US Constitution Series 4: Church, State, and Religion in American Life

Dinner Topics for Thursday

The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

US Constitution Series 4: Church, State, and Religion in American Life

Principle #4

christianchurchWithout religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.

Many Americans fail to realize that the Founders felt the role of religion would be as important in our own day as it was in theirs. In 1787, the very year the Constitution was written and approved by Congress, that same Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance. In it they emphasized the essential need to teach religion and morality in the schools. (Skousen, p. 75)

In it, they stated that formal education was to include among its responsibilities the teaching of three important subjects:

1. Religion, which might be defined as a “fundamental system of beliefs concerning man’s origin and relationship to the cosmic universe as well as his relationship with his fellowmen.”

2. Morality, which may be described as “a standard of behavior distinguishing right from wrong.”

3. Knowledge, which is “an intellectual awareness and understanding of established facts relating to any field of human experience or inquiry (i.e., history, geography, science, etc.).”

How to Teach your family about Church and State

George Washington

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion …Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, relgion and morality are indispensable supports …Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”

Washington issued this solemn warning because in Franc, shortly before he wrote his Farewell Address (1796), the promoters of atheism and amorality had seized control and turned the French Revolution into a shocking blood bath of wild excesses and violence. Washington obviously never wanted anything like that to happen in the United States. Therefore he had said: “In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness [religion and morality].” (Skousen, p.79)

225px-BenFranklin2Benjamin Franklin

Here is my creed: I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other  children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion.

The “Fundamental Points” to Be Taught in the Schools

The five points of fundamental religious belief expressed or implied in Franklin’s statement are these:

1. There exists a Creator who made all things, and mankind should recognize and worship Him.

2. The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living shich distinguishes right from wrong.

3. The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other.

4. All mankind live beyond this life.

5. In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.

All five of these tenets run through practically all of the Founders’ writings. These are the beliefs which the Founders sometimes referred to as the “religion of America,” and they felt these fundamentals were so important in providing “good government and the happiness of mankind” that they wanted them taught in the public schools along with morality and knowledge. (Skousen, p.78)

In fact, the Founders had taken the five truths we have already identified as ”religion” and had built the whole Constitutional framework on top of them. (Skousen, p.92)

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Thomas Jefferson

Special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”, thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press, insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others; and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religions, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals.

The Federal “Wall” Between Church and State

In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association dated January 1, 1802, [Jefferson] explained his position and said the Constitution had created “a wall of separation between church and state.”

In recent years the Supreme Court has undertaken to use this metaphor as an excuse for meddling in the religious issues arising within the various states. It has not only presumed to take jurisdiction in these disputes, but has actually forced the states to take the same hands-off position toward religious matters even thought his restriction originally applied only to the federal government.

justice gavelNOTE: In its 1963 ruling, the Supreme Court in actuality did not take a hands-off position. Instead, it established atheism as the national religion. (Atheism, as a system of beliefs, qualifies as a religion.) Today, the preferred religion in schools is Islam, while Christianity continues to be banned, even persecuted. The Supreme Court violated the clause in the US Constitution which forbids the federal government from both “establishing” religion and “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Because of this national decree by the Supreme Court, the states are failing to protect religious freedom on the state level. Hence, the rampant atheist and Islamic indoctrination in the state schools. ~C.A. Davidson

This obvious distortion of the original intent of Jefferson (when he used the metaphor of a “wall” separating church and state) becomes entirely apparent when the statements and actions of Jefferson are examined in their historical context. (Skousen, p.89-90)

Jefferson and Madison were anxious that the states intervene in religious matters so as to provide for equality among all religions, and that all churches or religions assigned preferential treatment should be disestablished from such preferment. They further joined with the other Founders in expressing an anxiety that ALL religions be encouraged in order to promote the moral fiber and religious tone of the people. This, of course, would be impossible if there were an impenetrable “wall” between church and state on the state level.

Jefferson’s “wall” was obviously intended only for the federal government, and the Supreme Court application of this metaphor to the states has come under severe criticism. (Dallin Oaks, ed., The Wall Between Church and State, 1963, 99.2-3)

Alexis de Tocqueville

He emphasized the fact that this religious undergirding of the political structure was a common denominator of moral teachings in different denominations and not the political pressure of some national church hierarchy.

                De Tocqueville Describes the Role of Religion in the Schools

De Tocqueville found that the schools, especially in New England, incorporated the basic tenets of religion right along with history and political science in order to prepare the student for adult life.

                De Tocqueville Describes the Role of the American Clergy

After noting that all the clergy seemed anxious to maintain “separation of church and state,” he nevertheless observed that collectively they had a great influence on the morals and customs of public life.

In America, he noted, the clergy remained politically separated from the government but nevertheless provided a moral stability among the people which permitted the government to prosper. In other words, there was separation of church and state but no separation of state and religion. (Skousen, p. 82-83)

Why the Founders Wanted the Federal Government Excluded from All Problems Relating to Religion and Churches

The Supreme Court has stated on numerous occasions that to most people freedom of religion is the most precious of all the unalienable rights next to life itself. When the United States was founded, there were many Americans who were not enjoying freedom of religion to the fullest possible extent. At least seven of the states had officially established religions or denominations at the time the Constitution was adopted.

Under these circumstances the Founders felt it would have been catastrophic …if the federal government had tried to establish a national policy on religion or disestablish the denominations which the states had adopted. Nevertheless, the Founders who were examining this problem were anxious to eventually see complete freedom of all faiths and an equality of all relations, both Christian and non-Christian. (Skousen, p.86)

Read more about Church, State, and the Court Decision to Ban the Bible

Principle 3: Virtuous and Moral Leaders

Principle 5: The Role of the Creator

 

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Bible Story: Jesus’ Teaching of Good vs. Evil

Dinner Topics for Monday

Jesus’ Teaching: Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

Bible Story: Learning about Good vs. Evil

keyoldHe answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. ~Matthew 13:37-39

wheattaresTares—The word denotes darnel grass, a poisonous weed, which, until it comes into ear, is similar in appearance to wheat. ~Bible Dictionary, 780, KJV

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-42

24 ¶Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

enemy-sowed-tares-bible-story28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Jesusinfield40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Doctrine and Covenants 38: 12

12 Which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained, and the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned; and, behold, the enemy is combined.

Doctrine and Covenants 86: 1-7

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants, concerning the parable of the wheat and of the tares:

2 Behold, verily I say, the field was the world, and the apostles were the sowers of the seed;

bible13 And after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the church, the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to reign—behold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness.

4 But behold, in the last days, even now while the Lord is beginning to bring forth the word, and the blade is springing up and is yet tender—

5 Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;

6 But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.

7 Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.

Prophetic Meanings of “Tares”

Note: Context here for references to the word “church” are not speaking of a specific building, location, or Christian denomination. Rather, “church” is depicted in a broader sense, meaning ideas, philosophies, teachings, or doctrines, and can be either true or false.

As opposed to the way of Jesus Christ, which is love, truth, and persuasion without compulsion, Satan’s way is hate and force. The “prophet” of Islam teaches that Allah wants them to force their “religion” upon the world. “Allah” commands his worshippers to kill all those who prefer the truth to lies, and who will not accept the Islamic “religion”. Given this as their doctrine, might we reasonably surmise that “Allah” is not really God, our loving Father? If “Allah” is not Heavenly Father, who do you think “Allah” is, really?  ~ C.A. Davidson

And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned. And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it. ~ Doctrine and Covenants 88:94

 

Question: What did Jesus mean when He identified “tares” as the “church of the devil?”

Dallin H. Oaks

wolfsheep2It [Tares, or “church of the devil”]must be any philosophy or organization that opposes belief in God. And the “captivity” into which this “church” seeks to bring the saints will not be so much physical confinement as the captivity of false ideas. ~Dallin H. Oaks

Book of Mormon prophecies describe the “great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil” (1 Nephi 14:17). This “church” is prophesied to have “dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” (1 Nephi 14:11). Called “most abominable above all other churches,” this church is also said to act “for the praise of the world” to bring “the saints of God . . . down into captivity” (1 Nephi 13:5, 9). Since no religious denomination — Christian or non-Christian — has ever had “dominion” over all nations of the earth or the potential to bring all the saints of God down into “captivity,” this great and abominable church must be something far more pervasive and widespread than a single “church” as we understand that term today.

It must be any philosophy or organization that opposes belief in God. And the “captivity” into which this “church” seeks to bring the saints will not be so much physical confinement as the captivity of false ideas.

In the Savior’s [post-resurrection] ministry among the Nephites [in ancient America], He warned against a church that “be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil” (3 Nephi 27:11). These warnings are not limited to religious organizations. In the circumstances of our day they include a multitude of secular philosophies and activities.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:65-66

65 Therefore, I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life, and be crowned with celestial glory, when I shall come in the kingdom of my Father to reward every man according as his work shall be;

66 While the tares shall be bound in bundles, and their bands made strong, that they may be burned with unquenchable fire.

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Book Report: Real History vs. Government Control of World News

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Truth Matters, not Fake News Book Report: Real History vs. Government Control of World News This book reveals a history of massive deception disseminated by leaders in the Soviet Empire, as they controlled news outlets during the Cold War. Many … Continue reading

Character Education: Parenting teenagers who won’t go to Church

Character Education:

parenting-teenchurch1What to Do When Your Teenagers Won’t Go to Church

Susan Mae Cunningham

You want your teenager to go to church, but they have announced they don’t want to. What do you do?

As a licensed marriage and family therapist associate, I’ve worked with teens in their homes, schools, and in my office. I’ve worked to address behaviors from aggression to theft to food fights. The principles I’ve used professionally can be used by parents to address teens who don’t want to attend church.

1. Understand How Their Mind Works

parenting-teenchurch2-how-thinkThree developmental patterns in teenagers work together when teens announce they do not want to attend church:

  1. A desire to assert independence
  2. Ability to engage in abstract thinking
  3. Undeveloped long-term thinking

This combination creates a situation where many teens want to explore what rejecting church attendance may look like.

For the first time, teens can contemplate what kinds of beliefs they want and how those will affect their lives. Combined with an inability to see long-term consequences and a desire to differentiate themselves from their parents, teenagers from faithful LDS homes are very likely to say they don’t want to attend church at one point.

Understanding these underlying factors will make you more able to address the issue. Teenagers saying they don’t want to go to church is not a crisis by itself, but one type of normal expression of adolescent development. How we respond to this moment and address the underlying concerns will determine whether or not this develops into a longer-term problem.

2. Determine Family Standards Ahead of Time

You will be in a much stronger position to deal with your teenager, if you’ve already thought through how you will respond.

Take the time to think through your family’s rules and priorities. What reasons are acceptable for not attending church for your family? Sickness, busyness with school work, bullying at church, and lack of testimony are all possibilities to consider.

How do your rules change as the child ages? What compromises are acceptable?

This article is focused on teens, but children younger than twelve or thirteen likely have a clear-cut reason for not wanting to attend that you can address.

Having a family rule in place such as “everyone goes to church except for sickness” will help parents respond when their teenagers first announce they don’t want to attend church, and will give you a better starting place for the ensuing conversation.

3. Find out Why

parenting-teen-church-3Your teen definitely has a reason for not wanting to go to church. So ask.

With so much focus on faith crises, we may assume that’s our teen’s reason. But that very well may not be the case.

The goal in this conversation is to listen and understand. At this point, you are not trying to change your teen’s opinion or behavior. We often listen trying to formulate a response. But you need to find out the reason for your teen’s behavior, and trying to interject makes that much more difficult.

There will be time for sharing your perspective later in this conversation or during another conversation. Be patient.

Your goal is to find out if there are concerns to be resolved, and see if your teen is willing to resolve them. Don’t feel pressure to make a permanent decision in the moment. You can readdress this later.

Some parent-teen relationships can be rocky. There may be a lot of past baggage. Learning why your teen won’t go to church is important enough that you may consider asking another adult figure to have the conversation with them.

4. Use Solution-Oriented Questions

One approach that has proven successful with teens in my own work is solution-oriented questions.

A solution-oriented question asks teens to explain a behavior you want to promote. Usually, you do this by asking about a past time they did the behavior.

Remember, you’re not challenging your teen, you’re trying to understand them. Solution-oriented questions work because as parents earnestly try to understand, their teens persuade themselves.

Consider questions such as:

  • What reasons did you have for going to church last week?
  • How did you motivate yourself to attend sunday school?
  • What needs to happen so you can attend church this week?

Avoid why questions. Why asks someone to analyze the situation through their current perspective. And if your teen doesn’t want to go to church today, the answer to why is likely to be negative. We want the teen to recall the specifics of a previous situation. What, how, and when questions accomplish this better.

The goal is for teenagers to vocalize why they go to church. This is much more powerful than if you tell them why they go to church.

Don’t be discouraged if the first answer is “because you make me.” That probably is one honest answer. Continue to press forward asking for more reasons or additional specifics.

5. Frame the Problem

Teens are finally capable of abstract thinking. Their conception of the world is one of the first they’ve ever figured out. Their world view is unchallenged, underdeveloped, and ultimately lacking.

As a parent, you can help them begin to build a more mature world view. Explain why you attend church. At this point avoid answers that could be summarized as “just because.”

Frame church as a positive experience. Explain what you gain from attending church. If belief is the issue, be clear that belief is not necessary for church attendance.

For Latter-day Saints, church helps us become good people. By explaining how that process works for you, you help your teen reconsider their own views. You also may start to understand what type of experiences you would consider comparable to church, and begin to work towards a compromise.

For example, if you attend church to partake of the sacrament and then consider how to better yourself, then you would be willing to allow your older teen to attend sacrament meeting, then go home and spend an hour reading scriptures, or writing some weekly goals.

6. Be Patient

teenagerSonAndMomAs a parent, your abstract thinking and decision making skills are incredibly more advanced than your teen’s.

It can be frustrating to have a conversation with a teen who seems to not be able to recognize the wisdom of what you’re saying. It may take a teen a week or longer for them to entirely process and understand what you’ve said.

Don’t exacerbate a problem by forcing a decision immediately.

For long-term success, your teen needs to develop their own reasons to attend church. That can take time.

7. Don’t Overreact

Patient problem solving may be a great long-term solution, but it doesn’t help when your fourteen-year-old has barricaded themselves in their room at 8:40 AM, while you’re trying to get three other kids clothed and out the door.

Thinking about how to respond ahead of time, will help in that initial moment of conflict. Earlier, I mentioned how important a family rule can be for starting the discussion. In the moment, a family rule can be a great way to solve the conflict with a promise to discuss later.

If you haven’t thought of a specific church plan, consider what you would do if your teen said he or she wouldn’t go to school. It’s not the exact same situation, but it might work as backup solution in the moment.

A willingness to discuss the topic later will go a long way to solving the immediate problem. But also remember that this is a crucial conversation. Being a few minutes late to church may be worth it to address the problem well at first.

Above all, keep your cool. Your child is challenging your most deeply held beliefs, perhaps for the first time. It would be easy and understandable to get mad. Resist that temptation and you will make resolving the problem easier.

8. Make Adjustments

Many parents reading this article may have already had this initial conflict. You may be thinking that the first interaction wasn’t ideal. That’s okay.

You can always adjust your approach. You may need to adjust your approach because your initial interaction blew up. Or you may have developed a compromise that is no longer working.

No matter the reason, you can always go back and have another conversation. Feel free to admit that what you did didn’t work. This ultimately helps build a relationship of trust and can be the easiest way to make adjustments.

In some cases, a teen not wanting to go to church is part of a larger power struggle. Do everything you can to avoid an authoritarian parenting style. You know your child best, so you know if a compromise will work.

Ultimately in these situations, the answer is improving the larger relationship.

parenting-teen-peace9. Follow the Holy Spirit

It may not feel this way, but you’ve been blessed to parent this teen. The Lord will help you. Pray for the spiritual gifts of discernment and wisdom. (Maybe some extra patience too.)

The suggestions above are based on generalities, but your child isn’t a generality.

There are many other factors to consider in how to approach a teen who doesn’t want to attend church: your child’s past behavior, your overall discipline structure, how many other children you have, other stressors.

No article could address how every single variable should affect your decision making. Hopefully, the principles in this article will give you a starting point that combined with prayer will allow you to make the best decision for your teen.

 

Gospel Teachings: Why Attend Church?

Gospel Teachings:

Why attend Church?

D. Todd  Christofferson

keyIt is worth pausing to consider why Jesus Christ chooses to use a church, His Church, to carry out His and His Father’s work.

jesus-rock1Throughout my life, general conferences of the Church have been exhilarating spiritual events, and the Church itself has been a place to come to know the Lord. I realize that there are those who consider themselves religious or spiritual and yet reject participation in a church or even the need for such an institution. Religious practice is for them purely personal. Yet the Church is the creation of Him in whom our spirituality is centeredJesus Christ. It is worth pausing to consider why He chooses to use a church, His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to carry out His and His Father’s work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1

 

adam-eve-altarBeginning with Adam, the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached, and the essential ordinances of salvation, such as baptism, were administered through a family-based priesthood order.2 As societies grew more complex than simply extended families, God also called other prophets, messengers, and teachers. In Moses’s time, we read of a more formal structure, including elders, priests, and judges. In Book of Mormon history, Alma established a church with priests and teachers.

Cornerstone

 

jesus-christ-cornerstoneThen, in the meridian of time, Jesus organized His work in such a way that the gospel could be established simultaneously in multiple nations and among diverse peoples. That organization, the Church of Jesus Christ, was founded on “apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.3 It included additional officers, such as seventies, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons. Jesus similarly established the Church in the Western Hemisphere after His Resurrection.

Following the apostasy and disintegration of the Church He had organized while on the earth, the Lord reestablished the Church of Jesus Christ once again through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The ancient purpose remains: that is, to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer the ordinances of salvation—in other words, to bring people to Christ.4 And now, through the instrumentality of this restored Church, the promise of redemption is placed within reach even of the spirits of the dead who in their mortal lifetime knew little or nothing of the Savior’s grace.

Ancient Purposes

How does His Church accomplish the Lord’s purposes?

Jesus-bcome-disciple-lds-church1) It is important to recognize that God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. His desire is that we continue “from grace to grace, until [we receive] a fulness”5 of all He can give. That requires more than simply being nice or feeling spiritual. It requires faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism of water and of the Spirit, and enduring in faith to the end.6 One cannot fully achieve this in isolation, so a major reason the Lord has a church is to create a community of Saints that will sustain one another in the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.7

“And [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“… For the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”8

Jesus Christ is “the author and the finisher of [our] faith.”9 Uniting ourselves to the body of Christ—the Church—is an important part of taking His name upon us.10 We are told that the ancient Church “did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls”11 “and to hear the word of the Lord.”12 So it is in the Church today. Joined in faith, we teach and edify one another and strive to approach the full measure of discipleship, “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” We strive to help one another come to “the knowledge of the Son of God,”13 until that day when “they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, … saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”14

Application

In the Church we not only learn divine doctrine; we also experience its application. As the body of Christ, the members of the Church minister to one another in the reality of day-to-day life.

All of us are imperfect; we may offend and be offended. We often test one another with our personal idiosyncrasies. In the body of Christ, we have to go beyond concepts and exalted words and have a real “hands-on” experience as we learn to “live together in love.15

1) This religion is not concerned only with self; rather, we are all called to serve.

youth-serve3We are the eyes, hands, head, feet, and other members of the body of Christ, and even “those members … which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”16 We need these callings, and we need to serve.

One of the men in my ward grew up not only without parental support but with parental opposition to his activity in the Church. He made this observation in a sacrament meeting: “My father cannot understand why anyone would go to church when they could go skiing, but I really like going to church. In the Church, we are all on the same journey, and I am inspired in that journey by strong youth, pure children, and what I see and learn from other adults. I am strengthened by the association and excited with the joy of living the gospel.”

Sabbath—a Time of Renewal

The wards and branches of the Church offer a weekly gathering of respite and renewal, a time and place to leave the world behind—the Sabbath. It is a day to “delight thyself in the Lord,”17 to experience the spiritual healing that comes with the sacrament, and to receive the renewed promise of His Spirit to be with us.18

jesus-repentanceReprove, Repent, and Improve

One of the greatest blessings of being part of the body of Christ, though it may not seem like a blessing in the moment, is being reproved of sin and error. We are prone to excuse and rationalize our faults, and sometimes we simply do not know where we should improve or how to do it. Without those who can reprove us “betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,”19 we might lack the courage to change and more perfectly follow the Master. Repentance is individual, but fellowship on that sometimes painful path is in the Church.20

About the Body of Christ

04-GCoct-SundayAM2In this discussion of the Church as the body of Christ, we must always bear in mind two things.

1) One, we do not strive for conversion to the Church but to Christ and His gospel, a conversion that is facilitated by the Church.21

The Book of Mormon expresses it best when it says that the people “were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ. ”22

2)Two, we must remember that in the beginning, the Church was the family, and even today as separate institutions, the family and the Church serve and strengthen one another. Neither supplants the other, and certainly the Church, even at its best, cannot substitute for parents. The point of gospel teaching and priesthood ordinances administered by the Church is that families may qualify for eternal life.

2) Achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups.

There is a second major reason the Savior works through a church, His Church, and that is to achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups. One clear example is dealing with poverty. It is true that as individuals and families we look after the physical needs of others, “imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.”23 But together in the Church, the ability to care for the poor and needy is multiplied to meet the broader need, and hoped-for self-reliance is made a reality for very many.24 Further, the Church, its Relief Societies, and its priesthood quorums have the capacity to provide relief to many people in many places affected by natural disasters, war, and persecution.

Jesus5000Without the capabilities of His Church in place, the Savior’s commission to take the gospel to all the world could not be realized.25 There would not be the apostolic keys, the structure, the financial means, and the devotion and sacrifice of thousands upon thousands of missionaries needed to carry out the work. Remember, “this Gospel of the Kingdom [must] be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”26

 

3) The Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth

 

The final reason I will mention for the Lord to have established His Church is the most unique—the Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth.

As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was being established in the 1830s, the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church have been given.”28 In the authority of these keys, the Church’s priesthood officers preserve the purity of the Savior’s doctrine and the integrity of His saving ordinances.29 They help prepare those who wish to receive them, judge the qualification and worthiness of those who apply, and then perform them.

 

Revealed Truth

daniel-dream-babylon-kingWith the keys of the kingdom, the Lord’s servants can identify both truth and falsehood and once again authoritatively state, “Thus saith the Lord.” Regrettably, some resent the Church because they want to define their own truth, but in reality it is a surpassing blessing to receive a “knowledge of things as they [truly] are, and as they were, and as they are to come”30 insofar as the Lord wills to reveal it. The Church safeguards and publishes God’s revelations—the canon of scripture.

When Daniel interpreted the dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, making known to the king “what shall be in the latter days,”31 he declared that “the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all [other] kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”32 The Church is that prophesied latter-day kingdom, not created by man but set up by the God of heaven and rolling forth as a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” to fill the earth.33

Lamb and Lion resizeWMIts destiny is to establish Zion in preparation for the return and millennial rule of Jesus Christ. Before that day, it will not be a kingdom in any political sense—as the Savior said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”34 Rather, it is the repository of His authority in the earth, the administrator of His holy covenants, the custodian of His temples, the protector and proclaimer of His truth, the gathering place for scattered Israel, and “a defense, and … a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”35

“Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.

“Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever.”36

Church, Law, Bible Moral Standard, and Weddings

An Open Letter to Russell Moore

Church Pastor criticizes Champion of Liberty Roy Moore for applying Bible Moral Standard and U.S. Constitution to Weddings

keyThe Federal Government has no legal right to force same sex marriage on states that do not want it and have amended their state Constitutions to not recognize it. The Federal Government also has no authority to force states to allow the murder of pre-born babies. However, the courts will continue to do whatever they want until some state actually has the courage to say no.

By Paul BlairBarbWire guest contributor

Image credit: Christian Examiner

roy-moore-and-russell-mooreDid you ever wonder why Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were the only three Hebrews that refused to bow down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar erected in the plains of Shinar?   I suspect that a distant relative of Russell Moore was on the scene misquoting Romans 13 to the others.

For those of you that are confused, Russell Moore, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was quoted criticizing Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s instruction for state officials to disregard a Federal judge’s ruling and NOT issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

Russell Moore (no relation to Roy) was quoted in the February 12 edition of the Baptist Press to say, “As citizens and as Christians, our response should be one of both conviction and of respect for the rule of law (1 Peter 2:13; Romans 13). Our system of government does not allow a state to defy the law of the land.”

While Mr. Moore sides with Pharaoh in Exodus 1, let me explain how our system was actually designed to work.

In 1787, members of twelve of the thirteen colonies gathered in Philadelphia charged by their respective state governments with amending the existing Articles of Confederation. Before they were finished, they crafted a new Constitution for the United States.

The new “federal government” was created by a compact between the states to serve the union of states and was delegated by the compact to have few and specific powers. As James Madison clearly stated in Federalist #45:

constitution2The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce…The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

According to Article 1, Section 8, this new creation was only given 17 areas of responsibility in which it held “supremacy” over the states. In case the new government attempted to exceed its limitations, it was not up to the Supreme Court to decide. Judicial review exists nowhere in the Constitution. It is ridiculous to think that the sole referee to determine if the Federal Government was exceeding its limits would be a branch of the Federal Government!

So what is the proper recourse if the Federal Government exceeds its limits? In 1798, the author of the Constitution, James Madison, wrote in the Virginia Resolutions:

…in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.

[Roy Moore is well-known for defending the Ten Commandments in the past when under government attack]

In other words, Judge Roy Moore and the State of Alabama are right. According to our Rule of Law, when the Federal Government acts outside its authority, it is up to the states, who created the Federal government in the first place, to simply reject any unconstitutional and illegal acts committed by the Federal Government.

ThomasJeffersonThomas Jefferson commented in his Kentucky Resolutions:

…by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they (the states) constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.

If I was to send Mr. Moore a letter on official stationary demanding that he paint his office lime green, he would be under no obligation to do so as I have no authority over him in the matter. The same holds true when the Federal Government attempts to act outside the seventeen specific areas in which they are allowed to act.

In America, we have no king. The people are sovereign and “We the people of the UNITED STATES” created, designed and then delegated few and defined powers to the general government. So in accordance to Romans 13, Judge Roy Moore and the State of Alabama are attempting to uphold Romans 13 from those seeking to undermine the Rule of Law.

The Federal Government has no legal right to force same sex marriage on states that do not want it and have amended their state Constitutions to not recognize it. The Federal Government also has no authority to force states to allow the murder of pre-born babies. However, the courts will continue to do whatever they want until some state actually has the courage to say no.

Christians, the law is on our side. We have the Biblical right, the legal right and the moral responsibility to end the attack on natural marriage and also to end the murder of 58 million pre-born babies.

We must decide whether we are a union of states who delegated limited powers to the Federal government to serve the states in areas of general welfare or recognize that we are now 320 million individuals RULED by our Supreme Leader in Washington DC along with nine politically appointed attorneys.

But Mr. Moore, please understand the ultimate consequence of your position. When a federal judge somewhere rules that a pastor must perform same-sex “marriages,” or that churches can no longer preach that sex outside of marriage is biblically immoral, you will have already consented to this unlawful affront against God and His church by what you said on February 12th. What will you do then?

Paul Blair was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, and was a three year starter at offensive tackle for Oklahoma State University. After college, he was a Fourth Round Draft Pick of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears in 1986; he was one of only three rookies to make the team of the defending World Champion Bears. He spent five years in the NFL, and retired after the 1990 season due to a fourth and final knee injury. As Founder and Chairman of Reclaiming Oklahoma For Christ, and current Chairman of Reclaiming America For Christ, this Patriot Pastor’s desire is for Americans to understand their Christian heritage.

Image credit: Christian Examiner
Read more at http://barbwire.com/2015/02/17/0700-open-letter-russell-moore/

Christian News: Church, Charter School, and Abstinence Speaker

Christian News from American Family Association Journal

keyDivorce is 46% less likely with regular religious attendance than when never attending church.

These findings indicate that couples build a stronger foundation for marriage when they assign more value to people and relationships than to money or appearance.

1. Church attendance fuels marriage duration

afaj_lovebirdsmarriageAccording to a September 15, 2014, study from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, several factors in marriage decisions have far-reaching impact on the success of a marriage.

Dating for at least three years makes divorce 39% less likely than dating for less than a year, but spending more than $2,000 on an engagement ring significantly increases divorce risk.

Men who say a woman’s looks are important in their decision to get married are 50% more likely to divorce, and women are 60% more likely to divorce when their husband’s wealth is important to them, compared to men and women who said neither was important.

A large, but low-cost wedding lowers the possibility of divorce dramatically, and taking a honeymoon also makes divorce 41% less likely. The higher a couple’s combined yearly income, the lower the likelihood of divorce.

Finally, divorce is 46% less likely with regular religious attendance than when never attending church.

These findings indicate that couples build a stronger foundation for marriage when they assign more value to people and relationships than to money or appearance.

businessinsider.com, 10/14/14

freedomofspeech2. Speaker attacked for abstinence message

School canceled speech, but supports Stenzel—

Abstinence speaker Pam Stenzel became the target of a vicious social media attack after she was scheduled to speak November 19 at Warwick High School and Warwick Middle School in Lititz, Pennsylvania. A local business paid for Stenzel to speak on abstinence as a supplement to school sex education curricula. Parents were given the opportunity to opt their children out.

Although the school district canceled the talk due to the hostility shown by some parents, it expressed support for Stenzel.

“[A minority of parents] with differences of opinion used what can only be described as bullying tactics through social media to personally attack individuals,” school officials stated.

Stenzel agreed, saying, “They talk about tolerance. They are the most intolerant people.”

onenewsnow.com, 11/30/14

3. Charter school heroes replaced with celebrities

Cheating. Bullying. Cybertexting. Hazing. Molestation. Suicide. Drug abuse. Murder. Scanning the headlines of the latest scandals in America’s schools, it’s quite clear that the problem is not that there’s too much God in students’ lives. The problem is that there isn’t nearly enough of him. ~Michelle Malkin, “One nation under godlessness”

out-in-mothert_oprahSouth Arbor Charter Academy in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has garnered national attention after replacing murals in a corridor that previously featured the likes of Mother Teresa, Betsy Ross, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, U.S. astronauts who died in service to the country, and other national and international historical figures.

The images were painted over, and the wall now boasts images of Oprah, Walt Disney, President Obama, and J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series. Many parents were infuriated. “This is no longer a hall of heroes,” said parent Craig Bergman. “Now we have a hall of celebrities.”

School spokesperson Jennifer Hoff attributed changes to the 11-year-old Heroes Hall to renovation needs and a corresponding intentional shift from “historical heroes” to “modern-day heroes.”

“The mere fact that you have talent doesn’t mean you are a hero,” said parent Todd Holiday. “I want someone who made a life investment – perhaps they even sacrificed their life – so that our society and so our world could be a better place.”

foxnews.com, 11/13/14; theblaze.com, 11/14/14

Divorce, Church, and Happy Marriage

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

The real threat to marriage

Anne Reed (American Family Association)

keySo, in Christian marriage, be encouraged. It is Christ who created all things and who designed marriage for His good purpose. In this world, we will have trouble. But He sent encouragement:
“[T]ake heart! I have overcome the world.”

In the end, Feldhahn’s research pronounces with clarity, “You can believe in marriage.”

____________________

FACT SHEET SUMMARY: Contrary to conventional thinking …

▶ The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50%.

▶ Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t.

▶ Most marriages are happy.

▶ Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.

▶ Most remarriages succeed.

____________________

marriageMarriage: It’s in the news. Whether it’s judicial overreaches redefining it, breakups, nasty divorces, or lawsuits, the news is bad wherever you turn – including the pulpit and the counseling office.

Some believe marriage is on its way out – a dying institution, a global failure. But is it really? Have we been bamboozled by easy-release figures that support pessimistic attitudes about God’s design for human relationships?

With more than half of marriages ending in divorce in and out of the church, we can only expect an escalating trend to continue, right? The 50% divorce rate stat has spread far and wide. And it has wielded a heavy dose of disillusionment along the way.

However, according to author Shaunti Feldhahn, a Harvard University trained Wall Street analyst and social researcher, the truth about marriage and divorce presents an altogether fresh and surprisingly hopeful picture. In her book The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce, she contends, “Divorce is not the biggest threat to marriage. Discouragement is.” She believes the widespread sense of hopelessness is brought on, at least in part, by false information.

But how can this be? Where did the 50% number come from? It has streamed from every outlet. The question rattled through Feldhahn’s thoughts as she struggled to complete an article. What started as a simple task to source the commonly accepted stat turned into exasperation and an eight year research project that she describes as “a rigorous, fair, and accurate attempt to reclaim a whole other side of the truth about marriage.”

The real deal

happymarriagecoupleShe has finally discovered the divorce rate in America is nowhere close to 50%. And it never has been. As a matter of fact, the rate has been steadily declining since 1980. In reality, 71% of women are still married to their first spouse. And widowhood reduces the remaining 29%, bringing us to an approximate 25% divorce rate for first marriages.

 

Additionally, Feldhahn told AFA Journal, the rate of divorce is not the same among Christians. Previously reported numbers were based solely on belief systems (stated religion) and not whether those beliefs were churchattendanceactually being practiced in their lives. With the help of Barna Group’s comprehensive research from 2008, Feldhahn and her staff were able to incorporate participants’ answers about church attendance. The results revealed a 27% decrease in the number of divorces among those who had been to church in the last seven days.

Landmark findings by the National Survey of Families and Households between 1987 and 1994 revealed a 50% lesser occasion of divorce among those who share the same faith and attend church. A Family Life Family Needs Survey among more than 50 churches in 2012-2013 found that only 22% of those ever married had been divorced. Numbers vary, but no matter which way you cut it, divorce in the church is lower. And divorce overall is much lower than the numbers pushed by secular media and others.

Just move in

Divorce has declined and found a steady, straight road. But according to a Pew Research poll, barely half of Americans are currently married – only 51% of adults age 18 and older compared to 72% reported in 1960. So, are the decreasing numbers of divorce due to corresponding lower numbers of those participating in marriage in the first place?

It is difficult to argue otherwise. However, a number of other considerations at work in society are turning the idea on its ear. divorcetroubledcoupleFor instance, the age at which marriage occurs is increasingly reaching higher numbers. Because young-age marriage correlates strongly with a high divorce rate, the deferral of marriage serves to further reduce the divorce rate.

In addition, cohabitation has seen a significant rise over the last 20 years. Live-in situations create and further a noncommittal, easy-out attitude that spills into marital relationships. This increase brings to the surface a higher likelihood of divorce for those who live together before marriage.

Pew research found in 2010 that 61% of people who have never been married have a desire for marriage in the future. And with good news about marriage bursting from the ranks of American households, it is no wonder it remains a sought-after establishment.

Life at home

happymarriagewordsMarriages are happy. It is true. About 80% of marriages overall are happy, and more than a third go beyond the “happy” mark, overflowing into the “very happy” category.

Of those currently in struggling marriages, 80% will still be married five years later. And solid, hopeful encouragement exists within those stats. “A landmark study found that if you wait five years, eight in ten people say they are very happy five years later,” said Feldhahn.

“Most couples don’t mind the idea of working hard at marriage,” she said. “What discourages them is the idea that marriage itself is inherently hard and complicated, or that working hard won’t pay off.”

When one spouse is less than happy, 82% of the time the other spouse is simply unaware of it. The culprit is typically a stockpile of misunderstandings, conflict, and hurt feelings that materialize over time and cause a rift between the two. It is rarely intentional. More than 99% of married people care deeply about their spouse, and 93% would marry their spouse again. In most cases, having a good marriage or improving a struggling marriage doesn’t require couples to “solve deep, systemic issues,” explained Feldhahn. “Instead, small changes can and do make a big difference.”

Feldhahn took a look at remarriage as well. Any search on the internet turns up 60% and 73% divorce rates, respectively, for second and third marriages. An exhaustive search found no such evidence, leaving Feldhahn to conclude the numbers are nothing more than “urban legend.” According to the Census Bureau, 65% of women in second marriages are still married to their second spouse. And because second and third marriages tend to occur later in life, the percentage of those marriages ended by death is expected to be higher than first marriages, resulting in a second marriage divorce rate of 30% or less.

Hope, enormous implications

Now that the dark compilation of deceptive figures has been dismantled, it is easier to see the beautiful and imperfect gem on which Feldhahn based her statement, “Divorce is not the biggest threat to marriage. Discouragement is.”

christs-outstreched-hand-lindsleySo, in Christian marriage, be encouraged. It is Christ who created all things and who designed marriage for His good purpose. In this world, we will have trouble. But He sent encouragement:
“[T]ake heart! I have overcome the world.”

In the end, Feldhahn’s research pronounces with clarity, “You can believe in marriage.”

____________________

SUMMARY: Contrary to conventional thinking …

▶ The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50%.

▶ Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t.

▶ Most marriages are happy.

▶ Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.

▶ Most remarriages succeed.

____________________

The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce by Shaunti Feldhahn with Tally Whitehead

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/january/the-real-threat-to-marriage/#

Help God’s Children Return to Church, Find Faith in Jesus Christ

Helping Others Find Faith in Christ

By L. Tom Perry

keyI challenge you to rise to a new sense of commitment. I challenge you to help God’s children return to their Christian faith and to the strong religious foundation that is so essential for peace of mind and real happiness in this period of mortal probation.

Pope Benedict XVI, lamenting the weakening of Christian churches in Europe, Australia, and the United States, said, “There’s no longer evidence for a need of God, even less of Christ.” He added, “The so-called traditional churches look like they are dying.”1

church-1We have moved away from traditional worship. More people say they are spiritual rather than religious. If a teaching fits their lifestyle, they accept it and it becomes part of their faith. If it does not, they develop their own man-made faith. Faith and spirituality are now viewed as consumer products. Materialism has taken over and replaced God.

As Latter-day Saints, our voices must be heard in opposition to these dangerous trends designed to destroy the faith of mankind. The Book of Mormon warns us over and over about replacing our trust in God with things that do not last. Describing a time when many Nephites were drifting from their faith, Mormon states: “They grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to [the prophets’] words, to walk uprightly before God” (Alma 45:24).

As you see the weakening of Christian faith in society, your own faith must become more firm and sure. Helaman declares: “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).

Nephi reminds us:

“We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins … [and] that life which is in Christ. …

“… For the right way is to believe in Christ” (2 Nephi 25:26–28).

Do we have a foundation to support such a claim?

The Symbols of Christ’s Sacrifice

adam-and-eve-offering-sacrificesAdam and Eve Offering Sacrifices, by Keith Larson

The best-recorded fact in all history is the account of the birth and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth. His mission was prophesied from the days of our first parents. In the book of Moses we read:

“And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.

“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.

“And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

“And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

“Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:4–8).

Thus, sacrifices were instituted on the earth as a gospel ordinance, to be practiced and performed by the authority of the priesthood, typifying the coming sacrifice of the Son of Man, who would give His life for the sins of the world.

The form of the ordinance was arranged to make specific the points of the Lord’s sacrifice when He would come in the meridian of time. The later offering of the Passover, for instance, stipulated that a male lamb of the first year, without spot or blemish, be chosen as an offering. The blood was spilled and care was taken that no bones would be broken—all symbolic of the manner of the Savior’s death.

It is amazing that the offering of sacrifice continued through all ages from Adam until the time of the Savior. Even though the children of Israel went through many periods of apostasy, the hope that the Only Begotten Son would atone for the sins of mankind and that His atoning blood would make immortality possible remained in many hearts.

The offering of sacrifices generally ended as a practice after the Savior’s Atonement. The sacrament was instituted to remind His followers that He had been to earth and had performed His earthly ministry. We read in Luke:

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19–20).

Once again I am amazed that this reminder, even through dark periods of apostasy, was practiced in many forms and in many ways throughout generations until the time of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, when priesthood power was restored to earth to perform this sacred, saving ordinance.

Through all periods of recorded history we find the constant reminder of the mission of our Savior. He came to earth as one who had a dual citizenship—one of God and one of man. This enabled Him to perform His great ennobling sacrifice for all of us through His Atonement. Could there be any stronger proof that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, than by studying and living His saving doctrines, which He has revealed throughout the dispensations of the world? He has given us His gospel to guide and direct us during our earthly sojourn.

christs-outstreched-hand-lindsleyThe Gospel Is the Solution

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) said:

“The responsibility of showing to the world that the gospel of Jesus Christ will solve its problems rests upon the men who make the claim. … I believe, too, that every world problem may be solved by obedience to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The solution of the great world problems is here in the Church of Jesus Christ. Ample provision is made not only for the needs of individuals, but also for the nation and groups of nations. … I grant that we may seem to be arrogating to ourselves superior wisdom, but we are not. It is simply the application of God’s plan to the world problems. You who hold the priesthood have greater responsibility today, now that you live in this creative moment in the world’s history, than ever the Church has had before. I repeat it. If we make the claim to hold the truth, it is obligatory upon every Latter-day Saint so to live, that when the people of the world come, in answer to the call, to test the fruit of the tree, they will find it wholesome and good.”2

The great message we carry to the world is that the gospel of our Lord and Savior has been restored to the earth. His Church is again on the earth with the power and glory of the holy priesthood.

To those so ordained is given power to act for Him as His agents to bring the doctrines, ordinances, principles, and powers to bind on earth as will be done in the heavens. This is the Savior’s Church. He directs the affairs of His Church through His chosen prophets. His prophets in turn teach the gospel to others and testify of Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer. This day and age is the dispensation of the fulness of times, which has been spoken of by the prophets from the beginning of time. It is the time of fulfillment of all that has been spoken of by the Lord’s prophets and recorded in the holy scriptures. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a new church but the restored Church to the world in this day and age.

You are the generation the Lord has saved for this day. You came out of the waters of baptism with a covenant and a promise to the Lord to represent Him in helping people throw off their worldly ways and return to the blessings promised us if we would follow Him and live His gospel. You can help your Heavenly Father’s children return to their Christian foundation, develop faith in Him, and return to His ways.

What You Can Do

You may ask, “What can I do?” Some months ago our stake president, speaking in sacrament meeting, suggested four things we could do to bring others back to their Christian faith:

  1. Pray daily.

familyprayer Thomas S. Monson has said: “To those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength. … Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer. … Remember to pray fervently.”3

Hold your daily prayers and help others return to their Christian faith by encouraging them to get on their knees and pray to God.

  1. Study the scriptures daily.

Could there be any stronger witness of Jesus Christ than the testimonies we find in the Book of Mormon? Of its 239 chapters, 233 mention the Savior.4 Isn’t that amazing?

Be certain you have daily scripture study. Then help others return to their Christian faith by encouraging them to also study the scriptures daily.

youthserving3.  Give daily acts of service.

Remember the words of King Benjamin: “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). The Lord literally answers our prayers through the service we give to others.

Be an example of Christlike service, and help others return to their Christian faith by encouraging them to serve others.

Rise to a New Sense of Commitment

I know that God lives. I know that we are all His children and that He loves us. I know that He sent His Son to the world to be the atoning sacrifice for all mankind. I know that those who embrace His gospel and follow Him will enjoy eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God. I know that the Savior directed the Restoration of the gospel on earth through the ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the only lasting joy and happiness we will ever find during our mortal experience will come by following Jesus Christ, obeying His law, and keeping His commandments.

I challenge you to rise to a new sense of commitment. I challenge you to help God’s children return to their Christian faith and to the strong religious foundation that is so essential for peace of mind and real happiness in this period of mortal probation.

May God bless you with the courage, boldness, enthusiasm, and desire to restore faith in the gospel of our Lord and Savior.

Moral Repair Plan: Marriage, Children, and Constitution

Dinner Topics for Thursday

We like to follow up yesterday’s Abuse Report with some solutions, which we call the Moral Repair Plan.

keyStrong families, guided by a loving mother and father, serve as the fundamental institution for nurturing children, instilling faith, and transmitting to future generations the moral strengths and values that are important to civilization and crucial to eternal salvation.

marriage1. Christian Church Instructs Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage

On December 20, 2013, a federal district judge in Salt Lake City issued an order legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, striking down century-old state laws and a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman. The United States Supreme Court has put that ruling on hold pending consideration of the issue by an appellate court. During the interval between the district court ruling and the Supreme Court stay, numerous same-sex marriages were performed in Utah. Legal proceedings and legislative action in some other states and countries have given civil recognition to same-sex marriage relationships.

As we face this and other issues of our time, we encourage all to bear in mind our Heavenly Father’s purposes in creating the earth and providing for our mortal birth and experience here as His children. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:27–28). “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society. Strong families, guided by a loving mother and father, serve as the fundamental institution for nurturing children, instilling faith, and transmitting to future generations the moral strengths and values that are important to civilization and crucial to eternal salvation.

Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established.

God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We urge you to review and teach Church members the doctrine contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.

Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the Church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there.

While these matters will continue to evolve, we affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree.

As members of the Church, we are responsible to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to illuminate the great blessings that flow from heeding God’s commandments as well as the inevitable consequences of ignoring them. We invite you to pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths of the gospel, and that wisdom will be granted to those who are called upon to decide issues critical to society’s future.

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage

children2. Marriage is about the welfare of children

Joseph Farah

Why has nearly every culture in the world, since the beginning, had the good sense to recognize and foster marriages between one man and one woman?

There are several reasons:

  • Jews and Christians believe it is a God thing. Genesis tells us that God created Adam and Eve as a model for the family structure. Jesus affirmed this in Matthew 19:4-6, when He said: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
  • Marriage between one man and one woman works.It is an institution that is tried and tested. It forms the cornerstone of a self-governing society and economy. There is no other model you can point to in the history of the world that more naturally meets the needs of people, civilizes a society and reduces violence and oppression.
  • Lastly, and quite apart from the divisive spiritual and economic issues that divide people, there’s the issue of child-rearing. There simply is no good alternative to raising children outside of the one-man, one-woman family. It protects children. It provides male and female role models for them. It’s simple common sense.

Nevertheless, there are powerful cultural and legal forces working overtime in Western societies to relegate the ideal institution of marriage to the ash heap of history.

Things are moving quickly now, but the process for dismantling marriage has been under way for some time.

It began in earnest with a structural change in laws that made divorce easy. The concept was called “no-fault divorce.” If a man or a woman wanted a divorce for any reason, it would be granted. Divorce had always been around, but there were laws that discouraged it, made it difficult, required “grounds.” That all changed in the 1960s and 1970s. And divorce skyrocketed.

The result was a dramatic increase in poverty mostly for women and children. The state would have to step in with programs to provide the “safety net” the family structure previously offered. (Few recognize, even to this day, how the government was empowered through this act of counterfeit compassion.)

History

Then came “the women’s liberation movement.” The feminists insisted that marriage was, by design and nature, an oppressive, paternalistic institution. The slogan “marriage equals rape” comes to mind. Women were discouraged from thinking about marriage as a natural desire and goal for their lives.

Then came “the gay liberation movement.” We were told that what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms was nobody else’s business – certainly not the government’s. Homosexuality was “normal,” whereas it had previously been seen as a pathology or, worse yet, a sin. Not only was it normal, it was genetic – and impossible to reverse. From there, people’s sexual proclivities and habits became everyone’s business – especially the government’s. Laws against homosexual behavior were struck down by courts.

And then came, just as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had warned in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case overruling anti-sodomy laws, something new under the sun – “same-sex marriage.” When Scalia wrote his dissent in the Lawrence case, suggesting it would lead directly to homosexual marriage, polygamy and incest, there was raucous scoffing and ridicule from the progressives. Because, at that time, not even the most radical homosexual activists had dreamed up such ideas.

Where are we today?

  • Same-sex marriage has been legalized in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Those who still cling to the notion that homosexuality is sin are prosecuted for their “bigotry” for simply refusing to participate in such ceremonies as photographers, cake makers or officiators.
  • Last month, Utah District Judge Clark Waddoups effectively ruled in favor of polygamy in the case of Kody Brown and his concubines, who appear in the reality TV show “Sister Wives.”

It’s worth pointing out that Utah was only permitted to become a state in 1896 when it officially renounced polygamy.

Technically, however, polygamy is still illegal. But it’s only a matter of semantics now. If a man can persuade several women to shack up with him and have children, it’s OK – as long as he doesn’t refer to those women as his wives. You can still only have one woman as a wife, but you can cohabitate with as many as you like. Presumably the same applies to a woman who chooses to have a brood of men living with her.

But how long do you suppose this situation will last?

If “same-sex marriage” is about freedom of choice, why would that choice be limited to couples? Where did the notion of marriage as an institution between couples come from? Did it not originate with the same “archaic” religious principles that have been blown to smithereens by “same-sex marriage” laws and court rulings?

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what of the children?

Does anyone consider the effect this kind of social experimentation will have on the unfortunate kids who are being treated like guinea pigs?

There is a better way. It’s found in Genesis 2:24. It’s found in Matthew 19:4-6. It’s found in Mark 10:7. It’s found in our consciences if only we would listen.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/marriage-is-about-the-welfare-of-children/#CjX1BVZx8Pt06cSf.99

3)  Stop Government Debt; Balance the Budget

nationaldebtStates are working to oppose national tyranny, using the Constitution. Emphatically, this is NOT a Constitutional Convention, NOT to re-write it, but to legally compel Congress to do its job—to control and rein in the maniacal spending of the dictator in the White House by passing a single amendment requiring a balanced budget. This is totally constitutional—the only thing that is constitutional. The Supreme Court, the President, and Congress have abandoned the Constitution many years ago.

Government Debt vs. Budget Balance, American Citizen

4)  Prepare for Future, Survival

Saving food and other supplies for a “rainy day” makes good sense, reduces worries about the future.