Bible History: Epic Hero, Isaiah

Dinner Topics for Friday

A Moment on the Life and Times of the Epic Hero, Isaiah

When you understand a few things about this towering prophet and epic hero—Isaiah—it is easier than you think to liken his writings to your own life and times.

isaiah3When Lehi and his family departed for the New World in about 600 B.C., Jerusalem was ripe for destruction.  Isaiah’s fifty-year ministry came to a close almost one hundred years before that, but his far-reaching influence had barely begun. Not only was Isaiah a mighty prophet, but he was also a statesman, who served as adviser to four kings of Judah.

1. Under Uzziah, Judah was a strong military power.

2. Then King Jotham further fortified the nation.

3. King Ahaz was idolatrous; he engaged in human sacrifice of his own children.  In the political realm, he tried to appease the Assyrian terrorists by offering them tribute money from the treasures of the temple.

4. Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, tried to cleanse the land of his father’s idolatry.[1]

Meanwhile the powerful and brutal Assyrians had conquered the kingdom of Israel in the north, and moved upon Judah, putting Jerusalem under siege.  To safeguard the city’s water supply, Hezekiah constructed a conduit which still exists today.

As the Assyrians were themselves threatened by Egypt, Hezekiah sought an alliance with Egypt.  But Isaiah warned that Egypt could not be trusted, and prophesied of the Assyrian destruction and Judah’s future peace and prosperity.  Hezekiah remained steadfast and trusted in the Lord by following Isaiah’s counsel.  The prophecy was fulfilled, once. It will be fulfilled again, for Isaiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Assyria was a prefiguring, or type, of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming of Christ.

Thus were the times of Isaiah fraught with wars and contention, as were the times in ancient America, and as are events of our day.  The names of the main actors are different, but the scenes and drama are repeated throughout history.  Much of what Isaiah saw in his day is not unlike what we see in modern times.  These repeated patterns, or type-scenes, are the key to understanding Isaiah’s vast prophetic world view— a window to the future.

Isaiah Spoke of Five Eras

1. His own day. 

Consider his perspective.  Unlike many self-absorbed persons of our day, Isaiah knew that his grand and sweeping visions were “not about him.”  He did not get caught up in the tumultuous moment of his day, but was able to see the total picture.

isaiahlds2. Birth and ministry of Christ in the meridian of time.

Right in the middle of an interview with the wicked Ahaz, Isaiah by command of the Lord, gave the glorious prophecy of the birth of Christ that is famous throughout all Christendom.

3. The Last Days (our times.) 

Isaiah describes why we are losing our liberty, due to uninformed citizens. (Isaiah 5:13)  He vividly describes the corruption, evil, and immorality of our day …even Political Correctness. (Isaiah 5:20) In Isaiah 29, (2 Nephi27), the prophet saw ahead nearly 3,000 years and described in detail  the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the nineteenth century.

resurrected Christmed

4. The Second Coming.

Isaiah’s writings are fraught with prophecy regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to usher in the Millennium.

5. The Millenium.

Lamb and Lion resizeWMIsaiah saw world events as God sees them; he described them, in some ways like a journalist, but more as a poet, using breathtaking imagery.  Isaiah’s superb literary skills are worthy of his subject.  Isaiah’s work is the finest epic literature ever written.  But there is much more to it than that.

His writings are not a mere history, nor will casual perusal unlock the treasures therein.  To limit oneself to a hasty scan would be to walk thirsty past the wells of salvation.

The Savior regarded Isaiah so highly that He gave a commandment, to “search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”(3 Ne. 23:1)

So how does one read Isaiah?

— Pray for the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Christ.

— Keep in mind that the overarching theme of Isaiah is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

— Remember Isaiah’s broad world view, which encompasses at least five different eras in the scriptural spectrum.  Look for the big picture, rather than dwelling on fragments that you may not fully understand.

— Search for themes. Do not try to read Isaiah chronologically.  Let each chapter stand alone, and find its theme.  Chapter headings give helpful clues.

— Research the footnotes.

isaiah4bibletext— Look for parallels, like reading today’s newspaper.

— Remember types and symbols. For example, Babylon means “the world.” The vineyard of the Lord means “Israel.”

— Savor the exquisite imagery. Ponder the themes and the layers of profound meaning.

— Liken the scriptures to yourself.  And liken them to the nations and the global scene.

— Be Patient. To plumb the depths of Isaiah’s inspired writing is a lifelong quest.

The Savior desires us to search the words of Isaiah (whose very name means “Jehovah saves”), for they expound the power of His Atonement and our rescue from the fallen state. Furthermore, Jesus knows there are blessings and treasures that await us if we but seek them. 

Isaiah knew this, too, when he said,

Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

(Isaiah 12:3)

Copyright 2010 by C.A. Davidson


       [1]CES, 1981:Old Testament Student Manual, Religion 302, pp.131-135

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Biblical Worldview: Christopher Columbus and the Holy Spirit

Biblical Worldview: Christopher Columbus and the Holy Spirit

Christopher Columbus: Part 2, Book of Faith and Prophecies

Part 1- Epic Hero: Columbus and the Israel Connection

 

by Shirley R. Heater

keycolumbus3… our Lord opened to my understanding (I could sense his hand upon me), so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies; and he unlocked within me the determination to execute the idea…. Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that he [the Spirit], with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the holy and sacred Scriptures…. encouraging me to proceed, and, continually, without ceasing for a moment, they inflame me with a sense of great urgency (Brigham 1991:179).

columbusIn His Own Words
Columbus’s title for what is called his Book of Prophecies, conveys the essence of his vision: Notebook of authorities, statements, opinions and prophecies on the subject of the recovery of God’s holy city and mountain of Zion, and on the discovery and evangelization of the islands of the Indies and of all other peoples and nations. To Ferdinand and Isabella, our hispanic rulers (West and Kling 1991:2,101).

The book is a personal collection of letters, scriptures (from both the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Apocrypha) and quotations from Biblical commentators such as St. Isidore, Rabbi Samuel and St. Augustine, and other sources. It was prepared for the benefit of the King and Queen of Spain to assure them that his mission, and their support, had been a fulfillment of prophecy. Columbus divided his material into four parts. The first is introductory, followed by three sections entitled: “Concerning the Past,” “Concerning the Present and Future” and “Concerning the Future. In the Last Days.”

Columbus compiled this work in 1501-1502 between his third and fourth voyages to the New World, using many handwritten notes as well as marginal notes he had made in books in his personal library. These notes lead West and Kling to conclude that there can be little doubt that Columbus’s systematic study of Bible history and prophecies began at least as early as 1481, concurrently to forming his great plan” (1991:91). Columbus’s Book of Prophecies culminated a lifetime of deep religious conviction and intense scriptural study and interpretation.

columbus4Today the original manuscript resides in Spain in the Biblioteca Colombina at the Cathedral of Seville. In 1894-four hundred years after Columbus’s first voyage to the New World-it was finally published in Spanish. Two translations of Columbus’s Book of Prophecies are now available in English for the first time (Brigham 1991; West and Kling 1991).

Kay Brigham presents a reproduction of the original Latin and Spanish manuscript followed by the English translation; a companion biography is published separately (Brigham 1990). Delno West and August Kling place a transcription of the original text with the English translation on facing pages, introduced by historical/biographical information and commentary. Other writings by Columbus include logs he kept of each of his voyages. His logs have been published many times and are well studied. They reveal a fascinating picture of a man skilled in the “mariner’s arts,” astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, in drafting spherical maps, and drawing “the cities, rivers, mountains, islands and ports”–a man learned in “geographies, histories, chronologies, philosophies and other subjects” (West and Kling 1991:105). Many biographers and historians have focused on his numerous accomplishments in these areas.

However, more significant is his deep spiritual life, knowledge and interpretation of scripture, especially his fervent conviction that he had been chosen by God to fulfill one of the most significant missions in history, a “holy enterprise”-taking the message of Christ to the nations, which would then usher in the return of the Savior.

columbuslandsThe spiritual side of Columbus has been treated as at odds and in conflict with “scientific rationale.” The content of the Book of Prophecies with its emphasis on the spiritual has been virtually ignored or dismissed as “mad ravings,” “delusions,” “bizarre,” an “accute embarrassment “temporary ‘dark and sordid stupor’ … or a clever ploy … to convince the gullible queen that he was ‘the chosen man of destiny to conquer an Other World”‘ (Sale 1990:188-189).

This unbalanced treatment of Columbus is now changing with the English translation of his Book of Prophecies. Restoration Christians, as well as non-Restoration Christians, will find it significant, because “[t]he discovery of America was a triumph of Christianity” (Slater and Adams 1992:2). Many Christians believe that this nation is God’s instrument for taking the gospel to the world, a vision also shared by Columbus.

 

Led by the Holy Spirit
holyspirit
Nephi’s vision in the Book of Mormon clearly shows that “a man among the Gentiles”-Columbus was led by the Holy Spirit to make his voyage of discovery.

And I looked and beheld a man
among the Gentiles which were
separated from the seed of my
brethren by the many waters;
And I beheld the Spirit of God, that it
came down and wrought upon
the man;
And he went forth upon the many
waters, even unto the seed of my
brethren which were in the
promised land.     1 Nephi 3:147

Columbus’s own testimony that he was led by the Holy Spirit was made available in English when Peter Marshall and David Manuel published in their book, The Light and the Glory (1977:17), excerpts from an earlier private translation of the Book of Prophecies by Kling (see also West and Kling 1991:105). Brigham’s recently published translation reads:

… our Lord opened to my understanding (I could sense his hand upon me), so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies; and he unlocked within me the determination to execute the idea…. Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that he [the Spirit], with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the holy and sacred Scriptures…. encouraging me to proceed, and, continually, without ceasing for a moment, they inflame me with a sense of great urgency (Brigham 1991:179).

columbuswglobeColumbus’s “sense of great urgency” is embodied by West and Kling as “his vision.” They characterize him as a “seer” who saw himself as gifted with “spiritual intelligence.” They point out in their introduction that “few know the story of [Columbus’s] vision.” This has led some to propose that because advances in reasoning and technology made the timing ripe, had Columbus not made the voyage someone else would have.

However, West and Kling emphatically disagree with the latter supposition, believing that “one important ingredient was missing: a vision so strong that nothing could deter its holder from the attempt” (West and Kling 1991:3, 22). The timing was ripe for the discovery of the New World however, it was God’s timing. And He selected the man to do the job. Columbus’s vision grew as he gathered numerous scriptural passages, seeing the role of his discovery in their prophetic fulfillment. The vision permeates the most predominant themes of his selections: islands of the sea, hidden lands, ends of the earth, the scattering and gathering of Israel, Zion and Jerusalem. And as we realize that Columbus was moved upon to fulfill his vision in God’s timing, the Book of Mormon also reveals that God’s timing was involved in keeping knowledge of the New World from other nations.

columbus5Hidden Lands
In[ancient American history found in] the Book of Mormon, a Christian prophet named Lehi explains God’s wisdom in keeping their lands hidden:

And behold, it is wisdom that this
land should be kept as yet from
the knowledge of other nations;
For behold, many nations would
overrun this land, that there
would be no place for an inheritance.
Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a
promise,
That inasmuch as they which the
Lord God shall bring out of the
land of Jerusalem shall keep his
commandments,
They shall prosper upon the face of
this land;
And they shall be kept from all other
nations, that they may possess
this land unto themselves.
And if it so be that they shall keep his
commandments, they shall be
blessed upon the face of this land,
And there shall be none to molest
them, nor to take away the land of
their inheritance;
And they shall dwell safely for ever.       2 Nephi 1:16-2

Lehi goes on to say, that when the time comes that “they shall dwindle in unbelief,” i.e., “reject the Holy One of Israel” (vv. 22-23), the Lord would bring judgment upon them and “bring other nations unto them” (vv. 23-24). This calls to mind a particular reference which Columbus included in his Book of Prophecies: “Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,… a nation meted out and trodden down…” (Isaiah 18:1-2). The “land shadowing with wings” in this Isaiah reference has long been equated by Book of Mormon believers (and others) with the New World because the shape of the North, Central and South American continents resembles a bird with its wings spread. Besides fitting the description, the location of the New World is “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.”

columbusreachesamerica2Columbus believed that God had kept knowledge of these lands hidden until he–Columbus-was led to make their discovery. He cites such scriptures as Matthew 11:27 [251: “0 Lord … because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to the little ones” [babes; innocent; i.e., Columbus] (West and Kling 1991:107), and comments, “This I offer on my own behalf, together with the results that one has discovered by personal experience” (West and Kling 1991:109).

Brigham points out that Columbus also saw himself in a poem by a first-century Spanish-Roman writer who prophetically described, “An age will come after many years, when the Ocean will loose the chains of things, and a great land will lie revealed; and a mariner… will discover anew world.” Columbus’s son, Ferdinand, made a marginal note beside Columbus’s copy of the poem which reads, “This prophecy was fulfilled by my father… the Admiral in the year 1492” (Brigham 1990:116).

Lehi prophesied “that there shall be none come into this land save they should be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:10). In addition to Columbus, Nephi saw that others would also be brought to the New World.

 

And it came to pass that I beheld the
Spirit of God, that it wrought
upon other Gentiles;
And they went forth out of captivity
upon the many waters;
And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles
which had gone out of captivity
were delivered by the power of
God out of the hands of other
nations.         I Nephi 3:148,155

The other Gentiles which Nephi saw in his vision were most likely the Puritans and Pilgrims who fled their homelands in Europe to find governmental and economic control. God had decreed that this land would be a land of liberty for those who served Jesus Christ (Ether 1:29-35).

 

REFERENCES CITED
Brigham, Kay
1990   Christopher Columbus: His Life
and Discovery in the Light of His
Prophecies.
CLIE Publishers, Terrassa, Barcelona.

1991   Christopher Columbus’s Book of
Prophecies: Reproduction of the Original Manuscript With English
Translation. Quincentenary Edition.
CLIE Publishers, Terrassa, Barcelona.

Judge, Joseph
1986   Where Columbus Found the
New World. National Geographic,
Nov. 1986, pp. 566-599.

Marshall, Peter and David Manual
1977   The Light and the Glory. Revell,
old Tappan, New Jersey.

Sale, Kirkpatrick
1990   The Conquest of Paradise:
Christopher Columbus and the
Columbian Legacy.
Alfred A. Knopf,
New York.

Slater, Rosalie J., and Carole G. Adams, eds.
1992   Principly Speaking, Vol. 2, No. 2.
foundation for American Christian
Education, San Francisco.

West, Delno C. and August Kling
1991  The Libro de las profecias of
Christopher Columbus: An en face
edition. Vol. 2, Columbus
Quincentenary Series, University of
Florida Press, Gainesville.

This article taken from the Zarahemla Record, issue 63 Sept/Oct 1992

Bible Study

 

 

 

History Heroes: Columbus and the Israel Connection

Dinner Topics for Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus—the History Hero who revived Judeo-Christian heritage in America

History Facts

Columbus and the Connection to house of Israel

keyLittle known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ.

Columbus Day, October 12, has been observed as an official U.S. holiday since 1934. The year 1992, marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World.

columbus5Since then, many of the epic stories that make up our great American history have been purged from the schools. The rising generation is growing to adulthood with little or no knowledge of their rich heritage of liberty and their Judeo-Christian roots. October 12, if observed, no longer has much to do with the far-reaching significance of Columbus’ discovery. Like the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, Columbus Day is being overshadowed these days by the new state religion: Islam.

Even those who did study some basic history during the 20th century, however, did not have the opportunity to know the epic hero who was Christopher Columbus. Little known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ. Following are excerpts from an article by Shirley Heater which documents inspiring facts about this nearly-forgotten hero. Truly this is a story to save in your personal “Treasury of Epic Stories”, to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Christopher Columbus: Man of Vision and Faith

by Shirley R. Heater

Was the discovery made by accident, or was Columbus led by God? The Book of Mormon says he was led by the Holy Spirit, and now we have confirmation of this in Columbus’s own words, as well as additional new insights. An authentic Columbus manuscript has gone virtually unexamined until recent years. In Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, translated into English in 1991, he provides his own answers about Divine influence in his accomplishments.
Christopher Columbus, as he is known to English speakers, was born Christopher Colombo in the seaport of Genoa, Italy, in 1451.
His sailing career began when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He became a skilled seaman and navigator on merchant ships which traveled the Mediterranean Sea. In 1476, he joined his brother Bartholomew in the Portugal city of Lisbon, where they worked together on map-making. His Portuguese name was Cristovao Colom.

During his eight years in Lisbon, Columbus expanded his sailing experience into the Atlantic Ocean. He married, became the father of a son, Diego, and shortly thereafter was widowed. It was also during this period that his “vision” of sailing to new lands and saving lost souls germinated. He sought backing for his proposed venture from King John II of Portugal who turned him down.

columbusreachesamerica2Undaunted, he went to the port city of Palos de la Frontera in Spain, taking his young son with him. They were befriended by the friars of the monastery at La Rabida and then at Las Cuevas in Seville, who embraced and encouraged his ideas. His name took on the Spanish form, Cristobal Colon.

The magnitude of his intended enterprise soon opened the doors to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Their interest did not wane even though other matters kept them from following through with their approval for seven years.

During that prolonged period, he made his home in Cordoba (Cordova) where he met a young woman who became the mother of his second son, Ferdinand. [Note: He is still known throughout the Spanish-speaking world as Cristobal Colon Christopher Columbus, the English form, comes to us by way of the early colonists. Whatever the version of his name–Cristoforo, Cristovao, Cristobal or Christopher–the meaning is the same: “Christ bearer” (Sale 1990: 254n)].

Isaiah and the Isles of the Sea
 
Columbus and Nephi [from the Book of Mormon] had special regard for Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet most often quoted or referred to in both Columbus’s Book of Prophecies and the Book of Mormon. More intriguing is the fact that Nephi and Columbus selected the same portions of Isaiah and that each saw himself fulfilling those prophecies.

The Book of Mormon identifies the seed of Lehi as a remnant, a branch broken off which will be restored to the knowledge of their covenant and their Redeemer (e.g., 1 Nephi 4:15-17). Nephi and his brother, Jacob, are the only Book of Mormon writers who crossed the ocean, and they uniquely view their promised land as an island. Nephi, who delighted in the words of Isaiah (2 Nephi 11:8), “likened” them to his people (2 Nephi 8:3) in their literal fulfillment.
When Columbus was led to the “isles of the sea,” the door was opened to the lands occupied by the remnant of the Book of Mormon people. This set events in motion for the eventual restoration of the knowledge of the covenants.

columbuslandingLost Tribes and Other Sheep

Through Columbus’s writings, it is obvious that he fully expected to find the lost tribes of Israel (Wiesenthal 1973:61). He saw himself as “Christ-bearer” (the meaning of his name Christopher), God’s messenger to bring a knowledge of the Savior to the lost tribes
Particularly noteworthy is Columbus’s inclusion of John 10:16 in his Book of Prophecies: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [fold], and I must bring them also; they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Brigham 1991:264-265). It is with great foresight that he believed that the “flock” would not just be “Israel after the flesh” but that a “spiritual Israel” would be formed of all who would come to Christ (208-209).

When Jesus visited Lehi’s descendants, he told them that they were the other sheep of which he had spoken and that he had still other sheep (3 Nephi 7:20, 24-26). He also told them that those Gentiles who repented would also be numbered among his people (v. 37). There are specific promises in the Book of Mormon to restore the Lamanites to “the knowledge of their Redeemer, … and be numbered among his sheep” which are yet to be fulfilled (Helaman 5:104). This restoration was set in motion when Columbus was led to the New World, followed by Gentiles who brought the “record of the Jews” 0 Nephi 3:155-161). It will culminate when they receive the Book of Mormon and the two books “grow together” (2 Nephi 2:17-23).

The Jewish Connection 

columbuslandsWas Columbus Jewish? There are several proponents of Columbus’s Jewish heritage, with varying viewpoints. Some believe “What there is abundant circumstantial evidence that Columbus was of a Jewish background, at least on one side of the family” (Fuson 1987:16).
The description of Columbus in the Book of Mormon as “a man among the Gentiles” could be interpreted either as a Jew or a Gentile (1 Nephi 3:145).

Columbus is seen either as a converso, a converted Jew (Madariaga 1949:54-65,119-135), or a marrano, a professing Christian who was still a secretly-practicing Jew (Wiesenthal 1973:124-133). Whether or not he was of Jewish ancestry is an interesting proposition. Columbus’s writings are abundantly interwoven with professions of faith and belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior (Brigham 1991:179-181), and he affirms his faith in a letter to the king and queen of Spain (182-183):

Columbus’s mission was permeated with a “Jewish flavor.” Many Jews supported his venture, providing maps, instruments and finances. Many crew members are believed to have been Jewish. In anticipation of finding the lost tribes on his first voyage, Columbus took along a converso, Luis de Torres, an experienced interpreter who “knew how to speak Hebrew, Chaldean, and even some Arabic” (Fusan 1987:100-101).

columbusUpon arrival in the New World, Hebrew was probably spoken in an attempt to communicate with the natives. In the log of his first voyage, Columbus linked the beginning of his voyage to America (early morning of August 3rd) and the expulsion of all professing Jews from Spain (effective at midnight of August 2nd) (Fusan 1987:52). The Jewish people were hopeful of finding a new place of refuge (Wiesenthal 1973:88). The New World was to become a haven for Jews and a new promised land. In fact, the first refugees came in the late fifteenth century; many were marranos (Sachar 1992:10).

Columbus also desired to free Jerusalem from the Muslims and restore the Holy Land to the Church. This could only be financed by discovering new lands and gathering enough gold, silver and precious stones (Fusan 1987:34). However, he knew that his desire to bring freedom to the people of the Old Testament could ultimately come only through their conversion to Jesus Christ.

Part 2: Columbus, Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit

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Western Culture Dinner Topics Newsletter: Epic Heroes

Western Culture Dinner Topics Newsletter: Epic Heroes October  2017 Dear Friends, Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics! WE ARE IN AN EPIC WAR BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. And make no mistake, Christ and the devil are not friends; they are … Continue reading

Judeo-Christian Culture: Defending the Faith

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Defending the Faith

By Jörg Klebingat

The Lord needs a people willing and able to humbly yet firmly defend Christ and the kingdom of God.

War in Heaven

In the premortal existence we possessed agency, reasoning powers, and intelligence. There we were “called and prepared … according to the foreknowledge of God” and were initially “on the same standing” with our brothers and sisters (Alma 13:3, 5). Opportunities for growth and learning were widely available.

However, equal access to the teachings of a loving heavenly home did not produce a uniform desire among us—Heavenly Father’s spirit children—to listen, learn, and obey. Exercising our agency, as we do today, we listened with varying degrees of interest and intent. Some of us eagerly sought to learn and obey. With war in heaven on the horizon, we prepared for graduation from our premortal home. Truth was taught and challenged; testimonies were borne and ridiculed, with each premortal spirit making the choice to either defend or defect from the Father’s plan.

No Neutrality

Ultimately, retreating indecisively to neutral ground was not an option in this conflict. Nor is it today. Those of us armed with faith in the future Atonement of Jesus Christ, those energized by testimonies of His divine role, those possessing spiritual knowledge and the courage to use it in defense of His sacred name fought on the front lines of this war of words. John taught that those valiant spirits, and others, have overcome Lucifer “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11; emphasis added).

Yes, the promise of a Savior and of a bloodstained Gethsemane and Calvary won the premortal war. But our premortal courage and testimony, our willingness to explain, reason with, and persuade other spirits also helped stem the tide of falsehoods from spreading unopposed!

Having successfully completed a premortal tour of duty in His defense, we became witnesses of His holy name. Indeed, having proven us in battle and being thus assured of our hearts and courage, the Lord later said of us—members of the house of Israel—“Ye are my witnesses” (Isaiah 43:10). Let us ask ourselves: Is this declaration still true of us today?

Our Current Battle

A conflict for the minds, hearts, and souls of our Father’s children still rages today in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. While many in the world are sincerely curious about the teachings of the Church, an ever-widening gulf between the wicked and the righteous separates a world in moral free fall from restored gospel truths.

“We live in a time when we are surrounded by much that is intended to entice us into paths which may lead to our destruction. To avoid such paths requires determination and courage.”

“As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. … Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?”1 ~Thomas S. Monson

Are we both willing and able to engage in polite discussion with those who have honest questions?

 “Even as we seek to be meek … , we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand.”3~Dallin H. Oaks

Become Valiant

How many of us are proactive, valiant defenders of the faith?

He needs a people “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh … a reason of the hope that is in [them]” (1 Peter 3:15).

You may ask, “Can someone as weak as I am be a valiant defender of Christ and His restored gospel?” Your perceived weakness can be made strong as you accept that all the Lord initially requires is “[your] heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Endowed with a courageous spirit, the “small and simple” of the world are His favorite recruits. Remember that by “very small means,” He delights to “confound the wise” (see Alma 37:6, 7). If you are willing to share and defend the restored gospel and its leaders and doctrines, you may consider the following suggestions.

 

  1. Know whom and what to defend.

A solid defensive strategy is the foundation for a solid offense. While you can’t effectively defend that which you know nothing or little about, you won’t defend it if you don’t deeply care. Just as a hireling, who is paid to care for the sheep, will retreat or flee at the first sign of trouble, so you will not hold your defensive lines very long unless you have a spiritual conviction that your cause is just and true.

Those who know and live the gospel are filled with both understanding and a burning conviction kindled from worthiness and personal experience.

  1. Evaluate your fortifications.

Honestly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your gospel understanding. Are you setting a good example by living a Christlike life?

Could it be that diligent study will help you gain the confidence and courage you seek?5

  1. Strengthen your fortifications.

Prayerfully read the scriptures, again and again.

“When scriptures are used as the Lord has caused them to be recorded, they have intrinsic power that is not communicated when paraphrased.”6 ~Richard G. Scott

  1. Practice!

As you become increasingly prepared, you will “wax stronger and stronger” in your confidence as a witness of Christ (see Helaman 3:35). Start with brief and simple answers. They will be adequate in most situations. But you can also strengthen your defenses even more by studying related scriptures and connecting various doctrines.

  1. Seek opportunities.

Remember, “discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.”7

Stand as a Proactive Witness

Title of Liberty

by Winborg

As you continue defending the gospel of Jesus Christ, “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify [you] for the work” (D&C 4:5). As a wicked world continues violating the moral and doctrinal standards of God, Christ depends on even the least of us to be living witnesses of His name.

Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) reminded us that

“it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. … In this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right.8

May your gospel living and your defense of that same gospel be a reflection of the depth of your conversion to Jesus Christ.

Strengthen Your Family’s Faith

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Critical Thinking: Defining Biblical Worldview, Judeo-Christian Culture

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Critical Thinking Skills: Defining Biblical Worldview, Judeo-Christian Culture Worldview: What is Yours? Stacey Long American Family Association “I grew up in a Christian home and made a profession of faith at a very young age, but when I got to … Continue reading

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 Thursday

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.

 

Stress Relief Ideas: Be Yourself!

Stress Relief Ideas:

Be Yourself! 

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ. Romans 8: 16, 17

Jesus and Children Don’t try to be somebody you’re not, and don’t try to change your spouse or child into someone you think they should be. Maybe a friend or relative is successful in what they do, but that doesn’t mean you have to do what they do. And don’t worry about what everyone else thinks you should do. The best thing to do is to follow the example of Jesus, and seek His guidance for you, then be yourself, and let others be themselves, too.

Mother Theresa: Christian Service

Dinner Topics for Monday

keyAlways give without remembering; always receive without forgetting. ~Brian Tracy

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany

MotherTeresa_094Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta,[1] born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Albanian: [aˈɲɛs ˈɡɔɲdʒa bɔjaˈdʒiu]) and commonly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was an Albanian-born Indian Roman Catholic nun. “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”[2] In late 2003, she was beatified, the third step toward possible sainthood. A second miracle credited to Mother Teresa is required before she can be recognized as a saint by the Catholic church.[3][4]Mother Teresa was very fluent in speaking Bengali, the local language of the people of Calcutta(Kolkata).[5]

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. Members of the order must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give “Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor”. The Missionaries of Charity at the time of her death had 610 missions in 123 countries including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counselling programmes, orphanages and schools.

For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Her beatification by Pope John Paul II following her death gave her the title “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”.

She was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor in India. Her awards include the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, the Philippines-based Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Pacem in Terris Award, an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia, the Order of Merit from both the United Kingdom and the United States, Albania’s Golden Honour of the Nation, honorary degrees, the Balzan Prize, and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize amongst many others.

Mother Teresa stated that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world’s needy. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered “Go home and love your family.” In her Nobel Lecture, she said: “Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society-that poverty is so hurtable [sic] and so much, and I find that very difficult.” She also singled out abortion as ‘the greatest destroyer of peace in the world’.

During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was named 18 times in the yearly Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll‎ as one of the ten women around the world that Americans admired most. In 1999, a poll of Americans ranked her first in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In that survey, she out-polled all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was in first place in all major demographic categories except the very young.

Continued

Gospel Teachings: Building Foundation of Faith through Obedience to God in Small Daily Life Activities

Gospel Teachings:

Building Foundation of Faith through Obedience to God in Small Daily Life Activities

Whatsoever He Saith unto You, Do It

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. ~Alma 37:6-7

 

By L. Whitney Clayton

Bible Story of Naaman

Small acts of faith, even when they seem insignificant or entirely disconnected from the specific problems that vex us, bless us in all we do.

Consider Naaman, a “captain of the host of … Syria, … a mighty man in valour,” and a leper. A servant girl told of a prophet in Israel who could heal Naaman, and so he traveled with an escort of servants, soldiers, and gifts to Israel, eventually arriving at Elisha’s house. Elisha’s servant, not Elisha himself, informed Naaman that the Lord’s command was to “go and wash in [the river] Jordan seven times.” A simple thing. Perhaps this simple prescription struck the mighty warrior as so illogical, simplistic, or beneath his dignity that he found the mere suggestion offensive. At the very least, Elisha’s instruction didn’t make sense to Naaman, “so he turned and went away in a rage.”

But Naaman’s servants gently approached him and observed that he would have done “some great thing” if Elisha had asked it of him. They noted that since he was asked to do only a small task, shouldn’t he do it, even if he didn’t understand why? Naaman reconsidered his reaction and perhaps skeptically, but obediently, “went … down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan” and was miraculously healed.8

Small Daily Life Activities

When we decide to do “whatsoever [God] saith unto” us, we earnestly commit to align our everyday behavior with God’s will. Such simple acts of faith as studying the scriptures daily, fasting regularly, and praying with real intent deepen our well of spiritual capacity to meet the demands of mortality. Over time, simple habits of belief lead to miraculous results. They transform our faith from a seedling into a dynamic power for good in our lives. Then, when challenges come our way, our rootedness in Christ provides steadfastness for our souls. God shores up our weaknesses, increases our joys, and causes “all things [to] work together for [our] good.”6

A few years ago, I spoke with a young bishop who was spending hours each week counseling with members of his ward. He made a striking observation. The problems that members of his ward faced, he said, were those faced by Church members everywhere—issues such as how to establish a happy marriage; struggles with balancing work, family, and Church duties; challenges with the Word of Wisdom, with employment, or with pornography; or trouble gaining peace about a Church policy or historical question they didn’t understand.

His counsel to ward members very often included getting back to simple practices of faith. Frequently, however, their response to him was one of skepticism: “I don’t agree with you, Bishop. We all know those are good things to do. We talk about those things all the time in the Church. But I’m not sure you’re understanding me. What does doing any of those things have to do with the issues I’m facing?”

It’s a fair question. Over time, that young bishop and I have observed that those who are deliberate about doing the “small and simple things”7—obeying in seemingly little ways—are blessed with faith and strength that go far beyond the actual acts of obedience themselves and, in fact, may seem totally unrelated to them.

Daily acts of obedience are solutions to the big, complicated problems

It may seem hard to draw a connection between the basic daily acts of obedience and solutions to the big, complicated problems we face. But they are related. In my experience, getting the little daily habits of faith right is the single best way to fortify ourselves against the troubles of life, whatever they may be.

Some rewards of obedience do come quickly; others come only after we are tested. In the Pearl of Great Price, we read about Adam’s tireless diligence in keeping the commandment to offer sacrifices. When the angel asked Adam why he was offering sacrifices, he answered, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” The angel explained that his sacrifices were “a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father.” But that explanation came only after Adam had demonstrated his commitment to obeying the Lord for “many days” without knowing why he was supposed to offer those sacrifices.9

God will always bless us for our steadfast obedience to His gospel and loyalty to His Church, but He rarely shows us His timetable for doing so in advance. He doesn’t show us the whole picture from the outset. That is where faith, hope, and trusting in the Lord come in.

God asks us to bear with Him—to trust Him and to follow Him. He pleads with us to “dispute not because ye see not.” He cautions us that we shouldn’t expect easy answers or quick fixes from heaven. Things work out when we stand firm during the “trial of [our] faith,” however hard that test may be to endure or slow the answer may be in coming.10 I am not speaking of “blind obedience”11 but of thoughtful confidence in the perfect love and the perfect timing of the Lord.

The trial of our faith will always involve staying true to simple, daily practices of faith. Then, and only then, does He promise that we will receive the divine response for which we long. Only once we have proven our willingness to do what He asks without demanding to know the whens, the whys, and the hows do we “reap the rewards of [our] faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.”12 Real obedience accepts God’s commandments unconditionally and in advance.13

Every day, consciously or otherwise, we all choose “whom [we] will serve.14 We demonstrate our determination to serve the Lord by faithfully engaging in daily acts of devotion. The Lord promises to direct our paths,15 but for Him to do that, we have to walk, trusting that He knows the way because He is “the way.”16 We must fill our own waterpots up to the brim. When we trust and follow Him, our lives, like water to wine, are transformed. We become something more and better than we ever otherwise could be. Trust in the Lord, and “whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”