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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Kit Carson

                Kit Carson was born on December 24, 1809, in Madison County, Kentucky.  His family moved to Missouri where he was apprenticed to a saddle maker.  He ran away and joined a wagon train carrying goods to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  He became a trapper and roamed the plains between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

                Carson married an Native American woman and lived in the wilderness; his abilities at hunting and trapping soon surpassed those of the Indians.  When his wife passed away, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in order for his daughter to receive an education.  There he met John Charles Fremont and became his guide on several expeditions.

                Carson married a Spanish woman and lived in New Mexico.  He was with Fremont in the conquest of California in 1846-1847.  He was an agent for the Ute and Apache Indians for seven years beginning in 1853.  He served the Union in New Mexico and Colorado during the Civil War.  Following the war he resumed his duties as an Indian agent and served the Native American people until he passed away on May 23, 1868, in Fort Lyon, Colorado.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Speedy Trial

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:  “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial….”  This provision guarantees that public trials will take place as soon after indictment as possible.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “A `speedy trial’ is one without unreasonable delay.  A defendant may not demand a trial until the prosecuting attorney has had a reasonable time to prepare his case.  However, the Supreme Court has held that in time of insurrection, a person may be held indefinitely without trial until public peace has been restored.  Temporary incarceration, the Supreme Court felt, is a far less stringent means of protecting the community than resorting to the more extreme measures allowed under martial law.  (Martial law permits a state governor to order insurrectionists to be killed if necessary to protect life or to prevent widespread looting and restore peace.)
                “The public trial is for the benefit of the accused and not the public.  Therefore, if publicity would not be in the interest of justice, the court may exclude all but a few of the public in the interest of the defendant’s rights.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 707.)

                George Thomas of The Heritage Foundation explained the Speedy Trial Clause:  “From the time of the Assize of Clarendon (1166) and the Magna Carta (1215), the common law created protections in response to English monarchs who imprisoned enemies of the Crown without permitting them access to courts.  By 1642, Sir Edward Coke was able to conclude that English judges `have not suffered the prisoner to be long detained, but … have given the prisoner full and speedy justice….’  The evil to be avoided was lengthy pretrial detention….

                “The Framers of the Constitution understood that a speedy trial was part of the essence of the rights of Englishmen.  When the First Congress drafted the Bill of Rights, it approved without discussion the right to a speedy trial.  At that time, the rights to habeas corpus (Article I, Section 9, Clause 2), to nonexcessive bail (Eighth Amendment), and to a speedy trial were seen as interrelated.  Under common-law practice, judges would grant a habeas corpus petition and dismiss the indictment if a defendant was detained too long prior to trial.  Once the defendant was free, the harm of pretrial detention ceased, and the speedy-trial requirement was moot.  The state could, if it wished, reindict later so long as the statute of limitations was not a bar….

                “”As with most of the other provisions of the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has incorporated the Speedy Trial Clause into the Fourteenth Amendment and applied it to the states….

                “One’s right to a speedy trial in most instances begins from the time of arrest or indictment, not from the moment an investigation begins.  It is left to statutes of limitations to cure the abuse of too long an investigation.  At present, the Federal Speedy Trial Act (1974) defines the time limits for criminal actions to begin.  Generally speaking, an indictment or information must be filed within thirty days of arrest, and a trial should occur within seventy days of the filling….”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 345-346.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sustaining Church Leaders

                Have you ever wondered what “sustaining” our Church leaders really means?  We have the opportunity as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to sustain those the Lord has called to serve.  We show our willingness to sustain them when we raise our hand affirmatively when asked, but we should understand that sustaining our leaders means much more than simply raising our hand.  When we indicate our willingness to sustain someone, we are effectively saying that we stand behind them, pray for them, will accept any assignments and callings they offer, obey their counsel, and refrain from criticizing them.

                President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency explained that when we vote to sustain someone, “we make solemn promises. We promise to pray for the Lord’s servants and that He will lead and strengthen them (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:51).  We pledge that we will look for and expect to feel inspiration from God in their counsel and whenever they act in their calling (see Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).

                “That promise will need to be renewed in our hearts frequently.  Your Sunday School teacher will try to teach by the Spirit, but just as you might do, your teacher may make mistakes in front of the class.  You, however, can decide to listen and watch for the moments when you can feel inspiration come.  In time you will notice fewer mistakes and more frequent evidence that God is sustaining that teacher.

                “As we raise a hand to sustain a person, we commit to work for whatever purpose of the Lord that person is called to accomplish.  When our children were small, my wife was called to teach the little children in our ward.  I not only raised my hand to sustain her, but I also prayed for her and then asked permission to help her.  The lessons I received of appreciation for what women do and of the Lord’s love for children still bless my family and my life.”  (See “Called of God and Sustained by the People,”   Liahona, June 2012.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Protection from Pornography

                The effects of pornography are hitting closer and closer to home.  On a recent Wednesday, our local newspaper ran an above-the-fold headline on the front page stating “8 Juveniles Charged in Child Porn Ring on Instagram.”  The charges for those young people included possession and distribution of child pornography.

                Only two days later our local newspaper ran a below-the-fold headline on the front page of Section B stating “Child porn cache one of the largest ever seized in Anchorage.”  The thirty-year-old man was charged with distribution and possession of child pornography; he told police investigators that he had been downloading and sharing the illicit materials since he was in college.

                So what is it about pornography – and especially child pornography – that is so fascinating?  Many people, including children, youth, and adults, are innocently exposed to pornography because it seems to be everywhere; however, some men and some women – and apparently some youth – are drawn back to pornographic images time and time again until they become addicted.  Once addicted, they are hooked whether or not they desire otherwise.

                When God made man and woman, He gave us feelings and passions that attract us to the opposite sex.  These feelings and passions are very strong and were given to us to help us have the desire to marry and have children.  At the same time God indicated that these feelings and passions were to be used only within a legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman.  God meant this relationship to be beautiful and loving – even a sacramental experience, but the world tries to cheapen this sacred experience.  This happens because Satan has so much control in the world today, and he desires to destroy families.

                The topic of pornography is often addressed in our General Conferences and Stake Conferences because pornography destroys lives, marriages, and families.  Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke about pornography in our recent General Conference; she outlined some ways we can defend ourselves and the rising generation from it and its effects.

                “We as parents and leaders need to counsel with our children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding.  They need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy.

                “Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before.  As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes with filters on electronic devices.  Parents, are we aware that mobile devices with Internet capacity, not computers, are the biggest culprit?”

                Remember the child porn ring referenced at the top of this post?  Investigators said that some of the images were posted as “selfies,” but some of the victims were unaware that their pictures were posted to the accounts.  The problem is, once the pictures are posted they cannot be taken back.  Investigators said that parents need to be aware of what their children are doing with their electronic devices.

                Sister Reeves said that “filters are useful tools, but the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us.

                “How do we lead our children to deep conversion and to access our Savior’s Atonement?   I love the prophet Nephi’s declaration of what his people did to fortify the youth of his day:  `We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, [and] we prophesy of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins’ (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ,
2 Nephi 25:26).  [This is one of my favorite scriptures!]

                “How can we do this in our homes?  … As [my husband and I] faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help.  We prayed and pleaded to know what to do.  The answer that came was clear:  `It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone.  The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.’

                “We were trying to do these things, but they were not always the priority and, amidst the chaos, were sometimes neglected.   We changed our focus and tried not to worry about the less-important things.  Our focus became to talk, rejoice, preach, and testify of Christ by striving to daily pray and study the scriptures and have weekly family home evening….

                “Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.  These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes.  Then, if pornography or other challenges do strike our families, we can petition the Lord for help and expect great guidance form the Spirit.”  (See “Protection from Pornography – a Christ-Focused Home,” Ensign, May 2014.) 

                Sister Reeves pointed out additional ways we can bring spiritual strength into our homes.  One of those ways is to search out our ancestors and prepare their names for temple work.  Another way to protect ourselves is by keeping our temple recommends current and worthily and regularly attending the temple.  We can encourage our youth to take responsibility for their own spiritual well-being.  We can learn for ourselves that the Book of Mormon “carries the power to protect families, strengthen relationships, and give personal confidence before the Lord.”

                In our world – a world that has been turned upside down and inside out, a world where good is called evil and evil is called good – we must be proactive in our fight against pornography and its destruction.  I too know that daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening bring the Spirit into the lives of individuals and families.  I believe there is only one way to survive well the world of today and that way is to follow the counsel found in the scriptures and from living prophets and apostles and being obedient to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  I encourage you to adopt the practice of praying, studying the scriptures, and holding family home evening because I know you and your family will be blessed by doing so. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Freedom, then Equality

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we must have freedom before we can have equality. The federal government under the Obama administration wants everything to be equal and does not hesitate to destroy freedom in their quest.  Their policies will not work and will come close to destroying our economy and/or our government if they are not reversed.  
                Milton Friedman (31 July 1912 –16 November 2006) was an economist in the United States.  He became famous for his conservative ideas, particularly his support for free markets and a reduction in the size of government.  He received a Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976.  He
stated, “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither.  A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

                I believe that our nation must listen and learn from people who know far more than the community organizer currently living in the White House.  We would do well to listen to the simple counsel of Friedman.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


                Sisterhood implies a special relationship between women; it is a bond that is thicker than blood and unbreakable.  Sisters take care of each other and help each other no matter the situation.                  Women need women.  Some sisters grow up in the same home, and some mature on different sides of the nation or world.  How we became sisters does not really matter.  The fact that we are sisters is what is important.

                I have always enjoyed a wonderful relationship with all of my sisters.  My older sisters watched over me and helped to care for me.  My younger sisters looked up to me for care and example.  I love being with all my natural sisters.  They help me to become a better person than I would be without them.  They strengthen my memories of past times together.  They love me and care about me.  On a recent trip to Utah, I called one of my sisters and asked if she wanted to have lunch.  She suggested that we call our other sisters who live locally.  Since our sisters by marriage are just as loved as those by birth, we decided to call our brothers also.  Almost all of my siblings in the area and their spouses dropped their plans for the day and met for lunch; those who could not join us had good reasons for not doing so.  The group was not complete, but those of us in attendance truly had a wonderful experience.  My sisters and brothers and their spouses are my dearest friends.

                I moved to Alaska more than forty years ago and thus moved away from my sisters.  When we first came to Alaska, telephone calls were very expensive and few.  My sisters and I exchanged many letters and enjoyed our infrequent times together. 

                I am fortunate to belong to a Church where the girls, young women, and women are considered to be sisters because we are all daughters of a loving Heavenly Father.  I survived many long years away from my natural sisters because I was surrounded by the sisters in my Church.  These “sisters” watched over me and cared for me during illnesses and childbirth and rejoiced with me in my accomplishments.  They are as important in my life as my natural sisters because they have helped me become who I really am.

                I recently had the opportunity to have lunch with a group of sisters and had a delightful visit with them.  We visited about many different topics from employment to pedicures and relished the opportunity to be together.  We live in a different day than our pioneer ancestors who had the opportunity to join together in quilting bees and sewing circles, but we still have the same need to be strengthened by other women.  Women need women.

                I am becoming more and more aware that some women do not understand sisterhood because they have never enjoyed good relationships with their natural sisters and have not had the opportunity to enjoy sisterhood with non-natural sisters.  Women need other women as sisters and friends to validate them as women in different roles.

                Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, spoke at a recent women’s conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The women in attendance included girls ages 8-12, young women (teenage girls), and adult women ages 18 years and up; all are considered to be “sisters.”  “We as women can be particularly hard on ourselves.  When we compare ourselves to one another, we will always feel inadequate or resentful of others.  Sister Patricia T. Holland once said, `The point is, we simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another – or ourselves – so harshly.’  She goes on to say that there is nothing that is worth us losing our compassion and sisterhood over.  We just need to relax and rejoice in our divine differences.  We need to realize that we all desire to serve in the kingdom, using our unique talents and gifts in our own ways.  Then we can enjoy our sisterhood and our associations and begin to serve.

                “The fact of the matter is, we really and truly need each other.  Women naturally seek friendship, support, and companionship.  We have so much to learn from one another, and we often let self-imposed barriers keep us from enjoying associations which could be among the greatest blessings in our lives…. “

                Sister Oscarson quoted Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley as saying, “Oh, how we need each other.  Those of us who are old need you who are young.  And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old.  It is a sociological fact that women need women.  We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other.”

                Concluding her talk, Sister Oscarson said, “In addition to enjoying all of these magnificent blessings, we have each other – sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have been blessed with tender and charitable natures which enable us to render Christlike love and service to those around us.  As we look beyond our differences in age, culture, and circumstance to nurture and serve one another, we will be filled with the pure love of Christ and the inspiration which leads us to know when and whom to serve.

                “I extend to you an invitation that was issued once before by a Relief Society general president who said, `I invite you to not only love each other more but love each other better.  May we realize just how much we need each other, and may we all love one another better….”

                I am grateful for sisters in all walks of life.  I have been blessed to have seven natural sisters who love me; I have also been blessed to have hundreds and thousands, even millions, of other sisters who also love me.  I am very grateful to belong to a worldwide sisterhood of women, a sisterhood that is open to every woman who cares to join.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where Do You Sit?

                I read an interesting article recently about where we sit in Church.  I found it especially interesting because the topic came up briefly one Sunday last month in Relief Society.  When the Relief Society meeting was ready to start, absolutely no one was sitting in the first two rows – all the way across the room.  I had been sitting in the second row but was sitting all alone; therefore, I moved back to the next row in order to sit by someone.  Our president – Donna P. - asked some simple questions about why the first two rows were empty, and a few sisters moved into them.  We had a good laugh about the situation.

                A sister behind me asked our president why her family always sat in the second row of the center section of the chapel – on the right side facing the front.  They have sat there from the time they moved into our ward approximately twenty-five years ago.  Sister P. explained that a college professor made the statement that if Jesus Christ were to visit our sacrament meeting, He would be on the stand near the person conducting the meeting, not on the back row.  She wants to be close to the front just in case He shows up! 

                I have spent some time since then thinking about her reasoning, and I like it!  My family has always sat in the front half of the chapel as often as possible because I wanted to be where I could hear the messages and my family followed me; I also wanted to be where my children could easily see the people on the stand.  We sat on the left side simply because that is the side where we entered the building.  Now my husband and I usually sit in the third row of the center section on the left side of the podium and on the second row in Sunday School.  My husband has some difficulty hearing and likes to be near the front.  His hearing difficulty puts us near the front, but maybe we should switch sides of the chapel in order to be closer to the presiding authorities!

                The article was entitled “Wright Words:  Why do we sit on the back pew when there are plenty of open seats at the front?” and was published in the Deseret News.  It included some excellent questions we should ask ourselves.

                “There may, of course, be perfectly good reasons to sit near the back:  a fidgety baby, a legitimate need to slip out early before the meeting ends, wheelchair access, the highly contagious Ebola virus, etc.  I wonder about my own motives.  Had the desire to sit near the back become an outward reflection of an inward commitment?  Did it demonstrate an unwillingness to be called on?  A disinterest in the topic or speaker?  Apathy about attending in the first place?”

                Mr. Wright continued with his questions, “If my habit of sitting near the back sent a message, what does the practice of sitting up front suggest?  An excitement to learn?  A willingness to be called on?  A public demonstration of faith that the speaker and the presentation will have value to my life?

                The author concluded with even more questions:  “If you’ve also been a physical or spiritual back-row regular, moving from the last pew to the front can be a daunting jump.  So what’s the best way to take a few steps to move up a row or two at a time?  Could it be those `small and simple’ things, as Alma taught (see Alma 37:6)?  Being on time, even early?  Always having scriptures in hand?  Engaging in the lessons or talks from start to finish?”

                I believe that most of us are creatures of habit; I know I am.  When we form good habits, we do not have to waste time making the same decisions over and over.  If we form the habit of sitting near the front of the chapel, then we need make that decision only once and can free our minds for other important tasks.  Of course, there is not enough room for everyone to sit near the front.  If this choice becomes more popular, we may all need to be in our seats before the meeting starts!

Monday, June 23, 2014

John Charles Fremont

                John Charles Fremont was born on January 21, 1813, in Savannah, Georgia.  He received his education at the College of Charleston; he later taught mathematics aboard the warship Natchez.  In 1840 Freemont married Jessie Benton, the daughter of a Senator.

                Fremont was serving in the Army Topographical Corps when he had the opportunity to join the Nicollet expedition.  While exploring the area, the expedition mapped the upper waters of the Missouri River.  Freemont became a soldier, explorer, and political leader.
                Soon Fremont was named as the commander of a second expedition to explore the western territories of the United States, the first being the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  He explored Nebraska and Wyoming as an aid to settle Oregon.  He embarked on an expedition in 1843 on which he crossed Wyoming and Idaho and explored Oregon and Nevada as well as parts of Arizona and Utah.

                In 1844 Fremont explored California and helped to organize Americans in California to rebel against the Mexican authorities as part of the Mexican War.  Fremont was elected as Governor of California on July 10, 1846, by American settlers, but he apparently did not serve his term of office.  He was court-martialed by General Kearney, commander of United States forces in California over some controversy between the two men and resigned his commission.  He embarked on a fourth expedition at his own expense; during this expedition he purchased the Mariposa Estate in California.  His new estate was rich in gold mines, and he spent his time developing his estate.

                Fremont took his seat in the United States Senate on September 10, 1850, one of the first two Senators from the State of California. In 1856 he was nominated as the first presidential candidate of the newly organized Republican Party, but he lost the election to James Buchanan.  He resumed his military commission during the Civil War.  In 1854 he was nominated for the office of President of the United States to run against Abraham Lincoln, but he withdrew.

                From 1878 until 1881 Fremont served as governor of the Territory of Arizona.  In the spring of 1890, Congress voted to place Fremont on the list of retired military officers; he received a comfortable salary until his death a few months later on July 13, 1890, in New York.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eminent Domain

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:  “No person … shall [have] private property … taken for public use, without just compensation.”  This provision – known as the Takings Clause - guarantees each person to be safe from claims of eminent domain against their property without being compensated for it.

                W. Cleon Skousen wrote, “This type of provision appeared in the early Roman law and was also incorporated in the Magna Charta.  Ancient kings and emperors, who considered the life and property of their people to be subject to their whims, often exercised their sovereign powers to expropriate or confiscate the land of their subjects.  Modern governments tend to do the same.  This provision was inserted into the Constitution to protect American citizens from this type of abuse….”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 706-707.)

                Douglas W. Kmiec of The Heritage Foundation explained the Takings Clause:  “The drafter of this clause, James Madison, opined:  `A Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…  This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.’  Against the proposition that the singular purpose of our government is the protection of property, there is the curiosity that the original Constitution scarcely mentions the term.  Although at least two states demanded every other provision that we know today as the Bill of Rights, not one requested the Takings Clause.  What explains the anomaly?

                “The beginning of an answer can be found in Alexander Hamilton’s observation that `the true protection of men’s rights are to be found not among old parchments, or musty records.  They are written … in the whole volume of human nature … and can never be erased or obscured.’  Alexander Hamilton was, of course, referring to the natural law, which is one of the doctrinal foundations of the United States set out in the Declaration of Independence.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 341-342.)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Priesthood Keys, Authority, and Blessings

                What is meant when we speak of the keys of the priesthood?  Priesthood keys are the authority to direct the work of God on earth today.  Jesus Christ holds all priesthood keys, but He bestows various keys on various priesthood leaders.  The necessary “keys of this dispensation” were conferred upon the Prophet Joseph Smith (see Doctrine and Covenants 110:16).  Today those same keys are held by the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  “Priesthood keys are also given to the Presidency of the Seventy; presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents – including Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents.”

                Last month in General Conference Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a very informative address on “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood. I found his address very informative.  I encourage you to read the entire talk.

                “At this conference we have seen the release of some faithful brothers, and we have sustained the callings of others.  In this rotation – so familiar in the Church – we do not `step down’ when we are released, and we do not `step up’ when we are called.  There is no `up or down’ in the service of the Lord.  There is only `forward or backward,’ and that difference depends on how we accept and act upon our releases and our callings.  I once presided at the release of a young stake president who had given fine service for nine years and was now rejoicing in his release and in the new calling he and his wife had just received.  They were called to be the nursery leaders in their ward.  Only in this Church would that be seen as equally honorable!

                “While addressing a women’s conference, Relief Society general president Linda K. Burton said, `We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood.’  That need applies to all of us, and I will pursue it by speaking of the keys and authority of the priesthood.  Since these subjects are of equal concern to men and to women, I am pleased that these proceedings are broadcast and published for all members of the Church.  Priesthood power blesses all of us.  Priesthood keys direct women as well as men, and priesthood ordinances and priesthood authority pertain to women as well as men….

                “Ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is.  He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used.  We are accustomed to thinking that all keys of the priesthood were conferred on Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple, but the scripture states that all that was conferred there were `the keys of this dispensation” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:16).  At general conference many years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us that there are other priesthood keys that have not been given to man on the earth, including the keys of creation and resurrection….

                “I come now to the subject of priesthood authority.  I begin with the three principles just discussed:  (1) priesthood is the power of God delegated to man to act for the salvation of the human family, (2) priesthood authority is governed by priesthood holders who hold priesthood keys, and (3) since the scriptures state that `all other authorities [and] offices in the church are appendages to this [Melchizedek] priesthood’ (Doctrine and Covenants 107:5), all that is done under the direction of those priesthood keys is done with priesthood authority….

                “The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood.  But, as various Church leaders have emphasized, men are not `the priesthood.’  Men hold the priesthood, with a sacred duty to use it for the blessing of all of the children of God.  The greatest power God has given to His sons cannot be exercised without the companionship of one of His daughters, because only to His daughters has God given the power `to be a creator of bodies … so that God’s design and the Great Plan might meet fruition.’  Those are the words of President J. Reuben Clark.

                “He continued:  `This is the place of our wives and of our mothers in the Eternal Plan.  They are not bearers of the Priesthood; they are not charged with carrying out the duties and functions of the Priesthood; nor are they laden with its responsibilities; they are builders and organizers of the Priesthood; and partakers of its blessings, possessing the complement of the Priesthood powers and possessing a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.’

                “In those inspired words, President Clark was speaking of the family.  As stated in the family proclamation, the father presides in the family and he and the mother have separate responsibilities, but they are `obligated to help one another as equal partners.’  Some years before the family proclamation, President Spencer W. Kimball gave this inspired explanation:  `When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership.  We do not want our LDS women to be silent or limited partners in that eternal assignment!  Please be a contributing or full partner.’

                “In the eyes of God, whether in the Church or in the family, women and men are equal, with different responsibilities.
                “I close with some truths about the blessings of the priesthood.  Unlike priesthood keys and priesthood ordinations, the blessings of the priesthood are available to women and to men on the same terms.  The gift of the Holy Ghost and the blessings of the temple are familiar illustrations of this truth….”

                I had the blessing of listening to Elder Oaks make his presentation to the brethren of the priesthood.  As he spoke, I cheered.  I love the way he explained priesthood keys, priesthood authority, and priesthood blessings.  His explanation was clear and unmistakable.  I am personally grateful that I have access to priesthood ordinations and priesthood blessings without the responsibilities and duties of actually bearing the priesthood.  I consider this fact a very real blessing in the lives of all daughters of God.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Good but Difficult Things

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nation by teaching the rising generation to do good but difficult things without expecting any appreciation for doing so.  We must teach them to do good in spite of what others may say or do.

                In 1968, Kent M. Keith, a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Harvard College wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” as part of a booklet for student leaders.  The booklet was entitled The Silent Revolution:  Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council and published by Harvard Student Agencies.  His words circled the globe for more than thirty years and have touched the hearts of millions of people.  They have been quoted in speeches and articles and put on walls and refrigerator doors.  They have been used by business leaders, military commanders, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, etc. to inspire others. 

                Mother Teresa put “The Paradoxical Commandments” on the wall of her Calcutta children’s home.  They were later included in a book compiled by Lucinda Vardey, Mother Teresa:  A Simple Path, published in 1995.  This inclusion caused many people to attribute “The Paradoxical Commandments” to Mother Teresa.

                One September night in 1997, Mr.Keith attended Rotary Club meeting.  The meetings usually started with a prayer or a special thought.  One of the Rotarians stood; he noted that Mother Teresa had passed away and he wanted to honor her memory by reading one of her poems.  Mr. Keith was astonished to hear his friend read eight of the original ten “Paradoxical Commandments.”

                After the meeting Mr. Keith quizzed his friend about the poem and learned it was in a book about Mother Teresa.  He went to a bookstore and started looking through all the books about Mother Teresa and finally found it on the last page before the appendices in Mother Teresa:  A Simple Path.  He noticed that “The Paradoxical Commandments” had been reformatted into the form of a poem and retitled “Anyway.”  There was no author listed but the simple notation:  “From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, the children’s home in Calcutta.”

                Mr. Keith wanted to laugh, then cry, and then shout-out; he even got chills up and down his spine.  He had a lot of respect for Mother Teresa and was grateful to know that she thought his words were good enough to put on the wall of her children’s home.

                The original ten “Paradoxical Commandments” are listed below.  All or part of them has been published in numerous books, using various titles such as “Anyway” and “The Final Analysis.”

                We can help the rising generation understand that life is not easy and good is not always appreciated.  We can teach them to persevere in doing good but difficult things and thus to strengthen our families, communities, and nations in doing so.

The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. 
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. 
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. 
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. 
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. 
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest
men and women with the smallest minds. 
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. 
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. 
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. 
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

 Give the world the best you have anyway.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beware of Bondage

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that bondage comes in many different packages.  When most people consider bondage, the first thing they usually think about is slavery or human trafficking; there are, however, other types of bondage such as forced labor, forced marriage, debt bondage, and many other ways to restrict freedom.

                Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned in a recent General Conference to beware of bondage. He echoed the advice of a prophet known as Jeremiah.  “My purpose is to review many forms of bondage and subjugation.  I will compare some circumstances of our day with those in the days of Jeremiah before the downfall of Jerusalem.  In presenting this voice of warning, I am grateful that most Church members are righteously avoiding the conduct that was so offensive to the Lord in Jeremiah’s time.

                “The prophecies and lamentations of Jeremiah are important to Latter-day Saints.  Jeremiah and the Jerusalem of his day are the backdrop to the beginning chapters in the Book of Mormon.  [See 1 Nephi 5:13; 7:14.] Jeremiah was a contemporary of the prophet Lehi.  The Lord dramatically informed Jeremiah of his foreordination:  `Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations’ (Jeremiah 1:5).

                “Lehi had a different calling, mission, and assignment from the Lord.  He was not called in his youth but in his maturity.  Initially his was a voice of warning, but after faithfully declaring the same message as Jeremiah, Lehi was commanded by the Lord to take his family and depart into the wilderness.  In doing so, Lehi blessed not only his family but also all people….

                “Turning from the worship of the true and living God and worshipping false gods like wealth and fame and engaging in immoral and unrighteous conduct result in bondage in all its insidious manifestations.  These include spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage and sometimes bring destruction….

                “These messages have echoed and been reinforced across the centuries in all dispensations.  They are at the heart of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this, the final dispensation.

                “The captivity of the Jews and the scattering of the tribes of Israel, including the ten tribes, are prominent doctrinal factors in the Restoration of the gospel.  The ten lost tribes made up the Northern Kingdom of Israel and were carried away captive into Assyria in 721 B.C.  They went to the north countries.  Our tenth article of faith states, `We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.’  We also believe that as part of the covenant the Lord made with Abraham, not only the lineage of Abraham would be blessed but also all the people of the earth would be blessed.  As Elder Russell M. Nelson has stated, the gathering `is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment.  People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” [3 Nephi 20:13] without leaving their homelands.’ 

                “Our doctrine is clear:  `The Lord scattered and afflicted the twelve tribes of Israel because of their unrighteousness and rebellion.  However, the Lord also [utilized] this scattering of his chosen people among the nations of the world to bless those nations.’

                “We learn valuable lessons from this tragic period.  We should do everything within our power to avoid the sin and rebellion that lead to bondage.  We also recognize that righteous living is a prerequisite for assisting the Lord in gathering His elect and in the literal gathering of Israel.

                “Bondage, subjugation, addictions, and servitude come in many forms.  They can be literal physical enslavement but can also be loss or impairment of moral agency that can impede our progress.  Jeremiah is clear that unrighteousness and rebellion were the main reasons for the destruction of Jerusalem and captivity in Babylon.

                “Other kinds of bondage are equally destructive of the human spirit.  Moral agency can be abused in many ways.  I will mention four that are particularly pernicious in today’s culture.

                “First, addictions that impair agency, contradict moral beliefs, and destroy good health cause bondage.  The impact of drugs and alcohol, immorality, pornography, gambling, financial subjugation, and other afflictions imposes on those in bondage and on society a burden of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to quantify.

                “Second, some addictions or predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives.  These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others.  How we preserve time for family is one of the most significant issues we face in most cultures….  Let us be at the forefront in protecting time for family.

                “Third, the most universal subjugation in our day, as it has been throughout history, is ideology or political beliefs that are inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Substituting the philosophies of men for gospel truth can lead us away from the simplicity of the Savior’s message….  This is emblematic of our own day, where gospel truths are often rejected or distorted to make them intellectually more appealing or compatible with current cultural trends and intellectual philosophies.  If we are not careful, we can be captured by these trends and place ourselves in intellectual bondage.  There are many voices now telling women how to live.  They often contradict each other.  Of particular concern are philosophies that criticize or diminish respect for women who choose to make the sacrifices necessary to be mothers, teachers, nurturers, or friends to children….

                “Fourth, forces that violate sincerely held religious principles can result in bondage.  One of the most invidious forms is when righteous people who feel accountable to God for their conduct are forced into activities that violate their conscience – for example, health providers forced to choose between assisting with abortions against their consciences or losing their jobs.”

                After discussing the various types of bondage, Elder Cook counseled us to “work to improve the moral culture that surrounds us.  Latter-day Saints in every country should be good citizens, participate in civic affairs, educate themselves on the issues, and vote.

                “Our primary emphasis, however, should always be to make any necessary sacrifices to protect our own family and the rising generation.  The vast majority of them are not yet in bondage to serious addictions or false ideologies.  We must help inoculate them from a world that sounds a lot like the Jerusalem that Lehi and Jeremiah experienced….

                “Our challenge is to avoid bondage of any kind, help the Lord gather His elect, and sacrifice for the rising generation.  We must always remember that we do not save ourselves.  We are liberated by the love, grace, and atoning sacrifice of the Savior.  When Lehi’s family fled, they were led by the Lord’s light.  If we are true to His light, follow His commandments, and rely on His merits, we will avoid spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage as well as the lamentation of wandering in our own wilderness, for He is mighty to save.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Incompetent President

                It appears that more and more Americans are seeing through the smoke and mirrors surrounding Barack Obama and realizing that his “hope” and “change” has been translated into incompetence and lies.  President George W. Bush is looking better all the time and not nearly as stupid as liberals made him seem.

                Mr. Obama is not as smart and competent as his supporters painted him to be, and this is looking problematic to Democrats who are running for office this year.  The latest problem for Mr. Obama is the fact that he traded five of the worst terrorists for one American who might actually be a traitor to his country.  Mr. Obama tried to present it as bringing one of our military heroes home, but Americans are not accepting the sugar-coated words.

                The Obama administration has simply brought too many scandals to America.  Before this problem, there was the Veterans Affairs scandal.  Before that problem, there was the rollout of Obamacare that did not go well.  Before that it was the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS.  Then there was Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and on and on and on.  Although Mr. Obama has not yet been tied to any of the scandals, he is the man in charge; the buck is supposed to stop with him.  He is supposed to know what is going on – before he reads about it in the media.  He is failing to provide competent leadership.  He should be impeached for incompetence if nothing else!

                Republican media consultant Mark McKinnon, stated:  “I think there is an increasing appetite and desire for just fundamental competence and accountability.  A steady hand on the wheel.  Or even a shaky hand on the wheel.  Just find the wheel.”

                Columnist Thomas Lifson put it this way, “It’s finally happening!  Libs are starting to realize that the manufactured image of Barack Obama as a brilliant, capable executive is hooey, and that they have bought into an incompetent who threatens to sink them.”

                Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post wrote an interesting article about the very real possibility of Barack Obama being impeached.  Various sources are reporting the probability of the U.S. House of Representatives having enough votes to impeach Mr. Obama but will not vote on impeachment while the U.S. Senate remains under Democrat control.  Remember:  The House votes for impeachment and the Senate votes for conviction.  If Republicans take control of the Senate, there is a greater possibility of impeachment and conviction taking place.

                I hope enough misguided and blindsided liberals and independents have seen the error in their vote for Obama.  I pray enough Americans get their eyes open fast enough to keep the U.S. House in Republican hands and to put the U.S. Senate under Republican leadership.  I hope and pray we have enough Republicans to bring our nation back from the path of destruction we are currently traveling.  We have rogue Republicans also, but our first task is to stop Barack Obama and take away his power to destroy the United States of America.