Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day Lesson

Today is Feburary 29, 2016 or "Leap Day".  The reason for Leap Day is to correct our current 365-day Gregorian calander for the actual 365.25-day solar year.  To synconize the Gregorian and solar calendars, an extra day is added every 4 years at the end of February except for when the year is both divisible by 100 and not a multiple of 400.  (this removes 3 Leap Days per 400 years). 

2016 is also a Leap Year according to the Jewish Calendar.  Jewish months begin when the sliver of the new moon is visible.  Because the moon rotates around the Earth every 29.5 days, the 12 Jewish months are either 29 or 30 days.  However, if you add up 12 lunar months, it comes up about 11 days short of the solar calendar. So, the Jewish Calendar adds a occasional 13th month (Adar I) every 2-4 years to synchronize their lunar calendar with the seasons.  Without this correction, Jewish holidays like Passover which is to be observed in the spring would process from year-to-year from spring to winter, fall, summer and back to spring again.

I have often thought, if God placed the moon, earth, and sun in their positions in the heavens, why didn't He cause their orbits to be more synchronized?  And considering the desynchronous reality of their orbits, why would God command Israel to observe a lunar calendar at all?  The reason I believe is precisely because the lunar and solar months do not line up easily.  

The whole purpose of the Law of Moses is to remind Israel of their sinful nature and point them towards their need for continual repentance as well as their need for a Savior and Redeemer.  Like the lunar month, we are all out of synchronicity with God and require continual correction. (Alma 30:44)   I hope Leap Day can serve as another reminder to recommit ourselves everyday to repent and resynchronize our lives with the will of God which is only made possible by the grace and power of the  atonement of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Being a Vessel of Honor

"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. ... If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work." (New Testament, 2 Timothy 2:19;22)

LDS doctrine is repentance and sanctification focused.  I think Paul's word's to Timothy beautifully encapsulate why this is so. If God's people hope to be "vessels of honor" sanctified for the Master's use, we must depart from iniquity.   If we as God's people seek to carry the pure truth of God to the world, we need to clense the inner vessel or we will surely pollute the water. 

When you visit a 3rd-world county,  Water purity is a serious issue.  You have to think about this issue constantly; not just when you are thirsty for a drink but also when you are washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and washing dishes. One drink of contaminated water can result in terrible consequences.  But its not just the water that you need to think about but also the vessel or container.  If you consume clean water in a contaminated container, its no better than drinking contaminated water.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Spacetime, Causality, and Atonement

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity states that the speed of light is measured to be 2.998 x 10^8 m/s in any reference frame. The significance of this is when you measure the speed of laser beams inside spaceships or satellites traveling in opposite directions relative to each other. (GPS satellite time correction)

Unlike bullets on trains, Special Relativity correctly predicts that observers on each spaceship will measure the speed of light on their spaceship and the opposite spaceship to be traveling at the same speed.  To make this happen, the observers will disagree about the time, distance, and even sequence of events (simultaneity). This is the relative part of relativity.  However, while the observers disagree on details of space and time, what they will agree on is causality or the interaction or non-interaction of objects. 

I am not an astrophysicist but I was thinking about how these ideas may or may not apply to God (the Great Cause), the idea of covenants and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. First, God has revealed that He is timeless.  God dwells in eternity or the "Eternal Now" where past, present, and future all present before Him.  Joseph Smith taught:

“The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, ... the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now'" (Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, p.220; History of the Church, 4:597)

Second, we know that that covenants like the Atonement of Christ are timeless and because they involve God, have effects even before they have happened yet.  The Bible says that Enoch walked with God and that Elijah was taken up into heaven.  These 2 prophets were still subject to the Fall of Adam and could not dwell with God unless they also had faith in and applied the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.  But how could they accept and apply the atonement of Christ before it happened? Because, with God, it had already happened.  The New Testament teaches that Christ was the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8).  The Book of Mormon teaches the same principle:

"And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:13)

Lastly, the significance of the timeless nature of covenants and the Atonement of Christ is that we can begin to be blessed by the atonement of Christ and the covenants of the gospel by living up to them even before we have made them. What I mean is that my children can commit now to dress modestly and live a clean and virtuous life and be blessed now knowing they will enter into these covenants to live clean in the future.  My daughters should not have to change their wardrobe when it comes time to go to the temple.  And, marriages are blessed by individuals who keep themselves virtuous and chaste even before they commit to do so at covenant marriage.