History Facts: 10 Reasons to accept Jesus Christ’s Resurrection

History Facts:

10 Reasons to accept Jesus Christ’s Resurrection

10 Reasons to Accept the Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Fact

By Brian Chilton

When I left the ministry due to my skepticism, one of the factors involved in my departure concerned the reliability of the New Testament documents and the resurrection of Jesus. The folks from the Jesus Seminar had me second-guessing whether I could trust what the New Testament said and if I could truly accept the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In July of 2005, my life changed. I entered the Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and read three books that changed my life more than any other book outside the Bible. I discovered Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and McDowell’s A Ready Defense. I discovered that there are many reasons for accepting the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a historical fact.

Through the years, the evidence has increasingly mounted for the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. This article will provide 10 of the most fascinating arguments for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This list is not exhaustive and my dealings with each argument is extremely brief. Nevertheless, I hope this list will provide a starting point for you to consider the authenticity of Jesus’s resurrection.

  1. The First Eyewitnesses were Women. The first eyewitnesses of the resurrection were women. All the Gospels note that the first individuals to discover the tomb empty were women. Matthew notes that “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb…The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the play where he lay” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6).[1] Women were not held in high esteem. In Greco-Roman culture, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in court. In Jewish circles, it took the testimony of two women to equate that of one man. If one were to invent a story, the last people one would place as the first witnesses would have been women, unless it were otherwise true.
  2. Minimal Facts Concerning the Resurrection. Gary Habermas has popularized the so-called minimal facts argument for the resurrection. The minimal facts are those things that are accepted by nearly all New Testament scholars. The minimal facts are “1. Jesus died by crucifixion. 2. Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them. 3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed. 4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed. 5. The tomb was empty.” [2] These facts are nearly universally accepted by New Testament scholars, including liberals.
  3. Transformation of the Early Disciples. As noted in the minimal facts, James, the brother of Jesus, was changed from a skeptic to a believer because of the resurrection. James along with his brothers did not believe in Jesus during Jesus’s early ministry (see John 7:5). However, Jesus appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:3-9) and James became a leader in the early Jerusalem church. His death is recorded by Josephus.[3] Paul is another example of one who was completely transformed by the resurrection of Jesus. Paul had been a persecutor of the church. After witnessing the risen Jesus, Paul became a proclaimer for the church.
  4. Embarrassing Details of the Resurrection. Historically speaking, embarrassing details add veracity to a historical claim. The fact that women were the first witnesses, that a member of the Sanhedrin (the same Sanhedrin that executed Jesus) had to give Jesus a proper burial, and that the disciples were fearful and fled all serve as embarrassing factors for the resurrection account.
  5. Willingness to Die for What Was Known. Many people will die for what they believe to be true. But no one will die for something they erroneously invented. The disciples knew if they were telling the truth. Yet, one finds that the disciples were willing to die for what they knew to be true. Stephen died by stoning (Acts 7:54-60), James of Zebedee died by the sword at the hands of Herod (Acts 12:2), James the brother of Jesus died,[4] and Peter and Paul died at the hands of Nero.[5]
  6. Documentary Evidence. The documentary evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is quite good. The historian seeks to find how many primary and secondary sources[6] can be gathered for an event to determine the event’s historicity. Concerning primary sources, the resurrection has Matthew’s account, John’s account, and Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15, including the additional references by James (if one accepts that James wrote the letter attributed to him) and Jude. The following are secondary sources for the resurrection: Luke, Mark, Clement of Rome, and to a lesser degree Ignatius and Irenaeus.
  7. Circumstantial Evidence. Douglas Groothius notes that circumstantial evidence for the historicity of the resurrection is “namely, the practice of the early church in observing baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Sunday worship.”[7] Baptism is based upon the analogy of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Lord’s Supper is a symbol of Christ’s sacrificial death. In addition, it is quite odd that faithful Jews would move their worship from a Friday evening into Saturday to a Sunday morning unless something major had occurred on a Sunday morning. The major Sunday morning event was Jesus’s resurrection.
  8. The Missing Motive. J. Warner Wallace has noted in his lectures and books that when a conspiracy is formed, three motivating factors are behinds such a move—power, greed, and/or lust.[8] The disciples would hold no power behind claiming the resurrection as history. They were running around while often being threatened by the Jewish and Roman authorities. As far as greed, they taught that one should not desire earthly possessions, but spiritual ones. Lust was not a factor, either. They taught celibacy before marriage and marital fidelity after marriage. In fact, N. T. Wright notes in his classic book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, that the disciples had no theological motivation behind claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead as they were anticipating a military hero and a final resurrection at the end of time. What motivating factors existed for these disciples to invent such a story? None! The only reason the disciples taught the resurrection of Jesus was because Jesus’s resurrection had occurred.
  9. Enemy Attestation of the Resurrection. Historically speaking, if one holds enemy attestation to an event, then the event is strengthened. When one considers the claims of the authorities that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:11-15), the testimony of the resurrection is strengthened. The early belief that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus is strengthened by the discovery of the Nazareth Inscription that orders capital punishment for anyone who steals a body from a tomb.[9] In addition, several refences to Jesus and his resurrection include citations from Josephus,[10] Tacitus,[11] and Suetonius[12] among others (including the Babylonian Talmud).
  10. Multiple Post-Resurrection Eyewitnesses. Finally, there is multiple eyewitness testimony pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus. Several people had seen Jesus alive for a period of 40 days. The eyewitnesses include Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), the women at the tomb accompanying Mary (Matthew 28:1-10), the Roman guards (Matthew 28:4), the Eleven disciples (John 21), the two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), an indeterminate number of disciples (Matthew 28:16-20); over five-hundred disciples (1 Corinthains 15:6), to James (1 Corinthians 15:7) and to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). I am certain that there were many other witnesses that are unnamed.

Bonus:

Reason number 11: Additional witnesses in the Western Hemisphere

Translation of records of a Christian colony in ancient America documents a visit of the resurrected Jesus Christ to Central America, and that 2500 people witnessed His visit, and felt the scars in His hands and feet. ~C.D.

 

How to help strengthen the faith of the rising generation

 

Conclusion:

Many other evidences could be given for the resurrection of Jesus. Thinking about the methods of history, one must understand that there is a reason why American accept the first President of the United States as George Washington and not Spongebob Squarepants. History backs up the claim that Washington was the first President. In like manner, history backs up the reality of Jesus’s resurrection. Now the question is this: what will you do with such information? Some will try to ignore the event. Some will try to dismiss it. Others will acknowledge the factual nature of the event and worship Jesus as the risen Lord. It is my prayer that you will do the latter.

See how you can draw your family closer to God in these troubled times

 


 Notes

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[2] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), 48-50, 64-69.

[3] Josephus, Antiquities XX.200.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Eusebius, Church History XXV.5.

[6] Primary sources are documents written by eyewitnesses. Secondary sources are documents written by individuals who know eyewitnesses. For instance, my grandfather was an eyewitness to the biggest naval battle in World War II history. From the information my dad gathered from him, he would be a secondary source, whereas my grandfather would have been a primary source.

[7] Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 553-554.

[8] See J. Warner Wallace, “Rapid Response: I Think the Disciples Lied About the Resurrection,” Cold-case Christianity.com (October 17, 2016), retrieved April 11, 2017, http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/rapid-response-i-think-the-disciples-lied-about-the-resurrection/.

[9] See http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/07/22/The-Nazareth-Inscription-Proof-of-the-Resurrection-of-Christ.aspx#Article.

[10] Josephus, Antiquities XX.9.1.

[11] Tacitus, Annals XV.

[12] Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars-Claudius 25 and Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars-Nero 16.

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2ppUPKK

 

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Gospel Teachings: Repentance, the Love of God, and Unconditional Love Definition

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Gospel Teachings: Repentance, the Love of God, and Unconditional Love Definition Abide in My Love D. Todd Christofferson God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond … Continue reading

Thomas Jefferson: Christian Leadership

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

The Real Thomas Jefferson, Part 1-3

The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, Part 4-5

keyI hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4 His Presidency

This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.~C.A. Davidson

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Jefferson’s Presidency

“Though we differ on many points, he displayed an impartiality and a freedom from prejudice that. . .were unusual. There was a mildness and amenity in his voice and manner that at once softened any of the asperities of party spirit that I felt. . .No man can be personally acquainted with Mr. Jefferson and remain his personal enemy.”  (Justice William Paterson of the Supreme Court, one of Jefferson’s most inveterate political opponents p.219)

The tone of Jefferson’s presidency was low key. Believing that American political leaders were aping European royalty too much, he led with a simple style. He never used public funds for his social gatherings.

“A Noiseless Course”

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.” (p.225)

Slander

James Callender, one of the victims of the Sedition Act who was pardoned by President Jefferson, became embittered when he didn’t receive a government post he wanted. He made up a series of scandalous stories, the ugliest of which accused Jefferson of an illicit relationship with Sally Hemings, a young mulatto slave at Monticello.

Federalists, jealous of Jefferson’s popularity, took up these false accusations, creating a relentless torrent of slander. Jefferson made no public response to these unscrupulous attacks. “I should have fancied myself half guilty,” he said, “had I condescended to put pen to paper in refutation to their falsehoods, or drawn to them respect by any notice from myself.” (p230)

In the face of it all, Jefferson defended the right of his countrymen to free press. He remained silent all during the calumny and instructed his cabinet to do the same.

Under the guise of “modern scholarship”, some recent scholars have “brought forth a rash of sensational and poorly researched publications designed to discredit America’s Founding Fathers.  Many of the ‘facts’ [Callender] dished up are known to be false.” (pp231-232)

Douglass Adair, one of the most highly respected historians of our era, concluded after examining all of the evidence on this matter which has now come to light: “Today, it is possible to prove that Jefferson was innocent of Callender’s charges.”

One of the recently discovered documents to which Adair referred was a letter written by the nineteenth-century biographer Henry Randall, recounting a conversation at Monticello between himself and Jefferson’s oldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. In this conversation Randolph confirmed what others close to the family had already disclosed: that Sally Hemings was actually the mistress of Jefferson’s nephew, Peter Carr, and that “their connection . .  . was perfectly notorious at Monticello.” He also pointed out that “there was not the shadow of suspicion that Mr. Jefferson in this or any other instance had commerce with female slaves.” (from essays by Douglass Adair, cited by Allison on p.233)

It is virtually inconceivable that this fastidious gentleman whose devotion to his dead wife’s memory and to the happiness of his daughters and grandchildren bordered on the excessive could have carried on through a period of years a vulgar liaison which his own family could not have failed dot detect. It would be as absurd as to charge this consistently temperate man with being, through a long period, a secret drunkard. (Professor Dumas Malone, author of Pulitzer-Prize-winning six-volume biography of Jefferson p.234)

Jefferson wrote privately that he “feared no injury which any man could do me;. . .I never had done a single act or been concerned in any transaction which I feared to have fully laid open, or which could do me any hurt if truly stated.” (p234)

First Term

1801-1805—Jefferson sent American naval ships to the Mediterranean area, where they were victorious over the Barbary pirates, freeing up trade.

1802—Napoleon was threatening to establish a French empire in the Louisiana territory. Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to solve the situation diplomatically.

1803—The Louisiana Purchase. Almost one million acres were purchased for 15 million dollars, nearly doubling the physical size of the United States.

1804—Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory and reach the west coast

These brilliant public achievements were overshadowed by the personal tragedy of the death of his 26-year-old daughter Mary. He deeply mourned her death, but submitted to the will of God. (He was not an atheist!)  (pp. 240-245)

Second Term

Jefferson was reelected by a large margin.

Native Americans

Jefferson was an enthusiastic student of Indian tribes and sought to provide them with instruction in agricultural and domestic arts. He had good relations with Native Americans. (pp250-253)

Aaron Burr

As Vice President in the first term, Aaron Burr often used his tie-breaking votes to favor Federalists. He was replaced as Vice President by George Clinton.

Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. There were warrants for arrest in New Jersey and New York. He lived out the last few months of his term in disgrace and exile. Burr later became involved in a plot to divide the Union. He was arrested and tried for treason.  (pp255-257)

John Marshall

Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr of treason on technicalities. Federalist judges sought to consolidate all power in hands of the federal government.

Judicial Review (pp259-260)

John Marshall established the concept of “Judicial Review”, enabling the federal courts to void Congressional laws by declaring them unconstitutional.

President Jefferson warned that Judicial Review endangered the separation-of-powers principle.

The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislative and executive also in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch.

Jefferson was urged by his friends to run for a third term, but he declined. He recommended an amendment to the Constitution limiting the President to two terms.

Teach your family why Religious Freedom Matters

Dinner Talk Topics

1. If our young adults are to restore the culture of liberty, why is it vital we seek truthful history from reliable sources? Watch out for Wikipedia versions of history. Its articles on Jefferson give credence to the slanderous Sally Hemings story. The Real Thomas Jefferson was recommended by Glenn Beck. You can find many sources of historical truth and helpful analysis at his web site.

2. Do you think  today’s “Judicial Review” threatens our liberty? Why?

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom

Part 5

Andrew M. Allison

Dear Reader,

This is the final segment of my notes and quotes from this American Classic. The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, is a character education experience that your children must not miss. Truly, Thomas Jefferson was an exemplary epic hero. Not only is this book easy and interesting reading—it is memorable. Bless your children by reading it together with them. You, and they, will be glad you did. And they will never forget it. ~C.A. Davidson

 

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4: Retirement and Closing Years

Character Education, Thomas-Jefferson-style

Awards for foot races were as follows: three pieces of dried fruit—figs, prunes, or dates—to the victor, two to the second, and one to the lagger who came in last. One of his granddaughters described his method of character education.

He talked with us freely, affectionately, and never lost an opportunity of giving a pleasure or a good lesson. He reproved without wounding us, and commended without making us vain. He took pains to correct our errors and false ideas, checked the bold, encouraged the timid, and tried to teach us to reason soundly and feel rightly. Our smaller follies he treated with good-humored raillery, our graver ones with kind and serious admonition. He was watchful over our manners, and called our attention to every violation of propriety. (Ellen Coolidge, p278-279)

In 1820 he received 1,267 letters. He wrote more letters by his own hand than any other public man that ever lived. An invention  by John Hawkins of Philadelphia called the polygraph preserved 19,000 letters by duplicating them. After 1804 he produced a file copy of almost every letter he wrote. He made several improvements on the polygraph. (p 283)

Dr. Benjamin Rush, a good friend of Jefferson, wrote to both Jefferson and John Adams, urging both men to heal a rift caused by political differences. Both of the former Presidents indicated that they wanted to put aside past disagreements and renew their friendship. Adams said, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” (pp284-285)  The two renewed their friendship and wrote letters for fourteen years.

Monroe Doctrine

monroe-doctrine1823—Jefferson’s successor,  James Monroe, consulted him about European influence in Latin America, which was widely feared. Said Jefferson, “Our first and fundamental maxim should be never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. From this emerged the Monroe Doctrine. (p287)

Missouri Question

Jefferson very reluctantly accepted Missouri’s entering the union as a slave state, because they threatened to secede.

“I can say, with conscious truth, that there is a not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach [i.e., slavery]in any practicable way.” He maintained hope to his dying day of emancipating the slaves. (p 289)

Visitors to Monticello

Jefferson was so loved that he had thousands of visitors continually for eight months of the year, from all over the world. Although Jefferson welcomed the visitors cheerfully and graciously, they often proved a burden to him and to his daughter Martha, who served as hostess. She would often have to prepare for as many as fifty overnight guests.

People even invaded the halls of his home just to get a look at him. One woman actually punched through a window with her parasol just to get a better view of him.

People would gaze at him point-blank as at a creature in the zoo. “They wanted to tell their children, and have it told to their grandchildren, that they had seen Thomas Jefferson.” (pp290-291)

The accommodation of these visitors, the social events in Washington that he paid from his own pocket, neglect of his plantations during his forty years of public service; his enormous generosity to his grandchildren, to local beggars, and to various charitable organizations, all mounted the great indebtedness he struggled with. One biographer wrote, “His contributions to religious, educational, and charitable objects through his life would have made his old age opulent!” (p 305)

University of Virginia

Jefferson spent the closing years of his life establishing a state university. “He believed that these two great purposes—‘the freedom and happiness of man’—should serve as the polestars of all educational programs throughout the Republic. (p 296)  The university opened in 1825, one year before his death.

I am a Real Christian

Another project of Jefferson was to compile in several languages all the New Testament passages which he understood to be the actual utterances of Jesus Christ. He titled this little book, “the Philosophy of Jesus.”

A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus—very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its Author never said nor saw.(p 299)

Jefferson was reticent on the subject of religion. This caused his political enemies to label him as an atheist. During his presidency, he wrote to Benjamin Rush:

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. (pp 300-301)

Many Americans in the early nineteenth century shared the hope of a re-establishment of the Christian religion in its “original purity” in the United States.

Anticipation of the Restoration of Pure and Original Christianity

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Closing scenes of a noble life

Jefferson and his old friend John Adams passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence—that immortal document which he wrote.

He had desired a private interment, but crowds of neighbors and friends waited at the grave to bid farewell and a last tribute of respect and affection.  The “nation’s newspapers and lecture halls overflowed for months with eulogies to honor America’s champion of liberty.  His countrymen of that day seemed to sense, as we do now, that the world is not likely ever to produce another Thomas Jefferson.”

One American declared eloquently, “The grief that such a man is dead may be well assuaged by the proud consolation that such a man has lived.”  (pp 316-318)

Dinner Talk Topics

1. What comment by Jefferson indicated that he looked forward to a restoration of Christianity in its pure form?

2. Discuss the wisdom of the Monroe Doctrine

3. Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

List principles and actions by Jefferson which exemplified, supported, and perpetuated the Judeo-Christian culture of liberty.

 

Quotes by Thomas Jefferson

Historical Note about Jefferson’s contributions to the Great Seal of the United States

Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

Quotations

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example.

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “

“As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it … It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.”

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Discipleship Definition

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Discipleship Definition

Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ

By Robert D. Hales

The constellation of characteristics that result from faith in Christ are all necessary to our standing strong in these last days.

What does it mean to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ? A disciple is one who has been baptized and is willing to take upon him or her the name of the Savior and follow Him. A disciple strives to become as He is by keeping His commandments in mortality, much the same as an apprentice seeks to become like his or her master.

Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only “follower.” But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.

Listen to the Apostle Peter’s invitation to become a disciple of the Savior:

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

“And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

“And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”1

As you can see, weaving the spiritual tapestry of personal discipleship requires more than a single thread. In the Savior’s day, there were many who claimed to be righteous in one or another aspect of their lives. They practiced what I have called selective obedience. For example, they kept the commandment to refrain from work on the Sabbath yet criticized the Savior for healing on that holy day.2 They gave alms to the poor but offered only their excess—what they did not need for themselves.3 They fasted but only with long faces.4 They prayed but only to be seen of men.5 Jesus said, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”6 Such men and women may focus on mastering a specific attribute or action but do not necessarily become as He is in their hearts.

Of these, Jesus declared:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”7

The attributes of the Savior, as we perceive them, are not a script to be followed or list to be checked off. They are interwoven characteristics, added one to another, which develop in us in interactive ways. In other words, we cannot obtain one Christlike characteristic without also obtaining and influencing others. As one characteristic becomes strong, so do many more.

In 2 Peter and in Doctrine and Covenants section 4, we learn that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation. We measure our faith by what it leads us to do—by our obedience. “If ye will have faith in me,” the Lord promised, “ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.”8 Faith is a catalyst. Without works, without virtuous living, our faith is without power to activate discipleship. Indeed, faith is dead.9

Virtue, Knowledge

And so, Peter explains, “add to your faith virtue.” This virtue is more than sexual purity. It is cleanliness and holiness in mind and body. Virtue is also power. As we faithfully live the gospel, we will have power to be virtuous in every thought, feeling, and action. Our minds become more receptive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ.10 We embody Christ not only in what we say and do but also in who we are.

Peter continues, “Add to [your] virtue, knowledge.” As we live virtuous lives, we come to know our Heavenly Father and His Son in a special way. “If any man will do [the Father’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine.”11 This knowledge is personal testimony, born from personal experience. It is knowledge that transforms us so that our “light cleaveth unto [His] light” and our “virtue loveth [His] virtue.”12 By our virtuous living, we make the journey from “I believe” to the glorious destination of “I know.”

Temperance, Patience to Godliness

Peter exhorts us to add “to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience.” As temperate disciples, we live the gospel in a balanced and steady way. We do not “run faster than [we have] strength.”13 Day by day we move forward, undeterred by the refining challenges of mortality.

Being temperate in this way, we develop patience and trust in the Lord. We are able to rely on His design for our lives, even though we cannot see it with our own natural eyes.14 Therefore, we can “be still and know that [He is] God.”15 When faced with the storms of tribulation, we ask, “What wouldst Thou have me learn from this experience?” With His plan and purposes in our hearts, we move forward not only enduring all things but also enduring them patiently and well.16

This patience, Peter teaches, leads us to godliness. As the Father is patient with us, His children, we become patient with one another and ourselves. We delight in the agency of others and the opportunity it gives them to grow “line upon line,”17 “brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”18

From temperance to patience and from patience to godliness, our natures change. We gain the brotherly kindness that is a hallmark of all true disciples. Like the Good Samaritan, we cross the road to minister to whoever is in need, even if they are not within the circle of our friends.19 We bless them that curse us. We do good to those who despitefully use us.20 Is any attribute more godly or Christlike?

I testify that the efforts we make to become disciples of our Savior are truly added upon until we are “possessed” of His love.21 This love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”22

It is faith, hope, and charity that qualify us for the work of God.23 “And now abideth … these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”24

Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, we cannot be a “part-time disciple”! We cannot be a disciple on just one point of doctrine or another. The constellation of characteristics that result from faith in Christ—including the ones we have talked about today—are all necessary to our standing strong in these last days.

As we earnestly strive to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, these characteristics will be interwoven, added upon, and interactively strengthened in us. There will be no disparity between the kindness we show our enemies and the kindness we bestow on our friends. We will be as honest when no one is looking as when others are watching. We will be as devoted to God in the public square as we are in our private closet.

I testify that everyone can be a disciple of the Savior. Discipleship is not constrained by age, gender, ethnic origin, or calling. Through our individual discipleship, we build up a collective strength to bless our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.

Brothers and sisters, we are all called to be disciples of our Savior. May He bless us in our eternal quest to become devoted and valiant disciples.

 

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

Easter: Passion Flower and Christian Symbolism

Christian Symbolism

MarynresJesusEaster is the Sunday that celebrates the resurrection of Christ, and is one of the most holy days in the calendar of Christian churches. The Easter message is one of hope and victory over death, for it recalls that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter symbolizes the love of God and the promise that man’s soul is immortal.

In many languages, the name for Easter comes from the Hebrew word “pesah”, or passover; in fact, Easter was first associated with the Hebrew festival of the Passover, which falls in the spring. Easter was celebrated at different times by the early Christian churches until 325 A.D., when the Council of Nicaea fixed the day as the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. This always places Easter sometime between March 22 and April 25. It is believed that the council probably set the date of Easter to fall near the time of a full moon so that pilgrims journeying to worship a shrine might have moonlight to help them find their way. (xmission.com)

 

 

passionflowerPassion Flower and Christian Symbolism

by Luba Ambrose

Passiflora, a passion flower [Lat. flos passionis], is an amazing example of beauty of nature created through Divine Intervention. The flower was first discovered in the New World in the 17th century and was presented to the Old World by Jesuit missionary priests. Its unique anatomy, not found on any other flower, symbolically represents the events our Lord and God Jesus Christ went through in His last two days of His earthly life – Passions.

A piece of exquisite yet passing beauty, it comes from a bell-shaped bud to open and live for only one day and then succumb to its fading death in the same bell-shaped form. The tropical vine it grows on is lavished with multiple flowers and draws one’s attention immediately by the flower’s perfect shape and hidden mystery. The colors vary from deep purple (the color of Orthodox priests’ vestments during the Great Lent) to scarlet red, yet the numerical constituents remain the same: 10 petals (5 petals and 5 sepals identical in shape and color), 1 column, 72 corona filaments, 5 anthers, 3 stigmas.

Let’s decipher the numbers above according to Biblical story of Passions:

10 – Biblical account of Christ’s suffering tells us about St. Peter who distanced himself from Christ during His last hours, neither was Judas; whereas, 10 is the number of remaining Disciples of Christ at the time of crucifixion;

1 – Column of flagellation;

72 – Traditional number of thorns on a crown of thorns set upon Christ’s head;

5 – Total number of wounds inflicted to Christ at time of crucifixion;

3 – Nails.

resurrected ChristmedAdditionally, the vine’s leaves are shaped like a spear used to pierce Christ’s side. Some even find representation to Judas’ 30 pieces of silver (dark round spots on the underside of some species). Ominous may it seem to some or not, this flower graciously and quietly speaks of the most inspiring, life-changing and soul-bending story ever told to mankind.

The Orthodox faithful in Columbus area will have abundant services during the remaining days of Holy and Great Week of Christ’s Passion (up until Holy and Great Friday).

He is Risen! View Video

 

Easter Messages: The Living Christ

Easter Messages:

The Living Christ

The Testimony of the Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 2000

As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

Western Culture Newsletter: Easter is about Jesus Christ

April 2017 Western Culture Newsletter: Easter is about Jesus Christ

Culture Wars

Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics!

THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN WAY OF LIFE IS VANISHING. Easter used to be an integral part of American life—attendance at church on Easter Sunday, Easter sunrise services, and a week-long break from school designated as Easter vacation. Many stores are politically correct, having purged all vestiges of the true and traditional meaning of Easter. Now, Christ and Easter are banished, replaced by “Spring Break”, and everywhere children expect another sugar overload, just like Halloween.

Our mission here is to preserve and protect the Judeo-Christian culture, that precious way of life—to keep it alive for our children and grandchildren. Can we prevent the rising generation from becoming the Generation” lost”? If we do not tell them about our cherished values, they will never know. They need you, their parents, to pass on the values that are the only way to true happiness.

Pass on Judeo-Christian values to your children with this engaging and wholesome classic

Teach them about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so that they can feel “encircled in His gentle arms.” This is best explained in a quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

The Sacrifice of the Son of God

Each year at this time we commemorate and ponder the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for all mankind.

What the Savior did from Gethsemane to Golgotha on our behalf is beyond my ability to grasp. He took upon Himself the burden of our sins and paid an eternal and binding ransom not only for Adam’s original transgression but also for the sins and transgressions of the billions upon billions of souls who have ever lived. This eternal, sacred sacrifice caused “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18).

He suffered for me.

He suffered for you.

My soul overflows with gratitude when I contemplate the precious meaning of this sacrifice. It humbles me to know that all who accept this gift and incline their hearts to Him can be forgiven and cleansed of their sins, no matter how dark their blemish or how oppressive their burden.

We can be made spotless and pure once again. We can be redeemed by the eternal sacrifice of our beloved Savior.

Easter comes in the second week of April this year, but it is not something to think about one day per year, rather it is the essence of the Gospel, the very substance of our lives, the only key to true happiness.

So remember, Easter is not just a holiday—it’s a way of Life!

Thanks for visiting. Come often; Stay Late.

Christine Davidson

Highlights

Stress Relief Tip: Look to Christ

Easter: the Living Christ

  • Passion Flower Symbolism
  • Easter in Pictures

Book Review: Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Faith: Living Well in a world of Increasing Evil

Culture Wars: 10 Ways to Protect Religious Freedom

Defining Moment: Discipleship

So from now on, we are sharpening the focus of Western Culture Dinner Topics on what matters most— to continually define and defend Judeo-Christian values, more about Israel, our spiritual  brother in the house of Israel,  and to know our enemy, so as not to be deceived.

As Joshua Benamoz  taught us,

Battered but not beaten, Western Culture wins the day!

Stronger than ever, Western Culture’s here to stay!

Thanks for visiting. Come often, stay late.

Onward Christian Soldiers,

You might also like: Excerpt from new novel by C.A. Davidson, Birthright:

Why the Bible Matters

More about Birthright

 

News and Updates:

Now Available in digital and print at Amazon.

A  novel by C.A. Davidson—Christian fiction on Cultural Heritage. A historical novel so relevant it pops like today’s news! A wholesome classic to share with your children and grandchildren.

Click Here for More  Information and link to Amazon

 

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Western Culture Center:

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Meet the memorable characters of Birthright, join the Crusaders’ Council, with our motto—

Battered but not beaten, Western Culture wins the day!

Stronger than ever, Western Culture’s here to stay!

Knowing that truth matters and ideas have consequences, come meet with us in the arena of ideas at Nobles’ Western Culture Center as we work together to restore Judeo-Christian values to their rightful place in our society.

Start your free Constitution 101 course today.

The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating its work to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now, and receive first lesson by email. Actually, all their online courses are free. There is no better place to get an education about our heritage than at Hillsdale.edu

NEW PAGE! If you miss the newsletter, or just want an inspirational message on cultural topics, you can visit our new Inspiration Page. Topics include Truth Matters, Moral Compass, Armor of God, History Heroes, Eternal Perspective,  and more.

Easter is about Jesus Christ Theme Quotes

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. ~Matthew 28:6

For God so loved the world, he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

“No other single influence has had so great an impact on this earth as the life of Jesus the Christ.” ~Ezra Taft Benson

The Lord Made Repentance Possible; Lay Your Burdens at His Feet. ~Boyd K. Packer

He who suffered so selflessly for us in the garden and on the cross will not leave us comfortless now. He will strengthen, encourage, and bless us. He will encircle us in His gentle arms. ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!

Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?

No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet. ~ Charles H. Gabriel

 

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. ~Romans 14:11

We can turn to Him . . .because He understands. He understands the struggle, and He also understands how to win the struggle . . . The power of His Atonement can erase the effects of sin in us. When we repent, His atoning grace justifies and cleanses us. It is as if we had not succumbed, as if we had not yielded to temptation. As we endeavor day by day and week by week to follow the path of Christ, our spirit asserts its preeminence, the battle within subsides, and temptations cease to trouble. ~D. Todd Christofferson

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise…but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ~2Peter 3:9

Stress Relief Tip:  Look to Christ

Gordon B. Hinckley

We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days may bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know.

 

 

But one thing we do know.  Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor or our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.

In sunshine and in shadow we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us.

I know that my Redeemer lives,

Triumphant Savior, Son of God,

Victorious over pain and death,

My King, my Leader, and my Lord.

 

He lives, my one sure rock of faith,

The one bright hope of men on earth,

The beacon to a better way,

The light beyond the veil of death.

 

Oh, give me thy sweet  Spirit still,

The peace that comes alone from thee,

The faith to walk the lonely road

That leads to thine eternity.

 

Featured articles

The Parenting Value for this month: Teaching Children Respect vs. Ego

Famous Birthdays: Booker T. Washington, Haym Salomon, Rachmaninoff, Thomas Jefferson, Prokofiev, William Shakespeare

Defining Moment: Discipleship

Book Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Culture Wars: The Collapse of Comedy is no joke

  • Disney—Beauty and the Brainwashing
  • What the Left and Sharia Law have in Common

Easter: Teaching children about Easter

  • The Living Christ
  • Passion Flower symbolism
  • Gethsemane
  • Easter in Pictures

Faith: Living Well in a world of Increasing Evil

Hillsdale Imprimis: How Intelligence Works, When It Does

Moral Support: 10 ways to defend Religious Liberty

US Constitution Series 4: Church and State

Truth Matters: Know your enemy—the true nature of jihad, a stealth invasion

And as always—current events, updates, great cartoons, and analysis

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Ongoing

1. Let Us Educate Ourselves

Start your free Constitution 101 course today.

The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating this year to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now, and receive first lesson by email. 

2. Home Education—Let’s Teach our Children!

 “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”–Ronald Reagan

Pass on Judeo-Christian values to your children with this engaging and wholesome classic

Seeing the widespread injury done in any given week, (many incidents go unreported), stay aware of important news and insights at Epicworld Dinner Topics.

Traditional Bible-believing parents may have to consider withdrawing their children from public schools to protect your family spiritually and financially from the rising tide of persecution and ruinous lawsuits by anti-Christian fascists.

If it is not possible for you to home school, try to teach your children Judeo-Christian values at home. The easiest way to do this is to tell stories and discuss principles at the family dinner table. I hope these dinner topics help you with this vital effort. Just don’t give up! Our precious children are worth fighting for!

Learn the Key to Survival in a Difficult World

3. Study the U.S. Constitution!

It is the last remaining safeguard of our precious freedoms! A good way to do this is to study the monthly Constitution series from The 5,000 Year Leap. To access this series of posts, type US Constitution Series in this site’s search bar. Also, look for posts that refer to the Constitution in current events.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Push Back Against the World

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Push Back Against the World

Dallin H. Oaks

God has provided a way to live in this world and not be contaminated by the degrading pressures … spread throughout it. ~Richard G. Scott

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

I. Don’t reject the Word because of Fear of Man

As is traditional on such occasions, [college graduation]I will give some advice to graduates. I have titled my message “Push Back Against the World.” By pushing against “the world” I obviously do not mean all that the world has to offer in modern conveniences, prosperity, and security. When I say, “Push back against the world,” I mean push back against that part of the world’s values and practices that draw us away from the Lord’s teachings and our covenant obligations.

At the beginning of this dispensation, the Lord warned that “every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world” (D&C 1:16).

The Apostle Paul gave the same warning in one of his New Testament letters: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Those warnings not to be spoiled by the “likeness of the world” and “the tradition of men” apply to all of us. But they apply most particularly to graduates who are about to leave the protection of their alma mater, which means their nourishing mother, and venture forth into a world full of temptations and troubles.

There is nothing new in such advice to one who is just setting forth. The Lord warned the young Prophet Joseph Smith that he should not go on “in the persuasions of men” (D&C 3:6). And again, in connection with his loss of the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, the Lord rebuked the Prophet with these words: “And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and to yield to the persuasions of men no more” (D&C 5:21).

The cares and temptations of the world are very real to all, especially to those who have accepted the doctrines and made the covenants of the restored gospel. Prophetic teachings often run counter to the popular ideas and prejudices of the world. Church members must, therefore, take special care to avoid the mistake of James Covel, an early convert, who rejected the word and the way of the Lord because of “the fear of persecution and the cares of the world” (D&C 40:2).

II. We cannot change evil, but we can increase our power to deal with it

But as serious as all of this is, we must worry just as much about the rising tide of evil in the world around us. Though some of us may feel isolated from the physical and political threats I have just mentioned, all of us are surrounded with evil in literature, music, movies, videos—on the internet, in our schools, and in the marketplace.

I see all of these challenges as a fulfillment of Father Lehi’s prophetic teaching that there must be “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). We cannot change the evil influences that surround and press upon us and our families, but we can increase our power to deal with them as we push back against the world. We must try to carve out personal islands of purity and serenity and strengthen our barriers against the forces that besiege us in these protected spaces.

Following the Lord’s way is not easy. The Lord has warned us again and again, directly and through His servants, that the world will hate us for being different, for doing things the Lord’s way. In the concluding days of His ministry, He told His Apostles, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

 The good news is that when we do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way we are assured of His blessings to help us. “I will go before your face,” He has said. “I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).

III. Effective Ways to Push Back

Honor the Sabbath

One of the most effective ways we can go forward with faith and push back against the world is to observe the Sabbath day in an appropriate, positive way. The Sabbath day of worship and rest from worldly labors is the divinely appointed anchor to hold us fast in the storms of life. Properly observed, the Sabbath will help us and our families develop the spiritual strength we need to stand firm against temptation and to stay unspotted from the world.

By modern revelation the Lord has commanded that on the Sabbath we “rest from [our] labors” and “pay [our] devotions unto the Most High” and that on this day we “do none other thing” (D&C 59:10, 13). When we keep this commandment of our Creator, we qualify for His promised blessings. He who created us knows what patterns of behavior will allow us to achieve our maximum physical and spiritual performance, and He has given us commandments designed to guide us into that behavior. When we honor the Sabbath day, we separate ourselves from most of the world, but we are blessed richly for it.

Avoid Hate

Another way to push back against the world is to stand clear from the current atmosphere of hate and to refrain from participating in the contentious communications that are so common today. Partly such contentious communications result from modern technology, which fosters conflicts by expanding the audience and the speed of dissemination. Careless charges, false representations, and ugly innuendos are instantly flashed around the world, widening and intensifying the distance between different parties and different positions. I am not referring to differences in policies, which need to be debated publicly, but to the current ugliness and personal meanness of the communications.

Don’t be part of such communications. As followers of Christ, we know that all of the inhabitants of this earth are children of God. Use that knowledge to push back against the worldly prejudices that preach hate or hostility toward other nations, ethnic groups, or even political parties.

Remember our Savior’s teaching that “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Nephi 11:29). In our discourse, public and private, we should all follow the gospel teachings to avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. But beyond this we should remember and follow the Savior’s teaching: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Just this month President Monson taught us:

“If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with compassion and respect, showing our love in day-to-day interactions. …

“Love is the very essence of the gospel, the noblest attribute of the human soul. Love is the remedy for ailing families, ill communities, and sick nations.”1

Stand for the Right

Of course this counsel to love, to avoid contention, and to be examples of civility is not meant to discourage us from participating in discussions, debates, and even taking adversarial positions against what we believe to be wrong or inadvisable. Within the limits of our own resources of time and influence we should take a position, make it known, and in a respectful way attempt to persuade others of its merit, at least for us. Positive action is essential to our responsibility to push back against the world.

Good examples of those kinds of positions where our voices need to be heard are the importance of religion and religious freedom for all citizens, believers and nonbelievers alike.

As to the importance of religion, we can be alert to insist that its importance in the founding of this nation and the progress of our civilization is given fair treatment in our public schools. This is needed because some influential leaders and many educators have come to consider it bad taste or even illegal for public schools even to mention religious influences and motivations.

The American Textbook Council, which surveys the most widely used American and world history textbooks, gave this report two decades ago: “The strength of religion in shaping human thought and action is not often explained, and its role as a motivating agent of culture, politics, and ethics often remains under examined. … Religion in the contemporary world is discussed by region, out of context, and often in oblique and misleading ways.”2

We should push back against such incomplete and inaccurate portrayals of our histories and our people.

Under the banner of Jesus Christ, we should also go forward in coalitions of like-minded persons to protect and advance the strength of our precious freedoms of speech, conscience, and the free exercise of religion. I have spoken often on this subject, in this country and other countries. This subject is important, but not needful of further emphasis to this audience.

Keep the Commandments of God

Of course, pushing back against the world includes as one of its most important elements keeping the commandments of God. Graduates, I plead with each of you not to seek happiness in the glittering temptations and attractions of the world. As the scriptures teach, wickedness never was happiness. Those who yield to the enticing of Satan may, as the scripture says, “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), but that kind of pleasure can never lead to lasting happiness or eternal joy. Over time, yielding to the influences of Satan will only halt eternal progress and bring feelings of darkness, anger, hate, and misery.

Push Back against Cultures that are Contrary to the Gospel

While speaking of sin, I will also speak of the dangers of some elements of national and ethnic cultures, and even family cultures, that come from the traditions and practices of men. When the practices of these cultures are contrary to gospel covenants and culture, we must push back and separate ourselves from them. We must do this with cultural practices that accommodate dishonesty or dependency or tolerate sexual relations outside marriage. The Apostle Paul warned:

 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Push Back against Dependency

We should also push back against the worldly practice that has been described as the culture of dependency—the expectation that the extended family or the community or the government will provide what you desire with a minimum of effort on your part. As required by the spiritual growth that is the purpose of the plan of salvation, the gospel teaching of self-reliance pushes back against the idea or culture of dependency.

Serving others is the gospel way of pushing back against the worldly attitudes of dependency.

Don’t be part of the worldly attitude described in the characterization of your generation as the “me generation,” interested only in “what’s in it for me.” Always be willing to cooperate and even sacrifice in cooperative efforts for the benefit of the larger community.

Push Back against Pollution of the Moral Environment

We hear much about cleaning up the physical environment—air, water, and other essentials that are being polluted in a way that is poisoning the physical environment for all of us. We may choose to join in such efforts. But we who are responsible to push back against the world should be at least equally concerned about forces that are poisoning the moral environment. I refer to such moral pollutions as pornography. I also refer to language that pollutes public communications with profanity, vulgarity, and morally degrading coarseness. Push back against these kinds of pollutions also.

In all of these efforts, we can trust in the great promises of the Lord. He has taught us, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). He has also taught us that He does not ask anything of us except He prepares the way for us to accomplish it (see 1 Nephi 3:7). He has shown us that while He may not immediately answer our prayers for relief, He will strengthen us to bear the burdens placed upon us (see Mosiah 24:14–15).

IV. Lifelong Learning and Cultural Enrichment

Robert Schumann music room

I have been speaking about pushing back against worldly values and practices that are contrary to gospel teachings and covenants. I now conclude by urging you to practice one worldly value that is consistent with the gospel culture. It is the importance of lifelong learning, which for us is promoted and directed by eternal priorities. Beyond increasing our occupational qualifications, we should desire to learn how to become more emotionally fulfilled, more skilled in our personal relationships, and better parents and citizens. There are few things more fulfilling and fun than learning something new. Greater happiness, satisfaction, and even temporal rewards come from this.

Our education should not be limited to formal study. Lifelong learning can increase our ability to appreciate and relish the workings and beauty of the world around us. This kind of learning goes well beyond books and a selective use of new technology, such as the internet. It includes artistic endeavors. It also includes experiences with people and places: conversations with friends; travel; visits to museums, plays, and concerts; and opportunities for service.

Graduates, expand yourselves and enjoy the journey. Remember the great counsel of our dear Elder Richard G. Scott, who said: “Now [look at] the brighter side. Despite pockets of evil, the world overall is majestically beautiful, filled with many good and sincere people. God has provided a way to live in this world and not be contaminated by the degrading pressures … spread throughout it.3

1 Thomas S. Monson, “As I Have Loved You,” Ensign, Feb. 2017, 4–5.
2 G. T. Sewell, “Religion in the classroom: What the textbooks tell us, a report of the American Textbook Council” (1995), 17. Also see M. H. Romanowaki, “Addressing Christianity in American history: Are textbooks improving?” Mid-Western Educational Researcher, (2001), 21, 23–24. (“They simply mention religion … creating the impression that religion and faith have little to do with the development of U.S. history.”)
3 Richard G. Scott, “How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 100.

National Security: Christianity, Church and State Issues

National Security:

Christianity, Church and State Issues

Does Christian compassion conflict with national security?

Remember, the role of the state is to protect the citizens from terrorism by enforcing the law, so that the citizens, including Christians, can have freedom of religion to “welcome the strangerwho has been vetted and is truly in need. First Amendment rights apply to citizens only. Acts of murder, theft, and fraud are not protected by freedom of religion, but are subject to civil law. ~C.D.

Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. ~Doctrine and Covenants 58:21

‘Welcoming the stranger’ in an age of civilizational jihad and terror

Art Moore

Does the biblical mandate to “welcome the stranger” mean that faithful Christians must support immigration policies that arguably could not only harm citizens, but also threaten the nation’s very existence?

When more than half of U.S. governors announced they wouldn’t take in any more Syrian migrants until their security concerns were addressed, President Obama responded with a moral rebuke, declaring, “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” and is “not who we are” as Americans. (Obama’s values are not American values. ~C.D.)

Church and State Defined

State Responsibility: VET incoming migrants; then, Christians can welcome those who are truly fleeing oppression

But David French, an evangelical Christian known for his National Review columns and books on Islam and terrorism, argued there is “no contradiction between personally welcoming the ‘strangers’ among us while our leaders endeavor to protect us from a genocidal terrorist force that uses refugee status as a shield and disguise to perpetrate brutal attacks against innocent civilians.”

 

Abandoning Morality

Edward J. Erler, professor emeritus of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, observed a moral trend that has muddled the debate over the Syrian migrants, leading to what he believes are irrational decisions regarding national security.

 

Moral Relativism of Diversity

In a speech at Hillsdale College last fall he said Americans “have abandoned the morality engendered by what the Declaration of Independence called the ‘Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.'”

Erler said progressivism has eroded that foundation, leading to a morality of value-free relativism that insists reason cannot prove that one value is superior to or more beneficial than another, leaving society only with “idiosyncratic preferences.”

“In this value-free universe, the only value that is ‘objectively’ of higher rank is tolerance. Equal toleration of all values—what is called today a commitment to diversity—is only ‘reasonable’ position,” he explained.

He noted that the “tolerance of those who are willing to tolerate you does not earn you much credit—it doesn’t require much of a commitment or sacrifice.”

This reality, according to Erler, helps explain why many Westerners, including religious believers, are so eager to take in the Muslim migrants while demonizing those who disagree with them.

“If, however, you are willing to tolerate those who are pledged to kill you and destroy your way of life, tolerance represents a genuine commitment,” Erler said. “Only such a deadly commitment signals a nation’s single-minded devotion to tolerance as the highest value by its willingness to sacrifice its sovereignty as proof of its commitment.”

Concluding his argument, he said the “common-sense citizen is forgiven for thinking this train of thought insane.”

“But what other explanation could there be for the insistence of so many of our political leaders on risking the nation’s security—in light of what we see in Europe, one might even say their willingness to commit national suicide—by admitting refugees without regard to their hostility to our way of life and their wish to destroy us as a nation?”

Erler noted that Western leaders have shown no such enthusiasm for rescuing Christian refugees from Middle Eastern violence.

“These refugees, of course, represent no danger to America. Only by admitting those who do represent a danger can we display to the world ‘who we are as a people,’ a people willing to sacrifice ourselves to vouchsafe our commitment to tolerance.”

Welfare Refugees

Daniel Greenfield, an Israel-born author in New York who focuses on radical Islam, argued the only authentic refugees are Christians and Yazidis who do not have a country to call their own in the region.  Sunnis Muslims can flee to Jordan or Turkey, and Shiite Muslims can take refuge in Lebanon.

“Talk of resettling them in the United States or Europe has nothing to do with ‘persecution,'” he wrote in a column for FrontPage Magazine.

“It’s economic migration. And economic migration in this case is a euphemism for welfare migration,” noting the refugees specifically seek out countries such as Germany and Sweden with generous welfare states.

Resisting Assimilation

But the national-security threat is not limited to keeping out Islamic terrorists.

Counter-terrorism expert Andrew C. McCarthy, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the “blind sheik” terror case, points out the threat posed by populations that develop, encourage, aid, abet and materially support terrorism.

Shariah conflicts with the Constitution

But even more significant for the long term well-being of the United States, is the civilizational threat posed by the resistance to assimilation and the promotion of a system of governance—Islamic law, or shariah—that conflicts with the U.S. Constitution.

McCarthy warned in a National Review column that highly influential Islamic leaders have embarked on a conquest strategy known as “voluntary apartheid,” meaning the establishment of shariah enclaves that would eventually merge into an Islamic state that dominates Europe and the United States.

No-Go Zones

McCarthy noted France’s problem with its unassimilated Muslim community, asking, “Why should we voluntarily replicate it here?”

He quoted the highly respected political scientist Giles Kepel, who found dozens of French neighborhoods “where police and gendarmerie cannot enforce the Republican order or even enter without risking confrontation, projectiles, or even fatal shootings.”

These “no-go zones” include the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, which harbored the terrorist cell that carried out the multi-pronged November 2015 attack in the French capital that killed 129 people. Of the 1.4 million who live there, 600,000 are Muslims.

Dr. Ben Carson believes creating safe zones in Syria is a better way to deal with Syrian refugees than resettling them in the United States.

Christians Ignored

While 10 percent of the Syrian population is Christian, only 56 of the 10,801 Syrians accpet to the U.S. as of last September were Christians—about one-half of 1 percent.

A Christian leader who has been kidnapped by jihadists, and who has an ISIS bounty on his head, spoke with Whistleblower about the challenge of answering the seemingly conflicting calls of welcoming the stranger and also caring for love ones and neighbors.

The England-born vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, who now is in exile from his Baghdad congregation, has been caring for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled ISIS.

More than 1,200 people who once worshipped with him have been killed in recent years, including four boys who were beheaded because they refused to convert to Islam.

“I think our first priority as Christians is to care for our family: We have to care for the Christians,” he said. “and what America is very bad at doing is understanding the needs of persecuted Christians.”