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, March 31, 2016

Religious Freedom

                I am more than a day late righting about religious freedom, but I wanted to be sure my readers saw this article by Matt Walsh titled “Pay Attention, Christians.  They’re Coming After the Churches Now.”  I found the information to be interesting and planned to share it with you last night, but I was barred from the computer while my husband did the income taxes.

                Mr. Walsh began his article, “It may be a matter of some interest to you that the American left is now openly declaring its intention to shut down your church and outlaw your religious expression entirely.  If you’ve been playing attention, you won’t be terribly shocked by this revelation.  They plan to come after the churches.  That’s what they’ve always wanted, and now they intend to do it.
                “The hysterical reaction to Georgia’s religious liberty bill can be interpreted no other way….”

                According to Mr. Walsh, the “horrific” and “heinous” bill would have “primarily accomplished the following:  protect a pastor from being forced to perform a gay wedding against his will, protect religious organizations from being forced to host gay weddings against their will, and protect religious organizations from being forced to hire someone who opposes their fundamental tenets, beliefs, and goals.”

                I do not consider the above mentioned freedoms to be outrageous.  Maybe the liberals really are coming for our churches.  I suggest you read the entire article because it has some funny comments as well as more information.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Light of Christ

                I studied about the Light of Christ in my scripture study this week.  Many people are completely unaware of the Light of Christ, and many others are confused about it.  I hope that my readers will have a better understanding of the Light of Christ by the time they finish reading this post.

                The ancient American prophet named Moroni wandered for approximately thirty-five years after the rest of Nephites were destroyed; he survived that long by hiding from the Lamanites who would have killed him. 
Moroni wrote many sacred instructions during his wandering years, and some of that counsel concerned the Light of Christ.  He wrote about how “all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil” (Moroni 7:12).  He told us how we can discern good from evil:  “every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13).  Then Moroni explained about the Light of Christ.

                “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
                “… And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
                “Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ” (Moroni 7:17, 19).

                We know from Moroni that the Light of Christ is given to us to help us judge between good and evil, but we may still not know what the Light of Christ actually is.  The Bible Dictionary gives us a good description of the Light of Christ:  “The light of Christ is just what the words imply:  enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, preserving influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ….
                “The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all.  Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost…” (p. 725).

                Now we know that the Light of Christ is “enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, preserving influence.”  We also know it is an influence that comes with us from our premortal life that makes us better people if we listen to it.  Now what do we do with this knowledge?

                Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that the “Light of Christ is what many people would call a conscience.”  He explained that it is “more than a psychological effect that takes place within people.”  He gave the following example of how the Light of Christ works in people:  “Someone can be riding on a bus, see someone in distress and feel a compassion and a desire to assist and serve this person.  Many people would say, nah, it’s just natural behavior, but it’s more.  It’s the influence of God that pulls us, that influences us to be good and to do good.  Every person, ever born - in history, now, in the future – is influenced by the Light of Christ for goodness.  As we yield to that influence to do good and become good, then the Light of Christ increases within us.  As we disobey, light is decreased and can ultimately be diminished.”  (Mormon Message)

                President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also spoke about the Light of Christ:  “Regardless of whether this inner light, this knowledge of right and wrong, is called the Light of Christ, moral sense, or conscience, it can direct us to moderate our actions – unless, that is, we subdue it or silence it. …
                “Every man, woman, and child of every nation, creed, or color – everyone, no matter where they live or what they believe or what they do – has within them the imperishable Light of Christ.”  (See “The Light of Christ,” Ensign, April 2005, 8, 10.)  

                The Light of Christ, also known as the Spirit of Christ and conscience, helps us discern good from evil.  Whatever we call this influence, we know that it invites us to come unto Christ as well as to care for each other, to serve one another, and to perform good deeds.  As we follow the Light of Christ, it will lead us to the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, one of the greatest gifts we can receive while in mortality.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Full Circle

                Things have sort of come full circle for me.  I thought Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin would make a great President of the United States and was very disappointed when he left the race.  Now he has endorsed my current choice for President, even Senator Ted Cruz. 

                “I’ve chosen to endorse Ted Cruz.”  He called Cruz a “principled, common-sense conservative.”  He thinks Cruz will take “power out of the hands of big government special interests.”  “This is going to be a great contest for us when Ted Cruz is the nominee….  He stays firm, he sticks to his guns. … I think that will play very well here in Wisconsin.”

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rene Descartes

                As my regular readers know, I am taking a math class.   My latest lessons involve the Cartesian coordinate system – the standard coordinate system used in math.  I decided to learn a little about Mr. Descartes and discovered there is too much for me to learn about this man in one evening.  I decided to concentrate on his advances in math.

                Rene Descartes was born on March 31, 1596, in La Haye en Touraine, Kingdom of France.  His parents were Joachim Descartes and Jeanne Brochard.  His mother died in childbirth when he was one year old.  His father was a member of the Parlement of Brittany at Rennes; therefore Descartes lived with his grandmother and great-uncle.  He came from a Roman Catholic family that lived in an area controlled by Protestant Huguenots.  “In 1607, late because of his fragile health, he entered the Jesuit College Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Fleche where he was introduced to mathematics and physics, including Galileo’s work.  After graduation in 1614, he studied two years (1615-16) at the University of Poitiers, earning a Baccalaureat and Licence in Canon and Civil Law, in accordance with his father’s wishes that he should become a lawyer….”

                Descartes became a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist.  Even though he was “dubbed the father of modern western philosophy” he could be better known for his mathematical and scientific accomplishments.

                “One of Descartes’ most enduring legacies was his development of Cartesian or analytic geometry, which uses algebra to describe geometry.  He `invented the convention of representing unknowns in equations by x, y, and z, and knowns by a, b, and c’.  He also `pioneered the standard notation’ that uses superscripts to show the powers or exponents; for example, the 4 used in x4 to indicate squaring of squaring.  He was first to assign a fundamental place for algebra in our system of knowledge, and believed that algebra was a method to automate or mechanize reasoning, particularly about abstract, unknown quantities….

                “Descartes’ work provided the basis for the calculus developed by Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, who applied infinitesimal calculus to the tangent line problem, thus permitted the evolution of that branch of modern mathematics.  His rule of signs is also a commonly used method to determine the number of positive and negative roots of a polynomial….

                “Current opinion is that Descartes had the most influence of anyone on the young Newton, and this is arguably one of Descartes’ most important contributions.  Newton continued Descartes’ work on cubic equations, which freed the subject from the fetters of the Greek and Macedonian perspectives.  The most important concept was his very modern treatment of independent variables….”

                Descartes must have been a brilliant man because he made advances in numerous areas.  I wrote about his math prowess simply because I am just now learning about his Cartesian coordinate system.  He died on February 11, 1650, at age 53, in Stockholm, Sweden.  I saw no evidence of a wife or children.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Capitalism or Communism

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the difference between capitalism and communism.  The man who currently occupies the White House made a statement in Argentina that shows he knows little of this difference – or else does not care about it.  He was asked a question about nonprofit community organizations and the funding of same.  This is how he replied:  

                “So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate….
                “Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works.  You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory.  You should just decide what works.”

                I believe the man who currently occupies the White House was hedging his bets.  He could not come right out and condemn communism because he was in Cuba.  In fact, he actually praised the socialist system run by Castro family in Cuba, particularly the “free access to basic education and health care” while at the same time acknowledging that Havana “looks like it did in the 1950s” due to the economy “not working”.

                The occupier of the White House could not praise capitalism because he does not believe in it.  He has said over and over again that the United States is wrong.  He even encouraged Castro in his criticism of the United States: “President Castro has also addressed what he views as shortcomings in the United States around basic needs for people in poverty and inequality and race relations and we welcome that constructive dialogue as well….  Because we believe that when we share our deepest beliefs and ideas with an attitude of mutual respect that we can both learn and make the lives of our people better.”

                Here is a short lesson on the differences between capitalism and communism for the man who occupies the White House as well as anyone else who may be interested.

                “Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.  Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.  In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment is determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.”

                “In political and social sciences, communism  (from Latin communis, “common, universal”) is a social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.”

                Under capitalism, private ownership – as well as competition – is encouraged.  Under communism, common ownership is a must.  Under capitalism, men and women are free to become anything they desire.  Under communism, everyone is encouraged to work together for the good of the masses – except those who become rich and powerful off the work people.

                That is the short and simple comparison:  capitalism encourages freedom and growth while communism restricts freedom and growth.  Which do you think is the better system?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

                As I searched for something to say about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I discovered an article written by Elder Russell M Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  His counsel is much greater than any I could write; therefore, I thought I would simply share his message.  His words are wonderful, and the video accompanying them is powerful.  I encourage you to read Elder Ballard’s article titled “Our Savior’s Atonement” and then watch the video “Because of Him.”  I include this paragraph as a taste of what is available from Elder Ballard.

                “There is no greater expression of love than the heroic Atonement performed by the Son of God. Were it not for the plan of our Heavenly Father, established before the world began, in a very real sense, all mankind—past, present, and future—would have been left without the hope of eternal progression. As a result of Adam’s transgression, mortals were separated from God (see Romans 6:23) and would be forever unless a way was found to break the bands of death. This would not be easy, for it required the vicarious sacrifice of one who was sinless and who could therefore take upon Himself the sins of all mankind.”

                I later found this wonderful collection of thoughts about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and thought it appropriate to send my readers to this site.  I will include my two favorite quotes from the site.

                "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." —C.S. Lewis

                "I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where ... is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time — possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing — the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, property-less young man has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived — all of them put together. How do we explain that — unless He really was what He said He was?" —Ronald Reagan

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stay Away from Porn

                We can strengthen individuals, families, communities, and nations by teaching them the dangers of pornography.  I have written several times about the dangers of pornography from the consumer side of the deal.  I did not think much of the producer side of the filth until today.  I felt a great deal of compassion for a young woman who was part of the porn industry and decided to do something else.  Her story is really quite sad.

                Bree Olson is an ex-porn star; she “broke down in tears while discussing how she is treated by critics who learn about her former adult film career.  “When I go out I feel as though I’m wearing slut across my forehead….  I have really gotten to the point where there are days to weeks at a time where I don’t leave my house because I don’t feel like facing the world.”

                Ms. Olson was making $30,000-$60,000 per month as a porn star and left the industry to work as a mainstream actor.  She sends a “very strong message” to girls and young women.  Her message is:  “don’t do porn… you’re just going to have a life of crap in front of you in dealing with people and companies.”

                Last year Ms. Olson tweeted a similar warning to young girls:  “I didn’t find Jesus.  I don’t hate porn.  I didn’t have any bad experiences.  But trust me when I tell you not to do it.”

                Other girls and young women can be saved a lot of heartache by following Ms. Olson’s advice.  She has been in the industry and knows the problems associated with it.  We would all be wise to stay away from porn and strengthen ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nations.         

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Courage Needed

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we need courage to maintain our liberty.  There are factions at work in our nation and the world trying to destroy the Constitution of the United States.  They know that the Constitution protects the liberty of Americans and people all over the world.  These factions are trying to turn our nation into a socialist and then a communist nation.  Here is a story of a freedom fighter in Russia and what the communists in her nation did to her.  It is called “Courage Boys.”  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book of Ether

                What do you think of the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ?  My thoughts of this book were recently changed because of a statement made by my instructor.  He said that the book of Ether is one of his favorite books in the Book of Mormon.  Before I give you his reasons for feeling the way he does, let me just say that I had never considered this book to be among my favorites.

                The book of Ether begins about 2200 B.C.  If you remember the history of the Bible, Noah and seven members of his family were saved on the ark along with many animals.  From these eight people, the earth was repopulated; however, many of Noah’s descendants became wicked.  They thought they could reach heaven by building a tower known as the Tower of Babel.  The name apparently comes from the Lord confounding the common language of the people and then scattering them across the earth.  (See Ether 1:33; Genesis 11:5-8.)

                A man named Jared and his brother were apparently among the more righteous people in the area.  Jared suggested to his brother that he “Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words” (Ether 1:34).  The brother – “a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord” – did as Jared suggested, and the Lord did not confound their language.  Then Jared suggested to his brother that he go back to the Lord and ask that the language of their friends not be confounded, and the Lord did not confound the language of their friends (Ether 1:36-37).

                Jared then said unto his brother, “Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land…” (Ether 1:38).  The brother did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord “had compassion upon him” (Ether 1:40).  The Lord told the brother of Jared, “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families.
                “And when thou hast done this thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward.  And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:41-42).

                Jared, his brother, their friends, and their families gathered their flocks, caught fowls of the air, prepared a container to carry fish, and another container to carry honey bees.  They went down into the valley, and the Lord came down in a cloud and spoke to the brother of Jared (Ether 2:1-5).  The Lord told them to build barges and cross
many waters to get to the “land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people” (Ether 2:6-7).  The Lord warned the brother of Jared that the people would prosper if they stayed righteous but would be swept off the land if they became wicked (Ether 2:8).

                After all these experiences, the brother of Jared forgot to pray.  Four years later the Lord again came down in a cloud and chastised the brother of Jared for three hours “because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:14).  The brother of Jared apparently got the message because he and the people with him built eight barges in preparation for crossing the mighty waters to the land of promise.  The barges were built after the pattern given to them by the Lord.  When the barges were finished, the brother of Jared went to the Lord three different times with three problems:  (1) there was no way to provide air to the passengers, (2) the barges had no means of steering them, and (3) the barges had no means of light.

                The conversations between the Lord and the brother of Jared are the very best part of the book of Ether.  They provide great spiritual lessons and are possibly the reason why my instructor likes this book so much.  The brother of Jared had three problems, and the Lord handled the problems in three different ways.  For the problem about air to breathe, the Lord told the brother of Jared to “make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hold and receive air.  And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood” (Ether 2:20).  The brother of Jared and the people made two holes in each barge for air.  The first problem was solved.

                For the second problem, the Lord told the brother of Jared, you must trust me to steer the barges.  “For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you.  Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.
                “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:24-25).

                The brother of Jared had to put his trust in the Lord to guide the barges, but the Lord provided directions on how to obtain air to breathe.  The third problem, how to light the barges, was not so easy.  When the brother of Jared went to the Lord about lighting the barges, the Lord asked him a question:  “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?”  Then he gave further explanation:  “For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire” (Ether 2:23).  After explaining that the people would be as whales in the sea, the Lord asked again, “Therefore, what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea” (Ether 2:25). 

                In other words, the Lord did not provide an answer about how to light the barges.  The brother of Jared went into the mount Shelem – which apparently was quite tall – and “did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass” (Ether 3:1).  He carried the sixteen small stones to the top of the mountain and cried again unto the Lord.  He showed the stones unto the Lord and said,
                “And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea” (Ether 3:4).

                The Lord heard the prayer of the brother of Jared and “stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger.”  The brother of Jared saw the finger of God “and it was as the finger of man, like unto flesh and blood.”  The brother of Jared was “struck with fear” and fell back (Ether 3:6).

                The Lord said, “Arise, why hast thou fallen?” and the brother of Jared answered that he “knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood” (Ether 3:8).

                “And the Lord said unto him:  Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger.  Sawest thou more than this?”  (Ether 3:9).

                The brother of Jared answered:  “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.”  To the Lord’s question, “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?” the brother of Jared answered, “Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.”
                The Lord showed himself unto the brother of Jared and said, “Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you….  
                “And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast.  Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image?
                “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh” (Ether 3:10-16).  The faith of the brother of Jared was rewarded with a miracle and the greatest of all blessings – being admitted into the presence of the Savior.

                The brother of Jared and his people were on the water – or in the water – for 344 days.  Think of it!  They were tossed around by the wind and the waves for more than eleven months.  They eventually reached the land of promise.  “And when they set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them” (Ether 6:11-12).

                I assume that they were very happy to be on solid ground once again.  I tried to visualize life in an enclosed barge for more than eleven months and being tossed around by the winds and the waves.  It sounds absolutely horrible to me!  Were any of them claustrophobic?  Did anyone get sea sick because they could not watch the horizon?  How did they deal with personal hygiene and the many smells?  The writings do not address any of these questions but simply states that “they did sing praises unto the Lord … did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord” (Ether  6:9).

                The story of the brother of Jared shows us how to communicate with God.  My instructor suggested that we frame our problems in questions and then determine how we hope God will answer our questions.   Do we expect God to solve our problems like He did by suggesting putting holes in the barges for air?  Are we willing to put our lives in the hand of God and trust Him to do with us as He will?  Do we hope for a miracle when we take our problems to the Lord?  Do we expect to see God?

                My understanding of the experiences of the brother of Jared is much different after my week of studying the book of Ether.  I encourage you to look at the writings of Ether and see if it is one of your favorite books in the Book of Mormon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Terrorist Attacks

                Terrorist attacks took place in Brussels this morningTwo bombs were set off at the international airport about 8:00 a.m. Brussels time; a third bomb was set off about 9:20 a.m. at a Metro station near the headquarters of the European Union.  This site has some pictures of the damage done to the airport as well as pictures of a few bloody people.  I did not see pictures of bodies without legs, but there are several pictures of injured people.

                The Heritage Foundation has an article with questions about what the United States will do to protect citizens here.  James Carafano is “a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges” as well as being a vice president at The Heritage Foundation.  He noted that “The first question security professionals around the world ask after a horrific terrorist attack is:  What’s next?  The second question is:  How to stop it?”
                “A top concern here will be that the terror campaigns being orchestrated there [in Europe] could be directed here.  A precedent exists for that.  A core of the participants in the 9/11 attack organized a terrorist cell in Hamburg, Germany.  If there are cells in Europe interested in attacking, one of their chief challenges will be traveling here.  The U.S. has been focused on thwarting terrorist travel to the U.S. since the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.  The danger was a major subject of investigation for the 9/11 commission.
                “What the U.S. has done since 9/11 has been to focus on finding and stopping terrorists who might try to travel here.  That is a strategy that makes sense.”

                The State Department issued a warning to Americans about “potential risks to travel in Europe.    
`Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation,’ it said in a statement.  Officials advised U.S. citizens to `exercise vigilance’ in public places or on mass transportation and to take `particular caution’ during religious events or large events.”

                Four missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were injured at the airport.  Three elders from Utah were at the airport to bid farewell to a French sister slated to serve in Ohio.  All four missionaries were injured; the elders were close to one of the blasts while the sister had already cleared security and was further away.  All the missionaries were hospitalized with burns and shrapnel injuries.

                This is the third brush with terrorist attacks for one of the elders.  He was in Boston in 2013 to watch his mother compete in the Boston Marathon and was about a block away from the bombs.  Last November he was serving in France when Paris was hit with attacks.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mormons and Donald Trump

                It appears that many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are voting for anyone but Donald Trump.  Wyoming is the state with the third largest population of members of the LDS Church, and the Republicans there gave Senator Ted Cruz a landslide victory, defeating Trump by 59 points.  Idaho has the second largest population of LDS Church members, and Republicans there – particularly in Madison County – helped Cruz to crush Trump: Cruz 57%, Trump 8%. 

                The Republicans are caucusing in Utah tomorrow.  The Utah rules include the condition that “if a candidate reaches the 50% or above,” the winner will take all of the delegates as well as the requirement that any candidate must receive “at least 15% of the votes to qualify for delegates.”  I hope there are not enough people in Utah who will vote for John Kasich and keep Cruz from getting more than 50% of the votes.  If the polls are correct, Trump will receive approximately 8%.  Polls also indicate that Republicans in Utah will vote for Hilary Clinton if the Republican candidate is Trump.   I do not care that much for Trump, but I will not vote for Clinton.  For me, it is Cruz all the way! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Elder Oaks and the Constitution

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the connection between Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Constitution of the United States of America.  Elder Oaks has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since May 1984 and often speaks about the U.S. Constitution.    
                Elder Oaks graduated from Brigham Young University (1954) and the University of Chicago Law School (1957).  He practiced law and taught law in Chicago.  He accepted the assignment from the Church to serve as the president of Brigham Young University.  When his service there was completed, he served as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1980 until he resigned in 1984 to accept his calling as an apostle.  With his 50-year career in law and his position as an apostle, Elder Oaks is particularly capable of speaking about the Constitution. 

                 Elder Oaks sometimes speaks about the four principles that define the Constitution.  According to Elder Oaks, the first principle defined in the Constitution is popular sovereignty, meaning the power of the government comes from the people being governed.  “Instead of blaming their troubles on a king, on a cabal of military leaders, or on some distant group of wise men, citizens who are sovereign must share a measure of the burdens and responsibilities of governing.”

                The second principle that Elder Oaks speaks about is the division of powers in a federal system.  This principle has served our nation well but is currently being neglected.    Whatever the merits of current controversies over the laws of marriage and child adoption and the like, let us not forget that if the decisions of federal courts can override the actions of state lawmakers on this subject (which is one reserved to the states), we have suffered a significant constitutional reallocation of lawmaking power from the lawmaking branch to the judicial branch and from the states to the federal government.”

                The third fundamental principle is the Bill of Rights, beginning with the guarantee of religious freedom.  According to Elder Oaks, the freedom of religion is one of the most important of the founding principles in the Constitution.  “We are fortunate to have such a guarantee in the United States, but many nations do not.  … The importance of that guarantee should make us ever diligent to defend it.  And it is in need of being defended.  During my lifetime I have seen a significant deterioration in the respect accorded to religion in our public life, and I believe that the vitality of religious freedom is in danger of being weakened accordingly.”

                The fourth fundamental principle is the system of checks and balances between the three branches of government.  Elder Oaks said that for that system to work properly, “Each branch of government must preserve its independence from the others.  Moreover, the powers of each of these three branches must be exercised in a good faith effort to serve the interests of the public, rather than to dominate the others or to enhance the personal position of a particular official.  Politics, revenge or personal gain must never be the primary driving force in the application of checks and balances.”

                Elder Oaks even suggests how We the People can help sustain and protect the Constitution:  (1) understand the Constitution, (2) support the law, (3) practice civic virtue, (4) maintain civility in political discourse, and

(5) promote patriotism.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Resurrection of Christ

                Since Easter is next week I thought I would write about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to start us thinking about the central point of the entire Plan of Salvation.  Heavenly Father planned for the eternal happiness of His children.  In his planned, He arranged for this earth to be created and for our first parents (Adam and Eve) to live in the Garden of Eden. 

                After Heavenly Father performed the eternal marriage of Adam and Eve, He gave them two commandments.  The first commandment was for them to have children and fill the earth; the second commandment was to not partake of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They could not obey both commandments.  They had to break the second commandment in order to obey the first commandments.  It was all part of the plan.  By partaking of the fruit, Adam and Eve became mortal; they also were cast out of the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

                Another part of the plan was to arrange a way that Adam and Eve and all their posterity – us – could return to the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  In the pre-mortal world, Jesus Christ volunteered to be the Savior of all mankind.  His atoning sacrifice includes His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and His coming forth from the tomb.  The Atonement is the central part of Heavenly Father’s plan.

                The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 49).  

                In a talk originally presented in April 2000, Elder Dallin H. Oaks quoted the above statement and then said, “In our eternal journey, the resurrection is the mighty milepost that signifies the end of mortality and the beginning of immortality….  We also know, from modern revelation, that without the reunited of our spirits and our bodies in the resurrection we could not receive a `fulness of joy’ (Doctrine and Covenants 93:33-34)….
                “The assurance of resurrection gives us the strength and perspective to endure the mortal challenges faced by each of us and by those we love, such things as the physical, mental, or emotional deficiencies we bring with us at birth or acquire during mortal life.  Because of the resurrection, we know that these mortal deficiencies are only temporary!
                “The assurance of resurrection also gives us a powerful incentive to keep the commandments of God during our mortal lives.  Resurrection is much more than merely reuniting a spirit to a body held captive by the grave…. The prophet Amulek taught, `That same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world’ (Alma 34:34)….” (See “Resurrection – The Beginning of Immortality,” Ensign, March 2016, 80.)  

                I know that Jesus Christ came to earth and lived as we do.  I also know that He died on the cross to atone for my sins and for the sins of all who will repent and come unto Him.  I know that He was resurrected and lives today.  I also know that He will return to gather all His faithful followers and live with them for 1000 years during the Millennium.  I hope to be among those gathered and then return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all eternity.  I am grateful for the Savior and all He did for me!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Knowing Jesus Christ

                Individuals, families, communities and nations can be strengthened by knowing more about Jesus ChristEvery person, whether Christian or not, can become stronger by learning about the Savior and following in His footsteps.

                Many of us call ourselves Christians and claim to follow Christ, but how many of us invest our time in thinking about the Savior?  How much time and effort do we invest in reflecting on his life?  Is Jesus Christ the center of our lives?

                President Howard W. Hunter declared, “Surely life would be more peaceful, surely marriages and families would be stronger, certainly neighborhoods and nations would be safer and kinder and more constructive if more of the gospel of Jesus Christ `with sweetness’ could fill our breasts….
                “Every day of our lives and in every season of the year …, Jesus asks each of us, as he did following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem those many years ago, `What think ye of Christ?  Whose son is he?’ (Matthew  22:42).
                “We declare that he is the Son of God, and the reality of that fact should stir our souls more frequently.
                “We must know Christ better than we know him; we must remember him more often than we remember him; we must serve him more valiantly than we serve him.  Then we will drink water springing up unto eternal life and will eat the bread of life.”  (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church –Howard W. Hunter, [2015], pp. 40-41.) 

                President Hunter taught that we could bring peace to our marriages, families, neighborhoods and nations simply by thinking about Jesus Christ and pondering His life.  I know at President Hunter is a prophet of God; therefore, I know that we can strengthen ourselves, families, communities, and nations by following his counsel.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that true liberty and true peace come from righteous living.  Those who love Jesus Christ and obey His commandments bring liberty and peace into their lives.

                The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ includes a short history of the conditions that were in ancient America following the visit of Christ.  As you might have guessed, the Lord’s visit resulted in more than 200 years of righteousness and peace.

                The history tells that “many … did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.  It also states that “there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
                “And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift” (Fourth Nephi 1:2).

                These conditions continued for nearly 200 years, with the people prospering, growing rich, marrying and giving in marriage, and being blessed beyond measure.  There was “no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (1:15).

                This kind of society is known as a “Zion society.”  There have been several times during the history of the earth when groups of people have become Zion societies.  The first one we know of was the City of Enoch; these people became so righteous that the entire city was taken up into heaven.  “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).

                A second Zion group developed following the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.  This society did not last long, but their history is found in the New Testament.  “And when they had prayed, … they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
                “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:  neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common” (Acts 4:31-32).

                The next Zion society will take place during the Millennium when Jesus Christ will reign personally upon the earth.  In order to be a part of it, we must be converted to Jesus Christ.  Being converted is different than just believing in Christ.  President Marion G. Romney (1897-1988) of the First Presidency taught that “converted” means more than mere “mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings.”  It also includes “a motivated faith in him and in his gospel – a faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God – in interest, in thought, and in conduct….”  (See Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 23-24, as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, p. 341.)  

                What can we do to be a part of Zion?  President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) taught members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints what we must do to reach this goal:  “First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind….
                “Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other….
                “Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord.  We begin by offering a `broken heart and a contrite spirit’ [3 Nephi 9:20]” (Ensign, May 1978, 81).  

                Do you want to experience true freedom and peace?  I know that we can all have this great experience as we become true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Now?

                Super Tuesday 3 is over.  Donald Trump won some more states.  John Kasich won Ohio and declared he would remain in the race.  Marco Rubio lost Florida and suspended his campaign.  Ted Cruz won a few more delegates.  The GOP leaders are talking about supporting Cruz but are demanding Cruz apologize to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for calling him a liar last year.

                Most people can see that there is now a two man race to be the GOP nominee.  There is no way that Kasich can win enough delegates to be the nominee.  Maybe he is hanging around with the hope that Trump will invite him to be Vice President.  Maybe he thinks he will gain the nomination at the GOP Convention in July.  Maybe he thinks pigs can fly.  At any rate, I think he is delusional!

                Republicans need to make their decision as to who they will support – Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.  Anyone that does not want Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States better start supporting Cruz.  This is not the time for moral-minded, principled believers to sit out an election.  I suggest that we all make it a matter of prayer and vote our conscience. 

                Our nation stands at another crossroads.  We can continue down the road we have traveled for the last eight years or we can change directions.   If we do not like the direction we are heading, then we better take action to change the direction.  If we decide to change directions, we better choose a leader that has good principles and morals and can lead us to a better situation.    I believe that person is Ted Cruz.  I hope you do also.