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, December 31, 2011

Eternal Goals

                    Do you follow the New Year tradition of setting goals for yourself?  Have you been successful in meeting those goals or do you become frustrated with yourself for failing to meet them?  What kind of goals do you set?  Why do we need to set goals?  What difference does it make in our lives?

                    Setting goals for ourselves, our families, and our organizations is a plan of what we want to accomplish or where we want to be at some time in the future.  It is wise to have goals for different periods of time - daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, five years from now, when we retire, when we die, and where we want to spend eternity. 

A goal is a plan and is much like a road map.  We usually know where we are and where we want to be, but we don't always know how to arrive at our chosen destination.  There are often a variety of ways to travel and eventually reach our destination, but sometimes there is only one road.  When my husband and I drive from Anchorage, Alaska, to Idaho, we know that we have to access the Alaska Highway.  We can take the long way up the Parks Highway to Fairbanks and access the Alaska Highway there or we can take the GlennAllen Highway to GlennAllen and make another decision there.  We could decide to take the Richardson Highway up to Delta Junction and access the Alaska Highway there or we could take an even shorter route up the Tok Cutoff to Tok which is the last place we could access the Alaska Highway.  From Tok, Alaska, to Watson Lake, British Columbia, there is only one road to take - the Alaska Highway.  At Watson Lake, another decision needs to be made - continue on the Alaska Highway or drive down the Cassiar Highway.  There are no further choices on the Cassiar until the end of that highway, but there are numerous choices if continuing on the Alaska Highway.  A road map is always a necessity as well as weather conditions!

Our life here on earth is often called a journey.  Sometimes the journey is short, and sometimes it is long, but a "road map" is always necessary for this journey also.  Our loving Heavenly Father has a plan - or a road map - whereby all of us, His spirit children, can return to His presence to live with Him forever.  His plan is called the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness.  His plan includes our pre-earth life, the Creation of the earth and everything on it, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the spirit world, the final judgment, the resurrection of all His mortal children, and a final destination (Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, Telestial Kingdom, or outer darkness).

Because Heavenly Father loves us, He gave us agency - the power to choose - while we still lived with Him in heaven.  We had the choice of whether to come to earth where we could receive bodies or to follow Satan.  You can believe it or not, but one-third of all the hosts of heaven chose to follow Satan and will live throughout eternity without bodies because of that choice.  They were cast out of heaven along with Satan and came to earth where they tempt us to join them.  Their final destination is outer darkness.  (See Revelation 12:4, 9.)

Those of us with bodies know that we chose to follow Heavenly Father's plan and to follow Jesus Christ.  We came to earth where we received bodies and are allowed to make more choices.  Heavenly Father sent us to earth with a plan on how we can return to His presence.  The most important part of the plan is the Atonement of Jesus Christ; other valuable parts are prayer, scripture study, and following the counsel of prophets. The choices we make each day will determine where we spend eternity.  Knowledge and understanding of Heavenly Father's plan for our eternal happiness helps us to make wise decisions.

Some life experiences help us to understand the plan and why it is necessary.  Bishop H. Burke Peterson, who was a member of the Presiding Bishopric, told the following personal story. 
My parents and grandparents were born and raised in Utah.  However, my mother and father began their married life in Phoenix, Arizona.  That is where my three brothers and I were raised.  Almost every summer my father and mother would take all of us to Utah … to enjoy the association with our cousins and other relatives.
… One spring before school was out I asked my father if I could go to Salt Lake City to work and then return to Phoenix at the end of the summer to be with my family and begin school again.  After thinking it over, my parents decided it would be fine.  When school was out in May, Dad took me with him to the [bus station] and, since I had no money of my own as yet, bought me a ticket to Salt Lake City.  I was somewhat taken back when I found out that he had purchased for me a one-way ticket instead of a round trip.  He said he would take the responsibility to see that I arrived in Salt Lake City but it would be up to me to do what was necessary while I was there to purchase the ticket for a return home to Phoenix at the end of the summer.  As you can imagine, I was most anxious to come back home after my work experience as I had burning in my memory the happy experiences we had always enjoyed in our home.  I enjoyed the association with and loved my three brothers and was most happy and comfortable with my parents.
When I arrived in Salt Lake City I immediately set about to find work.  This I was able to accomplish, and as soon as my first paycheck was given to me, guess what I did.  First I paid my tithing, and then I took the rest of the money to the bus depot downtown in Salt Lake City and purchased a return trip ticket to Phoenix.  I wanted to be sure that when summer was over there would be nothing to stand in the way of my returning home.  I loved my home very much.  For the rest of the summer I was particularly mindful of taking good care of myself and doing everything necessary to insure my return home to Phoenix.  More than anything else I wanted to enjoy again the experience of being with my family.  (See "Return Trip Ticket Home," New Era, Apr. 1974, 5.)

We all had a family in our pre-earth life and were happy there with our Heavenly Parents and our spirit brothers and sisters, particularly our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ.  We wanted to stay there, but we understood the plan.  We knew that Heavenly Father loved us and wanted us to be with Him for eternity.  We knew that we each needed to come to earth in order to gain a body, learn by experience, show that we will be obedient to God's commandments, and return to Him stronger and wiser.  We understood that experience on earth was necessary in order that we could be with Heavenly Father again and also be like our Heavenly Father.  The decision to leave our heavenly home and come to earth was ours, but Heavenly Father took the responsibility to help us arrive here safely.  Heavenly Father provided only a one-way ticket; whether or not we return to His presence to be with Him and our family for eternity is up to us.  Where we live for eternity will depend on our choices and actions while we are here on earth.

Heavenly Father's most important work is helping His children to return to live with Him again.  God told Moses, "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39).

This scripture names two parts to God's work - to bring to pass immortality and eternal life.  The words immortality and eternal life do not refer to the same thing.  Immortality is a state of being resurrected, of being free from physical death.  This blessing will come to all people.  Eternal life is living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom and being like Them.  This blessing - which is also called exaltation - comes only to those who keep the commandments and make the necessary covenants.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ brought to pass the resurrection of all mankind.  It also brings the promise that we can repent of our sins and become clean and worthy in order to regain the presence of the Father and the Son.  Exaltation is my eternal goal.  I will not be satisfied with anything less!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Setting Goals

                    Families are more effective when they set goals both as families and as individuals and work towards them.  Each family has many demands on its members, their time and their resources.  It is important that families know what they really want to accomplish and work together towards those goals.

                    As I thought about what to write about setting goals, a hymn I learned as a little girl kept coming into my mind.  It is entitled "Today, While the Sun Shines" and was written by L. Clark (ca. 1880, alt.) (Hymns, 229).  There are so many good goals in this hymn - at so many different levels.

                    Today, while the sun shines, work with a will;
                    Today all your duties with patience fulfill.
                    Today, while the birds sing, harbor no care;
                    Call life a good gift; call the world fair.

                    Today seek the treasure better than gold,
                    The peace and the joy that are found in the fold.
                    Today seek the gems that shine in the heart;
                    While here we labor, choose the better part.

                    Today seek for goodness, virtue, and truth,
                    As crown of your life and the grace of your youth.
                    Today, while the heart beats, live to be true,
                    Constant and faithful all the way through.

                    Today, today, work with a will;
                    Today, today, your duties fulfill.
                    Today, today, work while you may;
                    Prepare for tomorrow by working today.

                    I have labored for many years trying to learn how to set better goals and be more productive.  I am still striving to be better organized and productive.  I have tried many different methods, but I didn't find any of them that worked well for me.  I learned to take something from each method and develop my own method.  I tried writing lists and became discouraged when I couldn't complete everything I put on my list.  I tried prioritizing my lists and at least completed what I considered to be the most important. 

                    I remember well an object lesson from a meeting many years ago.  The teacher had a canning jar, some stones, some gravel, and some sand.  She tried several different ways to put all the items into the jar, but she was able to fit them all into the jar only by putting the stones in first, then the gravel, and then the sand.  With the stones in place first, the gravel and then the sand filters between and around the stones, filling every little spot.  The object of the lesson was about putting proper priority on the people and things that demand our time, our efforts, and our money.  The most important goals need to have top priority with the less important goals filling in around them.

                    I was an adult when I heard President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) say, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.  Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities."  (See "The Great Commandment - Love the Lord," Ensign, May 1988, 4.)

                    I learned by personal experience that this statement is true.  When I center my life in Jesus Christ, the most important things are taken care of even if tasks of lesser priority do not get done.  I learned to plan my life a week at a time with the Sabbath being planned first.  The fourth commandment reads:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 
Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: 
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God:  in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy       daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: 
Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.  (See Genesis 20:8-11.)

I schedule my laundry, cleaning, shopping, recreation, movies, etc. on days other than the Sabbath Day.  On the Sabbath
Day I attend  the regular meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Stake Conference, or General Conference.  I spend time outside of Church meetings with my family - personally, using technology, or writing letters to them.  I also prepare the lesson I will present the next week or do other tasks that help me to remember the purpose of the day.

                    The next important event I schedule is my temple attendance.  I learned long ago that I need to schedule a definite time to attend the temple each week or I simply cannot work it into my week.  I currently spend Friday morning in the temple unless I need to change my temple day for some important reason such as being out of town.

                    I learned many years ago why Monday is considered "wash day."  I learned that when I do laundry on Monday I have plenty of time to get clothes ironed, mended, etc. before they are needed for the next Sunday.  Besides, by having a regular laundry day, the family is also aware of when they can expect the laundry to be done.  I also like to schedule my weekly cleaning on Monday because I feel more prepared for the week when my home is presentable.

                    As noted above, I have tried many different methods of organization.  My latest attempt at being organized is done on a sheet of paper divided into eight blocks, one block for the tasks of each day and the eighth block for the projects I want to accomplish during that week.  I list the chores, appointments, etc. for each day.  If I cannot complete the daily list, I move the tasks to the next day or a day later in the week.  I learned that I need to schedule the special projects on a particular day rather than simply keeping them in a list of their own.

                    I use the calendar app on my telephone to remind me of appointments and an engagement calendar to plan vacations or projects that are long-term or involve other people.  My single sheet of paper is where I bring everything together for a particular week and a particular day.

                    Families that plan together find it easier to be in the know about what is happening with other members of the family.  Family home evening is an excellent time for families to discuss their schedules and to finalize plans for the coming week.  Effective families determine where and what they want to be and work together to meet those goals. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why They Matter

                    The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution can be read in just a few minutes.  They are simple, easy to understand and easy to remember.  The question that needs to be answered for this Freedom Friday is:  Why do they matter? 

                    The first thing that we must understand about these two great documents is that they support each other.  "… If the principles and argument of the Declaration are true, the arrangements and argument of the Constitution are true, and vice versa."  (See Larry P. Arnn, Imprimis, December 2011.)    Liberals/Progressives are opposed to the Declaration and the Constitution because these documents stand in the way of what they consider to be "progress."  
                    Arnn explained that there are "three incredible things to keep in mind about the Declaration:  First, there had never been anything like it in history…. 
"Second, look at the end of the Declaration.  Its signers were being hunted by British troops.  General Gage had an order to find and detain them as traitors.  And here they were putting their names on a revolutionary document and sending it to the King…. `we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.'  That is how people talk on a battlefield when they are ready to die for each other.
"The third thing about the Declaration is even more extraordinary in light of the first two:  It opens by speaking of universal principles.  It does not portray the Founding era as unique - `When in the Course of human events' means any time - or portray the Founding generation as special or grand - `it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another' means any people.  The Declaration is thus an act of obedience - an act of obedience to a law that persists beyond the English law and beyond any law that the Founders themselves might make.  It is an act of obedience to the `Laws of Nature and of Nature's God,' and to certain self-evident principles - above all the principle `that all men are created equal' with `certain unalienable Rights.'
"For the signers to be placing their lives at risk, and to be doing so while overturning a way of organizing society that had dominated for two thousand years, and yet for them to begin the Declaration in such a humble way, is very grand."

Arnn continued to explain why modern historians are wrong in their belief that "the Founders changed their minds about the principles in the Declaration" when they wrote the Constitution.  "The Constitution contains three fundamental arrangements:  representation, which is the direct or indirect basis of the three branches of government described in the first three articles of the Constitution; separation of powers, as embodied in those three branches; and limited government, which is obvious in the Constitution's doctrine of enumerated powers - there is a list of things that Congress can do in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, and the things that are not listed it may not do.  And all three of these fundamental arrangements, far from representing a break with the Declaration, are commanded by it."

Arnn also explained why "Woodrow Wilson and the founders of modern liberalism" are "wrong" about the "doctrines of limited government that appear in the Declaration and the Constitution" being "obsolete." 
"The first thing he got wrong was looking back on earlier America as a simple age.  There was nothing simple about it.  The Founders had to fight a war against the largest force on earth.  They had to figure out how to found a government based on a set of principles that had never formed the basis of a government.  The original Congress was called the Continental Congress, although no one would understand the extent of the continent until Lewis and Clark reported to President Jefferson in 1806.  They had to figure out a way for the first free government in history to grow across that continent.  These things took vast acts of imagination.  And this is not even to mention the crisis of slavery and the Civil War.  So the idea that the complications of the late 19th century [as well as the 20th and 21st centuries] were something new, or were greater by some order of magnitude, is bunkum.
"The second mistake Wilson makes is fundamental, and goes to the core of the American idea.  Wilson [and Obama] is opposed to the structure imposed on the government by the Constitution - for instance, the separation of powers - because it impedes what he calls progress.  But what idea was behind that structure?  James Madison writes in Federalist 51:  `[W]hat is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  If men were angels, no government would be necessary.  If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.'
"In other words, human nature is such that human beings need to be governed.  We need government if we are not to descend into anarchy.  But since human beings will make up the government, government itself must be limited or it will become tyrannical.  Just as we outside the government require to be governed, those inside the government require to be governed.  And that has to be strictly arranged because those inside the government need, and they will have, a lot of power.
"Against this way of thinking, Wilson argued that progress and evolution had brought human beings to a place and time where we didn't have to worry about limited government.  He rejected what the Founders identified as a fixed or unchanging human nature, and thought we should be governed by an elite class of people who are not subject to political forces or constitutional checks and balances - a class of people such as we find in our modern bureaucracy.  This form of government would operate above politics, acting impartially in accordance with reason."

Arnn asks the reader to "Look at our government today.  Is the bureaucracy politically impartial?  Is it efficient and rational, as if staffed by angels?  Or is it politically motivated and massively self-interested?"  The article is seven pages long and very interesting.  I found the entire article here.  

Larry P. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, a private institution that does not accept any public money.  It has been "Pursuing Truth" and "Defending Liberty since 1844."  Imprimis is its monthly publication and always very interesting.  I encourage you to sign up for this publication.

Hillsdale College requires all its students to "complete a one-semester course on the United States Constitution as part of their core requirements."  They are now offering "all citizens" "the opportunity to study with the same Hillsdale professors."  A 10-week online course entitled "Constitution 101 "The Meaning and History of the Constitution" begins February 20, 2012.  You can register for this course with no charge here.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mrs. Button Gwinnett

                    There is very little known about Mrs. Button Gwinnett, wife of the signer of the Declaration of Independence.  She was married and had children when she emigrated from Bristol, England, to South Carolina with her husband in 1770.  The Gwinnett family lived for two years in Charleston where they owned a mercantile business.  They sold the business and purchased land on St. Catharine Island in Georgia.  The land included "a stock of horses, cattle, and hogs, some lumber and a plantation boat."  Mr. and Mrs. Gwinnett and their children lived on the island.

                    Mrs. Gwinnett was apparently with her husband when he transferred his loyalty for "natural Tory principles" and joined the patriot cause of liberty.  She apparently supported him in his phenomenal rise in politics as well as supported him when his fall from popularity happened.  She probably tried to comfort him when he made enemies as she was with him after he was fatally shot by Colonel Lachlan McIntosh in a dual.  "All we know of Mrs. Gwinnett at that time is that she nursed him during the twelve days he lay groaning with his shattered hip, and then she and her children drop out of all knowledge, and the chroniclers of the day who mention her simply say that `Mrs. Gwinnett and her children soon followed him.'"  

                    Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 272-275.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Renewed by Christmas

                    Do you feel like a new person, ready to face the future with faith and joy?  Does the spirit of Christmas fill your soul to the point that you cannot contain it all?  As I write this post, I am filled to overflowing with joy and contentment!  My celebration of Christmas was complete and wonderful.

                    My husband and I invited family and friends into our home to share our Christmas Eve festivities.  We faced several problems before our company arrived:  We discovered water where it should not have been.  The printer ran out of ink just when I needed it most.  The ham had not finished cooking when I thought it should have been.  In spite of these problems, we had a wonderful evening celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and enjoying the special spirit that children bring to Christmas.  The dinner was delicious, and the children brought rich excitement into the evening as we acted out the Nativity.  The evening was topped by singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and eating angel food cake.

                    Celebrating Christmas Day on Sunday is extra special.  We had a perfect day!  We attended sacrament meeting with many of our brothers and sisters in the gospel.  In addition to partaking of the sacrament and renewing covenants with God, we enjoyed the program of music and the spoken word.  I was particularly touched by the beautiful solo rendition of "Silent Night."  The speaker reminded us that as we prepare for Christmas we need to not only think about the birth of the Christ Child but to think about what His birth means to us personally.  Our journey to Christ is not physical like the shepherds and wise men, but it is spiritual and emotional.  The words "come unto Christ" are an invitation to feel of His spirit. 

                    Our wonderful Christmas celebration continued at the home of our youngest son and his family where we feasted on leftovers and pumpkin chiffon pie before opening our Christmas gifts.  Our gifts were simple and mostly inexpensive, but we felt as though the windows of heaven had opened to us.  My favorite gifts were family pictures and individual pictures of my grandchildren. 

I appreciated very much the gift given by one of our daughters.  I told the children years ago that they didn't need to purchase items for us because we don't need very much and we can go purchase whatever we need or want.  I suggested that they use whatever money they wanted to spend on us to do good in the world.  I felt great joy as my daughter told me how she and her family - along with some other people - gave small gifts for the Twelve Days of Christmas to a co-worker who was struggling and the comments of the co-worker on Facebook.  It was one of the best gifts I have ever received.  My day was complete by calls from the children away from home.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Button Gwinnett

                    Button Gwinnett, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1732 in England.  His parents had limited finances but were able to give Button a good basic education.  Button became an apprentice to a merchant in Bristol.  After he completed his apprenticeship, he married and opened his own business.  He found America attractive due to the "promises of wealth and distinction."  He emigrated from England and settled in Charleston, South Carolina in 1770.  He opened a business in Charleston but sold it two years later.  He "purchased large tracts of land on St. Catharine's Island" off the coast of Georgia; he also purchased slaves and "devoted himself to agricultural pursuits."

                    Mr. Gwinnett cautiously favored the colonists' opposition to the oppressive rule of England, but he considered the move for independence to be "highly problematical."  When Georgia considered joining the patriot cause of liberty in 1774, he was unconvinced of the wisdom of the idea, considering it "fraught with danger and many evils."  Dr. Lyman Hall and other supporters of the cause convinced Mr. Gwinnett that "some powerful movement was necessary."  He eventually became a firm supporter for the Americans' cause.  He became "very popular" with the people because of his "cultivated mind and superior talents."

                    When Mr. Gwinnett openly supported the cause of liberty in 1775, he was elected to represent the St. John parish as a delegate to the Continental Congress.  In the early stages of the revolution, the patriots of St. John parish were the only Georgians to be actively involved.  Georgia as a whole refused to send delegates to the Continental Congress of 1774; therefore, the St. John parish separated themselves and sent their own delegate.  By 1776 the patriot fever had spread throughout Georgia, and Mr. Gwinnett was elected to be Georgia's representative in the Continental Congress.  There he followed the instruction of the General Assembly as well as his own personal feelings and voted for the Declaration of Independence, which he signed on August 2, 1776.

                    Mr. Gwinnett continued as a member of the Continental Congress until 1777 when he became a member of the Convention charged with writing a constitution for Georgia.  Soon after the State Convention adjourned he was elected to be the president of the council due to the death of Mr. Bullock, the previous president.  Mr. Gwinnett enjoyed the "civil honors" that were "rapidly and lavishly bestowed upon him" and decided that he also wanted military honors.  Colonel M'Intosh, "a man highly esteemed for his manly bearing and courageous disposition," and Mr. Gwinnett were competitors for the office of Brigadier General.  When Colonel M'Intosh was selected for the office, Mr. Gwinnett began to look upon him as his personal enemy.  Whereas the two men had previously been friends, the breach between them "constantly widened" due to the "continued irritations which Mr. Gwinnett experienced at the hands of Colonel M'Intosh and his friends."

                    "… native born Englishmen were in the habit of regarding the colonists as inferior to themselves, and they were apt to assume a bearing toward them highly offensive.  In some degree Mr. Gwinnett was obnoxious to this charge, and he looked upon his rapid elevation in public life, as an acknowledgment of his superiority.  These feelings were too thinly covered not to be seen by the people when he was president of the council, and it soon engendered among the natives a jealousy that was fully reciprocated by him.  This was doubtless the prime cause of [his] difficulties…."

                    The irritations and his "thoughts of having his fair fame tarnished in the eyes of the community" drove him to consider challenging Colonel M'Intosh to "single combat."  Both men were injured with the first pistol shots, and Mr. Gwinnett died from his wounds in the prime of his life at age forty-five.  "He could well have said, in the language of the lamented Hamilton, when fatally wounded in a duel by Aaron Burr:  `I have lived like a man, but I die like a fool.'"

                    Mrs. Button Gwinnett nursed her husband for twelve days as he suffered with a shattered hip.  Mr. and Mrs. Gwinnett had several children, but apparently none of them survived for long after Button died.

                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 227-229.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Necessary and Proper Laws

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.18:  "The Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

                    This provision is known as the "necessary and proper clause" or the "elastic clause," and it basically gives Congress the power and authority to pass any other laws necessary to governing by the United States Constitution.  The Founders felt this provision was "necessary and proper" to the new government, but they also made sure that people understood their intent.  This clause is meant to facilitate proper governing, not to delegate other powers, and its authority extends only as far as the enumerated power given to Congress.

                    "At the Constitutional Convention, the Committee of Detail took the Convention's resolutions on national legislative authority and particularized them into a series of enumerated powers.  This originated the principle of enumerated powers, under which federal law can govern only as to matters within the terms of some power granting clause of the Constitution.  By including the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Framers set the criterion for laws that, even if they are not within the terms of other grants, serve to make other federal powers effective….
"It should be emphasized, however that the Necessary and Proper Clause authorizes Congress to enact laws that are `appropriate' and plainly adapted for carrying into execution Congress's enumerated powers; it does not authorize Congress to enact any law that Congress thinks is `reasonable.'  …
"The Necessary and Proper Clause does not confer general authority over a matter simply because its regulation in some respects might serve an enumerated-power end; it only supports the particular regulations that have such an effect…." (See David Engdahl, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p 146.)

W. Cleon Skousen quoted James Madison that "Without the substance of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead letter….
"Had the convention attempted a positive enumeration of the powers necessary and proper for carrying their other powers into effect, the attempt would have involved a complete digest of laws on every subject to which the Constitution relates…." (The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p 462).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Life of Christ

                    The life of Jesus Christ did not begin or end on earth.  Like you and I, He lived with Heavenly Father in the spirit world.  While we were in the spirit world, or the premortal world, Jesus Christ promised that He would come to earth and be the Savior of all mankind.  Every person who has come or will come to earth is dependent on Jesus Christ fulfilling His promise.  His mission as the Savior was one of the crucial pillars of the plan of salvation, and, without Him, the plan would fail.  His mission was so important that all of the prophets from Adam to Christ testified that He would come (see Acts 10:43).  Every prophet since Christ has testified that He did come.  In order to faithfully follow Christ throughout our lives, we need to study and learn about His life.

                    Many of the prophets prophesied of Christ.  Adam knew that the Savior would be known as Jesus Christ (Moses 6:51-52).  Enoch, Noah, Moses, Isaiah, Nephi and King Benjamin all foresaw the Savior's life, ministry, and sufferings (see Moses 1:11; 7:55-56; 8:23-24; Isaiah 53:3-7; 1 Nephi 11:21; Mosiah 3:5-8).

                    Information about the birth and life of the Savior can be found in the scriptures, particularly Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament.  More information about Christ and His teachings can be found in the Book of Mormon.  From the scriptures we learn that Jesus was born of Mary, a beautiful virgin who was engaged to marry Joseph when an angel appeared to her.  The angel told Mary that she had been selected to be the mother of the Son of God.  Mary asked how that would be possible (see Luke 1:34).  The angel explained to her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:  therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).  Heavenly Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ.  
Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of an immortal Father and a mortal mother.  That is the reason that He is known as the Only Begotten Son.  From his Father, Jesus inherited divine powers.  From his mother, He inherited mortality and was subject to pain, fatigue, hunger, thirst, and death.  No one had the power to kill Jesus Christ unless He was willing to die.  He had power over life and death.  He had the power to give up His life, and He had the power to take up His body again after dying.  (See John 10:17-18.)

                    Mary and Joseph guided Jesus, and He grew as other children do.  He loved and obeyed the truth.  From the time of his youth, Jesus made good choices and obeyed all that Heavenly Father required Him to do.  (See Luke 2:40; Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-14.) 

                    An incident in Jerusalem demonstrates that Jesus, by age twelve, had some understanding that He was on earth to do the will of His Father.  He went with His family to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover.  When they started on their trip home, His parents discovered that He was not in the group and returned to Jerusalem to find Him.  They searched for Him for three days before they found Him in the temple "sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him, and asking him questions" (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46).  "And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:47).

                    Joseph and Mary were of course relieved to find Him.  When Mary asked Him why He had treated "thy father and I" as He did, He answered, "Wist ye not that I must be about my [Heavenly] Father's business?" (Luke 2:48-49).  Jesus understood that His mission was to do the will of His Heavenly Father.  He declared, "… I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things…  I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:28-29).

                    When Jesus was thirty years old, He went to the Jordan River to find John the Baptist and asked John to baptize Him in order "to fulfil all righteousness."  John recognized that Jesus was greater than he, but he baptized the Savior, immersing Him completely in the water.  Then he heard the Father speaking from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  The Holy Ghost descended, as shown by the sign of the dove.  (See Matthew 3:13-17.)

                    Soon after His baptism, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights to be with God. After this period of fasting was over, Satan tried to tempt Jesus, and Jesus resisted all of Satan's temptations and commanded Satan to leave.  (See Matthew 4:1-11.)  Jesus Christ was sinless, the only perfect person to ever live on earth.  (See Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22.)

                    Jesus' mission on earth consisted of several different responsibilities.  Among those duties were the responsibilities to teach us how to love and serve each other, to organize the only true church on earth, to save us from death, and to redeem our souls from sin.  Jesus taught us how to live by both His words and His example.  He taught that there were two great commandments:  The first is to love God with all our heart, mind and strength; and the second is to love others as we love ourselves.  (See Matthew 22:36-39.)  He showed us by His life how we should obey these two commandments.  He demonstrated His love for God by trusting Him and by being obedient to Him.  He showed His love for others by helping them to meet their physical and spiritual needs.

                    Jesus spent His life serving others:  curing people of diseases, causing the deaf to hear, the blind to see and the lame to walk.  When He miraculously fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes (see Matthew 14:14-21), He demonstrated that we are to help the hungry, needy, cold or lonely all that we can.  He taught by His words and actions that we serve God by helping God's children.  (See Matthew 25:35-46.)

                    Jesus loved people with all His heart.  He wept with compassion for others.  He loved little children, the elderly, the simple people who had faith in Him.  He loved the sinners and taught them to repent.  He loved those who sinned against Him and didn't repent.  Even as He hung on the cross, He pleaded, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."  Jesus taught us to "love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

                    Another part of Christ's mission on earth was to organize His Church.  He taught the people, and He chose and ordained His Twelve Apostles.  He gave them the authority to act in His name and to do the works they had seen Him do.  They were to testify of Christ and to teach, baptize and perform other ordinances in His name and with His authority.  After the death of Christ, the Apostles carried on His work until the people grew so wicked that they killed the Apostles.

                    Jesus Christ redeemed us from our sins and saved us from death.  Jesus was condemned to death because He had testified that He was the Son of God.  In preparation for the final events of His life, Jesus met with His Apostles in an upper room and introduced the sacrament to them.  They sang a hymn and then went to a garden called Gethsemane.  He was weighed down with much sorrow and wept as He prayed.  He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:  nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39).  Jesus described His suffering in a revelation to Joseph Smith, saying that it caused Him "to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18).

                    The next day Christ was beaten, humiliated, and spit upon.  He was forced to carry His own cross and then was lifted up and nailed to it.  While Jesus was suffering on the cross, the Father withdrew from Him, allowing Christ to finish suffering the penalty for the sins of all mankind and to have complete victory over the forces of sin and death.  (See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd Ed [1916], 660-61.)

                    When He knew that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, the Savior exclaimed in a loud voice, "It is finished" (John 19:30).  Luke 23:46 records that He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."  He then bowed His noble head, voluntarily gave up His spirit and died.

                    A terrible earthquake shook the earth.  Some of the Savior's friends took His body to a borrowed mb where it lay until the third day.  During the time His body was in the tomb, His spirit went to the spirit world where He organized the missionary work needed to teach His gospel to other spirits. (See 1 Peter 3:18-20; Doctrine and Covenants 138.)  On the third day, Sunday, he returned to the tomb and took up His body again, becoming the first to overcome death and be resurrected.  Soon after His resurrection Jesus appeared to the Nephites on the American continent and established His Church there.  He taught the people and blessed them (3 Nephi 11 through 28).

                    Jesus' willingness and humility to suffer in Gethsemane and on the cross showed His great love for the Father and for us.  He fulfilled His part of the great plan of salvation that we might all receive the promised blessings.  Now the responsibility is ours.  In order to receive these blessings, we must put the Atonement of Jesus Christ into effect in our lives.  We must repent of our sins, love Christ with all our hearts and follow Him.

Friday, December 23, 2011

God's Gift to the World

                    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

                    God so loved His children that He made a plan for all of us to achieve our greatest potential as children of God.  He planned the creation of this earth.  He anticipated the Fall of Adam and Eve, and He made arrangements for a Savior to provide a way for the salvation of all His children.  The birth of this Savior, even Jesus Christ, is the first gift of Christmas.  The willingness and obedience of the Savior in atoning for the sins of all mankind is the second gift of Christmas.

                    Father in Heaven, through His Son, Jesus Christ, let ancient prophets know that the Savior would be coming to earth as a Baby.  Isaiah was a "prophet in Jerusalem during forty years (740-701 B.C.).  He had great religious and political influence during the reign of Hezekiah, whose chief advisor he was."  (See Bible Dictionary, p 707.)  Isaiah wrote, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

                    Isaiah also wrote, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

                    Micah was another ancient prophet during the reign of Hezekiah, and he prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.  In fact, "Micah is the only book of the prophets to name Bethlehem as the place of the anticipated Messiah's birth."  (See Bible Dictionary, p 732.)  Micah wrote, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

                    An ancient prophet named Lehi lived in Jerusalem where he received a vision.  He was one of many prophets who told the people to repent or the great city of Jerusalem would be destroyed.  In the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, Lehi left Jerusalem with his family and traveled to the American continents.  His son, Nephi wrote [between 600 and 591 B.C.], "Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews - even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world" (1 Nephi 10:4). 

Concerning the time of the birth of Christ, Nephi also wrote [between 588 and 570 B.C.], "And behold he cometh, according to the words of the angel, in six hundred years from the time my father left Jerusalem" (1 Nephi 19:8).

Nephi wrote of the event a third time [between 559 and 545 B.C.], "For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (2 Nephi 25:19).

                    Lehi received a vision of the tree of life, and Nephi, his son, wanted to see what his father had seen.  As he pondered upon the words of his father, he received his own vision - a "tour" through the life of the Savior.  "And it came to pass that he said unto me:  Look! …
                    "And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities.  And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.
                    "And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me:  Nephi, what beholdest thou?
                    "And I said unto him:  A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
                    "And he said unto me:  Knowest thou the condescension of God?
                    "And I said unto him:  I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
                    "And he said unto me:  Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
                    "And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying:  Look!
                    "And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
                    "And the Angel said unto me:  Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!  …. (1 Nephi 11:12-21).
                    Nephi was a great prophet who taught his people about Jesus Christ.  "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26).

                    Nephi taught his people what he learned in his "tour" of the life of Christ:  "And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; …." (2 Nephi 26:3).  Nephi also told his people that after Christ was resurrected, "he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do" (2 Nephi 26:1).

                    Alma was another prophet on the American continent who prophesied of the birth of Christ:  "And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God" (Alma 7:10).

                    Still another prophet, Samuel the Lamanite, prophesied of the birth of the Savior:  "… and behold, he said unto them:  Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.
                    "And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.
                    "Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
                    "And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
                    "And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.
                    "And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth" (Helaman 14:2-7).

                    Five years passed away, and the wicked people were issuing death threats to all the believers.  Another prophet by the name of Nephi saw the great wickedness and bowed himself in mighty prayer.  "And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
                    "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets….
                    "And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day.  And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.
                    "And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.
                    "And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word" (3 Nephi 1:10-13, 19-21).

                    While the Nephites and the Lamanites upon the American continent experienced the day and night and day with no darkness and saw the new star in the sky, the actual birth of the Savior took place in the Old World.

                    Luke, Chapter 1, tells us that the Angel Gabriel delivered two very important messages.  Gabriel told Zacharias, while he was executing his duties in the office of priest, that his wife, Elizabeth, would conceive a baby in her old age and the baby would be called John.  John grew up to be John the Baptist. 

Six months after his visit to Zacharias, Gabriel visited Mary, a young engaged women living in Nazareth.  Gabriel greeted Mary with "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women."  Mary was frightened at the appearance of an angel, but she listened to his message.  She replied, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."  [We can just imagine what Joseph thought when he recognized that Mary was with child.  He loved Mary but was hesitant to marry her; he decided to "put her away" "privily."  Before he could do this, Gabriel visited him in a dream and told him that it was okay to marry Mary.]

Luke, Chapter 2, tells us that Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that "all the world" or at least all his subjects should return to his own city to be taxed.  "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
"To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child."  While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem paying their taxes, the time came for the birth of her child.  Joseph could not find room in any inn and took Mary into a stable:  "And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; …"

About the same time, an angel of the Lord appeared to some shepherds who were "keeping watch over their flock by night."  The angel said to them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
"And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

The shepherds went with haste into Bethlehem "and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."  The shepherds returned to their flocks "glorifying and praising God" for the wonderful tidings they had both seen and heard. 

Meanwhile wise men in the east saw the new star in the sky and followed the star into Jerusalem where they visited with King Herod.  They asked Herod, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" (Matthew 2:1-2).

King Herod had no knowledge of the new King and questioned his chief priests and scribes who told him of the prophecies that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem.  Herod returned to the wise men, asked them when the star appeared, and sent them out to find the Christ Child.  The star "went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
"And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
"And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
"When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
"And was there until the death of Herod:…..
"But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
"Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
"And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel….

Joseph was still concerned because Archelaus reigned in place of his father Herod:  "notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew, chapter 2, italics added).

I love the story of the Nativity - the story of the birth of the Son of God to a mortal woman named Mary.  It shows in so many ways that our Father in Heaven is mindful of each of us.  God knew Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph well enough to call them by name and to guide them through their special missions.  He sent an angel to the shepherds in order that they could be witnesses of the birth of Christ.  He placed the new star in the sky, which led the wise men to the house where the young child lived with Mary and Joseph.  They not only became witnesses of the Christ Child, but they also provided the financial means for Joseph to care for Mary and the Baby until he could return to Israel.  God then warned both the wise men and Joseph that Herod would cause trouble and led them away from Bethlehem.

                    From the time my oldest children were very young, our family has acted out the Nativity on Christmas Eve.  When we don't have enough family members to act the various roles, we invite other families with children to come and share the evening with us.  I encourage you to read the Nativity story in Luke 1-2 and Matthew 2 and/or use those scriptures (or my post) to act out the story.  I also encourage you to watch the following video about the birth of Jesus Christ - "A Gift to the World."  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Prophet Joseph Smith

                    The name of Joseph Smith is both loved and hated.  The Prophet Joseph Smith is loved by the millions who believe that he spoke with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is hated by those who do not believe he was a prophet.  Under the direction of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became its first President.  Several other churches consider him to be their founder and consider him to be a prophet of God.

                    Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon Vermont.  He was the fourth child of his parents, Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith.  The family grew and eventually included six sons and three daughters.  Before young Joseph was eleven years old, the family moved from Vermont to Palmyra, New York.  Four years later the family was farming close to Manchester, New York.

                    When Joseph was fourteen, there was an unusual excitement about religion.  Joseph and other members of the family listened to many sermons from several different preachers.  Each preacher claimed to have the truth, but they were all teaching different doctrines.  Joseph was caught up in the excitement and wanted to join one of the churches, but he was confused as to which church he should join.  While studying the scriptures one day, he read, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5).  Joseph was aware that if anyone needed wisdom, he did, and he decided that he would ask God.

                    On a beautiful, clear morning in the early spring in 1820, Joseph went to a nearby wooded area to offer his first vocal prayer.  After some early difficulties, he called upon God for help.  He saw a pillar of light, brighter than the sun, in the air above him.  The light gradually descended until it fell upon Joseph.

                    "When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - `This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!'"  (Joseph Smith - History 1:17).

                    When Joseph recovered from his shock, he remembered the reason he had gone to the grove to pray.  He asked the Personages which of all the sects he should join.  He was answered that he must not join any of them because all of them were teaching false doctrine.

                    Joseph shared his vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ with his family and other people.  The members of his family believed him and accepted his report as the truth.  When he told a preacher of his experience, the preacher ridiculed him, saying it was of the devil.  Soon after his conversation with the preacher, Joseph became the object of great persecution.  No amount of persecution or hatred could cause Joseph to disbelieve.  "… I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me ….  For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God and come under condemnation" (Joseph Smith - History 1:25). 
                   Joseph prayed and received an answer from God.  He did not join any of the churches and continued to be persecuted.  On September 21, 1823, Joseph was again praying for direction when he received another vision.  This time he was visited by an angel named Moroni.  Moroni quoted scriptures and taught him many things before disappearing into heaven in a conduit of light.  Moroni returned two additional times during the night and again the next morning.  The reason for Moroni's visits was to instruct Joseph about a record written upon gold plates and recorded by the ancient inhabitants of the American continent.  Moroni told Joseph that he would have to wait to receive the plates until the time was right.  When it was the right time, Joseph would receive the plates for the purpose of translating the information written on them.

                    Many things happened in the next few years:  Joseph's oldest brother, Alvin, died.  Joseph married Emma Hale.  Persecution continued as did the necessity for laboring to earn a living.  During this same period of time, Moroni continued to instruct Joseph.  At length the time to receive the plates arrived on September 22, 1827.  Amidst increased persecution and several moves, Joseph translated the necessary information from the plates and returned the plates to Moroni.

                    "The ancient record thus brought forth from the earth as the voice of a people speaking from the dust, and translated into modern speech by the gift and power of God as attested by Divine affirmation, was first published to the world in the year 1830 as THE BOOK OF MORMON" (Final paragraph of "Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith" in the Book of Mormon

                    Concerning this record, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" ("Introduction" in Book of Mormon).

                    I have read the Book of Mormon many times myself and asked God if it is His word.  I know the Book of Mormon to be true because the Holy Ghost bore witness to me that it is true; therefore, I also know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God.  Millions of other people testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. An Apostle of Jesus Christ testifies of Joseph Smith here.  

                    Joseph, his family, and his followers continued to be persecuted.  Joseph with five associates organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830.  He continued to be an instrument in the hands of God.  He lived as a prophet of God for all of his remaining days on earth.  He died as a prophet, along with his brother Hyrum, on June 27, 1844, about 5:00 P.M., when an armed mob with blackened faces broke into the Carthage, Illinois, jail and killed them.  Each man was shot four different times.

                    John Taylor, whom became the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote the following:  "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it….  He lived great and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and … has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood…." (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3).