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, September 19, 2014

Sacred Duty

                We must all understand that strengthening families is the sacred duty of all of us.  The breakdown in our society, such as fatherless homes, children running in gangs, lack of respect for authority figures, etc., is the result of lack of strength in our families. 

                Did you know there is “a nationally and internationally recognized parenting and family strengthening program for high-risk and regular families”?  The program is “Strengthening Families Program (SFP).  It “is an evidence-based family skills training program found to significantly reduce problem behaviors, delinquency, and alcohol and drug abuse in children and to improve social competencies and school performance.  Child maltreatment also decreases as parents strengthen bonds with their children and learn more effective parenting skills.”  You can learn more about this program here.

                If you are interested in the Lord’s program for strengthening families, I suggest that you read and/or listen to a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  It can be found here.  

                Elder Hales explained in his talk why strengthening “families is our sacred duty as parents, children, extended family members, leaders, teachers and individual members of the Church” and suggested some things we can do to strengthen families.
                “The importance of spiritually strengthening families is taught clearly in the scriptures.  Father Adam and Mother Eve taught their sons and daughters the gospel.  The sacrifices of Abel were accepted by the Lord, whom he loved.  Cain, on the other hand, `loved Satan more than God’ and committed serious sins.  Adam and Eve `mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren,’ but they never ceased to teach their children the gospel (see Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:12, 18, 20, 27; Moses 6:1, 58).
                “We must understand that each of our children comes with varying gifts and talents.  Some, like Abel, seem to be given gifts of faith at birth.  Others struggle with every decision they make.  As parents, we should never let the searching and struggling of our children make us waver or lose our faith in the Lord.”

                In February 1999 the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a call to all parents “to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church.  The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.”
                In the letter, “the First Presidency taught that by teaching and rearing children in gospel principles parents can protect their families from corrosive elements.  They further counseled parents and children `to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.  However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform’ (First Presidency letter, 11 Feb. 1999; cited in Church News, 27 Feb. 1999, 3; quoted by Elder Hales).

                Elder Hales stated that the “key to strengthening our families is having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes.  The goal of our families is to be on the strait and narrow path.”  He then listed many things families can do “within the walls of our homes to strengthen the family” and ideas to help identify problem areas.  A few of his ideas are as follow:

                (1)   “Make our homes a safe place where each family member feels love and a sense of belonging….”

                (2)   “Remember, `a soft answer turneth away wrath’ (Proverbs 15:1)….

                (3)   “Spend individual time with our children, letting them choose the activity and the subject of conversation.  Block out distractions.

                (4)   “Encourage our children’s private religious behavior, such as personal prayer, personal scripture study, and fasting for specific needs.  Measure their spiritual growth by observing their demeanor, language, and conduct toward others.”

                (5)   “Pray daily with our children.”

                (6)   “Read the scriptures together….  Read the words of the living prophets and other inspiring articles” for their age groups.

                (7)   “Fill our homes with the sound of worthy music as we sing together from the hymnbook and the Children’s Songbook.

                (8)   “Hold family home evening every week….”

                (9)   “Hold family councils to discuss family plans and concerns” either as a group or individually.”   

                (10) “Eat together when possible and have meaningful mealtime discussions.”

                (11) “Work together as a family….”

                (12) “Build family traditions.”

                Elder Hales listed many more ideas to strengthen families and then encouraged us to “listen to the prophet’s voice and set in order our own homes (Doctrine and Covenants 93:41-49).  The family is strengthened as we draw near to the Lord, and each member of the family is strengthened as we lift and strengthen and love and care for one another….
                “May we be able to welcome and maintain the Spirit of the Lord in our homes to strengthen our families….”

                I suggest that you try the Lord’s way first and save time.  The Lord knows what the problems are and how to solve them; He reveals this knowledge to prophets and apostles such as Elder Hales.  I know the Lord’s way works.  I know we can strengthen our families by bringing the Spirit of God into our homes and keeping Him there.

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