Character Education: Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Character Education:

Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

keyold“Refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).

 

My desire this evening is to share some counsel about decisions and choices.

Lucy Rationalizes

charlie-brown-lucy-baseballWhen I was a young lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, our firm did some legal work for the company that produced the Charlie Brown holiday TV specials.1 I became a fan of Charles Schulz and his creation—Peanuts, with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other wonderful characters.

One of my favorite comic strips involved Lucy. As I remember it, Charlie Brown’s baseball team was in an important game—Lucy was playing right field, and a high fly ball was hit to her. The bases were loaded, and it was the last of the ninth inning. If Lucy caught the ball, her team would win. If Lucy dropped the ball, the other team would win.

charlie-brown-lucyAs could happen only in a comic strip, the entire team surrounded Lucy as the ball came down. Lucy was thinking, “If I catch the ball, I will be the hero; if I don’t, I will be the goat.”

The ball came down, and as her teammates eagerly looked on, Lucy dropped the ball. Charlie Brown threw his glove to the ground in disgust. Lucy then looked at her teammates, put her hands on her hips, and said, “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?”

This was one of many fly balls Lucy dropped through the years, and she had a new excuse each time.2 While always humorous, Lucy’s excuses were rationalizations; they were untrue reasons for her failure to catch the ball.

Decisions Determine Destiny

It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

freewill1During the ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, he has often taught that decisions determine destiny.3 In that spirit my counsel tonight is to rise above any rationalizations that prevent us from making righteous decisions, especially with respect to serving Jesus Christ. In Isaiah we are taught we must “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”4

I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.5

Some young people profess their goal is to be married in the temple but do not date temple-worthy individuals. To be honest, some don’t even date, period! You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get “anxiously engaged”6 in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage.

Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, does not comply with counsel of modern prophets, and is not compatible with sound doctrine.

I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

Everyday Decisions

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”9

Frivolous Distractions

When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.

RushSocialMedia2PIXDistractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion.10 We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media.11 A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”12

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

When we rationalize wrong choices, big or small, which are inconsistent with the restored gospel, we lose the blessings and protections we need and often become ensnared in sin or simply lose our way.

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.

apathydudeI am particularly concerned with foolishness13 and being obsessed with “every new thing.” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.14 In our day, despite unprecedented gains in many areas, especially science and communication, essential basic values have eroded and overall happiness and well-being have diminished.

When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill in Athens, he found some of the same intellectual pretension and absence of true wisdom that exist today.15 In Acts we read this account: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”16 Paul’s emphasis was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the crowd realized the religious nature of his message, some mocked him; others essentially dismissed him, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”17 Paul left Athens without any success. Dean Frederic Farrar wrote of this visit: “At Athens he founded no church, to Athens he wrote no epistle, and in Athens, often as he passed its neighbourhood, he never set foot again.”18

Subtle Influences

Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

bigbenclockI believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities.19 Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals.

Given this history, one of the reasons I like the account of Lucy playing baseball is that, in my father’s view, I should have been studying foreign policy and not worrying about whether I was going to catch a ball. I should make it clear that my mother loved sports. It would have taken a hospitalization for her to miss one of my games.

I had decided to follow my dad’s advice and not play intercollegiate sports in college. Then our high school football coach informed me that the Stanford football coach wanted to have lunch with Merlin Olsen and me. Those of you who are younger may not know Merlin. He was an incredible all-American tackle on the Logan High School football team where I played quarterback and safety and returned kickoffs and punts. In high school Merlin was recruited by most football powers across the nation. In college he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. Merlin was ultimately the third overall pick in the National Football League draft and played in an amazing 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.20

The lunch with the Stanford coach was at the Bluebird restaurant in Logan, Utah. After we shook hands, he never once made eye contact with me. He talked directly to Merlin but ignored me. At the end of the lunch, for the first time, he turned toward me, but he could not remember my name. He then informed Merlin, “If you choose Stanford and want to bring your friend with you, he has good enough grades and it could probably be arranged.” This experience confirmed for me that I should follow my dad’s wise counsel.

cook-choices-192x192My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God.22 We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer . . . we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.23 We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

 

  1. Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production TV Specials.
  1. From the moons of Saturn distracting her to worrying about possible toxic substances in her glove, Lucy always rationalized why she dropped the ball.
  1. See “Decisions Determine Destiny,” chapter 8 in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 57–65.
  1. Isaiah 7:15.
  1. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces” (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 2, lines 12–14).
  1. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.
  1. See Adjusting to Missionary Life (booklet, 2013), 23–49.
  1. See Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014, SR1.
  1. Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56.
  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 45:26.
  1. See David A. Bednar, “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” (speech delivered at BYU Campus Education Week, Aug. 19, 2014); lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood.
  1. Arthur C. Brooks, “Love People, Not Pleasure,” New York Times, July 20, 2014, SR1.
  1. Unfortunately, one diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness (see Mark 7:22).
  1. This happened in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Book of Mormon civilizations.
  1. See Frederic W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (1898), 302. There were philosophers of all kinds, including Epicureans and Stoics, rival groups who some described as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the pagan world. See also Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 41–44; Liahona, Mar. 2003, 21–24.
  1. Acts 17:21.
  1. Acts 17:32.
  1. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, 312.
  1. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
  1. Merlin Olsen was a hall of fame football player, actor, and NFL commentator for NBC. He won the Outland Trophy playing football for Utah State University. He played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams. On TV he played Jonathan Garvey opposite Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie and had his own TV program, Father Murphy. Merlin is now deceased (Mar. 11, 2010), and we miss him very much.

 

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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.

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

Biblical Parenting:

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

 

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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

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

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

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

Our Heavenly Father Is Our Mentor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every Father Is a Mentor

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

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

We Are All Mentors

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

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

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

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

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Moral Character Education

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Moral Character Education

Culture Wars

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics!

narcissism2                “THE GREAT GOOD AND THE TERRIBLE EVIL IN THE WORLD TODAY ARE THE SWEET AND THE BITTER FRUITS of the rearing of yesterday’s children,” said Gordon B. Hinckley, Christian leader. “As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children.”

  Well, the future is here, and many are the bitter fruits.

The most dramatic fruits we see on the scene today are the generation called Millennials, or those who came of age at the turn of the century. They don’t know they are bitter fruits, of course, because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Studies on college campuses show that people of the self-deceived Millennial generation are so self-centered and enslaved to political correctness that they refuse to identify even blatantly wrong behavior. Anyone who points out moral absolutes is considered mean. They also suppress their own moral compass, and refuse to admit that they can do wrong. Since they can do no wrong, it obviously follows that they take no responsibility for their own actions, but have no problem blaming anyone and everyone else.  Everything has to be worded a certain way, or they are offended. They are also used to instant gratification, and have no patience for working through problems that are not solved quickly.

They are educated in public schools, where the plague of moral relativism has infected their minds.  Whatever feels good is ok, and to them, moral absolutes in daily choices are “no big deal.” The Millennial mindset comes of being pampered all their lives, and the chief objective is “self esteem,” whether it is earned or not, and right or wrong is not even factored into it.  As a result of this false self-esteem, their arrogance is astonishing.  Above all, “you must not judge,” or point out if someone is doing wrong. The philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

greatest-generation3-vs-entitled               How did this happen?

                Let’s go back a little in history. At the close of World War 2, the Greatest Generation had defeated Hitler, but socialism remained at large. Godless socialists launched the greatest culture war of all time.

After the Supreme Court decree of 1963, when God was banished from the schools, the moral absolutes of the Bible disappeared as well. They were replaced by Satan’s deceitful plan of moral relativism, which eliminates right and wrong. Thus anything goes—all are saved in their sins, not from them.

Many parents, caught in this devilish doctrine when raising their children, resorted to what Christian leader Thomas S. Monson calls one of the plagues of our day: permissiveness.

moral-relativism-general            What have we done? When we search for answers, we see a nation once founded on Judeo-Christian moral values, once a beacon of liberty and hope to all the world. Thenceforth we have seen our society regress to immorality, to mass murders, to tyranny, to persecution of Bible believers.

This is what happens when a nation rejects God. With all our so-called education, we have not taught students the one most important truth of all—that God lives, and that He loves us. I feel compassion for our children. We have taken from them the key to happiness—a moral compass. Instead, they are growing up in a society without respect, without common decency—without faith, hope, or love.

quote-look-God-live   Atheism has failed. It produces misery wherever and whenever it is tried. It is time to let go of that failure and return to what works—the Great Plan of Happiness. And where is that plan found? In the Bible.

Our children have been robbed of their birthright of biblical values, cheated out of the plan of happiness, because parents and schools threw away the moral compass vital to God’s children. We owe it to our children to turn away from the philosophy of spiritual death and to once again look to God, and live.

 

Discovering the joys of Moral Character Education,

Christine Davidson

Imparting Biblical Values to Young Adults—Made Easy! Click Here

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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/

Teaching Children about Easter

Teaching Children about Easter

Can kids comprehend the cross?

Teddy James

American Family Association Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________________

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

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

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

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

_____________________________

New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

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

40-day journey to Easter

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

Culture Wars:

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

Miracle? This time, the lions save the Christians

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

Bob Unruh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teach your children why Religious Freedom Matters

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, the Fall, and Mercy for the Soul

Dinner Topics for Easter

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Month-Defining Moment

See More Defining Moments

Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet

By  Jeffrey R. Holland

He died, a broken law to satisfy . . .

keyHow great, how glorious, how complete, redemption’s grand design,

Where justice, love, and mercy meet in harmony divine! ~Eliza R. Snow

climbupWithout safety ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear of any kind, two brothers—Jimmy, age 14, and John, age 19 (though those aren’t their real names)—attempted to scale a sheer canyon wall in Snow Canyon State Park in my native southern Utah. Near the top of their laborious climb, they discovered that a protruding ledge denied them their final few feet of ascent. They could not get over it, but neither could they now retreat from it. They were stranded. After careful maneuvering, John found enough footing to boost his younger brother to safety on top of the ledge. But there was no way to lift himself. The more he strained to find finger or foot leverage, the more his muscles began to cramp. Panic started to sweep over him, and he began to fear for his life.

Unable to hold on much longer, John decided his only option was to try to jump vertically in an effort to grab the top of the overhanging ledge. If successful, he might, by his considerable arm strength, pull himself to safety.

In his own words, he said:

“Prior to my jump I told Jimmy to go search for a tree branch strong enough to extend down to me, although I knew there was nothing of the kind on this rocky summit. It was only a desperate ruse. If my jump failed, the least I could do was make certain my little brother did not see me falling to my death.

“Giving him enough time to be out of sight, I said my last prayer—that I wanted my family to know I loved them and that Jimmy could make it home safely on his own—then I leapt. There was enough adrenaline in my spring that the jump extended my arms above the ledge almost to my elbows. But as I slapped my hands down on the surface, I felt nothing but loose sand on flat stone. I can still remember the gritty sensation of hanging there with nothing to hold on to—no lip, no ridge, nothing to grab or grasp. I felt my fingers begin to recede slowly over the sandy surface. I knew my life was over.

Helping_Hand_430-Large“But then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out from somewhere above the edge of the cliff, grabbing my wrists with a strength and determination that belied their size. My faithful little brother had not gone looking for any fictitious tree branch. Guessing exactly what I was planning to do, he had never moved an inch. He had simply waited—silently, almost breathlessly—knowing full well I would be foolish enough to try to make that jump. When I did, he grabbed me, held me, and refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what would surely have been certain death.”1

My beloved brothers and sisters, today is Easter Sunday. Although we should always remember (we promise in our weekly sacramental prayers that we will), nevertheless this is the most sacred day of the year for special remembrance of brotherly hands and determined arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our fallings and our failings, from our sorrows and our sins. Against the background of this story reported by John and Jimmy’s family, I express my gratitude for the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge events in the divine plan of God that led up to and give meaning to “the love Jesus offers [us].”2

Understanding the Fall

AdamandEveresizeIn our increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.

I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family, and that through a sequence of choices they transgressed a commandment of God which required that they leave their garden setting but which allowed them to have children before facing physical death.3 To add further sorrow and complexity to their circumstance, their transgression had spiritual consequences as well, cutting them off from the presence of God forever. Because we were then born into that fallen world and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.

adam-and-eve-offering-sacrificesWhat a plight! The entire human race in free fall—every man, woman, and child in it physically tumbling toward permanent death, spiritually plunging toward eternal anguish. Is that what life was meant to be? Is this the grand finale of the human experience? Are we all just hanging in a cold canyon somewhere in an indifferent universe, each of us searching for a toehold, each of us seeking for something to grip—with nothing but the feeling of sand sliding under our fingers, nothing to save us, nothing to hold on to, much less anything to hold on to us? Is our only purpose in life an empty existential exercise—simply to leap as high as we can, hang on for our prescribed three score years and ten, then fail and fall, and keep falling forever?

The answer to those questions is an unequivocal and eternal no! With prophets ancient and modern, I testify that “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”4 Thus, from the moment those first parents stepped out of the Garden of Eden, the God and Father of us all, anticipating Adam and Eve’s decision, dispatched the very angels of heaven to declare to them—and down through time to us—that this entire sequence was designed for our eternal happiness.

God’s Divine Plan Provides Mercy for Our Souls

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887It was part of His divine plan, which provided for a Savior, the very Son of God Himself—another “Adam,” the Apostle Paul would call Him5—who would come in the meridian of time to atone for the first Adam’s transgression. That Atonement would achieve complete victory over physical death, unconditionally granting resurrection to every person who has been born or ever will be born into this world. Mercifully it would also provide forgiveness for the personal sins of all, from Adam to the end of the world, conditioned upon repentance and obedience to divine commandments.

As one of His ordained witnesses, I declare this Easter morning that Jesus of Nazareth was and is that Savior of the world, the “last Adam,”6 the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and Omega of eternal life. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,”7 Paul declared. And from the prophet-patriarch Lehi: “Adam fell that men might be. … And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.”8 Most thoroughly of all, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught as part of a two-day sermon on the Atonement of Jesus Christ that “the resurrection must … come … by reason of the fall.”9

So today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins. That victory is available to us because of events that transpired on a weekend precisely like this nearly two millennia ago in Jerusalem.

Gethsemane-Adam-Abram-627013-Beginning in the spiritual anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane, moving to the Crucifixion on a cross at Calvary, and concluding on a beautiful Sunday morning inside a donated tomb, a sinless, pure, and holy man, the very Son of God Himself, did what no other deceased person had ever done nor ever could do. Under His own power, He rose from death, never to have His body separated from His spirit again. Of His own volition, He shed the burial linen with which He had been bound, carefully putting the burial napkin that had been placed over His face “in a place by itself,”10 the scripture says.

That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.

Jesus-Christ-holland-victory-fall-sorrow-This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that Jesus still stands triumphant over death, although He stands on wounded feet. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that He still extends unending grace, although He extends it with pierced palms and scarred wrists. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that we can sing before a sweat-stained garden, a nail-driven cross, and a gloriously empty tomb:

How great, how glorious, how complete

Redemption’s grand design,

Where justice, love, and mercy meet

In harmony divine!1

 

 

 

 

  1. Correspondence in the possession of Jeffrey R. Holland.
  2. “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, 193.
  3. See 2 Nephi 2:19–29, especially verses 20–23; Moses 5:10–11
  4. 2 Nephi 2:24.
  5. See 1 Corinthians 15:45.
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:45.
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:22.
  8. 2 Nephi 2:25–26.
  9. 2 Nephi 9:6.
  10. John 20:7.
  11. “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, 195.

Biblical Worldview: Perseverance Quotes

Biblical Worldview:

Perseverance Quotes

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. ~Galatians 6:9

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”–Leo Tolstoy

“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.”

Plutarch (46-127);
“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”Horace

“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.” ~ Unknown

Louis L’Amour Books: Classic Western Fiction Quotations

Classic Western Fiction Quotations

From unforgettable author: Louis L’Amour

2nd Amendment

You will remember that we won our freedom because we were armed. We were not a simple peasantry unused to weapons. The men who wrote our Constitution knew our people would be safe as long as they were armed. (Lonesome Gods, 216)

Western Civilization

keyIf men are to survive upon the earth there must be law, and there must be justice, and all men must stand together against those who would strike at the roots of what men have so carefully built. (Lonesome Gods, 415)

Here in these western lands men were fighting again the age-old struggle for freedom and for civilization, which is one that always must be fought for. The weak and those unwilling to make the struggle, soon resign their liberties for the protection of powerful men or paid armies; they begin by being protected, they end by being subjected. ~ Louis L’Amour (Man Called Noon)

Appeasement

We have a saying that power corrupts.

It does. Such rulers begin by demanding a little and end by demanding all. Power not only corrupts he who  wields the power but those who submit to it. Those who grovel at the feet of power betray their fellows to hide themselves beyond the cloak of submission. It is an evil thing. (Haunted Mesa, 293)

You cannot submit to evil without allowing evil to grow. Each time the good are defeated, or each time they yield, they only cause the forces of evil to grow stronger. Greed feeds greed, and crime grows with success. Our giving up what is ours merely to escape trouble would only create greater trouble for someone else. (Man Called Noon)

LAmour-cherokee-trailThere’s pushy folks around this country, and if they start pushing you, you have to push back. If you don’t they’ll soon push you out of the country. (Taggart)

Character

They had never learned how to rationalize, and their world was a simple one where right and wrong were quite obvious. Where the Long Grass Grows, 145

To die is not so much, it is inevitable. The journey is what matters, and what one does along the way. (Ferguson Rifle, 97-98).

Pride can be a dangerous associate, and a thinking man should beware of it.  (Ferguson Rifle, 165)

We’re not talking about what’s fair or unfair. We’re talking realities. (Comstock Lode, 49)

Uncommonly shrewd? no. Possibly not shrewd at all. Perhaps only a man who moved into whatever opening appeared, taking every advantage. Often the man appears shrewd who is only ruthless and without scruples.  (Comstock Lode, 331)

But I am somebody. I am me. I like being me, and I need nobody to make me somebody. I need no setting. As for a home, I can build my own. As for position, each of us finds his own.  (Comstock Lode, 333)

Generations will follow who must themselves live from that land …It would not be enough to leave something for them; we must leave it all a little better than we found it. (Lonesome Gods, 373)

Hatred is an ugly thing, more destructive of the hater than the hated. (Lonesome Gods, 371)

All he would say was to ask me, “Do you think you did the right thing?”

A question like that sticks in a man’s mind, and after awhile I judged everything by it, deciding whether it was the right thing, and often if there was no other way. I expect it was a good lesson to learn, but a man in his life may have many teachers, some most unexpected. The question with the man himself: Will he learn from them? (Fast Draw)

For a man to be at peace with himself was important, Will said, not what people say. People are often wrong, and public opinion can change, and the hatreds of people are rarely reasonable things. I can hear him yet. He used to say there was no use a man wearing himself out with hatred and ill-feeling, and time proved it out. First Fast Draw, 27

Me, I was never likely to build anything. A no-account drifter like me leaves no more mark behind him

than you leave a hole in the water when you pull your finger out. Every man could leave something, or should. Well, maybe it wasn’t in me to build much, but I surely could keep the work of other men from being destroyed. Nobody had the right to take from them what they had built. (Ride the Dark Trail, 101)

The thing to remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for. (Ride the Dark Trail, 53)

A man had to see, not just look. (The Quick and the Dead, 18)

It’s the way with women. [They] fall for a man, then set out to change him. Soon’s they got him changed they don’t like him no more. Never seen it to fail. (Outlaws of Mesquite, 32)

The man had charted his own course, followed his own trail. If it led to death … he had probably saved himself from a bullet or a noose, for he was headed for one or the other. When a man begins a life of violence, or when he decides to live by taking something away from others, he just naturally points himself toward one end. He can’t win—the odds are too much against him. (Mustang Man, 93)

Walking opens the mind to thought.

LAmour-western2We have to earn our place, just like all the others. There’s no special sun that shines on any man, regardless of religion, philosophy, or the color of his skin. There’s no reason why any man should expect a special dispensation from pope or president. In this country, more than any other, you have to make your mark. You’re not going to be treated like something special until you are.

Some men become outlaws. They can’t make a living honestly, so they try to do it by force and strength.

That is the hardest question of history, the question people have asked in every age, in every time. Many men want what other men have. Men are often greedy, jealous, and vindictive. Or they look across the fence at what they think is greener grass.(Dry Side)

LAmour-brionneThe wood with which we work has strength, it has beauty, it has resilience! If it is treated well, it will last many, many years! If you build, build well. No job must be slackly done, no good material used badly. There is beauty in building, but build to last, so that generations yet to come will see the pride with which you worked. (Rivers West, 113)

Remember this. If you stop pushing on, you lose. It is always a little further to the top than you think. (Reilly’s Luck, 17)

Riding the wild country gives a man time to think, and Will Reilly had encouraged thinking. “You have to be objective,” he had said. “Each problem must be taken by itself, and you have to leave emotion out of it. Be stern with yourself. Don’t pamper yourself.” (Reilly’s Luck, 94)

Think nothing of treasure and stories of treasure. You will have in this world just what you earn … and save. Remember that. Do not waste your life in a vain search for treasure that may not exist. (Rivers West, 64)

A mill does not turn upon water that is past, nor does a ship sail with the winds of yesterday. (Rivers West, 5)

LAmour-skibbereenI am a poor man, and no fortune will come to me unless I earn it with me two hands. The hands and the will, they’re all I have. (Man from Skibbereen, 39)

“I could come to hate them!”

“Don’t. Isn’t worth it, Molly. I don’t hate anybody and never have. A man does what he has to do, and sometimes it’s not what I believe he should do. There’s no reason to use up energy hating him for it.

“If a man comes at me, I defend myself. If he hunts me, I figure I can hunt some myself.” (Milo Talon, 156)

There was something else, too, that was not generally recognized—that just as the maternal instinct is the strongest a woman has, just so the instinct to protect is the strongest for a man. (Mountain Valley War, 10)

They know who they are, they know what they believe in, and their kind will last. Other kinds of people will come and go. The glib and confident, the whiners and complainers, and the people without loyalty, they will disappear, but these people will still be here plowing the land, planting crops, doing the hard work of the world because it is here to be done. (Mountain Valley War, 12)

LAmour-ben-shafterYou’ve a good mind, too. Don’t let it go to seed. A brain is only as good as you give it a chance to be. (Mountain Valley War, 65)

There was a cold, bitter anger within him. For a moment he looked back, felt the weight of the guns at his hips, and remembered the contempt of Cub Hale, the arrogance of his father. No … now was not the time. Jody was gone, and Wilson too, but what they had fought for must not be lost. The surest way to make Hale pay was not to kill him but to destroy him and what he had done, to win so the rest of them could keep their homes. (Mountain Valley War, 130)

Sometimes a man’s ego gets so inflated that other people … are to be brushed aside. Well, he destroyed himself … when he brushed a man aside the other day who will haunt him the rest of his life. (Mountain Valley War, 141)

Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn’t really like, or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else.” (Ride the River, 35)

Courage

LAmour-westernDo not be afraid. A little fear can make one cautious. Too much fear can rob you of initiative. Respect fear, but use it for an incentive, do not let it bind you or tie you down. (Lonesome Gods, 218-219)

They had come upon me in a mob, too cowardly to face me alone, and no man deserves to be beaten and hammered by a mob, and the men who make up a mob are cowards. First Fast Draw, 36

They had mobbed me, beaten me, and for no reason. Yet they had declared war, I had not. First Fast Draw, 38

There’s some who will remember you and be afraid, and men try to destroy anybody they are scared of.  First Fast Draw, 45

Only a fool takes chances. That isn’t bravery, not one bit. The good fightin’ man never takes chances he can avoid. You have to take plenty you can’t help, and only a fool would go to gambling with his life.

When I was a kid they told me I was scared for not walkin’ a small log over a high canyon. The other kids all did it, but not me. Now if there had been something on the other side I wanted, I would have gone over after it if there was no other way to get it. I never did see any sense in taking chances that weren’t necessary. There’s a sight of difference between being brave and being a dang fool. (Rustlers of West Fork, 131)

Trouble? All my life there’s been trouble, and where man is there will be trouble to the end of time, if not of one kind, then another. But I take my trouble as it comes. (Showdown at Yellow Butte, 86)

Culture

Men destroy what they do not understand, as they destroyed the son of God when he chose to walk among them. (Lonesome Gods, 512)

LAmour-quick-n-deadIs it to be a place where only business is done? Simply a marketplace, or is it to be a place of beauty? The great cities, the remembered cities, are the cities known for their beauty. (Lonesome Gods, 218)

Because a custom is old is no reason for junking it. (Long grass, 56)

The empty people, they wanted nothing more; they chafed at bonds because they were not mature enough for discipline, the kind of discipline one gives himself. He had seen too many of them, sad, misguided people, railing at institutions and ideas they were too juvenile to accept. The important thing in life called for maturity, for responsibility. Too many fled from it, wanting to be back in childhood when somebody else coped with the problems. Long Grass, 86

I had no grudge against any man, nor did I know what it meant to hate. To be wary, yes, for I knew there were hating folks about, but for myself, I hated no man. Only there was a point beyond which I’d not be pushed. First Fast Draw,15

The good people …made less noise and attracted less attention. (Rustlers of West Fork, 211)

Defend Right and Truth

LAmour-utah-blaineYou have to fight for most of the things worth having … or somebody does. (The Quick and the Dead, 116)

A man can get killed taking things for granted. (Ride the Dark Trail, 52)

Me, I was never likely to build anything. A no-account drifter like me leaves no more mark behind him than you leave a hole in the water when you pull your finger out. Every man could leave something, or should. Well, maybe it wasn’t in me to build much, but I surely could keep the work of other men from being destroyed. Nobody had the right to take from them what they had built. (Ride the Dark Trail, 101)

Education

He who ceases to learn is already a half-dead man. And do not be like an oyster who rests on the sea bottom waiting for the good things to come by. Search for them, find them. (Lonesome Gods, 39)

Family

There’s nothing better than two, a man and woman, who walk together. When they walk right together there’s no way too long, no night too dark. (Ride the Dark Trail, 49)

Long ago we had come from England and Wales, but the family feeling within us was older still, old as the ancient Celtic clans I’d heard spoken of. It was something deep in the grain, but something that should belong to all families …everywhere. I did not envy those who lacked it. (Ride the Dark Trail, 65)

“Her? Really? But she’s nobody. She’s just a broken-down nester’s daughter.”

“Everybody is somebody to me.” (Ride the Dark Trail, 202)

Government

There is no greater role for a man to play than to assist in the government of a people, nor anyone lower than he who misuses that power. (Lonesome Gods, 373

LAmour-flintA man is only king as long as folks let him be. (Ride the Dark Trail, 87)

You’ve got to make a stand somewhere. We are making a decision here today whether this community is to be ruled by justice and by law or by force and crime. (Law of Desert Born. 218)

What we have most to fear, I believe, are those within our own borders who think less of country than of themselves, who are ambitious for money, for power, for land. Some of these men would subvert anything, anything at all, for their own profit. They would even twist the laws of their own country in their desire to acquire wealth or power. Such men are always prepared to listen to a smooth-talking man with a proposal. (Rivers West, 27)

You must remember that if we leave the governing to others, then others will govern, and possibly not as we would like. In a country such as this, none of us is free of responsibility. Good government is everybody’s business. ~ Louis L’Amour (Rivers West, 29)

You know, Jack, there’s a clause in the Constitution that says the right of an American to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged. The man who put that clause there had just completed a war that they won simply because seven out of every ten Americans had their own rifles and knew how to use them. They wanted a man to always be armed to defend his home or his country. Right now there is a man in this area who is trying to take away that liberty and freedom from some men. (Mountain Valley War, 13)

One could not yield to the lawless and the ruthless, or soon there would be no freedom. It was among men as it was among nations. (Mountain Valley War, 85)

Davy was said to be a sort of Robin Hood bandit who took from the rich to give to the poor. If he was like most of those Robin Hood bandits I’d heard tell of, the poor he gave to was himself or over the bar in the nearest tavern. (Ride the River, 59)

History

All history is important to us. From each we learn a little about survival, a little about what causes peoples to decay and nations to die. We try to learn from others so we shall not make the same mistakes, but many of us learn simply for the love of knowing. (Haunted Mesa, 159)

LAmour-ride-riverMen needed stories to lead them to create, to build, to conquer, even to survive, and without them the human race would have vanished long ago. (Lonesome Gods, 142)

Not until 1818 had a firm boundary been established between the United States and Canada along the forty-ninth parallel from the Rainy Lake to the Rockies.

Only recently had the treaty been signed with Spain ceding Florida to the United States and defining the western border of the Louisiana Purchase at the forty-second parallel. The Untied States had renounced claims to Texas, and rights to many parts of this great new land were openly disputed.

The changing status of the slave trade had caused a number of slave traders to abandon the sea. In 1808 a law had been passed forbidding the importation of slaves into the United States, and even now a bill was before Congress that would make foreign slave trade an act of piracy punishable by death. Although the smuggling of slaves would almost certainly continue, many of those traders who wished to take no chances were leaving the trade and looking for a fresh area for their talents. (Rivers West, 39-40)

“I cannot believe this is happening to me. I cannot believe that those men would be as brutal as you say.”

“Nobody ever believes it until it is too late. Everyone has the same idea: that it could not happen to them. It is always happening to somebody else, and you see it in the papers and don’t credit it.”

~Louis L’Amour (Man from Skibbereen, 48)

Liberty

Are you prepared to lose all this? To have someone else reap where you have sown? You must fight or be enslaved. (Haunted Mesa, 270)

You will remember that we won our freedom because we were armed. We were not a simple peasantry unused to weapons. The men who wrote our Constitution knew our people would be safe as long as they were armed. (Lonesome Gods, 216)

He had breathed the free air of a free country too long and had the average American’s fierce resentment of tyranny. (Desert Born, 201)

LAmour-westward-tideMobs must be anonymous. Most men who make up mobs act under influence of the crowd. Singled out and suddenly alone, they become uncertain and uneasy. Deliberately, he let them know that he knew them. Deliberately, he walked among them, making each man feel known, cut off. He must break their shell of mob thinking and force each man to think of his own plight and the consequences to himself. He must make each man sure he was recognized, known. As a mass, thinking with one mind, they were dangerous, but if each began to worry …(Desert Born, 226-228)

Any man can run a town with killings, if he is fast enough. To clean up a tough town without killing, that takes a man!” (Desert Born, 232)

They were God-fearing, stern, and fierce to resent any intrusion on their personal liberty. It was such men as these who had destroyed Major Patrick Ferguson and his command at King’s Mountain. Not understanding what manner of men he dealt with, Ferguson had threatened them with fire and hanging, and they had responded by coming down from the mountains with their long Kentucky rifles. These were the sort of men who had been the backbone of the early American armies.

They were like Ethan Allen, Daniel Boone, the Green Mountain boys, Kit Carson, and Jim Bridger. There was also a fierce resentment for those who abused their power. (Mountain Valley War, 19-20)

Propaganda

They believe too hard. Men will give up anything rather than what they want to believe. And hate you for telling them there’s nothing to believe. And even if you prove it to them, they’ll continue to believe, and hate you for proving them foolish. ~Louis L’Amour