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

Character Education:

Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

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

 

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

Lucy Rationalizes

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions Determine Destiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyday Decisions

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

Frivolous Distractions

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

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

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

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

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

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

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

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

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

Subtle Influences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Parents as Teachers: Christian Moral Standards and Biblical Values for Children and Youth

Parents as Teachers:

Christian Moral Standards and Biblical Values for Children and Youth

Written, Not with Ink

C.A. Davidson

keyoldAnd we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26 )

 

Moses and 10 cropJochebed, mother of Moses, gently laid her infant son in a carefully crafted little ark, then watched over the short river journey of her precious cargo until he was safely in the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter. Even then, in the king’s court, she was there, nursing him and vigilant in his care.

Despite the opposition of those who would have killed him, Moses grew to manhood, delivered his people from bondage, and left to the world the priceless moral code known as the Ten Commandments. Moses went on to his reward, but opposition to his work continues.

In the New World, about 148 B.C., the prophet Abinadi was put to death by a king, for defending the plan of salvation and the Ten Commandments.

This revered code has been preserved, found today inscribed in stone or metal. The Ten Commandments have been ridiculed, forbidden, removed from public display. Yet within the calm eye of stormy hostility, this code remains serene, steadfast, and immovable.

After the children of Israel broke the Ten Commandments and other higher laws, Moses was instructed to create a complex structure of rules and regulations.

Today, many try to replace the Ten Commandments with gargantuan legal documents of government regulation.

10commandmentsLaws of men come and go. People have been killed or thrown in jail defending the Ten Commandments. But this moral code persists as a foundation for all civilized societies. Why? Because its Author is absolute— the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The Ten Commandments are moral absolutes.

Those whose behavior is consistent with moral absolutes are guided by what is called “internal government.” These individuals can successfully govern themselves, but are accountable to a just God.

When internal government breaks down, external government takes over, with rules, regulation, and bureaucracy. Persons under external government are accountable to men, who may not be just.

lesmisbookIn Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a timeless novel about justice and mercy, hero Jean Valjean served in prison for decades because he stole one loaf of bread. He learned about mercy when a compassionate priest bought his freedom with two valuable silver candle holders. Because of that gracious gift, Valjean lived out his life serving and bringing joy to others. But Javert, his jailer, refusing to accept the price paid for Jean’s deliverance, became obsessed with re-capturing him. Failing in his objective, Javert finally ended his own miserable life. Such is the state of man at the hands of human justice.

In a civilized society, however, justice must be served, or there would be nothing to deter evil and protect the innocent. But much as we may desire to be morally perfect, we all fall short. What is to be done?

Many today reject moral absolutes because, like Javert, they do not understand the plan of mercy. A loving Father in heaven knew that his children would fail to keep all the commandments that justice required. Only His perfect Son could meet the absolute demands of justice and pay the price for His children’s deliverance.

Gethsemane2Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards. The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance. Like Valjean, our children must forsake evil, or justice will have claims upon them.

If we as parents, like Jochebed, diligently train, nurture, and safeguard the internal government in our children, their souls will remain clean and whole when all around them are falling apart. Despite the fading ink of human doctrine, our children can remain true to eternal principles, written, not with ink, but in the fleshy tables of their hearts. (2Cor.3:3)

But remember, “It is easier to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Children prepared with strong internal government will always make honor and virtue their choice; they will triumph over evil, and rejoice.

 

Dinner Topics for Monday

knightandlady

  1. Give examples in the world today of human injustice, in which the Ten Commandments have been perverted and the atonement of Christ is denied.
  2. If we do our very best to live high moral standards, but fall short, what must we do to receive the mercy of Christ?

 

Copyright © 2010 by Christine A. Davidson

 

True to the Faith

By Evan Stephens

 

truth1Shall the youth of Zion falter in defending truth and right?

While the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!

While we know the powers of darkness seek to thwart the work of God,

Shall the children of the promise cease to grasp the iron rod? No!

 

We will work out our salvation; we will cleave unto the truth;

We will watch and pray and labor with the fervent zeal of youth. Yes!

We will strive to be found worthy of the kingdom of our Lord,

With the faithful ones redeemed who have loved and kept his word. Yes!

 

ShieldresizeTrue to the faith that our parents have cherished,

True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,

To God’s command, soul, heart, and hand,

Faithful and true we will ever stand.

 

 

Christian Standards for Children and Youth

 

holyspiritI will follow Heavenly Father’s plan for me.

I will listen to the Holy Spirit.

I will choose the right. I know I can repent when I make a mistake.

I will be honest with Heavenly Father, others, and myself.

I will use the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ reverently. I will not swear or use crude words.

girlmodesty_largeI will do those things on the Sabbath that will help me feel close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I will honor my parents and do my part to strengthen my family.

I will keep my mind and body sacred and pure, and I will not partake of things that are harmful to me.

I will dress modestly to show respect for Heavenly Father and myself.

familyprayerI will only read and watch things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father.

I will only listen to music that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.

I will seek good friends and treat others kindly.

I will do my part to strengthen my family.

 

Mentoring Young Adults: Christian Mentoring Resources

Action Plan—START HERE

 

 

Christian Worldview: Honor for all Husbands, Fathers, and Sons

Christian Worldview:

Honor for all Husbands, Fathers, and Sons

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

keyToday I wish to honor husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles who know who they are and who are doing their best to fulfill their God-given roles, including righteously presiding and providing for and protecting their families. ~Linda K. Burton

We’ll Ascend Together

By Linda K. Burton

As covenant-keeping women and men, we need to lift each other and help each other become the people the Lord would have us become.

elder-packer-wife_1448778_inlNext to the inspiring talks, music, and prayers that always touch our hearts during general conference, I have been told by many sisters that what they love most is watching the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as they exit this podium with their eternal companions. And don’t we all enjoy hearing the Brethren tenderly express their love for them?

Henry B. Eyring, referring to his wife, Kathleen, said, “She [is] a person who has always made me want to be the very best that I can be.”3

wife-president-monson-kissingAnd Thomas S. Monson, speaking of his beloved Frances, said, “She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant, and my closest friend. To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings.”4

wife_uchtdorf_inl

 

I too would like to express my love for my beloved companion, Craig. He is a precious gift to me! Referring to my husband, a cherished and sacred phrase in my patriarchal blessing promises that my life and the lives of my children will “be well in his keeping.” It is clear to me that Craig is the fulfillment of that promise. Borrowing from the words of Mark Twain, I say that “life without [Craig] would not be life.”5 I love him, heart and soul!

Divine Roles and Responsibilities

2-parentfamily-silhouetteToday I wish to honor husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles who know who they are and who are doing their best to fulfill their God-given roles as described in the family proclamation, including righteously presiding and providing for and protecting their families. Please know that I am painfully aware that the topics of fatherhood, motherhood, and marriage can be troubling for many. I know that some Church members feel that their homes will never reach what they perceive to be the ideal. Many are hurting because of neglect, abuse, addictions, and incorrect traditions and culture. I do not condone the actions of men or women who have willfully or even ignorantly caused pain, anguish, and despair in their homes. But today I am speaking of something else.

I am convinced that a husband is never more attractive to his wife than when he is serving in his God-given roles as a worthy priesthood holder—most important in the home. I love and believe these words from President Packer to worthy husbands and fathers: “You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power.”6

Spiritual Leaders and Teachers in the Home

family6prayingEarlier this year I attended the funeral of an extraordinary ordinary man—my husband’s uncle Don. One of Uncle Don’s sons shared an experience he had as a small child, shortly after his parents had purchased their first home. Because there were five small children to feed and clothe, there was not enough money to fence the yard. Taking seriously one of his divine roles as the protector of his family, Uncle Don drove a few small wooden stakes into the ground, took some string, and tied the string from stake to stake all around the yard. He then called his children to him. He showed them the stakes and string and explained to them that if they would stay on the inside of that makeshift fence, they would be safe.

One day the visiting teachers watched in disbelief as they approached the house and saw five little children standing obediently at the edge of the string, looking longingly at a ball that had bounced beyond their boundaries and out into the street. One little child ran to get their daddy, who, in response, ran and retrieved the ball.

 

Later in the funeral, the oldest son tearfully expressed that all he had ever hoped in this life was to be like his beloved father.

Ezra Taft Benson said:“Oh, husbands and fathers in Israel, you can do so much for the salvation and exaltation of your families! … “You must help create a home where the Spirit of the Lord can abide.”7“Remember your sacred calling as a father in Israel—your most important calling in time and eternity—a calling from which you will never be released.”

How applicable those prophetic words are today.

It must be difficult, at best, for covenant men to live in a world that not only demeans their divine roles and responsibilities but also sends false messages about what it means to be a “real man.” One false message is “It’s all about me.” On the other end of the scale is the degrading and mocking message that husbands and fathers are no longer needed. I plead with you not to listen to Satan’s lies! He has forfeited that sacred privilege of ever becoming a husband or father. Because he is jealous of those who have the sacred roles he will never fill, he is intent on making “all men … miserable like unto himself”!8

Lifting and Helping in Our Complementary Roles

Brothers and sisters, we need each other! As covenant-keeping women and men, we need to lift each other and help each other become the people the Lord would have us become. And we need to work together to lift the rising generation and help them reach their divine potential as heirs of eternal life. We could do as Elder Robert D. Hales and his wife, Mary, have done and follow the proverb “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”9

Sat_AMWe know from the scriptures that “it is not good that … man should be alone.” That is why our Heavenly Father made “an help meet for him.”10 The phrase help meet means “a helper suited to, worthy of, or corresponding to him.”11 For example, our two hands are similar to each other but not exactly the same. In fact, they are exact opposites, but they complement each other and are suited to each other. Working together, they are stronger.12

In a chapter about families, the Church handbook contains this statement: “The nature of male and female spirits is such that they complete each other.”13 Please note that it does not say “compete with each other” but “complete each other”! We are here to help, lift, and rejoice with each other as we try to become our very best selves. Sister Barbara B. Smith wisely taught, “There is so much more of happiness to be had when we can rejoice in another’s successes and not just in our own.”14 When we seek to “complete” rather than “compete,” it is so much easier to cheer each other on!

When I was a young mother of several small children, at the end of days filled with diapering, dish washing, and disciplining, no one sang more emphatically the Primary song “I’m so glad when daddy comes home.”15 I’m sad to admit, however, I was not always cheerful when Craig seemed to bounce through the door after a hard day of work. He always greeted each of us with a hug and kiss and turned many difficult and sometimes disastrous days into delightful daddy times. I wish I had been a little less preoccupied with the endless list of to-dos still to be done and had more wisely focused, like he did, on things that mattered most. I would have stopped more often and enjoyed sacred family time and would have thanked him more often for blessing our lives!

Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each Other

happymarriagecoupleNot long ago, a faithful sister in the Church shared with me a deep concern she had been praying about for some time. Her concern was for some of the sisters in her ward. She told me how it hurt her heart to observe that they sometimes spoke disrespectfully to their husbands and about their husbands, even in front of their children. She then told me how as a young woman she had earnestly desired and prayed to find and marry a worthy priesthood holder and build a happy home with him. She had grown up in a home where her mother had “ruled the roost” and her father had cowered to her mother’s demands in order to keep peace at home. She felt that there was a better way. She had not seen it modeled in the home she grew up in, but as she prayed fervently for guidance, the Lord blessed her to know how to create a home with her husband where the Spirit would be warmly welcomed. I have been in that home and can testify it is a holy place!

Sisters and brothers, how often do we intentionally “speak kind words to each other”?16

We might test ourselves by asking a few questions. With a little adaptation, these questions can apply to most of us, whether we are married or single, whatever our home situation might be.

  1. When was the last time I sincerely praised my companion, either alone or in the presence of our children?
  2. When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pleaded in faith for him or her in prayer?
  3. When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
  4. When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness—without adding the words “but if only you had” or “but if only you hadn’t”?
  5. When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be “right”?

Now, if any of these questions lead you to squirm or feel a tinge of guilt, remember that Elder David A. Bednar has taught that “guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage.”17

I invite each of us to heed Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s heartfelt plea: “Brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be ‘perfect’ men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels.”18

As I have prepared for this opportunity today, the Spirit has taught me, and I have committed to speak words of kindness more often to my cherished companion and about him, to lift the men in my family and express gratitude for the ways they fulfill their divine and complementary roles. And I have committed to follow the proverb “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”

Will you join me in seeking the help of the Holy Ghost to teach us how we can better lift each other in our complementary roles as covenant sons and daughters of our loving heavenly parents?

I know that through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and our faith in Him, we can do it. I pray we will put our trust in Him to help us help each other live happily and eternally as we ascend together.

Imparting Biblical Family Values—Made Easy! Click Here

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Christian Art and Life of Jesus Christ

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyThe best way to prepare for life is to begin to live.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ChristsermononmountCarl Heinrich Bloch (May 23, 1834 – February 22, 1890) was a Danish painter.

He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and studied with Wilhelm Marstrand at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) there. Bloch’s parents wanted their son to enter a respectable profession – an officer in the Navy. This, however, was not what Carl wanted. His only interest was drawing and painting, and he was consumed by the idea of becoming an artist. He went to Italy to study art, passing through the Netherlands, where he became acquainted with the work of Rembrandt, which became a major influence on him.[1] Carl Bloch met his wife, Alma Trepka, in Rome, where he married her on May 31, 1868. They were happily married until her early death in 1886.

His early work featured rural scenes from everyday life. From 1859 to 1866, Bloch lived in Italy, and this period was important for the development of his historical style.

His first great success was the exhibition of his “Prometheus Unbound” in Copenhagen in 1865. After the death of Marstrand, he finished the decoration of the ceremonial hall at the University of Copenhagen. The sorrow over losing his wife weighed heavily on Bloch, and being left alone with their eight children after her death was very difficult for him.

In a New Year’s letter from 1866 to Bloch, H. C. Andersen wrote the following: “What God has arched on solid rock will not be swept away!” Another letter from Andersen declared “Through your art you add a new step to your Jacob-ladder into immortality.”

Temptation of Christ by Carl Bloch

Temptation of Christ by Carl Bloch

In a final ode, from a famous author to a famous artist, H.C. Andersen said “Write on the canvas; write your seal on immortality. Then you will become noble here on earth.”

He was then commissioned to produce 23 paintings for the Chapel at Frederiksborg Palace. These were all scenes from the life of Christ which have become very popular as illustrations. The originals, painted between 1865 and 1879, are still at Frederiksborg Palace. The altarpieces can be found at Holbaek, Odense, Ugerloese and Copenhagen in Denmark, as well as Loederup, Hoerup, and Landskrona in Sweden.

Through the assistance of Danish-born artist Soren Edsberg, the acquisition of “Christ healing at the pool of Bethesda,” [formerly owned by Indre Mission, Copenhagen, Denmark], was recently made possible for The Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.[1]

Carl Bloch died of cancer on February 22, 1890. His death came as “an abrupt blow for Nordic art” according to an article by Sophus Michaelis. Michaelis stated that “Denmark has lost the artist that indisputably was the greatest among the living.” Kyhn stated in his eulogy at Carl Bloch’s funeral that “Bloch stays and lives.”

A prominent Danish art critic, Karl Madsen, stated that Carl Bloch reached higher toward the great heaven of art than all other Danish art up to that date. Madsen also said “If there is an Elysium, where the giant, rich, warm and noble artist souls meet, there Carl Bloch will sit among the noblest of them all!” (From Carl Bloch Site).

Bloch’s influence

healingsickFor over 40 years The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made heavy use of Carl Bloch’s paintings, mostly from the Frederiksborg Palace collection, in its church buildings and printed media. The LDS church has produced films depicting scriptural accounts of Christ’s mortal ministry, using Bloch’s paintings as models for the colour, light and overall set design as well as the movement of the actors in many of the films’ scenes. The most notable example of this is the movie The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.

 

Judeo-Christian worldview: Christian Word on Parents, Marriage, and the Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian worldview:

Christian Word on Parents, Marriage, and the Nuclear Family

 

Defining Moment

keyoldToday there are many who are changing the definition of the traditional family. Here Christian leaders clearly define the real family, and warn of the consequences of abandoning Biblical values and moral absolutes.

The Family


A Proclamation to the World

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

marriageWe, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal family-ties-grave-perryFather and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

family3-silhouetteThe family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 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. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rebuilding Notre Dame: Notre Dame Cathedral History, Christian Worldview, and Western Civilization

Rebuilding Notre Dame:

Notre Dame Cathedral History, Christian Worldview, and Western Civilization

“We were the steward of this iconic representation of Western civilization, Catholicism, Christendom.  And of all the years, 2019, at the height of our sophistication, at the height of our technological ability, we are found wanting.

“It’s almost as if places that are less affluent without the technology of Western Europe or the United States, they’re more like what we used to be. They still believe in transcendence,” meaning they believe there’s a lot that is much larger than ourselves out there. ~Rush Limbaugh, quoting Victor Davis Hanson

Rush Limbaugh

Victor Davis Hanson, esteemed historian, made this observation on the tragic burning of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France on Monday, April 15.

christ-statue-brazil

Christ statue in Brazil

HANSON: After 800 years we were the steward of this iconic representation of western civilization, Catholicism, Christendom. And of all years, 2019 at the height of our sophistication and technology, we were found wanting. We didn’t protect this icon. And we don’t build them anymore. There’s great churches and cathedrals that go up all over the world, but they’re in Poland, they’re in Cairo, they’re in the Ivory Coast, they’re in Brazil, they’re in India.

It’s almost as if the places that are less affluent without the technology of Western Europe and the United States are like we used to be. They still believe in transcendence, they still believe in something other than this world. And so it’s gonna be very hard in our society to ever build a cathedral again, much less to repair them, because we don’t believe in what they represented.

RUSH: This parallels a note that I got from a guy yesterday said, “Rush, all this talk about rebuilding, they’re never going to be able to rebuild it, not really. Because that cathedral was built with a searing love, a searing love for Jesus Christ and his mother, a searing love of Christianity, a 100-year project of searing, devoted love.”

He said, “I don’t care what they do to rebuild this, they’re never gonna be able to put the heart back in it that built it. They’re never gonna be able to restore the heart, the beating devotion and searing love that has been destroyed by the fire, if it has been.”

Today’s left does not believe in that kind of transcendence. Today’s left does not believe there’s anything larger than themselves. And anybody who wants to believe or does believe in things larger than themselves that you can’t touch, like God, they’re dangerous.

They’re dangerous because people like that are going to put faith in things the left can’t control and can’t touch.

The left wants faith to be placed in their symbols, largely government and the people that they populate to lead the government. That’s who they want worshiped. And they’re scared to death of people who worship something that can’t be seen, something that is transcendent and explains all of this. Liberals want you to believe that everything that is could be explained by virtue of them and their existence.

Easter Stories in Picture: Mission of Jesus Christ

Picture Gallery of Easter Stories: Mission of Jesus Christ

Christ-Triumphal-Entry-into-Jerusalem-Harry-AndersonTriumphal Entry

By Harry Anderson

King James Bible Verses

Luke 19: 37-38

37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

 

 

Last Supper

Jesus-last-supperPeace-I-Leave-With-You-Walter-RanePeace I leave with you

By Walter Rane

 

Luke 22:19-20

19 ¶And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

 

 

 

Gethsemane

Gethsemane-Adam-Abram-627013-By Adam Abram

Matthew 26:38-39

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

 

The Greatest of AllJesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887

by Del Parson

 

 

 

 

 

Crucifixion

Crucifixion-Joseph-Harry-Anderson-209700By Harry Anderson

Matthew 27:22-24

 

22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done?

24 ¶When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

 

Matthew 27:29-31

 

29 ¶And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Resurrection

Why-Weepest-Thou-David-McClellanWhy Weepest Thou?

By David McClellan

 

Matthew 28:5-6

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

 

 

 

 

Resurrected-Christ-Wilson-Ong-212048Resurrected Christ

By Wilson Ong

 

Matthew 28:19-20

 

19 ¶Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

Easter Songs: Gethsemane Lyrics, Stories of Jesus

Easter Songs: Gethsemane Lyrics, Stories of Jesus

 

 

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887Jesus climbed the hill
To the garden still
His steps were heavy and slow
Love and a prayer
Took Him there
To the place only He could go

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

Gethsemane-Adam-Abram-627013-He felt all that was sad, wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

The hardest thing That ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus.
The fight was won by Jesus.

jesus-repentanceGethsemane
Jesus loves me
So he gave His gift to me
In Gethsemane

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So he gives His gift to me
From Gethsemane

Teaching Children about Easter

Teaching Children about Easter

Can kids comprehend the cross?

Teddy James

American Family Association Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

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

40-day journey to Easter