Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Anxiously Engage in Good Causes

                    Families grow stronger as children learn the joy of being anxiously engaged in good causes.  Good causes are all around us, and none of us have the ability, energy or time to be involved in every one of them; therefore, we should use wisdom in our choices.  Wise parents teach by precept, example, and experiences the importance of being involved in good causes.

                    On August 1, 1831, soon after Joseph Smith and his party arrived in Jackson County, Missouri, the Lord revealed important information through His prophet to the people.  Part of the information included the following verses:  "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
                    "Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.
                    "For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.  And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
                    "But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned" (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29).

                    What does it mean to be "anxiously engaged"?  To be "anxious" means to be concerned, troubled or worried about something.  In this application, "engaged" means to keep busy, to work, or to stay occupied.  So if we are "anxiously engaged," we are working to do something about a matter that concerns us.  In verse 27, the Lord described it as "…do many thing of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness."

                    How can we know what a "good cause" is?  The prophet Mormon explained the following to his people about good causes:  "But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired by God.
                    "Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil" (Moroni 7:13-14).

                    What "power" do we have that allows us to do good?  As explained above, we are agents unto ourselves.  We were given moral agency in our premortal life with which we can choose for ourselves.  This is the power that is in each of us.  Mormon explained that this power comes from God.
                    "For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
                    "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.
                    "But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; nether do his angels; nether do they who subject themselves unto him" (Moroni 7:15-17).

                    The following story gives a positive example of being engaged in a good cause.  It is a true experience of Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  "When I was about ten or eleven, many of our relatives came to visit.  There must have been 35 or 40.  Mother had invited them all to dinner.  After dinner everyone went in the other room and sat down to visit.  There were piles of dirty dishes and silverware everywhere.  The food had not been put away, and there were dirty pots and pans from all the preparations.
                    "I remember thinking that later on everyone would leave, and my mother would have all the cleaning up to do.  An idea struck me.  I started cleaning up.  It was in the days before electric dishwashers.  Mother had always been very clean, and she taught us how to wash and wipe dishes correctly.  I started in on this mountain of work.  Finally, about three hours later, I had finished drying the last dish.  I had put away all the food, cleaned off all the counters, the sinks, and the floor.  The kitchen was spotless.
                    "I will never forget the look on Mom's face later on that night when all the guests had left and she came into the kitchen to clean up.  I was wet from my chest to my knees.  It was worth every particle of effort I had put into it just to see the look on Mom's face.  It was a mixture of emotion, relief, and pride.  I made a decision then that I would try to put that look back on her face over and over and over again" ("We Love Those We Serve," New Era, March 1988, 19).

                    I can understand the relief and pleasure that Mrs. Featherstone must have felt.  It must have been pure joy to realize that her son loved her enough to do all those dishes and clean up the kitchen.  This was a good cause.  Some variation of it could happen in every home.  I have personally been on the receiving end of similar "surprises," and I appreciated every one of them.

                    Several months ago members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alaska were counseled to find people in their area who were not of our church who needed service.  September 17, 2011, was set for the day of our service.  Our ward (congregation) chose several different projects.  The Relief Society sisters found a non-member grandmother who has the responsibility to care for two of her grandchildren, a two-month old boy and fourteen-month old girl.  I do not know why the children were in her home; I only know that she needed everything necessary to care for a baby and a toddler.  Some sisters purchased clothing, including lots of diapers, and others purchased blankets, coats, etc.  One sister donated a slightly-used two-place stroller.  Money was collected for car seats, etc.  I made a Care Bear quilt for the little girl.  I felt great joy and satisfaction in being a small part of such a worthy cause.

                    Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated:  "Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods.  The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things.  Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act - without having to be commanded `in all things.' …. 
                    "Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail.  Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward" (in Conference Report, April 1965, 121-122).    
                    Good causes come in every shape and size.  Some can be accomplished by one or two people; others require larger numbers of people.  Some can be planned for, and others arise spontaneously.  Some can be done in a few minutes or hours while others can take days or weeks. 

I recently learned that the largest boatlift in history happened on September 11, 2001, when 500,000 people were rescued from Manhattan Island in less than 9 hours, by people who joined in a good cause.  This video shows what can happen when good people see a need and become involved.  My heart was touched while watching the video, "Boatlift - An Untold Tale of9/11 Resilience."  Wise parents teach their children the importance of being engaged in good causes.  

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