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.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Judicial Power and Laws of US

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:  “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under … the Laws of the United States….”  Because this clause is in the Constitution, Americans have the right to appeal to the federal courts whenever there is a question about the interpretation or enforcement of any of the laws of the United States.

                “In many cases there are crimes or other situations where the federal government and the state have joint jurisdiction.  These cases frequently have to be referred to the federal courts to determine whether the defendant comes under a law of the United States.  If so, the federal courts have jurisdiction.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 596.)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book of Mormon Testifies of Atonement

                The Book of Mormon strengthens my faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ; its primary purpose is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ.  It teaches that “the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 13:40).  This wonderful book of scripture contains many examples of faithful disciples who had faith in Jesus Christ and received the blessings of His Atonement. 

The Book of Moron tells of many prophets who bore powerful testimony of the Savior in order to strengthen the faith of their children.  One such prophet was Nephi:  “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:26).

The Book of Mormon is a compilation of the teachings of numerous prophets through several centuries, but it was written for a future time.  It was written for our day – the fullness of times – in order to prepare the world for the return of the Savior to the earth.  Moroni, the last prophet of the Book of Mormon, declared, “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not.  But behold Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me” (Book of Mormon, Mormon 8:35).

“The Book of Mormon was written for our day and for the days ahead.  Approximately one million copies of the Book of Mormon were printed in the first 100 years following the Restoration.  This included 15 languages, a remarkable undertaking.  In the next 50 years (1930-80), more than 25 million copies were printed in 41 languages.  Since that time 30 years ago, 125 million additional copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed in 107 languages, including Selections from the Book of Mormon.  The influence and impact of the Book of Mormon will continue to grow as the kingdom of God is carried to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (Elder Neil L. Andersen, “The Book of Mormon – Strengthening Our Faith in Jesus Christ,” Ensign, October 2011, p. 39).

Elder Andersen explained that the Book of Mormon is an important second witness of Jesus Christ given to us to strengthen the powerful declarations of the Bible.  “We live in a time unlike any other. Scientific achievement allows medical care. Transportation, comfort, and convenience never imagined by generations who preceded us.  The earth is flooded with information and technology, enhancing family history work and the sharing of the gospel but also the proliferation of pornography, virtual violence, and other `evils and designs [that] exist in the hearts of conspiring men’ (D&C 89:4).  In much of the world, we live in a time of strong attachment to material possessions.
“These conditions can, if we are not careful, distract or entice us to move away from principles that are eternal and true for every generation….”

Elder Andersen reminded us that the divinity of Jesus Christ was widely accepted in the early 1970’s, but belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who atoned for our sins had faded significantly 20 years later.  “In today’s world, the arrogant arguments of Korihor, the anti-Christ, find listening ears:  `Why do ye look for a Christ?  For no man can know of anything which is to come.
“`Behold, these things which ye call prophecies … are foolish traditions of your fathers.
“`… Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see….
“`… Every man prosper[s] according to his [own] genius, and … conquer[s] according to his [own] strength’ (Alma 30:13-15, 17).

“We need our own secure and settled faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we need help in strengthening our families so that this faith flows into the hearts of our children and grandchildren.  Faith in Jesus Christ, when solidly anchored in our souls, brings true conversion, and in its wake come repentance, honest discipleship, miracles, spiritual gifts, and enduring righteousness. This is an important part of the divine mission of the Book of Mormon….
“To me the bold declaration of Jesus Christ is the very power of the Book of Mormon.  Of course, we must receive a spiritual witness that the book is of God.  But once that is obtained, the purposes of Christ, the reality of His life and Resurrection, and the clarity of what is necessary to follow Him and obtain eternal life with Him are strikingly tangible before us
“Accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, reading and pondering the great sermons on Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon bring a certain witness of their truthfulness.  I love to glide through the Book of Mormon feasting upon the powerful doctrines of Christ” (pp. 40-42).

The doctrines of Christ spoken of by Elder Andersen include the following:  In 1 Nephi 11:16 we learn of the condescension of God through Nephi’s vision of the tree of life.  In 2 Nephi 2:6 we read Lehi’s testimony that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.”  Jacob adds that Christ is “the keeper of the gate. and he employeth no servant there” (2 Nephi 9:41).  King Benjamin taught the qualities of discipleship with his testimony that there is “no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17). 

Just before he was burned to death, Abinadi testified, “But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death, is swallowed up in Christ.  He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened” (Mosiah 16:8-9).

Alma taught the doctrines of the Atonement, justice, and mercy:  “The plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).

The Book of Mormon includes the words of Christ: “This is my gospel which I have given unto you – that I came into the world to do the will of my Father….  And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross… that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good o whether they be evil” (3 Nephi 27:13-14).

The great prophet Mormon testified, “Know ye that ye must … repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God” (Mormon 7:5).  Mormon’s son Moroni taught, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32).

President Wilford Woodruff (1807-98) taught, “All the ingenuity of all the men under heaven could not compose and present to the world a book like the Book of Mormon.  Its principles are divine – they are from God.  They could never emanate from the mind of an imposter, or from the mind of a person writing a novel.  Why?  Because the promises and prophecies it contains are being fulfilled in the sight of all the earth” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Wilford Woodruff [2004], 119).

The Book of Mormon carries between its covers a spiritual, powerful, and convincing testimony that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah.  He is the “anointed Son of God who was sent to earth to bring about the resurrection of all men and the spiritual cleansing of those who will repent and follow Him.”

I too love to study the Book of Mormon and read the pleasing doctrines of Christ.  I know that He is the Son of God and that He made it possible for all mortals to become immortal and to atone for the sins of those who are willing to do His will.  I encourage you to join me in studying the Book of Mormon and learning the will of God for us in our day.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Appreciation and Honor

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we show appreciation and honor to those who so willingly stand between us and the enemy.  They sacrifice so much:  time with their spouses, children, parents and siblings; lives of ease and relaxation; and some – far too many – give their lives.  The least we can do is show appreciation and honor to them for their sacrifices.

I always thank the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines when I see them, but I feel so inadequate with my “thank you” when they are giving so much.  The following story – which may be “only a story” – illustrates several ways we can show appreciation to our defenders.  I am sure that many of my readers have better ways to show appreciation than I, but I know that we can never show these brave men and women too much appreciation and honor.  We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by remembering and honoring the sacrifices made in our behalf.

                I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat.  It was going to be a long flight.  “I’m glad I have a good book to read.  Perhaps I will get a short nap,” I thought.

                Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me.  I decided to start a conversation.  “Where are you headed?” I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

                “Petawawa.  We’ll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we’re being deployed to Afghanistan.”
                After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars.  It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time.

                As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch.  “No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch.  Probably wouldn’t be worth five bucks.  I’ll wait till we get to base.”  His friend agreed.

                I looked around at the other soldiers.  None were buying lunch.  I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill.  “Take a lunch to all those soldiers.” 

                She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly.  Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me.  “My son was a soldier in Iraq; it’s almost like you are doing it for him!”

                Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated.  She stopped at my seat and asked, “Which do you like best – beef or chicken?” 
                “Chicken,” I replied, wondering why she asked. 

She turned and went to the front of the plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.  “This is your thanks.”
After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.  A man stopped me.  “I saw what you did.  I want to be part of it.  Here, take this.”  He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked.  I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane.  When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, “I want to shake your hand.”  Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain’s hand.  With a booming voice, he said, “I was a soldier, and I was a military pilot.  Once, someone bought me a lunch.  It was an act of kindness I never forgot.” 

I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.  Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs.  A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine.  He left another twenty-five in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane.  Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned and walked away without saying a word.  Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.  I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars.  “It will take you some time to reach the base.  It will be about time for a sandwich.  God Bless You.”

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.  As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return.  These soldiers were giving their all for our country.  I could only give them a couple of meals.  It seemed so little.  A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”  That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.”  (Author unknown)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Secret Combinations, Part 3

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns secret combinations and how they work to destroy individuals, communities, and nations.  With all the intrigue in government circles today, I find myself thinking more and more about secret combinations; I decided to do some research on them and found enough information for several parts.  See Part 1 and Part 2.

The Lord cursed the American continents against secret combinations, and His judgments come upon all workers of darkness and secret combinations.  He brings the secret works out of darkness into the light.  The secret works but not the secret oaths and covenants of the Jaredites would be shown to the Nephites to teach them that the Jaredites were destroyed because they supported secret combinations. 

                “And now I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters [Urim and Thummin]….
                “And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying:
                “I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent, I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.
                “And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; yea, their secret abominations have been brought out of darkness and made known to us….
                “For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe….
                “Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe” (Alma 37:21, 24-26, 28, 31).

                Secret combinations have secret signs and words (code words that only their members know), and they make covenants to protect each other from suffering the consequences of their wicked works.

                “And now behold, those murders and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton….  But behold, they were more numerous among the more wicked part … and were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers….
                “And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band, who had taken this covenant.
                “And thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God.
                “And whosoever of those who belonged to their band should reveal unto the world of their wickedness and their abominations, should be tried, not according to the laws of their country, but according to the laws of their wickedness, which had been given by Gadianton and Kishkumen” (Helaman 6:18, 22-24).

                Secret combinations prosper when the people support their wickedness.

  “And now behold, those murders and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton.  And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band.  But behold, they were more numerous among the more wicked part of the Lamanites.  And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers.
                “And it was they who did murder the chief judge Cezoram, and his son, while in the judgment-seat; and behold they were not found.
                “And now it came to pass that when the Lamanites found that there were robbers among them they were exceedingly sorrowful; and they did use every means in their power to destroy them off the face of the earth.
                “But behold, Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings” (Helaman 6:18-21).

                “Yea, wo be unto you because of that great abomination which has come among you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea, to that secret band which was established by Gadianton!” (Helaman 7:25).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

National Conversation about Marriage

            Traditional marriage – the foundation of civilization – is under attack in spite of the fact that 41 states and our federal government affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman.  There is much need for a national conversation about marriage.  We each must decide if and why we support traditional marriage.

The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on March 26 and 27 in cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 with their decisions coming later.   Yesterday, thousands of pro-marriage supporters gathered in our nation’s capital to join the March for Marriage.  I firmly believe that the Court should uphold these laws and support the constitutional rights of citizens and/or their elected representatives to make marriage policy. 

Whereas our leaders have previously supported traditional marriage, President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) have all “evolved” into support for same-sex marriage.  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) responded to the latest announcement by reiterating his support for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  There has also been “a broad and diverse array of scholars” who has filed more than 50 amicus briefs defending marriage at the Supreme Court.

In our efforts to protect and preserve traditional marriage, we can learn much from the French.  Last November 100,000 people gathered in Paris to protest a bill to recognize same-sex marriage.  On January 13, 2013, supporters covered Paris with bright pink.  The National Assembly passed the bill any way, prompting the pro-marriage movement to gather 700,000 signatures in just over a week to demand that the law receive more study.  Their request was denied, and the bill will be debated in the French senate.

 David Azerrad at The Foundry posted,  “The French pro-marriage movement has forced a national conversation on the redefinition of marriage.  They’ve flipped public opinion on same-sex marriage:  A majority is now opposed to it.  And they’ve built support with the general public and attracted many people who are neither conservative nor religious.”

Azerrad’s article explained that the French achievement came for several reasons:  “First of all, they made this a debate about the well-being of children – not the desires of adults….  In all public pronouncements, the focus is always on the needs and rights of children….
“Second, they’ve put together a diverse coalition that includes not only the traditionalist and Christian groups one would expect to be opposed to gay marriage but al homosexuals, socialists, feminists, Jews, and Muslims….
“Lastly, they’ve avoided the cardinal sins of the vacuous age we live in:  stuffiness and uptightness.  The government called its bill `Marriage for All,’ so the marriage activists called their movement `The March for All.’  Their official color is bright pink. Their slogans are clever and punchy…..
“What the French have shown us is how to craft a rhetorically powerful message that makes clear that the marriage debate is not about homosexuality but the needs and rights of children.”

Former Senator Jim DeMint  recently spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and highlighted the importance of marriage for America and limited government:  “We cannot hope to limit government if we do not stand up for our core civil society institutions, beginning with marriage.  Marriage is the foundation of America’s cultural stability and economic prosperity, and the courts have no business overruling the people’s democratic decisions in the states.  People can love whom they want and live the way they choose, but no one is entitled to redefine a foundational institution of civil society that has existed for centuries.
“In two weeks, the Supreme Court will hear arguments against the right of states to protect marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Judicial activism is to blame for the Court even considering these cases.  The Supreme Court should uphold these laws.  It must recognize that the American people should make these decisions, not unelected judges.  We are told that the social issues divide Americans and that we should stop talking about them.  We cannot.
“Economic and social conservatism go hand-in-hand.  They’re natural allies.”

As usual, The Heritage Foundation is at the forefront of this battle and show that they can craft policy that will benefit all Americans without changing the definition of marriage.  The Heritage Foundation, working with the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Family Research Council, has produced a shortpamphlet making the case for marriage in everyday language.  This pamphlet answers numerous questions, including:  What is marriage?  Why does marriage matter to the government?  What are the consequences of redefining marriage?

Heritage provided a background report on marriage entitled “Marriage:  What It Is, Why It Matters, and theConsequences of Redefining It;”  Heritage also published a book to support traditional marriage entitled What Is Marriage?  Man and Woman– A Defense.

The abstract for the background report on marriage states:  “Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths.  Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children.  By encouraging the norms of marriage – monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence – the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role.  The future of this country depends on the future of marriage.  The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.”

I hope that you will join our national conversation about marriage.  The Supreme Court cases held recently provide a “window of opportunity” for us to explain what marriage is and why it matters.  Please study the references linked above and become knowledgeable in ways to “flip” non-marriage supporters to traditional marriage. I also suggest that we follow the French example and stress the fact that marriage is about the rights of children and not the desires of adults.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Too Many Rules

                I am in full agreement with the Founders of our nation who believed that each human being is capable of governing himself or herself if taught proper principles.  I believe the United States Constitution can govern our nation sensibly and well.  I believe in limited government with limited laws and regulations to protect us from enemies both foreign and domestic.  I believe government is necessary to protect my life, liberty, and property, but I do not believe government should attempt to protect me from my mistakes.

I believe it is my duty – and yours – to obey the laws of the land.  I believe that each of us is “… subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12).

                I believe there are too many laws and regulations in our government, and I believe politicians of both parties are responsible for the sad circumstances of our nation today.  I believe that We the People share this responsibility because we failed to keep our eyes on the politicians and because the majority of us fail to live the higher laws of morality. 

The laws and regulations being forced upon us “for our own good” are long-past the point of protecting us.  In fact, they are obviously being written in an effort to control us rather than for our liberty.  A famous example of too many regulations is the Health Care Act, better known as Obamacare.  Why do we even need more than 2000 pages – so many pages that many Senators and Representatives did not even bother to read the bill before voting for it.  Another example is the crazed frenzy of those trying to control criminals by taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.  While driving recently, I saw a road sign stating that it was a state law to obey road signs.  This seems so redundant to me because drivers should be wise enough to understand that the highway signs are there for their safety and that there should not be a need for a law to force obedience.

                I do not know the author for the following the story – which I recognize as only a story - but I think it illustrates well how our lives are being impacted by the many agencies, laws, and regulations being forced upon us by politicians.  I know from my scripture study that God will never cleanse the earth by another flood, and I know that rainbows are proof of God’s promise to never flood the earth again. In fact, I know from the scriptures that God will burn the earth when mortals become ripe in iniquity and reach the point where repentance is impossible.  I also know from the scriptures that God will save those people who are living righteously before allowing fire to consume the earth.  Even knowing all this, I enjoyed reading this story because it illustrates our insane world.  It vividly tells the truth about our politicians and how they are being disloyal to our trust and giving us too many rules!

In year 2013, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in America and said, “Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me.  Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans.”

                God gave the blueprints for the Ark to Noah and said, “You have six months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for forty days and forty nights.”
                Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard – but no Ark.  “Noah!” He roared.  “I’m about to start the rain!  Where is the Ark?”

                “Forgive me, Lord,” begged Noah, “but things have changed.  I needed a Building Permit.  I’ve been arguing with the Boat Inspector about the need for a sprinkler system.  My homeowners association claims that I’ve violated the Neighborhood By-laws by building the Ark in my back yard and exceeding the height limitations.  We had to go to the local Planning Committee for a decision. 

“Then the City Council and the Electricity Company demanded a boat load of money for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions to clear the passage for the Ark’s move to the sea.  I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear none of it.

“Getting the wood was another problem.  There’s a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the Greater Spotted Barn Owl.  I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls – but no go!
“When I started gathering the animals, PETA took me to court.  They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will.  They argued the accommodations were too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.

“Then the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that I couldn’t build the Ark until they’d conducted an environmental impact study on Your proposed flood.

“I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I’m supposed to hire for my building crew.  The Immigration Department is checking the visa status of most of the people who want to work.  The labor unions say I can’t use my sons and insist I have to hire only union workers with ark-building experience.

“To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.  So forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least ten years for me to finish this ark.”

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine and a rainbow stretched across the sky.  Noah looked up in wonder and asked, “You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?”
“No,” said the Lord.  “The [politicians] beat me to it.”  (Author Unknown)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Benjamin Franklin

                Benjamin Franklin, one of the most famous of our Founding Fathers and a signer of the United States Constitution, was born January 17, 1706, on Milk Street in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Benjamin’s father, Josiah Franklin, was born at Ecton, Northamptonshire, England, on December 23, 1657, the son of Jane White and Thomas Franklin, a blacksmith-farmer.  Benjamin’s mother, Abiah Folger, was born on August 15, 1667, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Folger, a miller and schoolteacher, and his wife Mary Morrill, a former indentured servant.

Josiah Franklin had a large family of seventeen children.  He married Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and immigrated with her to Boston in 1683 with their three children; they had four children after arriving in America.  After Anne’s death, Josiah married Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689, in the Old South Meeting House by Samuel Willard.  Benjamin was the eighth child of Abiah and Josiah; however, he was Josiah’s fifteenth child and tenth and last son.

Abiah Folger Franklin was born into one of the Puritan families that fled from England when King Charles I began persecuting Puritans.  They immigrated to Massachusetts in 1635 in order to establish a purified Congregationalist Christianity there.  Abiah’s father was “the sort of rebel destined to transform colonial America.” He was clerk of the court when he was jailed for defending middle-class shopkeepers and artisans who were in conflict with wealthy landowners and disobeying the local magistrate in doing so.  Benjamin Franklin followed in his grandfather’s footsteps while battling the wealthy Penn family that owned the Pennsylvania Colony. 

Benjamin was never ashamed of his roots in the working class and became famous due to his willingness to work and try new things.  He became a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman and diplomat.  Franklin was a “major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity.  He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass `armonica’.  He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university.”

Benjamin Franklin is known as “The First American” for his early and tireless campaign for colonial unity and as an author and spokesman for several colonies while in London.  While serving as the “first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation.  Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment.  In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, `In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.”  To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin, `the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.’”

As the British postmaster in the colonies for many years, Franklin set up the first national communications network.  He was also active in affairs and politics on the community, colonial, state, national, and international levels.  He served as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1785 to 1788.  He became “one of the most prominent abolitionists” when he freed his slaves toward the end of his life.

Franklin is “one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers” because of his colorful life as well as his legacy of scientific and political achievement.  He is honored on coinage, money, warships, names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies.  Even two centuries after his death, he is honored in countless cultural references.

               Benjamin Franklin married Deborah Read, and the couple was blessed with three children (William Franklin, Francis Folger Franklin, and Sarah Franklin Bache.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Judicial Power and the Constitution

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:  “The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution….”  This provision in the Constitution simply states that the people can take any constitutional question directly to the federal court system.

                “Even though the Founders emphasized that the jurisdiction of the state courts was to be kept entirely separate from that of the federal courts, if a constitutional question is raised during the litigation of a state case, the matter can be immediately referred to the federal courts for a decision.

                “One question answered by the Founders in connection with this provision was… Why must constitutional questions always be referred to a federal court?

                “[Alexander Hamilton explained that the] federal judiciary is the exclusive guardian of the Constitution:  `It seems scarcely to admit of controversy that the judiciary authority of the Union ought to extend … to all [cases] which concern the execution of the provisions expressly contained in the articles of Union ….  There ought always to be a constitutional method of giving efficacy to constitutional provisions….’

                “[Hamilton also argued that” laws must conform to the Constitution:  `The Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution….”  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 595-596.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scriptures Teach Atonement

                Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of every mortal who will come unto Him.  During His Atonement, Jesus Christ suffered for our heartaches, pains, sorrows, transgressions, and sins and made it possible for us to return to God’s presence.  His death and Resurrection provide a way for every mortal to be resurrected and to become immortal.

                The main purpose for the scriptures is to testify of Jesus Christ and to help us come unto Him and partake of His atoning sacrifice.  The scriptures contain numerous teachings, stories, and symbols that can help us learn about the Savior.  We can gain much knowledge about Him by diligently studying the scriptures.

                We learn from the scriptures that all things given by God teach us about His Son.  Moses wrote, “And now, behold, I say unto you:  This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten who shall come in the meridian of time.
                “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath:  all things bear record of me” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6:62-63).

                Nephi, an ancient American prophet, taught his people, “Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 11:4).

                We learn from the scriptures that all prophets testify of Jesus Christ.  Another Book of Mormon prophet named Abinadi told the wicked King Noah and his priests, “For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people?  Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began – have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?
                “Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?
                “Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?” (Mosiah 13:33-35).

                There are many “types” or “shadows” of Jesus Christ in the scriptures.  One of the most obvious is Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice in a similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God.  This experience is found in Genesis 22:1-14.
                “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test or prove] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham:  and he said, Behold, here I am.
                “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
                “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 
                “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
                “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
                “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
                “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son [Yes, my son.]  And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
                “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:  so they went both of them together.
                “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
                “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
                “And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
                “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him:  for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
                “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns:  and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
                “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh:  as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.”

                I have read and studied this experience many times, and I am amazed at the obedience and strength shown by both Abraham and Isaac.  As a parent and grandparent, I know how difficult this experience was for Abraham.  I realize that our Heavenly Father must have felt great pain as He watched His Son suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary; I also recognize that Abraham must have desired his “cup” to pass from him.  Nevertheless, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ – and Abraham and Isaac – never failed us.  They made the necessary sacrifices in order that we might have the opportunity and knowledge to prove ourselves worthy to return to God’s presence.

I recognize that God gave this experience to Abraham in order to show Abraham what Abraham was capable of.  God already knew that Abraham would be obedient to His command, but He wanted Abraham to know it also.  I also recognize that Isaac had the opportunity to exercise his own agency in this experience.  The scriptures call him a “lad”, but he was probably much older – maybe in his thirties.  No matter how old he was, he was definitely big enough and strong enough to keep Abraham from binding him and putting him on the altar.  He carried the wood for the fire (just as Jesus Christ carried his cross), and he most likely climbed on the altar and laid still enough for his father to find his hands and feet (just as Jesus Christ went willingly to His death).  In return for his obedience, Abraham – through Isaac – became the father of the faithful (just as Jesus Christ became our spiritual Father through His gift of eternal life.

                Jacob, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, :  “Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name.  And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our sous to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:5).

                We can learn about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifices through many such many experiences in the scriptures.  If we are willing to pay the price through diligent study of the scriptures, we can gain much understanding about our Savior and His Atonement.  I invite you to join me in learning more about our Savior by gaining more understanding of His teachings, stories, and symbols in the scriptures.

Friday, March 22, 2013

We Reap What We Sow

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we sow good deeds.  When we are kind and helpful to others, good deeds come back to us.  I do not believe in coincidences; I believe that nothing happens by accident.  I believe that Heavenly Father is watching over His children – all of us.  I believe that He is moving the “pieces” on this game we call “life;” I believe that He shifts things around for us and lets things work out in our favor.  All He asks in return is that we remember Him and give all the glory to Him.  When good things happen to us, we should pay it forward and help someone else; on those rare occasions, we may even be fortunate enough to pay it backwards!

                There is an old saying that when we throw our bread out on the water, it may come back buttered.  We live in a world that is gathering darkness each day, but we are each capable of bringing some light into the lives of someone else.  As conditions worsen, we may each have the opportunity to help someone who is down on their luck and bring blessings into many lives.

                The following story may be just a story; then again, it may be a true story because things like this happen in real life.  They may even be happening every day but are done so quietly that we never hear about them.  We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by sowing good deeds along our path and helping other people. 

                “Good morning,” said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the cold ground.  The man slowly looked up.  This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life.  Her coat was new.  She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. 
The man’s first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.  “Leave me alone,” he growled.
                To his amazement, the woman continued standing.  She was smiling – her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.  “Are you hungry?” she asked.
                “No,” he answered sarcastically.  “I’ve just come from dining with the President.  Now go away.”
                The woman’s smile became even broader.  Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.  “What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily.  “I said to leave me alone.”
                Just then a policeman came up.  “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked.
 “No problem here, officer,” the woman answered.  “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet.  Will you help me?”
                The officer scratched his head.  “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years.  What do you want with him?”
                “See that cafeteria over there?” she asked.  “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for a while.”
                “Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted.  “I don’t want to go in there!” 
Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.  “Let me go, officer.  I didn’t do anything.”  This is a good deal for you, Jack” the officer answered.  “Don’t blow it.”
                Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner.  It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived.
                The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.  “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked.  “What is all this; is this man in trouble?”
                “This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
                “Not in here!” the manager replied angrily.  “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”
                Old Jack smiled a toothless grin.  “See, lady.  I told you so.  Now if you’ll let me go.  I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
                The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled.  “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” 
                “Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently.  “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
                “And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?”
                “What business is that of yours?”
                “I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”
                The woman smiled again.  “I thought that might make a difference.”  She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle.  “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
                “No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied.  “I’m on duty.” 
                “Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
                “Yes, ma’am.  That would be very nice.”
                The cafeteria manager turned on his heel.  “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”
                The officer watched him walk away.  “You certainly put him in his place,” he said.
                “That was not my intent.  Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”
                The woman sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest.  She stared at him intently.  “Jack, do you remember me?”
                Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes.  “I think so – I mean you do look familiar.”
                “I’m a little older perhaps,” she said.  “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”
                “Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly.  He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
                “I was just out of college,” the woman began.  “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything.  Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment.  I walked the streets for days.  It was February, and I was cold and nearly starving.  I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
                Jack lit up with a smile.  “Now I remember,” he said.  “I was behind the serving counter.  You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat.  I said that it was against company policy.” 
                “I know,” the woman continued.  “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it.  I was afraid that you would get into trouble.  Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”
                “So you started your own business?” Old Jack said. 
                “I got a job that very afternoon.  I worked my way up.  Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.”  She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.  “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons.  He’s the personnel director of my company.  I’ll go talk to him now, and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.”  She smiled.  “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet.  If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.”
                There were tears in the old man’s eyes.  “How can I ever thank you?” he said. 
                “Don’t thank me,” the woman answered.  “To God goes the glory.  Thank Jesus.  He led me to you.”
                “Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
                “On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered.  “Thank you.  I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget.  And…  And thank you for the coffee.”  (Author unknown)