Jewish Note on God, Christmas Tree

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Christmas Tree

Ben Stein: On God, Christmas Trees and symbols

keyI am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. ~Ben Stein

I Only hope  we find GOD again before it is too late

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday  Morning Commentary (This was years ago before the media freaked out about mentioning the word “Christmas”.)

My confession:

chtreeI am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people
call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s What they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when People say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.  I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I  kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu ..  If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.

I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period..  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country..  I can’t find  it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from  that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In  light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham ‘s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane  Katrina )..   Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful  response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools,  to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And   being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’
In light of recent events…   Terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years  ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.  The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave,

Because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock ‘s son committed suicide).  We said an Expert should know what he’s talking about.  And we said  okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and  themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and  obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion  of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?  Funny  how when you share this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they  will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. Share this if you think it has merit. If not, then just discard it….. No one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My  Best Regards,  Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Christmas Gift Ideas: Young Adult Literature Relevant to Today, will Strengthen Faith and Family

 

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Judeo-Christian Culture: Menorah Symbol, Hanukkah Candles

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Menorah Symbol, Hanukkah Candles

The Menorah: Objects in Scripture

The menorah from ancient Israelite temple worship focuses us on God’s presence and guidance in our lives.

Menorah

The Hebrew word menorah means “lampstand.” The King James Version of the Bible translates it as “candlestick.”

The original menorah was made for the tabernacle in the wilderness. It was made of solid gold and placed opposite the table of shewbread (see Exodus 25:31–37; 37:17–24). It had seven oil lamps that were level with each other—a central stem with three branches curving upward on either side. It burned only pure olive oil (see Exodus 27:20). The wicks had to be saturated with oil and regularly trimmed in order to burn brightly.

An almond motif was used in its design, including almond-shaped bowls with almond blossoms.

Bible Facts

  • In Jewish tradition, the menorah, with its treelike form and ornamentation, is often associated with the burning bush as well as the tree of life. And these are associated with the presence of the Lord (or the shechinah, the fiery pillar and cloud of His presence; see Bible Dictionary, “Shechinah”).
  • The menorah has seven lamps. The number seven often represents wholeness, completeness, or perfection. It was also associated with covenants (the Hebrew word meaning “to swear an oath” is derived from the word for “seven”).
  • Solomon’s temple had 10 menorahs (see 1 Kings 7:49). And a menorah was also found in the temples of Zerubbabel and Herod. The Roman emperor Titus carried away the menorah and other temple articles as spoils of victory over Judea in A.D. 71 (as depicted in the Arch of Titus in Rome).
  • The Savior said that His disciples “are the light of the world” and should not “put [their light] under a bushel, but on a candlestick” (Matthew 5:14–15). The Greek word translated as “candlestick” here is the same word translated from “menorah” in the Greek Old Testament (or Septuagint).
  • Zechariah saw a menorah in vision as an emblem of Israel’s restoration and the rebuilding of the temple (see Zechariah 4). And John saw seven golden menorahs in the Lord’s presence, representing seven ancient Christian churches he was addressing (see Revelation 1:12–13, 20).

Hanukkah Candles

The nine-branched lampstand used in the modern celebration of Hanukkah is technically called a hanukiyah, though people often call it a menorah. Hanukkah celebrates the story of how Jews around 165 B.C. cleansed the temple and burned the temple lamps for eight days (the time needed to consecrate more oil) with only a single day’s worth of oil.

What We Can Learn

The menorah:

Requires purity. The menorah was solid gold and was meant to hold only pure olive oil, which “is sometimes a symbol for purity and for the Holy Spirit and its influence” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Oil,” scriptures.lds.org). Nothing impure can enter God’s kingdom (see 3 Nephi 27:19).

Gives light. Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). As we follow Jesus Christ and strive for purity, the Holy Ghost can be our constant companion and light our way.

Represents making and keeping covenants. Our covenants can light our path through life, reminding us of our ultimate goal of returning to our Heavenly Father. As we honor our covenants and saturate our lives with thoughts, words, and deeds that invite the Spirit, we can receive strength from God and be a light to others.

Represents wholeness and the Lord’s presence. If we repent and make and keep covenants, we can be made whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and, ultimately, enter the presence of our Heavenly Father again.

Fortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

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Thanksgiving Stories: Faith and Native American Covenant

Were American Settlers God’s Covenant People?

The people called upon to honor God and keep the Faith

History-Clues

By Timothy Ballard massbaycolony2

 

As the Puritans arrived upon the shores of the New World, their leader John Winthrop shared words that sounded a lot like those declared by Father Lehi [ancestor of the Native Americans] when he brought his people to the same land. Said Winthrop: “Thus stands the cause between God and us, we are entered into Covenant with Him for this work . . . . If we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.” Winthrop called upon his people to live the commandments, that God might make them a “City upon a Hill.”

bible1The prophet Nephi [among ancient Native Americans] saw the early American settlers in vision and described them appropriately: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them . . . . which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel.” (1 Nephi 13:20,23)

Where did the expression “bury the hatchet” come from?

lamanitesburyweaponsWhen ancient Native Americans made a covenant with God to serve Him and stop killing people, they buried their weapons deep in the earth.

 

John Winthrop

From wikipedia

massbaycolonyWinthrop’s reference to the “city upon a hill” in A Modell of Christian Charity has become an enduring symbol in American political discourse.[136] Many leading American politicians, going back to revolutionary times, have cited Winthrop in their writings or speeches. Winthrop’s reputation suffered in the late 19th and early 20th century, when critics like Nathaniel Hawthorne and H. L. Mencken pointed out the negative aspects of Puritan rule, leading to modern assessments of him as a “lost Founding Father”. Political scientist Matthew Holland argues that Winthrop “is at once a significant founding father of America’s best and worst impulses”, with his calls for charity and public participation offset by rigid intolerance, exclusionism and judgmentalism.[137] But at heart he did truly want to be a good leader.

Winthrop strongly believed that civil liberty was “the proper end and object of authority”, meaning it was the duty of the government to be selfless for the people and promote justice instead of promoting the general welfare.[138] Winthrop supports this point of view from his past actions such as when he passed laws requiring the heads of households to make sure their children and even their servants to receive proper education and for town to support teachers from public funds.[60]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Winthrop

History Facts: George Washington, Thanksgiving to God

Thanksgiving Dinner Topics

Before the mad rush to shop for Christmas on Black Friday, let us pause to give thanks to God–not the government– for our daily bread. Many of our ancestors came to America for liberty. If it weren’t for their hard work and moral character, we would never have reached the prosperity we once knew a few short years ago. Prosperity does not come from Santa Claus; it comes from effort and responsibility.

George WashingtonHere’s what George Washington proclaimed in 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility [sic], union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York
the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

~George Washington

‘You want me to count the number of references to God? How about just the first line? “Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor.” Let’s see. One, two, three, four references in just that first clause. ~Rush Limbaugh

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

Why the Pilgrims matter

Jordan Chamblee

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

November 2016 – Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and all the trimmings. It’s almost here – the national holiday America takes pride in, and one that is intricately woven into the very fabric of American identity. But in recent generations, it seems the substance of the holiday has been watered down or replaced altogether in order to appease perceived social sensitivities.

In general, public school students are taught an entirely different Thanksgiving narrative than the one their grandparents grew up understanding. In today’s progressive version, the Pilgrims are no longer staunchly faithful pillars of Christian ideals, nor are the Wampanoag natives helpful and willing friends of the Pilgrims in times of trouble.

Stephen McDowell, president of Providence Foundation and prolific author, speaks to this decline in honesty and watering down of the true story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

censhorship-1st-amendmentAFAJ: What is the greatest threat today to the truth about the Pilgrims and their history?
McDowell: While some books and educators directly lie about the Pilgrims and their primary Christian motive for starting a new colony in America, the greatest threat to the truth about their story is what is left out when their story is told.

Revisionist history gives a false picture of these devoted Christians. For example, one elementary public school textbook gives 30 pages to present the story of the Pilgrims without once [making] any reference to religion; thus at the end of [the Pilgrims’] first year, they “wanted to give thanks for all they had.” But there is no mention it was God they were thanking.

Teaching about the Pilgrims without referencing God causes people to think that Christianity was not important to them. Revisionist history is a primary reason for the secularization of America. People are taught our history without mentioning Christianity, or if it is cited, it is often presented in a negative light, when in reality it is the most important influence in the birth, growth, and development of the nation.

AFAJ: Why do some contemporary educators revise U.S. history, particularly the story of Thanksgiving?
McDowell: Most teachers in our schools today are ignorant of the true story of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. They never learned it in school and few search out primary source documents so as to get to know the Pilgrims via their own writings.

William Bradford

William Bradford

William Bradford, governor of the Pilgrims for 33 years, wrote their history – Of Plimoth Plantation – which is one of the great historical and literary works of all American history, but few teachers have even heard of it, much less read it. You only need to read a few pages to see the sincere and deep faith of these men and women who served as “stepping stones” for those who would follow.

Some educators who know the history yet ignore it, evaluate the Pilgrims through their own secular bias – that is, the Pilgrims may have had a deep faith, but God is a construction of the human mind and consequently is not relevant, so they do not need to mention God when recounting their story. Or they have such a dislike for God that they do not want to give Him any place in history.

AFAJ: Why is it important that we remember and pass on the truth about the Pilgrims?
McDowell: The Pilgrims’ story teaches us many lessons. We learn of the great sacrifice they paid to exercise their freedom of religion and to plant the early seeds of our nation. Half of them died the first winter after arriving at Plymouth, and most of the others suffered from sickness and hunger. At one time, only six or seven could get out of bed, but they toiled night and day to assist their brethren.

In the words of Bradford they “fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed their meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, they did all the homely and necessary offices for them which queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named – and this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least.” Their care for one another reveals their Christian character and practical love, “a rare example and worthy to be remembered.”

Their motive to spread the gospel is evident from Bradford’s words (which are inscribed on his monument in Plymouth): “A great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.”

Mayflower-compact-hero2-AThe Mayflower Compact, a document the Pilgrims drafted and signed before going ashore, shows their ability to reason biblically regarding civil affairs: “Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith … [we] do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic.”

Learning the unique covenant nature of our founding political documents is an important lesson in understanding why America was founded as the freest nation in history.

AFAJ: What is the most important aspect of the Thanksgiving story that parents can teach their children?
pilgrimprayingresizeMcDowell: The most important thing parents can teach their children about the Thanksgiving story is the most obvious: We call it Thanksgiving for a reason. Our Pilgrim forefathers, who are reflective of most of the founders of America, were firmly devoted to Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ. In recognition of His gracious hand upon them, they set aside regular public days to give thanks and glorify Him.

This was not done merely once or twice but regularly throughout their entire lifetime. They set an example that was followed by those who came after them, even up until today. Throughout most of our history, Americans understood thanksgiving days were to thank God. The Pilgrims’ love and devotion to God, and their reliance upon Him in abundance and lack, are evidenced not only by their private lives but also by their public days of thanksgiving.

McDowell recommends:
Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford
Available at online and retail booksellers
Monumental, Restoring America as the Land of Liberty by Stephen McDowell
Available at providencefoundation.com
America’s Providential History by Stephen McDowell
Monumental, documentary DVD hosted by Kirk Cameron
Available at afastore.net or 877–927–4917

Bible Story: Building on the Rock

Bible Story:

Building on the Rock

 

Trust in God is a solid foundation upon which to build our lives. In the Word of God, we have a rock-solid foundation upon which to build our lives, given us straight from the Lord Himself.

keyoldBe still, and know that I am God. ~Psalms 46:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help the; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. ~ Isaiah 41:10

 

buildingrocksandRemember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that the devil …shall have no power over you …because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. ~Helaman 5:12

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. ~Ephesians 2:20

Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mind and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fall, and great was the fall of it. ~Matthew 7:26

How Firm a Foundation

 

Robert Keene, ca. 1787

buildingonrockHow firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

What more can he say than to you he hath said,

Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

 

In every condition—in sickness, in health,

In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—

As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

 

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

 

quote-maynes-gospel-christ-centerWhen through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow.

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

 

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

 

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Real Foundation

We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side is strengthened, the other side will take care of itself. It is that side which is the foundation of all else. If the foundation be firm, the super-structure will stand. ~Calvin Coolidge

US Constitution Series 10: God and People vs. Government Control

US Constitution Series 10: The God-given Right to Government is Vested in the Sovereign Authority of the Whole People

keyThere was no place for the idea of a divine right of kings in the thinking of the American Founders. They subscribed to the concept that rulers are servants of the people and all sovereign authority to appoint or remove a ruler rests with the people.

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

The practical application of this book review of Skousen’s educated wisdom is to leverage “We, The People’s” knowledge to easily expose ignorance, anarchy and tyranny, and hold the government accountable.

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

By W. Cleon Skousen

The God-given Right to Govern is Vested in the Sovereign Authority of the Whole People

There was no place for the idea of a divine right of kings in the thinking of the American Founders. They subscribed to the concept that rulers are servants of the people and all sovereign authority to appoint or remove a ruler rests with the people.

 

King Charles II beheaded Algernon Sidney in 1683 for saying that there is no divine right of kings to rule over the people. That same year, John Locke fled from England to Holland, where he could say the same thing Sidney did, but from a safer distance. (Skousen, 141,142)

View of the American Founders

signers3There was no place for the idea of a divine right of kings in the thinking of the American Founders. They subscribed to the concept that rulers are servants of the people and all sovereign authority to appoint or remove a ruler rests with the people. They pointed out how this had been so with the Anglo-Saxons from the beginning.

Dr. Lovell describes how the tribal council, consisting of the entire body of freemen, would meet each month to discuss their problems and seek a solution through consensus. The chief or king (taken from the Anglo-Saxon world cyning—chief of the kinsmen) was only one among equals:

The chief owed his office to the tribal assembly, which selected and could also depose him. His authority was limited at every turn, and though he no doubt commanded respect, his opinion carried no more weight in the debates of the assembly than that of any freeman. (Lovell, English Constitutional and Legal History, 5)

Alexander Hamilton

It is a maxim that in every government, there must exist, somewhere, a supreme, sovereign, absolute, and uncontrollable power; but this power resides always in the BODY OF THE PEOPLE; and it never was, or can be, delegated to one man, or a few; the great Creator has never given to men a right to vest others with authority over them, unlimited either in duration or degree. (Albert Long, Your American Yardstick, 167)

madisontyrannydefineJames Madison

The ULTIMATE AUTHORITY, wherever the derivative may be found, RESIDES IN THE PEOPLE ALONE. (Federalist Papers, No. 46, p. 294, emphasis added)

 

But even if it is acknowledged that the PEOPLE are divinely endowed with the sovereign power to govern, what happens if elected or appointed officials usurp the authority of the people to impose a dictatorship or some form of abusive government on them? (Skousen, 144-145)

 

NEXT:

Principle 11: The Majority of the People may Alter or Abolish a Government Which has Become Tyrannical

US Constitution Series 9: Divine Law vs. Big Government

Critical Thinking: Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

Critical Thinking:

Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

Why the Bible Matters: Defining Right and Wrong

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

Do what is right; be faithful and fearless.

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

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

Blessings await you in doing what’s right!

Do what is right; let the consequence follow.

Battle for freedom in spirit and might;

and with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.

God will protect you; then do what is right!

~Anonymous; The Psalms of Life, Boston, 1857

 

See More Defining Moments

 

 Birthright Covenant Series

birthright_cvr

Birthright Covenant Series-Young Adult Christian Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                Puzzled, Preston tilted his head.

“What is faith, anyway?”

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

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

                “No offense taken.”

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

                “Really?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                “Can you just assume there is a God?”

Preston asked.

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

            No one answered for a moment.

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

[1] Isaiah 29:16

“What about evidence of design?”

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

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

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

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

         “What do you mean?”

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

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

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

Free Will

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

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

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

   “Uh …”

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

                “This is really getting confusing!”

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

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

How Do You Know What Is True and Right?

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

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

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

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

                “How do you know it’s wrong?”

                Jacob waited.

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

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

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

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

More About Birthright Covenant series

[1] Isaiah 29:16

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

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

[4] Genesis 1:22,24

[5] 1 Corinthians 14:33

History Facts: Constitution Day and the Hand of God

History Facts:

Constitution Day and the Hand of God

key“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our Divine Constitution

Ezra Taft Benson

October 1987

signers3We have recently celebrated the bicentennial of the signing of the United States Constitution. That commemoration marked the beginning of a series of bicentennial anniversaries of events leading up to the ratification of the Constitution, implementation of the government it created, and the writing and ratification of the Bill of Rights. We look forward to the future commemoration of each of these important events during the next four years. It is as a result of these events that we are able to meet today in peace as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. For this we should all be eternally grateful.

U.S. Constitution a model for the World

I desire, therefore, to speak to you about our divine Constitution, which the Lord said “belongs to all mankind” (D&C 98:5; italics added) “and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (D&C 101:77; italics added).

The Constitution of the United States has served as a model for many nations and is the oldest constitution in use today.

“I established the Constitution of this land,” said the Lord, “by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).

For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” said Lehi, “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Ne. 1:8).

Columbus and the Pilgrims directed by the Holy Spirit

columbus5In the Lord’s due time His Spirit “wrought upon” Columbus, the pilgrims, the Puritans, and others to come to America. They testified of God’s intervention in their behalf (see 1 Ne. 13:12–13). The Book of Mormon records that they humbled “themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them” (1 Ne. 13:16).

Constitution is the American Covenant with God

Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth” (3 Ne. 21:4). America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church.

The Declaration of Independence affirmed the Founding Fathers’ belief and trust in God in these words: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The Doctrine and Covenants states, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2). Life, liberty, property—mankind’s three great rights.

At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, they wrote, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This Declaration was a promise that would demand terrible sacrifice on the part of its signers. Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured. Nine died from wounds or from the hardships of the war. The Lord said He “redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:80). Nephi recorded that the Founders “were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Ne. 13:19).

The years immediately preceding the Constitutional Convention were filled with disappointments and threats to the newly won peace. Washington was offered a kingship, which he adamantly refused. Nephi had prophesied hundreds of years before that “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land” (2 Ne. 10:11; italics added).

The United States

Between the critical years of 1783 and 1787, an outsider viewing the affairs of the United States would have thought that the thirteen states, different in so many ways, could never effectively unite. The world powers were confident that this nation would not last.

Eventually, twelve of the states met in Philadelphia to address the problem. Madison said at the beginning of the Convention that the delegates “were now digesting a plan which in its operation would decide forever the fate of Republican Government” (26 June 1787, Records of the Federal Convention, 1:423).

“The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning,” said Nephi, “wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men” (1 Ne. 9:6).

Four months later, the Convention delegates had completed their work. As Gladstone said, it was “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man” (William Gladstone, North American Review, Sept.–Oct. 1878, p. 185), and the Prophet Joseph Smith called it “a glorious standard … a heavenly banner” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 147).

The Constitutional Convention was Inspired by God

Const-signers-AmericansWhoRiskedAllThe delegates were the recipients of heavenly inspiration. James Madison, often referred to as the father of the Constitution, wrote: “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution” (The Federalist, no. 37, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1983, p. 222).

Alexander Hamilton, famous as the originator of The Federalist papers and author of fifty-one of the essays, said: “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interest” (Essays on the Constitution of the United States, ed. Paul L. Ford, 1892, pp. 251–52).

Charles Pinckney, a very active participant and author of the Pinckney Plan during the Convention, said: “When the great work was done and published, I was struck with amazement. Nothing less than the superintending Hand of Providence, that so miraculously carried us through the war … could have brought it about so complete, upon the whole” (Essays on the Constitution, p. 412).

Within ten months, the Constitution was ratified by nine states and was therefore in force for them. Prophecy had been fulfilled.

George Washington: “Acknowledge the Hand of God”

George WashingtonDuring his first inaugural address in 1789, President George Washington, a man who was raised up by God, said: “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency” (First Inaugural Address, 30 Apr. 1789).

In compliance with Article 6 of the Constitution, the very first act passed by Congress and signed by President Washington on June 1, 1789, was the actual oath to support the Constitution that was to be administered to various government officers.

The dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, as dictated by the Lord and found in the Doctrine and Covenants, contains these words: “May those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever” (D&C 109:54).[1]

America has strayed from her Covenant with God

by Jon McNaughton

by Jon McNaughton

Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City).

For centuries our forefathers suffered and sacrificed that we might be the recipients of the blessings of freedom. If they were willing to sacrifice so much to establish us as a free people, should we not be willing to do the same to maintain that freedom for ourselves and for future generations?

Only in this foreordained land, under its God-inspired Constitution and the resulting environment of freedom, was it possible to have established the restored church. It is our responsibility to see that this freedom is perpetuated so that the Church may more easily flourish in the future.

The Lord said, “Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6).

How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven?

The Constitution is for a Moral and Religious People

First and foremost, we must be righteous.

johnadams2John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31). If the Constitution is to have continuance, this American nation, and especially the Latter-day Saints, must be virtuous.

The Book of Mormon warns us relative to our living in this free land: Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Ne. 1:7).

“And now,” warned Moroni, “we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity” (Ether 2:9).

Two great American Christian civilizations—the Jaredites and the Nephites—were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?

Principles of the Constitution

Second, we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Have we read The Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

As Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be” (Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, 6 Jan. 1816).

Get Involved!

Third, we must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented.

The Lord said that “he holds men accountable for their acts in relation” to governments “both in making laws and administering them” (D&C 134:1). We must follow this counsel from the Lord: “Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10).

voter placing ballotNote the qualities that the Lord demands of those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest.

Fourth, we must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice.

We must become accurately informed and then let others know how we feel. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it. … From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get” (History of the Church, 5:286).

The Constitution will be saved by Righteous People

I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. It will be saved by the righteous citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—among others—men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.

I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval upon it.

american-exceptionalism2I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it.

American Exceptionalism

We, the blessed beneficiaries of the Constitution, face difficult days in America, “a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10).

May God give us the faith and the courage exhibited by those patriots who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

May we be equally as valiant and as free, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 


[1] Shortly after President Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, he assigned me to go into the vault of the St. George Temple and check the early records. As I did so, I realized the fulfillment of a dream I had had ever since learning of the visit of the Founding Fathers to the St. George Temple. I saw with my own eyes the record of the work which was done for the Founding Fathers of this great nation, beginning with George Washington.

Think of it: the Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls and had their vicarious work done for them.

President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: “Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God’” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, p. 160).

After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 89).

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Biblical Worldview, Bible Story, God is with Israel

Dinner Topics for Monday

keyoldThis is the last day in which the great consummation of God’s purposes will be made, the only dispensation in which the Lord has promised that sin will not prevail. ~Ezra Taft Benson

elisha2Christians faced with persecution in the 19th century were reminded by their leader: “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. ” ~Doctrine and Covenants 128:22; 123:17

9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

13 ¶And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

 elisha416 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.