Gospel Teachings: Overcoming the World

Gospel Teachings:

Overcoming the World

By Neil L. Andersen

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

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

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

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

He explains what happened next:

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

“‘These Are They Who Have Overcome the World—

“Who Have Truly Been Born Again!’”1

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

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

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

Love for the Savior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accountability to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honor the Sabbath

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

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

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

Unselfishness

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

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

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

Safety in the Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is Our Compass

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

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

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

Bruce Douglas Porter overcame the world.

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

 

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.

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Gospel Teachings: Faith in Jesus Christ and Hope for the Future

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Gospel Teachings:  Faith in Jesus Christ and Hope for the Future Why It Will All Work Out By LDS.org Blog Staff Wars. Rumors of wars. Injustice. Hate. Poverty. Turmoil in our families. Shifting morals in society. An ever-present sense of … Continue reading

Gospel Teachings: Character Education and a Parable for Mothers

Gospel Teachings:

Character Education and a Parable for Mothers

 

A Parable for Mothers

by Valeriesartwork

by Valeriesartwork

A young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And the Guide said, “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way. And the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this!”

Then came night, and storm; and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold. But the mother drew close to them, and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “We are not afraid, Mother, for you are near; and no harm can come to us.”

And the mother said, “This is better than the brightness of day, for I have taught my children courage.”

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at last she said to the children, “A little patience, and we are there.”

starry-sky                So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said, “We could not have done this without you, mother.”

And that night the mother looked up at the stars, and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardships. Yesterday I gave them courage; today I gave them strength.”

And the next day came with strange clouds which darkened the earth—clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled. The mother said, “Look up; lift your eyes to the light.”

And that night the mother said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”

And the days went on, and the weeks, and the months, and the years, and the mother grew aged, and she was little lightand bent. But the children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they lifted her over the rough places. At last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates and they flung wide.

And the mother said, “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”

And the children said, “You will always walk with us, Mother!”

And they stood and watched her walk through the golden gates, and the gates closed after her. And they said, “We cannot now see our mother, but she is with us still—she is a living presence.”

Pass on Judeo-Christian values to your family with this engaging and wholesome classic

~Sunshine Magazine

Parenting Tips: Strengthening Families through Faith in Jesus Christ

Parenting Tips:

Strengthening Families through Faith in Jesus Christ

Hope for When Your Family Feels Broken

By LDS.org Blog Staff

Being a parent today is tough—and arguably more complex than ever before.

We didn’t come here to learn how to love ourselves. That we already know how to do. Whether I’m self-loving or self-loathing (it’s the opposite ends of the same stick, which is self-absorption), we really came here to learn how to love others. And nothing needs to ever be wasted. Everything is for our experience.

Instead of just worrying about how to prevent underage drinking, parents today are also fretting about drugs that look like candy and legal substances (that you’d never think twice about) being abused in ways that make them harmful, even deadly.

Instead of worrying about how much time their kids are watching TV after school, they’re questioning whether there’s anything they can do to pry their kids away from their video games, phones, and tablets.

And instead of making sure their kids are ready to move out and be on their own at age 18, parents today are wondering how long they’ll be caring for their adult children, their families, and grandchildren and if they’re ultimately helping or hindering their progress in life.

Being a parent today is tough. We could all use some help in navigating some of the complexities that are unique to our day. And often the solutions to those unique challenges are found in the “ultimate self-help book” that’s right in front of us, but not necessarily utilized every day as a guide for parents—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in scriptures and words of living prophets and apostles, we can find solutions to today’s problems. That’s the idea behind the new Mormon Channel series, Gospel Solutions for Families, which promises “practical, relevant tips for raising children in faith.”

In this episode, show host and mother of three, Amy Iverson, sits down for a half-hour conversation with Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, and Dr. Liz Hale, a licensed clinical psychologist, to talk about teaching the ideal pattern for families when you’re divorced, a single parent, or in another complex family situation we may consider to be less than ideal.

Dr. Hale has spent nearly 25 years in her practice focusing on strengthening marriage and family relationships. Sister Stephens has spent four years visiting with and teaching women around the world as part of her calling in the Relief Society. She has six children and 21 grandchildren.

Read on to see some of their answers and gospel insights relating to teaching the ideal in less-than-ideal circumstances

Amy: How can we be thoughtful when teaching our children or others when our own lives may not live up to the ideal, and maybe neither do the lives of those we are teaching?

Sister Carole M. Stephens: I think that we need to just begin from a foundation of love. We just always have to be sending forth love and not judging. Be open to questions and validating the concerns of others. If we can just show that Christlike love and just always be reaching out to every child and every woman, they’ll be receptive to what we’re teaching. None of us has the ideal family. You are married with children, you’re married without children, you’re single never married, you’re single divorced, you’re widowed. We have all of these different groups of women in the Church. But I really have a concern that sometimes when we segment ourselves into these silos we create “-ites” in the Church. And that’s something we really don’t need. We need unity among our women. We need everyone to feel like they’re included, that they’re needed, that they’re part of, and that they’re loved. And you teach that to your children by modeling that behavior in how you treat others.

Amy: How can we move past some of our trials and heartbreaks to teach our children the ideal?

Dr. Liz Hale: It is why we’re here. It reminds me of this quote from Orson F. Whitney:

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”

We’re so blessed to know that we’re here for a purpose.

We didn’t come here to learn how to love ourselves. That we already know how to do. Whether I’m self-loving or self-loathing (it’s the opposite ends of the same stick, which is self-absorption), we really came here to learn how to love others. And nothing needs to ever be wasted. Everything is for our experience.

Sister Stephens: I know when we’re going through the struggle we wonder “Why?” But after we’re beyond it and we can look back, we realize how much it’s changed us, how much we grew through the experience, and that refinement is really key. But we never have to do this alone. Surround yourself with good friends and family, people who have been through tough times, are on the other sides of things, and can share some of that hindsight. We can be lifted by others, and when we are lifted, we can then have the strength to help lift our children.

Amy: What would you say to those who feel their “broken” family has ruined the future for their kids?

Dr. Hale: It’s not the marital status that determines the happiness of a child. What makes a child unhappy is the lack of unconditional love in their life. We can always show unconditional love. Any time we’re angry or disappointed with our children, consider that we might be wrong. Are we making it about us and how “you’re making me look not so good as a parent right now,” instead of “I’m so concerned about you; help me understand where you’re coming from”? When we make it about “I care about you” and “you know you’re loved without a doubt” then our kids trust us. They find happiness in our relationship with them. We can choose how our everyday relationships will look and feel. We can all write our own scripts.

For those who think, “This is just how my family has always been,” and they’re stuck because of it, you can change. After being taught the Lord’s pattern for families, our kids can decide who they’ll date, when they’ll date, who they’ll marry, what their standards will be. They’ll do the best they can with the decisions before them and then take that leap of faith. They can be fearless that good things will happen in life. There will undoubtedly be struggles, but that’s why we have faith. The stronger that is, the more clear we are of who we are, the more endurable those things will be. It’s not if hard things will come; it will be when they’ll come and what they will be, but there is always hope. To children in any family circumstance, you can make your future different.

Sister Stephens: That’s what the gift of agency is all about. It’s our ability to choose what the next steps are for us, and it’s also our opportunity to say, “We can’t be weighed down and we can’t allow the agency of others to control our agency forever.” The agency of someone else does not control our individual happiness. We can be happy. We can get out of sorrow and regret.

I think of when the Savior was walking on the water and Peter’s desire to do the same. When Peter was focused on the Savior, he had the faith to get out of the boat amid all the winds and the waves, all the turmoil around him, and walk on the water. It was only when he lost his focus and he got distracted by everything happening around him that he was beginning to sink. And I love that word, “beginning.” All of us every single day are beginning to sink, in some way, under the weight of responsibility. But Peter exercised his faith and he used his agency to ask for help and reached out his hand. The Lord in turn reached out His hand and caught Peter and said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Focus on the Savior. Trust God’s plan. Trust our divine identity. Trust the Savior. Trust His Atonement. The Father has provided everything we need to be successful in this mortality that He knew would be so difficult. But we have to learn to trust in that.

Get more practical advice from Sister Carole M. Stephens and Dr. Liz Hale by watching or listening to this full Gospel Solutions for Families episode on the Mormon Channel.

History Facts: 10 Reasons to accept Jesus Christ’s Resurrection

History Facts:

10 Reasons to accept Jesus Christ’s Resurrection

10 Reasons to Accept the Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Fact

By Brian Chilton

When I left the ministry due to my skepticism, one of the factors involved in my departure concerned the reliability of the New Testament documents and the resurrection of Jesus. The folks from the Jesus Seminar had me second-guessing whether I could trust what the New Testament said and if I could truly accept the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In July of 2005, my life changed. I entered the Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and read three books that changed my life more than any other book outside the Bible. I discovered Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and McDowell’s A Ready Defense. I discovered that there are many reasons for accepting the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a historical fact.

Through the years, the evidence has increasingly mounted for the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. This article will provide 10 of the most fascinating arguments for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This list is not exhaustive and my dealings with each argument is extremely brief. Nevertheless, I hope this list will provide a starting point for you to consider the authenticity of Jesus’s resurrection.

  1. The First Eyewitnesses were Women. The first eyewitnesses of the resurrection were women. All the Gospels note that the first individuals to discover the tomb empty were women. Matthew notes that “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb…The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the play where he lay” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6).[1] Women were not held in high esteem. In Greco-Roman culture, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in court. In Jewish circles, it took the testimony of two women to equate that of one man. If one were to invent a story, the last people one would place as the first witnesses would have been women, unless it were otherwise true.
  2. Minimal Facts Concerning the Resurrection. Gary Habermas has popularized the so-called minimal facts argument for the resurrection. The minimal facts are those things that are accepted by nearly all New Testament scholars. The minimal facts are “1. Jesus died by crucifixion. 2. Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them. 3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed. 4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed. 5. The tomb was empty.” [2] These facts are nearly universally accepted by New Testament scholars, including liberals.
  3. Transformation of the Early Disciples. As noted in the minimal facts, James, the brother of Jesus, was changed from a skeptic to a believer because of the resurrection. James along with his brothers did not believe in Jesus during Jesus’s early ministry (see John 7:5). However, Jesus appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:3-9) and James became a leader in the early Jerusalem church. His death is recorded by Josephus.[3] Paul is another example of one who was completely transformed by the resurrection of Jesus. Paul had been a persecutor of the church. After witnessing the risen Jesus, Paul became a proclaimer for the church.
  4. Embarrassing Details of the Resurrection. Historically speaking, embarrassing details add veracity to a historical claim. The fact that women were the first witnesses, that a member of the Sanhedrin (the same Sanhedrin that executed Jesus) had to give Jesus a proper burial, and that the disciples were fearful and fled all serve as embarrassing factors for the resurrection account.
  5. Willingness to Die for What Was Known. Many people will die for what they believe to be true. But no one will die for something they erroneously invented. The disciples knew if they were telling the truth. Yet, one finds that the disciples were willing to die for what they knew to be true. Stephen died by stoning (Acts 7:54-60), James of Zebedee died by the sword at the hands of Herod (Acts 12:2), James the brother of Jesus died,[4] and Peter and Paul died at the hands of Nero.[5]
  6. Documentary Evidence. The documentary evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is quite good. The historian seeks to find how many primary and secondary sources[6] can be gathered for an event to determine the event’s historicity. Concerning primary sources, the resurrection has Matthew’s account, John’s account, and Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15, including the additional references by James (if one accepts that James wrote the letter attributed to him) and Jude. The following are secondary sources for the resurrection: Luke, Mark, Clement of Rome, and to a lesser degree Ignatius and Irenaeus.
  7. Circumstantial Evidence. Douglas Groothius notes that circumstantial evidence for the historicity of the resurrection is “namely, the practice of the early church in observing baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Sunday worship.”[7] Baptism is based upon the analogy of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Lord’s Supper is a symbol of Christ’s sacrificial death. In addition, it is quite odd that faithful Jews would move their worship from a Friday evening into Saturday to a Sunday morning unless something major had occurred on a Sunday morning. The major Sunday morning event was Jesus’s resurrection.
  8. The Missing Motive. J. Warner Wallace has noted in his lectures and books that when a conspiracy is formed, three motivating factors are behinds such a move—power, greed, and/or lust.[8] The disciples would hold no power behind claiming the resurrection as history. They were running around while often being threatened by the Jewish and Roman authorities. As far as greed, they taught that one should not desire earthly possessions, but spiritual ones. Lust was not a factor, either. They taught celibacy before marriage and marital fidelity after marriage. In fact, N. T. Wright notes in his classic book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, that the disciples had no theological motivation behind claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead as they were anticipating a military hero and a final resurrection at the end of time. What motivating factors existed for these disciples to invent such a story? None! The only reason the disciples taught the resurrection of Jesus was because Jesus’s resurrection had occurred.
  9. Enemy Attestation of the Resurrection. Historically speaking, if one holds enemy attestation to an event, then the event is strengthened. When one considers the claims of the authorities that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:11-15), the testimony of the resurrection is strengthened. The early belief that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus is strengthened by the discovery of the Nazareth Inscription that orders capital punishment for anyone who steals a body from a tomb.[9] In addition, several refences to Jesus and his resurrection include citations from Josephus,[10] Tacitus,[11] and Suetonius[12] among others (including the Babylonian Talmud).
  10. Multiple Post-Resurrection Eyewitnesses. Finally, there is multiple eyewitness testimony pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus. Several people had seen Jesus alive for a period of 40 days. The eyewitnesses include Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), the women at the tomb accompanying Mary (Matthew 28:1-10), the Roman guards (Matthew 28:4), the Eleven disciples (John 21), the two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), an indeterminate number of disciples (Matthew 28:16-20); over five-hundred disciples (1 Corinthains 15:6), to James (1 Corinthians 15:7) and to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). I am certain that there were many other witnesses that are unnamed.

Bonus:

Reason number 11: Additional witnesses in the Western Hemisphere

Translation of records of a Christian colony in ancient America documents a visit of the resurrected Jesus Christ to Central America, and that 2500 people witnessed His visit, and felt the scars in His hands and feet. ~C.D.

 

How to help strengthen the faith of the rising generation

 

Conclusion:

Many other evidences could be given for the resurrection of Jesus. Thinking about the methods of history, one must understand that there is a reason why American accept the first President of the United States as George Washington and not Spongebob Squarepants. History backs up the claim that Washington was the first President. In like manner, history backs up the reality of Jesus’s resurrection. Now the question is this: what will you do with such information? Some will try to ignore the event. Some will try to dismiss it. Others will acknowledge the factual nature of the event and worship Jesus as the risen Lord. It is my prayer that you will do the latter.

See how you can draw your family closer to God in these troubled times

 


 Notes

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[2] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), 48-50, 64-69.

[3] Josephus, Antiquities XX.200.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Eusebius, Church History XXV.5.

[6] Primary sources are documents written by eyewitnesses. Secondary sources are documents written by individuals who know eyewitnesses. For instance, my grandfather was an eyewitness to the biggest naval battle in World War II history. From the information my dad gathered from him, he would be a secondary source, whereas my grandfather would have been a primary source.

[7] Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 553-554.

[8] See J. Warner Wallace, “Rapid Response: I Think the Disciples Lied About the Resurrection,” Cold-case Christianity.com (October 17, 2016), retrieved April 11, 2017, http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/rapid-response-i-think-the-disciples-lied-about-the-resurrection/.

[9] See http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/07/22/The-Nazareth-Inscription-Proof-of-the-Resurrection-of-Christ.aspx#Article.

[10] Josephus, Antiquities XX.9.1.

[11] Tacitus, Annals XV.

[12] Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars-Claudius 25 and Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars-Nero 16.

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2ppUPKK

 

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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

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.

 

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?”

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