Bible Story: Building on the Rock

Bible Story:

Building on the Rock

 

Trust in God is a solid foundation upon which to build our lives. In the Word of God, we have a rock-solid foundation upon which to build our lives, given us straight from the Lord Himself.

keyoldBe still, and know that I am God. ~Psalms 46:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help the; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. ~ Isaiah 41:10

 

buildingrocksandRemember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that the devil …shall have no power over you …because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. ~Helaman 5:12

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. ~Ephesians 2:20

Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mind and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fall, and great was the fall of it. ~Matthew 7:26

How Firm a Foundation

 

Robert Keene, ca. 1787

buildingonrockHow firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

What more can he say than to you he hath said,

Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

 

In every condition—in sickness, in health,

In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—

As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

 

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

 

quote-maynes-gospel-christ-centerWhen through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow.

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

 

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

 

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Real Foundation

We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side is strengthened, the other side will take care of itself. It is that side which is the foundation of all else. If the foundation be firm, the super-structure will stand. ~Calvin Coolidge

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Bible Stories: Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Bible Stories:

Dinner Topics for Monday

Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Walk with Me

Behold, my Spirit is upon you. (Moses 6:34)

And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him.  And he heard a voice from heaven. (Moses 6:26-27)

What is it like to hear a voice from heaven? What is that voice like, and how can we hear it?  Elijah learned that the Lord was not in a great and strong wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still small voice.

So this still small voice said to Enoch, “Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off.”(Moses 6:27)

The Lord spoke to Enoch, because Enoch heard Him, and the people did not.  What can cause people’s hearts to wax hard, and their ears to become dull of hearing, and their eyes unable to see?  The Lord is not in the shriek of cell phones, not in the din of TV, not in the fake social media, not in the roar of the crowd, but in a still small voice.

And the Lord told Enoch, “Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you . . . and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.(Moses 6:33-34)

And Enoch walked with God, and built a great city, and it was called Zion.

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.(Moses 7:16)

And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED. (Moses 7:68-69)

 

Dinner Talk Topic:

Enoch accepted the invitation to walk with God.  Will we?

 

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

 

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Bible Quotes on Stress Management, How to Avoid Burnout

Judeo-Christian Worldview

Bible Stories

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Bible Quotes on Stress Management, How to Avoid Burnout

A Measured Pace. . .

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. ~Galatians 6:9

Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls. ~Alma 37:34

 

footraceIN THE THROB OF OUR MODERN PACE OF LIFE, there is much talk about stress, burnout, and chronic weariness. Few have time for meditation. In the rush for “stuff” and “fun,” there is never time left over for the things that matter most. It has been said of us that we “are in the thick of thin things.”[1] Yes, there may be endless obligations to activities, organizations, clubs, and programs. All have their place, and most offer something positive. We try to do them all, and yet we often feel like we are marking time and getting nowhere. And we are not enjoying the journey. How can some people carry on unceasingly, and seem never to grow weary?

Bible Stories. We can find a pattern in the pace taken by the children of Israel as they journeyed in the wilderness in a much simpler era.[2]

childrenofisrael-cloudSo it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.

And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed (Numbers 9:16-18,21-22)

At times their heavenly guide would call upon them to “regroup” for a lengthy time. But in this way, all things were done in order. When they did move, it was assuredly toward their goal. There were none of those decisions made in panic, which always end up being foolish decisions, and which interfere with our progress. When spirit-led priorities are addressed first, then we need not be too weary for the good works.

family5prayingdinnerBelle Spafford counseled, “The average woman today, I believe, would do well to appraise her interests, evaluate the activities in which she is engaged, and then take steps to simplify her life, putting things of first importance first, placing emphasis where the rewards will be greatest and most enduring, and ridding herself of the less rewarding activities.”

One of these basics, if done simply, can provide the family with important “regrouping” time on a daily basis. The family dinner hour can become a time of refreshment instead of burn out, and can have enduring rewards as well.

At the Round Table

Dinner Topics

Journey Faithfully

faithjourney2Burn-out can be avoided. *Order, Sabbath observance

  1.  And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again , it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. ~Mosiah 4:27 How can we have wisdom and order in our daily lives?
  2.  When the children of Israel did not journey, they tarried, or rested. How can this be applied to avoid burn-out?
  3. holyspiritHow can the Holy Spirit help us know when to journey, and when to tarry?
  4. How can you make tarrying (e.g. regrouping, reorganization, planning) a productive time?
  5. How does honoring the Sabbath bring peace, order, and refreshment to our lives?

For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all. . .that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. (Alma 7:7)

  1. What does the above verse tell us about priorities? Evaluate your priorities periodically in your family council meetings.

One Step at a Time—START HERE

[1] Shakespeare

[2] Wilcox, House of Glory, pp.22-23

Copyright 2010 © by Christine A. Davidson

Bible History: Samuel’s warning about Government by rule of kings

Bible History:

Samuel’s warning about Government by rule of kings

1 Samuel 8:5-20

samuel-prophet-kingsThe people said:

Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

6 ¶But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.

And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

10 ¶And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.

11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

 19 ¶Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

20 That we also may be like all the nations.

And in America, prophets also warned against kings:

Mosiah 29:17,21-27

king-noah17 For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!

21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.

 22 For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;

 23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.

24 And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you.

abinadi 25 Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

 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.

Western Culture History Timeline: Birthright Bible Story to Today and American Covenant with God

Western Culture History Timeline:

Birthright Bible Story to Today and American Covenant with God

Genesis (Bible)—the Birthright Covenant

Rebekah rescued the birthright covenant blessings from the wayward Esau.  Righteous Jacob becomes Israel, passes on the birthright covenant.

 

1492—The Promised Land Discovered

Christopher Columbus, a Jewish convert to Christianity, seeks lost tribes of Israel, discovers America.

 

1776-1787—America’s Covenant with God

George Washington and Founding Fathers create the Constitution and establish America as a covenant nation.

 

1860-1865—Covenant Restored

Abraham Lincoln restores the covenant which has been broken by the evil practice of slavery.

 

1860—Tares among the Wheat

Charles Darwin publishes his book on evolution in 1859. It goes on to influence powerful individuals like Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, and Margaret Sanger (racial supremacist and founder of Planned Parenthood).

 

1930—Cultural Marxism

Ideas have consequences. When Karl Marx’s workers’ revolution failed to conquer the world, his followers devised a new strategy—Cultural Marxism. Whereas they sought to capture and subdue the human soul, Judeo-Christian Culture became the new enemy. Under the guise of “Multiculturalism”, the Marxists invaded the realms of Western Culture, starting with the schools and spreading through science, media, government, entertainment, and even some churches.

 

1963-2015—America Sells Her Birthright

  • Supreme Court decisions led to banning the Bible and prayer from public schools.
  • Violent crime increased 700%, including riots and bombings; drug abuse also soared.
  • America has been plagued with one of the highest immorality rates in the industrialized world.
  • The Supreme Court decreed abortion on demand.
  • The Supreme Court toppled the sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman. (2015)

Imparting Biblical Values to the Rising Generation—As Easy as Eating Dinner!

It’s a way of life, and it’s simpler than you think. You can mentor your family in the Biblical worldview a little every day. It’s as easy as eating dinner! Join the Conversation!

Reclaim our Culture

faith-and-freedomAction Plan—START HERE

Valentine Bible Story

Dinner Topics for Valentine Day

keyoldBut charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. (Moroni 7:47)

JacobRachel2On his way to Padan-aram, where Rachel lived, Jacob had a dream about a ladder which reached up to heaven. Each rung of that ladder represented covenants he needed to keep in order to reach the celestial realm.  He was promised that he and all his seed would be blessed.

When he reached the well near Haran, he found a huge stone over the mouth of it. Three flocks were lying by it, waiting for the shepherds to unite their strength to push the stone out of the way.  After the sheep were watered, they put the stone back over the well’s mouth.

Jacob inquired after his relatives, and the men of Haran pointed out Rachel, Jacob’s cousin, who was coming with her sheep to the well.

“It is too early in the day for the cattle to gather here,” he said to the men.  “Why don’t you water her sheep now?”

“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered together and they roll the stone from the well’s mouth.  Then we can water the sheep.”

JacobmoverockBut when Jacob saw Rachel, he strode over, rolled the great stone himself, and watered her flocks.  But that is not all.  Jacob went on to serve seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Before Jacob met Rachel, he had learned from his dream that he wanted an eternal family.  Rachel gave shape to that vision.  When he saw Rachel, his love for her gave him the power to roll that stone away from the well all by himself.  His understanding of God’s great love for him, together with his deep love for Rachel, made joyful a commitment which could otherwise have been unbearably long and trying.  The seven years seemed like days to him.

Perhaps there is a heavy stone blocking the mouth of the well, and keeping us from drinking the living waters of the gospel.  It might be fear, or discord.  It might be unwillingness to sacrifice our time, or give of our substance.  It might be apathy, in which perhaps we are wasting time waiting for someone else to move that stone.

JacobRachelA prophet of ancient Israel said, “Perfect love casteth out all fear.” Once we catch the immense vision of discipleship and service, then realizing that vision no longer seems hopeless or impossible to endure.  It becomes a joy.  It is love that helps us forgo our irritations with the defects in others.  It is love that causes us to forget about ourselves and care about others.  It is the power of love that heals relationships and softens hearts.  Love gives us the power to do things which on the surface seem impossible or unbearable.  It was because of love that Jesus Christ suffered the unbearable.  It was this love that gave a compassionate Father the capacity to endure the anguish of permitting that infinite sacrifice— so that we could enter his presence someday, which would otherwise be impossible.

Dinner Talk Topic: This story illustrates perfect love.*Love, Charity

1. What stones are in our lives that we need to roll out of the way?

2.  How can we get out of the Lord’s way?

3.  How does getting thoroughly involved in the Lord’s work help us deal with adversities and stop dwelling on our own imperfections?

4.  Jacob loved Rachel so much that he totally forgot himself.  How does this compare to the pure love of Christ?

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

Gospel Teachings: Parable of the Sower

Dinner Talk Topics for Friday

Gospel Teachings: Parable of the Sower

By Dallin H. Oaks

 

keyIt is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful.

parableofsowerThe parable of the sower is one of a small number of parables reported in all three of the synoptic Gospels. It is also one of an even smaller group of parables Jesus explained to His disciples. The seed that was sown was “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19), “the word” (Mark 4:14), or “the word of God” (Luke 8:11)—the teachings of the Master and His servants.

The different soils on which the seeds fell represent different ways in which mortals receive and follow these teachings. Thus the seeds that “fell by the way side” (Mark 4:4) have not reached mortal soil where they might possibly grow. They are like teachings that fall upon a heart hardened or unprepared. I will say nothing more of these. My message concerns those of us who have committed to be followers of Christ. What do we do with the Savior’s teachings as we live our lives?

The parable of the sower warns us of circumstances and attitudes that can keep anyone who has received the seed of the gospel message from bringing forth a goodly harvest.

I. Stony Ground, No Root

parable-sower6Some seed “fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away” (Mark 4:5–6).

Jesus explained that this describes those “who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness,” but because they “have no root in themselves, … when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:16–17).

What causes hearers to “have no root in themselves”? This is the circumstance of new members who are merely converted to the missionaries or to the many attractive characteristics of the Church or to the many great fruits of Church membership. Not being rooted in the word, they can be scorched and wither away when opposition arises. But even those raised in the Church—long-term members—can slip into a condition where they have no root in themselves. I have known some of these—members without firm and lasting conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are not rooted in the teachings of the gospel and regular in its practices, any one of us can develop a stony heart, which is stony ground for spiritual seeds.

Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong. In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.

Young people, if that teaching seems too general, here is a specific example. If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule. And that applies to adults also.

II. Thorns: The Cares of This World and the Deceitfulness of Riches

parable-sower5 Jesus taught that “some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit” (Mark 4:7). He explained that these are “such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19). This is surely a warning to be heeded by all of us.

I will speak first of the deceitfulness of riches. Wherever we are in our spiritual journey—whatever our state of conversion—we are all tempted by this. When attitudes or priorities are fixed on the acquisition, use, or possession of property, we call that materialism. So much has been said and written about materialism that little needs to be added here.2 Those who believe in what has been called the theology of prosperity are suffering from the deceitfulness of riches. The possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor. When Jesus told a faithful follower that he could inherit eternal life if he would only give all that he had to the poor (see Mark 10:17–24), He was not identifying an evil in the possession of riches but an evil in that follower’s attitude toward them. As we are all aware, Jesus praised the good Samaritan, who used the same coinage to serve his fellowman that Judas used to betray his Savior. The root of all evil is not money but the love of money (see 1 Timothy 6:10).

The Book of Mormon tells of a time when the Church of God “began to fail in its progress” (Alma 4:10) because “the people of the church began to … set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world” (Alma 4:8). Whoever has an abundance of material things is in jeopardy of being spiritually “sedated” by riches and other things of the world.3 That is a suitable introduction to the next of the Savior’s teachings.

parable-sower1The most subtle thorns to choke out the effect of the gospel word in our lives are the worldly forces that Jesus called the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). These are too numerous to recite. Some examples will suffice.

On one occasion Jesus rebuked His chief Apostle, saying to Peter, “Thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23; see also D&C 3:6–7; 58:39). Savoring the things of men means putting the cares of this world ahead of the things of God in our actions, our priorities, and our thinking.

We surrender to the “pleasures of this life” (1) when we are addicted, which impairs God’s precious gift of agency; (2) when we are beguiled by trivial distractions, which draw us away from things of eternal importance; and (3) when we have an entitlement mentality, which impairs the personal growth necessary to qualify us for our eternal destiny.

parable-sower4We are overcome by the “cares … of this life” when we are paralyzed by fear of the future, which hinders our going forward in faith, trusting in God and His promises. Twenty-five years ago my esteemed BYU teacher Hugh W. Nibley spoke of the dangers of surrendering to the cares of the world. He was asked in an interview whether world conditions and our duty to spread the gospel made it desirable to seek some way to “be accommodating of the world in what we do in the Church.”4

quote-oaks-sowerHis reply: “That’s been the whole story of the Church, hasn’t it? You have to be willing to offend here, you have to be willing to take the risk. That’s where the faith comes in. … Our commitment is supposed to be a test, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be impractical in the terms of this world.”5

This gospel priority was affirmed on the BYU campus just a few months ago by an esteemed Catholic leader, Charles J. Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia. Speaking of “concerns that the LDS and Catholic communities share,” such as “about marriage and family, the nature of our sexuality, the sanctity of human life, and the urgency of religious liberty,” he said this:

“I want to stress again the importance of really living what we claim to believe. That needs to be a priority—not just in our personal and family lives but in our churches, our political choices, our business dealings, our treatment of the poor; in other words, in everything we do.”

“Here’s why that’s important,” he continued. “Learn from the Catholic experience. We Catholics believe that our vocation is to be leaven in society. But there’s a fine line between being leaven in society, and being digested by society.”6

The Savior’s warning against having the cares of this world choke out the word of God in our lives surely challenges us to keep our priorities fixed—our hearts set—on the commandments of God and the leadership of His Church.

parable-sower2The Savior’s examples could cause us to think of this parable as the parable of the soils. The suitability of the soil depends upon the heart of each one of us who is exposed to the gospel seed. In susceptibility to spiritual teachings, some hearts are hardened and unprepared, some hearts are stony from disuse, and some hearts are set upon the things of the world.

III. Fell into Good Ground and Brought Forth Fruit

parable-harvest-wheatThe parable of the sower ends with the Savior’s description of the seed that “fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit” in various measures (Matthew 13:8). How can we prepare ourselves to be that good ground and to have that good harvest?

parable-sower3Jesus explained that “the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6–7). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to always have His Spirit to be with us. We must also seek that mighty change of heart (see Alma 5:12–14) that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.

I testify of the truth of these things, and I testify of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose teachings point the way and whose Atonement makes it all possible.

Bible Stories: Character Education and Self-Government

Dinner Topics for Monday

Bible Stories: Character Education and Self-Government

Samson and Delilah—

Internal Government

*Teaching about the Fall

keySociety cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

samson-delilahSamson was raised from infancy, prepared by diligent parents to fulfill a mission of liberating Israel from the Philistines. Instead, he is known in scriptural record as the epic hero who never was. On the surface, the Biblical account of Samson looks rather amusing. That Samson’s remarkable physical prowess was connected to the length of his hair reads almost like one of Grimms’ fairy tales. The fact is, the length of Samson’s hair was only one outward manifestation of the Nazarite vows he had taken. The immense strength was a spiritual gift, contingent on his faithfulness to the Nazarite discipline.

Samson failed to develop the necessary self-discipline to merit the spiritual gifts he had been blessed with. As he became boastful, and trusted in his own strength rather than giving glory to God, Samson one by one broke all his vows. He indulged his selfish passions and appetites, including marrying out of the covenant with an immoral Philistine woman. He did not think anything through; his behavior was driven by his feelings.

When he trivialized the source of his strength by playing games with the Philistine Delilah, this represented the final breakdown of his discipleship to God.

She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death. (Judges 16:16)

mockingpeopleAt some point, most of us can probably relate to having experienced this kind of pressure from someone else. Samson’s failure came first from dallying so much with sin and temptation. He constantly surrounded himself with it. Is it any wonder that he finally broke when he was pestered long enough?

Samson’s lack of internal government caused his personal downfall and deprived his nation of liberating leadership.

One may also be pressured when trying to do something right. Even then, it is easy to react in anger, fear, or foolishness.

The “wise man who builds his house upon a rock” knows that true freedom comes from acting by choice rather than being acted upon.

buildingonrock“Discipline” is defined as “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” Simple, brute-strength “will power” is not mentioned. Because the natural man rarely has sufficient “will power,” the “wise man” trains, molds, and corrects himself on a daily basis. It is a building process— on rock. No shortcuts.

The wise man looks ahead, constructing his house to stand independently of forces that tear down and undo his work. Day by day, a step at a time, he schools his feelings, delays gratification, and subordinates foolish impulses to the larger character he is capable of. The less he indulges himself, the more substance he has, and the less room in his life for that which would cause irreparable downfall.

The builder’s to-do list might include practicing courteous actions rather than angry reactions. Discussing and using peaceful resolutions to conflict and misunderstanding. Using moderation in appetites and showing appreciation for the gifts and services of others. Teaching wisdom and order. All these seemingly small things make up the firm inner structure that can withstand incessant adverse elements and bring enduring peace of mind.

Character Education Concepts

gavarret-follow-christFor the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19 )

  1. Why is daily discipline in small choices more effective than “will power” in times of crisis?
  2. The three areas of temptation are: 1) appetites and passions 2)vanity 3)greed and power. How can this knowledge help us prepare to resist temptation?
  3. How can we avoid dallying with sin in the following areas? Movies and TV. Music. Reading material. Internet. Dating.
  4. What does “temperance” mean? Compare dedication and fanaticism.
  5. Choose five or more epic heroes from scripture and outline their ministries. How did they exemplify Christian discipleship?
  6. How does the Savior help us overcome our weaknesses through the atonement?

christs-outstreched-hand-lindsleyAnd if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.(Ether 12:27)

 

 

Copyright 2010 © by Christine A. Davidson

 

The Parable of the Empty House

As a Man Thinketh

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. (Prov. 23:7)

golden-calfAfter God had delivered them from bondage, the children of Israel began their epic journey to the promised land. Freedom, however, was not what they expected. Food was plentiful — indeed, bread from heaven rained down upon them daily. Yet they were not accustomed to the simplicity of the Lord’s way of life. Gone were the heathen groves wherein one could indulge in sensual pleasures. The flashy graven images were missing. Their new wilderness home was free of Egypt’s distractions. Now they could concentrate on building new lives for themselves, replacing the taint of idolatry with an eye single to the glory of God. They had but to look to God and live. Simple. They brought no Egyptian idols with them. Even so, they turned to idolatry, for in their minds, they were still in bondage.

The Savior gave a parable about this condition.

empty-house-2When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished, for the good spirit leaveth him unto himself.

Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. (Matt. 12:43-45)

 

empty-houseThis oft overlooked parable of the empty house might speak of a man who leaves his old life behind, accepts the gospel and embarks upon the strait and narrow path of Christian discipleship. On that path the first obstacle is in the form of habits from his past. The iron rod [word of God] is steady and secure, but plain. It does not glitter and allure. In vain he searches for something on the road to heaven that will give him the same thrills and carnal satisfaction that his pre-conversion world held. He finds none.

Still, his soul has been cleansed, released from the chains of past wickedness. Agency has been extended to him anew. He has arrived at the pivotal point of his life, the brink of glorious opportunity.   However, if a traumatic experience in his previous life robbed him of spiritual roots, that opportunity could have a dangerous edge. His mind might be a spiritual vacuum. With what will he fill his mind? The choice is his, and his alone. Will he lay hold upon every good gift, or will he touch the unclean thing?

apathydudeThe trials and adversities of life are painful. Seeking comfort, the man turns, not to God, but to his old habits. He goes to Church every Sunday, but during the week, the old ways take over. Instead of looking to God to heal his pain, he numbs it with worldly distractions, which God calls idols. Seemingly innocuous habits move in and make themselves comfortable, and make him comfortable. Upon arising, the man turns to phone and social media. This programming is the first thing that enters his mind in the morning. What can be wrong with that? During lunch, social media. After work, TV. After dinner, games, social media. Before bed, social media, video games. After Church, electronic media, video games.

On Sunday, the man dutifully dusts off his scriptures and hauls them to Church. But they don’t mean anything. He doesn’t understand them. After years of worshiping images, he can no longer recognize the real thing. He has succeeded in numbing his pain. In fact, now he is “past feeling,” just like the idols which have received his unwavering attention for so long.

Moses was faced with the monumental task of sanctifying his people— removing the ungodly habits from their lives and filling their minds and hearts with the word of God. Most importantly, he had to keep the children from being sullied by the unholy baggage their parents had brought out from Egypt.

So he taught them,

family5prayingdinnerAnd these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deut. 6:6,7)

“Holy habits and righteous routines,”[1] when practiced daily, are part of holding to the iron rod [word of God], and will steady us on our path back to Heavenly Father.

Dinner Topic Questions

Dinner Talk Topic: Our conversation, use of leisure time, and choice of entertainment are a reflection of what is in our minds. *Controlling our thoughts

  1. How are our conversation, use of leisure time, and choice of entertainment a reflection of what is in our mind? When you are alone, what kind of background do you like to “keep you company? Is there a better companionship to seek?
  2. What do you dwell on when you have nothing specific to think about? If you look around, can you see someone who is worse off than you are? How does it make you feel?
  3. Are you alone in your circumstances? Why not?
  4. Can a self-absorbed person be truly happy?
  5. Can you recognize the presence of the Spirit? How?
  6. In what conditions will the Spirit withdraw?
  7. What seemingly small things can offend the Spirit?
  8. How can continual exposure to the sensationalism of electronic media cause a person to be “past feeling”? (1Nephi 17:45)
  9. What must we do to be worthy of having the continual companionship of the Holy Spirit?
  10. In what ways can games and social media dull our senses? How can reading scriptures or a good book, or listening to classical music,  be active rather than passive? Can we go through the motions and not understand the life lessons God is trying to teach us?
  11. How can failing to actively nourish our minds with spiritual food create a spiritual vacuum, and what are the dangers of such a vacuum?
  12. A “graven image” is a tangible object a person might worship instead of God. Also, spending time and money on things that distract someone from God might also be considered as idolatry. How can we avoid this problem in our lives?
  13. Look up “idolatry” in the dictionary. Is idolatry only an ancient evil? How can idolatry affect our lives today? Why do you think their idols caused the children of Israel to be immoral? Do cold, lifeless idols, or even movie idols, hold their worshipers accountable? What happens when there is no accountability?
  14. James 1:8. “ A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” What must we do to stay out of spiritual Babylon?
  15. Isaiah 7:15 “Refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Is it possible to “touch the unclean thing” without letting go of the word of God?

 

Copyright 2010 © by Christine A. Davidson

 

            [1] Elaine Dalton, “Look toward Eternity!”. Ensign, November 2006, p.32

Judeo-Christian Culture: Biblical Worldview, Bible Story, God is with Israel

Dinner Topics for Monday

keyoldThis is the last day in which the great consummation of God’s purposes will be made, the only dispensation in which the Lord has promised that sin will not prevail. ~Ezra Taft Benson

elisha2Christians faced with persecution in the 19th century were reminded by their leader: “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. ” ~Doctrine and Covenants 128:22; 123:17

9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

13 ¶And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

 elisha416 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Scientific Facts: Truth in Science; Big Bang Theory Facts; God as Creator

Questions about Science:

Truth in Science; Big Bang Theory Facts; God as Creator

God as Creator. All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. ~Alma 30:44

Rush Limbaugh

 

Many Scientists reject God as Creator

There is no God in scientific… There is no God. (interruption) Huh-uh. No, God didn’t put it there, ’cause if God put it there then it’s somewhere other than the universe, and since God is not scientific — that’s religious — the scientific community does not go there. Professor Hawking didn’t. Professor Hawking said the notion of an afterlife is a fairy tale. Professor Hawking said that the notion of a heaven or an afterlife is… He said the human brain is nothing but a computer, and it’s gonna fail and shut down when its components cease to exist.

There’s no afterlife for broken-down computers, for failed computers. This is what Professor Hawking said. So this is it. This… Do you think Stephen Hawking had every question he had answered? I guarantee you he didn’t. He died still thirsting and questing for knowledge. We all do and we all will. And remaining, there will always be questions that we can’t answer. Not on earth, anyway. Not as we exist today. We’ll never be able to ever to answer them.

Colonize . . .Where?

A guy says to me, “We’re toast in 200 years unless we figure out how to colonize X.” What? The moon? Mars? We’re gonna have to create global warming someplace, wherever we go, to be able to live there. You ever stop to think about that? I mean, and everybody swoons and thinks, “Wow, man! He’s so far ahead of all of us.” And I don’t doubt that, in his field, there’s no question he was light years ahead of everybody and there’s no way to prove it. We just all accepted it. But this colonizing someplace else?

It’s not just him. Elon Musk is on this. You know, all of these Silicon Valley brain wizards say, “The earth is gonna destroy us! Global warming, climate change are gonna destroy us. We’re gonna run out of this, run out of that.” We’re not running out of anything. Natural resources are increasing. Life expectancy is increasing. Life on earth has never been better than it is today in any statistical way that you want to measure it, and yet the doom-and-gloom crowd says, “Two hundred years! Two hundred…” That means the people who are gonna eventually colonize have not been born yet.

“How are we gonna get two billion people there? How are we gonna get 500,000 people there?” You know what Musk said? Musk said he’s gonna have a Mars trip next year, and if you sign up you’re likely to die making the trip. Well, sign me up! Put me on that first vessel. I can’t wait to die in the quest to colonize Mars. People swoon. “Oh, my!” because he can make a rocket land back on earth just as it took off. You know what? I’m going to go on Musk’s first mission to Mars. I will gladly die to facilitate this effort to colonize someplace.

Why would you go on a trip to Mars if you’re likely to die on the trip? Wouldn’t that kind of mean failure if you don’t get there and you’re not able to start…? (interruption) Yeah. Okay. Yeah, but Columbus didn’t know where he was going. We do know where we’re going. That makes us dumber than Columbus. We know we’re going to nothing! We know we’re going to where we can’t live. We know we’re going to where there isn’t a damn thing to keep us alive and we’re gonna do it anyway.

Columbus at least, you know, back then they thought the earth was flat (some idiots still do) and they feared falling off the edge of the earth. That’s the thing he faced. Columbus didn’t even know where he was when he got there, and look what they say about him now. Can you imagine the reports on Mars in 200 years about Elon Musk, what they’re gonna say about him if he does get there and colonize this place? They’re wanting to take down every Columbus statue all over the country now for racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, anti-Italian, whatever it is, prejudice.

Big Bang Theory Facts

I have all kinds of… You know, the Big Bang. Let’s look at the Big Bang. People accept that the Big Bang is how all of this began. Now, again, folks, I have a belief. One of the ways I have proven to myself… ‘Cause I think we’ve all tried to do this. We accept the faith, but then we still test it. As long as there are questions that we can ask… Meaning, we have been created with the intelligence to create or ask these questions, this quest for knowledge.

If there are questions we can ask to which we will never have the answers, then that gives me confidence that

there is more than just life on earth.

What is the point of creating beings who can ponder such places if they don’t exist? Certainly the Big Bang. Again, I’ll admit I’m just a college dropout radio guy, okay? I’m not a professional physicist. I’m not a professional scientist. I do not own a lab coat, white or light blue. So they tell me that the Big Bang is where everything began. Hawking says it’s the Big Bang and we’re still expanding.

The Big Bang was the size of what’s in a thimble. Massive energy we can’t even comprehend. Boom! Still expanding. But gravity and other stellar forces are going to cause the universe to contract. Once it expands, it’s gonna reach its max size and come back down to earth, so to speak, and we’re all gonna end up back in a thimble. Except you and I won’t be alive when that happens, and our sun will burn out. Now, I have what I think are common-sense questions. Okay, the Big Bang. There was this whatever-size — call it a golf ball-, tennis ball-size — piece of matter that big banged and we’re all here.

Where was it?

Where was this glob of matter that banged that created the universe?

Where was it?

No, no, no. You can’t say, “It was in the void.” You can’t say it was in another dimension, parallel or otherwise, astral plane. It had to be somewhere. Where was it? What was around it? Could you see it? Could somebody see this golf-ball-size bit of energy if they were not part of that? Could you be somewhere and see it? Could you be somewhere and witness this Big Bang instead of being a part of it? If so, where were you? Well, since nobody could see it, how the hell do they know it really happened?

But I’m not supposed to ask that. Another question. I ask scientists these questions. They cannot answer them for me. Another question I have: The universe. Well, definition of the universe is everything that is, but it has to be somewhere. Where is it? Can you get outside the universe and look at the universe as a non-part of it? If you can’t, then where is it? Space-time? What is space-time? Is that the speed the USS Enterprise moves through the galaxies with? What is space…?

My question is, “Where is it? Where is the universe?”

Big Bang Theory Facts: Theory vs. Law

Hawking’s Theory of Spontaneous Self-Assembly violates known laws of Physics

RUSH: Martin in Gainesville, Florida, you’re next. It’s great to have you, sir.

CALLER: Thank you, Rush. I wanted to touch on a couple of points you made regarding Stephen Hawking and the Big Bang Theory. For all of his intellect and all of his intelligence and knowledge,

his premise about the spontaneous self-assembly of matter steps on the a priori laws — not theories, laws — of physics that says that matter and energy don’t spontaneously come from nowhere; magically, they’re there.

So your notion that this tennis ball-sized bit of matter that represents all of the universe just came from nowhere — magically, it was there (nothing put it there; it wasn’t created) and then it just all of a sudden it just exploded with no external source of energy) — defies the laws of physics. Not the theories of physics, the basic laws. When you base your premise by trampling on the underpinnings of the laws of physics, what you say holds no water. It’s a theory based on a fallacy that the basic laws are not true.

CALLER: I’m a botanist and a high school science teacher. I’ve got several degrees in botany. I love science and I read and pay attention to a lot of things that go on in the scientific community.

Why Youth Need to Understand Biblical Creation  Click Here