Gospel Teachings: Overcoming the World

Gospel Teachings:

Overcoming the World

By Neil L. Andersen

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

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

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

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

He explains what happened next:

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

“‘These Are They Who Have Overcome the World—

“Who Have Truly Been Born Again!’”1

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

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

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

Love for the Savior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accountability to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honor the Sabbath

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

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

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

Unselfishness

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

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

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

Safety in the Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is Our Compass

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

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

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

Bruce Douglas Porter overcame the world.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friel: Ok, I’m wrong?

Student: No. You’re not wrong.

Friel: I’m not wrong?

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

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

Student: If you feel like you are.

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

Do not be deceived

Ed Vitagliano

AFA Vice President

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

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

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

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

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

beware of false prophets

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

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

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

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

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

 

John 3:19-21 (King James Version)

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


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

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

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

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

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

Romans 1:21-28 (KJV)

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


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

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

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

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

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


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

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

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

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

 Christians are to take the danger of delusion seriously.

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

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

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

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

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Role of Fathers in Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Role of Fathers in the Divine Plan, and Nuclear Family

D. Todd Christofferson

I focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

fathers-matter2I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed:

“Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”1

father-son-cameraEqual Partners

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”2 We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”3 We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”4 We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.

Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.”5 While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.

The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children.6 Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust.

For men, fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation.7 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”8 Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.

Quote-fathersPerhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.9 A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.10

Accountable to teach one’s children

We find in the scriptures a repeated emphasis on the parental obligation to teach one’s children:

“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”11

In 1833, the Lord reprimanded members of the First Presidency for inadequate attention to the duty of teaching their children. To one He said specifically, “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.12

Fathers are to teach God’s law and works anew to each generation. As the Psalmist declared:

Father's Blessing by L.A. Olas

Father’s Blessing by L.A. Olas

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should [then] arise and declare them to their children:

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.13

Children want and need a model

Certainly teaching the gospel is a shared duty between fathers and mothers, but the Lord is clear that He expects fathers to lead out in making it a high priority. (And let’s remember that informal conversations, working and playing together, and listening are important elements of teaching.) The Lord expects fathers to help shape their children, and children want and need a model.

father-son-mentorI myself was blessed with an exemplary father. I recall that when I was a boy of about 12, my father became a candidate for the city council in our rather small community. He did not mount an extensive election campaign—all I remember was that Dad had my brothers and me distribute copies of a flyer door to door, urging people to vote for Paul Christofferson. There were a number of adults that I handed a flyer to who remarked that Paul was a good and honest man and that they would have no problem voting for him. My young boy heart swelled with pride in my father. It gave me confidence and a desire to follow in his footsteps. He was not perfect—no one is—but he was upright and good and an aspirational example for a son.

Discipline and correction are part of teaching.

As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”14 But in discipline a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit:

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”15

Discipline

Discipline in the divine pattern is not so much about punishing as it is about helping a loved one along the path of self-mastery.

fathers-matter1The Lord has said that “all children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”16 Breadwinning is a consecrated activity. Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. “Work and family are overlapping domains.”17 This, of course, does not justify a man who neglects his family for his career or, at the other extreme, one who will not exert himself and is content to shift his responsibility to others. In the words of King Benjamin:

“Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”18

We recognize the agony of men who are unable to find ways and means adequately to sustain their families. There is no shame for those who, at a given moment, despite their best efforts, cannot fulfill all the duties and functions of fathers. “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.19

Loving the mother of his children—and showing that love—are two of the best things a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security.

father-sonsSome men are single fathers, foster fathers, or stepfathers. Many of them strive mightily and do their very best in an often difficult role. We honor those who do all that can be done in love, patience, and self-sacrifice to meet individual and family needs. It should be noted that God Himself entrusted His Only Begotten Son to a foster father. Surely some of the credit goes to Joseph for the fact that as Jesus grew, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.20

Regrettably, due to death, abandonment, or divorce, some children don’t have fathers living with them. Some may have fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent or in other ways inattentive or nonsupportive. We call on all fathers to do better and to be better. We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable fathers who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or “the guys who cause problems,” as fathers are all too frequently depicted.

To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.

To young men, recognizing the role you will have as provider and protector, we say, prepare now by being diligent in school and planning for postsecondary training. Education, whether in a university, technical school, apprenticeship, or similar program, is key to developing the skills and capabilities you will need. Take advantage of opportunities to associate with people of all ages, including children, and learn how to establish healthy and rewarding relationships. That typically means talking face to face with people and sometimes doing things together, not just perfecting your texting skills. Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.

To all the rising generation, we say, wherever you rank your own father on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Remember the yearning hope of a father as expressed by John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”21 Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive.

father-son-grandson_1448787_inlTo my brethren, the fathers in this Church, I say, I know you wish you were a more perfect father. I know I wish I were. Even so, despite our limitations, let us press on. Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy in today’s culture and think first of the happiness and well-being of others. Surely, despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit. I am encouraged by a story that appeared in the New Era some years ago. The author recounted the following:

“When I was young, our little family lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. I slept on the couch in the living room. …

“My dad, a steelworker, left home very early for work each day. Every morning he would … tuck the covers around me and stop for a minute. I would be half-dreaming when I could sense my dad standing beside the couch, looking at me. As I slowly awoke, I became embarrassed to have him there. I tried to pretend I was still asleep. … I became aware that as he stood beside my bed he was praying with all his attention, energy, and focus—for me.

“Each morning my dad prayed for me. He prayed that I would have a good day, that I would be safe, that I would learn and prepare for the future. And since he could not be with me until evening, he prayed for the teachers and my friends that I would be with that day. …

“At first, I didn’t really understand what my dad was doing those mornings when he prayed for me. But as I got older, I came to sense his love and interest in me and everything I was doing. It is one of my favorite memories. It wasn’t until years later, after I was married, had children of my own, and would go into their rooms while they were asleep and pray for them that I understood completely how my father felt about me.”22

Alma testified to his son:

“Behold, I say unto you, that it is [Christ] that surely shall come … ; yea he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.

And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.”23

That is the ministry of fathers today. God bless and make them equal to it.

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

Gospel Teachings:

Warning to Youth to Repent is an Act of Love

The Voice of Warning

D.Todd Christofferson

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

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

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

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

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

Warning to Turn from Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look to God and Live; He seeks our Happiness

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

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

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

Rooted in Love—To Warn is to Care

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

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

Parents—Warn your Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He warned the Pharisees out of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moral Relativists are Strangely Unmerciful to Those who Disagree

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Not Let Fear of the World Stifle Teaching of Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biblical Worldview, Character Education, and Moral Compass

Biblical Worldview, Character Education, and Moral Compass

Why the Bible Matters: Defining Right and Wrong

keyThere is a right and wrong to every question—Paying attention to your conscience is what helps you develop good character.

Do what is right; be faithful and fearless.

right-wrongsignOnward, press onward, the goal is in sight.

Eyes that are wet now, ere long will be tearless.

Blessings await you in doing what’s right!

Do what is right; let the consequence follow.

Battle for freedom in spirit and might;

and with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.

God will protect you; then do what is right!

~Anonymous; The Psalms of Life, Boston, 1857

 

See More Defining Moments

Month-Defining Moment

Truth-Zone

 Birthright

More about Birthrightbirthright_cvr

A historical novel by C.A. Davidson

picnicwyouthIn this excerpt from the historical novel Birthright,  college history professor Jacob Nobles uses discovery teaching and ancient ruins at a historic site to lead his students in a discussion of truth, and discerning right from wrong.

      “Okay—” Preston spoke with caution. “I’ll give you that the Bible is actually a history. But why does it matter?

                “That is the million-dollar question …” Jacob smiled. “And you can find the answer here—for free!

                Jacob held up the Bible. “Now, Preston, you have asked why the Bible matters. Would you agree that the Bible is a history of God’s dealings with man?”

creationhands                “I guess you could say that. Apparently, somehow God’s version of the creation was given to Moses, and Moses wrote it down,” Preston commented carefully.

                “It makes sense to take God’s word for it,” Allison remarked with her usual bluntness. “After all, He was there when it happened—a distinction the rest of us cannot claim.”

                Preston shook his head. “Still, none of us were there for the creation process—not even Moses.”

                “That’s true.” Jacob chewed thoughtfully on his ham sandwich and inclined his head. “Hmm. So we have here two explanations for the Creation process—to keep it simple, we’ll call them two different stories. Since we were not present for the event, we’re forced to accept either one story or the other—on faith.”

                Puzzled, Preston tilted his head.

“What is faith, anyway?”

  “Well now, faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true,”[1] Josiah Bianco said.

 shepherdboy               Folding his arms across his chest, Preston surveyed the surrounding hills and glimpsed a boy leading a few sheep. “Are you saying that everybody just blindly follows …” He paused. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to offend.”

                “No offense taken.”

                “Don’t worry,” Ben said. “We all have done the same thing.”

                “Really?”

                “Of course. It’s called academic freedom.”

  “Sure. Bring it on!” Allison took a sip out of her can of grape juice. “Only frauds and liars are afraid to answer questions.”

                “Why is Dr. Marlow so afraid of other points of view?” Nola asked.

                “He doesn’t want to lose the debate!” Allison interjected.

“Yes. Debate is an important part of academic freedom, but anyone can win an argument without teaching truth. A friendly discussion with free exchange of ideas is more effective in discovering truth.” Jacob chuckled. “However, when you prefer to control what others say and think, truth can get in your way.

   “Now that we are away from the university, we can actually look at more than one point of view! We will look at two stories of the Creation—one, in the Bible, and the other, Dr. Marlow’s version.”

                “The Bible version seems too simple,” Preston said.

                “Well, what is Dr. Marlow’s version called?” Nola inquired.

                “Dr. Marlow believes in a theory called Natural Selection which, simply put, proposes that everything somehow creates itself by chance,” Jacob replied.

                “That doesn’t make sense.” Nola frowned in disagreement. “The human body—and mind—are complicated. Something can’t be produced by nothing.[2] My experience has shown me that nothing worthwhile happens by chance. Everything takes work, and effort, and planning.

                “Yes, Nola. That’s why some scientists say that the Bible history discloses an intelligent design, a purpose, or an orderly plan.”

                “Aren’t Bible stories for children?” Preston wondered.

                “Men struggle to explain their philosophy. The Bible explains the Creation so a child can understand—so that parents can teach their children through the ages. Who is more intelligent?” Jacob shrugged. “Anyway, the important thing is, who is telling the truth—Man, or God?”

                “Can you just assume there is a God?”

Preston asked.

Jacob laughed. “We can look at some evidence. Where is evidence of chance?”

            No one answered for a moment.

            Josiah Bianco chortled. “Shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?” he quipped, quoting Isaiah.[1]

[1] Isaiah 29:16

“What about evidence of design?”

                “The ability to think, for one thing,” Allison said, “ …one of many.”

                “As I said, the human body,” Nola added, “and life itself. I know many very intelligent scientists and doctors, but no one can earimageduplicate an eye or an ear.”               

  Preston’s gaze rested momentarily upon Nola’s face—round blue eyes, delicate sculpted features like a work of art. “All right,” he said. “Let’s say God is the intelligent Creator. Couldn’t He have made man out of apes?”

“Of course, He could, but would He? He is a God of order. As Creator of earth and all living things, He set up the rules for justice and science. Why would He violate His own laws?”[3]

         “What do you mean?”

                “Okay, if the Bible is really a history, and if it is true that we humans are created in the image of God, how are we different from animals?”

                “We can reason, while animals use instinct,” Preston said. “You’ve already established that.”

teotihuacanserpent               “Humans can draw, read, and write,” Allison said. “I have yet to see an animal who could carve something like this creature.” She poked her finger into the big teeth of the dragon carving, but withdrew her hand quickly. “Yikes! I don’t think an animal would make something this weird, even if it could!”

Free Will

  Jacob grinned. “True. Also, you chose to come here today, others did not. Ruben left early; the rest of you stayed. What does that mean?”

                “People have the power to choose,” Ben said.

                “Yes, that’s called Free Will. We have no empirical evidence of such a thing, but let’s suppose we have here a creature who is half man and half ape—by whose laws would this creature live—by the laws of man or nature? You’re the law student here, Preston. What do you think?”

   “Uh …”

                “If the creature is half man, would it be fair to make him live like an animal? Or if he is half animal, and cannot reason fully as a man, would it be just to impose upon him the laws of men?”

                “This is really getting confusing!”

   “Yes, Preston, it is confusing. But when He had completed the creation, God blessed human beings and all living things to multiply, each after their own kind.[4] There is nothing confusing about that.”

                A flutter of wings announced the arrival of a dove which lit next to his mate upon a limb of the tall tree.

How Do You Know What Is True and Right?

“The human soul can never die. So you see, it is created, not evolved, because God is not the author of confusion.[5] Therefore, to avoid confusion, would you agree we need some kind of law to bring order and justice to our lives?”

                “Absolutely,” Preston said. “We must have justice.”

 KJV Bible              “Let’s think for a moment about the two kinds of laws—which law provides true justice? Dr. Marlow makes no distinction between humans and animals. His law is simple: those who are strong rule and prevail over everything and everyone else.” Jacob placed his right hand firmly upon the rock and continued. “The law of Nature requires animals to kill other animals for food. In the law of the Bible, on the other hand, God tells us not to kill or eat other people. Why not?”

“It’s wrong!” The students exclaimed indignantly, in vigorous unison.

                “How do you know it’s wrong?”

                Jacob waited.

                “Well,” Preston began slowly. “There simply is no justice in murder and cannibalism. I don’t know why … Somehow I just know that.”

compass liahona   “Men often create laws to try to change God’s commandments,” Jacob continued, “but God’s laws never change. When He created our eternal souls, He planted those unchangeable moral laws in our minds and hearts. It’s called—”

                “Our conscience.” Preston nodded. “Of course! I see that now.”

                “Yes. The Bible contains our true moral compass in writing. And that, Preston, is why the Bible matters.”

birthright_cvrCopyright © 2016 by C. A. Davidson

More about Birthright

[1] Hebrews 11:1

[2] John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Great Books of the Western World, vol.35

[3] These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator Himself in all His dispensations conforms. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:59-60

[4] Genesis 1:22,24

[5] 1 Corinthians 14:33

Memorial Day History: Honor the Fallen War Heroes

Dinner Topics for Memorial Day

Support, Donate to Paralyzed Veterans

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Memorial Day History: Honor the Fallen War Heroes

Some gave all

keyLord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget! ~Rudyard Kipling

memorialdaysomegaveallTeddy James, AFA Journal

In Flanders Fields* by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.
*Public domain

To some, it is just a flag, resting in a triangular box on a mantle. To others, it explains why there’s an odd number of place settings at the table, why the opposite side of the bed stays cold, why there’s a vacant seat at graduation, why a bride walks down the aisle alone.

To some, it is just a day, an excuse for a three-day weekend to barbeque and celebrate the beginning of summer. To others, it is a day to be alone, remembering daughters they can’t hug, dads they can’t call, friends they couldn’t save, brothers who saved them with the ultimate sacrifice.

Who we remember

soldierbrave-paulrsmith-medalhonorArmy Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith was part of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division. On April 4, 2003, Smith participated in building an impromptu prisoner of war holding area in Baghdad, Iraq. During the construction, his unit was attacked by a group of Iraqi fighters. During the battle, an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier was hit, wounding the three soldiers inside. Smith saw to the evacuation of the injured soldiers. There was an aid station directly behind Smith and his team with already over 100 combat casualties. Smith and his team were the only obstacle between Iraqi attackers and the aid station.

Smith climbed into a damaged M113 to man its .50 caliber machine gun and ordered the driver to reposition the vehicle so he could fire on the enemy, leaving himself unprotected and exposed to enemy fire. He went through three boxes of ammunition before his gun fell silent.

Afterward, Smith’s team found him slumped over the machine gun. His armor showed 13 bullet holes. Before he died, he had wiped out over 50 enemy combatants and saved many American lives. SFC Smith was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Smith and countless other heroes who have given their all for America are who Memorial Day is for.

Why we remember

vetsweowethemNo fewer than two dozen cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, the original site in 1966. While the site is disputed, it is clear the tradition started around 1866 as a way to memorialize soldiers who died during the Civil War.

In 1868, General John Legend, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued this proclamation: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

soldiersfallenlestweforget2General Legend chose the date because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.

In the little town of Columbus, Mississippi, also claiming to be the birthplace of Decoration Day, the tradition began with families entering cemeteries and caring for the graves of Confederate soldiers. It expanded when a group of women noticed local Union soldiers’ graves in disrepair and took it on themselves to correct the situation by pulling weeds, placing flowers, and paying respect.

The sentiment covered the country, and today, Memorial Day pays homage to those who surrendered their lives for a purpose they deemed bigger than their personal safety.

Memorial Day’s storied history continues to live in prose, legend, and lyrics. Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields,” a stirring poem published in 1915. The legend says he was inspired to write it after presiding over the funeral of his friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in World War I.

Inspired by McCrae’s poem, Moina Michael responded with “We Shall Keep the Faith.” She wrote:

soldiersfallenlestweforget1And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Michael decided to wear a red poppy on Memorial Day in honor of all soldiers whose blood was shed not only in Flanders fields, but also everywhere across the globe. Today many veterans’ groups hand out poppies for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

How we remember
libertyMorrill Worcester won a trip to Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery when he was 12. The image of rows and rows of headstones lodged itself in the mind of the preteen. The sight taught him real people gave their lives to pay for the freedom he enjoyed every day. That lesson never left him.

Years later, Worcester founded his successful business, Worcester Wreaths, in Harrington, Maine. One year he had a surplus of Christmas wreaths, and the image of Arlington’s unadorned headstones came back to his mind. With the help of Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME-R) and other volunteers, Worcester placed the wreaths in an older section at Arlington.

Worcester and his team quietly kept the tradition until 2005 when an image of the gravestones, semi-covered in snow and decorated with an evergreen wreath and hand-tied red bow, took the Internet by storm. Support poured in from people wanting to donate money for more wreaths in Arlington; others asked how they could start laying wreaths in national or state cemeteries close to home.

From the outpouring of support, Worcester and a team developed Wreaths Across America, and the movement continues to grow. In 2013, the volunteer wreath brigade laid over 540,000 Remembrance Wreaths at 908 locations. The wreaths are another fitting tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Express your thanks
• Sponsor a wreath now that will be laid on December 13, National Wreaths Across America Day.
• Volunteer to lay wreaths at your local cemetery.
• Start a community fundraiser.
• Make Memorial Day an opportunity to serve those left behind. Spouses and children of deceased soldiers should hold a
special place in the heart of every American. They paid – and are paying – a price too.
• Build a relationship with the family of a fallen soldier. Learn their needs and meet them.
• Make this Memorial Day more than an excuse to barbeque. Let it be the starting point of a lifetime honoring, respecting, and remembering our military heroes.
• Contact U.S. senators or congressmen or local veterans organizations to ask for information on local Memorial Day events or projects.

For more information, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org or call 877-385-9504.

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/may/some-gave-all/

Judeo-Christian Culture: War Stories—Soldier owes his survival to Faith in God

Judeo-Christian Culture:

War Stories—Soldier owes his survival to Faith in God

Retired Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch on How Faith Sustained Him Through Years of War

Dan Riehl

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch (U.S. Army Ret.) joined Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday to discuss his new book, Work Hard, Pray Hard: The Power of Faith in Action.

The Amazon preview of his book states in part:

In trying times, where can we turn to find true strength and peace of mind? If you think God might be the answer, you’re off to a pretty good start. But know this—believing is only step one. From his harrowing personal journey on the battlefields of Iraq to dealing with the everyday stresses of life at home, retired Army General Rick Lynch shares his thirty-plus years of experience that proved to him the power of faith in action.

Bolstered by history and backed by the Bible, Work Hard, Pray Hard explores seven steps that will put the true power of faith into action, in your life, every day.

Lynch said Thursday, “I was in the Army thirty-five years, ten years as a general officer. I fought in Iraq on three different occasions: Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Kosovo. I personally don’t know how I could’ve done that without my personal relationship with God. Every day I turned to God in prayer and asked Him for strength and courage and wisdom to do the things that He wanted me to do.”

Lynch went on to cite a few examples of when his faith sustained him during his time in the Army, including on the battlefield.

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: Homeschooling, Russia, and Faith in God

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Homeschooling, Russia, and Faith in God

Homeschooling now booming – in Russia!

Bob Unruh

Estimated 100,000 children taught by parents

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently until thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. ~Deuteronomy 6:6,7

“I understand that children are given to me by God, but for a small amount of time.” ~Victoria, Russian homeschooling parent

 

Homeschooling, banned in Russia for most of the last century, is beginning a boom, according to a homeschooling expert.

“Homeschooling in Russia has gained recognition from both the media and society in general,” said Mike Donnelly, the director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association. “Part of that stems from its growth so far.”

Donnelly, who recently attended a homeschool conference in St. Petersburg, said Russian supporters of homeschooling  expressed “genuine optimism for the future” and “confidence in their plans to achieve substantial growth.”

His organization, the world’s premiere legal defender of homeschooling, has battled over the rights of parents to teach their children, often an integral part of international agreements and treaties.

And while major disputes have raged in Germany, Sweden and the United States in recent years, in Russia the homeschool movement has been maturing, he reported.

Teach your Family the Truth not found in Public Schools.

 

One of his encounters was with Pavel Parfentiev, the chairman of the board of Za Prava Sem’i, a family rights organization.

“I do believe that home education has a big future in Russia, he said, according to Donnelly.

“Russian law specifically states that the parents are the primary educators of their children,” Parfentiev said.

The movement in Russia, still “in its early days,” has obstacles, including a Common Core-like set of national requirements that parents are working to have lifted.

Reported Donnelly: “Homeschool leaders estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 Russian children being homeschooled. Although that range is well under 0.5 percent of the Russian school-age population (by comparison, estimates put the growing homeschooling community in the U.S. at close to 4 percent of the school-age population), it places Russia second only to the United Kingdom among European countries.”

Parfentiev said, “Most people do respect home education as a normal and good educational option for parents.”

Donnelly said the strength of the growing movement was evidenced by a parent named Victoria, who with her husband Boris is reviewing homeschooling options even though their oldest child is not yet 4.

Translated by Boris, Victoria said, “I understand that children are given to me by God, but for a small amount of time.”

And educating them?

“I understand that this is my task, and not the task of the teachers out there. I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is the way to go.”

Donnelly said he wasn’t alone in perceiving the hopefulness of the Russian homeschoolers

He was accompanied to the St. Petersburg conference by Gerald Huebner, HSLDA Canada’s chairman.

“In the end, Gerald said, ‘it’s just like a conference in Saskatchewan or North Dakota. People from Canada or any state in the United States would feel very comfortable here,’” Donnelly said.

How to help strengthen the faith of the rising generation