Judeo-Christian Culture: Parenting Tips for Faith in Action, Parents Teaching at Home

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Parenting Tips for Faith in Action, Parents Teaching at Home

Laying the Foundation of a Great Work

By Steven R. Bangerter

(Parents teaching at home)

Lessons taught through the traditions we establish in our homes, though small and simple, are increasingly important in today’s world.

As parents in Zion, we have a sacred duty to awaken within our children passion and commitment to the joy, light, and truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While raising our children, we establish traditions within our home and we build patterns of communication and behavior within our family relationships. In doing so, the traditions we establish should ingrain strong, unwavering characteristics of goodness in our children that will infuse them with strength to confront the challenges of life.

This year our grandchildren wrote the topic of their message on stones and then, one by one, buried them next to one another, representing a sure foundation upon which a happy life is established. Woven among all six of their messages was the immutable, eternal truth that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of that foundation.

In the words of Isaiah, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.”1 Jesus Christ is that precious cornerstone in the foundation of Zion. It was He who revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”2

Lessons taught through the traditions we establish in our homes, though small and simple, are increasingly important in today’s world. What are the small and simple things that, when established, will perform a great work in the lives of our children?

Russell M. Nelson poignantly reminded parents of the sacred responsibility we have to teach our children. By these efforts, our beloved prophet urges us to make our homes “sanctuaries of faith.”4

Consistent, wholesome family traditions that include prayer, scripture reading, family home evening, and attendance at Church meetings, though seemingly small and simple, create a culture of love, respect, unity, and security. In the spirit that accompanies these efforts, our children become protected from the fiery darts of the adversary so embedded in the worldly culture of our day.

We are reminded of the wise counsel of Helaman to his sons: “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”7

Years ago, while I was serving as a young bishop, an older gentleman asked to meet with me. He described his departure from the Church and the righteous traditions of his parents when he was in his youth. He described in detail the heartache he experienced during his life while vainly seeking lasting joy amidst the momentary happiness the world has to offer. Now, in his later years of life, he experienced the tender, sometimes nagging whispering sensations of the Spirit of God guiding him back to the lessons, practices, feelings, and spiritual safety of his youth. He expressed gratitude for the traditions of his parents, and in modern-day words, he echoed the proclamation of Enos: “Blessed be the name of my God for it.”

In those moments, we witness the wisdom of the writer of the proverb, who exhorts parents, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”8

Every parent faces moments of frustration and varying levels of determination and strength while raising children. However, when parents exercise faith by teaching children candidly, lovingly and doing all they can to help them along the way, they receive greater hope that the seeds being sown will take root within the hearts and minds of their children.

Moses well understood the fundamental need for constant teaching. He counseled,

“And thou shalt teach [these words] 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.”9~Deuteronomy 6:7

We kneel beside our children during family prayer, we care for them through our efforts to hold meaningful family scripture reading, we patiently, lovingly care for them as together we participate in family home evening, and we anguish for them on our knees in the midst of our private prayers to heaven. Oh, how we yearn for the seeds we are sowing to take root within the hearts and minds of our children.

I believe that it is less a question of whether our children are “getting it” in the midst of our teaching, such as while striving to read the scriptures or to have family home evening or to attend Mutual and other Church meetings. It is less a question of whether in those moments they are understanding the importance of those activities and more a question of whether we, as parents, are exercising faith enough to follow the Lord’s counsel to diligently live, teach, exhort, and set forth expectations that are inspired by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an effort driven by our faith—our belief that one day the seeds sown in their youth will take root and begin to sprout and grow.

The things we talk of, the things we preach and teach determine the things that will happen among us. As we establish wholesome traditions that teach the doctrine of Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness of the truthfulness of our message and nourishes the seeds of the gospel that are planted deep in the hearts of our children by our efforts all along the way.

Related

The Language of the Gospel

Advertisements

Character Education: Rudyard Kipling and “If”

Dinner Topics for Friday

kipling-if6Character Education—

If—

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

kipling-if2If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

kipling-if1If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

kipling-if3 And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

 

kipling-if4

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,  

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

kipling-if5If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Character Education: Moral Compass, Holy Spirit, and Good vs. Evil

Character Education:

Moral Compass, Holy Spirit, and Good vs. Evil

Beware of the Evil behind the Smiling Eyes

Neil L. Andersen

 

keyAs we increase our understanding and love for the Savior, His light will illuminate everything around us. We will then see evil for what it is. ~Neil L. Andersen

I’d like to tell you of an experience of a faithful Latter-day Saint who is a good friend of mine. I’ll refer to him only as “my friend” for reasons you will understand.

fbiWorking as a special agent for the FBI, my friend investigated organized crime groups transporting illegal drugs into the United States.

On one occasion, he and another agent approached an apartment where they believed a known drug dealer was distributing cocaine. My friend describes what happened:

“We knocked on the door of the drug dealer. The suspect opened the door, and upon seeing us, tried to block our view. But it was too late; we could see the cocaine on his table.

“A man and a woman who were at the table immediately began removing the cocaine. We had to prevent them from destroying the evidence, so I quickly pushed the drug suspect who was blocking the door to the side. As I pushed him, my eyes met his. Strangely, he did not appear angry or afraid. He was smiling at me.

drug-dealer-smiling-eyes“His eyes and disarming smile gave me the impression that he was harmless, so I quickly left him and started to move toward the table. The suspect was now behind me. At that instant, I had the distinct, powerful impression come into my mind: ‘Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.’

criminal-gun-smiling-eyes“I immediately turned back toward the suspect. His hand was in his large front pocket. Instinctively I grabbed his hand and pulled it from his pocket. Only then did I see, clutched in his hand, the semiautomatic pistol ready to fire. A flurry of activity followed, and I disarmed the man.”2

Later, in another case, the drug dealer was convicted of murder and boasted that he would have also killed my friend had he not turned around at that very moment.

I have often thought of the communication that came into his mind: “Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.” This is what I want to talk to you about tonight.

christ-good-vs-evilLet’s begin with what we know. Good comes from God; evil comes from the devil.3 They are not, however, equal forces that are fighting each other in the universe. At the head of all that is good is the Christ—He who is the Only Begotten of the Father, who created our world and numerous others. Our Redeemer is a resurrected and perfect being.4 I know He lives.

The devil, on the other hand, “persuadeth men to do evil.”5 “He [has] fallen from heaven, … [has] become miserable forever,”6 and now works “that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”7 He is a liar and a loser.8

The power of the Savior and the power of the devil are not truly comparable.9 On this planet, however, evil has been allowed a position of influence to give us the chance to choose between good and evil. The scripture says: “God gave unto man that he should act for himself. [And] man could not act for himself … [unless] he was enticed by … one or the other.”10

The choice between good and evil is at the very heart of our experience on earth.

Sailor w-Jesus by Warner Sallman

Sailor w-Jesus by Warner Sallman

The choice between good and evil is at the very heart of our experience on earth. In the final review of our lives, it will not really matter if we were rich or poor, if we were athletic or not, if we had friends or were often forgotten.

We can work, study, laugh and have fun, dance, sing, and enjoy many different experiences. These are a wonderful part of life, but they are not central to why we are here.11 The opportunity to choose good over evil is precisely why we are here.12

Not one of us would say, “I want to choose evil.” We all want to choose the right. However, the choice of good over evil is not always easy, because evil frequently lurks behind smiling eyes. Listen to these warnings:

“Take heed … that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God.”13

“Ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you.”14

“Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.”15

The message is: Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes!

I have known a few young men who began with every intention to stay firm in their loyalty to the Savior but who slipped from the path because they did not see the evil behind eyes that appeared quite harmless. They saw the fun, the pleasure, the acceptance, but they did not see the other consequences.

How, then, can we discern the evil behind something that doesn’t appear evil?

You already know the answers, but here are a few thoughts:

parentsFirst, talk to your parents. Does that sound like a revolutionary idea? We fathers know we are far from perfect, but we love you, and along with your mothers, have a deep interest in your choosing the right.

Next, follow the prophet. These 15 men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators are given divine power to see what we sometimes do not see. President Hinckley has given us clear and specific counsel about the evil behind the smiling eyes.16 And you have the inspired guidance in the booklet For the Strength of Youth.17 As you apply President Hinckley’s counsel, the Lord has promised that He “will disperse the powers of darkness from before you.”18 You will see the evil behind the smiling eyes, and its appeal will leave you.

Let the Holy Spirit be Your Guide

forgiveness4doveVery importantly, let the Holy Ghost be your guide. The Lord has promised us that as we live righteously, the still, small voice will come into our mind and into our heart.19 You have felt this influence. You know this voice.20

The gift of the Holy Ghost is a spiritual gift. It is sensitive and will not be associated with unworthiness. You cannot offend or ignore it one day and expect it to strengthen you the next day. But as you heed its promptings and remain righteous, it will grow stronger within you. The Holy Ghost warned my friend of physical danger; the Holy Ghost will also warn you of spiritual danger.

Finally, gain your own testimony of the Savior. Pray passionately. Read the Book of Mormon when no one is watching. Take time alone to think about who Jesus really is and how His life and sacrifice are important to you.

As we increase our understanding and love for the Savior, His light will illuminate everything around us. We then will see evil for what it is.22

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Words cannot describe His greatness and glory, His majesty and magnificence. As we remain worthy, we will be blessed to see the evil behind the smiling eyes.

Christian Character, Children’s Literature, and McGuffey Readers

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

William McGuffey’s Great Educational Legacy

mcguffeyreaderParents and Homeschoolers: These wonderful books not only teach children to read, but provide classic character education as well.

key“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”[ “From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.” ~William McGuffey

From Wikipedia

William Holmes McGuffey (September 23, 1800 – May 4, 1873) was an American professor and college president who is best known for writing the McGuffey Readers, one of the nation’s first and most widely used series of textbooks. It is estimated that at least 122 million copies of McGuffey Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960, placing its sales in a category with the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary.

Early years

He was born the son of Alexander and Anna (Holmes) McGuffey near Claysville in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which is 45 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. In 1802 the McGuffey family moved further out into the frontier at Tuscarawas County, Ohio. He attended country school, and after receiving special instruction at Youngstown, he attended Greersburg Academy in Darlington, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, he attended and graduated from Pennsylvania’s Washington College, where he became an instructor.

He was close friends with Washington College’s President Andrew Wylie and lived in Wylie’s house for a time; they often would walk the 3 miles to Washington College together.[1]

Professional life

McGuffey left Washington College in 1826 to become a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. A year later in 1827, he was married to Harriet Spinning of Dayton, Ohio, with whom he had five children. In 1829, he was ordained at Bethel Chapel as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. It was in Oxford that he created the most important contribution of his life: The McGuffey Readers. His books sold over 122 million copies. He was very fond of teaching and children as he geared the books toward a younger audience.

In 1836, he left Miami to become president of Cincinnati College, where he also served as a distinguished teacher and lecturer. He left Cincinnati in 1839 to become the 4th president of Ohio University, which he left in 1843 to become president of Woodward College (really a secondary school) in Cincinnati.

In 1845, McGuffey moved to Charlottesville, Virginia where he became Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia. A year after his first wife Harriet died in 1850, he married Miss Laura Howard, daughter of Dean Howard of the University of Virginia, in 1851. McGuffey is buried in the university burial ground, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The School of Education at Miami University is housed in McGuffey Hall which is named for him and his home in Oxford is a National Historic Landmark offering tours on weekdays.

Legacy

McGuffey is credited with the following quotation:

McGuffey“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”[2]

The McGuffey School District in Washington County, Pennsylvania is named for William Holmes McGuffey. The industrialist Henry Ford cited McGuffey Readers as one of his most important childhood influences. In 1934 he had the log cabin where McGuffey was born moved to Greenfield Village, Ford’s museum of Americana at Dearborn, Michigan.

 More about William McGuffey in Wikipedia

 

 

Parenting Quotes: Teaching at Home

Parenting Quotes:

Teaching at Home

Teaching in the Home—a Joyful and Sacred Responsibility

By Devin G. Durrant

On-Call Teaching

Parental teaching is like being an on-call physician. We always need to be ready to teach our children because we never know when the opportunity will present itself.

We are like the Savior, whose teaching often “did not happen in a synagogue but in informal, everyday settings—while eating a meal with His disciples, drawing water from a well, or walking past a fig tree.”10

D. Todd Christofferson counsels:

Above all, we must continue to encourage and help parents be better and more consistent teachers … especially by example.”

‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World

“Take Advantage of Spontaneous Teaching Moments,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2016), 16. Teaching in the Savior’s Way includes a variety of tips and tools for teaching in the home.

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: Moral Compass Theme Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Moral Compass Theme Quotes

Moral Compass Quotes

He that thinks absolute power purifies men’s blood and corrects the baseness of human nature, need only read history to be convinced to the contrary. ~John Locke

Courage to Stand

Christ has not called us to be nice but to be good. Nice people never confront evil, but good people do. ~Bryan Fischer

“It is a time of permissiveness, with society in general routinely disregarding and breaking the laws of God.” ~Thomas S. Monson

Always and ever, there must be an exercise of discipline—moral discipline founded on faith in God the Father and the Son and what They can achieve with us through the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. ~D. Todd Christofferson

But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us. Therefore, . . . let us resist evil. ~Alma 61: 13-14

We have lost our moral compass completely, and, unless we find it, we’re going to lose our civilization. ~John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings)

Discernment and Judgement

“We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.” ~Henry B. Eyring

Remember: sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God! ~Russell M. Nelson

We live in an age of appeasement—the sacrificing of principle. Appeasement is not the answer. It is never the right answer. ~Ezra Taft Benson

Evolution has a lot of holes filled with Silly Putty, but the one gaping wound they cannot hide is the Moral Law. ~Keith Merrill

Judgmentthe spirit of wisdom . . . .enabling a person to discern [choose] between right and wrong, good and evil. ~Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828,

¶Beware of afalse prophets, which come to you in bsheep’s clothing, but cinwardly they are ravening dwolves.  Ye shall aknow them by their bfruits. ~Matthew 7:15-16

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.~  2 Nephi 28:20

Therefore my people are gone into captivity because they have no knowledge.

~Isaiah 5:13

Integrity

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~James 1:8

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. ~Thomas S. Monson

We need to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. we need [to have] a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and [to] use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. Russell M. Nelson

“True greatness is never a result of a chance occurrence or a onetime effort or achievement. Greatness requires the development of character. It requires a multitude of correct decisions in every day choices between good and evil that Elder Boyd K Packer spoke about when he said, ‘Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.’ “Those choices will also show clearly what we are.” ~Howard W. Hunter

Society 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

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. ~Proverbs 20:7

All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. God forbid. Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. ~Job 27:3-5

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” ~Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
~Abraham Lincoln

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~John Adams

 

Truth vs. Deception

We need [men and] women who can detect deception in all of its forms. ~Russell M. Nelson

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. ~Matthew 24:24

Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes. ~Neil L. Andersen

“The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain. … If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone.” ~Thomas S. Monson

Tolerance for behavior is like a two-sided coin. Tolerance or respect is on one side of the coin, but truth is always on the other. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

Perhaps the best example [of moral relativism] is the self-esteem movement. It has had an almost wholly negative effect on a generation of Americans raised to have high self-esteem without having earned it. They then suffer from narcissism and an incapacity to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks. But self-esteem feels good. ~Dennis Prager

We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments. We know that the existence of God and the existence of absolute truth are fundamental to life on this earth, whether they are believed in or not. We also know that evil exists and that some things are simply, seriously, and everlastingly wrong. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

 

 

Parenting Tips: Teaching Peace

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

“Peace-ability”

Parenting Value: Anger Management

 

Richard and Linda Eyre

teenagerSonAndMomkey“Calmness. Peacefulness. Serenity. The tendency to try to accommodate rather than argue. The understanding that differences are seldom resolved through conflict and that meanness in others is an indication of their problem or insecurity and thus of their need for your understanding. The ability to understand how others feel rather than simply reaction to them. Control of temper.”

Sample Method for Preschoolers: The Magazine Game

This game helps small children realize that it is all right to feel mad or sad, just as it is all right to feel happy or glad, but that it is not all right to hurt other people or their feelings because of how we feel. Flip through magazines with a child, stopping every time a person is pictured and asking, “How do you think he feels?” (Happy, jealous, worried, etc. — this is also a chance to teach children new words and the names of new emotions.) Then say, “It is okay to feel this way?” (Yes) Then say, “Is it okay to be mean to someone else if you feel mad or sad?” (No!)

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Color Game

This is a good way to teach younger elementary-aged children the good consequences of peace and the bad consequences of anger and retaliation. Cut out two single figures in the human shape, one from red paper and one from pastel color. Tell the children that the red represents temper and impatience, the pastel is control and peace. Give them a situation and let them tell you what each figure might do in each of the following situations:

  • Your alarm clock doesn’t go off, so you’re going to be late for school.
  • You’re playing basketball and you get called for a foul you didn’t think you committed.
  • Your friend forgets to meet you for lunch.
  • Your little brother flips you with a rubber band.
  • Your mom says you can’t have a sleep over because there’s school tomorrow.
  • The new pen you just bought won’t work.

And so on. Think of your own, based on your own experiences.

Sample method for Adolescents: The “Analytical-of-Angry” Discussion

Help young teenagers conceptualize the benefits of trying to “understand” rather than trying to “win.” At dinner or some other natural conversation time make the statement that we have many situations in which there is a choice between two A words — arguing or analyzing. In other words, when someone does something to us or says something with which we disagree, we can either fight back and argue or we can try to analyze why he did or said it.

Point out the second choice is better because we learn something whenever we try to figure out why, and we keep our cool and keep our friends.

Journey of Faith: Purpose in Life; Quotes about Life Lessons

Dinner Topics for Monday

How do I find my way Home?  …There is a Plan.

keyThe following excerpt from Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” suggests that our home is with God in heaven. It reminded me of my own piece, entitled “The Map,” which touches on our purpose here on earth. We are here on earth with a quest: to learn how to return Home triumphant and live in heaven with our Father who loves us. ~C.A. Davidson

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

Helping_Hand_430-LargeOde: Intimations of Immortality

By William Wordsworth

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy; (lines 58–70)

More about William Wordsworth

 

MapThe Map

Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  (Luke 14:18)

You may have been on a tour of some kind, with a map at the beginning, and at points along the way, wherein a mark indicates your current position with the words, “You are Here.”

By now you are fully aware that you are here on earth.  You may not be sure how you got to this point, or why you are here.  All you may know right now is that you are here, and the most pressing question now is, where are you going from here?  You need a good map.

One definition of “map” is to “plan in detail.”  It has been said that sometimes we plan our vacations with more care than we plan our lives.  Fortunately, God planned the creation, not only of our dwelling place, but also of us, His children.  The way we turned out was not left to chance or guess work.  Furthermore, a plan is provided to help us find our way through this mortal existence to the desired goal.

The first thing we look for on the map is our destination.  Amulek, a great Christian missionary, said that this life is the time to prepare to meet God.  The object, therefore, would be that we emerge from this earthly training session with the capability of standing on holy ground when we arrive there.  During this preparation period, then, we would expect to gain experience, and be tested to see if we have developed that capability.  Just as a delicate butterfly must struggle free from a confining cocoon to develop the power to fly, and to fulfill the measure of its creation, so we must endure certain inevitable pressures.  But there is no avoiding it if we are to achieve the necessary holiness to withstand God’s presence. He allowed His Son to endure all things to pay that price which we could not pay ourselves.  What if He had cracked under pressure?

Joseph resists TEven those tests which are not wholly unexpected can be overwhelming and painful.  We can’t instantly solve life’s every riddle, nor can we anticipate every problem that will come our way.  The very uncertainty can be frightening.  However, we can prepare ahead of time for certain tests that may lie in our path.  We can decide ahead of time that we will keep ourselves pure, and that we will avoid temptations that could destroy us.  Just as Joseph fled the wiles of Potiphar’s wife, so we can steer clear of obvious moral entrapments.  If the decision is made once and for all, at the beginning, then there will be no vacillation under pressure which could cause regrettable consequences.  The faster the lesson is learned, the sooner the trial passes and peace returns.  Prior preparation can take much of the fear out of our journey.

At times our soul may yearn to escape the furnace of affliction to which we were born. But the thrust of mortality impels each to the battle front, and there is no turning back.  And in the end, buoyed up by enduring obedience, we can emerge on the surface cleansed from the evils of this generation. It is all part of the eternal plan, and therein is the miracle.

Dinner Talk Topic: Planning ahead gives focus and purpose in life. *Planning, Purpose

1. How can training prepare us for critical decisions?

2. How can daily study, prayer, and keeping the commandments help us avoid unrighteous detours in our lives?

3. How can obedience to the Ten Commandments free us from temptation?

4. What is the connection between faith and works? (James 2:20)

5. How do we set proper priorities and keep them straight?

Crisis of Meaning?

Help Youth find Meaning and Purpose in Life  Click Here

Copyright © 2010 by C.A. Davidson

Journey of Faith: Lord of the Rings, Character-Building Activities, Patience and Persistence

Journey of Faith:

Lord of the Rings, Character-Building Activities, Patience and Persistence

Dinner Topics for Monday

 

See It Through

keyLife demands your part, but with faith you can persevere.

 

taft-tunnel-bikes-lightNear the beginning of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee, friend of hero Frodo, had just returned from an evening with the elves.  Sam had promised the elves that he would never quit Frodo, even if they climbed to the moon.

Frodo explained that the mission would be dangerous, and that neither of them was likely to return.

Sam replied that he felt different.  He now had a sense of mission, a need to leave his home town and do something, though it was not yet clear what that something was.  He only knew he could not turn back.  “I must see it through, sir,” he said.

Sometimes it is a blessing not to know exactly what lies ahead.  If we had fully known the challenges, trials, and tribulations of marriage and child-rearing, we might never have married or had children, and would have missed out on ineffable blessings.  Such is the walk of faith we are called upon to make— a journey through uncharted territory.  But without venturing, we cannot progress.

“Dispute not because ye see not,” said an ancient Israelite, “for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

light-endoftunnelHarold B. Lee said, “You must learn to walk a few steps into the darkness, and then the light will turn on and go before you.”

Our Father in Heaven has a mission for each one of us.  If we allow our fears to turn us back, we can lose our purpose.  If we fail to see it through, our mission can be taken from us and given to another more valiant.  As we continue to walk in faith, to the edge of the light, He reveals each day our purpose more clearly, line upon line, and precept upon precept.

As you continue faithfully to see it through, there will come a time when it is easier to keep going than to quit.  You will look back and see the reason for those trials, and how they have strengthened you.  And you will see that, if you stayed faithful, the light of Christ was always there for you, and the Spirit of the Lord never failed you.

knightladyKnights and Ladies at the Round Table

 

Dinner Topic: Perseverance, Teaching Follow Through, Responsibility, Patience, Dedication

1.  How can study, prayer, and keeping the commandments help you discover your purpose in life?

2.  How can the above steps help you prepare for the inevitable trials of life?

3.  How can assurance that what you are doing is right give you strength to persevere in the tough times?

4. What does it mean to “endure to the end”?