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

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

Culture Wars Warning! Why Religious Freedom Matters; What’s at Stake

Culture Wars Warning!

Why Religious Freedom Matters; What’s at Stake

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.
  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?
  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.
  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.
  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.
  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other coworkers are willing to perform them in your place.
  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.
  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.
  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.
  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.
  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.
  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.
  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.
  • There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.
  • So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost. 
  • When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom for followers of all religions.

Teach your family why Religious Freedom Matters

 

https://www.lds.org/religious-freedom/understand/why-it-matters-whats-at-stake

Judeo-Christian Culture: Discipleship Definition

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Discipleship Definition

Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ

By Robert D. Hales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of these, Jesus declared:

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

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

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

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

Virtue, Knowledge

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

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

Temperance, Patience to Godliness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Jesus, the Fall, and Mercy for the Soul

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Dinner Topics for Good Friday 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 . . . How great, how … Continue reading

Gospel Teachings: Easter Story, Plan of Salvation, and 3 gardens

Gospel Teachings:

Easter Story, Plan of Salvation, and 3 gardens

The Three Gardens of God

Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985)

Join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.

jesus-adam-eve-gethsemane-resurrection-3-gardensI feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His Atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity.

It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. …

In speaking of these wondrous things I shall use my own words, though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets.

True it is they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard His voice and know His word. …

May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.

We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.

We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation.

As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.

In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal state—without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences.

We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall.

We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth.

Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin.

Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall.

And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.

Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.

If there had been no Fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no Atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.

jesus-repentanceAnd now, as pertaining to this perfect Atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that He is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of His witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in His hands and in His feet and shall wet His feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that He is God’s Almighty Son, that He is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through His atoning blood and in no other way.

God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son will cleanse us from all sin.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Teaching Children about Easter with Object Lessons for Kids

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Teaching Children about Easter with object lessons for Kids

Teach with an Easter Bag

Object lessons are the best, and this one is a great family home evening for the Monday before Easter. Start with the song “He Sent His Son.” Put the following items in a bag: (1) three coins, (2) small cup, (3) knotted string, (4) soap, (5) small piece of red fabric, (6) small toothpick cross, (7) white cloth, (8) cinnamon stick or other spice, (9) small stone, (10) folded white cloth, (11) picture of Jesus. As you read the scriptures below, have your kids take the matching items out of your Easter bag. It’s a different way to talk about the Resurrection, and it provides yet another opportunity to share your feelings of gratitude and gladness for a Savior.

  1. Matthew 26:14–15
  2. Matthew 26:36, 39
  3. Matthew 27:1–2
  4. Matthew 27:22, 24
  5. Matthew 27:28–29
  6. Matthew 27:31
  7. Matthew 27:59
  8. John 19:40
  9. John 20:1–4
  10. John 20:5–7
  11. John 20:10–20

 

Remember when “Spring Break” was called “Easter Vacation?”

Read Birthright, help restore Judeo-Christian cultural values

 

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.

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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/

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New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

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

40-day journey to Easter

Easter: Jesus Christ, the Soul, and Repentance

Easter is about Repentance and Peace for the Soul

This Easter, remember repentance is key to grace and peace for the soul through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

 

I Stand All Amazed

Charles H. Gabriel

 

jesusforgivemedI stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,

Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.

I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,

That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

 

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

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

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

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

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

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

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

 

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me

Enough to die for me!

Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

 

 

Easter Messages: Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us Strength

Easter Messages:

Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us Strength

The Enabling Power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement

David Bednar

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “Though we all have weaknesses, we can overcome them,” says President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. “Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong.”1

Our Savior says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).

“Nephi is an example of one who knew, understood, and relied upon the enabling power of the Savior,” says Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Nephi’s brothers bound him with cords and planned his destruction. Please note Nephi’s prayer: ‘O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound’ (1 Nephi 7:17; emphasis added).

Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us Strength to overcome our Circumstances

“… Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And I believe he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew, understood, and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement.

“I do not think the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then ‘in the strength of the Lord’ (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords, and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands.”2