YouTube Music: O Divine Redeemer by Gounod

Dinner Topics for Friday

YouTube Music:

O Divine Redeemer

by Gounod

keyoldI know that my redeemer liveth.  ~Job 19:25

 

Words and Music by Charles Gounod

Ah, turn me not away, receive me though unworthy.
Ah, turn me not away, receive me though unworthy.
Hear Thou my cry, hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!

Answer me from Thy throne,
Haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid!
Thy pity show in my deep anguish, Thy pity show in my deep anguish.
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous Thine anger, O Lord!

Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call!

O divine Redeemer, O divine Redeemer!
I pray thee grant me pardon, And remember not
Remember not my sins!
Forgive me!

O divine Redeemer! I pray Thee, grant me pardon
And remember not, remember not, O Lord, my sins!

Night gathers round my soul
Fearful, I cry to Thee,
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!

Hear my cry, hear my cry
Save me, Lord in Thy mercy;
Hear my cry, hear my cry!
Come and save me, O Lord!

O divine Redeemer!  O divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not
Remember not, O Lord, my sins!

Save in the day of retribution
From death shield Thou me, O my God!
O divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me Savior!

GounodCharles

Charles-François Gounod (French:  fʁɑ̃swa ɡuno]; 17 June 1818 – 17 October[1][2] or 18 October[3][4] 1893) was a French composer, most well known for his Ave Maria (based on a work by Bach) as well as his opera Faust. Another opera by Gounod is Roméo et Juliette.

Gounod was born in Paris, the son of a pianist mother and an artist father. His mother was his first piano teacher. Under her tutelage, Gounod first showed his musical talents. He entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under Fromental Halévy and Pierre Zimmermann (he later married Zimmermann’s daughter). In 1839, he won the Prix de Rome for his cantata Fernand. He was following his father; François-Louis Gounod (d. 1823) had won the second Prix de Rome in painting in 1783.[4] During his stay of four years in Italy, Gounod studied the music of Palestrina and other sacred works of the sixteenth century; these he never ceased to cherish. Around 1846-47 he gave serious consideration to joining the priesthood, but he changed his mind before actually taking holy orders, and went back to composition.[5] During that period, he was attached to the Church of Foreign Missions in Paris.

In 1854, Gounod completed a Messe Solennelle, also known as the Saint Cecilia Mass. This work was first performed in its entirety in the church of St Eustache in Paris on Saint Cecilia’s Day, 22 November 1855; from this rendition dates Gounod’s fame as a noteworthy composer.

During 1855 Gounod wrote two symphonies. His Symphony No. 1 in D major was the inspiration for the Symphony in C, composed later that year by Georges Bizet, who was then Gounod’s 17-year-old student. In the CD era a few recordings of these pieces have emerged: by Michel Plasson conducting the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, and by Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of Felix Mendelssohn, introduced the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach to Gounod, who came to revere Bach. For him, The Well-Tempered Clavier was “the law to pianoforte study…the unquestioned textbook of musical composition”. It inspired Gounod to devise an improvisation of a melody over the C major Prelude (BWV 846) from the collection’s first book. To this melody, in 1859 (after the deaths of both Mendelssohn siblings), Gounod fitted the words of the Ave Maria, resulting in a setting that became world-famous.[6]

Gounod wrote his first opera, Sapho, in 1851, at the urging of a friend of his, the singer Pauline Viardot; it was a commercial failure. He had no great theatrical success until Faust (1859), derived from Goethe. This remains the composition for which he is best known; and although it took some time to achieve popularity, it became one of the most frequently staged operas of all time, with no fewer than 2,000 performances of the work having taken place by 1975 at the Paris Opéra alone.[7] The romantic and melodious Roméo et Juliette (based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet), premiered in 1867, is revived now and then but has never come close to matching Faust‘s popular following. Mireille, first performed in 1864, has been admired by connoisseurs rather than by the general public. The other Gounod operas have fallen into oblivion.

From 1870 to 1874 Gounod lived in England. In 17 Morden Road, Blackheath. A blue plaque has been put up on the house to show where he lived.[8] He became the first conductor of what is now the Royal Choral Society. Much of his music from this time is vocal. He became entangled with the amateur English singer Georgina Weldon,[9] a relationship (platonic, it seems) which ended in great acrimony and embittered litigation.[10] Gounod had lodged with Weldon and her husband in London’s Tavistock House.

Later in his life, Gounod returned to his early religious impulses, writing much sacred music. His Pontifical Anthem (Marche Pontificale, 1869) eventually (1949) became the official national anthem of Vatican City. He expressed a desire to compose his Messe à la mémoire de Jeanne d’Arc (1887) while kneeling on the stone on which Joan of Arc knelt at the coronation of Charles VII of France.[4] A devout Catholic, he had on his piano a music-rack in which was carved an image of the face of Jesus.

He was made a Grand Officer of the Légion d’honneur in July 1888.[4] In 1893, shortly after he had put the finishing touches to a requiem written for his grandson, he died of a stroke in Saint-Cloud, France.

More about Gounod at Wikipedia

 

Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Christian Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 2

Culture Wars and Critical Thinking Skills:

Contrasting Biblical Christian Worldview with Secular Humanism

Part 2

Who will we worship?

The winner of the present battle of worldviews in America will have great impact upon everyone in our nation. If the forces of humanism prevail, the fruit will be loss of liberty, increased crime, more broken homes, and less prosperity. Christianity has been the life-blood of America. If the Christian worldview prevails, it will once again nourish every aspect of the life of this nation producing freedom, justice, prosperity, and life for all. ~Dr. Stephen McDowell

Dr. Stephen McDowell

PART 2 OF 2.

June 2017 – Understanding the two views of law and government presented in (Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 1) reveals why leftists are more outspoken than conservatives about loss of power. Leftists will be more radical and even militant in their opposition to conservatives governing than conservatives would be in the opposite position, because to leftists, government is their “church” and is a primary place where they can execute their god’s (that is, man’s) vision for life. To them, government is the place to advance man’s kingdom in the earth. Government is their highest source of authority, their highest place to appeal. They have no higher power or savior to trust in – no belief in a sovereign God who works in the hearts of men and events in history.

Conservatives only want to get control of government to slow it down, to keep government from trampling upon the unalienable rights of man. Christian conservatives have God as the highest source of power to which they can appeal. They have a savior Jesus Christ who brings positive transformation by changing the hearts of man.

Two warring worldviews


While the worldviews of those people reflected (See red/blue map from Part 1.) vary greatly, the general ideologies can be reduced to two positions: Christian versus humanistic.

In short, a biblical Christian worldview has been the source of liberty in history, while a humanistic, man-centered worldview has promoted tyranny. The founders of America believed, in the words of Thomas Jefferson’s pastor, Charles Clay: “[T]he sacred cause of liberty [is] the cause of God.”1 Those who oppose God and freedom of worship, oppose true liberty.2

On one side of the war is a humanistic worldview. With this religion (and all worldviews are religious), there are no absolutes. Right and wrong are based upon what a majority says or what a minority in power says; hence, law is evolving. Law is whatever the people or courts or legislators say it is.

Humanism taught in Colleges, then High Schools at turn of 20th Century

This view began to be taught in various law schools and colleges around the turn of the 20th century, with state secondary schools following in succeeding decades. Over time, this evolutionary view of law began to impact the courts’ actions. Judges began to see our law as evolving. In the words of Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941: “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.”3

Most people are not aware of how much a humanistic worldview permeates our society. It is predominant in the marketplace of ideas – in movies, newspapers, television, public schools, civil government, and most books, including dictionaries.

Comparing Definitions of Immoral

Christian Definition

As an example let’s compare the definition of immoral from a modern dictionary and from America’s first exhaustive dictionary produced by Noah Webster in the early 19th century and first published in 1828. Webster, as most of our founders, had a Christian worldview, which is reflected in his definitions. Under his definition of immoral, he writes: “Every action is immoral which contravenes any divine precept.” To him, divine precept is the standard to judge immorality.

Humanistic Definition

The “Happy Human” is an icon that has been adopted as an international symbol of secular humanism.

The modern Webster’s New World Dictionary defines immoral as “not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behavior.” Immorality today is usually presented in this light where man determines right and wrong conduct. He is his own god.

Christian Worldview has Absolutes, Right and Wrong

In great contrast is the Christian worldview, where there are absolutes, right and wrong. Since God is the source of what is right and wrong, He is the source of law. To those with a Christian worldview, God reveals His truth in the Bible.

Some would ask, “What difference does it make if we have a Christian or humanistic foundation just as long as I have my freedoms?” We must understand that ideas have consequences.

The fruit we get is determined by the seeds we plant. It is important that we understand the seed principles upon which America was built. If we change seeds, we will get different results. The external state of nations today, as in all of history, has been determined by the foundational principles of the nations. Since these foundational principles are primarily rooted in the religion of the people, we should ask, “In what religion was America’s foundation rooted?”

One reasonable resolution


If you base your answer on what is taught in government schools, you would think we are a product of the secular European Enlightenment. But if you were to examine the laws, the schools, the writings, and the lives of early Americans, you would conclude, as did the U.S. House of Representatives in 1854, that “the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”4

This same view was summarized by President Andrew Jackson when he said on June 8, 1845, “[the Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” Early Americans would almost universally agree that the religious, social, educational, and political life of America was primarily shaped by the Bible.5

George Washington: no freedom without God and bible

Our states were colonized by people who desired to freely worship the God of the Bible; our schools were begun so that everyone would be able to read and understand the Bible for themselves; our universities were founded to train ministers who were knowledgeable of the Scriptures; our laws and constitutions were written based on biblical ideas; and our Founding Fathers overwhelmingly had a biblical worldview.6

The winner of the present battle of worldviews in America will have great impact upon everyone in our nation. If the forces of humanism prevail, the fruit will be loss of liberty, increased crime, more broken homes, and less prosperity.

The leftists rage because they have a wrong worldview. We must not only oppose them in the political arena, but we must also teach and demonstrate the principles and ideas that made America exceptional.

Christianity has been the life-blood of America. If the Christian worldview prevails, it will once again nourish every aspect of the life of this nation producing freedom, justice, prosperity, and life for all.  

See Part 1

Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 1

1 Quoted in Stephen McDowell, The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty, Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 2016, p. 181. See Chapter 12 for more on “Liberty.”
2 For historic support of this, see Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty, A Religious History of the American Revolution.
3 Charles Evans Hughes, speech at Elmira on May 3, 1907, The Autobiographical Notes of Charles Evans Hughes, David J. Danelski and Joseph S. Tulchin, editors, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973, p. 144.
4 B.F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864, p. 328.
5 Stephen McDowell, The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty, p. 15. See Chapter One for more on the influence of the Bible in the history of America.
6 See various books published by the Providence Foundation that document the Christian foundation of America, including America a Christian Nation, America’s Providential History, and The Bible: America’s Source of Law and Liberty.

____________________
Dr. Stephen McDowell is president of Providence Foundation and a prolific author who focuses on the Christian roots of the U.S. Find his resources at afastore.net or call 877-927-4917 (toll free). Find more at providencefoundation.com or 434-978-4535.

 

 

Gospel Teachings: Overcoming the World

Gospel Teachings:

Overcoming the World

By Neil L. Andersen

Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity.

Many years ago,  David O. McKay told of a beautiful experience he had while sailing on a boat toward Samoa. After falling asleep, he “beheld in vision something infinitely sublime. In the distance,” he said, “I beheld a beautiful white city. … Trees with luscious fruit … and flowers in perfect bloom abounded everywhere. … A great concourse of people [was] approaching the city. Each one wore a white flowing robe. … Instantly my attention … centered upon their leader, and though I could see only the profile of his features … , I recognized him at once as my Savior! The … radiance of his countenance [was] glorious. … [The] peace about him … was divine!”

President McKay continues, “The city … was his … the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness.”

President McKay wondered, “Who [are] they? [Who are these people?]”

He explains what happened next:

“As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to [words in] a semicircle that … appeared above [the people], … written in gold … :

“‘These Are They Who Have Overcome the World—

“Who Have Truly Been Born Again!’”1

For decades, I have remembered the words: “These are they who have overcome the world.”

The blessings that the Lord has promised to those who overcome the world are breathtaking. They will be “clothed in white … and [named in] the book of life.” The Lord “will confess [their names] before [the] Father, and before his angels.”2 Each shall have “part in the first resurrection,”3 receive eternal life,4 and “go no more out”5 from the presence of God.

Is it possible to overcome the world and receive these blessings? Yes, it is.

Love for the Savior

Those who overcome the world develop an all-encompassing love for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

His divine birth, His perfect life, His infinite Atonement at Gethsemane and Golgotha assured the Resurrection of each of us. And with our sincere repentance, He alone is able to cleanse us from our sins, allowing us to return to the presence of God. “We love him, because he first loved us.”6

Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”7

Later He added, “I will that ye should overcome the world.”8

Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity.

It can begin as a child learns to pray and reverently sings, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.”9 It continues as a person studies the life of the Savior in the New Testament and ponders the power of the Savior’s Atonement in the Book of Mormon.

Praying, repenting, following the Savior, and receiving His grace lead us to better understand why we are here and who we are to become.

Alma described it this way: “A mighty change [is] wrought in their hearts, and they [humble] themselves and put their trust in the true and living God … [remaining] faithful until the end.”10

Those overcoming the world know that they will be accountable to their Heavenly Father. Sincerely changing and repenting of sins is no longer restraining but liberating, as “sins [of] scarlet … [become] white as snow.”11

Accountability to God

Those of the world have difficulty with accountability to God—like a child who parties in his parents’ home while they are out of town, enjoying the ruckus, refusing to think about the consequences when the parents return 24 hours later. 

The world is more interested in indulging the natural man than in subduing him.

Overcoming the world is not a global invasion but a private, personal battle, requiring hand-to-hand combat with our own internal foes.

Overcoming the world means treasuring the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”12

The Christian writer C. S. Lewis described it this way: “Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.’”13

Overcoming the world is keeping our promises to God—our baptismal and temple covenants and our oath of faithfulness to our eternal companion. Overcoming the world leads us humbly to the sacrament table each week, asking for forgiveness and pledging to “remember him and keep his commandments,” that we “may always have his Spirit to be with [us].”14

Honor the Sabbath

Our love for the Sabbath day does not end when the chapel doors close behind us but instead opens the doors to a beautiful day of resting from routine tasks, studying, praying, and reaching out to family and others who need our attention. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief when church is over and frantically running in search of a television before the football game begins, let our focus remain on the Savior and upon His holy day.

The world is incessantly pulled by a flood of enticing and seductive voices.15

Overcoming the world is trusting in the one voice that warns, comforts, enlightens, and brings peace “not as the world giveth.”16

Unselfishness

Overcoming the world means turning ourselves outward, remembering the second commandment17: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”18 The happiness of our spouse is more important than our own pleasure. Helping our children to love God and keep His commandments is a primary priority. We willingly share our material blessings through tithing, fast offerings, and giving to those in need. And as our spiritual antennas are pointed heavenward, the Lord guides us to those we can help.

The world builds its universe around itself, proudly proclaiming: “Look at me compared to my neighbor! Look at what is mine! See how important I am!”

The world is easily irritated, disinterested, and demanding, loving the cheers of the crowd, while overcoming the world brings humility, empathy, patience, and compassion for those different than yourself.

Safety in the Prophets

Overcoming the world will always mean that we will have some beliefs that are ridiculed by the world. The Savior said:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own.”19

Russell M. Nelson said this morning, “True disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world.”20

A disciple of Christ is not alarmed if a post about her faith does not receive 1,000 likes or even a few friendly emojis.

Overcoming the world is being less concerned with our online connections and more concerned with our heavenly connection to God.

The Lord gives us safety as we heed the guidance from His living prophets and apostles.

President Thomas S. Monson has said: “The world can be … challenging. … [As we go to the temple], … we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. … We will be renewed and fortified.”21

With increasing temptations, distractions, and distortions, the world attempts to beguile the faithful into dismissing the rich spiritual experiences of one’s past, redefining them as foolish deceptions.

Overcoming the world is remembering, even when we are discouraged, the times we have felt the love and light of the Savior. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained one of these experiences this way: “I had been blessed, and I knew that God knew that I knew I had been blessed.”22 Although we may temporarily feel forgotten, we do not forget.

Overcoming the world does not mean we live a cloistered life, protected from the unfairness and difficulties of mortality. Rather, it opens the more expansive view of faith, drawing us to the Savior and His promises.

While perfection is not complete in this life, overcoming the world keeps our hope aflame that one day we “shall stand before [our Redeemer]; [and] see his face with pleasure,”23 and hear His voice: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”24

Bruce D. Porter Bruce was born with a kidney defect. He had surgery, but over time his kidneys continued to decline. He knew … that Heavenly Father would take him home. He was filled with peace.”27 Years ago, Bruce wrote these words to his children:

Jesus is Our Compass

“The testimony I have of the reality and love of Jesus Christ has been the compass of my life. … It [is] a pure, burning witness of the Spirit that he lives, that he is my Redeemer and Friend in every time of need.”28

“Our challenge … is to come to know [the Savior] … and, through faith in him, to overcome the trials and temptations of this world.”29

“Let us be faithful and true, trusting in him.”30

Bruce Douglas Porter overcame the world.

May we each try a little harder in our efforts to overcome the world, not excusing serious offenses yet being patient with minor slips and falls, eagerly hastening our speed and generously helping others. As you trust more fully in the Savior, I promise you blessings of greater peace in this life and a greater assurance of your eternal destiny

 

Critical Thinking Skills, Bible Study, and Guarding against Self-Deception

Critical Thinking Skills, Bible Study, and Guarding against Self-Deception

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog … if you feel like you are.
In a new series from Wretched TV and Radio, the Christian media ministry visited campuses in the nation’s Bible Belt. Untethered documents the delusional thinking of many college students, some of whom say they are Christians.

The following exchange between Todd Friel, host of Wretched’s popular YouTube channel, is typical of students’ beliefs.

Friel: When I die, I am going to go to Graceland and spend eternity with Elvis Presley eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, if I sing “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog” three times before I die. Am I wrong?

Student: No, it’s certainly a little weird, but …

Friel: Ok, I’m wrong?

Student: No. You’re not wrong.

Friel: I’m not wrong?

Student: What’s wrong or right? There is no wrong or right. That’s what I’m saying.

Friel: So, I’m going to go to Graceland for eternity.

Student: If you feel like you are.

Watch Untethered at youtube.com. Use the search words “wretched untethered.”

Do not be deceived

Ed Vitagliano

AFA Vice President

April 2017 – Well-known celebrities embracing homosexuality. Young people rejecting absolute truth. Widespread biblical illiteracy. And that’s just what’s happening in the church.

For example, one study of the beliefs of members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) found that just 39% agreed that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Even worse, the percentage for pastors was still lower (35%).

It should come as no surprise to Christians living in America that there is a war against the Bible and its truth. Satan has always started his work of deception by asking, “Has God said?” (Genesis 3:1).

America is not the sole location for this battle, of course. It is universal. It is also not limited to 2017 – it is timeless and will only end when the Lord completes His triumph over evil.

Within the church, the fight against deception is both a corporate and an individual battle. The corporate war against error depends on church leadership holding fast to the truth and teaching sound doctrine. Leaders must also continually guard the flock against wolves in sheep’s clothing.

beware of false prophets

However, there is a war for the individual Christian to fight, too. The Bible places a lot of emphasis here, with consistent exhortations like, “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matthew 24:4); “Let no one deceive you” (Ephesians 5:6); and “Do not be deceived” (Galatians 6:7, 1 Corinthians 6:9, James 1:16).

At first glance, it might seem rather strange for Scripture to command us not to be deceived. After all, we tend to think that deception happens because someone tricked us. If someone fooled us, it’s not our fault, right?

Well, God certainly faults deceivers for teaching error. Those who are false prophets and false teachers are condemned in the Bible in absolutely frightening terms. As an example of this kind of language, read the Book of Jude.

But there is no escaping the nature of warnings to individual Christians that they not let themselves fall prey to deceivers. For example, in Matthew 24:4, Jesus said to us, you see to it that you’re not misled.

The reason for such exhortations is simple: The susceptibility to being deceived comes from our approach to God’s truth. The Lord expects us to pursue truth – and holds us accountable for doing so. The following are three passages that bear this out.

 

John 3:19-21 (King James Version)

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Here Jesus makes it clear that, when it comes to God’s truth, there are only two directions: toward it or away from it. There are plenty of contrasts used in these few verses: light versus darkness; evil versus righteousness (implied); and truth versus error (implied).

Clearly, Jesus is the light spoken of here, and light is frequently used as a metaphor for God and His truth. From human experience, we know that we see better in the light, and things can only stay hidden in the darkness.

Even Christians sometimes want things to stay hidden (although nothing is really hidden from God). If we want to hide our sins from the light, we tend to avoid His word – and avoid Him. Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill made a similar observation when he said:

 “A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning.”

Again, there are only two directions; to move away from the light is to move into darkness. That is a sure path to deception.

Romans 1:21-28 (KJV)

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;


A similar sentiment is expressed by Paul in this famous passage in Romans. We see the same human stubbornness on the part of pagans, refusing to acknowledge God’s glory and refusing to honor Him. They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18) because they love their sin.

However, there is an additional danger emphasized here. Paul makes clear that the refusal to embrace the truth as God shows it to us only leads to further deception. Rejection of God’s truth sets in motion something like a death spiral into greater and greater darkness. There is no standing still. We are all pulled toward one pole or the other. This is even true for the Christian.

Thus, Paul says, thinking can become a futile exercise; foolish hearts can become darkened; people who see themselves as wise because they reject God’s truth actually become fools; and rebellious minds can become depraved (vv. 21, 22, 28). Deception comes upon those who reject light, even though they do not realize it, and it only gets darker.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (KJV)


Smack in the middle of a passage that most commentators believe applies to the time of the antichrist, Paul’s words here are yet another warning about the nature of sin, darkness, and delusion. Once again, we see the same two categories of people.

First, there are those who receive the truth and “believe the truth.” These are people who have a “love of the truth” that supersedes everything else. This love for the truth enables them to be saved, and, for the continuing Christian life, we might say that their love of the truth allows for sanctification to be ongoing.

Paul identifies a second category of people, as those who “do not receive the love of the truth,” but instead “took pleasure in wickedness.” There are consequences for this, too. Sin deceives the sinner – i.e. there is a “deception of wickedness.” Continuing in this darkness leads to further deception – “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.”

Now, these three passages are probably best understood as warnings to unbelievers who reject the light of God in Christ altogether. On the other hand, as a general principle regarding both human nature and the nature of spiritual things, there is an implicit warning to Christians as well. It is important how we respond to the light of God’s word. It makes all the difference in the world whether we love the truth in order to be sanctified or prefer to love our sin.

 Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

When Scripture says, “See to it that no one misleads you,” “Let no one deceive you,” and “Do not be deceived,” it is a warning against embracing darkness. Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

On the other hand, there is also a wonderful promise.

For those who love Christ above all other things, we really can walk in the light, as He is in the light, “and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Character Education Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Character Education Quotes

“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

It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny. ~Thomas S. Monson

Even if “everyone is doing it,” wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular. In fact, 50 million people can be wrong—totally wrong. Immorality is still immorality in the eyes of God. ~Russell M. Nelson

Spencer W. Kimball : Love people, not things; use things, not people.

Stress Management, Classical Music, and Edvard Grieg

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyold

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men. ~Ether 12:4

YouTube Music: Peer Gynt Suites 1 and 2

Piano Concerto in A minor

From Wikipedia

220px-Eilif_Peterssen-Edvard_Grieg_1891Edvard Hagerup Grieg  (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His Norwegian folk music compositions put the Music of Norway in the international spectrum.

Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway on the 15 June 1843. His parents were Alexander Grieg (1806–1875), a merchant and vice consul in Bergen, and Gesine Judithe Hagerup (1814–1875), a music teacher and daughter of Edvard Hagerup.[1][2] The family name, originally spelled Greig, has Scottish origins. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Grieg’s great-grandfather traveled widely, settling in Norway about 1770, and establishing business interests in Bergen.

Edvard Grieg was raised in a musical area. His mother was his first piano teacher and taught him to play at the age of six. Grieg studied in several schools, including Tanks Upper School, and Tanks School.[3]

In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the eminent Norwegian violinist Ole Bull,[4] who was a family friend; Bull’s brother was married to Grieg’s aunt.[5] Bull recognized the 15-year-old boy’s talent and persuaded his parents to send him to the Leipzig Conservatory,[4] then directed by Ignaz Moscheles.[citation needed]

Grieg enrolled in the conservatory, concentrating on the piano, and enjoyed the many concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. He disliked the discipline of the conservatory course of study. An exception was the organ, which was mandatory for piano students. In the spring of 1860, he survived a life-threatening lung disease, pleurisy and tuberculosis. Throughout his life, Grieg’s health was impaired by a destroyed left lung and considerable deformity of his thoracic spine. He suffered from numerous respiratory infections, and ultimately developed combined lung and heart failure. Grieg was admitted many times to spas and sanatoria both in Norway and abroad. Several of his doctors became his personal friends.[6]

On 11 June 1867, Grieg married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup. The next year, their only child, Alexandra, was born. She died in 1869 from meningitis. In the summer of 1868, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor while on holiday in Denmark. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its premiere performance on 3 April 1869 in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen. Grieg himself was unable to be there due to conducting commitments in Christiania (as Oslo was then named). [7]

In 1868, Franz Liszt, who had not yet met Grieg, wrote a testimonial for him to the Norwegian Ministry of Education, which led to Grieg’s obtaining a travel grant. The two men met in Rome in 1870. On Grieg’s first visit, they went over Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 1, which pleased Liszt greatly. On his second visit, in April, Grieg brought with him the manuscript of his Piano Concerto, which Liszt proceeded to sightread (including the orchestral arrangement). Liszt’s rendition greatly impressed his audience, although Grieg gently pointed out to him that he played the first movement too quickly. Liszt also gave Grieg some advice on orchestration, (for example, to give the melody of the second theme in the first movement to a solo trumpet).

In 1874–76, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen‘s play Peer Gynt, at the request of the author.

Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien), and later became Music Director of the orchestra from 1880–1882. In 1888, Grieg met Tchaikovsky in Leipzig. Grieg was struck by the sadness in Tchaikovsky.[8] Tchaikovsky thought very highly of Grieg’s music, praising its beauty, originality and warmth.[9]

Read more and listen to more Grieg selections here

 

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.

Gospel Teachings: Warning to Youth to Repent is an Act of Love

Gospel Teachings:

Warning to Youth to Repent is an Act of Love

The Voice of Warning

D.Todd Christofferson

While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well.

The prophet Ezekiel was born about two decades before Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. In 597 BC, at age 25, Ezekiel was one of the many carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and as best we can tell, he spent the rest of his life there.1 He was of the Aaronic priestly lineage, and when he was 30, he became a prophet.2

In commissioning Ezekiel, Jehovah used the metaphor of a watchman.

“If when [the watchman] seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

“Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.”3

Warning to Turn from Sin

On the other hand, “if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, … his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.”4

Then speaking directly to Ezekiel, Jehovah declared, “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them [for] me.”5 The warning was to turn away from sin.

“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

“Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. …

“Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; …

“None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”6

Interestingly, this warning also applies to the righteous. “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his [righteous deeds] shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”7

Look to God and Live; He seeks our Happiness

Pleading with His children, God tells Ezekiel, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”8

Far from being anxious to condemn, our Heavenly Father and our Savior seek our happiness and plead with us to repent, knowing full well that “wickedness never was [and never will be] happiness.”9 So Ezekiel and every prophet before and since, speaking the word of God out of a full heart, have warned all who will to turn away from Satan, the enemy of their souls, and “choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men.”10

While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”11 We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”12 and so forth.

Rooted in Love—To Warn is to Care

Considering the parable of the good Samaritan in this context reminds us that the question “Who is my neighbor?” was tied to the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”13

The motivation for raising the warning voice is love—love of God and love of fellowman. To warn is to care. The Lord instructs that it is to be done “in mildness and in meekness”14 and “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness … , and by love unfeigned.”15 It can be urgent, as when we warn a child not to put his or her hand in a fire. It must be clear and sometimes firm. On occasion, warning may take the form of reproof “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,”16 but always it is rooted in love. Witness, for example, the love that motivates the service and sacrifices of our missionaries.

Parents—Warn your Children

Surely love would compel parents to warn their closest “neighbors”—their own children. This means teaching and testifying of gospel truths. It means teaching children the doctrine of Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.17 The Lord reminds parents, “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.18

A crucial element of the parental duty to warn is to paint not only the demoralizing consequences of sin but also the joy of walking in obedience to the commandments. Recall the words of Enos about what led him to seek God, receive a remission of sins, and become converted:

“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication.”19

Because of His incomparable love and concern for others and their happiness, Jesus was not hesitant to warn. At the outset of His ministry, “Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”20 Because He knows that not just any path leads to heaven, He commanded:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”21

He devoted time to sinners, saying, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”22

He warned the Pharisees out of Love

As for the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus was uncompromising in condemning their hypocrisy. His warnings and commandments were direct:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”23

Surely no one would accuse the Savior of not loving these scribes and Pharisees—after all, He suffered and died to save them too. But loving them, He could not let them go on in sin without clearly correcting them. One observer noted, “Jesus taught his followers to do as he did: to welcome everyone but also to teach about sin, since love demands warning people about what can hurt them.”24

Shame Culture with no right or wrong, only Tolerance vs. Guilt Culture with Moral Absolutes

Sometimes those who raise a warning voice are dismissed as judgmental. Paradoxically, however, those who claim truth is relative and moral standards are a matter of personal preference are often the same ones who most harshly criticize people who don’t accept the current norm of “correct thinking.” One writer referred to this as the “shame culture”:

“In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels.

In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you. … [In the shame culture,] moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; it’s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion. …

“… Everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along. …

Moral Relativists are Strangely Unmerciful to Those who Disagree

“The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in.25

Contrasted to this is “the rock of our Redeemer,”26 a stable and permanent foundation of justice and virtue. How much better it is to have the unchanging law of God by which we may act to choose our destiny rather than being hostage to the unpredictable rules and wrath of the social media mob. How much better it is to know the truth than to be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”27

 How much better to repent and rise to the gospel standard than to pretend there is no right or wrong and languish in sin and regret.

Voice of Warning to All; the Lord’s Watchmen Cannot Be Neutral

The Lord has declared, “The voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.”28 As watchmen and disciples, we cannot be neutral about this “more excellent way.29 As Ezekiel, we cannot see the sword coming upon the land “and blow not the trumpet.”30 This is not to say that we should bang on our neighbor’s door or stand in the public square shouting, “Repent!” Truly, when you think about it, we have in the restored gospel what people, deep down, really want. So the warning voice is generally not only civil, but in the Psalmist’s phrase, it is a “joyful noise.31

Deseret News opinion editor Hal Boyd cited one example of the disservice inherent in staying silent. He noted that while the idea of marriage is still a matter of “intellectual debate” among elites in American society, marriage itself is not a matter of debate for them in practice. “‘Elites get and stay married and make sure their kids enjoy the benefits of stable marriage.’ … The problem, however, is that [they] tend not to preach what they practice.” They don’t want to “impose” on those who really could use their moral leadership, but “it is perhaps time for those with education and strong families to stop feigning neutrality and start preaching what they practice pertaining to marriage and parenting … [and] help their fellow Americans embrace it.”32

Do Not Let Fear of the World Stifle Teaching of Truth

We trust that especially you of the rising generation, youth and young adults on whom the Lord must rely for the success of His work in future years, will sustain the teachings of the gospel and the standards of the Church in public as well as in private. Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to floundering and failing in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering. Remember the Savior’s promise:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”33

Ultimately, we are all accountable to God for our choices and the lives we live. The Savior declared, “My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.”34

Recognizing this, the Lord’s supremacy, I plead in the words of Alma:

“And now, my brethren [and sisters], I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would … cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;

“But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit … ;

“Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.”35

May we each be able to say to the Lord with David:I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord.”36

Abortion Victim: Fathers

Another victim of abortion

abortion_dadBy Anne Reed
It is a simple fact that conception of a child requires the equal biological participation of a female and a male counterpart – mother and father. The baby is obviously the first victim in abortion. Moreover, the pro-life community has leaned toward spotlighting the mother as a victim – and rightly so. But often down-played or even ignored is the fact that the baby’s father is also a victim of the lies of a culture that advocates abortion.

The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 violently opened the door for widespread legalized abortion in the U.S. The court focused on the woman’s right to privacy while the personhood of the child in the womb was disregarded. So were the rights of the father.

In the immediate years following this decision, 12 states adopted laws protecting the rights of some  men by requiring the husband’s consent before his wife could follow through with an abortion. Unfortunately, in 1976, the Supreme Court evaluated those state laws, and declared them inconsistent with the basis and decision of Roe v Wade and, therefore, unconstitutional.

Confusion and research
Forty years later, millions of men have been affected by abortion. Many knowingly participated through a wide range of approaches, from passivity to coercion. The men who make up these grievous numbers often are boyfriends and husbands. In other cases, the pregnant girl or woman was faced by pressure from her own father, relatives or friends to “get rid of the problem.” Some men abandoned the mother and crisis pregnancy situation altogether. Others responded with indifference, leaving the mother confused and feeling helpless. Others who were uninformed or deceived came to learn about the abortion after the fact. Still other men fought unsuccessfully for the lives of their unborn children.

Catherine Coyle, Ph.D., has done extensive research on the subject of men who have been harmed by abortion. In her book Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, published in 1999, a man called Dan recounts the inner turmoil he experienced in accompanying his future wife during an abortion (excerpt above). Helplessness and confusion were two common themes expressed by men interviewed in Coyle’s research.

State laws related to abortion disregard the father, thereby communicating that the father has no final influence or authority. He is, therefore, denied the paternal instinct that motivates him to care for his family. One post-abortive father who now counsels post-abortive men wrote, “As I reflect on God’s purpose and role for men found in the Word, I see that because of my choice of participating in this offensive sin of killing my unborn child, I quit life. I taught myself to shortcut life in all decisions in the future (husband decisions, father decisions, job decisions, etc.).”

What makes things worse is that men are more likely than women to go forward in denial about negative emotions profoundly affecting their lives. Vincent Rue, Ph.D., a forerunner in researching the effects of abortion on men, wrote, “Men do grieve following abortion, but they are more likely to deny their grief or internalize their feelings of loss rather than openly express them. … When men do express their grief, they try to do so in culturally prescribed ‘masculine’ ways, i.e. anger, aggressiveness, control.”

Post-abortive men are likely to experience tendencies toward angry and violent behavior as well as an overall sense of lost manhood. Common consequences include broken relationships; sexual dysfunction; substance abuse; self-hatred; ever-increasing feelings of grief, guilt and depression; and dangerous or even suicidal behavior.

Confession and repentance
King David describes the body’s reaction to secret sin: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). John’s first epistle stressed the importance of confession: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). James 5:16 takes confession even farther: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

One has to wonder what would happen if widespread confession of this sin swept across the nation. What would happen if mighty warriors, expressing strength through weakness, stepped into the front lines creating a massive wave of confession and repentance? How would marriages be affected in the here and now? How would this culture be affected as a whole? Would the hearts of the fathers be turned back to the children?

What if, rather than hiding the truth of past and present sexual impurity, confession and repentance became an igniting fire in our churches? What about those men living inside a fortress of unforgiveness? How many hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, self-justification and resentment? Shame, guilt and blame can be so deep-rooted that these wounded warriors more often than not need fellow soldiers and armor bearers to come alongside them in battle.

Perhaps the real question is, “What would happen if men fought back?” Not with weapons of the flesh, but as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

For a post-abortive father, these steps can light the way out of darkness and despair:
1) Acknowledge your responsibility.
2) Confess to God and at least one other person you can trust.
3) Seek out and use available resources for post-abortion men.

A man struggling with any sin is inclined to keep it secret. However, biblical wisdom tells him not to give in to fear, pride and shame. Forgiveness and healing are attainable. Be a warrior; go after the victory.
An expanded version of this article appears in Patricia K. Layton’s new book Finding Freedom: Healing and Hope After Abortion. It is available at www.surrenderingthesecret.com