Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THIS IS JESUS....book review

J. Kirk Richards
1 Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me: "Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!"

So lately I have been searching for and collecting books about Jesus, especially books with pictures featuring the Nativity and the life, and death and resurrection of the Savior (typically called Easter) I checked out Amazon.com to see just how many books were available that featured the "truth" of the mission of Jesus and his Atoning sacrifice and gift to us. So far the scriptures give the most accurate reading. Most of the books I found feature an Easter Bunny, and other cartoon characters "offering" their own rendition of the "Easter" story, and sometimes if we are lucky, Jesus may make an appearance. 

 I am not condemning these books because they do serve their purpose. But are you looking for a really good book that will help you to define the "real meaning" of Easter or Resurrection Sunday? Here is a  simple but powerful book that shares the life and mission of Jesus Christ. "THIS IS JESUS" is a beautiful book that is composed of original art by the artist J. Kirk Richards and is narrated by scriptural accounts from the Bible. The cover of the book is a beautiful Gold and it is padded so that you can really enjoy the physical feel of this book. There are about 40 pages, with each art piece depicting defining moments in the life of the Savior, particularly in the final weeks and days before his crucifixion. The mood of the paintings are subdued  and emotional and somewhat  faded. But the message is the central focus and it comes out clear. I would recommend this for families as a family heirloom and also a  teaching aid, to help bring in the "Spirit of Easter"  You can find this book on Amazon.com and also Deseret Books.   
"The life of the Savior is portrayed in stunning fine art pieces by award-winning artist J. Kirk Richards. These striking new images were created by the artist exclusively for this book. Accompanied by a harmonized account of the Savior's ministry, Atonement, and Resurrection, these exquisite paintings reflect a deep reverence for Christs mission and sacrifice. Each page is beautifully designed to complement the unique style of the artist. A perfect reminder of the true reason we celebrate the Easter season, this handsome volume will be treasured by the entire family for years to come."

J. Kirk Richards
the artist
J. Kirk Richards is a favorite among admirers of contemporary spiritual artwork. His love of the textural, the poetic, and the mysterious has translated into a unique take on traditional Judeo-Christian themes.

Richards attributes much of his love for the arts to an early emphasis on musical training in his parents’ home. Turning then from music to visual arts, Kirk studied with painters Clayton Williams, Bruce Hixson Smith, Patrick Devonas, Hagen Haltern, Gary and Jennifer Barton, James Christensen, Wulf Barsch, Joe Ostraff, and others.

Two years in Rome influenced Richards’ palette, which often consists of subdued browns and rusts.
Kirk is best known for his contributions to the BYU Museum of Art exhibit Beholding Salvation: The Life of Christ in Word and Image; for his contributions to Helen Whitney's PBS Frontline Documentary entitled The Mormons: An American Experience; for the cover image of Jeffrey R. Holland’s book, Broken Things to Mend; and for his imagery on the cover of BYU Studies Magazine and in the Ensign, Liahona and Upper Room publications.

Kirk and his wife, Amy Tolk Richards, have four creative children. They split their time between their home in Woodland Hills and their country studio in the small town of Redmond, Utah.
Richards’ work is mostly found in private collections throughout the country.

In Reverence-David Tolk   featuring art by J. Kirk Richards

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why do we celebrate “Palm Sunday” ? Giving meaning....

I think sometimes when it comes to reading our scriptures; we can get into a rut, right?  I know that for me, I have read the scriptures in some form or fashion my entire life, whether I was active in Church or not. But what I realize too, is that I and maybe you have many favorite Biblical stories. Most people can name their favorite story in the Bible, with the birth of Jesus at the top of the list, and then his death and resurrection too. In the old Testament the favorites tend to be Noah and the ark, Joshua and his battle of Jericho, and the all time favorite Moses and the parting of the Red Sea.
I bring this up because this week marks the beginning of a series of days and Sunday’s that make up “Passion” week. This is all about the Crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are some of my favorite non-gift giving holidays and even better, you probably won't hear a used car salesman urging you to come down for a "Palm Sunday" fire sale. This Sunday represents Jesus “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem on the back of a small donkey.  What does this mean to us?

I remember as a child, (in church) we celebrated Palm Sunday by “re-enacting” Jesus ride into Jerusalem. Sometimes there was a small donkey that was led down the aisle of our Church, usually a small child riding it. And we all had our Palm fronds waving them and placing them on the floor so that the donkey could walk on them, and we would shout “Hosanna, hosanna to the King!!” We did that and at the time I could hardly appreciate it. Mark 11:When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,“Hosanna!
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  
For the Jews at that time it could be compared to Jesus “throwing his hat” into the political arena of that time, and becoming a more traditional leader of the Jews. One who would take on the Romans with physical force, maybe raise an army.  As it was, Jesus was making a radical statement in riding into town on that small donkey. He was openly declaring that he was and is the King of the Jews, and the promised Messiah, who would rescue them with his sacrificial death and atonement. He was pretty brave and so were his followers who openly acknowledged what he was doing in spite of the fact that there was “no king but Caesar” as they would later proclaim at his trial.
 But where did that come from, how does riding a small donkey into a town square announce his Kingship? So I googled it and here is what I found:
The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Jesus' entry to Jerusalem would thus symbolize his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king
Why did Jesus ride an donkey? First he came in peace; and there are four scriptural references:
·        The prophet Zechariah wrote: “Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zech 9:9)
·         The messianic sign was at once perceived by the crowds who hailed Jesus as their king shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt 21:9) It is an acknowledgment that Jesus is the true Davidic Messiah and king.
·         Secondly, an ass is integral to the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac, a type of the oblation of the First Born Son as a sign of obedience.
·         The third reason is that King Solomon rode to his messianic coronation on a mule that had once belonged to David (1 Kgs 1:33-44).
·         Fourth, King Jehu rode into Samaria (a kind of false Jerusalem) over the garments of his adherents in order to destroy the temple of the false god Baal (2 Kgs 9:11-10:28). One of the first things Christ does upon entering Jerusalem is bring judgment to the Temple which has become a den of thieves.
So what does Palm Sunday have to do with us, in this so called “modern age”.  Are we celebrating something that has already happened? Or are we celebrating an event that has yet to come?  I believe that celebrating Palm Sunday is about freedom, much more than celebrating the 4th of July. What freedom is that, you ask? The freedom to worship the True God, the freedom to practice that pure religion stated in James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. And even more the freedom to love one another with the pure love of Christ. A freedom that is in peril, and that can sometimes be taken for granted.  
Jesus died to set us free and he must enter the city this Sunday. So we celebrate Palm Sunday, not because Jesus brings a kingdom on this earth but because when this week is over, the doors to the Kingdom in Heaven will be open for all. We celebrate this Palm Sunday because, if we believe, we have found freedom and we have found the way to bring freedom into this world. Tony Mitchell; “Thoughts from the heart on the Left” Blog 2008
In Revelation 19, John the Beloved answers the end of our question, why are be celebrating Palm Sunday? He testifies that the Savior will return and He will return in victory, entering a symbolic Jerusalem on a white horse:
11 And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteous he doth judge and make war.
12 And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems; and he hath a name written which no one knows but he himself.
13 And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure.
15 And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he tread the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty.

16 And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KINGS OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

What an awesome sight that will be!!! I think that when I serve Sunday dinner, I will serve it with my "red, white and blue" tableware, and wave a flag of freedom, and pray for the "kingdom to come", and thank God for his son Jesus Christ. 

The Lord's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Monday, March 23, 2015

OPEN MIKE MONDAY.........jamie grace

Joyful Aramaic exclamation of praise, an appeal for deliverance (Heb. hosia na, Please save Psalm 118:25 ), expression of joy and praise for deliverance granted or anticipated. When Jesus came to Jerusalem for his final presentation of himself to Israel, the expression came readily to the lips of the Passover crowds.

3 Nephi 11:15-17

15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
 16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
 17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.


Hosanna cover - Jamie Grace feat. Sarah of G1C (English/En EspaƱol)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Devotional

Hello Monday
I am committing this week to prayer. This past Sunday the lesson was concerning Prayer, and how we pray, what words are we using, and is our prayer heartfelt. How can we know if our prayers are heard or if they are taken seriously? I believe that God takes seriously everything that we do, especially those things directed to him. I wanted to "give this week in prayer", and ask Heaven Father to "be thou my vision" and guide my footsteps as I journey this week. You are invited too !!

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own; therefore, we are saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

by Reinhold Niebuhrhttps://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=ablereach-20&l=ur2&o=1 (June 21, 1892 -June 1, 1971)
from The Irony of American History
chapter: Prosperity and Virtue

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The first [proposition], stated quite briefly, is that work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God. Dorothy Sayers “Why Work?”
 My (work) office was vandalized early last Friday morning. It was kind of surreal, because on Thursday we had a snow storm that may or may not have left some people stranded at work. Maybe these people that were stranded needed some loose change for the vending machines, or a few dollars for a bagel and cream cheese. Either way, through the process of elimination, we (my coworkers who were robbed) determined that someone who works in our building has an illegal key. They may have used that key to break into a few offices, scrounging for money, and anything of value that was left out on your desk.  

So we called the cops (security) and they took a report (yawn) and left. So far there has been no follow up. We told the Big Boss Lady about this, and she told us how she could open some of her staff’s desk drawers with a nail file. The creepiness factor is settling in and I really don’t want to allow my imagination to wander. I have been really upset about this, because it seems as if no one cares about my safety in this workplace. This thought has lead to a whole litany of deteriorating rants about why I “hate my job, my boss and sometimes my life”. Digressing, I am digressing. Somewhere in these rants, is a tiny prayer to God that is trying to make itself known.  “God, how can you let this happen….to me, your kid?”   The Lord is gracious and kind.

So this morning as I was driving to work, I was listening to my favorite Radio-evangelist Rev Chuck Swindal. The topic of Rev Chuck’s talk was this: “What if your Boss is Unfair and Disrespectful”? Wow, I had to Amen and Hallelujah that one, my attention was captured. In truth the thesis of this talk concerned how we as God’s people related to the idea and practice of work. Of course he went back to Genesis 1:1 concerning God’s relationship to work and then to Adam and Eve and the very ground that we walk on being cursed for our sakes. Think about that curse, in Genesis 3:

Genesis 3:17-19
 “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

I have never really deconstructed those verses concerning “the curse”, but I should have. It is symbolic in language, with the ground representing whatever we put our hands to do in work. The painful toil represents all of the striving one has to do to find a job, qualify and get hired for a job and then hopefully keep that job. The painful toil also involves our interactions with our bosses and clients, and co workers etc, and the long drive to and from work.  Those thorns and thistles represent the trails that inevitably come if we live long enough, and have worked a series of jobs. Just an aside: I have always admired those people who seem to work “Dream Jobs”, like Oprah. ( But then she had to pay her dues too.)

And last, by the sweat of your brow will we eat our food until we return to the ground from whence we were taken. There is no “rest” in this job life of ours as humans, no retirement if you really think about it. Compare this to Genesis 1, which details the 6 creative periods when the earth was created and furbished, where man and woman; plants and animals were created. This was work for the Savior, but for every little thing that was done, I wonder if Jesus wiped any sweat from his brow. This was joyous work that had a purpose and a wonderful future, and he had a loving boss in Heavenly Father, great co-workers in all of his spirit brothers and sisters who helped.  
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
On the sixth creative period, God rested and called his work good. That should be our goal when we say we have had a “good days work”. This is very heavy stuff, and as I listened to Rev Chuck, I felt like this message was for me, to help me to learn to establish priorities in everything in my life and not to take my work life for granted, to cheer me up in some complex way.
Rev Chuck proposed this theory: “Life is not divided into sacred and secular categories. Everything we do is for God’s glory.” He said that we as Christians most of all needed a better theology concerning work:
  1.   First, Jesus Christ is Lord over all of life
  2.   Life is not divided into the categories of sacred and secular
  3.  The nature of your work is good and not evil
  4.  Finally, the way you do your work is a direct reflection on the One who called you to it.
  5. Rev Chuck also brought my attention to my own attitude toward work, and how it should reflect the “light” that is in us because of Christ.

Colossians 222 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically,[h] as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. 

After this, I think I felt worse than I did in the beginning. But Rev Chuck reminded me that we don’t have to bear this burden of work, which seems more like a punishment, alone. He referenced that our Savior has acquainted himself with our grief and sorrows in this world through his atonement. He is able to help us work through the thorny trials of life and work and help us to begin to reconcile our lives to him. Work should be a blessing, but we live in a fallen world, with all of us a fallen people. Our best in retrospect, is like filthy rags. I had a lot to think about today.