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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Parenting Mistakes

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when mothers and fathers recognize parenting mistakes and correct them.  Most parents love their children and try very hard to rear them correctly; however, many parents try so hard that they go overboard and spoil their children while other parents avoid parenting all together.

                LDS parents are no different in these tendencies than other parents.  A blog by the name of “Aggieland Mormons” published an article entitled “4 Surprising Mistakes LDS Parents Make.”  I believe there is merit in reading the article because “good parenting is the greatest challenge in the world” (James E. Faust).

                The four mistakes cited are (1) Not prioritizing your marriage, (2) Letting children decide what they want to believe and follow without giving full gospel instruction, (3) Not having consistent family dinners, and (4) Keeping your kids in a bubble.

                I might have gotten three out of the four right – maybe.  I know I could and should have done better in a couple of them.  How do you fare?  Are you making these mistakes?  If so, you might consider changing your parenting ways.  Parenting is such a great responsibility and carries such great rewards or horrible circumstances.  We all must learn to do better and strengthen our homes, communities, and nations.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Freedom from Government

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that Americans have the RIGHT to walk freely without the government – federal or local – trying to run our lives.  The Founders of this great nation wrote the Constitution to keep the people from an overbearing government; they knew that most people were smart enough to run their own lives without the government telling them how to do it.  The federal government of today is so busying trying to control the citizens that it is not doing the work it should be doing.

                While glancing at a conservative on-line news blog, I saw the following headlines:  (1) “101st Airborne Won’t Get Full Protective Hazmat Suits for Ebola Mission in West Africa:” This is the government not protecting its military against a deadly disease.  The government is supposed to protect its citizens, including the military.

                (2) “Huckabee Calls for Pastors to Flood Houston Mayor with Sermons:” This is in response to the mayor of Houston, Texas, ordering pastors to send all their “speeches” to the city for review.

                (3) “Benefits of Evil:  Dozens of Ex-Nazis Reportedly Paid Millions in Social Security:” It is no wonder that Social Security is running out of funds.  Our government has been sending millions of dollars to ex-Nazis in secret!

                (4) “Confusion:  US Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS:” What in the world!  Why are we sending humanitarian aid to the enemy?  Let’s win the “war” and then show compassion!

                (5) “Obama Administration Quietly Prepares `Surge’ of Millions of New Immigrant ID’s:”  The President of the United States is breaking the law and endangering the health and lives of all Americans by not securing the southern border; instead of supporting the law of the land, he invites illegals into our nation and then rewards them for being here!

                (6) “NY Gun Registry Deems Almost 35,000 People Too Mentally Ill to Carry a Gun:”   How can there be that many mentally ill people in New York unless the government is driving people crazy?

                (7) “Obama Makes Rare Campaign Trail Appearance, People Leave Early:”  Maybe, just maybe, people are beginning to see him for what he is!

                (8) “Common Core Horror Stories From Florida:” The government tries to sell Common Core as a good education plan but in reality is trying to brainwash our children!  The horrors of Common Core are being reported all over the nation.

                There were other news articles, but these show just how much control our governments have over us.  They show just a few of the ways that our governments  - from the locals to the federal – are trying to control what we eat, what our children learn in school, how we defend ourselves, what we believe, etc. – and doing it all while wasting our hard-earned tax dollars.
                I believe that it is time that we “drain the swamp” to get rid of all the career politicians and elect new leaders.  I hope Americans are smart enough this election to pay attention to what the candidates are actually saying, read between the lines, and elect those men and women who will actually do the jobs we elect them to do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ministers Are Under Attack

                Christian ministers are now under attack in several cities for their views on homosexuality, gender identity, and same-sex marriage.  It seems that the gay community has become like the proverbial camel who just wanted to put its nose in the tent.  The owner allowed the camel to shield its nose from the wind-driven sand, but the camel was not satisfied.  It then wanted to protect its eyes, then its ears, and then its entire head.  Soon the entire camel was in the tent, leaving no room for the owner. 

                It appears that the more tolerant we are of the “rights” of homosexuals, the more they demand.  Is it possible to satisfy all their demands without destroying traditional marriage and family life – or even freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

                On October 14, 2014, Annise Parker, the first openly lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas, issued subpoenas demanding that a group of pastors turn over any of their sermons dealing with homosexuality or gender identity.  The Houston city council approved a new non-discrimination ordinance in June 2014, and the subpoenas are the “latest twist in an ongoing saga.”

                Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty law firm, is representing the five pastors and filed a motion in Harris County Court to stop the subpoenas, calling them “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”  The ADF attorney Christina Holcomb stated, “The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented….  The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

                On October 18, 2014, the city of Houston informed the five Christian pastors that they would no longer have to turn over their “sermons” but would instead have to turn over their “speeches” to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).  HERO apparently includes 17 different categories of information.

                ADF attorney Erik Stanley stated, “The city of Houston still doesn’t get it.  The subpoenas still ask for information that encompasses speeches made by the pastors and private communications with their church members.”

                Stanley said that the only way to resolve the problem is for the city of Houston to rescind the subpoenas.  He continued that the legal action “tramples their First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.  Any inquiry into what these pastors did in standing against the ordinance passed by the city of Houston and encouraging members to sign the petition is a violation of the First Amendment.”

                The fiasco began when religious groups opposed and filed a lawsuit against one of the provisions in HERO that “would allow men who identify as women to use the restrooms of their choice.”  The pastors were leading the opposition to what is called the “Bathroom Bill” and thus were subpoenaed.

                Meanwhile in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, other ministers are under attack for refusing to conduct same-sex marriages.  Donald and Evelyn, husband and wife and both ordained ministers, run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.  City officials told them that they are required to perform [same-sex wedding] ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines.  Coeur d’Alene also has a “non-discrimination” ordinance; city officials claim that ministers have to conduct same-sex marriages because “the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”

                ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco stated, “The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines….  Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly.  The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

                Tedesco added, “The government exists to protect and respect our freedoms, not attack them….  The city cannot erase these fundamental freedoms and replace them with government coercion and intolerance.”

                I expect that my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will come under fire some time.  When the U.S. Supreme Court chose to not hear the gay marriage cases, it also failed to protect traditional marriage.  The Church issued an official statement on October 6, 2014, in response to the Supreme Court non-decision.

                “The succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and woman is acceptable to God.  In prizing freedom of conscience and Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices.
                “Nevertheless, respectful coexistence is possible with those with differing values.  As far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken.  Church leaders will continue to encourage our people to be persons of good will toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation.”

                The officials in Houston and Coeur d’Alene are attempting to force Christians to change their beliefs by jail time or fines.  I feel confident that some people will cave to the pressure, but I know there will be many who will not conform.  When a person knows the law of God and commits to obedience to it, nothing – including death – will change that person’s belief. 

                The government can take away everything that is dear to a converted Christian and still not change who he/she is.  Consider the case of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.  The government put him in prison for many years but never changed his beliefs.  He came out of prison a stronger person and earned his nation’s and the world’s respect.  History is full of examples of people who died rather than conform. 

                We may see more examples of this type of dedication to God in the near future if we do not stop the tyrannical behavior before it takes over the “tent” of our nation.  Toleration and respect are important to the unity of a nation, but there must be a two-way street rather than always going in one direction.  I respect all people as children of a living God and believe that all of us are equal before the law of the land; however, but I do not and cannot respect the breaking of any of God’s laws.  There I will plant my flag and make my stand!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Truth Eventually Comes Out

                The Obama Administration has given Americans lies and more lies.  I suppose they think they can hide the truth if they lie about it enough times.  They apparently believe as Adolph Hitler:  if you tell a big enough lie, people will be convinced.

                Years after the U.S. Government lost hundreds of guns in the Fast and Furious scandal, information continues to come out.  The first clue that the guns were being used by drug cartels was when one of the guns was found near the body of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered on the U.S.-Mexico border.  Attorney General Eric Holder failed to reveal information about the operation to Congress and was held in contempt of Congress – the first Attorney General to receive this dubious honor.

                Apparently, another gun lost under Fast and Furious was involved in yet another crime.  House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently charged that the Justice Department is covering up this crime. 

                Issa and Grassley sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Eric Cole that Judicial Watch obtained public records showing “that law enforcement officials recovered a Fast and Furious gun last summer in connection with a shooting that left two individuals wounded.”  Their letter explained that Sean Steward bought 40 guns under the watchful eye of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  They reported that only eight of the guns were recovered by the ATF.  There seems to be evidence that one of the lost guns was used in the shooting.

                The two Congressmen wrote that they could confirm the assault rifle recovered on July 30, 2013, was purchased by Sean Christopher Steward because they have the serial number from the police report.  They added that the Justice Department did not reveal anything and failed to notify Congress.  Without the documents from Judicial Watch, none of the information would have come to light.

                “Unless the information becomes available some other way, the public would never know…. This lack of transparency about the consequences of Fast and Furious undermines public confidence in law enforcement and gives the impression that the Department is still seeking to suppress information and limit its exposure to public scrutiny.”  

                The Congressmen asked the Justice Department for more information about Fast and Furious even though the DOJ has not presented the information asked for in 2012 and 2013.  They want to know if the rifle has been used in any other crimes as well as how many other weapons from Fast and Furious were used in other violent incidents.  Congress continues to ask questions without getting any answers from the DOJ.  No matter, the truth will eventually come out as long as we have leaders and other Americans who are willing to fight the fight.

                Truth continues to come out about several scandals involving officials from the Obama Administration and the Clinton Administration:  Benghazi, Whitewater, the IRS targeting conservatives, etc.  If we have enough time, we may get to the bottom of all the scandals!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Walt Disney

               Walter Elias “Walt” Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois.  His parents, Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney, met and married in Florida and moved several times before Walt’s birth.  Walt had at least three brothers --- Roy Oliver Disney, Herbert Disney, and Ray Disney --- and one sister, Ruth.  He married Lillian Bounds on July 25, 1925, and the couple had two daughters, Diane Marie Disney and Sharon Mae Disney.  Disney also had at least one nephew, Roy Edward Disney.

                Disney had interesting ancestry.  Elias Disney was Irish-Canadian, and Flora Call Disney was German-English.  “His great-grandfather, Arundel Elias Disney, had emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny, Ireland, where he was born in 1801.  Arundel Disney was a descendant of Robert d’Isigny, a Frenchman who had travelled to England with William the Conqueror in 1066.  With the d’Isigny name anglicized as `Disney’, the family settled in a village now known as Norton Disney, south of the city of Lincoln, in the county of Lincolnshire.”

                The Disney family moved numerous times during Walt’s childhood and youth but moved back to Chicago in 1917.  That fall Walt “began his freshman year at McKinley High School and took night courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts under the tutelage of artist and educator Louis Grell (1887-1960).  He became the cartoonist for the school newspaper, drawing patriotic topics on World War I.  With a hope to join the army, Disney dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen, but was rejected for being underage.  Afterwards, Disney and a friend joined the Red Cross.  He was soon sent to France for a year, where he drove an ambulance, but only after the armistice was signed on
November 11, 1918.

                “Hoping to find work …, Walt moved back to Kansas City in 1919 to begin his artistic career.  He considered becoming an actor, but decided to draw political caricatures or comic strips for a newspaper.  When nobody wanted to hire him as either an artist or as an ambulance driver, his brother Roy, then working in a local bank, got Walt a temporary job through a bank colleague at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio, where he created advertisements for newspaper, magazines, and movie theaters.  At Pesmen-Rubin he met cartoonist Ubbe Iwerks and, when their time at the studio expired, they decided to start their own commercial company together.

                “In January 1920, Disney and Iwerks formed a short-lived company called `Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists’.  However, following a rough start, Disney left temporarily to earn money at the Kansas City Film Ad Company.  He was soon joined by Iwerks, who was not able to run their business alone.  While working for the company, where he made commercials based on cutout animation, Disney became interested in animation and decided to become an animator….”

                Disney became a business magnate, cartoonist, filmmaker, philanthropist, and voice actor.  He became a prominent figure in the American animation industry; he became known for his influence and contributions to entertainment during the 20th century.  Disney and his brother Roy co-founded The Walt Disney Company.

                “As an animator and entrepreneur, Disney was particularly noted as a filmmaker and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design.  He and his staff created various fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy.  Disney himself was the original voice for Mickey.  During his lifetime, he received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations, including a record of four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history.  Disney also won seven Emmy Awards and gave his name to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the U.S., as well as the international resorts, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.”

                “Walt Disney was a chain smoker his entire adult life, although he made sure he was not seen smoking around children.  In 1966, Disney was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair an old neck injury….  On November 2, during pre-operative X-rays, doctors … discovered a tumor in his left lung.  Five days later a biopsy showed the tumor to be malignant and to have spread through the entire left lung.  After removing the lung on November 11, the surgeons informed Disney that his life expectancy was six months to two years.  After several cobalt therapy sessions, Disney and his wife spent a short time in Palm Springs, California.  On November 30, Disney collapsed at his home….”

                Disney was rushed to the hospital in Burbank, California, where he passed away on December 15, 1966, at 9:30 a.m., ten days after his 65th birthday.  He died of acute circulatory collapse, caused by lung cancer.   His body was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

House Votes

                The topic of discussion for the Constitution Monday comes from the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “… if no person [obtains a] majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding here on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.  But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum  for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice....”

                If none of the candidates receives a majority of the electoral votes, the right and responsibility to choose the next President of the United States goes to the House of Representatives.

                W. Cleon Skousen stated, “… so long as there are only two political parties, one of the candidates will receive a majority of the electoral votes.  However, if there were several parties, the House of Representatives might select the President most of the time.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 716.)

                Charles Fried of The Heritage Foundation explained, “Most presidential elections have not generated Twelfth Amendment controversy.  However, the provisions of the Amendment have surfaced from time to time, most commonly when a third-party candidate threatens to take a substantial percentage of the vote….” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 378.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Becoming More Like Christ

                When Jesus Christ lived on the earth and walked with His disciples, Thomas asked the Christ how to know the way to go.  Jesus Christ answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).  We can learn to follow Christ by learning and teaching the gospel as the Savior did.  We can become better gospel learners by developing Christlike attributes; we can become better teachers by learning how Jesus Christ taught his gospel and seek to become like Him.

                We can learn to teach as the Master Teacher taught by using the scriptures to help other people become more Christlike.  Jesus Christ used the scriptures to teach His gospel.  Prophets in these latter-days counsel us to use the scriptures and the words of the living prophets when we teach the gospel.  Before we can teach the scriptures, we must first study them.  We can learn the stories and examples from the scriptures and liken the scriptures to ourselves.

                The Savior used the scriptures to teach the people of Nazareth:  “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias.  And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
                “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
                “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
                “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
                “And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
                “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.  And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
                “And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself:  whatsoever we have heard in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
                “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
                “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
                “But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
                “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:17-27).

                In these verses the Savior referred to several Old Testament scriptures, teachings that were familiar to the listeners.  The Savior also
used the scriptures to teach the Nephites on the American continent.  “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things.  Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
                “For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. 
                “And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.
                “Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles.
                “And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved.  Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.
                “And now it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he said unto them again, after he had expounded all the scriptures unto them which they had received, he said unto them:  Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Christ, 3 Nephi 23:1-6).

                The presiding Brethren of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put a high priority on the subject of teaching and learning.  In fact this was the topic of the worldwide leadership training broadcast just a few years ago.  The Brethren realize that our success in sharing the gospel message depends on it being taught, understood, and lived in a way that happiness and salvation can be realized.

                Just prior to the Ascension of Christ into heaven, He gave His final instructions to His disciples:  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
                “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20; emphasis added).

                Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted the above scripture and explained it by paraphrasing a statement made by President Gordon B. Hinckley:  “What the Savior stresses in that passage is that however much there is to do in living the gospel --- and there is much we are to do to live it --- none of that can be accomplished until we have been taught those truths and have learned the way of the gospel.  For several years now, President Hinckley has been counseling us to hold our people close to the Church, especially the youth and the new converts.  He said we all need a friend, a responsibility, and nourishing `by the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4; see also Gordon B. Hinckley, in … Ensign, May j1997, 47).
                “Inspired instruction in the home and in the Church helps provide this crucial element of nourishing by the good word of God.  And the opportunity to magnify that call exists everywhere --- fathers, mothers, siblings, friends, missionaries, priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers, classroom instructors, including our wonderful seminary and institute teachers, who join us today.  Well, the list goes on and on.  In fact, in this Church, it is virtually impossible to find anyone who is not a teacher….”

                Elder Holland cited a few lines from a Primary hymn “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, no. 301): 
                Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
                Help me find the way.
                Teach me all that I must do
                To live with him someday.
                “That is our common task in this Church.  That is our shared responsibility. We are all children of God, and we must teach each other; we must help each other “find the way.”  That is what we are going to try to do today” (“Teaching and Learning in the Church,” Liahona, June 2007).

                “Latter-day prophets have instructed us to use the scriptures to teach the doctrines of the taught the importance of teaching with the scriptures.  President Ezra Taft Benson said:  `Always remembers, there is no satisfactory substitute for the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.  These should be your original sources.  Read and ponder more what the Lord has said, and less about what others have written concerning what the Lord has said’ (The Gospel Teacher and His Message [address to religious educators, 17 Sept. 1976], 6).

                “President Gordon B. Hinckley said:  `The truest source of divine wisdom is the word of the Lord in these sacred volumes, the standard works of the Church.  Here is found the doctrine to which we must hold fast if this work is to roll forth to its divinely charted destiny” (in … Ensign, May 1982, 45).  

                We can become more like Christ when we know more about Him and come to know Him.  We can hear the word of God when we study the scriptures.  We can receive assistance from God in applying the scriptures in our lives when we sincerely ask Him in prayer.  I know that Jesus Christ lived and walked the earth.  I also know that He was resurrected and lives again.  He is a real Personage who loves each of us and desires us to become more like Him.