Sunday, August 23, 2015

I See... The "Sinbit!"

The Mormon Third Eye is constantly creating and innovating in its quest to improve the multidimensional lives of Latter-Day Saints around the world. It's latest invention? Introducing... the Sinbit!

To truly appreciate the convenience and power of a Sinbit, it's important to be familiar with it's more well-known secular cousin, the Fitbit. The Fitbit refers to a collection of wearable technology that constantly and automatically tracks and provides feedback on your physical fitness. This multipurpose marvel measures several indicators that can contribute to you overall physical health and well being; steps walked, calories burned, and duration and intensity of activity, including the quality of your sleep experience. Knowing all this information helps you make good decisions about what you eat and how much you exercise.

The Sinbit works much in the same way. It would consist of wearable technology that constantly reminds you of righteous thoughts and actions that need to occur to keep you clear and clean from sin. Oh... wait a minute... I think endowed Latter-Day Saints already have that. We call it.... Temple Garments!  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I Hear... A Baby's Cry

For the first time in over 415+ weeks, instead of the Mormon Third Eye seeing the noteworthy, the Mormon Third Ear heard the remarkable.

It was a baby's shrieking cry in the close quarters of a jet plane transiting the deserts of Nevada during a recent business trip. I was missing my family, but was secretly wishing I could have also missed hearing about this youngster's extreme discomfort. It was the cry that all parents and travelers dread- the shriek of pain bursting out the miniature quivering lips of a very young baby; the window-rattling scream of newborn eardrums painfully pressurizing.
Then I was reminded by the Mormon Third Eye that I had heard a similar selection of screams a little over 20 years ago trapped on a long plane ride home from South Korea. While mentally juggling the excitement of finishing graduate school in Seoul with the apprehension of a different job on the East Coast, I was holding my own shrieking baby Bug in my spent arms. She too had fallen prey to the pressures of air pressure. There was nothing I could do other than hold her tight, hope that my neighbors understood her pain, and telepathically tempt her with the prophecy that life would get better.

It did!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I See... The Best Thing About a Piano Guys Concert

If you're Mormon, and you don't know who The Piano Guys are, then you haven't been heeding apostolic advice to leverage social media to capture and spread all that is good and right and true throughout the world. The Piano Guys are four seemingly normal Mormon Dads with 16 kids between them that do some amazing things with a piano and 16 cellos. While their music creatively inspires open-hearted listeners to seek the Lord's influence in more corners of their lives, it also carries a strangely sincere and broad appeal to unsuspecting gentiles. 70 million youtube views means they must be doing something right. You can read more about them and their music here.

So, naturally, when we heard they were coming to Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh, we took a crowbar to our budget and blew our whole entertainment budget wad on tickets. They weren't cheap so we expected excellence, and we were not disappointed. As our senses were flooded with so much uplifting stimulation, the mind and heart of the Mormon Third Eye instinctively detoured down a random pondering path. If someone asked me what the best thing about a Piano Guys concert is, this concert specifically, how would I respond?

Was it that the drive into town to the concert venue consumed no more than 30 minutes door-to-seat? Or that we found parking right across the street for almost nothing?

Nope. It was probably the most convenient concert arrangement we have ever experienced, but it wasn't the best thing.

Could it be the perfect 70-degree overcast weather with a light touch of rain to keep us watered, refreshed, and on the edge of our seats?

Hardly. Certainly the weather gods shined on us and held back threatening thundershowers from ruining our evening, but it wasn't the highlight.

Could it be excellent seats we found on the Internet and the exclusive meet-and-great with performers we attended after the concert?

Quite possibly. We scored seats on the very front row- close enough to rattle our bones with booming bass notes and requiring us to duck if performer's flying sweat and spit accidentally flew off the stage. Could we actually be in the studio or backyard with Jon, Steven, Paul, and Al being treated to a semi-private performance? They were playing for us! We've been to a Piano Guys concert before, but we learned this night that the closer you get to them, the more impressive they are. The icing on this triple chocolate fudge cake of marvelous music was the meet and greet afterwards with our good friends Jon, Steven, Paul, and Al. They were humble, personable, funny, and engaging. We now have friends in high places.
Their performance oozed prevalent and persistent messages of faith, family, and love disguised as musical feats of comedy and comraderie. It was entertaining, exciting, inspiring, and mesmerizing. However, believe or not, that was not the best thing about the Piano Guys concert. Halfway through the performance, I glanced momentarily at the woman sitting next to me- the wife of my eternities- and witnessed a joyful light emanating from the familiar face I've been waking up to for the last 31+ years. She was laughing with her eyes. The Piano Guys had done this to her.

THAT was the best thing!   

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I See... The Perfect Service Storm!

God designed us to serve others. He has found complete and endless happiness in serving all His children, and He knows that we too can enjoy similar blessings in the support we provide to others. Hence, He has planted within all of us an inner yearning to serve. The drive to make others happy reaps blessings in our own lives.

That natural drive to reap the personal blessings of serving others runs strong and deep in the Mormon Third Eye. Over the decades I have secretly coveted specific opportunities to serve certain segments of the church population, and can bin them into three broad categories: the youth (YM/YW/YSA), the extremely young (Primary), and the extremely old (our ancestors). Serving these subsets of God's children keeps me connected to Him in miraculous ways.

Different seasons of life have delivered different opportunities to engage with these three populations. Sunday afternoon daydreams are often filled with an array of imaginary and sometimes borderline outrageous blends of schedules and activities that permit me to serve all of them simultaneously. What would THAT be like? I'm afraid I would be unable to contain all the blessings that would flow my way and spiritually explode! Actually, there is precedence for this worry in a previous MTE post, which you can read about here.

A couple of weekends ago my wildest dreams came true- the perfect service storm! After spending a week with the youth of our stake in Palmyra, New York....

I then filled my Saturday morning shift at the temple...
A side view of the Raleigh North Carolina Temple, including a view of the spire and the trees on the temple grounds.
And the next day, in Primary, they let me substitute for a vacationing primary teacher!
Four young boys and five young girls sit around a table and color a picture during a Primary class with the teacher at the head of the table.

Does life get any better than this? I think not!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I See... Why I'm Not Worried About the Future of the Church (and neither should you!)

Perusing through all kinds of electronic literature that are critical of the church, its beliefs, doctrines, and practices, it is easy and superficially logical to conclude that it has some rough times ahead; women and the priesthood, historical misinterpretations, same-sex marriage, etc. I have to admit that at times I too have been worried about the extent to which these misunderstood issues could tarnish our image and persuade earnest seekers of God and Truth to satisfy their yearnings elsewhere. Two recent events, however, have silenced those fears and provide cause to hope that the church will continue to be led by divine inspiration and continually blossom despite these challenges.

Event No. 1:

A few weeks ago I spent four glorious days, including 25-30 bus hours, with 300+ youth of the Apex North Carolina Stake in Palmyra, New York, to rediscover the origins of the Restoration (you can read more about that here). I was an eyewitness to the strength and miracle of testimony and conversion among our youth, and finished the experience with the conviction that as they act on what they believe, they will become sacred protectors and promoters of doctrines and principles of the gospel that prepare us for the Lord's return. Tomorrow's church will be safe in the hands of today's youth.

Event No. 2:

Our praise for the pioneers is empty if it does not cause inner reflection on our part.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf. 

A few hours ago I was sitting in sacrament meeting expecting stirring tributes to the early pioneers, accompanied by rousing invitations to draw strength from their sacrifices to conquer my own challenges, but I found so much more. Two valiant sisters, both converts to the church, delivered priceless messages of faith, hope, forgiveness, and endurance as they recounted twisted and perilous paths to overcome abuse, loss, loneliness and despair to find the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make and keep eternal marriage covenants. They both were pioneers in their own families, blazing trails of belief and blessings for generations after them to enjoy. I have found the will to do hard things in reflecting on the sacrifices my pioneer ancestors made over 150 years ago (you can read more about that here), and I am certain that descendants of these sisters will do the same. Tomorrow's church will be safe in the hands of the descendants of today's converts.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I See... All-You-Can-Believe Spiritual Buffets

One the central themes running through several Mormon Third Eye blogposts is the mind-boggling concept of all-you-can-eat buffets. You can read more about them here and here,  In summary, I grew up in a tightly budgeted home where food was rationed. When I left the homestead and discovered buffets, Chinese, American, and several shades in between, I initiated a tradition of ingesting medically dangerous amounts of food- affectionately known by the slang “eating myself into a coma.” Steak, General Tsao;s chicken, and triple chocolate cake; Korean barbecue, Mongolian barbecue, and bacon-cheeseburger pizza; alfredo pasta, macaroni and cheese, and slow-roasted spare ribs. Need I say more? After consulting with the crack team MTE of psychoanalytic experts, I discovered that deep down inside, somewhere between my upper and lower intestines, my brain was pulling buried worries from distant childhood memories and messaging to the rest of me the irrational fear that “I had better eat as much as I can now, because there is no telling when this fantasy world will end and food will be restricted again.”
Just as I was becoming more confident that I had tamed this sector of my character, I have been challenged by another vice- all-you-can believe spiritual buffets. Last week was particularly hard. It was an overwhelming onslaught of day after day of opportunities to feed my soul with spiritual delights. Monday afternoon was spent at the Raleigh North Carolina Temple Recommend Desk greeting worthy young men and women of Apex North Carolina doing baptisms for their kindred dead. On Tuesday through Friday you could find me traveling to Palmyra with the 306 of our stake youth to visit the Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, the Grandin Building where the first run of the Book of Mormon was printed and published, and the Whitmer Farm, where much of the Book of Mormon was translated and the church was officially organized on April 6th 1830.
Oh the endless rounds of prayers offered, scriptures studied, and testimonies born by sincere youth truly discovering the gospel for the first time! The precious opportunities to study scriptures and ponder precious gospel truths under the same stars and in the same woods and farmland that the prophet Joseph Smith frequented almost two centuries earlier! The heavens are open again! God speaks to man! We know the true nature of a perfectly loving and compassionate Heavenly Father! We are literal sons and daughters of God! The great plan of happiness is available to all! Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved! Through personal revelation, we can know the truth of all things! My spiritual body is ready to burst! How can I keep it all in?

But wait, there's more! Just when I thought it was emotionally impossible to consume more doctrinal truths and find more joy in serving the Lord, the next day I pulled my regular Saturday morning shift at the Raleigh North Carolina Temple. I didn't know when I would have another opportunity to partake in such a massive spiritual feast, so I continued to perform critical saving ordinances for the dead and feed my soul with even more spiritual treats. And let's not forget that tomorrow is Sunday, a traditionally popular day to grow closer to God. I am doomed. What can I do to productively manage this running bombardment of inspired input and prevent my spiritual body from exploding? I'm already over my limit.

I guess all I can do is find opportunities to share the gospel. I sense that missionary work is the only sure release valve for pent-up spiritual overflow, although it too has a tendency to turn around and feed you more spiritual food than you can handle. I'm gospel glutton and proud of it. How about you?  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I See... Packer Power

Every modern Mormon member mourned the passing of Elder Boyd K. Packer a little over two weeks ago. Since his passing, stories are randomly surfacing about how his inspiring influence and reach touched people's lives. As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, he spoke with the authority and power of God, representing him in complete humility and sincerity. His words had power.
A portrait of President Boyd K. Packer, who is wearing a black suit and a maroon tie, in front of a gray background.
40+ years ago a young Aaronic 14-year old priesthood holder had an assignment to greet people as they entered the chapel for stake conference. It was his lot to shake the hand of Elder Packer before he made his way to the stand. Elder Packer returned the handshake and asked the young man a pointed question- “are you preparing to serve a mission?” The young man, taken off guard by the challenge, responded weakly, “well, yeah, I don't know, I guess I am.” Elder Packer's confident rejoinder was “of course you are.” Four small words, spoken with power.

Four years later, this same young man, enjoying his liberated status as an 18-year old adult, went to visit a friend for a weekend who set him up with a blind date. He enjoyed going to the movies with this girl but was a little uncomfortable with her attempts to become too cozy. That night, as he drifted off to sleep in the spare bedroom of his friend's house, his date quietly slipped into bed with him. At that moment, his raging teenage hormones were challenged by Elder Packer's four words spoken four years earlier- “of course you are.” He immediately told the girl that would not be able to do what she wanted to do that night, because he was preparing to serve a mission.

And he did.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I See... What Makes America Great

The Fourth of July is the perfect time to discuss what makes America great. America is the greatest wealth-producing machine in the world. It exports 1.64 trillion dollars of cars, refined petroleum, planes, helicopters, spacecraft, pharmaceuticals, gas turbines, gold, soybeans, medical instruments, and integrated circuits yearly. Almost half of the world's millionaires found their fortunes here. However, what makes America the truly greatest country in the history of history is not what is has, but what it gives away. The US Constitution and the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, both made in America and exported abroad, have produced immeasurable amounts of spiritual wealth, and will continue to touch and bless the lives of countless of God's children in eons to come.
Our U.S. Constitution was the first of over 160+ constitutions currently in force today. If you're
a country today, you have a constitution. We have no way of verifying with any degree of certainty how many of these nations used the U.S. Constitution as an express blueprint for their own governance, but we do know that the genealogy of worldwide law to “insure the domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” can be traced back to us. Article 1 in the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” served as the cradle for the Restoration and remains relevant today in current threads of discussion on religious freedom related to our right to maintain the doctrinal purity of marriage only as a union between a man and a woman in fulfillment of the great Plan of Happiness.

America guaranteed a properly fertilized population ready not only to receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to export it to all of God's children spanning the globe. After the church was officially organized on a clear spring 6th of April 1830, what started in Canada with a fledgling effort of two missionaries now consumes the entire world. 85,000+ missionaries serve and teach in 188 languages in 155 countries. Just like the truly noble attributes of love, testimony, and faith, the benefits offered by the U.S. Constitution and the restoration of the Gospel are accrued only by sharing them. The U.S. Constitution and the Restored Gospel made America great, and exporting them will keep it that way.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I See... Why We Shouldn't Be THAT Worried About the Recent Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Gay Marriage

On the surface, every outstanding Mormon treasuring a fundamental belief in the Great Plan of Happiness should be justifiably disturbed with the recent Supreme Court decision forcing all 50 United States to accept gay marriage as the law of the land. After all, His Great Plan of Happiness, aka the Plan of Salvation, grants the power of God to create life, procreation, only to men and women within the sacred bonds of marriage. God designed life and eternity to function according to this plan. Ironically, those who choose to act on same-sex desires via sexual union in committed relationships that they want to call “marriage” are taking advantage of one key element of the Plan, free choice, to essentially check themselves out of the Plan.

It is initially tempting to interpret this decision as fulfillment of the scriptural contract contained in Mosiah 29:27:

“And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.”

Read that first line very, very carefully. The Mormon Third Eye does not view the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage as the “voice of the people.” As one dissenting justice described it, “it is the decision of five lawyers,” a slightly snide reference to the five Supreme Court judges who signed on to the majority opinion. Only 4.6% of United States citizens identify themselves as gay, and a majority of American still define marriage as the union of man and woman.

So, currently, I don't think we are worthy of the “great destruction” promised by Mosiah. Not yet- at least not on this sacred principle. Although a majority of Supreme Court judges have chosen iniquity, the American people have not. Given enough time and moral erosion, perhaps popular state and federal referendums would have redefined marriage in a similar fashion- but now we'll never know.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I See... Interpretation of Videos

The Mormon Third Eye has some sweet dream interpretation skills (you can read about them here). Now partially in alignment with Father's Day, we're going to tackle interpreting videos. Before you read further, watch this video first: this video

This is what the Mormon Third Eye sees:  I know that my Heavenly Father is wholly and completely devoted to my immortality and eternal life-  how devoted am I to my children?  I may get some inspirational phone calls today from my children thanking me for my service- how often do I thank my Heavenly Father?  Certainly He is worthy of my respect. love, and devotion- what have I done, or might continue to do, that warrants even a sliver of that treatment from my own children?

Am I asking too many questions of myself? Do I need to read Alma 5? (you can more about that here)