Gospel Teachings: Foundation of Faith

Gospel Teachings:

Foundation of Faith

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.

Gallery

History Facts: Judeo-Christian Culture Pushing Back against Globalization in European Union

This gallery contains 6 photos.

History Facts: Judeo-Christian Culture Pushing Back against Globalization in European Union “I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph. … Continue reading

History Facts: Founding Fathers supported Judeo-Christian Values

History Facts:

Founding Fathers supported Judeo-Christian Values

Words from Our Nation’s Founders on God and Government

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

This Independence Day we should strive to remember the Christian underpinnings of this nation, which helped give freedom to all, regardless of creed.

Barely a week goes by without some challenge to our nation’s Judeo-Christian roots in the name of the separation of church and state. But as another Fourth of July is upon us, it’s interesting to note what the founders said in their own words. Consider the following sampling:

  • Thomas Jefferson, author of the first draft of the Declaration, said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time” (Virginia delegates to Congress, August 1774) and “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just” (Notes on Virginia, 1782).
  • Samuel Adams, the lightning rod of the American Revolution, signed the Declaration in the summer of ‘76: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.
  • John Adams, Samuel’s distant cousin, wrote, “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite….And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.” (Letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813).
  • When General George Washington first received a copy of the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776, he made George Washingtonan order to hire chaplains in every regiment. These were to be “persons of good Characters and exemplary lives.” Washington said, “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.”
  • Congress regularly called for days of fasting and prayer throughout the war. For example, they declared one on May 17, 1776, as a “day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer…[to] confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.” (Source: Library of Congress website, loc.gov).
  • John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress which declared independence and adopted the Declaration, later served as the governor of Massachusetts. On October 5, 1791, he declared a day of thanksgiving to God for many blessings, including “the great and most important Blessing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ: And together with our cordial acknowledgments, I do earnestly recommend, that we may join the penitent confession of our Sins, and implore the further continuance of the Divine Protection, and Blessings of Heaven upon this People…that all may bow to the Scepter of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and the whole Earth be filled with his Glory” [emphasis his].
  • James Madison championed the cause of the Constitution. In his “A Memorial and Remonstrance,” an essay on

    James Madison

    religious liberty from 1785, Madison stated: “It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time, and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

  • Ben Franklin signed the Declaration and the Constitution. He called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention, when things were slow going. A variation of his request was adopted when the founding fathers attended a July 4th worship service at a Christian church in Philadelphia. Franklin said, “In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered….To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” (June 28, 1787).
  • Alexander Hamilton, a key proponent of the Constitution, wrote: “Let an association be formed to be denominated ‘The Christian Constitutional Society,’ its object to be first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.” (Letter to James Bayard, April 16-21, 1802).
  • The first Chief Justice of our country was founding father John Jay. His Last Will and Testament begins: “Unto Him who is the Author and Giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His merciful and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by his beloved Son.”

This Independence Day we should strive to remember the Christian underpinnings of this nation, which helped give freedom to all, regardless of creed.

Moral Support: 10 ways to Defend Freedom of Religion

Moral Support:

10 ways to Defend Freedom of Religion

Lift Where You Stand: 10 Ways to Defend Freedom of Religion

D. Todd Christofferson

Knowing how to protect religious freedom can seem daunting. It might seem like you need a legal or political background to make a difference. But there are simple things you can do in your neighborhood or community that can have big effects over time. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of building trust with others so that you have relationships already established when you need to come together on complex issues. Here are some simple ways to protect religious freedom in everyday life:

  1. Study up on the issues. Study the words of the living Apostles on religious freedom and moral issues. Read responsible websites, newspapers, magazines, and blogs that explore current events from a variety of perspectives, asking God to let the Spirit help you discern truth. Let your beliefs and the facts inform your views. Be ready to act. Know your rights established by the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (italics added).
  2. Speak up with courage and civility. Don’t be intimidated into silence by intolerant voices. Speak up! State your views with true civility and kindness (for ideas, see “7 Keys to Successful Conversations”). Speak or write calmly. Seek true understanding. Acknowledge legitimate points. And explain why the freedoms you defend are so important to you, your loved ones, and the Church—make it personal. Keep in mind that one-on-one conversations are usually more meaningful and respectful than group discussions, especially if they’re online. Stand firmly for principle while understanding that in some areas we will have to seek compromise to protect our most vital freedoms.
  3. Get involved in the political process. Vote in your local, state, and national elections. Support candidates who understand the proper role of religion in society and the need to protect it for everyone. Learn about how laws are made. You could also attend city council meetings, join a political party, write your representatives, and combine your efforts with others who support religious freedom.
  4. Get to know people of other faiths. Talk with them about matters of shared concern. Participate in an interfaith service project. Support their religious freedom.
  5. Volunteer for a charity. Help solve problems in your community by giving of your time to a local charitable or service

    humanitarian service

    organization. When people of faith do good, they increase their ability to convince others that religious freedom should be respected and protected.

  6. Get involved in education. Participate in your local PTA. Run for the school board. Lend your voice and resources to solving problems in your school. Help preserve reasonable space for religious values in educational settings. Support the right of parents to guide their children’s education. Support values-based extracurricular activities like religious clubs or Bible-study classes.
  7. Be part of a club, business group, or professional association. Build relationships and gain perspectives by joining with community members in a book club, a debate team, a college alumni group, a conservation effort, a Scout troop, a speech forum, or a sports team. Be where the conversations are happening. That will give you opportunities to educate others about the importance of religious freedom and challenges to it. Likewise, business groups and professional associations exert great influence on policy makers and on other business people and professionals. They need your voice in support of faith, family, and religious freedom.
  8. Extend the reach of your faith. Connect ward service activities with the needs of the community where possible. Cooperation between church groups and community organizations helps build mutual trust and focuses resources on helping those in need. Be careful not to commit the Church to any outside agenda. Again, when people of faith do good works, others will be more likely to respect their need for religious freedom.
  9. Make it a family matter and a matter of prayer. Take your children to a speech or conference on religious freedom. Watch a movie or documentary on the role and history of religious freedom in society. Conduct a lesson or activity about the United States Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other foundational documents. Invite a family of another faith into your home.

Pray that our freedoms will be preserved. Pray and exercise faith that governments at home and abroad will be opened—or remain open—to the Church. As the Lord long ago “stirred” Cyrus, the King of Persia, to issue a decree allowing the Jews to rebuild a temple in Jerusalem (see Ezra 1:1), so can He stir other leaders with influence to help preserve religious freedom. Pray as you study about religious freedom that you can understand what you need to know and do. Pray for the Spirit to help direct you in conversations.

  1. Enlarge your voice through social media. Be persuasive by being civil in online conversations; the person who gets angry loses. Share appropriate links, stories, photos, articles, and personal experiences on social media. Start a blog, write an op-ed, or submit a letter to the editor. Learn from those who might disagree with you as you defend gospel standards and religious freedom. Sometimes even just sharing goodness you see in the world can help people recognize that your beliefs are about bringing peace, not contention, to the world.

Stress Relief Ideas: Obey the Commandments

Stress Relief Ideas:

Obey the Commandments

The Commandments of God are like warning signs along the road of life—they keep us out of the danger zones. Keep the Commandments. It is not always easy, but in the long run, as one Christian leader said, it is easier to Prepare and Prevent than to Repair and Repent. ~C.D.

Keep the Commandments

Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace.

He will send blessings, He will send blessings.

Words of a prophet;

Keep the commandments.

In this there is safety and peace.

Text and music: Barbara A. McConochie

Independence Day, YouTube Music and Star Spangled Banner Anthem

Dinner Topics for Friday

Independence Day: Liberty and Star Spangled Banner Anthem

news_flag_hdr5At church when we stand and sing the Star-Spangled Banner (it’s in our hymn book), I feel new hope that the majority of the American people still love this country and believe in American exceptionalism.  Politics alone are no longer the solution to our growing tyranny and loss of liberty. It is a cultural problem. Our only hope is to teach our children the gospel of Jesus Christ and the history and constitutional  principles that once  made this country a beacon of liberty to all the world–that is,  teach them Biblical values–the culture of liberty, and to restore America’s covenant with God. ~C.A. Davidson

 

flaghouseBarfootOh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, Whose broad strips and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and  the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thru mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam, of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines on the stream: ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation! Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our our motto: “In God is our trust!” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

~Francis Scott Key

The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort M’Henry”,[1] a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “To Anacreon in Heaven” (or “The Anacreontic Song”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one octave and one fifth (a semitone more than an octave and a half), it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889, and by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. “Hail, Columbia” served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, whose melody is identical to “God Save the Queen“, the British national anthem,[2] also served as a de facto anthem.[3] Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs emerged to compete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

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

Gospel Teachings:

Warning to Youth to Repent is an Act of Love

The Voice of Warning

D.Todd Christofferson

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

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

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

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

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

Warning to Turn from Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look to God and Live; He seeks our Happiness

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

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

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

Rooted in Love—To Warn is to Care

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

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

Parents—Warn your Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He warned the Pharisees out of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moral Relativists are Strangely Unmerciful to Those who Disagree

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Not Let Fear of the World Stifle Teaching of Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

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.

You can see a scrolling set of his pictures and schedule a visit to the Museum of Fine Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.[1]

History Heroes: Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II crush Communism and Avert Nuclear War

History Heroes:

Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II crush Communism and Avert Nuclear War

A Fascinating Friendship Crushed Communism and Averted Nuclear War

Larry Tomczak

 

This story of two great history heroes is an inspiration. Don’t miss it! ~C.D.

Inspired by the supernatural intervention of God both during the Reagan years and in this recent election, may we all rededicate ourselves to praying for our elected officials, our nation and another spiritual awakening during these turbulent times. ~Larry Tomczak

 

“I don’t know what weapons would be used to fight World War III, but IV would be settled with sticks and stones.”   – Albert Einstein

USA TODAY ran this front page headline recently: “World War III: Americans are Thinking About the Unthinkable” [May 3, 2017]. Data from Google searches shows incredible spikes for – you guessed it – “World War III.” And the Doomsday clock is now as close as it’s ever been to midnight.

Not long ago there was a similar situation but it was providentially avoided because of the friendship of two outstanding leaders. Can you guess who they were?

This is the absolutely amazing account of two of history’s greatest leaders and their bond of friendship that changed the world and averted a nuclear nightmare. Both are gone but their story is worthy of reflection in these tense times.

Ronald Reagan was one of America’s greatest presidents and his stature is sorely missed. Think for a moment on his victory margin in the 1984 election of 525 to 13 electoral votes as he won 49 of 50 states!

His opponent,  Walter Mondale, only won his home state of Minnesota and that by 3,761 votes! “The Gipper’s” electoral votes remain the highest total ever received by a presidential candidate. Don’t forget he was 73 – the oldest president in America’s history.

He’s my hero and I treasure the autographed picture of him in my study. Millions draw inspiration from his life and legacy.

Since we are known by our friends, it behooves us to discover who was Reagan’sclosest friend. It may surprise you.

It’s been said there are four types of friends:

  • Just friends – social
  • Rust friends – oldies
  • Trust friends – counselors
  • Must friends – gifts from God

President Reagan had a God-given gift in a person with whom he changed the course of history. And it wasn’t his beloved wife, Nancy, to whom he was married for 52 years. Actor Charlton Heston called this unique relationship, “The greatest love affair in the history of the American presidency.”

Some Simple Clues

My father came from Poland as an immigrant. My mother was Polish as were almost all of our relatives.

We were dyed-in-the-wool Catholics.  I had 12 years of parochial school. My autobiography, “Clap Your Hands,” helped reach a quarter million predominately Catholics and both my father and I had the privilege of ministering the gospel in Poland.

Whether you’re Catholic or not, you’re most likely familiar with the first Polish pope in history who also gained sainthood in the Catholic Parthenon of saints.

This towering figure connected with President Reagan, and today they are recognized together as the principal players in collapsing Communism and averting a nuclear war.

Pope John Paul 2 in Krakow, Poland

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in 1920 and was athletic, manly and an outspoken advocate for human rights. When Nazis occupied Poland during World War II, he studied in a secret seminary in Kraków, became pope in 1978 and traveled to over 129 countries sharing the message of Jesus Christ.

He stood up to Communism using his influence and moral authority so effectively that he is credited with its fall in Poland and throughout Europe. Lech Walensa, founder of the Solidarity movement and the first post-Communist President of Poland, repeatedly honored John Paul for giving Poles the courage to affect change peacefully, altering the politics of the land.

Even Soviet leader Mikael Gorbachev once said, “The collapse of the Iron Curtain would have been impossible without John Paul II.”  [CBS News Online: “Pope Stared Down Communism in His Homeland – and Won!” (June 30, 2008)].

For years prior to his death, this icon was a prophetic symbol of perseverance under pressure and pain as he never stopped his missionary work while trembling severely with Parkinson’s.

“A Pope and a President”

Paul Kengor, political science professor and author, has just released his amazing book reviewing this little known relationship. It’s subtitle is, “A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.”

In a compelling way, Mister Kengor documents the spiritual connection between the Catholic pope and the Protestant president that strengthened each other in confronting the paramount evil of the 20th century: Soviet Communism.

History Patterns

We learn the following:

  • Communism’s demise was not triggered by tearing down the Berlin Wall but Poland’s election and the Pope’s catalytic role.
  • Both men were almost assassinated just weeks apart in 1981; each should have died as they almost bled to death; and, later during personal time in the Vatican, they shared their belief that God spared their lives for a special purpose, to take down atheist Communism.
  • The Soviet Union was on the brink of invading Poland the very day Reagan was shot but with America on full nuclear alert, the highest level of DEFCON, they stopped abruptly to avoid the conflagration of a nuclear war.
  • The CIA allegedly but secretly confirmed Russia’s role in the shooting of the pontiff by Mehmet Agca (whom the pope later visited, forgave and prayed with in prison!).
  • Ronald Reagan specifically identified him as his “best friend” and Nancy as his “closest friend.”

Application Today

Former President George W. Bush once labeled North Korea and Iran as two players in the “axis of evil.” When Mitt Romney ran for president he said Russia was the number one geopolitical foe of America. The threat of all three nations to world peace is an alarming reality today.

People are understandably on edge. Add to the mix the ever-present terrorist activity in our nation and abroad, and we do have a recipe for potential disaster overnight.

 

It’s important to remember the strong prayer emphasis prevalent during the Reagan era as we study the providential hand of God in the friendship of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. It should motivate us afresh to pray “first of all… for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty… ” (1Tim. 2:1-2).

Inspired by the supernatural intervention of God both during the Reagan years and in this recent election, may we all rededicate ourselves to praying for our elected officials, our nation and another spiritual awakening during these turbulent times.

Read more about Polish heroism in the Cold War

How to apply the victories of the Reagan Era in our day

LARRY TOMCZAK
Larry Tomczak is a cultural commentator of 43 yrs, Liberty Counsel public policy advisor, Intercessors for America board member and best-selling author. His new, innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see www.bullseyechallenge.com). Click (here) for his “Here’s the Deal” weekly podcast. Follow Larry on Facebook

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

Dinner Topics

Month-Defining Moment

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.