Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Is Truth?

                There are numerous instances in our lives when we wonder what is true. We often hear differing viewpoints from people around us or on the news - from fighting children to government officials to competing politicians.  What is the truth?

                President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented a talk titled “What Is Truth?” at a CES Devotional held in January 2013.  He shared a 100-year-old poem written by an American poet who “put to rhyme an ancient parable.”  The first verse of the poem says:

                “Six men of Indostan
                To learning much inclined.
                Who went to see the Elephant
                (Though all of them were blind),
                That each by observation
                Might satisfy his mind.

                “In the poem each of the six travelers takes hold of a different part of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered.  One of the men finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree.  Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear.  A third grabs the tail and insists the elephant is like a rope.  A fourth discovers the trunk and insists that the elephant is like a large snake.  Each is describing truth.  And because his truth comes from personal experience, each insists that he knows what he knows.  The poem concludes:

                “And so these men of Indostan
                Disputed loud and long,
                Each in his own opinion
                Exceeding stiff and strong,
                Though each was partly in the right,
                And all were in the wrong.”

                “We look at this story from a distance and smile.  After all, we know what an elephant looks like.  We have read about them and watched them on film, and many of us have even seen one with our own eyes.  We believe we know the truth of what an elephant is.  That someone could make a judgment based on one aspect of truth and apply it to the whole seems absurd or even unbelievable.  On the other hand, can’t we recognize ourselves in these six blind men?  Have we ever been guilty of the same pattern of thought?”

                The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the reality of truth:  “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come:
                “And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar form the beginning.
                “The Spirit of truth is of God…” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24-26).

                President Uchtdorf continued, “So often the `truths’ we tell ourselves are merely fragments of the truth, and sometimes they’re not really the truth at all.

                “Today I would like to speak of truth.  As I do, I invite you to ponder a few important questions.  The first question is `What is truth?’  The second, `Is it really possible to know the truth?’ And third, `How should we react to things that contradict truths which we have learned previously?’

                President Uchtdorf told a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, a doctor who practiced medicine in Hungary in the mid-19th century.  Dr. Semmelweis learned that ten percent of the women who came to his clinic died from “childbed fever” while only four percent died at a nearby clinic.  He investigated the two clinics and came to the conclusion there was only one major difference between them:  his clinic did autopsies and the doctors went from examining corpses to delivering babies.  He concluded that the doctors were carrying contamination on their hands and insisted that the doctors in his clinic wash their hands before delivering babies.  The death rate from childbed fever dropped by 90 percent, but even with this “evidence,” there were many doctors who did not believe it.

                Truth is “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.”  Truth is “true even if nobody believes it.”  There is absolute truth, and we can find it if we seek for it earnestly.  “Over the centuries many wise men and women – through logic, reason, scientific inquiry, and, yes, through inspiration – have discovered truth.  These discoveries have enriched mankind, improved our lives, and inspired joy, wonder, and awe.
                “Even so, the things we once thought we knew are continually being enhanced, modified, or even contradicted by enterprising scholars who seek to understand truth.”

                A few months ago there was a vigorous discussion about whether or not we should vaccinate children.  Even though I believe vaccinations save lives, I questioned whether I had done the right thing with my children and worried about my grandchildren.  I got caught up in the discussion and soon could feel the tension growing in me as I sought the truth.  I decided that there was only one place that I could go to learn the truth about vaccinations.  I went to the Lord to present my problem and came away from our discussion with the truth.  I had confirmation from God that vaccinations save lives, and I never worried about the situation again.

                The Holy Ghost testifies of truth.  “The Witness of truth from the Holy Ghost is available to all, everywhere, all around the globe.  All who seek to know the truth, who study it out in their minds, and who `ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, [will know] the truth … by the power of the Holy Ghost….
                “If you follow the Spirit, your personal search for the truth inevitably leads you to the Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, for He is `the way, the truth, and the life.’  This may not be the most convenient way; it will probably also be the road less traveled, and it will be the path with mountains to climb, swift rivers to cross, but it will be His way – the Savior’s redeeming way….

                “I ask you to spare no efforts in your search to know this truth [that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God] for yourself – because this truth will make your free.”

Friday, April 29, 2016

Children of God

                Individuals, communities, and nations are strengthened when we understand that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and watches over us. Heavenly Father has a plan for how His children can gain experience here in mortality and prepare to return to His presence.  He also has a plan for each individual and can help us reach the potential in us.

                The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “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 with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).

                Paul understood that we can qualify to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ in inheriting all that the Father has.  He also knew how we can qualify – by keeping the commandments of God.

                In the spring of 1840, Lorenzo Snow, who later became the fourth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, received by personal revelation the following idea:  “As man now is, God once was:  As God now is, man may be.”  He did not publicly teach the “sacred communication” until he knew the Prophet Joseph Smith was teaching it. 

                The Prophet Joseph taught:  “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret.  If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make Himself visible, - I say, if you were to see Him today, you would see Him like a man in form – like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another….”

                When one prophet quotes another prophet, we should pay attention.  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught nearly the same words as those of President Lorenzo Snow; President Spencer W. Kimball and President Gordon B. Hinckley quoted the statement of President Snow. Four different prophets have taught the truth that we are children of God.  I know this is a true teaching.

                In the October 1994 General Conference President Hinckley said, “On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood.  This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith… and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow.  It is this grand and incomparable concept:  As God now is, man may become!”

                President Kimball said in the April 1977 General Conference, “God has taken these intelligences, given to them spirit bodies, and given them instructions and training.  The he proceeded to create a world for them and sent them as spirits to obtain a mortal body, for which he made preparation.  And when they were upon the earth, he gave them instructions on how to go about developing and conducting their lives to make them perfect, so they could return to their Father in heaven after their transitions.  Then came the periods of time when souls were to be placed upon the earth and born to parents who were permitted to furnish the bodies.  But no parent has ever yet on this earth been the parent of a spirit, because we are so far yet from perfection.  Remember what was aid a while ago, that `As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.’ They came with the definite understanding that they could return to become like God and go forward in their great development and progress.”

                Every person who has born onto this earth – and upon other worlds without number – is a child of God.  Each of us has the potential in us to become like our Father in Heaven. He has a plan for our eternal happiness and wants us to reach that goal. As part of His plan, God created this earth in order for us to gain physical bodies and experience needed to become like Him.  I know the plan of salvation is a true doctrine of God. I know we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by believing and teaching that we are all children of God.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Freedom of Speech

                Some states are fighting back against protesters who attempt to shut down speakers on college campuses.  I say, it is about time.  Education facilities, of all places, should be open to all ideas.  How can one become educated without hearing opposing ideas and having the opportunity to choose between them?

                North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest submitted a proposal that will affect all 17 of the state’s public university campuses.  He wants to create a policy that would include punishment for “those who interrupt the free expression of others.”  Six other states are proposing policies to protect free speech on college campuses.

                Forest’s office issued a statement declaring that no one has “the right to interrupt the speech, shout over the speaker, or otherwise prevent others from listening to the speech” of any speaker invited by a student group to speak on campus. 

                I applaud North Carolina and the six other states that are making a stand against campus bullies who have been shutting down freedom of speech.  I hope other states will follow their lead and shut down the bullies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Love the LDS Church

                What do you know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  Would you like to know more?  Greg Trimble wrote about one “concept” of the Church that earned his love.

                Trimble wrote, “There are a lot of reasons why I love the LDS Church but there’s one concept in particular that I love more than any other.  This one concept that I’ve fallen in love with in Mormonism is foreign to all other Christian churches and religions.  This concept is doctrinally denounced by the Christian leaders of the world.  Pastors and priests don’t teach it at all.  In fact they teach against it based on their traditions and understanding of the scriptures.  But I learned by experience … that this concept, this doctrine, this truth, is burning bright in the hearts of those people who attend those churches.”

                What is the doctrine?  Why do members of other churches believe the doctrine when their pastors and priests teach against it?  The doctrine is that families can be sealed together for all eternity if sealed by proper authority in the House of the Lord – or temple.  Why do people believe this doctrine even though they hear speeches condemning it?  They believe it because they are children of God.  They heard this doctrine in their pre-earth life, and the belief is still a part of them.  Almost all people want to be with their loved ones forever.  The Lord has provided a way for us to do so.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Work Is Better Than Handouts

                What happens when states stop handouts and require residents to work for what they get?  More than a year ago we learned that Maine acted in favor of work over entitlement.  The state instituted a work requirement and watched its caseload plummet by 80 percent.  There were 13,332 recipients in December 2014 and only 2,678 in March 2015.

                Now another state has reinstated work requirements for food stamps.  Before Kansas changed the requirement, "93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty….
                “Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty.  Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year.  They saw an average income increase of 127 percent….” 

                The experiences in these two states prove that people will take entitlements without work but will be better off financially by working for what they need.  I hope more states wise up and reestablish work requirements.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spring Has Arrived!

                Spring is on my mind!  I cannot seem to think about anything else and decided I might as well write about spring and why I love it so much.

                #1 I love escaping from the confines of the house.  Winter in Alaska is cold and dark.  Each fall I have the desire to fill my tummy and hibernate for the winter.  I try to stay busy, but I do not go outside any more often than needed.  I do not like the dark, and I hate being cold.  Spring causes me to shed my heavy coats and boots and enjoy being outside.

                #2 I love light and warmth.  I feel myself coming to life again in early March as I can feel the sun returning to the northern skies.  I find it interesting to recognize that light has an actual physical effect on my body.  I remember my childhood on the farm and the freedom I felt as I ran through the fields still wet from the freshly melted snow.  The March winds were still brisk and chilly, but they could not stop me from coming to life again.

                #3 I love seeing the various signs that spring has arrived.  I enjoy watching the birch trees outside my kitchen window as the buds start to swell and the leaves emerge.  An old sourdough expression is that Alaskans can plant when the leaves of the birch trees are the size of a squirrel’s ear.

                #4 I love to see growth.  I planted daffodils by the foundation of my home where the returning sun warms the soil.  This is the first place that I see growth each spring.  Sometimes the leaves get nipped by cold temperatures, but the flowers are always beautiful.  These bright yellow flowers are my sign that spring has arrived!  I love to see the grass turning green and other plants start to grow.

                #5 I love working in the soil.  I remember the first spring I lived in Alaska and the snow in the backyard was still several feet deep.  One day I noticed a spot of bare soil located in the corner where the deck met the wall of the house.  I could not resist the urge to feel the soil.  I knew at that time that I have “farmer’s blood” running through my veins, and I understood how Scarlett felt in the novel Gone with the Wind when she returned to her family’s plantation and felt the soil of Tara in her hand.

                I will most likely write more about this topic at a later time.  For now, this is enough to satisfy me because I am driven by the urge to get outside and work in my yard.  Happy Spring to you!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Second Amendment

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” 

                Liberals continue to insist that the Second Amendment does not give Americans the right to own and use guns.  Chelsea Clinton is currently claiming that the Second Amendment will be “gutted” now that Justice Antonin Scalia is no longer on the Supreme Court to protect the law.  The threat to the Second Amendment is real.

                Mark Alexander at the Patriot Post posted an excellent article outlining the dangerous situation involving the Second Amendment.  He reminded his readers that the current occupant of the White House “announced his primary objective for this last year in office:  undermining the Second Amendment on the pretense of `solving’ America’s `gun problem’” and “directly referenced confiscation of guns as the centerpiece of that agenda.”  Later he accused the gun lobby as “holding Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage….  We can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do.”

                Why would any sensible person want Americans to be disarmed? History has proven time after time that “disarming citizens has resulted in everything but civilized or sensible countries.  In fact, only one nation has ensured by its law of incorporation, that an armed citizenry is the only way to both ensure and sustain a civilized and sensible government.”