YouTube Music for the Soul: Classic Handel

Dinner Topics for Friday

View and Listen to Handel’s Messiah

Book Review

George Friedrich Handel loved to play the harpsichord, but his father didn’t approve, so Handel practiced in secret.

Handel’s music was well-known to composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

keyTo Beethoven he was “the master of us all… the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb”.[61] Beethoven emphasized above all the simplicity and popular appeal of Handel’s music when he said, “Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means”.

American Culture Dinner Talk Journal Article: Handel and the Gift of Messiah

Book Review:

Great Quotes

“I wish to breathe my last word on Good Friday, in hopes of meeting mine good God and sweet Lord and Savior on the day of His resurrection.”
“I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself sitting upon His throne.”
~George Frederic Handel to his manservant Peter LeBlonde


Hallelujah!

A novel by J. Scott Featherstone
The Story of the coming forth of Handel’s Messiah

This is the remarkable story of one of the greatest events in musical history, the creation of George Frederic Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.  Composed in just twenty-four days, Handel’s “Grand Oratorio which rendered him immortal” was birthed in the darkest and most desperate hours of his life. His health was failing. Critics ridiculed him. Creditors hounded him. Enemies persecuted him. Pride had nearly destroyed him. Yet, out of Handel’s night emerged the dawn of Messiah.

Anyone who has thrilled at hearing the Hallelujah Chorus will feel “profound attachment” to Handel’s story of hope and redemption as timeless and poignant as the music itself.

From far away, as if wending its way toward him in the night breeze, something began to develop in Handel’s mind. It was so faint and distant that he could not recognize it but only anticipate its arrival. He waited in the stillness for the shape to take the form of sound. He imagined he could see the sound coming toward him, a veiled line of blue streaming toward him through an ocean of black.

Then softly, like a voice from a distant source it came to him-a single violin of transcendent purity, echoing across this mind like music ringing down the valleys of Halle in the cool of the night. So distinct and clear was the melody that he could see the notes on paper as he heard them.

~From Hallelujah!

Gethsemane2This book is written as a type of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is, it tells of people who are thrown into debtor’s prison. Handel, having been in serious debt himself, had compassion for these people.  When he created The Messiah, he would not perform it for money. He dedicated it to the Children’s Foundling Hospital in Halle, Germany, his home town. For years it was performed by the children’s choir there. Every year, when it was performed, Handel would use donations to liberate people from debtor’s prison.  What a fitting event to be connected to the performance of the glorious Messiah! For over a hundred years after Handel’s death the pages of music for the great oratorio languished in oblivion. Then, on a cold January day in 1896, Dr. Davan Whetton, seeking funds for The Foundling Hospital of which he was principal and organist, rediscovered Handel’s Messiah in a tiny, unknown room behind the pulpit.  Author Featherstone portrays the moving story of Handel’s Messiah in a very powerful way. The book is now out of print; you may find a used one online. It is a worthwhile, unforgettable read.

Life of George Handel

By Spencer J. Condie

George Frideric Handel, born February 23, 1685

George Frideric Handel seemed to have been born a musician. As a young lad in Germany, he became proficient on both the violin and the organ. After composing his first opera in Germany, he moved to Italy, the operatic center of the world, to try his hand at musical composition in the Italian style. There he achieved some success in composing operas and chamber music.

In 1711, at age 26, Handel decided to move to England, where his operas and oratorios initially gained acceptance. By the late 1730s, however, British audiences had become less enthusiastic about operas sung in German or Italian; instead, they favored comedic performances such as The Beggar’s Opera. Thus, for several years Handel struggled to keep the wolves—his creditors—away from the door.

In 1737, after pushing himself to his physical limits by composing four operas within 12 months, the 52-year-old composer suffered a stroke, leaving his right arm temporarily paralyzed. A doctor told Handel’s faithful secretary: “We may save the man—but the musician is lost forever. It seems to me that his brain has been permanently injured.”1

The composer defied the diagnosis. Over time his body responded to treatment in the thermal springs at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany), and he recovered his physical strength. After testing his ability to play the organ at a nearby cathedral, he jubilantly proclaimed, “I have come back from Hades.”2

When he returned to London and resumed composing operas, his work was not well received, and creditors began to hound him again. In the depths of despondency, he began to wonder, “Why did God permit my resurrection, only to allow my fellow-men to bury me again?”3In April 1741 Handel held what he assumed would be a farewell concert. His creativity was spent. A biographer wrote: “There was nothing to begin or to finish. Handel was faced with emptiness.”4

Late one August afternoon that same year, Handel returned from a long and tiring walk to find that a poet and previous collaborator, Charles Jennens, had left him a manuscript. This libretto quoted liberally from the scriptures, particularly the words of Isaiah, foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ and describing His ministry, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. The work was to be an oratorio. Given his previous failures, Handel was apprehensive as he began to read through the text.

“Comfort Ye,” the first words of the manuscript, seemed to leap from the page. They dissipated dark clouds that had been pressing upon Handel for so long. His depression waned and his emotions warmed from interest to excitement as he continued to read of angelic proclamations of the Savior’s birth and of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah, who would come to earth to be born as other mortal infants. A familiar melody Handel had composed earlier flooded into his mind as he read “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” The notes distilled upon his mind faster than he could put pencil to paper as he captured the image of the loving Good Shepherd in the aria titled “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Then came the overpowering exultation reflected in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” followed by the soft, supernal testimony of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” The work came to its majestic conclusion with “Worthy Is the Lamb.”

musicnotesAfter all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah, largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.”5Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”6

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”7

He had finally been relieved of his restless quest for fame, fortune, and public praise—but only after composing his crowning work for an audience that included those not of this earth. The things that mattered most were no longer at the mercy of the things that mattered least. Handel, the restless composer, was now at rest.

Lessons from Handel’s Life

HaendelWhat lessons may we learn from the life of George Frideric Handel and the composition of a piece of music that has become a spiritual landmark?

  1. We must develop confidence in our abilities and learn to live with criticism of our work. In the words of poet Rudyard Kipling: “Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”8
  2. Quantity is no substitute for quality and variety. Handel’s earlier operas have largely been forgotten. Their predictable, formulaic templates simply failed to inspire; each opera sounded much like the others he had composed.
  3. When we act on inspiration, we are doing the work of heaven. We cannot force the Spirit, but when inspiration and revelation come, we must listen and act upon the promptings. The Lord has promised that “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (D&C 33:16).
  4. We must acknowledge our source of inspiration and revelation. We are only instruments in the work we do that blesses others. We must realize, as Handel did when he deflected the honor given upon his achievement, that “God has visited [us].”
  5. We must never underestimate the power of the word. There is a power in the word of God that far surpasses the narratives of this world’s most gifted writers (see Alma 31:5).
  6. Real spiritual meaning in a work is conveyed by the witness of the Holy Ghost. “When [an individual speaks or sings] by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1).
  7. Power is in God and His works, not in our words. Speaking of the professors of religion of the day, the Savior told Joseph Smith, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, … having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Handel had composed other oratorios and operas with biblical texts, but the form of his music did not match the power of the scriptures—Isaiah’s powerful prophecies of the Savior’s birth and ministry or the fulfillment of those prophecies as found in Revelation and the Gospels of Luke and John. In Handel’s Messiah, we find both the form of godliness and the power thereof. In Messiah, lips and hearts are drawn nearer to heaven.

Each of us, like George Frideric Handel, is engaged in a creative spiritual enterprise in this life. Both the physical fostering of mortal life and the righteous living of our days on earth are spiritual achievements. I pray that we may be sensitive to inspiration from on high, that we may be inspired in such a way that the fruits of our labors are inspiring to others. As we seek to rescue others, may we not be bound by time-tested templates and self-imposed perceptions that restrict our spiritual creativity and lock out revelation.

In her epic poem, Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed the eloquent thought:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. 9

May each of us unlatch our shoes and cram our labors with the essence of heaven, and may none of us be found plucking blackberries when a much grander, loftier work needs to be done.

And at the end of our divinely ordained days, may we be able to acknowledge, with Handel, that God has visited us in our labors.

More about George Handel

 

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Parenting tips: Teaching Children about Biblical Values, Character Education, and Repentance

Parenting Tips: Teaching Children about Biblical values, Character education, and Repentance

Defining Moment for Parents: What is Love?

Love vs. Indulgence

keyJesus loves us so much that He gave His life to rescue us from our sins. Because He does love us so much, He will not enable us in our sinful behavior. He said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” ~Rev. 3:19

Critical Thinking-Defining Moment

Definitions (from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

Indulge—gratify; treat with excessive leniency, inordinate gratification, excessive compliance to another’s or one’s own desires

Synonyms: INDULGE, PAMPER, HUMOR, SPOIL

Enabler—one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior

Chasten—to correct by punishment or suffering; discipline, purify; to cause to be more humble or restrained.

Repent—to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life

Love—unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another; as the fatherly concern of God for humankind

Fruits of 21st Century Parenting

It is so obvious that the great good and the terrible evil in the world today are the sweet and the bitter fruits of the rearing of yesterday’s children. As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children. ~Gordon B. Hinckley

Indulgence: Parenting Expert Observes Trends

Quotes by Reb Bradley

narcissism“As parents have mistaken indulgence for love, children have grown up self-absorbed and entitled [and] with the idea that they should not have to live with the consequences of their actions.

“Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow says, ‘We can blame Mr. Rogers.’ I can’t say that I agree completely with his assertion, but I have to concur that Mister Rogers typified our modern approach to giving children good feelings about themselves whether earned or not. It wasn’t him alone, but he was our mascot. He taught us that special feelings about oneself no longer depended upon character, attitude, or accomplishment—we could feel special for just having a pulse.

“With indulgent parenting so prevalent, it is inevitable that children grow up with an exaggerated sense of self-importance. It is no surprise that our jails are full of people with the highest self-esteem.” ~Reb Bradley

narcissism2Have Parents Enabled this Narcissistic Behavior?

“Children born between 1980 and 1995, called “millennials,” now saturate the job market …They are typically demanding, impertinent, and narcissistic. They need constant affirmation and expect to be catered to.

“In the last 50 years, as parents have softened their approach, children have failed to develop the self-restraint necessary to maintain a civilized society. As parents have mistaken indulgence for love, children have grown up self-absorbed and entitled. As moms and dads have paid for their children’s broken windows and parking tickets the children have grown up with the idea that they should not have to live with the consequences of their actions.

“Corporations actually hire consultants to teach them how to handle the glut of employees who act like spoiled brats. They can’t fire them, because their replacements will have the same entitled outlook on life.” ~Reb Bradley [1]

Parenting as God the Father would Parent

C.A. Davidson

We are seeing consequences of child-rearing in which parents have been afraid to say “No.” Does God our Father say “No” to us because He hates us? Not at all. On the contrary, as Paul told the Hebrews:

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

biblereadmeWhy does He Chasten us?

Our Father corrects us because we are His sons and daughters. No one ever said that chastening and correction is fun. But if we endure it well, it builds good character, which is a prerequisite to greater happiness in the long run.

Paul continues, “Now, no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” ~Hebrews 12:6,7,11)

Our Father knows that wickedness will never bring happiness. Therefore He corrects us, so we will not remain in the misery of sin. The way in which we correct our wrongs is called “Repentance.”

dangerChildren need guidance; they actually seek limits. The commandments of God are limits for His children. The commandments of God are like guideposts along the road of life. They keep us out of the danger zones. Our Father knows that when we keep His commandments, we enjoy safety and peace.

We would never let our children run out into the path of an oncoming car. We would warn them sharply of the danger. Likewise, they need correction when they are on a course of moral destruction. But what if you never say anything, for fear of hurting their feelings, or because you fear you will be “judging” them? The truth is, if you do not judge them in righteousness and love now, courts of law will judge them—and justice can be harsh, not merciful, because mercy cannot rob justice.

Does this mean that we should not show kindness? Of course not. One wise Christian leader taught that at times we must “reprove with sharpness,” if we are prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit. Then after the reproof, “show forth an increase of love” toward him whom you have reproved. Christian discipline is not punishment, nor is it just being “mean.” It is guidance and instruction—to someday yield a “disciple.”

After the Lord chastens and humbles us, how does He show forth an increase of love? He blesses us, and offers us the gift of mercy.

Repentance is a Message of Love

We may be bucking a strong tide, but we must teach our children that sin is sin. ~Spencer W. Kimball

Unless we are careful, today’s entitlement society will corrupt the faith of our children. Some young families have visited churches with one question in mind: “What’s in it for me?” Do we think that our salvation will be handed to us without any effort on our part?

Jesus and ChildrenWhat Is Our Part?

The Bible teaches the reality of sin, and that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ will save us from our sins, not in our sins. The merciful Christ will save those who repent. If we do not repent, we are on our own, to suffer as He suffered. The unvarnished truth, or “wintry doctrine”, is that we can’t make it on our own. We need help. That’s why we need the Savior Jesus Christ,who shed His innocent blood to pay the price of Justice. He did something we absolutely cannot do for ourselves. But to obtain mercy and forgiveness, there is something we must do. What we can do is repent. In exchange for His infinite sacrifice, He accepts our humble offering and bestows Divine mercy upon us. Repent. That’s all He asks of us.

We began this topic with the words of Christ to Saint John: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” In the second half of this couplet, the Savior concludes: “Be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Thus, teaching our children how to repent is the greatest act of love any parent can offer.

How does God our Heavenly Father love us? Does He enable us by saying, “Anything goes”? Immorality, dishonesty, or hurting others—the list is endless. Does He reward evil by telling us these things don’t matter? No, He cares too much to do that—He is not an enabler. Instead He sent His Beloved Son, providing a way for us to overcome our self-destructive behavior. That is Love.

 Related Post:

Education, Faith, and Teaching Character

Imparting Biblical Values to Young Adults—Made Easy! Click Here

[1] Reb Bradley, Born Liberal, Raised Right. Available at WND.com

Valentine Bible Story

Dinner Topics for Valentine Day

keyoldBut charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. (Moroni 7:47)

JacobRachel2On his way to Padan-aram, where Rachel lived, Jacob had a dream about a ladder which reached up to heaven. Each rung of that ladder represented covenants he needed to keep in order to reach the celestial realm.  He was promised that he and all his seed would be blessed.

When he reached the well near Haran, he found a huge stone over the mouth of it. Three flocks were lying by it, waiting for the shepherds to unite their strength to push the stone out of the way.  After the sheep were watered, they put the stone back over the well’s mouth.

Jacob inquired after his relatives, and the men of Haran pointed out Rachel, Jacob’s cousin, who was coming with her sheep to the well.

“It is too early in the day for the cattle to gather here,” he said to the men.  “Why don’t you water her sheep now?”

“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered together and they roll the stone from the well’s mouth.  Then we can water the sheep.”

JacobmoverockBut when Jacob saw Rachel, he strode over, rolled the great stone himself, and watered her flocks.  But that is not all.  Jacob went on to serve seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Before Jacob met Rachel, he had learned from his dream that he wanted an eternal family.  Rachel gave shape to that vision.  When he saw Rachel, his love for her gave him the power to roll that stone away from the well all by himself.  His understanding of God’s great love for him, together with his deep love for Rachel, made joyful a commitment which could otherwise have been unbearably long and trying.  The seven years seemed like days to him.

Perhaps there is a heavy stone blocking the mouth of the well, and keeping us from drinking the living waters of the gospel.  It might be fear, or discord.  It might be unwillingness to sacrifice our time, or give of our substance.  It might be apathy, in which perhaps we are wasting time waiting for someone else to move that stone.

JacobRachelA prophet of ancient Israel said, “Perfect love casteth out all fear.” Once we catch the immense vision of discipleship and service, then realizing that vision no longer seems hopeless or impossible to endure.  It becomes a joy.  It is love that helps us forgo our irritations with the defects in others.  It is love that causes us to forget about ourselves and care about others.  It is the power of love that heals relationships and softens hearts.  Love gives us the power to do things which on the surface seem impossible or unbearable.  It was because of love that Jesus Christ suffered the unbearable.  It was this love that gave a compassionate Father the capacity to endure the anguish of permitting that infinite sacrifice— so that we could enter his presence someday, which would otherwise be impossible.

Dinner Talk Topic: This story illustrates perfect love.*Love, Charity

1. What stones are in our lives that we need to roll out of the way?

2.  How can we get out of the Lord’s way?

3.  How does getting thoroughly involved in the Lord’s work help us deal with adversities and stop dwelling on our own imperfections?

4.  Jacob loved Rachel so much that he totally forgot himself.  How does this compare to the pure love of Christ?

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

Judeo-Christian Tradition: Stress Relief Tips—Listen with your Heart

Judeo-Christian Tradition:

Stress Relief Tips—Listen with your Heart

If I Listen with My Heart

Sally DeFord

If I had been a little child when Jesus lived on earth, I would have liked to walk with Him and listen to His words. But as I search the scriptures I can hear His words of peace, And if I listen with my heart I hear the Savior’s voice.

I feel the Holy Spirit as he teaches truth and right, He comforts me in times of need, He testifies of Christ, He speaks to me in quiet ways that fill my soul with peace, And if I listen with my heart I hear the Savior’s voice.

Character Education, Integrity, and Thomas More

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Integrity: Foundation of a Christ-like Life

Tad R. Callister

keyIntegrity is the courage to do right regardless of the consequences and the inconvenience.

thomasmoreand kingRobert Bolt’s classic play A Man for All Seasons is the story of Sir Thomas More. He had distinguished himself as a scholar, lawyer, ambassador, and, finally, as Lord Chancellor of England. He was a man of absolute integrity. The play opens with these words of Sir Richard Rich: “Every man has his price! … In money too. … Or pleasure. Titles, women, bricks-and-mortar, there’s always something.”1

That is the theme of the play. It is also the theme of life. Is there a man or woman in this world who cannot be bought, whose integrity is beyond price?

As the play unfolds, King Henry VIII desires to divorce Queen Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. But there is a catch: divorce is forbidden by the Catholic Church. And so King Henry VIII, not to be thwarted in his desires, demands of his subjects the taking of an oath that will support him in his divorce. But there is a further problem.

Sir Thomas More, who is loved and admired by the common people, is a holdout—his conscience will not let him sign the oath. He is unwilling to submit, even at the king’s personal request. Then come the tests. His friends apply their personal charm and pressure, but he will not yield. He is stripped of his wealth, his position, and his family, but he will not sign. Finally, he is falsely tried for his life, but still he will not succumb.

They have taken from him his money, his political power, his friends, and his family—and will yet take his life—but they cannot take from him his integrity. It is not for sale at any price.

At the climax of the play, Sir Thomas More is falsely tried for treason. Sir Richard Rich commits the perjury necessary to convict him. As Sir Richard exits the courtroom, Sir Thomas More asks him, “That’s a chain of office you are wearing. … What [is it]?”

Prosecutor Thomas Cromwell replies, “Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.”

More then looks into Rich’s face with great disdain and retorts, “For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. … But for Wales!”2

In the life to come, no doubt many will look back amidst uncontrollable sobs and repeat again and again, “Why did I trade my soul for Wales or temporary physical pleasure or fame or a grade or the approval of my friends? Why did I sell my integrity for a price?”

Fortify your family’s Moral Compass HEREfaith-and-freedom

Principles of Integrity

I would like to address seven principles of integrity that I hope will inspire us to make this Christlike attribute a fundamental character trait in our personal lives.

1. Integrity is the foundation of our character and all other virtues. In 1853 the Saints commenced the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. For the better part of two long, hard years the Saints dug the excavations and laid the foundation: over eight feet (2.4 m) deep, made of sandstone. One day the foreman came to President Brigham Young with this devastating news: there were cracks in the blocks of sandstone. Brigham Young was faced with this dilemma: (1) do the best they could to patch up the cracks and build a temple of much less weight and grandeur than anticipated or (2) rip out two years of work and replace it with a granite foundation that could support the magnificent temple God envisioned for them. Fortunately, President Young chose the latter course.3

Integrity is the foundation upon which character and a Christlike life are built. If there are cracks in that foundation, then it will not support the weight of other Christlike attributes that must be built upon it. How can we be humble if we lack the integrity to acknowledge our own weaknesses? How can we develop charity for others if we are not totally honest in our dealings with them? How can we repent and be clean if we only partially disclose the truth to our bishop? At the root of every virtue is integrity.

Christian author C. S. Lewis noted that once we make a mistake in a mathematical equation, we cannot just keep on going: “When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on.”4

Likewise, we cannot continue to fully acquire other Christlike virtues until we first make integrity the granite foundation of our lives. In some cases this may require us to go through the painful process of ripping out an existing foundation built upon deceit and replacing it stone by stone with a foundation of integrity. But it can be done.

2. Integrity is not doing just that which is legal but that which is moral or Christ-like. It may be legal to commit adultery, it may be legal to have premarital physical relations, it may be legal to gossip, but none of those actions is moral or Christlike. Integrity is not just adherence to the legal code; it is also adherence to the higher moral code. It is as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln suggested: living in accord with “the better angels of our nature.”5

Every young man has the moral duty to protect and preserve the virtue of his date, and every young woman has the reciprocal moral duty for her date. It is a test of his or her integrity. The man or woman who is striving for integrity will develop a resolve and a discipline that transcend even the powerful passions of physical emotions. It is that integrity to God and to self and to others that sustains them and empowers them even when Satan unleashes his arsenal of moral temptations upon them. To this generation the Lord said, “I will raise up unto myself a pure people” (D&C 100:16). God is counting on us to be that generation.

Some years ago my business partner and I needed to terminate an employee. After some discussions we reached a settlement to compensate him for his services. I felt that the settlement was more than fair, but some strained relationships resulted from the negotiations nonetheless. That night I felt a gloom come over me. I tried to dispel it by reasoning within myself that I had been fair, but the feeling would not leave. Then this impression came: “It’s not enough to be fair; you must also strive to be Christlike.” Adherence to the highest moral code is a hallmark of a man or a woman of integrity.

3. Integrity makes decisions based on eternal implications. One of the young women in our ward was taking a test at the local high school. As she looked up, she saw one of her friends cheating. Their eyes made contact. Embarrassed, the friend shrugged her shoulders and mouthed the words “I need the grade.” Somehow this young lady had lost her eternal vision—it is not grades but godhood that is our destination. What good does it do to be accepted to the most prestigious university but forfeit our exaltation in the process? Every time someone cheats, he trades his spiritual birthright for a mess of pottage (see Genesis 25:29–34). In his shortsightedness he has opted for a dollar today rather than infinite wealth in the life to come.

A disappointed father once told me that his teenage daughter wanted to “live it up” and then, three months before her intended marriage, clean up her act so she could receive a temple recommend. I do not know of any stake president who would give a recommend under such circumstances. But even if it were given, it would be a curse, not a blessing. Integrity is not shortsighted—it is not just a temporary change of behavior; it is a permanent change of nature.

King Benjamin told us how we might change our natures from a natural man to a spiritual man: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19; emphasis added).

Changing our natures, not just our behaviors, is facilitated by an eternal perspective that we are the children of God, that we have His spark of divinity within us, and that through the Atonement we can become like Him—the perfect model of integrity.

4. Integrity is disclosing the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I believe the Lord can live with our weaknesses and mistakes, provided we demonstrate a desire and effort to repent. That is what the Atonement is all about. But I do not believe He can easily tolerate a deceitful heart or a lying tongue.

A few years ago I conducted a mission tour. Some of the missionaries were struggling with obedience. That evening the mission president and I conducted interviews with some of the missionaries. The next morning the mission president commenced our zone conference by giving a masterful talk on integrity. I felt impressed to speak further on that subject. We observed that in a few moments we would be conducting additional interviews. We requested that the missionaries not play the game in which someone only discloses the truth if he is asked the perfect, pointed question.

The Spirit was there, and four missionaries from the night before privately stepped forward and said, “We have something else to disclose.” One of them said, “I want to be an honest man.” That day he changed his foundation of sand for a granite foundation of integrity.

5. Integrity knows no alibis or excuses. There is something ennobling about the man or woman who admits his or her weaknesses and takes the blame square on without excuse or alibi. On multiple occasions Joseph Smith recorded his weaknesses in the Doctrine and Covenants for all to read. This tells us he was not perfect, but it also tells us he had nothing to hide—he was a man of integrity. What does this do for his credibility when he tells the story of the First Vision or the account of Moroni’s visitations? It tells us that we can trust him, that we can believe his every word because he is, indeed, a man of integrity.

6. Integrity is keeping our covenants and our commitments, even in times of inconvenience. Integrity is the courage to do right regardless of the consequences and the inconvenience. President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982), former First Counselor in the First Presidency, told the following experience:

“A young man came to me not long ago and said, ‘I made an agreement with a man that requires me to make certain payments each year. I am in arrears, and I can’t make those payments, for if I do, it is going to cause me to lose my home. What shall I do?’

“I looked at him and said, ‘Keep your agreement.’

“‘Even if it costs me my home?’

“I said, ‘I am not talking about your home. I am talking about your agreement; and I think your wife would rather have a husband who would keep his word, meet his obligations, keep his pledges or his covenants, and have to rent a home than to have a home with a husband who will not keep his covenants and his pledges.’”6

He had a difficult choice: his home or his integrity. A man or woman of integrity does not yield or succumb merely because it is hard or expensive or inconvenient. In this respect the Lord has a perfect sense of integrity. He has said, “Who am I … that have promised and have not fulfilled?” (D&C 58:31).

One of the acid tests of our integrity is whether we keep the commitments and promises we have made or whether there are loopholes in our word.

7. Integrity is not governed by the presence of others. It is internally, not externally, driven. Elder Marion D. Hanks (1921–2011) of the Seventy told of the man and his small son who “stopped at an isolated cornfield on a remote country road” and eyed the delicious corn beyond the fence. The father, after looking in front of him, behind him, to the left of him, and to the right of him, “started to climb the fence” to take some ears of corn. His son looked at him and said reproachfully, “Dad, you forgot to look up.”7

hamletIn Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Polonius says to his son Laertes:

To thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.8

What wonderful counsel! We have a choice. We can either seize the moment and take control of our lives or become mere puppets to our environment and our peers.

Would you watch pornography in front of your mother, your date, your spouse, or your bishop? If it is wrong in the presence of others, it is just as wrong in their absence. The man of integrity who is true to self and to God will choose the right whether or not anyone is looking because he is self-driven, not externally controlled.

May the integrity of our souls have a sign that reads in bold black letters “NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE” so that it might be said of us, as it was of Hyrum Smith, “Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart” (D&C 124:15).

May we all become men and women of integrity—not because we have to but because we want to. The Lord announced the reward for those who do so: “Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest … and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice … are accepted of me” (D&C 97:8; emphasis added).

May we all be accepted of God because we are striving to become men and women of integrity.

© 2013 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Change of Heart Theme Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Change of Heart Theme Quotes

The home is the great laboratory of love. There the raw chemicals of selfishness and greed are melded in the crucible of cooperation to yield compassionate concern and love one for another. ~Russell M. Nelson

Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. ~Isaiah 45:22

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. ~Ether 2:12

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men. ~Ether 12:4

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

Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name. ~Doctrine and Covenants 101:97

We may be bucking a strong tide, but we must teach our children that sin is sin. ~Spencer W. Kimball

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient… ~Isaiah 1:18

Come, for “he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause.” ~Jacob 3:1

Come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him. ~Omni 1:26

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings. ~Alma 37:37

The world today speaks a great deal about love, and it is sought for by any. But the pure love of Christ differs greatly from what the world thinks of love. Charity never seeks selfish gratification. The pure love of Christ seeks only the eternal growth and joy of others …

I know the Lord lives. I know that He loves us. I know that apart from Him no one can succeed, but as a partner with Him no one can fail.

I know that God can make a lot more out of our lives than we can.

We must lose ourselves in doing his will.

We need to come unto Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, feasting upon the word of Christ, to look unto Him in every thought, and to always remember Him.

If thoughts make us what we are, and we are to be like Christ, then we must think Christ-like thoughts.

Let our personal lives, our homes, and our work performance reflect our Christ-like character. So live that others will say about you, “There is a true Christian!”

[A temperate person] is restrained in his emotions and verbal expressions. He does things in moderation and is not given to overindulgence. In a word, he has self-control. He is the master of his emotions, not the other way around …

In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. [Holy Spirit] ~Russell M. Nelson

 

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Gospel Teachings: Parable of the Sower

Dinner Talk Topics for Friday

Gospel Teachings: Parable of the Sower

By Dallin H. Oaks

 

keyIt is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful.

parableofsowerThe parable of the sower is one of a small number of parables reported in all three of the synoptic Gospels. It is also one of an even smaller group of parables Jesus explained to His disciples. The seed that was sown was “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19), “the word” (Mark 4:14), or “the word of God” (Luke 8:11)—the teachings of the Master and His servants.

The different soils on which the seeds fell represent different ways in which mortals receive and follow these teachings. Thus the seeds that “fell by the way side” (Mark 4:4) have not reached mortal soil where they might possibly grow. They are like teachings that fall upon a heart hardened or unprepared. I will say nothing more of these. My message concerns those of us who have committed to be followers of Christ. What do we do with the Savior’s teachings as we live our lives?

The parable of the sower warns us of circumstances and attitudes that can keep anyone who has received the seed of the gospel message from bringing forth a goodly harvest.

I. Stony Ground, No Root

parable-sower6Some seed “fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away” (Mark 4:5–6).

Jesus explained that this describes those “who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness,” but because they “have no root in themselves, … when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:16–17).

What causes hearers to “have no root in themselves”? This is the circumstance of new members who are merely converted to the missionaries or to the many attractive characteristics of the Church or to the many great fruits of Church membership. Not being rooted in the word, they can be scorched and wither away when opposition arises. But even those raised in the Church—long-term members—can slip into a condition where they have no root in themselves. I have known some of these—members without firm and lasting conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are not rooted in the teachings of the gospel and regular in its practices, any one of us can develop a stony heart, which is stony ground for spiritual seeds.

Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong. In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.

Young people, if that teaching seems too general, here is a specific example. If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule. And that applies to adults also.

II. Thorns: The Cares of This World and the Deceitfulness of Riches

parable-sower5 Jesus taught that “some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit” (Mark 4:7). He explained that these are “such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19). This is surely a warning to be heeded by all of us.

I will speak first of the deceitfulness of riches. Wherever we are in our spiritual journey—whatever our state of conversion—we are all tempted by this. When attitudes or priorities are fixed on the acquisition, use, or possession of property, we call that materialism. So much has been said and written about materialism that little needs to be added here.2 Those who believe in what has been called the theology of prosperity are suffering from the deceitfulness of riches. The possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor. When Jesus told a faithful follower that he could inherit eternal life if he would only give all that he had to the poor (see Mark 10:17–24), He was not identifying an evil in the possession of riches but an evil in that follower’s attitude toward them. As we are all aware, Jesus praised the good Samaritan, who used the same coinage to serve his fellowman that Judas used to betray his Savior. The root of all evil is not money but the love of money (see 1 Timothy 6:10).

The Book of Mormon tells of a time when the Church of God “began to fail in its progress” (Alma 4:10) because “the people of the church began to … set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world” (Alma 4:8). Whoever has an abundance of material things is in jeopardy of being spiritually “sedated” by riches and other things of the world.3 That is a suitable introduction to the next of the Savior’s teachings.

parable-sower1The most subtle thorns to choke out the effect of the gospel word in our lives are the worldly forces that Jesus called the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). These are too numerous to recite. Some examples will suffice.

On one occasion Jesus rebuked His chief Apostle, saying to Peter, “Thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23; see also D&C 3:6–7; 58:39). Savoring the things of men means putting the cares of this world ahead of the things of God in our actions, our priorities, and our thinking.

We surrender to the “pleasures of this life” (1) when we are addicted, which impairs God’s precious gift of agency; (2) when we are beguiled by trivial distractions, which draw us away from things of eternal importance; and (3) when we have an entitlement mentality, which impairs the personal growth necessary to qualify us for our eternal destiny.

parable-sower4We are overcome by the “cares … of this life” when we are paralyzed by fear of the future, which hinders our going forward in faith, trusting in God and His promises. Twenty-five years ago my esteemed BYU teacher Hugh W. Nibley spoke of the dangers of surrendering to the cares of the world. He was asked in an interview whether world conditions and our duty to spread the gospel made it desirable to seek some way to “be accommodating of the world in what we do in the Church.”4

quote-oaks-sowerHis reply: “That’s been the whole story of the Church, hasn’t it? You have to be willing to offend here, you have to be willing to take the risk. That’s where the faith comes in. … Our commitment is supposed to be a test, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be impractical in the terms of this world.”5

This gospel priority was affirmed on the BYU campus just a few months ago by an esteemed Catholic leader, Charles J. Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia. Speaking of “concerns that the LDS and Catholic communities share,” such as “about marriage and family, the nature of our sexuality, the sanctity of human life, and the urgency of religious liberty,” he said this:

“I want to stress again the importance of really living what we claim to believe. That needs to be a priority—not just in our personal and family lives but in our churches, our political choices, our business dealings, our treatment of the poor; in other words, in everything we do.”

“Here’s why that’s important,” he continued. “Learn from the Catholic experience. We Catholics believe that our vocation is to be leaven in society. But there’s a fine line between being leaven in society, and being digested by society.”6

The Savior’s warning against having the cares of this world choke out the word of God in our lives surely challenges us to keep our priorities fixed—our hearts set—on the commandments of God and the leadership of His Church.

parable-sower2The Savior’s examples could cause us to think of this parable as the parable of the soils. The suitability of the soil depends upon the heart of each one of us who is exposed to the gospel seed. In susceptibility to spiritual teachings, some hearts are hardened and unprepared, some hearts are stony from disuse, and some hearts are set upon the things of the world.

III. Fell into Good Ground and Brought Forth Fruit

parable-harvest-wheatThe parable of the sower ends with the Savior’s description of the seed that “fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit” in various measures (Matthew 13:8). How can we prepare ourselves to be that good ground and to have that good harvest?

parable-sower3Jesus explained that “the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6–7). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to always have His Spirit to be with us. We must also seek that mighty change of heart (see Alma 5:12–14) that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.

I testify of the truth of these things, and I testify of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose teachings point the way and whose Atonement makes it all possible.

Judeo-Christian Culture: In Age of Moral Relativism, We can Trust God and Absolute Truth

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Biblical Worldview

In Age of Moral Relativism, We can Trust God and Absolute Truth

Why can we trust God in this age of moral relativism? Because God keeps His word. The truth in the Word of God is absolute. Right and wrong are absolute, eternal. His truth does not hide from inquiry, is not swayed by popular opinion, does not cower before tyrants. ~C.A. Davidson

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Epicworld Dinner Topics!

“EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO HIS OWN OPINION, BUT NOT TO HIS OWN FACTS,” said Daniel Patrick Moynihan. We are living in an era where opinion reigns supreme—never mind the facts. If you don’t agree with the ruling opinion, even if that opinion is an outright lie; or if you speak one word that offends, you are persona non grata, enemy of society, etc., etc.

Truth is not found in moral relativism, which is based on opinions, but only in the absolute truth of God’s word. Because God keeps His promises, we can trust Him without reservation. Why can we trust God in this age of moral relativism? Because God keeps His word. The truth in the Word of God is absolute. Right and wrong are absolute, eternal. Moral truth is absolute, unchangeable, rock-solid from generation to generation, century to century, age to age, forever. His truth does not hide from inquiry, is not swayed by popular opinion, does not cower before tyrants.

Have you ever wondered why some people wholeheartedly defend false doctrines and evil practices, even though such have been proven to be blatant lies, or revealed to be utterly barbaric? How can they believe lies and be so dedicated to evil that it is like a religion for them? How can they be so blind to truth as to actually hate truth, and even to the point they seem to be in bondage to the father of all lies? Those who cast aside the shield of faith lose protection against the buffetings of the adversary.

Shieldresize            Someone said that there are many on the earth … who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.

Jesus Christ warned that in our day there would be many false teachers, so convincing that they might deceive even the very elect, meaning us—we who have chosen to follow Christ. It’s obvious that truth is being covered up by many, and deceivers are everywhere. How can we avoid the traps of deception so rampant in our society today? How can we keep a clear vision through the murky mists of deceit that surround us?

In this age of moral relativism, truth seems elusive—where can we find it, and how will we know it when we do find it? Jesus told us, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The Savior did not leave us to face these perilous times unprotected.

truth1          First, He taught us how to discern a false teacher. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) We cannot look to words or personality alone to determine truth. We must study history, and examine people’s choices and actions. Do they speak the truth and let the consequence follow, or do they engage in moral equivocation, in order to please whomever they are speaking to at the moment? Do they truly care about what’s right for our country, or do they just care about getting votes?

In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. [Holy Spirit] ~Russell M. Nelson

Even so, it is still hard to sift through all the rhetoric. There is one other defense that we have, that is the only key to our survival in these turbulent times. That key is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will help us find the truth, and will free us from the bondage of sin. However, there is a condition. If we keep the commandments, the Spirit will abide with us. If we yield to sin, the Spirit will withdraw.

forgiveness4dove           This is why we see some defending evil so ardently. They have so seared their consciences that the Spirit has withdrawn, and they are left on their own.

We all sin and fall short, but if we do our best, mend our ways when necessary, and trust in the redeeming power of our Savior, then He has promised the Comforter to abide with us. This promise is stronger than death; and a power that our persecutors will never know.

 

We will not retreat, though our numbers may be few

When compared to the opposite host in view;

But an unseen power will aid me and you

In the glorious cause of truth. ~Evan Stephens

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1. Let Us Educate Ourselves

2. Home Education—Let’s Teach our Children!

Traditional Bible-believing parents may have to consider withdrawing their children from public schools to protect your family spiritually and financially from the rising tide of persecution and ruinous lawsuits by anti-Christian fascists.

If it is not possible for you to home school, try to teach your children Judeo-Christian values at home. The easiest way to do this is to tell stories and discuss principles at the family dinner table. I hope these dinner topics help you with this vital effort. Just don’t give up! Our precious children are worth fighting for!

constitution3. Study the U.S. Constitution!

It is the last remaining safeguard of our precious freedoms! A good way to do this is to study the monthly Constitution series from The 5,000 Year Leap. To access this series of posts, type US Constitution Series in this site’s search bar. Also, look for posts that refer to the Constitution in current events.

Thanks for all you do,

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U.S. Constitution Series 1: Founding Fathers and Cicero

U.S. Constitution Series 1:

Founding Fathers and Cicero

Cicero was born January 3, 106 B.C.

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

keyWorldly philosophies endeavor to blur the distinction between good and evil and eliminate accountability. However, the foundation of Natural Law (the law of the Creator) is the reality of good and evil. The U.S. Constitution was successful in creating a free and prosperous society because its foundation of Natural Law is based on moral accountability to a just God. ~C.A. Davidson

5000leapFrom The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

1. First Principle: the Genius of Natural Law

(Notes from pp. 37-47)

What is Natural Law?

The Creator’s order of things is called Natural Law.

The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.

Cicero

Cicero cut through the political and philosophical errors of both Plato and Aristotle to discover the touchstone of good laws, sound government, and the long-range formula for happy human relations. (p.37) He was the only Roman political writer who has exercised enduring influence throughout the ages. He studied law in Rome and philosophy in Athens.

Cicero’s compelling honesty led him to conclude that once the reality of the Creator is clearly identified in the mind, the only intelligent approach to government, justice, and human relations is in terms of the laws which the Supreme Creator has already established.

In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson referred to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

In Natural Law we are dealing with factors of absolute reality.

Since the Biblical God is the author of Natural Law, the first two great commandments indicated by Jesus Christ provide the standard for government and human relations.

Internal and External Government

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

1. The first great commandment is to love and honor God (the God of Israel).  The simplest way to honor God is to abide by the Ten Commandments. These provide moral absolutes, which if obeyed, build in us a strong internal government, or good moral character.

2. The second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This commandment is based on love. When we serve our fellow man, we are serving God. Jesus taught that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. If we have strong internal government, (we discipline ourselves and do no harm to others, by our own choice), then there is little need for much external government, which forces people to obey the rules of civilization.  Internal government is based on love of God, ourselves, and our neighbors. External force is not based on love.

Legislation in Violation of God’s Natural Law is a Scourge to Humanity

All Law Should Be Measured against God’s Law

ciceroCicero set forth the means by which people may discern between good and evil laws. All laws must be measured by God’s Law, which he described as follows:

Therefore Law [of the Creator] is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with that primal and most ancient of all things, Nature; and in conformity to Nature’s standard are framed those human laws which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good. (Dr. William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers, p. 135)

It was clear to Cicero as he came toward the close of his life that men must eliminate the depravity that had lodged itself in society. He felt they must return to the high road of Natural Law. They must pledge obedience to the mandates of a loving and concerned Creator. (Skousen, pp. 45-46)

The Following are Examples of concepts based on Natural Law

  • Unalienable rights
  • Unalienable duties
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Limited government
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances to correct abuses by peaceful means
  • Right of contract
  • Laws protecting the family and the institution of marriage
  • Justice by reparation or paying for damages
  • Right to bear arms
  • No taxation without representation

Principle # 2:  Moral and Virtuous Leaders

Judeo-Christian Culture: Finding Jesus in Types in the Bible

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Finding Jesus in Types in the Bible, Part 2

Part 1

Judeo-Christian Culture: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

 

Defining Moment

type— a person, object, ritual, or event that represents or symbolizes truths about the eternal plan of God

 

Searching for and Finding Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

The prophets, including those in the Old Testament, can be seen as “types and shadows of their Messiah,” wrote Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “It is wholesome and proper to look for similitudes of Christ everywhere and to use them repeatedly in keeping him and his laws uppermost in our minds” (The Promised Messiah [1978], 453).

KJV BibleThe Old Testament was not designed simply to preserve a narrative history of God’s covenant people. The stories themselves, along with their accompanying surface-level messages and morals, are of secondary importance to disciples of Christ. Consistently, the primary subject of the prophets’ writing—and therefore the most worthy object of our study—is Jesus Christ!

Here are a few principles to keep in mind when searching for truths about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament:

  1. All things created by God are like Jesus Christ (see Moses 6:63).
  2. All things given from God to mankind typify Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 11:4).
  3. All prophets are types, or symbols, of Jesus Christ (see Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 451).
  4. Repentance opens the door to learning about Jesus Christ through types (see Alma 26:21–22).

“I Am That I Am”: Symbols of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

By Stephen P. Schank, continued

I Am … the Lamb Slain for You

Animal Sacrifice and the Coat of Skins

Adam and Eve Offering Sacrifices, by Keith Larson

Adam and Eve Offering Sacrifices, by Keith Larson

Before Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord clothed them in the skins of an animal to provide a covering for them. In the Old Testament, the word atonement, in its various forms, appears 81 times. In 73 of those occurrences, the original Hebrew word is kaphar, which literally means “to cover.”

After their expulsion from the garden, Adam and Eve were commanded to offer the firstlings of their flocks for an offering unto the Lord. An angel later instructed them that this practice was “a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father” (Moses 5:7).

Animal sacrifices continued under the law of Moses, along with the ritual covering of those participating in priesthood ordinances.

When we covenant with the Lord and receive His holy ordinances, His Atonement covers us so that we are no longer exposed to the full effects of the Fall of Adam. Jesus Christ is truly the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us so that we no longer have to be subject to the effects of sin and death.

Genesis 3:21; 37:3; Exodus 40:14–15; Ezekiel 16:1–12; Matthew 22:11–12; Galatians 3:26–29; 1 Nephi 11:21, 32–33; Alma 34:14–16; Moses 5:5–8; 7:47

I Am … the Bread of Life

Manna

Fresco of Israelites gathering manna, by Leopold Bruckner

While Moses and the children of Israel journeyed from Egypt toward the promised land, they relied upon the mercies of the Lord for daily bread. The Lord provided them with a sweet “bread from heaven,” which the people called “Manna” (interpreted as “What is this?”). Those who gathered the bread daily and remained faithful to the Lord and His prophet had life continually throughout their journey in the wilderness.

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life; He came down to earth from heaven to bring us life every day of our mortal journey. As we gather His words every day, we will experience the sweetness and vitality available through Him throughout our mortal journey.

Exodus 16:4, 12–21, 31; Deuteronomy 8:2–3; John 6:26–35, 48–58, 66–68; 3 Nephi 20:8

I Am … the Source of Living Water

Water from the Rock at Horeb

Fresco of Moses getting water from the rock, by Leopold Bruckner

As the children of Israel thirsted for water in the wilderness, Moses turned to the Lord. Moses was instructed to smite a certain rock at Horeb (Mount Sinai) with the rod given him by the Lord. When he did, water gushed forth from the rock to sustain life for the millions of journeying Israelites.

Jesus Christ is the Rock of Israel; when He was smitten at Calvary, blood issued forth from His body. The blood of Christ brings us life! We can access the life found in the atoning blood of Christ as we follow prophets who have been given keys to bring forth living water from Him.

Exodus 17:1–6; Numbers 20:8, 11; John 4:10–15; 1 Corinthians 10:1–4; Doctrine and Covenants 28:2

I Am … Your Healer

Serpent Raised Up on a Pole

Moses and the Brass Serpent, by Judith Mehr

The difficulties of their journey caused the children of Israel to complain, murmuring against the prophet and the Lord. As a result, the Lord allowed poisonous serpents to bite them, bringing death to many. Moses prayed to the Lord to take away the serpents; instead, the Lord provided a way for the people to escape death when they had been bitten. The action required for them to be healed was to look upon a brass serpent that was affixed to a pole.

Jesus Christ was nailed to a pole—the cross—so that we might look to Him in our sufferings and not be overcome by them. Jesus Christ does not always take away our trials, but as our Healer, He can take the poison out of them through the blessings of His Atonement.

Numbers 21:4–9; John 3:14–16; 1 Peter 2:24; Alma 33:18–22; Helaman 8:14–15; 3 Nephi 27:13–15

 

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