Character Education: Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Character Education:

Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

keyold“Refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).

 

My desire this evening is to share some counsel about decisions and choices.

Lucy Rationalizes

charlie-brown-lucy-baseballWhen I was a young lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, our firm did some legal work for the company that produced the Charlie Brown holiday TV specials.1 I became a fan of Charles Schulz and his creation—Peanuts, with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other wonderful characters.

One of my favorite comic strips involved Lucy. As I remember it, Charlie Brown’s baseball team was in an important game—Lucy was playing right field, and a high fly ball was hit to her. The bases were loaded, and it was the last of the ninth inning. If Lucy caught the ball, her team would win. If Lucy dropped the ball, the other team would win.

charlie-brown-lucyAs could happen only in a comic strip, the entire team surrounded Lucy as the ball came down. Lucy was thinking, “If I catch the ball, I will be the hero; if I don’t, I will be the goat.”

The ball came down, and as her teammates eagerly looked on, Lucy dropped the ball. Charlie Brown threw his glove to the ground in disgust. Lucy then looked at her teammates, put her hands on her hips, and said, “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?”

This was one of many fly balls Lucy dropped through the years, and she had a new excuse each time.2 While always humorous, Lucy’s excuses were rationalizations; they were untrue reasons for her failure to catch the ball.

Decisions Determine Destiny

It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

freewill1During the ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, he has often taught that decisions determine destiny.3 In that spirit my counsel tonight is to rise above any rationalizations that prevent us from making righteous decisions, especially with respect to serving Jesus Christ. In Isaiah we are taught we must “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”4

I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.5

Some young people profess their goal is to be married in the temple but do not date temple-worthy individuals. To be honest, some don’t even date, period! You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get “anxiously engaged”6 in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage.

Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, does not comply with counsel of modern prophets, and is not compatible with sound doctrine.

I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

Everyday Decisions

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”9

Frivolous Distractions

When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.

RushSocialMedia2PIXDistractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion.10 We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media.11 A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”12

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

When we rationalize wrong choices, big or small, which are inconsistent with the restored gospel, we lose the blessings and protections we need and often become ensnared in sin or simply lose our way.

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.

apathydudeI am particularly concerned with foolishness13 and being obsessed with “every new thing.” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.14 In our day, despite unprecedented gains in many areas, especially science and communication, essential basic values have eroded and overall happiness and well-being have diminished.

When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill in Athens, he found some of the same intellectual pretension and absence of true wisdom that exist today.15 In Acts we read this account: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”16 Paul’s emphasis was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the crowd realized the religious nature of his message, some mocked him; others essentially dismissed him, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”17 Paul left Athens without any success. Dean Frederic Farrar wrote of this visit: “At Athens he founded no church, to Athens he wrote no epistle, and in Athens, often as he passed its neighbourhood, he never set foot again.”18

Subtle Influences

Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

bigbenclockI believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities.19 Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals.

Given this history, one of the reasons I like the account of Lucy playing baseball is that, in my father’s view, I should have been studying foreign policy and not worrying about whether I was going to catch a ball. I should make it clear that my mother loved sports. It would have taken a hospitalization for her to miss one of my games.

I had decided to follow my dad’s advice and not play intercollegiate sports in college. Then our high school football coach informed me that the Stanford football coach wanted to have lunch with Merlin Olsen and me. Those of you who are younger may not know Merlin. He was an incredible all-American tackle on the Logan High School football team where I played quarterback and safety and returned kickoffs and punts. In high school Merlin was recruited by most football powers across the nation. In college he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. Merlin was ultimately the third overall pick in the National Football League draft and played in an amazing 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.20

The lunch with the Stanford coach was at the Bluebird restaurant in Logan, Utah. After we shook hands, he never once made eye contact with me. He talked directly to Merlin but ignored me. At the end of the lunch, for the first time, he turned toward me, but he could not remember my name. He then informed Merlin, “If you choose Stanford and want to bring your friend with you, he has good enough grades and it could probably be arranged.” This experience confirmed for me that I should follow my dad’s wise counsel.

cook-choices-192x192My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God.22 We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer . . . we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.23 We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

 

  1. Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production TV Specials.
  1. From the moons of Saturn distracting her to worrying about possible toxic substances in her glove, Lucy always rationalized why she dropped the ball.
  1. See “Decisions Determine Destiny,” chapter 8 in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 57–65.
  1. Isaiah 7:15.
  1. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces” (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 2, lines 12–14).
  1. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.
  1. See Adjusting to Missionary Life (booklet, 2013), 23–49.
  1. See Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014, SR1.
  1. Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56.
  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 45:26.
  1. See David A. Bednar, “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” (speech delivered at BYU Campus Education Week, Aug. 19, 2014); lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood.
  1. Arthur C. Brooks, “Love People, Not Pleasure,” New York Times, July 20, 2014, SR1.
  1. Unfortunately, one diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness (see Mark 7:22).
  1. This happened in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Book of Mormon civilizations.
  1. See Frederic W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (1898), 302. There were philosophers of all kinds, including Epicureans and Stoics, rival groups who some described as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the pagan world. See also Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 41–44; Liahona, Mar. 2003, 21–24.
  1. Acts 17:21.
  1. Acts 17:32.
  1. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, 312.
  1. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
  1. Merlin Olsen was a hall of fame football player, actor, and NFL commentator for NBC. He won the Outland Trophy playing football for Utah State University. He played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams. On TV he played Jonathan Garvey opposite Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie and had his own TV program, Father Murphy. Merlin is now deceased (Mar. 11, 2010), and we miss him very much.

 

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Integrity in Leadership: William Barr unafraid of Mainstream Media Smear Tactics

Integrity in Leadership:

William Barr unafraid of Mainstream Media Smear Tactics

Barr Not Concerned About Critics, Legacy: ‘Everyone Dies’

Sandy Fitzgerald

Newsmax media

 

Attorney General William Barr, who has come under fire from critics who say he’s defending President Donald Trump, says in an interview airing Friday that at this stage of his life, such attacks don’t “make any difference.”

“I am at the end of my career,” Barr told CBS News’ Jan Crawford in an interview for “CBS This Morning.” “Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries.”

He added that such attacks are coming from him serving during a “hyper-partisan period of time” and he knew it would be a matter of time before he came under attack.

“Nowadays, people don’t care about the merits and the substance,” said Barr. “They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics.”

Any attorney general during this period of time would end up losing political capital, Barr said, and he does not regret returning as attorney general for a second time, having served before under President George H.W. Bush.

See more Legal Insurrection Branco cartoons, click here.

“In many ways, I’d rather be back in my old life but I think that I love the Department of Justice, I love the FBI, I think it is important that we not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions,” he added.

Barr said he has a “good, professional working relationship” with Trump.

My Exclusive, Can’t-Find-It-Anywhere-Else Parsing and Analysis of Barr on CBS

RUSH: Folks, do you know how big this is? There’s another reason why nobody is airing this. It’s because nobody wants legal analysts on to explain what Barr is saying.

Newsmax: Barr Not Concerned About Critics, Legacy: ‘Everyone Dies’

Judeo-Christian Culture: Role of Fathers in Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Role of Fathers in the Divine Plan, and Nuclear Family

D. Todd Christofferson

I focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

fathers-matter2I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed:

“Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”1

father-son-cameraEqual Partners

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”2 We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”3 We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”4 We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.

Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.”5 While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.

The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children.6 Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust.

For men, fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation.7 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”8 Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.

Quote-fathersPerhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.9 A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.10

Accountable to teach one’s children

We find in the scriptures a repeated emphasis on the parental obligation to teach one’s children:

“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”11

In 1833, the Lord reprimanded members of the First Presidency for inadequate attention to the duty of teaching their children. To one He said specifically, “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.12

Fathers are to teach God’s law and works anew to each generation. As the Psalmist declared:

Father's Blessing by L.A. Olas

Father’s Blessing by L.A. Olas

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should [then] arise and declare them to their children:

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.13

Children want and need a model

Certainly teaching the gospel is a shared duty between fathers and mothers, but the Lord is clear that He expects fathers to lead out in making it a high priority. (And let’s remember that informal conversations, working and playing together, and listening are important elements of teaching.) The Lord expects fathers to help shape their children, and children want and need a model.

father-son-mentorI myself was blessed with an exemplary father. I recall that when I was a boy of about 12, my father became a candidate for the city council in our rather small community. He did not mount an extensive election campaign—all I remember was that Dad had my brothers and me distribute copies of a flyer door to door, urging people to vote for Paul Christofferson. There were a number of adults that I handed a flyer to who remarked that Paul was a good and honest man and that they would have no problem voting for him. My young boy heart swelled with pride in my father. It gave me confidence and a desire to follow in his footsteps. He was not perfect—no one is—but he was upright and good and an aspirational example for a son.

Discipline and correction are part of teaching.

As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”14 But in discipline a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit:

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”15

Discipline

Discipline in the divine pattern is not so much about punishing as it is about helping a loved one along the path of self-mastery.

fathers-matter1The Lord has said that “all children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”16 Breadwinning is a consecrated activity. Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. “Work and family are overlapping domains.”17 This, of course, does not justify a man who neglects his family for his career or, at the other extreme, one who will not exert himself and is content to shift his responsibility to others. In the words of King Benjamin:

“Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”18

We recognize the agony of men who are unable to find ways and means adequately to sustain their families. There is no shame for those who, at a given moment, despite their best efforts, cannot fulfill all the duties and functions of fathers. “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.19

Loving the mother of his children—and showing that love—are two of the best things a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security.

father-sonsSome men are single fathers, foster fathers, or stepfathers. Many of them strive mightily and do their very best in an often difficult role. We honor those who do all that can be done in love, patience, and self-sacrifice to meet individual and family needs. It should be noted that God Himself entrusted His Only Begotten Son to a foster father. Surely some of the credit goes to Joseph for the fact that as Jesus grew, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.20

Regrettably, due to death, abandonment, or divorce, some children don’t have fathers living with them. Some may have fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent or in other ways inattentive or nonsupportive. We call on all fathers to do better and to be better. We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable fathers who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or “the guys who cause problems,” as fathers are all too frequently depicted.

To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.

To young men, recognizing the role you will have as provider and protector, we say, prepare now by being diligent in school and planning for postsecondary training. Education, whether in a university, technical school, apprenticeship, or similar program, is key to developing the skills and capabilities you will need. Take advantage of opportunities to associate with people of all ages, including children, and learn how to establish healthy and rewarding relationships. That typically means talking face to face with people and sometimes doing things together, not just perfecting your texting skills. Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.

To all the rising generation, we say, wherever you rank your own father on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Remember the yearning hope of a father as expressed by John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”21 Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive.

father-son-grandson_1448787_inlTo my brethren, the fathers in this Church, I say, I know you wish you were a more perfect father. I know I wish I were. Even so, despite our limitations, let us press on. Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy in today’s culture and think first of the happiness and well-being of others. Surely, despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit. I am encouraged by a story that appeared in the New Era some years ago. The author recounted the following:

“When I was young, our little family lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. I slept on the couch in the living room. …

“My dad, a steelworker, left home very early for work each day. Every morning he would … tuck the covers around me and stop for a minute. I would be half-dreaming when I could sense my dad standing beside the couch, looking at me. As I slowly awoke, I became embarrassed to have him there. I tried to pretend I was still asleep. … I became aware that as he stood beside my bed he was praying with all his attention, energy, and focus—for me.

“Each morning my dad prayed for me. He prayed that I would have a good day, that I would be safe, that I would learn and prepare for the future. And since he could not be with me until evening, he prayed for the teachers and my friends that I would be with that day. …

“At first, I didn’t really understand what my dad was doing those mornings when he prayed for me. But as I got older, I came to sense his love and interest in me and everything I was doing. It is one of my favorite memories. It wasn’t until years later, after I was married, had children of my own, and would go into their rooms while they were asleep and pray for them that I understood completely how my father felt about me.”22

Alma testified to his son:

“Behold, I say unto you, that it is [Christ] that surely shall come … ; yea he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.

And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.”23

That is the ministry of fathers today. God bless and make them equal to it.

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Mentoring to Manhood vs. War on Masculinity

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Mentoring to Manhood vs. War on Masculinity

The Great Need: Turning Boys into Men

Brian Fischer

The gravest challenge our culture faces today is the crisis of masculinity. The American Psychological Association has labeled traditional masculinity – strength, aggression, stoicism – as something “toxic.” The APA is saying that our problem in America is with traditional American masculinity. But it’s what the APA calls “toxic masculinity” that enabled us in 1776 to defeat the British Empire and stake our claim to be one of the sovereign nations of the world.

It was “toxic masculinity” that enabled us to do the hard work of carving a nation out of the wilderness and defeating dozens of hostile nations along the way. It was “toxic masculinity” that enabled the Fighting Leathernecks to defeat the Muslim armies of Tripoli in 1804 in our first battle with Islamic jihad. (They got the nickname “Leathernecks” because they wore thick strips of leather around their necks for the simple reason they knew the Muslims would try to cut off their heads.) 

It was “toxic masculinity” that enabled us to fight a bloody civil war – at the cost of 600,000 American lives – to bring the diabolical institution of slavery to an end in America. It was “toxic masculinity” that enabled us to lead the effort to defeat the Nazi menace and free the word from its scourge in the 1940s.

The problem is not that there is too much masculinity in America, it’s that there’s not enough. An absence of biblical masculinity, which is simply men using their strength to lead, protect, and provide, has left too many homes fragmented and broken, leaving spouses abandoned and children to fend for themselves.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, 40 percent of all births in the U.S. now happen outside of marriage. But if you go back to 1970, that figure was sitting at just 10 percent.

At this point in our history, approximately one out of every three children in the United States lives in a home without a father. The damage to our sons and daughters caused by fatherlessness is catastrophic. How are the boys of today supposed to learn how to be the men of tomorrow, the husbands of tomorrow, and the fathers of tomorrow?

A recent study revealed that the main problem with boys and violence is not poverty. It is the absence of a father in the home. Says Prof. Richard Vatz of Towson State University, “Fatherlessness is a core cause of virtually all societal ills.”

Sarah Hall, a British writer, makes this profound observation. What matters is “not whether or not the father lived in the family home” but whether the “biological father maintained a close relationship with his son” (emphasis mine).

In this study, 55% of the “good boys” lived with their biological fathers, compared with only 4% of the ‘bad boys.'” Almost 80% of the “good boys” spoke of being close to their biological fathers.

Boys who had a father who showed an interest in his son “gained a sense of being loved and approved of, and the fear of jeopardizing this proved enough to deter them from crime” said Dr. Jenny Taylor of the British Psychological Society in Birmingham, England.

The U.S. Census Bureau concluded that children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. 

The problem is massive and overwhelming. What can we do? I believe the solution is for the fathers of today to invest themselves in their young sons, and give them an example to follow in life, work, and family.

 We need dads who will mentor their young sons so they will grow up to become the mature, masculine men America needs to lead the next generation.

The dads of today need to equip their sons to be the leaders, protectors, and providers for the families of tomorrow.

Who else is in a position to get this done? The churches of today often seem more interested in entertaining young boys than in training them. Government schools long ago abandoned even the pretense of character education, and the entertainment media is hopelessly corrupt.

Maybe you are a dad reading these words, and finding yourself stirred to be the kind of mentor your young son needs. If I may be so bold, I have written a book, “The Boy To Man Book,” which is designed for a father to read with his 12-year-old son. The chapters are brief, stocked with anecdotes, and filled with insight from Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. And each chapter concludes with a prayer you can pray over the life of your son.

Every day 5000 young boys in America turn twelve. Make sure that your son is one of the lucky ones who had a father committed to raise him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

As columnist and family expert Mike McManus says, “Children need their fathers. There is no substitute.”

(You can find out more, and order a copy of the book for yourself or for others, at https://afastore.net/the-boy-to-man-book-by-bryan-fischer)

Christian Mentoring Resources:

How to Mentor Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Family Values, Made Easy!

Dear APA: America Desperately Needs Masculine Men

 

Biblical Parenting: Why Fathers Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Values, is Vital to their Future

Biblical Parenting:

Why Fathers Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Values, is Vital to their Future

 

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

gospel-father-mentorHave you ever opened a box of parts, pulled out the assembly instructions, and thought, “This doesn’t make any sense at all”?

Sometimes, despite our best intentions and inner confidence, we pull out a part and ask, “What is that for?” or “How does that fit?”

Our frustration grows as we look at the box and notice a disclaimer that says, “Assembly required—ages 8 and up.” Because we still don’t have a clue, this does not boost our confidence or our self-esteem.

Sometimes we have a similar experience with the gospel. As we look at some part of it, we may scratch our heads and wonder what that part is for. Or as we examine another part, we may realize that even after trying hard to fully understand, we just can’t figure out why that part was included.

Our Heavenly Father Is Our Mentor

Fortunately, our Heavenly Father has given us wonderful instructions for structuring our lives and putting together our best selves. Those instructions work regardless of our age or circumstance. He has given us the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ. He has given us the plan of redemption, the plan of salvation, even the plan of happiness. He has not left us alone with all the uncertainties or challenges of life, saying, “Here you go. Good luck. Figure it out.”

holyspiritgiftIf we will only be patient and look with a humble heart and an open mind, we will find that God has given us many tools to better understand His comprehensive instructions for our happiness in life:

  • He has given us the priceless gift of the Holy Ghost, which has the potential to be our personal, heavenly tutor as we study the word of God and attempt to bring our thoughts and actions into alignment with His word.
  • He has given us 24/7 access to Him through prayers of faith and supplications of real intent.
  • He has given us modern-day apostles and prophets, who reveal the word of God in our day and have the authority to bind or seal on earth and in heaven.
  • He has restored His Church—an organization of believers who work together to help one another as they work out their salvation with fear, trembling, and unparalleled joy.1
  • He has given us the holy scriptures—His written word to us.
  • He has given myriad tools of modern technology to help us in our walk of discipleship. Many of these marvelous instruments can be found at LDS.org.

Why has our Heavenly Father given us so much help? Because He loves us. And because, as He said of Himself, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”2

In other words, Heavenly Father is our God, and God is a mentor to us.

Our Father in Heaven knows His children’s needs better than anyone else. It is His work and glory to help us at every turn, giving us marvelous temporal and spiritual resources to help us on our path to return to Him.

Every Father Is a Mentor

father-teaching-son-mirrorIn some parts of the world, fathers are honored by families and society in the month of June. It is always good to honor and respect our parents. Fathers do many good things for their families and have many admirable attributes. Two of the most important roles fathers have in the lives of their children are those of being a good example and a mentor. Fathers do more than tell their children what is right or wrong; they do much more than toss a manual at them and expect them to figure out life for themselves.

Fathers mentor their precious children and show by their good example the way an honest life is lived. Fathers do not leave their children alone but rush to their aid, helping them to their feet whenever they stumble. And sometimes when wisdom suggests, fathers allow their children to struggle, realizing that this may be the best way for them to learn.

We Are All Mentors

fathermentoringWhile earthly fathers do this for their own children, the spirit of mentoring is something we need to offer all of God’s children, regardless of age, location, or circumstance. Remember, God’s children are our brothers and sisters; we are all of the same eternal family.

In this sense, let us all be mentors—eager to reach out and help one another to become our best selves. Because we are God’s offspring, we do have the potential to become like Him. Loving God and our fellowmen, keeping God’s commandments, and following Christ’s example are the straight, narrow, and joyful path back into the presence of our heavenly parents.

If the God of the universe cares so much about us that He is a mentor to us, perhaps we too can reach out to our fellowmen, regardless of their color, race, socioeconomic circumstances, language, or religion. Let us become inspired mentors and bless the lives of others—not only our own children but also all of God’s children throughout the world.

How you can help with Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Family Values

Parenting: Teaching Justice and Mercy

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Teaching Justice and Mercy

June Value: Justice and Mercy, Introduction and part 1

From Richard and Linda Eyre

 

family3-silhouettekeyObedience to law, fairness in work and play. An understanding of natural consequences and the law of the harvest. A grasp of mercy and forgiveness and an understanding of the futility (and bitter poison) of carrying a grudge.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: Turn Taking

Begin to establish the idea of fairness. One of the first words that toddlers should learn is turn. Two year olds (and even pre-two’s) can understand this most basic form of sharing. Help them to take a short turn with a toy and then say, “Jamie’s turn,” as they pass it to the other child. Then help them to watch and wait for a moment until it is their turn again.

Praise them generously every time they give a turn to the other child. As mentioned earlier, some sort of timing device makes “turns” work better. Use an oven clock or egg timer to help small children take turns of two or three minutes. Explain that equal time is fair.

Sample Method of Elementary Age: The Sun and Cloud Game

This will help younger elementary-age children see that they can make themselves happy or miserable depending on their ability to repent and to forgive. Cut a yellow sun and a black cloud out of construction paper, along with two stick men or figures labeled “Billy” and “Eddy.” Set Billy and Eddy on a table or on the floor and tell the following situations. Have the children put the sun over the head of the child who will be made happy by his actions and the cloud over the child whose actions will make him sad.

  • A boy trips Eddy at school. Eddy is mad at the boy all day and keeps looking for a way to get even. (cloud)
  • Billy opens his sister’s drawer and takes some of her pencils. Then he feels badly about it and brings them back and says he is sorry. (sun)
  • Eddy gets hit in the back by a ball another boy throws. It hurts for a minute and Eddy feels mad, but then he gets over it and tells the other boy he’s okay and he knows the other boy didn’t mean to do it. (sun)
  • Billy leaves his mother’s boots outside, and the dog chews one of them up. No one knows he was the one who left the boots out there, so he keeps it as a secret and doesn’t repent or tell anyone. (cloud)
  • And so on — make up your own.

Sample Method for Adolescents: Discussion: Accepting Justice, Giving Mercy:

This will help older adolescents see the importance of both values and the relationship between the two. At an appropriate time ask older adolescents which they would rather receive — justice or mercy. Try to evolve this into a discussion where you are able to understand together that justice is something we should all be prepared to accept — for justice will always come, in some form, sooner or later. It is the law of the harvest and of cause and effect. Discuss the following quote by Emerson:

“Cause and effect are two sides of one fact. Every secret is told, every crime is punished. Every virtue is rewarded, every wrong is redressed, silence and certainty . . . cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end pre-exists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

After discussing justice, turn to mercy. Explain that while we should accept justice, we should try to give mercy. Do not be interested in making others “pay” for their mistakes. Do not hold grudges or carry a chip on our shoulder. Discuss how these tendencies make us vindictive and vengeful and cause us to poison ourselves and our outlook.

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Moral Character Education

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Moral Character Education

Culture Wars

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics!

narcissism2                “THE GREAT GOOD AND THE TERRIBLE EVIL IN THE WORLD TODAY ARE THE SWEET AND THE BITTER FRUITS of the rearing of yesterday’s children,” said Gordon B. Hinckley, Christian leader. “As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children.”

  Well, the future is here, and many are the bitter fruits.

The most dramatic fruits we see on the scene today are the generation called Millennials, or those who came of age at the turn of the century. They don’t know they are bitter fruits, of course, because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Studies on college campuses show that people of the self-deceived Millennial generation are so self-centered and enslaved to political correctness that they refuse to identify even blatantly wrong behavior. Anyone who points out moral absolutes is considered mean. They also suppress their own moral compass, and refuse to admit that they can do wrong. Since they can do no wrong, it obviously follows that they take no responsibility for their own actions, but have no problem blaming anyone and everyone else.  Everything has to be worded a certain way, or they are offended. They are also used to instant gratification, and have no patience for working through problems that are not solved quickly.

They are educated in public schools, where the plague of moral relativism has infected their minds.  Whatever feels good is ok, and to them, moral absolutes in daily choices are “no big deal.” The Millennial mindset comes of being pampered all their lives, and the chief objective is “self esteem,” whether it is earned or not, and right or wrong is not even factored into it.  As a result of this false self-esteem, their arrogance is astonishing.  Above all, “you must not judge,” or point out if someone is doing wrong. The philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

greatest-generation3-vs-entitled               How did this happen?

                Let’s go back a little in history. At the close of World War 2, the Greatest Generation had defeated Hitler, but socialism remained at large. Godless socialists launched the greatest culture war of all time.

After the Supreme Court decree of 1963, when God was banished from the schools, the moral absolutes of the Bible disappeared as well. They were replaced by Satan’s deceitful plan of moral relativism, which eliminates right and wrong. Thus anything goes—all are saved in their sins, not from them.

Many parents, caught in this devilish doctrine when raising their children, resorted to what Christian leader Thomas S. Monson calls one of the plagues of our day: permissiveness.

moral-relativism-general            What have we done? When we search for answers, we see a nation once founded on Judeo-Christian moral values, once a beacon of liberty and hope to all the world. Thenceforth we have seen our society regress to immorality, to mass murders, to tyranny, to persecution of Bible believers.

This is what happens when a nation rejects God. With all our so-called education, we have not taught students the one most important truth of all—that God lives, and that He loves us. I feel compassion for our children. We have taken from them the key to happiness—a moral compass. Instead, they are growing up in a society without respect, without common decency—without faith, hope, or love.

quote-look-God-live   Atheism has failed. It produces misery wherever and whenever it is tried. It is time to let go of that failure and return to what works—the Great Plan of Happiness. And where is that plan found? In the Bible.

Our children have been robbed of their birthright of biblical values, cheated out of the plan of happiness, because parents and schools threw away the moral compass vital to God’s children. We owe it to our children to turn away from the philosophy of spiritual death and to once again look to God, and live.

 

Discovering the joys of Moral Character Education,

Christine Davidson

Imparting Biblical Values to Young Adults—Made Easy! Click Here

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Judeo-Christian Worldview: Nuclear Family Values and History

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Nuclear Family Values and History

 

Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics!

                LIFE IS FRAGILE. HANDLE WITH PRAYER. Also fragile is the nuclear or traditional family. More than thirty years ago, Christian leaders warned us: Satan has declared war on the family. As I have endeavored to defend the traditional family over the years, I have found this to be true, first hand.

Popular among the many chants of today’s chorus of moral equivalence is: “all variations of the family are essentially equivalent, so why does Western society agonize over the collapse of the family? What’s the big deal? After all, we know this from decades of experimentation.”

Decades, hmm? Really?

                “The bottom line is that not all family structures are equal, and not all variations are compatible with basic social and human needs,” William J. Bennett, eminent author and champion of moral values reminds us. This he concludes after a profound study of the history of the nuclear family—not of mere decades or scarcely a generation—but of millennia, about three thousand years. Which study is more credible—the one based on whims of instant gratification, or the one with a foundation of time-tested human experience?

“Why? What is the big deal?”

                In their mad scramble for self-fulfillment, comfort, and convenience, adults overlook the greatest victims of their selfishness: children.

                Which family structure best meets the needs of children? “We desperately need to reestablish marriage as an exclusive arrangement between a man and a woman,” Bennett continues. “Marriage, monogamous and freely chosen, must be the institution through which children are conceived and born, loved and disciplined, nurtured and raised. And marital permanence must once again become the ideal to which individuals commit themselves and which they strive to maintain.”

Truths restored from ancient history remain unchanged.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.[1]

           Someone wisely said we study history to “know who we are.” As Paul told the Romans, “we are children of God.” Knowing that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His Son to rescue us from the misery of sin, we can safely conclude that God approves of the family unit, and that “happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[2]

The nuclear family is not the result of mere happenstance. “Shaped as we are by long human experience, we must be all the more careful not to lose what has required so much time and so much effort to accomplish. The modern nuclear family is a rare construct; we tamper with its essentials at our peril. As the long record of human experimentation attests, civilizations, even great civilizations, are more fragile and perishable than we think.” (Bennett, The Broken Hearth, 67, 70)

To forever families,

Christine Davidson

Teach your family the Key to Survival in a Difficult World

 

Parenting Values: Teaching Kindness

Dinner Topics for Thursday

 Teaching Kindness: Parenting Value: Kindness Part 1

Richard and Linda Eyre

Kindness & Friendliness

family4Becoming more extra-centered and less self-centered. Learning to feel with and for others. Empathy, tolerance, brotherhood. Sensitivity to needs in people and situations.

 

Sample Method for Preschool Age: The “Magic” Words

Intrigue small children with the notion of using polite words. Tell the children any story that involves magic words — abracadabra, Rumpelstiltskin — or any story you want to make up. Then ask them if there is such a thing as real magic words — words that make good things happen when they are used.

The answer is yes. “Please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “you’re welcome” make people smile, make them feel better, make the world work better.

Explain this notion several times and prepare your children for the simple correction or reminder, “Remember to use the magic words.”

 

Sample Method of Elementary Age: The “Catch an Eye” Contest

This gives children practice in the friendly art of direct eye contact. When you are going somewhere with one or more children, particularly to a public place, have a contest to see who can “catch the most eyes.” To count someone, you must look at them until they glance back, then smile as you catch their eye. Count the ones that smile back and count separately the ones that don’t. The “smile-backers” are worth two points, the “glance but don’t smile” people are worth one point.

_____________________

We were at a shopping mall with three of our children (ages nine, eleven, and twelve) one day when we held our first “catch an eye” contest. The game got quite competitive, and each of the children ended up with a score or over one hundred.

Afterward, as we were driving home, Saydi observed, “It’s amazing how many people just look away the minute you catch their eye.”

Jonah added, “Yes, and they’re not near as fun as the ones who look back at you and smile. I think those are the happy ones.”
— Richard

_____________________

Sample Method for Adolescents: Name Remembering.

It’s a good idea to help adolescents learn to remember the names of people they meet. Discuss with children the importance of people’s names. (The most important word to anyone is his own name!) Point out that remembering names is a great key in the art of making friends. Teach children to remember a name. One is to use the name several times in the conversation you have when you meet a person. Say, “Nice to meet you, Joyce. Where do you live, Joyce? Joyce, do you have a brother who works at Miller’s?” Another is to write the name down (on your planner, appointment book, notebook, etc.) as soon as possible after you meet. At the end of the day glance at the name again, associate it with the face, and it will be yours forever (or at least for some time).

Imparting Biblical Values to Young Adults—Made Easy! Click Here

 

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Teaching Children about Easter with Object Lessons for Kids

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Teaching Children about Easter with object lessons for Kids

Teach with an Easter Bag

Object lessons are the best, and this one is a great family home evening for the Monday before Easter. Start with the song “He Sent His Son.” Put the following items in a bag: (1) three coins, (2) small cup, (3) knotted string, (4) soap, (5) small piece of red fabric, (6) small toothpick cross, (7) white cloth, (8) cinnamon stick or other spice, (9) small stone, (10) folded white cloth, (11) picture of Jesus. As you read the scriptures below, have your kids take the matching items out of your Easter bag. It’s a different way to talk about the Resurrection, and it provides yet another opportunity to share your feelings of gratitude and gladness for a Savior.

  1. Matthew 26:14–15
  2. Matthew 26:36, 39
  3. Matthew 27:1–2
  4. Matthew 27:22, 24
  5. Matthew 27:28–29
  6. Matthew 27:31
  7. Matthew 27:59
  8. John 19:40
  9. John 20:1–4
  10. John 20:5–7
  11. John 20:10–20

 

Remember when “Spring Break” was called “Easter Vacation?”

Read Birthright covenant trilogy, help restore Judeo-Christian cultural values