized in my name) + (endure to the end) = salvation. (D&C 18:22)
  • not equal in earthly things = not equal in obtaining heavenly things (D&C 78:6)
  • (not hearken unto his voice) + {not believe on his Only Begotten Son) = God cursing the earth with a sore curse. (Moses 5:55-56)

Advanced Math

Advanced math refers to either more specific or veiled versions of the if/then formula for rendering gospel truths.  Many of these advanced formulas rarely add up correctly for those trapped in the carnal, physical world. In advanced math, 1 + 1 = 100:

  • (revile not against your enemy (1)) + (bear it patiently (1)) = reward shall be an hundred-fold (100). (D&C 98:25)
How about:

  • be of good cheer =  (being led along by the Lord) + (the kingdom) + (the blessings of the kingdom) + (the riches of eternity) (D&C 78:18) 
  • all the tithes into the storehouse = pour out blessings that there shall not be room enough to receive (Malachi 3:10)

Or, two of my favorite divine math equations from Isaiah:

  • (deal bread to the hungry) + (bring the poor that are cast out to thy house) + (cover the naked) + (hide not thyself from thine own flesh (support your own family)) = (light breaking forth in the morning) + springing forth speedily) +  (righteousness going before thee) + (the glory of the Lord) + (answers to prayers). (Isaiah 58: 7-9)
  • (turn away thy foot from the sabbath) + (turn away from doing thy pleasure on my holy day) + (call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord) + (honor him not doing thine own ways) + (not finding thine own pleasure) + (not speaking thine own words) = (delight thyself in the Lord) + (ride upon the high places of the earth) + (feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father). (Isaiah 58: 13-14)

The bottom line? I encourage you to look for more of the Lord's Math in the scriptures; you find them in almost every chapter!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I See... When the Spirit Goes to Bed

I routinely remember hearing often during my career as an LDS youth that “the spirit goes to bed at midnight.” Decades later as an adult leader of youth I knew this to be true. A majority of the mischief messed up youth get mixed up in, whether it be bonding too deeply with the opposite sex or just pure destructive vandalism, occurs after the clock strikes twelve. For some mysterious but almost empirical reason, under the cover of early darkness, the spirit stops protecting youth from the natural man, an enemy to God. Nothing good happens after midnight.

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Or so I thought.

Last night, at approximately 1:44 am, long after the spirit should have gone to bed, I witnessed the Mangum miracle on ESPN. Only-three-months-off-his-mission-to-Chile-freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum, representing God's school BYU, with only 45 seconds left on the clock, on fourth and seven at the Boise State 39-yard line launched a laser strike winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Mitchell Juergens. Brother Mangum could not have accomplished this last feat one his own; heaven had to have helped him.

Perhaps the spirit had been caught staying up past its bedtime? Hmmmmm....