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, November 30, 2012

Sure Foundation

                    Families, communities and nations are strengthened when we teach children and teenagers to build their lives on a sure foundation.  The best information that we can give to the rising generation is to teach them the importance of worshipping Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  This sure foundation is built of daily personal prayer, daily scripture study, weekly attendance at worship meetings, regular temple attendance, and service to others.   I have known for many years that my days and weeks are much more meaningful when I stand on this firm foundation and have encouraged others to build their own foundations on this sure foundation.

                    An ancient American prophet named Helaman taught his sons Nephi and Lehi about the importance of building on a "sure foundation":  "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Helaman 5:12).

As a seminary teacher, I often asked my students to give me better answers than what I called "Sunday School answers" because I wanted my students to develop more depth in their spirituality and to choose some specific activities that help us live certain gospel principles.  Even though I always encouraged prayer, scripture study, service, and attendance at Church meeting, I wanted them to think a little more about the specific gospel principle we were discussing.

I was pleased when my older son called home from Brigham Young University and shared his experience with building his own foundation.  He told me that he was "angry" because he had to admit that his Sunday School teachers, Seminary teachers, priesthood leaders, and I had been correct all along.  I was pleased that he had discovered for himself the importance of daily personal prayer, daily scripture study, regular Church attendance, and service.

I was a little surprised to read a magazine article where the author used the term "Sunday School answers" to describe these same activities, and I read the article with great interest.  The author explained that she wanted to ask "profound questions that would require contemplation and big, new, insightful answers" and "avoid a recitation of the same old `Sunday School answers'…."  I recognized her desire to bring greater depth into her lessons for I had felt that same desire.  I appreciated the way she shared her experience because she helped me to focus more on the reason that the "Sunday School answers" are exactly what we all need.

"Much of what I searched for was how I could be one with the Lord, how I could abide in His love, and how, as a result, I could develop extra patience - patience I so desperately needed to turn my experiences from ones that exhausted me to ones that invigorated and sanctified me.
"Ironically, as I searched for both an understanding of the word abide and answers to the difficult challenges I faced on a daily basis, I was ultimately led back to the precise Sunday School answers I had been trying to avoid.  I found the answers to my challenges by reading the scriptures, praying daily, serving my family and others, and attending the temple and my Sunday meetings.  I learned that those simple things make the difference between enduring and enduring well and with patience."

I already knew that my days and weeks go better when I live the "Sunday School answers" and build my life on this firm foundation; however, I had not previously connected the dots between this firm foundation and "enduring well and with patience."

We must teach our children and teenagers - and encourage young adults - to build their foundations on the "Sunday School answers."  I know that we can strengthen our families, communities and nation by assisting the rising generation to build their firm foundation on these basic principles.  We can strengthen our families and communities as we individually grow stronger and better prepared to endure our trials well and with patience.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Truth about Benghazi

                    The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the importance of the truth about the Benghazi attack.   Our Savior, even Jesus the Christ, taught in New Testament times:  "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  In our day the Lord described truth as the "knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come" (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24).  In other words, truth about things in the past, in the present, and in the future will make us free.

                    On September 11, 2012, terrorists attacked a CIA operation center in Libya and killed four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.  The Obama Administration lied about this murderous event from the very beginning.  They first told us that the attack was the result of a spontaneous mob demonstrating against a video.  The administration has backtracked from the story since facts started leaking out, but they continue in their attempt to cover up the truth.

                    At least dozens - maybe hundreds or even thousands - of people know the truth about what happened in Benghazi, and some of them are leaking information.  Most of them face some difficult decisions because they are employed by the very people they are trying to expose.  Doug Hagmann interviewed  "a government insider intimately familiar with the events that took place in Benghazi" and shared the information given to him in the first part of a "multi-part interview."  The interview "provides important background," and explains that this administration is engaged in a "massive cover-up." 

The source explains that the first lie given to the American public was the description of the location of the attack.  The administration called the location a "consulate" - meaning it was a place for diplomatic work and sovereign American soil; however, the location was actually "one of the largest, one of the most active CIA operation centers in North Africa, if not in the entire Middle East."

                    The second lie concerned the security or lack of security for the "consulate."  Ambassador Stevens was concerned about safety - not in Benghazi - but "for the embassy in Tripoli, the Ambassador and the diplomatic staff in general."  The rented villa housing the CIA operation center was located in a residential area where "visible security" "would draw unwanted attention."  The operation at this location was "already winding down" so "additional manpower was not needed there."

                    The third lie was about the mission that was taking place in Benghazi.  According to the Obama Administration, Americans were "in Libya to collect and destroy [the "weapons and arms" - "including chemical weapons - gas weapons"] in order to make Libya "safer." 

"What was really happening … is that we had people locating caches of weapons, separating the working from those that weren't, and making a big show of destroying the weapons, but only the weapons that were useless.  The working weapons were being given to Islamic terrorists.  They were being funneled through Libya, crisscrossing Libya on a Muslim Brotherhood managed strategic supply route.

"The entire arms and weapons running operation was headquartered in Benghazi.  The weapons were actually being shipped out of Libya from the port city of Dernah, located about a hundred miles east of Benghazi … ships carrying weapons hid among `humanitarian aid.' …
"From there, the weapons were being sent to staging areas in Turkey near the Syrian border, for use by the Free Syrian Army and other ragtag terrorist groups to fight against Assad.  The objective was and still is to destabilize the Assad government."

There is much more information in this portion of the interview with the source - information about why the United States is trying to destabilize Assad as well as who would benefit and who would have reason to stop the operation.  He suggested that Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood would benefit from the destabilization of Assad and that Russia and China would have motivation to stop it.

Hagmann referenced an article written by Michael Reagan, son of President Ronald Reagan, which gives much background information on Ambassador Stevens - why he was selected to be our Ambassador to Libya and why he needed to be killed.  He also suggested Syria is Russia's "hidden tripwire for WWIII" - a war that will be fought economically rather than militarily.
The truth about what happened in Benghazi and why it is being covered up is slowing coming out.  One big question is, will the truth come out soon enough to protect our freedom?


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last Days

                    I know that we are living in the latter days and know many prophecies concerning the "last days" of the earth.  I believe that we have entered the "last days" before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Since I - nor anyone else - do not know the exact day and time that Christ will return, I also do not know how long the "last days" will continue; however, I believe we are close.  Here are some reasons why I believe we are nearing the end of time as we know it.

                    Prophets and Apostles tell us that the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ was written and brought forth to help us prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ.  In my daily reading of the Book of Mormon, I have been reading about the conditions on the American continents at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ and particularly those signs of His death.  At the time of Christ's death, the American continents experienced great commotion and upheaval among the elements of nature. 

                    "And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.
                    "And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.
                    "And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land" (3 Nephi 8:5-7).

                    During this great storm numerous cities burned, others were sunk in the depths of the sea, and still others were buried by earth.  The "whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth" (3 Nephi 8:12). 

                    I watched a documentary about Hurricane Sandy and learned some details about how this storm was much worse than others.  There were illustrations about how several forces of nature met in the New Jersey/New York area.  There was a powerful hurricane moving up the East Coast of the United States.  At the same time a winter storm was moving from Montana across the northern states.  There was a low pressure area over Greenland that caused the wind currents to push the hurricane force winds onto shore rather than pushing them off shore as they usually do.  I could not help but think that it was a "perfect storm" - all things coming together to reek great suffering in New Jersey and New York.  Could this "perfect storm" be a fore taste of storms to come?  Could this horrible storm be a reminder that God is all powerful and is in control of all things?  Sandy is not the only "great storm" that has done great damage.  New Orleans has not completely rebuilt after Katrina; cities in the Mid-West are still rebuilding after tornados.  We know from recent storms that great cities can be destroyed in a matter of minutes and hours.

                    Other problems caused by great commotion and upheaval among the elements of nature are "famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:29).  Could these upheavals in nature be the reason why King Salmon did not return to the rivers of Alaska in 2012?  Could this commotion be causing the great 2012 drought that plagues 60 percent of the land in the Lower 48 states.  I understand that this drought is worse than the one that took place during the Dust Bowl days.  That drought lasted for most of a decade - ten years!  The dust caused the deaths of many people from a disease that was known as "dust pneumonia," which plagued mostly the oldest and youngest people.

                    Another "sign" that we should be watching is the Middle EastIran is close to having nuclear weapons; many Muslim nations have vowed that they would drive Israel into the sea and destroy all Jews.  Israel continues to be attacked by various groups in the Middle East.  How long will it be before the groups combine to fight Israel?

                    These are just a few of the signs that we are in the last days.  Stay tuned for more comparisons!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Latter-day Israel

            I was taught about Israel as a little girl, and I have kept my eyes on Israel as an adult.  I am very much aware that Israel holds a very important place in the events of the latter days; therefore, I am quite interested in any news item about Israel.  A recent article about the Israel-Gaza war by Charles Krauthammer instantly caught my eye because it was not only about latter-day Israel but also written by a man whom I consider to be very intelligent.  His article explains clearly why Gaza keeps attacking Israel.

                    Gaza and many in the international media claim that the Gaza attack on Israel was resistance to the Israeli occupation of Gaza.  Krauthammer debunks this theory:  "What occupation?  Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza.  It dismantled every settlement, withdrew every soldier, evacuated every Jew, leaving nothing and no one behind.  Except for the greenhouses in which the settlers had grown fruit and flowers for export.  These were left intact to help Gaza's economy - only to be trashed when the Palestinians took over.
                    "Israel then declared its border with Gaza to be an international frontier; meaning that it renounced any claim to the territory and considered it an independent entity.   In effect, Israel had created the first Palestinian state ever; something never granted by fellow Muslims - neither the Ottoman Turks nor the Egyptians who brutally occupied Gaza for two decades before being driven out by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
                    "Israel wanted nothing more than to live in peace with this independent Palestinian entity.  After all, the world had incessantly demanded that Israel give up land for peace.  It gave the land.  It got no peace…."

                    So why did Gaza attack Israel if there are no Israelis occupying Gaza?  Krauthammer answered that question:  "Because Hamas (the governing power in Gaza) considers all of Israel occupied, illegitimate, a cancer, a crime against humanity, to quote the leaders of Iran, Hamas' chief patron and arms supplier.  Hamas' objective, openly declared is to `liberate' - i.e. destroy - Tel Aviv and the rest of pre-1967 Israel…."

                    Krauthammer reminds his readers that "Hamas first killed Jews with campaigns of suicide bombings" and Israel was forced to build a fence to protect its citizens.  After the fence was built, Hamas fired rockets "indiscriminately at civilians in populated areas."
The recent war between Gaza and Israel "started with a barrage of about 150 rockets into Israel."  Gaza currently has Iran-provided rocketry "that can now reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, putting 50 percent of Israel's population under its guns." 

Gaza has political support from numerous Middle Eastern nations, including non-Arab Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt, and Qatar.  The cease fire of November 21, 2012, will give Israel a respite, but Krauthammer - and many others - do not expect the cease-fire to last.

I was taught as a youth that in the "last days" all nations would fight against Israel.  I wondered for many years if that statement meant that the United States would also be fighting against Israel.  I have watched and listened carefully through the years to the words of our leaders and understood that Israel was our ally.  Things seem to be changing during the Obama Administration.  Obama has shown every indication that he would throw Israel under the bus if given the chance.  If the United States continues down the path we are now on, I believe that there is a good possibility that our military will be fighting against Israel!  I do not like this idea because I know from the prophecies how the war ends.  Even though Israel will suffer greatly, Jesus Christ will eventually appear and save the remaining Jews.  If we want to be on the side supported by God, we must stand with latter-day Israel!                 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Abraham Baldwin

                    Abraham Baldwin  is considered to be one of our Founding Fathers because he signed the United States Constitution.  He  was also an American politician and patriot, a Georgia representative in the Continental Congress, a member of the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and the founder of the University of Georgia.

                    The man known as Abraham Baldwin was born on November 22, 1754, in North Guilford, ConnecticutHis parents were Michael Baldwin (a blacksmith) and Lucy Dudley Baldwin.  His father had twelve children by two wives. 

Abraham attended a local village school and then his father borrowed money to send him to Yale College in nearby New Haven, Connecticut (later became Yale University).  He studied theology to prepare for a career as a minister and graduated from Yale in 1772.  He became a minister and then a tutor at the college three years later.  He left Yale in 1779 in order to serve as a chaplain in the Connecticut Contingent of the Continental Army, but he did not see combat while serving there.

During his military service, Baldwin associated with "men of diverse social and economic backgrounds," and these associations "broadened his outlook on the future of the colonies."  After the end of the Revolutionary War, he was offered the prestigious teaching of professor of divinity at Yale two years later.  He declined the offer in order to study law and was admitted to the bar at Fairfield in 1783.

Lyman Hall, Governor of Georgia, persuaded Baldwin to "accept the responsibility of creating an educational plan for both secondary and higher education in the state.  Baldwin strongly believed that education was the key to developing frontier states like Georgia."  Baldwin moved to Augusta, Georgia, in 1784; there he began practicing law and became active in politics. 

After being elected to the Georgia state legislature, Baldwin mediated between the rougher frontiersman and the aristocratic planter elite living on the coast.  He was "one of the most prominent legislators" and pushed "significant measures such as the education bill through the sometimes split Georgia.  He "developed a comprehensive educational plan that ultimately included land grants from the state to fund the establishment of the University of Georgia" in Athens.  Through his efforts, the state approved a charter for the university in 1785.  From 1785 to 1801, he served as the first president of the University of Georgia during its initial planning phase.  Franklin College, the first college of UGA, opened to students in 1801, and Josiah Meigs succeeded Baldwin as president.  Yale, Baldwin's alma mater, was the architectural model for the school.

 While serving as president of the University of Georgia, Baldwin remained active in politics and continued to hold his seat in the Georgia Assembly until 1789.  While in that position, he was elected in 1785 to the Confederation congress and as one of four Georgia delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  The other four delegates were William Few, Jr., William Houston, and William Pierce, but only Baldwin and Few signed the Constitution. 

Baldwin was instrumental in bringing about the compromise that established representation in each house of Congress - equal representation in the Senate and apportionment based on population in the House - because he changed his vote.  He considered his role in the Great Compromise to be his greatest public service.

After being elected in 1789, Baldwin served five consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1789-99) and two consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate (1799-1807); he served one term as president pro tem.  "As a member of Congress, Baldwin was an avid supporter of limited nationalist policies and was widely perceived as the leader of the moderate wing of the Democratic-Republican Party.  Throughout his political career, Baldwin was a consistent ally of both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and a staunch opponent of Alexander Hamilton's policies."

Baldwin is remember in modern Georgia mainly for his "statewide educational program that created a state university and provided state funds for that institution.  Highlighting his own education principles, Baldwin once stated that Georgia must `place the youth under the forming hand of Society, that by instruction they may be moulded to the love of Virtue and good Order.'  He believed that no republic was secure without a well-informed constituency."

Abraham Baldwin never married, but he assumed custody of six of his younger half-siblings upon the death of his father.  He reared, housed, and educated them at his own expense.

Baldwin was only fifty-two years old on March 4, 1807, when he died while serving as a U.S. Senator from Georgia.  His remains are interred at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  A eulogy of this great statesman first appeared in a Washington, D.C., newspaper and was later reprinted in the Savannah Republican and Savannah Evening Ledger:  "He originated the plan of the University of Georgia, drew up the charter, and with infinite labor and patience, in vanquishing all sorts of prejudices and removing every obstruction, he persuaded the assembly to adopt it."

Baldwin was honored by the United States Postal Service with a seven-cent Great Americans series postage stamp.  He also had the honor of having the following properties named after him:  Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia; Baldwin County, Georgia; Baldwin County, Alabama; Abraham Baldwin Middle School in Guilford, Connecticut; and Baldwin Street in Madison, Wisconsin and Athens, Georgia.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 2, Clause 2:  "[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; …."  This provision in the United States Constitution assures the American people that our nation will make no treaties without two-thirds of the Senators approving of it.

                    "A treaty is a written contract between two or more governments respecting matters of mutual welfare, such as peace, the acquisition of territory, the defining of boundaries, the needs of trade, the rights of citizenship, the ownership or inheritance of property, the benefits of copyrights and patents, or any other similar subject….
                    "Once a treaty is made, it becomes the established law.  Thereafter, it requires both branches of Congress to abrogate it….
                    "There are some treaties which require the concurrence of the House of Representatives.   This would include any treaties which involve the expenditure of funds.  Until the House has approved a bill authorizing such expenditures the treaty cannot be implemented.
                    "When a treaty is presented to the Senate it may 1) approve, 2) reject, 3) approve with amendments, 4) approve on condition that specified changes will be made, and 5) approve with reservations or interpretations."  (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, 548)

                    "The Treaty Clause has a number of striking features.  It gives the Senate, in James Madison's terms, a `partial agency' in the President's foreign-relations power.  The clause requires a super majority (two-thirds) of the Senate for approval of a treaty, but it gives the House of Representatives, representing the `people,' no role in the process.
                    "Midway through the Constitutional Convention, a working draft had assigned the treaty-making power to the Senate, but the Framers, apparently considering the traditional role of a nation-state's executive in making treaties, changed direction and gave the power to the President, but with the proviso of the Senate's `Advice and Consent' ….
                    "Another reason for involving both President and Senate was that the Framers thought American interests might be undermined by treaties entered into without proper reflection.  The Framers believed that treaties should be strictly honored, both as a matter of the law of nations and as a practical matter, because the United States could not afford to give the great powers any cause for war….
                    "The fear of disadvantageous treaties also underlay the Framers' insistence on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.  In particular, the Framers worried that one region or interest within the nation, constituting a bare majority, would make a treaty advantageous to it but prejudicial to other parts of the country and to the national interest…."  (Michael D. Ramsey in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 205)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Siblings as Friends

                    We often take for granted our relationships with our brothers and sisters, and we sometimes take advantage of these relationships.  We sometimes treat the people we ought to love and respect the most in the most unkind ways.  I know that the family can be a source of strength and encouragement if and when brothers and sisters develop bonds of friendship and love.  I also know that these close bonds are not limited to relationships between siblings but can be found among other family members, such as cousins.  Strengthening family friendships can make the world a much better place.

                    Brothers and sisters can be best friends and have great impact on each other as shown by the following experience: "I walked into sacrament meeting late that Sunday, and as usual sat on the back row.  I didn't know it at the time, but when I walked out of that meeting I would be a different person.  It wasn't just an ordinary meeting - it was the missionary farewell for my brother who's a year older than I am.  He was the fourth one in the family to go on a mission, so it was nothing new to me, but I was closer to Chuck than the others….
                    "As the speakers in the meeting started talking, I thought about how much I would miss Chuck.  We'd grown up together.  In fact, we'd shared the same bedroom until just a year before when he had moved into mom's sewing room because I wouldn't keep the room clean.  We'd worked together almost every day of our lives since I was six years old….  But all of a sudden he'd be gone.  In two days he'd be in the MTC learning Spanish, and then on to Spain for two years to teach the gospel.
                    "I left my daydreaming as I heard Chuck's voice come over the loudspeaker.  He was always a joker and started this talk with a joke. That had everybody laughing.  Then he talked a little about Spain and what his mission would be like.  Then for a few seconds everything was quiet and Chuck's face clouded with emotion.  And he said, `I want to talk to my little brother Dean for a few minutes.
                    "`Throughout my life I've done everything I could to make my brother proud of me.  I've always kept the Word of Wisdom and been the best person I could.  And as I accept this call to serve the Lord on a mission, I hope that he'll be proud of me.'
                    "I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  He had been trying to make me proud of him?  …  For the first time since I was a kid tears filled my eyes and I started to cry….
                    "As Chuck talked, I thought back on our lives….  He'd always lived a Christlike life and been a good example of a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ.  Then I thought back on my own life and how I'd fallen short of his example.  He'd never put me down for my shortcomings, though.  Sitting in that sacrament meeting, I made a promise to myself that I would someday make my brother proud of me.
                    "It's been a year and half since that meeting, and I have not forgotten the promise I made.  I have turned my life around and am now serving a mission for my Heavenly Father - the best decision I have ever made in my life.  As I kneel every night in prayer, I thank the Lord for the great examples I have had in my life, like my brother, who have had the courage to live the teachings of the Church and act like the sons and daughters of God that they are" ("My Brother the Example," New Era, Nov. 1981, 6-7).

                    The friendship between these brothers benefited both of them.  The older brother did his best while trying to make his brother proud of him, and the younger brother had a wonderful example to follow.  We often forget that our brothers and sisters can be our closest and most reliable friends.  When we treat our siblings as we treat our best friends, we create more love, unity, and support within our families.

                    Brothers and sisters can form a natural support group for each other.  We can learn much from the situations in the scriptures, which tell of the great mutual blessings that come from love and respect between brothers and sisters.  The following stories from the scriptures provide examples of love and friendship between family members.

                    The first example is the story of Reuben and Joseph.  Jacob had twelve sons, Reuben was the oldest, and Joseph was the eleventh.  Joseph was the son of Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel.  Jacob had given Joseph a special item of clothing - a coat of many colors, and the ten older brothers were jealous of Joseph.  This story concerns a time when Jacob sent his ten oldest sons out with the flocks.  When he wanted to know how his sons were doing, he sent Joseph out to find them.  When the brothers saw Joseph coming, "they conspired against him to slay him.
                    "And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer [master of dreams] cometh.
                    "Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him:  and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
                    "And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
                    "And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again."
                    When Joseph joined his brothers, they stripped his coat of many colors off and put him in an empty and dry pit.  As they were eating their meal, a caravan of Ishmaelites went by with their camels taking spicery, balm, and myrrh to EgyptJudah suggested that they sell Joseph to a caravan and get some money for him.  The brothers - minus Reuben - discussed this idea.
                    When another caravan of Ishmaelite merchantmen came along, the brothers "lifted Joseph out of the pit." They sold Joseph "for twenty pieces of silver" - the price of a teenage slave, and Joseph was taken to Egypt
                    Reuben returned to the pit to save Joseph but found it empty.  "… he rent [tore] his clothes" and returned to where his brothers waited.  He said, "The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?" (Genesis 37:15-30)  In spite of Reuben's attempt to protect Joseph, the younger brother was sold to strangers.

                    The second example also concerns Joseph and his brothers.  The caravan merchants took seventeen-year-old Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar.  Joseph became a valuable asset to Potiphar and was given much authority; however, Potiphar's wife lusted after the young man.  As a result of her attempted entrapment, Joseph was thrown into prison for a couple of years.  There he again was a valuable asset to the jailer and given some authority.  He was released from the prison in order to interpret the Pharaoh's dream. Because he was able to correctly interpret the dream that warned about a future famine, Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt next to the Pharaoh, and he supervised the gathering of food in preparation for a prophesied famine.  When the famine came, Joseph's older brothers went to Egypt to buy food and came face to face with Joseph.  They did not recognize him, but he recognized them.  After testing them a bit to see if they had changed at all, he revealed himself to them.

                    The brothers were concerned that Joseph would heap revenge on them, but Joseph said to them:  "Come near to me, I pray you….  I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
                    "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither:  for God did send me before you to preserve life.
                    "For these two years hath the famine been in the land:  and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
                    "And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
                    "So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God:  and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt
                    "Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto hi, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt:  come down unto me, tarry not:
                    "And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:
                    "And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
                    "And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.
                    "And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen:  and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.
                    "And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.
                    "Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them:  and after that his brethren talked with him" (Genesis 45:1-15).  In spite of the hate and cruel treatment he received from his brothers, Joseph loved them and was able to save their lives and the lives of their families.

                    The third example is the story of Nephi and his brother Sam.  "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
                    "And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit.  And it came to pass that he believed in my words" (1 Nephi 2:16-17).    Because Nephi loved his brothers enough to share his knowledge with them, he became a blessing in Sam's life and strengthened Sam to stay strong and obedient.

                    The fourth example comes from Church history and is the story of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  Speaking of his brother Hyrum Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:
                    "Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got!" (quoted by Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 93).

                    Throughout his life, Hyrum was a true friend and brother to Joseph.  After hearing Joseph's account of the First Vision, Hyrum made a commitment to help Joseph with his responsibilities.  He kept this commitment and always supported Joseph.  He became one of the first six members of the Church, and he always followed the counsel Joseph received through the Lord.

                    In June 1844 a mob was determined to take the life of Joseph Smith.  Hyrum Smith and others met with Joseph and carefully planned what he could do to avoid being killed.  But Joseph seemed more concerned for his brother Hyrum's safety than he was for his own, and he told Hyrum to take his family to Cincinnati.  Hyrum refused to leave, and he followed Joseph to the Carthage Jail.

                    On 27 June 1844 at about 5:00 P.M., a mob surrounded the jail.  Some of them went past the guard and up the stairs and began shooting through the door.  Others stayed outside and fired through the open windows.  Hyrum was standing by the door when a bullet struck him on the side of his nose.  He fell to the floor saying, `I am a dead man!'  When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed, "Oh! My poor, dear brother Hyrum!" (History of the Church, 7:102).

                    As the mob continued to fire their guns, Joseph went to the window, where he was struck by four bullets.  As he died, he fell out of the window, exclaiming, "O Lord my God!" (Doctrine and Covenants 135:1).

                    Though Hyrum could have saved his own life, he chose to stay with his brother.  As Elder John Taylor wrote, "In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!(Doctrine and Covenants 135:3).

                    The relationships between brothers and sisters can be wonderful if we do those things that build strong relationships.  Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated:  "Continue building lasting, loving relationships for all family members.  Listen to one another, be united, work together, play together, pray together, study together.  Live celestial principles together, serve the Lord together" (Ensign, May 1985, 23).

                    I am grateful to be able to count my siblings among my closest friends.  We worked and played together while growing up, and we enjoy being together now.  We share our hardest trials and brightest triumphs with each other.  My siblings comprise a large part of my support group, and I am very grateful for them.  I became friends with my brothers and sisters as we worked together on the farm, and we are still friends in our older years.  When I travel Outside, I seldom have the time to visit friends, but I always make the time to visit one or more of my siblings.  My sister's husband passed away in September after years of health problems.  Several of her children told me, "Mom really appreciates the support of her brothers and sisters.  It means a lot to her."

                    I am grateful that my sons and daughters are friends and enjoy spending time together.  Recently, two daughters, one sons, and his wife met in St. George, Utah, to run a marathon together.  They then spent several more days enjoying the beauties of Zion National Park and boating on Lake Powell.  I recently saw a post on Facebook from one of them inquiring when they could get together again.  All six of my children enjoy being with their siblings. I often feel that I am on the outside looking in at their great relationships, but I am truly grateful that they love each other so much and enjoy being together.

                    I know the important of developing close friendships within our families.  I am grateful to know that my circle of friends includes my husband, my children, my siblings, and my nieces and nephews as well as many other people on my husband's side of the family.  I have a special place in my heart for each of my dear family members and count all of them as my friends.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Doing Our Duty

                    Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when each of us - men, women, teenagers, and children - learn to do our duty to God, to our country, and to ourselves and our fellowmen.  Learning what we should do is one thing, but learning to fulfill our duty is something else.  We each have different duties to perform, but we also have the same or similar duties, such as setting good examples for others and helping others along our way.

                    Our Savior, even the Lord Jesus Christ, wants us to follow His example and give the same kind of service to others that He would do.  He taught us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  He taught us to be unselfish with our worldly goods in His answer to the rich young ruler.  When he fed the 5,000 people with two fish and seven loaves of bread, He taught us to see the needs of others.  He told us plainly in the Sermon on the Mount that we should seek first the kingdom of God.

                    How do we best follow the Lord's example and do His will?  The Lord wants us to lose our lives in service to each other.  Think of the good that could happen in our homes if every husband and every wife simply and sincerely served their spouse.  Think of the strength that would come to the rising generation if every parent truly served his or her child or children.  Think of the good that could take place in our communities if every member of those communities was more interested in helping others than in receiving help. 

                    Jesus Christ taught the importance of doing our duties when He declared:  "For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
                    "For every tree is known by his own fruit.  For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
                    "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil:  for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
                    "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
                    "Whosoever cometh to me and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
                    "He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock:  and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it:  for it was founded upon a rock.
                    "But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:43-49).

                    The Lord has promised His help when we follow His counsel, and He does not let us down.  President Ezra Taft Benson, the late President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "[The Lord] will not permit us to fail if we do our part.  He will magnify us even beyond our own talents and abilities….  It is one of the sweetest experiences that can come to a human being." (See Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 20).

                    We live in a period of great darkness in the world, a time when millions of people are seeking for greater light.  We can help our brothers and sisters find their way through the darkness by holding up the light of Christ for all mankind to see.  This is our duty as children of our Heavenly Father.

                    "Most of us don't mind doing what we ought to do when it doesn't interfere with what we want to do, but it takes discipline and maturity to do what we ought to do whether we want to or not.  Duty is too often what one expects from others and not what one does.  What people think and believe and plan are all very important, but what they do is the thing that counts most.  It is a call to throw out selfishness and to think of the common good of all.
                    "We must always remember that duty reminds us we are stewards of all that our Creator has entrusted to us.  When we accept duties willingly and faithfully, we find happiness.  Those who make happiness the chief objective of life are bound to fail, for happiness is a by-product rather than an end in itself.  Happiness comes from doing one's duty and knowing that his life is in harmony with God and His commandments….
                    "Every successful man and woman in the history of the world has known his or her duty and has had a firm desire to fulfill it…
                    "Life requires us to perform many duties - some routine, others more meaningful and important.  An integral part of duty is to set the proper example and to take every opportunity to bolster others along this uphill road of life…."  (See Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in "Learn Your Duty," Ensign, August 2012, 16-17.)

                    As Christians, we have a duty to do good to all men, and we should never "weary in well-doing" (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33).  We can start by doing good in our own homes and families and then branching out into our communities. When we teach the rising generation to understand that we all have a duty to serve our fellow human beings, we strengthen our homes, communities, and nation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Defend and Protect

                    The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the need to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.  The brilliance of the Framers of our glorious Constitution was once obvious to one and all, and Americans have been blessed with liberty for more than 235 years under this Supreme Law.  It is well past time, however, we admit to ourselves and to each other that the Constitution is slowly but surely being changed - legally and illegally.  The fact is that our nation is undergoing a fundamental change, and we are losing freedoms and liberty.

                    When General George Washington and his army of volunteer soldiers were discouraged about their lack of victory over Great Britain, Thomas Paine appeared in camp one night carrying an article he had written about the war.  His words were read to the troops and greatly encouraged them; they were also printed and distributed.  "These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph" (The Crisis, December 1776).

                    We must not be "summer soldiers" or "sunshine patriots."  The 2012 presidential election is over, and Barack Obama has been declared the winner.  We had the opportunity to fire him, but we were sabotaged by the mainstream media as well as countrymen who desire stuff over liberty.  Our nation is now in deep, deep trouble because our leaders lie to us and seek to cover up their corruption.  We can only hope that we have enough good men and women in Congress to bring this corruption to an end!

Patrick Henry felt very strongly about liberty when he made his famous statement:  "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it, Almighty God!  I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

How many Americans alive today consider liberty to be more important than life itself?  Our nation is moving towards the same conditions that caused the colonists to declare war on their mother country, Great Britain.  We are in much the same situation as the colonists were - without the Atlantic Ocean between us and a tyrannical government.  Today we are much better armed, but our government is much more desperate to control us.  There are many patriots in our midst who have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from threats both within the nation and outside our borders.  There is a movement going on right before our eyes to discredit our greatest military leaders.  General David Petraeus has been forced to resign from his former post of CIA Director because of an extra-marital affair.  General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, is now under the gun for "inappropriate communications" with a woman.  General Carter Ham, commander of our forces in Africa (AFRICOM), is apparently being forced into early retirement for attempting to rescue Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.  How many other generals and other flag officers are being discredited in an effort to control our military.

Much has been said about our Constitution being in danger.  The Prophet Joseph Smith indicated that the Constitution would be in so much danger that it would "hang by a thread."  The folks at The Heritage Foundation recently stated that the Constitution is now "on life support."  President Ezra Taft Benson said that "the federal government is trying to destroy [the Constitution] but at last it will be saved but not in Washington."  He said that blood may have to be shed before we save the Constitution.

                    Douglas Mayer wrote the following "last will and testament" for the Constitution as a comment to an article entitled "Obama Win Is Constitution's Loss" by Nat Hentoff.

"Fellow Countrymen,
                    "The following will serve as my last will and testament.  I am dying.  It will not be long now until I am gone.  No doctor or politician has the ability to fix what is wrong with me.  I leave to you nothing that I have not given already.
                    "I have given to you freedom yet you have chosen slavery.  I have given to you liberty yet you have chosen tyranny.  I have given you the ability to choose your own leaders and you have allowed the system to be high jacked leaving you no real choice.  My passing is a direct consequence of your actions.
                    "I have given you freedom, the freedom to choose the things that are best for you and your family.  I have given you the freedom to worship as you please, the freedom to speak what you believe, to write what you see fit, to gather as you'd like and to speak up to any powers that would prohibit the above.  The freedom to defend yourself and those you love against any and all who would seek to cause you harm, regardless of their position.  I have given to you the freedom to peaceably live in your home without it being invaded by government officials either physically or through the means of technology.  I have given you the right to due process of the law, a right dating back to the Magna Carta, and the right to be judged by your peers.  Most importantly I have given you the freedom to self-govern in whichever locality you choose to live.
                    "In spite of these freedoms you have chosen slavery.  Not slavery in the sense of chains and cages but a type much more nefarious.  You have surrendered your ability to think for yourself and speak what you believe for you know not what it is that you believe in.  You believe what you are told to believe and you think what has already been thought for you.  You have surrendered your ability to defend yourselves because you believe that someone else can protect you.  You have surrendered your ability to live peacefully in your own homes.  Fear has caused you to openly welcome your would be protectors whenever they see fit to stop by.  This same fear has led you to believe that you are safe while others simply disappear, taken by a government that has your best interest at heart.  These protectors do not care for your survival.  They demand your loyalty.  That is not freedom; it is slavery and the most dangerous cage is that which you refuse to see.
                    "I have given you liberty yet under the guise of equality you have chosen tyranny.  You have the liberty to succeed or fail based on your own merit.  Liberty is the ability to pursue your own happiness.  If you fail to catch it, you should try harder.  Instead you choose to alter your definition of happiness and believe that those who have worked to catch theirs should supplement yours.  You are not strong enough to succeed on your own so you choose leaders who promise to take from those who have. When the takers have taken too much and the givers have no more to give, there will be bloodshed in the streets.  Then you will know tyranny for you will no longer be useful to the tyrants who actively sought your allegiance.  When you finally meet tyranny you will know misery and it will be too late.
                    I have given you principles yet you choose to ignore them.  I have given you the resources to feed and warm hundreds of millions yet you choose to scoff at them.  These are all choices that you have made, but you have been lied to.  You have been led to believe that there are only two choices when in reality you have been able to choose whatever and whoever you desire all along.  The answer is not red or blue.  The direction is not left or right.  The answer is not forward or backward.  The answer is liberty, and it can still be yours.  I am over 200 years old but I do not have to die.  I am an idea, and ideas can live forever.  They simply must be rediscovered.
Yours truly,
The Constitution of the United States of America
                    Our Constitution has been under attack by communists by more than fifty years.  Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev said in 1959:  "We cannot expect Americans to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have communism."

                    Khrushchev also said, "You Americans are so gullible.  No, you won't accept communism outright.  But we'll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you finally wake up and find you already have communism.  We won't have to fight you; we'll so weaken your economy until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands."

                    Now our Constitution is under attack by those who desire to institute the laws of Sharia in place of constitutional principles.  Our answer to defending the Constitution from both socialism/communism and Islamic laws is to return to constitutional principles.  Our educational system has been moving towards socialism for many years as shown by the fact that a big majority of young adults between ages 18 and 30 supported Barack Obama and his tendency towards socialism. 

                    We brought ourselves to this point.  We elected and sent officials to Washington and then left them without enough supervision.  We sent our children to school and trusted their young intellects to teachers who corrupt their thinking.  We trusted their young hearts and minds to others rather than taking the time and making the effort to teach them ourselves. 

In order to defend and support the Constitution, we must wake up and do our duty.  We must do everything we can to make sure our elected officials keep their oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution.  We must teach the rising generation that America is still the greatest nation on earth because it is built upon a divinely inspired Constitution.  We must teach them that America is the last great hope of the entire world.  We must make sure that they know the true history of the United States, something that they are not getting in many of our schools.  We must teach them that their liberty and happiness depends on their defense of the Constitution.  We must teach patriotism to the rising generation.