Declaration of Independence

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Decisions Determine Destiny

                We can bring the greatest of all liberties into our individual lives by living true and correct principles.  This liberty comes to us as we live as though Jesus Christ were walking beside us. 

                The liberty principle for today is the fourth in a series of true principles suggested by Elder Richard G. Scott in his book 21 Principles – Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit.  I will merely introduce the principle and suggest that you obtain Elder Scott’s book in order to truly understand this principle.  Elder Scott explained that principles “are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances.  A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances.”  You can see principle #1 “True Principles of Freedom” here, principle #2 “Trust the Holy Ghost” here, principle #3 “Try New Things” here,  and principle #4 “Accept Promptings” here.  

                Principle #5 is the simple fact that our final destiny is determined by the decisions we make and the actions we take because of those decisions.  Elder Scott wrote, “It can appear that we control outcomes in our life, but we do not.  Worthiness, righteousness, faith in Jesus Christ, and the plan of our Father assure a pleasant, productive future, while lying, cheating, and violating the laws of personal purity assure a life of misery here on earth and beyond the veil, unless there is the requisite repentance.

                “You may be tired of others trying to run your life – always telling you what to do.  After all, you have the right to make your own choices.  That is correct.  You have that right.  It is your agency.  The secret to solve problems in your life will be found in understanding and using the eternally beneficial interaction of your agency and His truth.

                “…Please understand that no one can change truth….  Satan knows that, so he tries to create an atmosphere where one unwittingly begins to feel that he can not only choose what to do, but can determine what is right to do.  Satan strives to persuade us to live outside truth by rationalizing our actions as the right of choice.

                “But our Eternal Father defined truth and established what is right and wrong before the creation of this earth.  He also fixed the consequences of obedience and disobedience to those truths.  He defended our right to choose our path in life so that we would grow, develop, and be happy, but we do not have the right to choose the consequences of our acts….”

                As we think about how our decisions determine our destiny, we should reflect on this statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith:  “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (History of the Church, 5:134-35).

                Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about the true path to happiness and listed the following steps to be happy:  “Always be grateful for your blessings, especially your heritage.  When we are blessed with goodly parents, we should be grateful.  This is the debt each of us owes for our heritage….  Second, commit yourself to the eternal institution of the family as the foundation for happiness…. The family is an eternal institution ordained of God from before the foundation of the world….  Third, be involved in the world in a positive way and be a powerful force for good.  A significant challenge is to adhere to the scriptural injunction to live in the world but not of the world (see John 17)….  Fourth, live and communicate your standards to those you interact with….  Finally, be a light to the people where you live.”

                Elder Cook then described how he and his wife started their marriage in the San Francisco Bay area in the mid-1960s.  There were few members of the Church there, and the area had “become a magnet for drug abuse and all manner of promiscuous and sinful conduct.”  A stake president was concerned enough about the situation to ask the leadership of the Church if Church members should even remain in the area.  The issue was given to President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) who was then a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and he met with a group of priesthood leaders to discuss the problem.  He “told them that the Lord had not inspired the construction of a temple in our area only to have the members leave” and gave the following counsel:  “1. Create Zion in our hearts and homes.  2.  Be a light to those among whom we live.  3. Focus on the ordinances and principles taught in the temple.”  Elder Cook summarized, “If we will follow President Lee’s counsel today, we can successfully be in the world but not of the world.  However, we must each determine whether we will look to the world or focus on the temple.”  (See “The True Path to Happiness,Ensign, June 2011.)  

                President Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about decisions determining destiny.  “Youth of today are faced with monumental decisions.  The world in which you live is not a play world or a pretend world.  It is a very competitive world that will require the very best that you can bring to it, and it will reward you when your best efforts are put forth.  Important to remember is the solemn truth:  Obedience to God’s law will bring liberty and eternal life, whereas disobedience will bring captivity and death.
                “It has been said by one, years ago, that history is influenced by seemingly small decisions, and so are people’s lives.  Our lives will depend upon the decisions which we make – for decisions determine destiny” (“Decisions Determine Destiny,” Liahona, July 1980).  

                Three Apostles have echoed the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith in telling us that we can determine our destiny by the decisions we make.  We can confirm their counsel by thinking about the decisions made by various people in history.  1) Those who laughed and made fun of Noah for building the Ark were no longer laughing when the rain fell and the water got deep.  2) Those that rebelled against Moses were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.  Moses led the children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years until the older generation had all died.  3) Fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith made the decision to pray about which church to join.  The consequences of his choice have blessed the lives of millions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will affect all mankind.  We would be wise to heed the counsel of Apostles and Prophets to make good decisions in order to determine that our destiny is one of happiness. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Watchmen on the Towers

                A certain parable from the scriptures has been on my mind for a number of days and is still haunting me today.  I decided that there must be a good reason why I continue to ponder this parable about watchmen on the towers and decided to share my thoughts about it.  I first studied this parable many years ago but was aware of its principles before studying it.  Isaiah wrote about the importance of having watchmen on the towers (Isaiah 52:8) as did numerous other prophets.  This parable was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833 at a time when the newly organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was suffering great persecution in Missouri.

                “A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants:  Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive-trees;
                “And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive-trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.
                “Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive-trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
                “And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves:  And what need hath my lord of this tower?
                “And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves:  What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?         “Might not this money be given to the exchangers?  For there is no need of these things.
                “And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.
                “And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive-trees.
                “Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why!  What is the cause of this great evil?
                “Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and – after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof – built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?
                “And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:45-54).

                This parable refers to spiritual safety.  We have been blessed with prophets, apostles and other spiritual leaders who warn us of spiritual dangers.  Over the past couple of weeks I have come to realize that there are other watchmen on towers to whom we should listen.  We can use the above parable as a pattern in finding some of the watchmen of our day.

                God preserved America, a “spot of land” that is “very choice.”  He inspired his “servants” – the Founders of this nation and the Framers of the United States Constitution – on how to keep his “olive-trees” – the inhabitants of this land – safe.  The Founders and the Framers did their work, and they did it well.  They established a brand new kind of government that put “watchmen” on the “towers”  - our Constitution and honorable leaders.  These “watchmen” have shouted out warnings over the years, and the United States has withstood its “enemies” for over two hundred years.

                The problems of our day were caused by people – Presidents and Congresses – who should have been watching for enemies and doing those things necessary to protect us.  It appears that they have forgotten their purpose and are colluding with the enemy or simply looking out for themselves.  They are definitely “asleep” or have already “fled.”

                There are however still watchmen on the towers trying to warn us of danger and lead us to safety.  Some of these watchmen are Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.  Other watchmen are on duty in the House of Representatives.  Still other watchmen are in non-governmental towers such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck who are sending their warnings over the Internet and airways.  There are many other watchmen who see the “enemies” all around us – Obamacare, the national debt, the open borders, etc. – and are crying out their warnings. 

                To which group of watchmen do we listen?  Do we listen to the ones who are calling out the dangers or do we listen to the other group mocking those who are trying to save our nation?

                Cindy Simpson believes that Ted Cruz is our Tilly Smith.   Tilly was on vacation in Thailand in 2004 when she recognized the signs of the approaching tsunami and called out a warning.  She saved over one hundred lives because they listened to her.

                “We can imagine that many of the sunscreen-lathered beachgoers were at first annoyed by Tillie’s bold interruption, and might even have called her a `wacko bird.’  Some may have been initially so irritated by her family’s warning, ruining their little slice of paradise in the sand – that they saw not a heroine, but an impudent little girl; or worse, called her names like `short-sighted fraud,’ `terrorist,’ `extremist,’ or `snake-oil salesman.’  Even though others could have observed the very same signs, they may not have recalled their own geography studies, and likely hesitated to heed Tilly’s alarm – wanting first to take a quick opinion poll from the rest of the in-crowd.

                “One doesn’t need to recall simple math or economics lessons from school to hear and recognize the ugly sucking sound emanating from our nation’s 17-plus trillion dollar debt clock….
                “Rather than look out beyond their microphones, up from opinion pieces, or outside the beltway cocktail party circuit to glance at that clock – many who should know better were annoyed at Senator Cruz’s interruption of their fantasy world.  And a fantasy it is – to believe that everything would be just swell if Cruz and his Tea Party fans would only shut up and get with the establishment program.

                “Even worse, although Cruz is armed with much more wisdom and credentials than a ten-year-old who aced a geography quiz, he didn’t receive much assistance form his family of fellow GOP-ers in the Senate.  Most were embarrassed at his audacious rocking of the boat and strived to distance themselves from him.  Instead of echoing his warnings, they huddled with the opposition and flung out a few insults of their own.

                “Along with the mainstream media, even some conservative pundits insist Cruz’s strategy and the shutdown resulted in a failure for Republicans and a political win for Obama and the Democrats.  Practically all the coverage and articles focused on that spin and the political fallout.  Rare has been the speaker, commentator, or writer who looks up and out over the horizon, past their noses and laptops, to notice, much less address – the very real disaster lurking there:  a tsunami that will spread well beyond Washington politics, reaching deeply into our pocketbooks and those of generations to come, while flooding the private spaces of our doctor’s examining rooms….”

                Tilly Smith was a “watchman on a tower” and was able to save many people from the tsunami.  There are watchmen on the towers of our nation who are warning us about the economic and political “tsunami” that is quickly approaching.  Will we listen and run to safety – or will we join the mockers?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rules for Patriots

                You may have read Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, and you may have noticed that Alinsky dedicated his book to Satan.  I read and reviewed Rules for Radicals nearly four years ago; therefore, I will not review I again.  I do however encourage you to read enough of the book in order to understand how progressive radicals work.

                Matt B. Kibbe and his associates at FreedomWorks have published a “pocket primer for patriotic Americans” and entitled it Rules for Patriots.  They dedicated their e-book to “America’s Founders and the Sons of Liberty, who won our freedom.” 

                The Rules for Patriots are as follow but without any explanation.  I encourage you to go to the above site to read the rules or to this site to print a hard copy of the fourteen page book.

                Rule 1:  Freedom Works
                Rule 2:  Freedom’s Right
                Rule 3:  Freedom Requires Work
                Rule 4:  We Win by Building
                Rule 5:  Government Goes to Those Who Show Up
                Rule 6:  Winning is More Important Than Who Gets the Credit
                Rule 7:  Think Like a Revolutionary
                Rule 8:  Drive the Conversation
                Rule 9:  Everyone is a Printing Press
                Rule 10:  The Day After Election Day is Even More Important
                Rule 11:  Leviathan Won’t Go Away in a Day
                Rule 12:  Recruit for the Future

                Rule 13:  Don’t Tread on Me

Monday, October 28, 2013

John Paul Jones

                John Paul was born on July 6, 1747, on the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright located on the southwest coast of Scotland.  His father was John Paul (Sr.) who was a gardener at Arbigland, and his mother was named Jean Duff.  His parents were married on November 29, 1733. 

                When John Paul was 12 or 13 years old he sailed out of Whitehaven in the northern English county of Cumberland as an apprentice aboard the Friendship under Captain Benson.  He went to visit his older brother William Paul who had married and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia; William was also the manager of a colonial estate and the adopted son of a rich plantation owner named William Jones.  John Paul served on several ships over the next few years.  William Jones died in 1760 and left his entire estate to William Paul, John Paul’s older brother.  William Paul died in the spring of 1773 and left the 3,000-acre Virginia plantation to John Paul who then adopted the name of Jones.

                John Paul Jones preferred the name Paul Jones.  He offered his services to the Continental Congress and was commissioned as a Lieutenant on the Alfred, one of the four ships in the American fleet.  Jones was promoted to Captain of the Providence.  He defeated sixteen British ships, including eight vessels that were captured and brought to American ports as prizes of war.  As Captain of the Ranger, he was the first to fly the new American flag while on his way to France.  Jones captured the British sloop Drake while sailing the Irish Sea coast of England. 

                While Jones was having successful voyages, Lord Dunmore and his Tory soldiers destroyed his plantation in Virginia.  This tragedy did not stop Jones.  He took command of the Bohomme Richard (Poor Richard) in 1779.  The ship was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.  On September 23 Jones and his squadron encountered a large convoy of British ships in the North Sea.  The Richard engaged in a furious battle with the Serapis.  The American ship sailed alongside the British ship and tied the ships together.  The Richard had great holes in its side and began to sink.  Captain Pearson of the Serapis demanded the surrender of the Richard.

                Jones defiantly answered with his famous words:  “No, I have just begun to fight!”  The British surrendered after fighting hand to hand for three hours.  Jones had won the battle and was on the deck of the captured Serapis when the Bohomme Richard sank. 

                Jones was the first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolution.  Even though he “made among America’s political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day.  As such he is sometimes referred to as the `Father of the United States Navy’.”

                America abolished its Navy after winning the war, and Jones studied naval tactics on board French ships.  Empress Catherine of Russia persuaded Jones to serve as rear admiral in the Black Sea Fleet in 1787, but Jones’ new position was made extra difficult by jealous Russian officers.

                Jones retired to Paris in May 1790.  He was appointed in June 1792 as the U.S. Consul to treat with the Dey of Algiers for the release of American captives.  He was unable to fulfill his appointment because of his death from interstitial nephritis.  He “was found lying face-down on his bed in his third-floor Paris apartment, No. 19 Rue de Tournon, on July 18, 1792.  A small procession of servants, friends and loyal soldiers walked his body the four miles (6 km) for burial.  He was buried in Paris at the Saint Louis Cemetery, which belonged to the French royal family.  Four years later, France’s revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten.  The area was later used as a garden, a place to dispose of dead animals and where gamblers bet on animal fights.”

                The United States did not allow the body of Jones to remain in such a place.  U.S. Ambassador to France General Horace Porter searched for six years trying to locate Jones’ body.  He identified the remains in 1905.  “Thanks to the kind donation of a French admirer, Pierrot Francois Simmoneau, who had donated over 460 francs, Jones’ body was preserved in alcohol and interred in a lead coffin `in the event that should the United States decide to claim his remains, they might more easily be identified.’  Porter knew what to look for in his search….”

                Using an old map of Paris, Porter was able to identify the site of the cemetery.  “Sounding probes were used to search for lead coffins and five coffins were ultimately exhumed.  The third, unearthed on April 7, 1905, was later identified by a meticulous port-mortem examination by Doctors Capitan and Georges Papillault as being that of Jones.  The autopsy confirmed the original listing of cause of death….      

                “Jones’ body was ceremonially removed from interment … and brought to the United States aboard the USS Brooklyn, escorted by three other cruisers.  On approaching the American coastline, seven U.S. Navy battleships joined the procession escorting Jones’ body back to America.  On April 24, 1906, Jones’ coffin was installed in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, following a ceremony in Dahlgren Hall, presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt who gave a lengthy tributary speech.  On January 26, 1913, the Captain’s remains were finally re-interred in a magnificent bronze and marble sarcophagus at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis.”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Guarantee of Republicanism

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article IV, Section 4:  “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….”  This provision in the Constitution is known as the “Guarantee Clause” and guaranteed that each State would have “freely elected representative government” – even if the federal government had to intervene in the affairs of the State.

                “A republican form of government is one in which the people are governed by freely elected representatives.  It is also presumed to be one in which political power is divided, balanced, and limited, much as in the arrangement set forth in the United States Constitution.  The people of a state would therefore not be allowed to set up a dictatorship even with popular support.
                “The two greatest threats to the survival of a republican form of government are invasion and insurrection.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 639.)

                Robert G. Natelson of The Heritage Foundation explained:  “This section is called the Guarantee Clause, because by its terms the federal government makes certain guarantees to the states….  [One of those guarantees was] that the federal government will assure the states `a Republican Form of Government.’  The guarantee of protection from domestic violence may be treated as part of the republican guarantee….”
                Natelson continued by explaining that the Founders believed “the `Republican Form’ of government” had three criteria, “the lack of any of which would render a government un-republican.”  The three criteria are:  1) “popular rule … political decisions had to be made by a majority … of voting citizens.”  2) “no monarch … monarchy, even constitutional monarchy, was inconsistent with republican government.”  3) “the rule of law.  Ex post facto laws, bills of attainder, extreme debtor-relief measures – most kinds of retroactive legislation, for example, were deemed inconsistent with the rule of law, and therefore un-republican.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 283-284.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Kingdom for A Horse

                Have you ever wondered about this famous line from Shakespeare:  “A horse!  A horse!  My kingdom for a horse!”?  Shakespeare’s statement and a common saying go hand in hand.  What in the world caused the writer of this saying and Shakespeare to write about a lost horse?  The following famous legend summarizes the events that took place on August 22, 1485, at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  

                Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, wanted to be King of England.  He gathered an army of about 5,000 soldiers. Even though he had little combat experience, he had experienced advisers – noblemen who had fought in similar battles.  King Richard III was not only an experienced military veteran, but he was also a brave and shrewd warrior.  His army consisted of 8,000 to 10,000 soldiers.     On the appointed day of the battle, King Richard and his army prepared to meet the pretender to the English throne and his army.  The winner of this battle would be the King of England.  [Interesting bit of information:  The body of King Richard III was found under a parking lot in Leicester, England, earlier this year.]

                King Richard sent his group to get his favorite horse.  “Shoe him quickly”, the groom told the blacksmith.  “The king wishes to ride at the head of his troops.”

                “You’ll have to wait,” the blacksmith answered.  “I’ve shoed the king’s whole army the last few days, and now I’ve got to go get more iron.”

                “I can’t wait,” the groom shouted impatiently.  “The king’s enemies are advancing right now, and we must meet them on the field.  Make do with what you have.”

                So the blacksmith bent to his task.  From a bar of iron he made four horseshoes.  He hammered and shaped and fitted them to the horse’s feet.  Then he began to nail them on.  But after he had fastened three shoes, he found he did not have enough nails for the fourth.

                “I need one or two more nails,” he said, “and it will take some time to hammer them out.”

                “I told you I can’t wait,” the groom said impatiently.  “I hear the trumpets now.  Can’t you just use what you’ve got?”

                “I can put the shoe on, but it won’t be as secure as the others.”

                “Will it hold?” asked the groom.

                “It should,” answered the blacksmith, “but I can’t be certain.”

                “Well, then, just nail it on,” the groom cried.  “And hurry, or King Richard will be angry with us both.”

                The armies met and the battle was on with King Richard in the midst of it.  He rode back and forth as he urged his soldiers forward towards Henry’s army.  As he rode, he noticed that some of his men were falling back on the far side of the field of battle.  He wanted to stop them before other soldiers followed them.  He was about halfway across the field when his horse lost its shoe, stumbled, and fell to the ground.  King Richard jumped to his feet, but his horse galloped away before he could grab the reins.  The king looked around him; he saw his soldiers running away from the battle and Henry’s army closing in around him.

                He waved his sword in the air.  “A horse!” he shouted.  “A horse!”  My kingdom for a horse!”

                But there was no horse for him.  His army had fallen to pieces, and his troops were busy trying to save themselves.  A moment later Henry’s soldiers were upon Richard, and the battle was over. 

                For want of a nail, a shoe was lost,
                For want of a shoe, a horse was lost,
                For want of a horse, a battle was lost,
                For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost,
                And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
(James Baldwin, adapted by William J. Bennett in The Book of Virtues, pp. 198-200).

                By winning the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry Tudor began the Tudor dynasty or the House of Tudor that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms for more than one hundred years (1485-1603).  There were five monarchs in the Tudor dynasty.  King Henry VIII with his many wives may have been the most famous; Queen Elizabeth I was the end of the line.  

                Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Quorum of the Seventy shared this legend and saying before stating:  “As I think of this story, I reflect on how something as simple as a poorly fastened horseshoe nail led to such a turn of events.  We can compare the missing nail to the principles of the gospel.  A lack of gospel principles and their associated values and practices can leave us helpless on the field of battle against temptation and evil.

                “What practices are missing in our lives and families?  Are we neglecting personal or family prayer?  Diligent study of the scriptures?  Regular family home evening?  Payment of a full tithe?  Service to our brothers and sisters?  Sabbath day observance?  Temple worship?  Love for our neighbors?

                “Each of us can take a look inside and find what we may lack – which principle or practice we need to fasten more firmly in our lives and in our families.  Then, after we identify that principle or practice, we can act with diligence and determination to tighten the nail – to live that principle more fully and to better prepare ourselves and our families to stand up for what’s right”  ("Prepared Against the Day of Battle," Ensign, October 2013, pp. 52-55).  

                It is the small things in life that make the biggest difference in whether we achieve success or not.  A wise father taught this principle to his son:  “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
                “And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 36:6-7).

                We are now engaged in the greatest battle of all time, a battle for the eternal freedom of all mankind.  Evil rages in our nation and in the world.  The division between good and evil is becoming wider and deeper. Secret combinations have gained control of many parts of our federal government in an attempt to end the freedoms of American citizens.  We must be mindful of the little things.

                The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian saints and encouraged them to “take upon you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

                This counsel was renewed by the Lord in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in August 1830:  “Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.
                “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;
                “Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
                “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also.  Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18).

                Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled:  “Be obedient to the prophetic teachings Christ would have you follow.  Don’t rationalize away future happiness by taking shortcuts instead of applying sound gospel principles.  Remember:  little things lead to big things.  Seemingly insignificant indiscretions or neglect can lead to big problems.  More importantly, simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings” (“For Peace at Home,” Ensign, May 2013, 29). 

                As we move nearer and nearer to the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we must continue to take care of the “little things” that will determine the final outcome for us individually.  God will win the battle against evil.  The only thing that has not yet been determined is if you and I will be on the winning side!  God is in control.  We must keep our faith in Him and our eyes on His glory!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Arising Early and Being Successful

                Families, communities, and nations are more successful when the rising generation understands the importance of getting out of bed in the morning.  The simple act of arising early is a “common trait” among the most successful people and “may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle.”  Successful people who made rising early an important part of their lives include Margaret Thatcher (5:00 a.m.), Frank Lloyd Wright (4:00 a.m.), and Robert Iger, Disney CEO (4:30 a.m.)  Inc. Magazine found that morning people are more proactive and more productive.  (As quoted by Jennifer Cohen in an article about early risers.)

                I am a farmer’s daughter who learned to get up early in order to take care of chores before going to school.  My siblings and I milked cows, took care of the milk, and fed all the animals before catching the bus about 8:30 a.m.  My husband grew up in the city and had no chores to do before school.  I am still an early riser, and my husband does his best work later in the day.  We have a running discussion about the pros and cons of being early risers.  Since I like to get up earlier in the morning, I prefer to be asleep before midnight, but my husband prefers to sleep later and so is often awake in the early morning hours.  Now that we are older, neither of us sleeps well at night, and we simply try to get enough sleep whenever we can!

                One of my reasons for enjoying the morning hours is simply because I simply feel better – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - when I start my day early.  I no longer need to be up at 6:00 a.m., but I definitely do not like to sleep past 8:00 a.m.  I have several reasons for enjoying the early hours:  1) I have received numerous personal revelations in the early hours of the day when I am rested but not quite awake.  2) I enjoy starting my day with scripture study and prayer.  3) I exercise before I start my day.  4) I enjoy seeing the world when it is freshly awakened.  5) There are days when I never see the sun except the time shortly after sunrise before the clouds move in later in the morning.  6) After being married to a hunter for nearly fifty years, I know that the best time to see wild animals is the first light of day.

                Another reason why I like mornings is that I believe we are children of God and He created us to be early risers.  I believe that we either stay morning people or we train our bodies to be more nocturnal.  My belief is backed up by scripture.  In late December 1827 to early January 1828, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that he designated as the “olive leaf … plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us.”   Some “rules for righteous living” are contained in this scripture:

                “See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
                “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:123-124).

                Cohen’s article quoted above contains “five things super successful people do before 8 AM.”  Those five things are 1) “Exercise … most people that work out daily, work out in the morning.”  2) “Map out your day.  Maximize your potential by mapping out your schedule for the day, as well as your goals and to dos.”  3)  “Eat a healthy breakfast … Take that extra time in the morning to fuel your body for the tasks ahead of it.  It will help keep your mind on what’s at hand and not on your growling stomach.  Not only is breakfast good for your physical health, it is also a good time to connect socially” with your family.  4) “Visualization.  These days we talk about our physical health ad nauseam, but sometimes our mental health gets overlooked.  The morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time inside your mind meditating or visualizing….”  5) “Make your day top heavy….  Do that least desirable task on your list first.  Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it … get it out of the way.  The morning is the time when you are (generally) more well rested and your energy level is up.  Therefore, you are more well equipped to handle more difficult projects” and thus make the rest of your day easier. 

                Lucile Johnson, an elderly sister living in Utah, “learned early in life to don her spiritual `armor’ at the beginning of each day.  She remembers `arising early in the morning, before my husband and children were up.  I found that kneeling in the stillness of my living room, I could begin pleading with our Father for my needs for that day.  This brought me great peace, and I learned that He was my helper and protector.  Then I would open my scriptures and partake of their inspiration and guidance.  Before I got off my knees each morning to begin whatever I had to do, alone or with little children or with teenagers or with my husband in the military and off to war, I knew I would be equal to it.  That is why I believe in taking the time in the quiet of the early morning hours to study and pray.  You will begin your day with a renewing of your spirit.  Then you will be truly ready for whatever might come that day.”

                Parents and other adults can strengthen the rising generation by encouraging them to arise early in the morning in order to have time to put on the “whole armor of God,” to take care of their physical and mental health, and to plan their day.  When we strengthen the rising generation, we strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Knowledge Is Power

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the fact that no nation can remain free unless the citizens are well informed.  The United States of America is in serious trouble today because low information voters put a man in the White House that does not have the necessary leadership skills.  He is the most incompetent President this nation has had in many years – even worse than Jimmy Carter!

                The only way the US will come out of this situation successfully and regain its place as a world leader is for the American citizens to gain knowledge about the reasons why the Framers wrote the Constitution as they did and how the free enterprise system works. 

                FreedomWorks University has some on line courses that will give you the knowledge to help take back our country.  Through these classes you can be better prepared to defend the freedom principles we hold dear.  One of the facts that you will learn is “why the U.S. Government would not have `defaulted’ despite what the pundits said about the need to raise the debt ceiling.”  You will learn “why the Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights to protect us from abuses like the NSA spying program.”  You will also learn “why government programs like ObamaCare are doomed to fail.”  You will learn too “why you have the power to save America and preserve liberty for future generations.”  I encourage you to go to the above web site and take one or more of the lessons.

                The courses are completely free and include the following:  1) History 101 Judge Napolitano’s “Founding the American Republic,”
2) Economics 101 Understand Economics, 3) Economics 102 A Guide to Economic Policy, 4) Issues 101 Activist Involvement:  Common Core, 5) Issues 102 Protecting Your Civil Liberties, Activism 101 Mastering Activism with FreedomConnector.

                President Thomas Jefferson understood the importance of an informed citizenry and left several quotes about it.

                “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

                “I feel … an ardent desire to see knowledge so disseminated through the mass of mankind that it may, at length, reach even the extremes of society:  beggars and kings.”

                “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

                “Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, the people, if well informed, may be relied on to set them to rights.”

                “It is an axiom in my mind that our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves, and that, too, of the people with a certain degree of instruction.  This is the business of the state to effect, and on a general plan.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Message in Congress

                About 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16, 2013, a strange thing happened in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Dianne Reidy, a floor stenographer for the U.S. House of Representatives, went to the microphone and delivered a message to the members of the House and to the nation.  She was forcibly removed from the dais by two members of the House security force and taken to the hospital for mental examination.  She was checked and released.

                According to Doug Hagmann, Reidy’s message is as follows:  “God will not be mocked.  The greatest deception here is this is not one nation under God.  It never was.  Had it been, it would not have been.  No.  It would not have been.  The Constitution would not have been written by Free Masons.  They go against God.  You cannot serve two masters.  You cannot serve two masters.  Praise be to God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise forever.”

                Hagmann described an interview with Reidy’s husband that is very interesting.  According to the interview, Reidy “prepared” for the delivery of her message by studying the Bible but did not discuss any of it with her husband.  Hagmann described Reidy as being “calm” previous to and during the delivery and at “peace” following the delivery.  She apparently was a “messenger” who had a “message” to deliver, but we should know the answers to the following questions.  Who was she a messenger for?  Why this message?

                There are parts of the message with which I completely agree and others that I question.  In fact, I believe it is a mixed message with both truth and untruth.  Satan often deceives us by telling us a truth accompanied by a lie.  When Satan spoke with Eve in the Garden of Eden, he told her that she would not die if she partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but would be like the gods.  He lied when he said she would not die; she would in fact die because the fruit changed her body from a terrestrial state to a telestial or mortal state with blood running through her veins.  The truth was that she would become like the gods because she would know the difference between good and evil, something she did not know previously.

                It is true that God will not be mocked.  We cannot pretend to be doing the Lord’s work while doing evil.  We may fool some of the people some of the time but we cannot fool all the people all the time; we can never fool God because He knows everything.  He gave us commandments to help us return to His presence.  Every blessing from God depends on obedience to His commandments.  He will eventually hold us accountable for the things we do and say, whether they are good or evil.

                It is true that we cannot serve two masters.  Jesus Christ taught this truth:  “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon [idolatry, treasure, worldliness]” (Matthew 6:24). 

                Alma, an ancient American prophet, spoke to “workers of iniquity” and explained the impossibility of good sheep following an evil shepherd or vice versa.  Alma told the workers of iniquity that they were “puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray.”  Alma told them that the “good shepherd” was calling after them, “but ye will not hearken unto his voice!”  If they were “good sheep,” they would hear the voice of the “good shepherd.”

                “Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
                “And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye?  Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this?  Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.
                “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 5:37-40).

                It is false that the United States Constitution goes against the teachings of God.  In fact, modern scriptures tell us that the Constitution was inspired by God.  In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelations about the Constitution.

                “And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5; emphasis added).
                “According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles….
                “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80).

                It is true that we are not “one nation under God” at this time because of the great division between Democrats and Republicans, between good and evil, and between the politicians in Washington and We the People.  We know American colonists were divided in their viewpoints about whether or not they should be independent from Great Britain.  We know there were great discussions about whether or not to ratify the Constitution.  We know that we fought a great Civil War that threatened to destroy the entire nation.

                Even though there has been division in our nation, the States have always stood united when facing a foreign enemy.  When faced with real trouble, American citizens forget our differences and stand together.  A great example of this is actions we took individually and collectively on 9/11 and 9/12.

                The fact remains that the United States of America became a great country and remained great for more than 200 years under the guidance of the Constitution.  The fact remains that Americans are among the most free people to ever live upon this earth.  These facts tell me that the Constitution was – and still is – good.  Everything that is good comes from God, and everything that is evil comes from Satan; therefore, the Constitution of the United States came from God.  Since Americans are divided about the Constitution, we have to wonder who their “shepherds” are and where their “messages” are coming from.