History Heroes: Columbus and the Israel Connection

Dinner Topics for Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus—the History Hero who revived Judeo-Christian heritage in America

History Facts

Columbus and the Connection to house of Israel

keyLittle known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ.

Columbus Day, October 12, has been observed as an official U.S. holiday since 1934. The year 1992, marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World.

columbus5Since then, many of the epic stories that make up our great American history have been purged from the schools. The rising generation is growing to adulthood with little or no knowledge of their rich heritage of liberty and their Judeo-Christian roots. October 12, if observed, no longer has much to do with the far-reaching significance of Columbus’ discovery. Like the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, Columbus Day is being overshadowed these days by the new state religion: Islam.

Even those who did study some basic history during the 20th century, however, did not have the opportunity to know the epic hero who was Christopher Columbus. Little known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ. Following are excerpts from an article by Shirley Heater which documents inspiring facts about this nearly-forgotten hero. Truly this is a story to save in your personal “Treasury of Epic Stories”, to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Christopher Columbus: Man of Vision and Faith

by Shirley R. Heater

Was the discovery made by accident, or was Columbus led by God? The Book of Mormon says he was led by the Holy Spirit, and now we have confirmation of this in Columbus’s own words, as well as additional new insights. An authentic Columbus manuscript has gone virtually unexamined until recent years. In Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, translated into English in 1991, he provides his own answers about Divine influence in his accomplishments.
Christopher Columbus, as he is known to English speakers, was born Christopher Colombo in the seaport of Genoa, Italy, in 1451.
His sailing career began when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He became a skilled seaman and navigator on merchant ships which traveled the Mediterranean Sea. In 1476, he joined his brother Bartholomew in the Portugal city of Lisbon, where they worked together on map-making. His Portuguese name was Cristovao Colom.

During his eight years in Lisbon, Columbus expanded his sailing experience into the Atlantic Ocean. He married, became the father of a son, Diego, and shortly thereafter was widowed. It was also during this period that his “vision” of sailing to new lands and saving lost souls germinated. He sought backing for his proposed venture from King John II of Portugal who turned him down.

columbusreachesamerica2Undaunted, he went to the port city of Palos de la Frontera in Spain, taking his young son with him. They were befriended by the friars of the monastery at La Rabida and then at Las Cuevas in Seville, who embraced and encouraged his ideas. His name took on the Spanish form, Cristobal Colon.

The magnitude of his intended enterprise soon opened the doors to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Their interest did not wane even though other matters kept them from following through with their approval for seven years.

During that prolonged period, he made his home in Cordoba (Cordova) where he met a young woman who became the mother of his second son, Ferdinand. [Note: He is still known throughout the Spanish-speaking world as Cristobal Colon Christopher Columbus, the English form, comes to us by way of the early colonists. Whatever the version of his name–Cristoforo, Cristovao, Cristobal or Christopher–the meaning is the same: “Christ bearer” (Sale 1990: 254n)].

Isaiah and the Isles of the Sea
 
Columbus and Nephi [from the Book of Mormon] had special regard for Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet most often quoted or referred to in both Columbus’s Book of Prophecies and the Book of Mormon. More intriguing is the fact that Nephi and Columbus selected the same portions of Isaiah and that each saw himself fulfilling those prophecies.

The Book of Mormon identifies the seed of Lehi as a remnant, a branch broken off which will be restored to the knowledge of their covenant and their Redeemer (e.g., 1 Nephi 4:15-17). Nephi and his brother, Jacob, are the only Book of Mormon writers who crossed the ocean, and they uniquely view their promised land as an island. Nephi, who delighted in the words of Isaiah (2 Nephi 11:8), “likened” them to his people (2 Nephi 8:3) in their literal fulfillment.
When Columbus was led to the “isles of the sea,” the door was opened to the lands occupied by the remnant of the Book of Mormon people. This set events in motion for the eventual restoration of the knowledge of the covenants.

columbuslandingLost Tribes and Other Sheep

Through Columbus’s writings, it is obvious that he fully expected to find the lost tribes of Israel (Wiesenthal 1973:61). He saw himself as “Christ-bearer” (the meaning of his name Christopher), God’s messenger to bring a knowledge of the Savior to the lost tribes
Particularly noteworthy is Columbus’s inclusion of John 10:16 in his Book of Prophecies: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [fold], and I must bring them also; they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Brigham 1991:264-265). It is with great foresight that he believed that the “flock” would not just be “Israel after the flesh” but that a “spiritual Israel” would be formed of all who would come to Christ (208-209).

When Jesus visited Lehi’s descendants, he told them that they were the other sheep of which he had spoken and that he had still other sheep (3 Nephi 7:20, 24-26). He also told them that those Gentiles who repented would also be numbered among his people (v. 37). There are specific promises in the Book of Mormon to restore the Lamanites to “the knowledge of their Redeemer, … and be numbered among his sheep” which are yet to be fulfilled (Helaman 5:104). This restoration was set in motion when Columbus was led to the New World, followed by Gentiles who brought the “record of the Jews” 0 Nephi 3:155-161). It will culminate when they receive the Book of Mormon and the two books “grow together” (2 Nephi 2:17-23).

The Jewish Connection 

columbuslandsWas Columbus Jewish? There are several proponents of Columbus’s Jewish heritage, with varying viewpoints. Some believe “What there is abundant circumstantial evidence that Columbus was of a Jewish background, at least on one side of the family” (Fuson 1987:16).
The description of Columbus in the Book of Mormon as “a man among the Gentiles” could be interpreted either as a Jew or a Gentile (1 Nephi 3:145).

Columbus is seen either as a converso, a converted Jew (Madariaga 1949:54-65,119-135), or a marrano, a professing Christian who was still a secretly-practicing Jew (Wiesenthal 1973:124-133). Whether or not he was of Jewish ancestry is an interesting proposition. Columbus’s writings are abundantly interwoven with professions of faith and belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior (Brigham 1991:179-181), and he affirms his faith in a letter to the king and queen of Spain (182-183):

Columbus’s mission was permeated with a “Jewish flavor.” Many Jews supported his venture, providing maps, instruments and finances. Many crew members are believed to have been Jewish. In anticipation of finding the lost tribes on his first voyage, Columbus took along a converso, Luis de Torres, an experienced interpreter who “knew how to speak Hebrew, Chaldean, and even some Arabic” (Fusan 1987:100-101).

columbusUpon arrival in the New World, Hebrew was probably spoken in an attempt to communicate with the natives. In the log of his first voyage, Columbus linked the beginning of his voyage to America (early morning of August 3rd) and the expulsion of all professing Jews from Spain (effective at midnight of August 2nd) (Fusan 1987:52). The Jewish people were hopeful of finding a new place of refuge (Wiesenthal 1973:88). The New World was to become a haven for Jews and a new promised land. In fact, the first refugees came in the late fifteenth century; many were marranos (Sachar 1992:10).

Columbus also desired to free Jerusalem from the Muslims and restore the Holy Land to the Church. This could only be financed by discovering new lands and gathering enough gold, silver and precious stones (Fusan 1987:34). However, he knew that his desire to bring freedom to the people of the Old Testament could ultimately come only through their conversion to Jesus Christ.

Part 2: Columbus, Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit

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Mother Theresa: Christian Service

Dinner Topics for Wedensday

keyAlways give without remembering; always receive without forgetting. ~Brian Tracy

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany

MotherTeresa_094Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta,[1] born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Albanian: [aˈɲɛs ˈɡɔɲdʒa bɔjaˈdʒiu]) and commonly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was an Albanian-born Indian Roman Catholic nun. “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”[2] In late 2003, she was beatified, the third step toward possible sainthood. A second miracle credited to Mother Teresa is required before she can be recognized as a saint by the Catholic church.[3][4]Mother Teresa was very fluent in speaking Bengali, the local language of the people of Calcutta(Kolkata).[5]

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. Members of the order must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give “Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor”. The Missionaries of Charity at the time of her death had 610 missions in 123 countries including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counselling programmes, orphanages and schools.

For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Her beatification by Pope John Paul II following her death gave her the title “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”.

She was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor in India. Her awards include the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, the Philippines-based Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Pacem in Terris Award, an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia, the Order of Merit from both the United Kingdom and the United States, Albania’s Golden Honour of the Nation, honorary degrees, the Balzan Prize, and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize amongst many others.

Mother Teresa stated that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world’s needy. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered “Go home and love your family.” In her Nobel Lecture, she said: “Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society-that poverty is so hurtable [sic] and so much, and I find that very difficult.” She also singled out abortion as ‘the greatest destroyer of peace in the world’.

During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was named 18 times in the yearly Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll‎ as one of the ten women around the world that Americans admired most. In 1999, a poll of Americans ranked her first in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In that survey, she out-polled all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was in first place in all major demographic categories except the very young.

Continued

History Heroes: Amazing Grace, Liberty and Slavery

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

wilberforceAmazing Grace: William Wilberforce

If you have not seen the movie “Amazing Grace” by Walden Media, I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful portrayal of Wilberforce’s heroic achievement. Note that his law made slave trade in Britain illegal, but total emancipation in the United States was not achieved until January 1, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, after the United States fought a bitter civil war over this issue.

~C.A. Davidson

Wilberforce headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.

 

In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt.

 

Conversion

In February 1785, Wilberforce returned to the United Kingdom temporarily, to support Pitt’s proposals for parliamentary reforms. He rejoined the party in Genoa, Italy, from where they continued their tour to Switzerland. Milner accompanied Wilberforce to England, and on the journey they read The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul by Philip Doddridge, a leading early 18th-century English nonconformist.[36]

Wilberforce’s spiritual journey is thought to have begun at this time. He started to rise early to read the Bible and pray and kept a private journal.[37] He underwent an evangelical conversion, regretting his past life and resolving to commit his future life and work to the service of God.[7] His conversion changed some of his habits but not his nature: he remained outwardly cheerful, interested, and respectful, tactfully urging others towards his new faith.[38] Inwardly, he underwent an agonising struggle and became relentlessly self-critical, harshly judging his spirituality, use of time, vanity, self-control, and relationships with others.[39]

At the time religious enthusiasm was generally regarded as a social transgression and was stigmatised in polite society. Evangelicals in the upper classes, such as Sir Richard Hill, the Methodist MP for Shropshire, and Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon were exposed to contempt and ridicule,[40] and Wilberforce’s conversion led him to question whether he should remain in public life. Wilberforce sought guidance from John Newton, a leading Evangelical Anglican clergyman of the day and Rector of St Mary Woolnoth in the City of London.[41][42] Both Newton and Pitt counselled Wilberforce to remain in politics, and he resolved to do so “with increased diligence and conscientiousness”.[7] Thereafter, his political views were informed by his faith and by his desire to promote Christianity and Christian ethics in private and public life.[43][44] His views were often deeply conservative, opposed to radical changes in a God-given political and social order, and focused on issues such as the observance of the Sabbath and the eradication of immorality through education and reform.[45] As a result, he was often distrusted by progressive voices because of his conservatism, and regarded with suspicion by many Tories who saw Evangelicals as radicals, bent on the overthrow of church and state.[24]

Abolition of the slave trade

Initial decision

The British initially became involved in the slave trade during the 16th century. By 1783, the triangular route that took British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then brought slave-grown products such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, represented about 80 percent of Great Britain’s foreign income.[49][50] British ships dominated the trade, supplying French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and British colonies, and in peak years carried forty thousand enslaved men, women and children across the Atlantic in the horrific conditions of the middle passage.[51] Of the estimated 11 million Africans transported into slavery, about 1.4 million died during the voyage.[52]

The British campaign to abolish the slave trade is generally considered to have begun in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers‘ antislavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783.[53][54] The same year, Wilberforce, while dining with his old Cambridge friend Gerard Edwards,[55] met Rev. James Ramsay, a ship’s surgeon who had become a clergyman on the island of St Christopher (later St Kitts) in the Leeward Islands, and a medical supervisor of the plantations there. What Ramsay had witnessed of the conditions endured by the slaves, both at sea and on the plantations, horrified him. Returning to England after fifteen years, he accepted the living of Teston, Kent in 1781, and there met Sir Charles Middleton, Lady Middleton, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More and others, a group that later became known as the Testonites.[56] Interested in promoting Christianity and moral improvement in Britain and overseas, they were appalled by Ramsay’s reports of the depraved lifestyles of slave owners, the cruel treatment meted out to the enslaved, and the lack of Christian instruction provided to the slaves.[57] With their encouragement and help, Ramsay spent three years writing An essay on the treatment and conversion of African slaves in the British sugar colonies, which was highly critical of slavery in the West Indies. The book, published in 1784, was to have an important impact in raising public awareness and interest, and it excited the ire of West Indian planters who in the coming years attacked both Ramsay and his ideas in a series of pro-slavery tracts.[58]

In early 1787, Thomas Clarkson, a fellow graduate of St John’s, Cambridge, who had become convinced of the need to end the slave trade after writing a prize-winning essay on the subject while at Cambridge,[56] called upon Wilberforce at Old Palace Yard with a published copy of the work.[63][64] This was the first time the two men had met; their collaboration would last nearly fifty years.[65][66] Clarkson began to visit Wilberforce on a weekly basis, bringing first-hand evidence [67] he had obtained about the slave trade.[65] The Quakers, already working for abolition, also recognised the need for influence within Parliament, and urged Clarkson to secure a commitment from Wilberforce to bring forward the case for abolition in the House of Commons.[68][69]

Following Pitt’s death in January 1806 Wilberforce began to collaborate more with the Whigs, especially the abolitionists. He gave general support to the Grenville-Fox administration, which brought more abolitionists into the cabinet; Wilberforce and Charles Fox led the campaign in the House of Commons, while Lord Grenville advocated the cause in the House of Lords.[118][139]

Lord Grenville, the Prime Minister, was determined to introduce an Abolition Bill in the House of Lords rather than in the House of Commons, taking it through its greatest challenge first.[147] When a final vote was taken, the bill was passed in the House of Lords by a large margin.[149] Sensing a breakthrough that had been long anticipated, Charles Grey moved for a second reading in the Commons on 23 February 1807. As tributes were made to Wilberforce, whose face streamed with tears, the bill was carried by 283 votes to 16.[144][150] Excited supporters suggested taking advantage of the large majority to seek the abolition of slavery itself but Wilberforce made it clear that total emancipation was not the immediate goal: “They had for the present no object immediately before them, but that of putting stop directly to the carrying of men in British ships to be sold as slaves.”[151] The Slave Trade Act received the Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.

Continued

Gospel Teachings: Foundation of Faith

Gospel Teachings:

Foundation of Faith

By Quentin L. Cook

My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If there is one preeminent objective of general conference, it is to build faith in God the Father and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

My remarks address the foundations of that faith.

Personal foundations, like many worthwhile pursuits, are usually built slowly—one layer, one experience, one challenge, one setback, and one success at a time. A most cherished physical experience is a baby’s first steps. It is magnificent to behold. The precious look on the face—a combination of determination, joy, surprise, and accomplishment—is truly a seminal event.

In our family, there is one event of a similar nature that stands out. When our youngest son was about four years old, he came into the house and gleefully announced to the family with great pride: “I can do everything now. I can tie, I can ride, and I can zip.” We understood he was telling us that he could tie his shoes, he could ride his Big Wheel tricycle, and he could zip his coat. We all laughed but realized that for him they were monumental achievements. He thought he had truly arrived and was grown up.

Physical, mental, and spiritual development have much in common. Physical development is fairly easy to see. We begin with baby steps and progress day by day, year by year, growing and developing to attain our ultimate physical stature. Development is different for each person.

When we watch a great athletic or musical performance, we often say that the person is very gifted, which is usually true. But the performance is based upon years of preparation and practice. One well-known writer, Malcolm Gladwell, has called this the 10,000-hour rule. Researchers have determined that this amount of practice is necessary in athletics, musical performance, academic proficiency, specialized work skills, medical or legal expertise, and so on. One of these research experts asserts “that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything.”1

Most people recognize that to obtain peak physical and mental performance, such preparation and practice are essential.

Unfortunately, in an increasingly secular world, less emphasis is placed on the amount of spiritual growth necessary to become more Christlike and establish the foundations that lead to enduring faith. We tend to emphasize moments of sublime spiritual understanding. These are precious instances when we know the Holy Ghost has witnessed special spiritual insights to our hearts and minds. We rejoice in these events; they should not be diminished in any way.

But for enduring faith and to have the constant companionship of the Spirit, there is no substitute for the individual religious observance that is comparable to physical and mental development. We should build on these experiences, which sometimes resemble initial baby steps.

We do this by consecrated commitment to sacred sacrament meetings, scripture study, prayer, and serving as called. In one recent obituary tribute for the father of 13 children, it was reported his “loyalty to daily prayer and scripture study profoundly influenced his children, giving them an immovable foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”2

An experience I had when I was 15 years old was foundational for me. My faithful mother had valiantly tried to help me establish the foundations of faith in my life. I attended sacrament meeting, Primary, then Young Men and seminary. I had read the Book of Mormon and had always prayed individually. At that time a dramatic event occurred in our family when my beloved older brother was considering a potential mission call. My wonderful father, a less-active Church member, wanted him to continue his education and not serve a mission. This became a point of contention.

In a remarkable discussion with my brother, who was five years older and led the discussion, we concluded that his decision on whether to serve a mission depended on three issues: (1) Was Jesus Christ divine? (2) Was the Book of Mormon true? (3) Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration?

As I prayed sincerely that night, the Spirit confirmed to me the truth of all three questions. I also came to understand that almost every decision I would make for the rest of my life would be based on the answers to those three questions. I particularly realized that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was essential. In looking back, I recognize that, primarily because of my mother, the foundations were in place for me to receive the spiritual confirmation that evening. My brother, who already had a testimony, made the decision to serve a mission and ultimately won our father’s support.

Spiritual guidance is received when needed, in the Lord’s time and according to His will.3 Just as repetition and consistent effort are required to gain physical or mental capacity, the same is true in spiritual matters.

Faith is a Principle of Power

Faith is a principle of power. Let me illustrate: When I was a young missionary, a great mission president6 introduced me in a profound way to the scriptural account found in Luke 8 of the woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years and had spent everything she had on physicians who could not heal her. It has remained to this day one of my favorite scriptures.

You will remember that she had faith that if she could but touch the border of the Savior’s garment, she would be healed. When she did so, she was healed immediately. The Savior, who was walking along with His disciples, said, “Who touched me?”

Peter’s answer was that all of them, walking together, were pressing against Him.

“And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

The root word for virtue could easily be interpreted as “power.” In Spanish and Portuguese, it is translated as “power.” But regardless, the Savior did not see her; He had not focused on her need. But her faith was such that touching the border of the garment drew upon the healing power of the Son of God.

As the Savior said to her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”7

I have contemplated this account all my adult life. I realize that our personal prayers and supplications to a loving Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ can bring blessings into our lives beyond our ability to comprehend. The foundations of faith, the kind of faith that this woman demonstrated, should be the great desire of our hearts.

However, initial foundations of faith, even with spiritual confirmation, do not mean that we will not face challenges. Conversion to the gospel does not mean all our problems will be solved.

Like the ancient Apostles on the day of Pentecost, many members experienced marvelous spiritual experiences in connection with the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.8 But, as in our own lives, this did not mean they wouldn’t face challenges or hardships going forward. Little did these early members know they would be faced with a United States financial crisis—the panic of 1837—that would test their very souls.9

One example of the challenges related to this financial crisis was experienced by Parley P. Pratt, one of the great leaders of the Restoration. He was an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the early part of 1837, his dear wife, Thankful, died after delivering their first child. Parley and Thankful had been married almost 10 years, and her death devastated him.

A few months later, Elder Pratt found himself in one of the most difficult times the Church has experienced. In the midst of the national crisis, local economic issues—including land speculation and the struggles of a financial institution founded by Joseph Smith and other Church members—created discord and contention in Kirtland. Church leaders did not always make wise temporal decisions in their own lives. Parley suffered significant financial losses and for a time became disaffected with the Prophet Joseph.10 He wrote a stinging criticism to Joseph and spoke in opposition of him from the pulpit. At the same time, Parley said he continued to believe in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.11

Elder Pratt had lost his wife, his land, and his home. Parley, without telling Joseph, left for Missouri. On the road there, he unexpectedly met fellow Apostles Thomas B. Marsh and David Patten returning to Kirtland. They felt a great need to have harmony restored to the Quorum and persuaded Parley to return with them. He realized that no one had lost more than Joseph Smith and his family.

Parley sought out the Prophet, wept, and confessed that what he had done was wrong. In the months after his wife, Thankful’s, death, Parley had been “under a dark cloud” and had been overcome by fears and frustrations.12 Joseph, knowing what it was like to struggle against opposition and temptation, “frankly forgave” Parley, praying for him and blessing him.13 Parley and others who remained faithful benefited from the Kirtland challenges. They increased in wisdom and became more noble and virtuous. The experience became part of their foundations of faith.

Adversity should not be viewed as either disfavor from the Lord or a withdrawal of His blessings. Opposition in all things is part of the refiner’s fire to prepare us for an eternal celestial destiny.14 When the Prophet Joseph was in Liberty Jail, the words of the Lord to him described all manner of challenges—including tribulations and false accusations—and conclude:

“If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”15

The Lord, in this instruction to Joseph Smith, also made it clear that his days were known and would not be numbered less. The Lord concluded, “Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”16

What, then, are the blessings of faith? What does faith accomplish? The list is almost endless:

Our sins can be forgiven because of faith in Christ.17

As many as have faith have communion with the Holy Spirit.18

Salvation comes through faith on Christ’s name.19

We receive strength according to our faith in Christ.20

None enter the Lord’s rest save those who wash their garments in Christ’s blood because of their faith.21

Prayers are answered according to faith.22

Without faith among men, God can do no miracle among them.23

In the end, our faith in Jesus Christ is the essential foundation for our eternal salvation and exaltation. As Helaman taught 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 … , which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”24

My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Biblical Parenting:

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

 

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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

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

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

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

Our Heavenly Father Is Our Mentor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every Father Is a Mentor

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

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

We Are All Mentors

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

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

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

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

Judeo-Christian Culture: Christian Art and Life of Jesus Christ

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyThe best way to prepare for life is to begin to live.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ChristsermononmountCarl Heinrich Bloch (May 23, 1834 – February 22, 1890) was a Danish painter.

He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and studied with Wilhelm Marstrand at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) there. Bloch’s parents wanted their son to enter a respectable profession – an officer in the Navy. This, however, was not what Carl wanted. His only interest was drawing and painting, and he was consumed by the idea of becoming an artist. He went to Italy to study art, passing through the Netherlands, where he became acquainted with the work of Rembrandt, which became a major influence on him.[1] Carl Bloch met his wife, Alma Trepka, in Rome, where he married her on May 31, 1868. They were happily married until her early death in 1886.

His early work featured rural scenes from everyday life. From 1859 to 1866, Bloch lived in Italy, and this period was important for the development of his historical style.

His first great success was the exhibition of his “Prometheus Unbound” in Copenhagen in 1865. After the death of Marstrand, he finished the decoration of the ceremonial hall at the University of Copenhagen. The sorrow over losing his wife weighed heavily on Bloch, and being left alone with their eight children after her death was very difficult for him.

In a New Year’s letter from 1866 to Bloch, H. C. Andersen wrote the following: “What God has arched on solid rock will not be swept away!” Another letter from Andersen declared “Through your art you add a new step to your Jacob-ladder into immortality.”

Temptation of Christ by Carl Bloch

Temptation of Christ by Carl Bloch

In a final ode, from a famous author to a famous artist, H.C. Andersen said “Write on the canvas; write your seal on immortality. Then you will become noble here on earth.”

He was then commissioned to produce 23 paintings for the Chapel at Frederiksborg Palace. These were all scenes from the life of Christ which have become very popular as illustrations. The originals, painted between 1865 and 1879, are still at Frederiksborg Palace. The altarpieces can be found at Holbaek, Odense, Ugerloese and Copenhagen in Denmark, as well as Loederup, Hoerup, and Landskrona in Sweden.

Through the assistance of Danish-born artist Soren Edsberg, the acquisition of “Christ healing at the pool of Bethesda,” [formerly owned by Indre Mission, Copenhagen, Denmark], was recently made possible for The Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.[1]

Carl Bloch died of cancer on February 22, 1890. His death came as “an abrupt blow for Nordic art” according to an article by Sophus Michaelis. Michaelis stated that “Denmark has lost the artist that indisputably was the greatest among the living.” Kyhn stated in his eulogy at Carl Bloch’s funeral that “Bloch stays and lives.”

A prominent Danish art critic, Karl Madsen, stated that Carl Bloch reached higher toward the great heaven of art than all other Danish art up to that date. Madsen also said “If there is an Elysium, where the giant, rich, warm and noble artist souls meet, there Carl Bloch will sit among the noblest of them all!” (From Carl Bloch Site).

Bloch’s influence

healingsickFor over 40 years The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made heavy use of Carl Bloch’s paintings, mostly from the Frederiksborg Palace collection, in its church buildings and printed media. The LDS church has produced films depicting scriptural accounts of Christ’s mortal ministry, using Bloch’s paintings as models for the colour, light and overall set design as well as the movement of the actors in many of the films’ scenes. The most notable example of this is the movie The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.

 

Judeo-Christian worldview: Christian Word on Parents, Marriage, and the Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian worldview:

Christian Word on Parents, Marriage, and the Nuclear Family

 

Defining Moment

keyoldToday there are many who are changing the definition of the traditional family. Here Christian leaders clearly define the real family, and warn of the consequences of abandoning Biblical values and moral absolutes.

The Family


A Proclamation to the World

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

marriageWe, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal family-ties-grave-perryFather and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “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.

family3-silhouetteThe family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 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. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Easter is about Jesus Christ: The Atonement of Jesus Christ meaning in Simple Words

Judeo-Christian Worldview

Easter is about Jesus Christ:

The Atonement of Jesus Christ meaning in Simple Words

If the parachute is the atonement, what is the ripcord?

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

By Tad R. Callister

The Savior’s Atonement is not only infinite in scope but also individual in reach.

At this season of the year we particularly rejoice and reflect upon the Savior’s Atonement. It is indeed the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe has ever known. It is what gives hope and purpose to our lives.

What then is the meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

In one sense, it is a series of divine events that commenced in the Garden of Gethsemane, continued on the cross, and culminated with the Savior’s Resurrection from the tomb. It was motivated by an incomprehensible love for each of us. It required a being who was sinless; who had infinite power over the elements—even death; who possessed a boundless capacity to suffer the consequences of all our sins and ailments; and who, in fact, descended beneath it all.1 This was the mission of Jesus Christ—this was His Atonement.

What then was its purpose?

It was to make it possible for us to return to God’s presence, become more like Him, and have a fulness of joy. This was done by overcoming four obstacles:

  1. Physical death
  2. Spiritual death caused by Adam and by our sins
  3. Our afflictions and infirmities
  4. Our weaknesses and imperfections

But how can the Savior accomplish this without violating the laws of justice?

Suppose for a moment a man contemplating an exhilarating free fall makes a rash decision and spontaneously jumps from a small plane. After doing so, he quickly realizes the foolishness of his actions. He wants to land safely, but there is an obstacle—the law of gravity. He moves his arms with astounding speed, hoping to fly, but to no avail. He positions his body to float or glide to slow the descent, but the law of gravity is unrelenting and unmerciful. He tries to reason with this basic law of nature: “It was a mistake. I will never do it again.” But his pleas fall on deaf ears. The law of gravity knows no compassion; it makes no exceptions.

Fortuitously, though, the man suddenly feels something on his back. His friend in the plane, sensing the moment of foolishness, had placed a parachute there just before the jump. He finds the rip cord and pulls it. Relieved, he floats safely to the ground. We might ask, “Was the law of gravity violated, or did that parachute work within that law to provide a safe landing?”

When we sin, we are like the foolish man who jumped from the plane. No matter what we do on our own, only a crash-landing awaits us. We are subject to the law of justice, which, like the law of gravity, is exacting and unforgiving. We can be saved only because the Savior, through His Atonement, mercifully provides us with a spiritual parachute of sorts. If we have faith in Jesus Christ and repent (meaning we do our part and pull the rip cord), then the protective powers of the Savior are unleashed on our behalf and we can land spiritually unharmed.

This is possible, however, only because the Savior overcame the four obstacles that can prevent our spiritual progress.

  1. Death. He overcame death through His glorious Resurrection. The Apostle Paul taught, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”2
  2. Sin. The Savior overcame sin and guilt for all those who repent. So deep and expansive is His cleansing power that Isaiah promised, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”3

On occasion, I have met with good Saints who have had trouble forgiving themselves, who have innocently but incorrectly placed limits on the Savior’s redemptive powers. Unwittingly, they have converted an infinite Atonement to a finite one that somehow falls short of their particular sin or weakness. But it is an infinite Atonement because it encompasses and circumscribes every sin and weakness, as well as every abuse or pain caused by others.

Truman G. Madsen made this comforting observation:

“If there are some of you who have been tricked into the conviction that you have gone too far, … that you have had the poison of sin which makes it impossible ever again to be what you could have been—then hear me.

“I bear testimony that you cannot sink farther than the light and sweeping intelligence of Jesus Christ can reach. I bear testimony that as long as there is one spark of the will to repent and to reach, he is there. He did not just descend to your condition; he descended below it, ‘that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth.’ [Doctrine and Covenants 88:6.]”4

One reason it is so essential to understand the Savior’s Atonement and its infinite implications is that with increased understanding comes an increased desire to forgive ourselves and others.

Even though we may believe in Christ’s cleansing powers, the question often arises: “How do I know if I have been forgiven of my sins?” If we feel the Spirit, then that is our witness that we have been forgiven, or that the cleansing process is taking place. President Henry B. Eyring taught, “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost … , you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.”

Some have asked, “But if I am forgiven, why do I still feel guilt?” Perhaps in God’s mercy the memory of that guilt is a warning, a spiritual “stop sign” of sorts that, at least for a time, cries out when additional temptations confront us: “Don’t go down that road. You know the pain it can bring.” In this sense, it serves as a protection, not a punishment.

Is it possible, then, to remember our sins and still be free of guilt?

Alma remembered his sins, even years after he repented. But when he cried unto Jesus for mercy, he said, “I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.”6

How could he remember his sins but have no pain or guilt? Because when we repent, we are “born of God.”7 We become, as the scriptures say, “new creatures”8 in Christ. With perfect honesty we can now say, “I am not the man or woman who committed those past sins. I am a new and transformed being.”

  1. Afflictions and Infirmities. Alma prophesied that Christ “shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind.” Why? “That his bowels may be filled with mercy, … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”9

How does He accomplish this? Sometimes He removes the affliction, sometimes He strengthens us to endure, and sometimes He gives us an eternal perspective to better understand their temporary nature. After Joseph Smith had languished in Liberty Jail for about two months, he finally cried out, “O God, where art thou?”10 Instead of providing instant relief, God responded, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.”11

Joseph now understood that this bitter experience was but a dot on the eternal spectrum. With this enhanced vision, he wrote the Saints from that same prison cell, “Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God.”12 Because of the Savior’s Atonement, we can have an eternal perspective that gives meaning to our trials and hope for our relief.

  1. Weaknesses and Imperfections. Because of His Atonement, the Savior has enabling powers, sometimes referred to as grace,13 that can help us overcome our weaknesses and imperfections and thus assist us in our pursuit to become more like Him.

George Q. Cannon taught: “No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to … give gifts that will eradicate [our weaknesses]. … If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect.”18

In summary, the Savior’s Atonement gives us life for death, “beauty for ashes,”19 healing for hurt, and perfection for weakness. It is heaven’s antidote to the obstacles and struggles of this world.

In the Savior’s final week of mortality, He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.20 Because the Savior performed His Atonement, there is no external force or event or person—no sin or death or divorce—that can prevent us from achieving exaltation, provided we keep God’s commandments. With that knowledge, we can press forward with good cheer and absolute assurance that God is with us in this heavenly quest.

I bear my witness that the Savior’s Atonement is not only infinite in scope but also individual in reach—that it can not only return us to God’s presence but also enable us to become like Him—the crowning goal of Christ’s Atonement. Of that I bear my grateful and certain witness in the name of Jesus Christ.

Teaching Children about Easter

Teaching Children about Easter

Can kids comprehend the cross?

Teddy James

American Family Association Journal

Jesus and ChildrenExcept for a few details such as being “with child from the Holy Spirit,” children don’t seem to have much problem understanding the Christmas story. God came to earth as a baby. His mother was Mary; his earthy father, Joseph. They had traveled a long way and were sleeping in a barn the night He was born. The good guys, like the shepherds and the wise men, celebrated His birth, but others did not.

Compare that story with the 33-year-old Jesus voluntarily traveling to Jerusalem, celebrating Passover, staying silent before His accusers, being flogged, beaten, spat upon, having a crown of thorns forced onto His head, carrying the instrument of His homicide, nailed to a rough, wooden cross, and suffering for six hours until He died. Easter is difficult to explain and understand for adults, but much more so for children.

It is here that traditions can help families explain the tragedy and hope of Easter. Using tactile items to tell the story of Easter helps children understand the events on a level appropriate for their sensitivity and maturity. It also leaves room for their understanding to grow through the years. On top of that, new traditions help families mark, remember, and celebrate the most important of holy days in Christendom.

Resurrection Eggs
The ubiquitous plastic eggs have become synonymous with the Easter season. This has led some families to create a new tradition that embraces them but also points away from the commercialization of Easter and toward the reason we celebrate.

Parents get children to help them create or find items that go inside the eggs to symbolize the events of Easter. Most limit the items to 12 so the eggs can be kept in a common egg carton.

teaching-children-easterFamilies choose different symbols including: a cracker to symbolize the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26), silver coins (Matthew 26:14-16), a piece of leather or rope (John 19:1), a twig of thorns (Matthew 27:29), a cross (19:16-17), a large nail (John 19:18), a sign reading “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38), a sponge (Matthew 27:48), a spear (John 19:34), cloves or spices (Luke 24:1), a rock (Matthew 27:59-60), and a white piece of linen (John 20:7). The last egg is left empty to show that Jesus left the tomb on the third day.

No matter what items are chosen, it is important to include a Scripture reference inside each egg. This will also help children see Scripture as living, breathing, and applicable rather than dry and boring.

Resurrection Tree
Building on the idea of gathering items that symbolize Easter, many families build a Resurrection Tree. The tree is unique in that it takes families from Creation to Jesus’ resurrection. Some families take 30 days to decorate the tree and spend a few minutes each day leading up to Resurrection Sunday to read Scripture and create ornaments.  (See sidebar below.)

On the first day, parents read Genesis 1-2 and children place an ornament that resembles earth on the tree. That ornament can be papier-mâché or a colored balloon. On day seven, families can read Genesis 37, 40-46 (or excerpts from those chapters) and place an ornament symbolizing Joseph’s coat of many colors. On day eight, a lamb is placed on a branch while reading Exodus 12, the story of the Passover. This is a perfect time to discuss how the Passover is a foreshadowing of Easter. Families continue working their way through God’s story of redemption to its culmination in the resurrection.

But the Resurrection Tree doesn’t have to take 30 days. Some families make one ornament for every week of Lent. (See sidebar.) Others choose to make only four ornaments the first year, carefully explaining each symbol. They add a few more the next year and further explain the ramifications of Easter to their children.

Seder Meal
Messianic Jewish congregations possess a great way of teaching that the gospel did not begin in the New Testament but was in God’s plan from the very beginning. They celebrate Passover with a Seder meal, and some choose to end the dinner with Communion.

The Seder meal consists of many elements including the washing of hands, a time during which children ask four questions and are answered by the leader of the Seder meal, the hiding and finding of the Afkomen (unleavened bread), the four cups of wine that involve a reading and response filled with history and Scripture, the partaking of the Seder plate consisting of Karpas (greens), Beltzah (a boiled egg), Maror (a bitter herb), Charoset (a sweet mixture of chopped apples, nuts, honey, and cinnamon), and the shank bone of a lamb.

Every aspect of the Seder meal has a powerful, symbolic meaning. That meaning is amplified when viewed through the lens of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The Seder meal is a tradition thousands of years in the making and will bring extra meaning to your family’s Easter celebration.

Easter is certainly difficult to explain and hard to understand, especially for children. However, it can also be the most celebratory, meaningful, and maturing seasons in a Christian child’s life. These traditions, and many others like them, will ensure that your children remember that Easter isn’t about new clothes, candy, and an oversized bunny. It is about the Creator of the Universe clothing Himself in flesh and offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Whatever traditions you choose to establish, make sure they will be remembered, treasured, and repeated.

_____________________________

Lent – This year, Lent began on February 18, Ash Wednesday. Although the Lenten season is almost complete, it isn’t too late to prepare your family for Easter through this traditional time marked by self-examination, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and repentance.

Here are some ideas for Lent to help you get started.

  • Practice self-denial. Give up something important to you. A few examples include withholding food for one meal a day, giving up coffee or tea, abstaining from television, or choosing to read only Scripture.
  • Serve those around you. Make a special effort to follow Jesus’s life of service by finding families in your community to bless, or by making a sacrificial gift to a gospel ministry.
  • Make pretzels. Pretzels are a traditional Lenten food symbolizing arms crossed in prayer. Making pretzels is a memorable way to include children in the Lenten season.
  • Prepare your heart. Like an annual physical exam, use this time to access your relationship with Christ. Pray through the verses of Psalm 51 and meditate on it daily.
  • Begin a focused family Bible time. If your family is not in the habit of studying Scripture together, Lent is a great time to begin. The Easter story found in Mark 14-16 is an appropriate passage.

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/april/can-kids-comprehend-the-cross/

_____________________________

New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

How and why to celebrate the 40 days Jesus stayed on earth after His resurrection

40-day journey to Easter

Culture Wars: Lion Pride saves victims of Christian Persecution in Easter Modern-Day Miracles

Culture Wars:

Lion Pride saves victims of Christian Persecution in Easter Modern-Day Miracles

Miracle? This time, the lions save the Christians

‘Losing all hope, we thought for sure this was our last day’

Bob Unruh

The chief of a Christian ministry that works underground because of its outreach into Muslim-dominant communities in the Middle East is reporting a startling claim – his rescue from Islamic “militants” by a pride of lions.

Pastor Paul Ciniraj is the director of Bibles for Mideast, which delivers Bibles, preaches the Gospel and plants house churches in the strife-torn region. He says, while Islam remains dominant, “thousands upon thousands of people now secretly believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

House churches the group establishes are under the banner of the nondenominational Assembly of Loving God Church. A convert from Islam, pastor Paul founded the work some four decades ago and has survived a battle with leukemia. A nine-member board of directors governs the ministry.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

In a new report he delivered this week to WND, he says he was recovering from injuries he received in an attack by Islamic jihadists when the rescue occurred.

It was Easter Sunday, and he was recovering in the home of friends in a forested area near where his group has been working.

“Suddenly, a group of militants reached the house, armed with steel bars and other weapons,” he reported to WND.

In the home with him were others, including a woman aged 80, several children under the age of 4 and a woman seven months pregnant.

“Losing all hope, we thought for sure this was our last day,” he said.

But while the group was praying, he reported a strange occurrence.

“Completely unexpectedly, a lion ran from the forest, leapt toward the militants, and seized one by the neck. When other combatants tried to attack the lion, two other lions bounded toward them. The terrified militants fled the site, and the lions left us completely alone,” he said.

“Equally astonishing, records show no lions are supposed to live in that forest,” he said.

He reported he had been approaching the closing of a 21-day period of fasting and prayer.

“As that drew to a close, more than 3,000 former Muslims were baptized in many of our churches in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Lord enabled me to baptize many people during this time,” he said.

But while he was at one of the church locations, “militants began stoning me and our group.

“My head was severely injured and bloodied, and a number of others sustained injuries as well,” he said.

He was hospitalized, but he feared for his health and life there, so he went to the forest home of a local pastor, he said.

Teach your children why Religious Freedom Matters

 

WND reported in February on another unusual development the Christians in the ministry reported.

Bibles for Mideast at that time said Muslims who carried out forced female genital mutilation on a Christian teen in Northern Africa were reporting being tormented by visions of blood after the near-fatal attack.

WND reported a 14-year-old girl in the undisclosed country had been left in a coma after being attacked and mutilated by Muslims upset with her conversion to Christianity.

After at least two physicians had declared her dead, she stunned doctors and hospital workers by getting up from her bed and going home.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

After local physicians had given up and declared her dead, she suddenly sat up.

The girl said her soul “left my body and I was dead.”

“Angels came to receive me to heaven. But Jesus appeared before me and said, ‘I cannot turn back from the prayers of my children. My eyes are upon my children and ears are open to their prayer. So I give you your life back, for the issues of death belong to me. You go, and be my witness.’ Then he put his face right against and right into mine. He breathed into my nostrils, and my soul went in. Then he moved his nail-scarred hands over my body and healed me completely!”

The ministry reported Muslims who carried out the attack were frantic.

The ministry learned of the circumstances when the attackers visited Lydia and her father, pleading for help.

“The visitors explained that for the last three days and nights, all of the women who had been involved in the procedure seemed to have gone mad. Some shrieked that they saw blood everywhere, even when sitting alone. Attempting to prepare meals, they would scream, again seeing blood, and throw the food out. Given water, they would do the same. Knives in hand, some were approaching children, explaining the youngsters’ need for circumcision, and promising to do it carefully this time,” the ministry reported.

See the hand of God in your life. Read Birthright Covenant trilogy with your family.