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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Religious Liberty

                Freedom of Religion is being attacked on several sides.  Hilary Clinton, Democrat presidential candidate, gave the keynote address at the 2015 Women in the World Summit in New York City last week.  She stated that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” in order for women to have access to “reproductive health care.” 

                “Yes, we’ve cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe child birth.  All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced.  Rights have to exist in practice not just paper.” 

                Clinton added, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will.  And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

                Glenn Beck said that Clinton “has gone further than any politician I’ve ever heard in my lifetime.  And as usual, there is so little coverage of it except here.  I’m actually not sure how many people know of it.  And if the American people know about it, I don’t ever know if they care anymore.”

                Another attack on Freedom of Religion could come if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.  Religious schools that teach marriage is the union of one man and one woman could lose their non-profit tax-exempt status if the Court changes the definition of marriage.

                During oral arguments at the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015, Justice Samuel Alito asked the Obama administration’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether religious schools would lose their non-profit tax status if they stood for traditional marriage.  Verrilli answered, “It’s certainly going to be an issue.  I don’t deny that.  I don’t deny that, Justice Alito.  It is going to be an issue.”

                Ryan T. Anderson of The Heritage Foundation stated that there should be no issue with it.  “Citizens and organizations that continue to believe the truth about marriage should not be penalized by the government.  

                “Even if the Court says that all 50 states have to recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage, there is no reason why the government should coerce or penalize institutions of civil society that simply ask to be free – without penalty – to continue to operate in accordance with the belief that marriage is a union of husband and wife.”

                Anderson explained that Justice Alito asked his question after Justice Antonin Scalia “asked about the religious liberty concerns if the Supreme Court creates a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  When the lawyer replied that we hadn’t seen many religious liberty violations in the states that have democratically redefined marriage, Scalia pounced:  that’s his point.  Here’s how he explained it: `They are laws. They are not constitutional requirements.  That was the whole point of my question.  If you let the states do it, you can make an exception.  … You can’t do that once it is a constitutional proscription.’”

                Anderson concluded, “This highlights another reason why it would be wise for the Supreme Court to not disregard the constitutional authority of states to make marriage policy.  Not only is there nothing in the Constitution that requires the redefinition of marriage, but a ruling saying that there was could create unimaginable religious liberty violations.  These situations are best handled democratically.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Betrayal Papers

                I reviewed the first five installments of The Betrayal Papers about a month ago.  This post will review the sixth and final installment.  The Betrayal Papers names people and organizations that its authors believe to be part of secret combinations intent on destroying the government of the United States. 

                The Betrayal Papers were collaborative by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, which includes:  Andrea Shea King, Dr. Ashrf Ramelah, Benjamin Smith, Brent Parrish, Charles Ortel, Denise Simon, Dick Manasseri, Gary Kubiak, Gates of Vienna, IQ al Rassooli, Jeff Bayard, Leslie Burt, Marcus Kohan, General Paul E. Vallely, Regina Thomason, Scott Smith, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, Colonel Thomas Snodgrass, Trever Loudon, Wallace Bruschweiler, and William Palumbo.

                The authors apparently believe that traitors have taken over our government and compared the state of our nation to the Roman Empire:  “Rome’s greatest statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero, witnessed the end of the Roman Republic.  Before paying with his life, he spoke to the Roman Senate:

                “`A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious.  But it cannot survive treason from within.  An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.  But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.  For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.  He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.  A murderer is less to fear.”

                “When a country is captured by traitors who write its laws and punish dissenters, it can rightly be regarded as a colony.  The people can likewise be regarded not as citizens, but as subjects, or slaves.
                “In 1776, the Colonists fatefully decided to `dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.’
                “The situation we face today is imminently dangerous.  We are threatened with the loss of our God-given freedoms.  Though the cost may be high, the American people can still secure the blessings of liberty.  We must.  We owe it to posterity.”

                The sixth installment connects Barack Obama, Ralm Emanuel. Eric Holder, David Axlerod, and Maurice Strong with the global Left, Islamic “civilization jihad,” and the Communist mafia.  Their motives:  deception, greed, and power.

                Ralm Emanuel was Chief-of-Staff for Barack Obama but returned to Chicago after clashing with Valerie Jarrett.  Emanuel worked for Bill Clinton as well as Obama and kept the “lid on a number of Chicago-centric scandals.”  He was part of Hillarycare, the predecessor to Obamacare.  He was on the Freddie Mac board of directors during the housing scandal.  He has two influential  brothers:  Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (main architect of the Obamacare legislation and the effort to get it passed and most associated with “death panels”) and Ari Emanual (a Hollywood “super-agent” representing liberal actors such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon).  Ralm Emanuel was supported by the Obama administration in both his campaigns for mayor of Chicago.

                Eric Holder served as Attorney General in the Obama administration; as head of the Department of Justice, he “elevated racial agitation to a high art, political correctness to an Orwellian contact sport, and gun control into a religion.  His fingerprints are all over the administration’s various scandals, from Fast and Furious to Ferguson.  Like other administration officials, Holder’s history and actions portray a man dedicated to the overthrowing Constitutional government.”

                David Axelrod is the “son of two Communists” or “leftist Democrats.”  “Every tyrant as his propagandist.  The propagandist spins lies form half-truths, and the bigger the lies, the better.  For candidate Obama to get elected to political office, indeed for Obama to rise to the Presidency so quickly and without any qualifying credentials, he needed the expert public relations advice of a seasoned spin-doctor and manipulator of public opinion.  This was Axelrod.”

                Maurice Strong is the Canadian billionaire at the center of the United Nation’s plan for `sustainable development.’  He was a leading proponent of Agenda 21.   He is also an oil tycoon with connections to governments, George Soros, and the United Nations and uses these connections to “advance an international regulatory regime that would practically end human freedom as we know it.”  One of his partners in Agenda 21 is George Soros “who has donated millions to implement the agenda on local and municipal levels.”

                All the “players” are part of the “Chicago Connection”.  Organizations involved in the connection are (1) ACORN (a progressive community organizing group – players involved:  Obamas, Clintons, Valerie Jarrett, Tony Rezko); (2) Chicago Red City (Communist central – players involved:  Barack Obama, Frank Marshall Davis, Valerie Jarrett, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, David Axelrod); (3) The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) (a carbon credit exchange – players involved:  Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Al Gore, George Soros, John Podesta, John Ayers [brother of Bill], Maurice Strong, Nadhmi Auchi, Henry Paulson, ShoreBank [major shareholder], Franklin Raines [disgraced former Fannie Mae head], Goldman Sachs); (4) The Cult of Subud (problems in Middle East – players:  Barack Obama, Stanley Ann Dunham, George Soros, Maurice Strong, Loretta Fuddy; Fuddy was killed in December 2013 when her plane went down off the coast of Hawaii, the only fatality).

                The authors concluded that the government of the United States is corrupt and used an ancient proverb to illustrate their conclusion:  “The fish rots from the head.”  “The people, organizations, and schemes mentioned above and throughout this series of articles are not important.  They have been named here only to establish their culpability in the attempted and (thus far) successful destruction of the country.

                “Obama is the head of this rotten fish.  He is, as Winston Churchill put it, `a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.’  With each investigation into his personal history, only more questions are unearthed.  He appears to be a cutout character rather than a man with a true life history.  The only consistency in his story is offered by his associates, all of whom are subversives, many whom are evil.”

                On one side of Obama is the Muslim Brotherhood:  “the Obama administration has enabled these terrorists to overthrow friendly governments and form jihadi armies,” making the Middle East “more volatile than it has been in a century.”  Today we have a crisis in diplomacy with neither our enemies or our allies believing Obama.

                A “powerful financial cartel led by George Soros” stands on the other side of Obama.  “The cartel’s operations are thoroughly intertwined with the Muslim Brotherhood to such an extent that they support and fund global Islamic jihad….  These self-appointed masters of the universe purchase and then use sovereign countries for their own gain; the United States is their latest and crowning acquisition.

                “These two sides have prevented any meaningful economic recovery.  A nation’s government is supposed to strengthen the country, but Obama has intentionally done the opposite.  We are historically weak right now, while our enemies grow stronger.

                “A fifth column is operating the government through regulation of the (formerly) private sector, and deep penetration of the intelligence and security services.  Even the venerable, powerful, and highly-respected U.S. military has been hobbled by these criminals.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Case

                The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States concluded two and a half hours of oral arguments on same-sex marriage.  Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation spent the morning in the courtroom.  He shared with The Daily Signal his thoughts and feelings on the debate and the questions asked by Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Ryan said there were good arguments on both sides but believes Justice Kennedy is leery about changing “millennial old” traditional marriage to same sex marriage based on ten years of experience.  He even questioned the social science about same sex marriage.  Ryan believes Justice Kennedy’s questions are a good sign of how he will vote. 
                There were over 150 briefs filed with the Supreme Court in this case.  Gene Schaerr listed some of the highlights of points made in the amicus briefs supporting man-woman marriage laws that he hoped the Court considered.  (1) More than 50 million Americans voted to keep the definition of marriage to one man and one woman – 61 percent of those who voted on the issue. 
(2) Traditional marriage – the union of a man and a woman – predates our nation. 
(3) There is a difference between the laws recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman and the laws that made interracial marriages illegal. 
(4) Man-woman marriage laws do not infringe on the liberty of gay and lesbian Americans because they remain free to have intimate relations and start families with whomever they choose. 
(5) Redefining marriage as “an any two adults” would “erode or erase many important social norms that flow from man-woman marriage.” 
(6) “Marriage is like an ecosystem that nurtures and protects a particular species:  alter the ecosystem and it likely will not support the species nearly as well, if at all.  Marriage is the social institution or ecosystem that society has long maintained to nurture man-woman marriages and children.” 
(7) Disrupting marriage norms would particularly disserve children and women from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.” 
(8) Only four studies done on the impact of changing the definition of marriage “have met social science’s methodological and data-related standards for drawing inferences about the population at large.  All four ultimately show that, compared to the acknowledged gold standard of family structures – being raised by one’s married biological mother and father – on average, children’s outcomes are not as good when raised by same-sex couples.”
(9) Man-woman marriage laws “satisfy the demands of the Constitution because they advance the states’ compelling interests in the welfare of children and their mothers.”
(10) “Redefining marriage would adversely affect First Amendment freedoms,” “threaten religious liberties” of people and groups that believe in traditional marriage, and “exacerbate the erosion of free speech rights of cultural dissidents.”
                Only time will tell if Justice Kennedy’s question indicate the Court took the above highlights into consideration before voting on the case.  We need to pray for the Justices that they will make the best decision for our nation.

Monday, April 27, 2015

William James

                William James was born on January 11, 1842, at the Astor House in New York City as well as into an independently wealthy and noted family.  His father, Henry James, Sr., was a Swendenborgian theologian who was “well acquainted with the literary and intellectual elites of his day.  The intellectual brilliance of James family milieu and the remarkable epistolary talents of several of its members have made them a subject of continuing interest to historians, biographers, and critics.

                James received his education on both sides of the Atlantic and became fluent in both German and French.  While he was a child, his family traveled Europe twice, and he eventually made thirteen trips to Europe.  His artistic talents were evident very early in his life; he became an apprentice in the studio of William Morris Hunt in Newport, Rhode Island.  Even with his abilities in the arts, he became more interested in science and enrolled at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University.

                Suffering from eye, back, stomach and skin ailments as a young adult, James was also tone deaf and suffered periods of depression.  Three siblings (William, Henry, and Alice James) all suffered from bouts of invalidism, but two younger brothers (Garth Wilkinson (Wilky) and Robertson (Bob) were healthy enough to fight in the Civil War.  Henry James became a prominent novelist, and Alice James became a diarist.

                According to his brother Henry James, William studied medicine at Harvard Medical School in 1864.  He accompanied Louis Agassiz on a scientific expedition up the Amazon River in the spring of 1865 but became ill with severe seasickness and mild smallpox, causing his trip to end.  In April 1967 he was so ill once again to interrupt his studies.  In November 1868 when he was 26 years old, William went to Germany in search of a cure.  While there, he began to publish some of his literary works. 

                In spite of all the interruptions, James received his Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree in June 1869; even though he had the degree, he never practiced medicine.  He had what he called “soul-sickness” and went through “an extended period of philosophical searching” in 1872 and felt healed.  In 1878 he married Alice Gibbens.  He eventually turned to philosophy and psychology, writing in 1902:  “I originally studied medicine in order to be a physiologist, but I drifted into psychology and philosophy from a sort of fatality.  I never had any philosophic instruction, the first lecture on psychology I ever heard being the first I ever gave.”

                “James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labelled him the `Father of American psychology.  Along with Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, he is considered to be one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology.  He also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism.  James’ work has influenced intellectuals such as Emile Durkheim, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Witttgenstein, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty.” 

                Williams James died on August 26, 1910, in Tamworth, New Hampshire, at the age of 68.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Congressional Sessions

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 2 of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.”  This provision states that Congress is required to meet together at least once each year and may select a different day of meeting other than January 3.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “There are always unforeseen circumstances which make it desirable to allow the Congress to adjust its opening session to an earlier or later time if necessary.  The possibility of war or other exigency might also make the change of date desirable.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 752.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Faith in Jesus Christ

                What is faith?  Why do we need to have faith?  Why is faith in Jesus Christ necessary?  Have you ever asked these questions or similar ones?  I hope I can answer your questions in this post.

                Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is first because all other principles of the gospel depend on one having faith in Jesus Christ.

                Let’s start at the beginning:  what is faith?  Faith is confidence in things that are not seen but are true.  The Apostle Paul taught, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  An ancient American prophet named Alma taught, “And now as I said concerning faith – faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Book of Mormon – Another Testimony of Jesus Christ, Alma 32:21).

                Would a person go to school to study and learn if he had no hope of gaining knowledge?  Would a farmer plant seeds if he had no hope of harvesting a crop?  Would anyone go to work day after day without hope of getting paid for the work?  These are all examples of having confidence in something unseen.

                There are many examples in the scriptures about being doing something because of faith.  Noah built an ark and saved his family from the Flood because he had faith (see Hebrews 11:7).  Others who exercised faith are:  Moses parting the Red Sea (see Hebrews 11:29), Elijah calling down fire from heaven (see 1 Kings 18:17-40), and Nephi building a ship to carry his family to a new land (see Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 17).  Another Nephi called for a famine (see Book of Mormon, Helaman 11:3-5); then he asked the Lord to end the famine (see Helaman 11:9-17).  Other acts of faith in the scriptures are calming seas, seeing visions, and receiving answers to prayers.  The scriptures teach that faith is a strong belief of truth within our souls that motivates us to do good.   This prompts a question of faith in who or what.

                In order to receive promised blessings, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul taught that “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).   Jacob, a prophet in ancient America, taught that men must have “… perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel [Jesus Christ], or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 9:23).

                We must have faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice in order to be motivated to repent of our sins and overcome temptations.  We must repent and become clean in order to enter the kingdom of God.  When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will also have faith in Heavenly Father.   When we have faith in the Father and the Son, we will also have faith in the Holy Ghost whom they send to us truth and to bring comfort to us.

                We can increase our faith in Jesus Christ by exercising our faith.  We exercise faith just like we develop any skill.  We learn to paint, play a musical instrument, paint, or cook by practicing.  We study, practice, and work to gain any skill, and we improve our skill at the same rate we “exercise” it.  Faith works the same way. 

                If we desire to have greater faith in Jesus Christ, we must work at it.  The Prophet Alma compared increasing faith to planting a seed:  “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
                “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. N Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves – it must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten y understanding….
                        Now behold, would not this increase your faith?” (Alma 32:27-29).

                We increase our faith by exercising it. One way to exercise faith is to pray to Heavenly Father and to talk with Him about our needs and desires.  Then we must work to get them.  Heavenly Father will not simply put a paycheck in one’s lap but will help one to prepare for a career and help find a position.

                A story illustrates how this works.  There was a man who wanted to study the scriptures, but he did not know how to read.  He prayed to Heavenly Father for help in learning how to read.  Eventually, a teacher came to the village, and the man asked the teacher to help him.  The man first learned the alphabet; he studied sounds and put them with the letters.  He learned to put letters together to form simple words.  The more he practiced, the more he learned.  He expressed his gratitude to Heavenly Father for sending the teacher to him and for helping him learn how to read.  The man was eventually able to read the scriptures; he increased in faith, knowledge, and humility and became a leader in his area.

                We can increase our faith by hearing and studying the word of God.  We can hear the word of God by attending sacrament meeting.  We can study His word by reading the scriptures. 

                Faith comes before miracles.  When we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, miracles happen – angels appear, gifts of the Spirit are given, prayers are answered.  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “When faith comes it brings … with it – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc.  All these appear when faith appears on the earth, and disappear when it disappears from the earth; for these are the effect of faith, … And he who possesses it, through it, obtain all necessary knowledge and wisdom, until he shall know God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has sent – whom to know is eternal life.  Amen.“  (Lectures on Faith, p. 69.)

                When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we also have hope in His promises – and charity comes along with faith and hope.  We must have faith, hope, and charity in order to become like God.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Money Principles

                Wise parents teach correct money principles to their children.  Children must be taught that money is a tool for their use. They must be taught to use money correctly.  When families use money honestly and correctly, they strengthen their communities and nations.

                Many believe that “money is the root of all evil,” but they are wrong.  According to the Apostle Paul, it is the “love of money” that is the “root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

                Money can be used to purchase many things, but other things are priceless.  We can buy weapons to wage war, but peace in the world cannot be purchased.  Money can buy political influence, but it cannot purchase respect or a clear conscience.  No matter how much money we have, we cannot lengthen the day.  Money cannot buy common sense, integrity, happiness, a happy family, good friends, or a good reputation.  A certain amount of money is necessary to live; however, once a person has that amount and some to spare, money adds nothing substantial to life.

                So, how do parents go about teaching proper money management?  Jenniev J. Poulson, Ph.D., and John R. Christiansen, PhD., have some answers for parents in their article entitled “Can Children Learn to Manage Money?”  The main ideas are as follows: 

                (1) In order for children to learn to manage money, they must have some money to manage.  “One study has shown that children who were given actual experience with money had more knowledge of money and its use than children who lacked such experience.”  Parents should not simply “dole” out money to their children.  “The child who earns his money, either in or out of the home, is learning more about what money means in terms of time and effort than the one who receives his money either as a dole or an allowance.”

                (2) The amount of a child’s income can be increased as responsibilities are increased.  “Getting a sum of money at a regular time and making it last is a way to teach the child to make choices and assume responsibility in money matters.  It helps the child to think of money in terms of the value of things it will buy, to save toward future goals, and to shop carefully.  This is the beginning of budgeting.  How much allowance a child should receive depends on his maturity and the financial circumstances of the family…. As a child matures and can accept greater responsibility, he should be given progressive increases in income and in the associated responsibilities.”

                (3) Sharing family financial planning with children can help them see how his allowance and responsibilities relate to the entire family.  “A child may be unreasonable in his demands on the family income if he has no knowledge of the family finances, whereas he may be very considerate if he does have this knowledge.  Early responsibility in family conferences will help in creating a positive attitude on the part of the child.”  Children should be aware of the important facts about family problems and obligations “as early as he can understand what it is all about, and this point is often reached earlier than we think.”

                (4) Wise parents allow their children to feel the consequences for spending their money unwisely.  If a child spends all their money before their next payday, parents can “loan” money to them but always with a definite payback time.

                (5) Parents should give their children opportunities to learn how to save money for something “concrete” rather than spending it all on treats or trifles that soon lose their attraction.  “When people save, most of them do so with a definite purpose in mind.”

                The authors concluded their article with this quote from an Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service publication of 1962:  “Positive guidance recognizes (1) that each child needs help in his own way, and (2) that guidance is parent-child teamwork.  It involves good coaching (suggestion but not dictation of every decision) and praise for worthy accomplishment, not `I told you so’ when decisions do not work out perfectly.  Avoid making comparisons with other children.”

                The late Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-94) of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles wrote an article entitled “One for the Money” and gave twelve “recommendations for improved personal and family financial management”:

                (1) “Teach family members early the importance of working and earning.”  This counsel is “basic to personal welfare.”

                (2) “Teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend.”  Telling children to “save your money” is much different than “save your money for a mission, a bicycle, a doll house, a trousseau, or a car.”  Unity in families comes from saving for “a common, jointly approved purpose.”

                (3) “Teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare.  Encourage fun projects, understandable to the children, that contribute to a family goal or joy” such as supporting a sibling on a mission.

                (4) “Teach family members that paying financial obligations promptly is part of integrity and honesty development.  Paying tithing promptly to Him who does not come to check up each month will teach us to be more honest with those physically closer at hand.”

                (5) “Learn to manage money before it manages you.”

                (6) “Learn self-discipline and self-restraint in money matters.  Such conduct can be more important than courses in accounting.”

                (7) “Use a budget.  Avoid finance charges except for homes, education, and other vital investments.  Buy consumer durables with cash.  Avoid installment credit and be careful with your use of credit cards…. Buy used items until you have saved sufficient money to purchase quality new items.  Save and invest a specific percent of your income.”

                (8) “Make education a continuing process.  Complete as much formal, full-time education as possible.  This includes the trade schools.  This is money well invested.  Use night school and correspondence classes to further prepare.  Acquire some special skill or ability that could be used to avoid prolonged unemployment.”

                (9) “Work toward home ownership.  This qualifies as an investment, not consumption.  Buy the type of home your income will support.  Improve the home and beautify the landscape all the time you occupy the premises so that if you do sell it, you can use the capital gain to get a better home.”

                (10) “Appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program.  It is most important to have sufficient medical and adequate life insurance.”

                (11) “Strive to understand and cope with existing inflation.  Learn to see through the money illusion and recognize the real value of money….  Realize that you are living in a new era of higher prices….”

                (12) “Appropriately involve yourself in a food storage program.  Accumulate your basic supplies in a systematic and an orderly way.  Avoid going into debt for these purposes.  Beware of unwise promotional schemes.”

                Elder Ashton said these suggestions “are not intended to be all-inclusive nor exhaustive” but merely suggestions for “serious consideration.  We need to recognize and be aware of these basic guidelines for wise money management.”  We should also include prayer in our planning.  God has the ability to help us learn to live within our means.  “God will open the windows of heaven to us in these matters if we will but live close to Him and keep His commandments.”

                Wise parents will focus on teaching proper money management to their children.  When the living generation earns and spends money responsibly, they help to strengthen their families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple statement:  “Let freedom ring!”  What is meant by this statement?  Why has it been ringing in my mind for days?  What message do you get from “Let freedom ring”?

                The phrase “let freedom ring” is found in the first verse of our patriotic hymn, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee (Hymns, 339).  Most Americans have sung this hymn; most of us love it. 

                My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing;
                Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims’ pride, From ev’ry mountainside
                Let freedom ring!

                “Let freedom ring” was also part of the “I have a dream” speech of Martin Luther King, Jr.  After quoting the above verse of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” Reverend King stated, “And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.  And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, … from the mighty mountains of New York, … from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, … from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado, … from the curvaceous slopes of California.
                “But not only that:  Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia, … from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee, from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, … From every mountainside, let freedom ring….”

                Bill Gaither wrote lyrics to a song entitled “Let Freedom Ring” including: 
                Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
                Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
                Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key.
                You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring.

                Gaither wrote the story behind “Let Freedom Ring.” It began with a news story about a young African-American police officer going to work and coming face to face with associated dressed as the Ku Klux Klan.  The experience was apparently supposed to be funny, but its effect on the police officer was not at all funny.

                “`I was terrified on the inside, but all I could think to do was smile,’ he answered.  `When I got home, I sobbed like a child.'

                “Later the offenders, fearing reprisals and wanting to take back the photos they gave him, threatened the officer.
                “As I watched this young man trying to process such a deep and ugly violation by those he thought he knew, by those who served with him day by day under an oath to uphold justice, I felt powerful emotions rise within me.  I felt anger at the indignity and at the violation of so many of the codes that hold any decent society together.  I felt deep sadness at the breaking of the human spirit and the robbery of the self-respect of a fellow human being.  I felt brokenness in my soul as I saw his pain and realized that all of us are capable of hurting each other deeply."

                Gaither discussed how every person longs to be free – from a toddler struggling for release from a parent’s arms to people living in chains, behind iron bars, or even great walls.  He then described real freedom

                “Down through history, dictators and philosophies have attempted to enslave the human spirit.  Blood has flowed like rivers in the fight to regain human dignity.  The Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation have taken their places with other great instruments of liberation to testify to the human passion for freedom.  The official seals of governments were burned onto these documents that have deeply affected our own way of life.  But never has a document of freedom had the power to alter the course of history and change human lives like the declaration bearing the bloodstained brand of the Cross.  And this seal is burned not on a piece of paper but on the very souls of all who were enslaved by sin.  The document is a simple invitation:  `Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28).
                “Prison bars, heavy chains, dungeons, concentration camps, and shackles:  none of these can hold a candle to the bondage of the human soul devised by the father of lies.  But no release, no emancipation, no pardon can bring freedom like that bought at Calvary.  That is freedom indeed!  Let freedom ring!”

                What does the phrase “let freedom ring” mean to you?  Maybe we should all be singing "let freedom ring"!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day

                Today is Earth Day. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 and is now celebrated each year in more than 192 nations.  It is held to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

                There were actually two Earth Days celebrated in 1970.  The first one was celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.  John McConnell, a peace activist, proposed at a 1969 UNESCO Conference held in San Francisco that a day be set apart to honor the Earth and the idea of peace.  It was “sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.”

                Apparently McConnell’s celebration was not good enough for U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson because he founded a separate Earth Day only a month later.  This second celebration was founded as “an environmental teach-in” and was held on April 22, 1970.  Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award for his work.  This Earth Day focused on the United States.

                Dennis Hayes, the national coordinator for the 1970 Earth Day, launched an organization in 1990 to take Earth Day international in 141 nations.  Now Earth Week – “an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues” is held in numerous communities.

                The following information is on the official Earth Day Network:   “The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda….
                “As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.  Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.  Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
                “Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders.  The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and endangered Species Acts….”

                Our nation has never been the same!  If we listen to the so-called experts, we feel only fear for our future.  Stephen Moore of explained that the “experts” tell us “the planet is in a miserable state.  We’re running out of our natural resources, we’re overpopulating the globe and running out of room, the air that we breathe is becoming toxic, the oceans are rising and soon major coastal cities will be underwater, and the Earth is, of course, heating up, except when it is cooling down.

                “This is perhaps the single greatest misinformation campaign in world history.  Virtually none of these claims are even close to the truth – except for the fact that our climate is always changing as it has for hundreds of thousands of years.
                “Since the first Earth Day back in the 1970s, the environmentalists – those who worship the creation rather than the Creator -- have issued one false prediction of Armageddon after another and yet despite the fact that their batting average is zero, the media and our schools keep parroting their declinism as if they were oracles not shysters.

                “Here are the factual realities we should be celebrating on Earth Day.  1. Natural resources are more abundant and affordable today than ever before in history…. 2. Energy – the master resource – is super-abundant…. 3. Our air and water are cleaner…. 4. There is no Malthusian nightmare of overpopulation…. 5. Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950…. 6. The rate of death and physical destruction from natural disasters or severe weather changes has plummeted over the last 50 to 100 years….

                “Earth Day should be a day of joy and celebration that life on this bountiful planet is better than anytime in human history.
                “The state of the planet has never been in such fine shape by almost every objective measure.  The Chicken Littles are as wrong today as they were 50 years ago.  This is very good news for those who believe that one of our primary missions as human beings is to make life better over time and to leave our planet better off for future generations."

                I believe that we should care for our planet.  Earth is better off today than fifty years ago because we have been caring for it.  I am not worried about the future of our planet – with or without the Environmental Protection Agency – because I do not think mankind has nearly the powers of destruction that environmentalists think we do. 

                We are stewards for our world today.  We are responsible to be good stewards and to care for Mother Earth.  We need not fear for the future of the earth.  Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, created the earth and everything in it.  The Creation of the earth was part of Heavenly Father’s plan for His spirit children – us.  He wanted us to become like Him, and He knew we needed physical bodies and experience to do it.  The earth was created as a “university” away from our heavenly home where we could gain everything we need to become like our Father.

                God spoke to a latter-day prophet and declared, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:17).     

                God has everything under control.  All He requires of us is to do His will and keep His commandments.  He has plans to make our Earth our home for all eternity.  It will be even more beautiful and better in every way than it is today.  All we need to do is to put our trust in God and follow His instructions.  I agree with Stephen Moore, we should celebrate Earth Day with joy and celebration!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Black Bears of Anchorage

                A family of five black bears, a mother and four yearling cubs, returned to Government Hill near downtown Anchorage last week.  They roamed the area last year when the cubs were babies and came back.  The area is densely populated with many people living in the area.  People surrounded the bears to take pictures with their cellphones and chased the bears, making a dangerous situation worse and causing the mother bear to start huffing and popping her teeth in defense of her family.

                Officials from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game planned to euthanize the bears because of concerns about public safety.  Euthanasia is the normal action for bears looking for food or becoming accustomed to people whether in neighborhoods with many people or in urban parks.  These bears have learned they can find food in trash and would continue to roam populated areas looking for easy food.

                The department could not relocate the bears because of expense and the possibility of disease being transferred to other bear populations.    The bears would also be in danger of other bears defending their territory; particularly the little ones would be in danger.  The bears could not be left in the Anchorage area because they would probably return.  Alaska Governor Bill Walker saved the bear family from death, apparently because of the public outcry about killing the “cute little bears.”  

                For anyone who agrees with the Governor’s action, let me pose a few questions to you.  Suppose you saw five black bears in your neighborhood.  What would you do?  Suppose those bears came while your children were outside playing in your yard.  How would you save your children?  If the children ran to get away from the bears, the bears would be on them in no time.  Being mauled by one bear is terrible; imagine a child or two being attacked by five bears! 

                The best way to protect the bears is to not provide food for them.  I have seen signs in cabins out in “bear country” that say:  “A fed bear is a dead bear.”  Often it is human laziness that causes bears to be put in the situation of needing to be killed.  We need to listen and obey when we are instructed to take down our bird feeders and put away all the dog food.  We need to get bear-proofed garbage containers – or do as we do and keep the garbage in the garage until just before the garbage truck comes.  Other times, it is human stupidity that kills bears – like surrounding them and taking pictures.

                I have a daughter who lives in Government Hill.  It would be easy for her to cross paths with the bears without even knowing it.  She could walk out her front door and come face to face with a bear or two.  Last summer I walked around the corner of my house and found two moose in my backyard.  Moose are fairly easy to deal with as long as they are not bothered.  Bears are a different story.  They chase and attack people, sometimes without any provocation.

                Alaskans know that bears live in the mountains surrounding Anchorage and can often be seen in the green belts in the Anchorage area.  We watch for them when hiking and fishing and try to steer clear of them.  It is much more difficult to do this when bears invade our subdivisions.  Any bears that decide to take up residency near populated areas need to be taken care of quickly.  The people trained to deal with wild animals should be allowed to use their education and experience to do so.  I believe the Governor was wrong in interfering with the professionals.