Declaration of Independence

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Second Amendment

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Second Amendment and its danger if Hilary Clinton is elected as President of the United States.  Clinton lied to the people of Iowa at a Saturday rally when she told them that the restrictions she wants to put on guns will not violate the Constitutional rights of anyone.  Clinton was joined by former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords who was shot at a political event on January 2011 and still suffers from brain trauma difficulty speaking.

                Clinton and Giffords were trying to convince Iowans to elect Clinton as President.  They were also attempting to persuade the state legislature to rethink lowering the legal age for handling handguns.  Clinton wants to “control guns” away from Americans. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

It Mattereth Not

            One of my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ comes from the latter part of the book of Alma.  Captain Moroni had led the armies in a war that lasted for many years.  He had seen the destruction that came from war first hand; he had lost close friends to death.  He was a great leader and had many good characteristics.  In fact, it was said of Captain Moroni “if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17).

            Helaman, the captain over the stripling warriors, sent an epistle to Captain Moroni explaining what had happened in battle and expressing the need for more men, food, and supplies.  Captain Moroni immediately wrote to Pahoran, the chief governor of the land, asking for men and supplies.  A reply did not come from Pahoran, and the Lamanites were taking cities.  Moroni was angry at the government because he thought the governor was being indifferent to plight of those in the army (Alma 59).

            Captain Moroni wrote another letter to Pahoran “by way of condemnation” and complained again about the government’s neglect of the armies.  His letter was strongly written and carried a threat that Captain Moroni would lead the armies against the government unless help was supplied to the armies (Alma 60).

            Pahoran wrote back to Captain Moroni with an explanation that he had to flee from the government seat.  He told Captain Moroni that he did not take joy in the afflictions faced by the armies.  He had been wondering what to do and the Captain’s epistle had shown him the way.  Pahoran’s character is shown in how he handled the rebuke from Captain Moroni.  Instead of taking offense, he wrote, “And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.  I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people.  My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free” (Alma 61:9).

            If anyone had a right to be upset, Pahoran did – but he did not take offense.  Captain Moroni could not offend him because he refused to take offense.  That is the key.

            Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave counsel in a general conference talk entitled “And Nothing Shall Offend them.” “Understanding that the Church is a learning laboratory helps us to prepare for an inevitable reality. In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless.
            “You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended.”

            Elder Bednar shared the story of Pahoran and Captain Moroni and then said, “One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others.  A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended – and to say with Pahoran, `it mattereth not.’”

            Elder Neal A. Maxwell also spoke about the experiences of Captain Moroni and Pahoran.  “In a perfect church filled with imperfect people there are bound to be some miscommunications at times.  A noteworthy example occurred in ancient American Israel.  Moroni wrote two times to Pahoran complaining of neglect because much-needed reinforcements did not arrive.  Moroni used harsh language, accusing the governor of the land, Pahoran, of sitting on his throne in a state of `thoughtless stupor.’  (Alma 60:7.)  Pahoran soon made a very patriotic reply, explaining why he could not do what Moroni wanted.  Though censured, Pahoran was not angry; he even praised Moroni for `the greatness of your heart.’ (Alma 61:9.)  Given the intense, mutual devotion of disciples, discussions as to how best to move the Lord’s work along are bound to produce tactical differences on occasion.  Just as in this episode, sometimes scolding occurs that is later shown to be unjustified.” (See All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [1979]. 119; as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual Religion 121-122, p. 260.)  

            It seems that some individual, group or organization is always taking offense in our nation.  I am sure that offense is not intended most of the time.  What I cannot figure out is why people think they have the right to take offense in the first place.  Are they perfect?  Have they never done anything wrong or said the wrong word?  I think we all need to chill out and practice more tolerance.  Please say after me:  It mattereth not!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Risks and Leaks of Pornography

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when the rising generation is protected from viewing pornography.  A new study titled “The Porn Phenomenon” sheds light on the future because children and youth are involved with smut.  The study claims it is “The most comprehensive, in-depth and wide ranging study to date on pornography among the American population.”

                According to Josh McDowell of the Josh McDowell Ministry, stated, “Pornography violates all relational values between the individual and self, the individual and society, the unity of our families and our moral fabric and fiber as a nation. … “When we objectify and demean life by removing the sanctity of the human person, our future is at risk.”  

                Collin Bishop is also concerned the effects of pornography on children and youth.  He wrote an article titled 
12 Ways Pornography Leaks into Your Home (and How to Stop Them).”   The author lists the follows ways pornography can leak  into our homes:  (1) mobile devices, (2) YouTube ads and related videos, (3) shopping catalogs, (4) previews and deleted scenes in your DVD collection, (5) Netflix, Hulu+, etc. accounts, (6) television commercials, (7) kids’ friends and schoolmates, (8) mobile game ads, (9) music and album art, (10) video games, (11) books, and (12) apps like SnapChat, Gaggle, and more.  The author also gives suggestions on how to stop the leaks.

                Our very future depends on keeping pornography away from the rising generation.  If you have children and/or youth in your home, you will be doing your family, community and nation a great favor by stopping pornography from coming into your home.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spirit of Freedom

                The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the fact that wherever the Spirit of Christ is, there the spirit of freedom can be found.  There can be no true freedom without the Spirit of Christ.  Satan knows that he can never bring people under his control until he destroys their faith in Jesus Christ.  One example of how this works is the former Soviet Union under Communism.  The Soviet leaders and their supporters tried very hard to destroy faith in Jesus Christ in order for them to bring their people into bondage to their government.  They almost succeeded but not quite because a few people remained who believed in Jesus Christ and knew they were meant to be free.

                Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “What is the crowning evil on earth, the evil that spreads the greatest suffering, the evil that spawns all other evils?  Surely, it is war.  War is the crowning evil.  War is the evil that spreads the greatest suffering.  Murder is the most wicked of all sins, and war is mass murder.”

                We live in a time of wars and rumors of wars.  We know that the real cause of war is wickedness.  We also know that there would never ben any wars if everyone lived the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Christ is a message of peace and goodwill.  Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and those who are converted to His gospel spread peace to the world.  This is why the world needs to hear His gospel.

                The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ was written for our day.  There are about twenty chapters in this book of scriptures that are known as the “war chapters.” They were written for us and teach us how we are to act during war.  These chapters cover a war that lasted about thirty years and was fought in several locations within their own nation.  This unending war was caused by wicked men who sought to bring everyone else under their control.  These wicked men ran into righteous men who had enough faith in Jesus Christ to win battles in spite of fewer soldiers and bad circumstances.

                Towards the end of the war Captain Moroni had to rescue Pahoran, the chief governor of the land, from men who had rebelled against the government and sought to establish a king over the land.  Pahoran was driven from the judgment seat and escaped to another land.  Captain Moroni sent a message to Pahoran questioning his loyalty to the cause of liberty because there were no provisions being sent to support the army.  Instead of getting upset, Pahoran recognized that Captain Moroni was actually an answer to his prayers.

                In his return message Pahoran told Captain Moroni that his message brought joy to him.  He told Captain Moroni to “come unto me speedily with a few of your men, and leave the remainder in the charge of Lehi and Teancum; give unto them power to conduct the war in that part of the land, according to the Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom which is in them” (Alma 61:15).

                Pahoran explained that he had sent a few provisions to the army but needed Captain Moroni’s assistance:  “Gather together whatsoever force ye can upon your march hither, and we will go speedily against those dissenters, in the strength of our God according to the faith which is in us” (Alma 61:17).

                In spite of the fact that they did not want to fight against their own people, Captain Moroni and Pahoran recognized that their lives and freedom were at stake.  Pahoran ended his message, “See that you strengthen Lehi and Teancum in the Lord; tell them to fear not, for God will deliver them, yea, and also all those who stand fast in that liberty wherewith God hath made them free…” (Alma 61:21).

                The wicked men were killed or put in prison until they agreed to end the war.  Peace finally came to the land because those who believed in Jesus Christ eventually won the war.  Exercising faith in Jesus Christ will help us to keep His commandments and bring peace into our lives.

                In a general conference message titled “Addiction or Freedom,” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle and famous heart surgeon gave some suggestions to break free of the bondage of addiction.  He ended his talk with these words:  “The Lord has revealed His sacred standard to guide people in a troubled world.  You and I were born free to follow His divine guidance.  We may choose for ourselves.  Those choices may bring addiction or freedom. For freedom and joy, choose to `be faithful in Christ.’  He will lift you up.  May `the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever’ (Moroni 9:25).” 

                We were all born free because we received moral agency in our pre-earth existence.  Please be careful who you support for your political leaders or whose counsel you follow because you may be deceived into supporting someone who will bring more bondage into your lives.  Remember that people voted for Hitler because they trusted him and look how he betrayed their trust.   We must be sure to choose leaders knowing who they really are instead of who they pretend to be.  We currently have a President who pretended to be a follower of Christ, and we have at least one presidential candidate who is pretending he knows what is in the scriptures.  We must look between the words they are saying and examine who they really are.  We cannot afford to elect another President who wants to “fundamentally transform our nation”!  We need leaders who know that America is a blessed land as long as we worship the God of the land who is Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Stripling Warriors

                I have always been touched by the story of the stripling warriors as told in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  As a little background to the story, the sons of Mosiah went on a fourteen-year mission to the Lamanites and were instruments in the Lord’s hands in converting thousands of the Lamanites to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The converted Lamanites realized that their sins had been washed away by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and they feared that they could not become clean again if they committed any more sins.  In order to stay clean they buried their swords deep in the earth and made a covenant with God to never use their swords again.

                The wicked Lamanites attacked the righteous Lamanites; the righteous men did not fight back but allowed themselves to be killed.  More Lamanites were converted than were killed, but Ammon and the other missionaries feared that the righteous Lamanites would all be destroyed.  Ammon consulted with the king, and the king agreed to go live among the Nephites if that was the Lord’s will; otherwise, they would stay and take their chances.  Ammon prayed and received the word to leave. 

                The righteous Lamanites moved, and the Nephites gave them land.  Everyone was happy until the wicked Lamanites attacked the Nephites in a great battle.  The fathers who had covenanted to never take up their swords again felt sorrow for not being able to help the Nephites and were about to break their covenant.  The prophet Helaman convinced the fathers to keep their covenant.

                Now we are at the beginning of the story of the stripling warriors.  One day a group of young Lamanite men approached Helaman and reminded him that they had not buried their swords or made the same covenant as their fathers.  They told Helaman they were ready to fight with Nephites in defense of their lives and liberty and asked Helaman to be their leader.  Helaman accepted the position and marched at the head of 2000 young Lamanite warriors that he called his “sons.”

                As Helaman later reported his experiences to Captain Moroni, Helaman and the stripling warriors were in a position where they did not know if they were walking into a trap.  Helaman asked, “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?
                “And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.
                “For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me:  Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
                “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
                “And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying:  We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:44-48).

                As it happened, the young men joined the battle at a very critical time when the army of Antipus was about to falter.  The young men fought valiantly and courageously until the wicked Lamanites had surrendered their “weapons of war and themselves as prisoners of war.”  Alma feared for his warriors and numbered them as quickly as possible.  To his “great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war” (Alma 56:54-56).

                The two thousand young men were joined by sixty more as they went into the next battle.  Helaman later reported to Captain Moroni, “But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them.
                “And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.
                “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them” (Alma 57:19-21).

                As soon as the battle was over and the Lamanites had fled, Helaman “gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed.
                “And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
                “And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain.  And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe – that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power” (Alma 57:24-26).

                The stripling warriors were righteous young men.  They had been taught by their mothers to put their faith in God.  They obeyed with exactness as they fought to defend the freedom of their country.  They did not fear death but were courageous in battle.  For reasons known only to God, He chose to reward the righteousness of the stripling warriors with great strength and protection.  The entire army was aware of what was happening with the young men.

                In 1996 my husband and oldest son were among a group of Boy Scouts that reached the summit of Mount McKinley as it was known at that time.  Every group of climbers on the mountain knew that Boy Scouts were attempting to summit; they followed the Scouts’ progress each day and rejoiced at their successful summit.  Some of these young men were among a larger group of their friends who put aside their education to serve the Lord in the missionary field for two years.  They returned to college and now are successful men approaching middle age.

                The stripling warriors and the Boy Scouts/missionaries were righteous young men who put their trust in God; they were rewarded by miracles because they put their trust in God and were valiant in serving Him.  Both groups of young men set good examples for all of us to follow, and both groups were led by righteous, unselfish men.  They were taught by righteous mothers and strengthened by valiant fathers.  They experienced miracles because of their faith in God and obedience to commands.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Old White Guys

                I searched for something among current events to post on my blog today.  I simply cannot get interested in Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump or any of the other politicians clamoring for our votes.  There is just too much negativity in the news now days.

                We often hear these days of people complaining about the “old white guys” that wrote the Constitution of the United States.  These same people believe they have no reason to study the Constitution.  These people include those who are attempting to put common core materials in our school systems and spoon feed the mess to our children.  I was relieved when I found an article written by Alasdair Denvil and titled “Dead White Guys’ Are Worth Studying Today. And Syria Proves Why.”  Here is a taste of what the article includes.

                “For several decades now, minorities in the U.S. have been asking:  Why should we study the history of white Europeans, when we’re not related to them?  To be fair, it’s a sensible question.
                “But it has a sensible answer:  Even though you didn’t inherit DNA from them, you did inherit a political system from them.  And it turns out to be a pretty decent political system, when you consider the alternatives….
                “No, the reason they’re worth studying is because they created a political structure that was a big improvement over the others that reigned during their time, and that was able to endure and to improve itself into what we enjoy today.
                “That’s not ancient history, its living history whose relevance can be summed up to the teenage students of today in one word:  Syria.

                “Syria, of course, is a nightmare right now.  But it’s a nightmare that would have been entirely familiar to the Founders.  The terror you see in Syria today is a 21st-century version of the history that the 18th-century Founders sought to leave behind….”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Shaquille O'Neal

                I am no fan of Shaquille O’Neal as a basketball player and could not even tell you his team.  One of my sons-by-marriage is a great basketball fan and his birthday is today.  I suppose it is only fitting that I write about Shaq on his birthday.   I am making Shaq my VIP this week because of his recent actions as a man.  This story starts with a police officer responding to a complaint and finding only “a handful of kids playing basketball in the street.”  He began playing basketball with them with the action being caught on his dashcam.  Later the “dashcam went viral.”

                It was at this point that Shaq entered the picture.  He saw the video and wanted to further the cause.  He appeared at the police department Saturday and surprised the policemen.  From the department Shaq and “a big group of officers” who went along as backup returned to the neighborhood.  The officers got out of their cars followed by Shaq popping out of his SUV and surprising the kids.

                There was “a spirited street ball match” with “the kids versus the cops – and Shaq.”  Then Shaq took over and “challenged each kid to make free throws – and be rewarded with $100.”  He gave “almost $1,000 to the lucky shots.”  Then he “called the kids into a huddle, put his arms around them and gave them some life instructions:  `Stay out of trouble, listen to your parents, respect your elders … and you can be anything you want to be.”

                Shaq told the kids that he grew up in similar circumstances and they could change “this.”  After warning them about taking money from strangers, he called the kids together once again to challenge them with this commitment:  “I will … become … whatever I want to be.  I will be a leader … and not a follower.”

                I salute Shaq O’Neal for taking the time and making the sacrifice to make a difference in the lives of these young people.  He set an example of doing good for all of us. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

March for Life

                For this Constitution Monday I wish to discuss the Right to Life.  January 22 was the forty-third anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court of the United States decided to legalize abortion.  On January 22, 1973, the Justices made the decisions (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton) that “abortion would be legal and available on demand across the country.

                “These decisions defied the spirit and the letter of the Constitution; invalidated 50 state laws; denied the truth about the dignity of all human life and the humanity of the unborn; and ushered in the greatest human rights scandal of our time:  an abortion industry that has claimed the lives of more than 50 million of our brothers and sisters … and counting.”  

                One year later on January 22, 1974, the March for Life was born.  Every year on January 22 thousands of Americans go to the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., “celebrate life and to stand up for the truth about the unborn.”  The weather does not seem to matter.  The determination of the defenders of the unborn was shown this year when thousands of people braved “the storm of century” in the March for Life.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What Counsel Is Given?

                Have you ever wondered about the counsel given by priesthood leaders?  Our stake president spoke at a recent ward conference and shared how his wife works on a lesson for month, does a great job in presenting the material, and then beats herself up all the way home because she should have done something different; he, on the other hand, basically wings the lesson and forgets about it.  He suggested that the best way is about half way between how his wife does it and how he does it.  Then he said, “Sisters, do your job and stop beating yourselves up.  Brothers, we need to step up and do a better job.”  I think that we can all see from this example why the brethren were given different counsel than that given to the sisters.

                Another example of a priesthood leader giving counsel is found in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Jacob.  The people were beginning to “grow hard in their hearts” (Jacob 1:15); they started to search after gold and silver and to be “lifted up somewhat in pride” (v. 16).  The prophet Jacob was concerned about his people and counseled with the Lord about the problem.  “Having first obtained [his] errand from the Lord,” Jacob began to teach the people gathered in the temple (v. 17).  The actual teaching is found in Jacob 2:  “Now, my beloved brethren, I … come up into the temple this day that I might declare unto you the word of God.

                “And ye yourselves know that I have hitherto been diligent in the office of my calling; but I this day am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls than I have hitherto been.”  He then proceeds to tell the brethren that they are “beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God” (Jacob 2:5).  He told them that his soul was grieved concerning the wickedness of their hearts and even more grieved because he had to call the brethren to repentance in front of their wives and children “many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chase and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God;

                “And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul.
                “Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds” (Jacob 2:6-9).  Jacob then proceeds to call the brethren to repentance for some very serious sins – pride and immorality.

                Many years later another prophet by the name of Alma was nearing the end of his earthly ministry and called his three sons to gather together “that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately, concerning the things pertaining unto righteousness” (Alma 35:16).  Alma’s counsel to his son Helaman takes two chapters (Alma 36-37).  Alma gives Helaman charge of all the records and other sacred items; he basically congratulates his son for his faithfulness and calls him to lead the people in his (Alma’s) absence.  A short Alma 38 contains Alma’s counsel to his second son, Shiblon.  Alma again congratulates his son, for his “steadiness,” “faithfulness,” “diligence,” “patience,” and “long-suffering;” he tells him to continue to teach and to be “diligent and temperate in all things,” to “bridle all [his] passions,” to “be filled with love,” and to “be sober.”

                Alma’s counsel to his third and youngest son Corianton takes four chapters (Alma 39-42).  Corianton was lovingly and plainly called to repentance for immorality and then taught about restoration and resurrection in a way he could understand.  He was taught about the laws of justice and mercy and told that “God would cease to be God” if He did not exercise both justice and mercy fairly.  Corianton was told to counsel with his older brothers and to follow their examples.  Then he was called again “to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them” (Alma 42:31).  Corianton did repent of his sins and joined his older brothers in declaring the word of God to the people.

                From these three examples we can plainly see that priesthood leaders, under the direction of the Holy Ghost, give us the counsel we need to hear.  The kind of counsel we receive is apparently determined by our faithfulness to previous counsel.  If we are uncomfortable about being called to repentance – particularly over and over again, maybe we ought to examine our own lives to see why.  I personally enjoy receiving the “pleasing word of God” much more than I enjoy being called to repentance.

                At an earlier time in his life Alma taught an Anti-Christ name Zeezrom about the counsel and information available to mankind.  “And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying:  It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
                “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
                “And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction.  Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell” (Alma 12:9-11).

                We learn from these verses that God and his priesthood leaders have much more of the “pleasing word of God” and his “mysteries” to teach us.  Whether or not we receive it is determined by us.  We determine by our obedience what counsel we receive.  We can either go forward until we know all the mysteries of God “in full” or we can go backward until we “know nothing concerning his mysteries.”  It is up to us and what we truly want.  I personally plan to learn all I can about the mysteries of God by being prepared to hear the pleasing word of God.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Good Attitudes

                Parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation by helping their children to have good attitudes toward life.  Whether we like it or not, our children adopt the same types of attitude that their parents have.  If the parent is prideful, the children will be prideful.  If the parents have positive attitudes, their children will have positive attitudes.  There are exceptions to this rule but not many.

                I am pleased when I hear my children tell their children something like this:  “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!”  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that his mother’s counsel to him was “Come what may, and love it.”  He said the advice of his mother “has stayed with me all the rest of my life.”

                “How can we love days that are filled with sorrow?  We can’t – at least not for the moment.  But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be.  Over the years I’ve learned a few things that have helped me through times of testing and trial.”  Elder Wirthlin then listed four things we can do to be happy in spite of bad things happening:  (1) “Laugh … “It’ll extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.”  (2) “Seek for the eternal … Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of on-the-job training.  These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others.”  (3) “Understand the principle of compensation.  The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss.  That which was taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way.”  (4) “Put our trust in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  `God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.’  The Lord Jesus Christ is our partner, helper, and advocate.  He wants us to be happy.  He wants us to be successful.”

                My own parents showed the attitude “we can do what we need to do,” and I have used that attitude in many different circumstances.  On a recent trip to visit children and grandchildren, I had a choice between staying home alone and going skiing with my family.  I went skiing much more to spend the day with my family than to actually ski.  I had not skied for over forty years and was a little apprehensive about the experience.  Different members of my family skied with me; I even had my own private ski lesson.  I had a good experience because I was with my family doing something that my husband, children, and grandchildren really enjoy doing.

                I know from personal experience that good attitudes are valuable in our quest for happiness in this life.  I know that we can strengthen our family, communities, and nations by helping the rising generation to have good attitudes. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Legal Immigration

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that there are approximately 4 million people attempting to legally become United States citizens.  Here is an interesting story about an Irish citizen who claims it is his “life-long dream” to become an American.  He calls himself “Freedom’s Disciple,” and his “face lights up when he speaks about the country he hopes to one day call home.”  He visited the Statue of Liberty recently “and shared his thoughts on what it was like to grow up in a socialist country where `there are no eternal God-given rights, no belief in the individual and the answer to every problem is more government.’”  I am impressed by his words and wish him well in his efforts.  Be sure to watch the video and learn more about him at this site.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Math Genius

                One of my daughters commented a few weeks ago about a statement made by her nine-year-old daughter.  My granddaughter had written something to the effect that “I am a math genius,” and my daughter’s comment was “This makes me so happy!”  I was actually a little jealous and wished I could claim that I was a math genius.

                I know enough math to accomplish the tasks required of me.  I can add, subtract, multiply and divide without much problem.  Fractions, decimals, and percentages are a little more challenging for me but doable.  One of my classes this semester is Introduction to Algebra and Finance, and I am concerned about doing well in it.  My first lesson was learning addition and subtraction facts up to 15+15 and the multiplication tables up to 15x15.  Since I learned up to 12x12 in grade school and have maintained most of the knowledge for more than sixty years, I did not have much trouble regaining proficiency in them; however, I was challenged with learning the higher numbers but completed the assignment correctly and under the time limit.

                My second lesson was on rounding numbers and estimating answers, and I was able once again to regain that information without too many problems.  This lesson also included learning to make a budget on an electronic spreadsheet for my income and expenses for one month five years from now.  This assignment was very difficult for me because I did not know anything about doing spreadsheets on a computer; it was also a very traumatic assignment for me.  I worked on my spreadsheet for several hours one day and saved it, but I could not find it again.  I was very frustrated because I thought I would have to do all the work over again.  My husband knew how to find it, and my son helped me to submit it for my lesson.

                My current lesson is on decimals, plus doing another spreadsheet with current income and expenses.  I reviewed how to change fractions to decimals and decimals to percentages.  My daughter came to visit and helped me set up my spreadsheet.  I am feeling fairly confident with decimals and percentages, which is a good thing because I am the lead student this week and have the responsibility to lead the discussion in our Gathering.  I am comfortable doing it, but I am still concerned about the current spreadsheet assignment.

                In addition to relearning old math concepts, learning new ones, and learning how to do spreadsheets, I also am required to read a book about handling finances and then write a book report on it.  There were nearly ten suggested books, but our city library had only two on the list.  I checked out both books and proceeded to read the book with the fewest pages.  I was intrigued by the title of this book – The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason – and found the story interesting; however, I realized that I was not learning any new principles.  Since I am supposed to report on what I learn, I decided to read the second book, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman.  I think I purchased this book several years ago but cannot find it among my books; I wonder if I gave it to my son when I gave him some books on finance.

                This book has many new ideas that I had not considered previously, especially not in connection with finances.  Have you ever thought about how you feel about money?  However you feel, the author says your feeling comes from your first experiences with money.  If you grew up in a home where there was never enough money to pay the bills or to buy food, you may be afraid of investing your money in the stock market.  Both my husband and I grew up poor, but we have different feelings about money.  Even though I understood that we did not have much money, I never felt insecure about it, probably because I grew up on a farm and always had enough food to eat.  I am not sure how my husband feels about it; I just know that he lies awake worrying at times like this when the stock market is falling while I sleep like a baby.  The book has numerous other interesting ideas about our relationship with money as well as solid counsel about managing finances.  I have now read most of the book and need to get serious about writing the book report.

                I was somewhat surprised when I read pamphlet titled “One for the Money – Guide to Family Finance” because the pamphlet and the book have similar language – such as showing respect for your money and learn how to manage your money before it manages you.  This pamphlet is based on a talk titled “One for the Money” given by Elder Marvin J. Ashton in the April 1975 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nearly twenty years before the book was written.  In his introduction Elder Ashton made this statement:  “How important are money management and finances in marriage and family affairs?  May I respond, `Tremendously.’  The American Bar Association has indicated that 89 percent of all divorces can be traced to quarrels and accusations over money.  Others have estimated that 75 percent of all divorces result from clashes over finances.  Some professional counselors indicate that four out of five families are strapped with serious money problems.”

                Elder Ashton then suggested twelve points to help each of us manage our money better.  His twelve points are:  (1) Pay an honest tithing, (2) Learn to manage money before it manages you, (3) Learn self-discipline and self-restraint in money matters, (4) Use a budget, (5) Teach family members early the importance of working and earning, (6) Teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend, (7) Teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare, (8) Make education a continuing process, (9) Work toward home ownership, (10) Appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program, (11) Understand the influence of external forces on family finances and investments, and (12) Appropriately involve yourself in a food storage and emergency preparedness program.

                I suppose I can tie all these things together by sharing an approximate statement by my son.  He mentioned that his eleven-year-old daughter was not interested in learning math but suddenly became very interested and was doing well in it.  He wondered if her turn around came when he suggested that she needed to learn math or someone would take her money and she would never even know it.  Since she is very interested in money, investments, etc. this could have been her motivation.  I encourage all my readers to learn as much math as possible as well as to learn to manage your money before it manages you.  Above all, please remember that relationships are more important than any amount of money

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr.

                We celebrated another Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this week just as we do every year.  Reverend King marched to help African Americans be assimilated into American society.  Yet here we are sixty years later with more divisive conditions than we have had since the death of Reverend King.  We should be asking ourselves why. 

                An article by Peter C. Myers was published by The Daily Signal about the divisions we face.  “Of our present circumstances, we can say that as a nation we are sharply divided over the chronically divisive issue of race – perhaps more dangerously divided over this issue than at any other point in the post-1960s, post-King, post-civil rights era.
                “We are divided over the boundaries of permissible speech on college campuses; over universities’ use of racial and ethnic classifications in admissions; over states’ enactments of stricter voter registration laws; and, above all, over the deaths of various African Americans in encounters with police officers and the consequent emergence of the `Black Lives Matter’ protest movement.
                “Beneath those concrete controversies are divisions touching the republic’s first principles.  At that deep level we divide regarding the nature and grounds of rights, the requisites for the rule of law, the proper mode and extent of racial integration – even over the grounds of allegiance to America.”

                Reverend King said that he had a dream that no one would be judged by the color of their skin.  Why have we become so divisive about something that should never have taken place in the first place? We should be treating each other as human beings regardless of the color of our skin.  We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.  He loves all His children, and He will hold each responsible in a future day for the way we treat each other.  Oh, how I would like to see some big changes for good in our nation before next Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sheriff David Clarke

                I chose Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County as my VIP for this week because he is a man’s man.  He was recently chosen as the “Man of the Year” by Front Page Magazine, a conservative publication.  He is a Democrat and has run and been elected to office multiple times.  He has spoken out numerous times about the anti-police rhetoric, particularly since the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore.  He has also been quite harsh as a critic of Barack Obama and his administration.

                Sheriff Clarke was recently on Fox News to discuss the shooting by a man who said he did it in the name of Islam.  Sheriff Clarke is not afraid to state the facts as he sees them.  Check out this site to find other statements by Sheriff Clarke such as this one:  “These individuals should be charged with treason.  They – if he’s an American citizen, he forfeits his citizenship.  He should be charged as an enemy combatant, held at Gitmo and he should not have access to American courts; he should be tried in a military court, and if convicted, he should be executed.” 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Second Amendment

                The topic for discussion on this Constitution Monday comes from the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:  “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  Please note that the Second Amendment plainly says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

                I found an article published on January 16, 2016, about a statement made by the Vice President of the United States.  Joe Biden was interviewed on CNN by Gloria Borger.  During the interview Mr. Biden said, “The Second Amendment says you can limit who can own a gun….  People who are criminals shouldn’t have guns.  People who are schizophrenic and have mental illnesses shouldn’t have guns.”

                Mr. Biden and the entire Obama Administration have been trying for seven years to limit the rights of Americans to “keep and bear arms.”  Each time there is a mass killing, Mr. Obama and others in the administration blame the Second Amendment and introduce new bills and new executive actions to take guns away from Americans.  Now they are using mental illness in their attempt.  There is even talk about requiring those on Social Security to give up their guns in order to continue to receive the benefits they earned while working.

                Please do not be deceived by people who lie to get the things they want.  As you can see above, the Second Amendment does not give the government power to limit our right to have guns.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Another Post-Mortal Visit of Christ

                The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ shares the experience of Jesus Christ visiting ancient America after His resurrection.  The Nephites knew that the Savior had died because a prophet named Samuel, a Lamanite, had given them signs of both Christ’s birth and His death.  They saw the signs and knew that both events happened just as Samuel had prophesied.  They experienced the upheaval of nature on the fourth day of the first month of the thirty-fourth year and endured three days of darkness that marked the death of the Savior.

                Approximately eight months later near the end of the thirty-fourth year, the Savior appeared to them.  (See
3 Nephi 10:18.)  He taught the gospel to the Nephites for several days, sometimes in general meetings and sometimes with just the priesthood leaders.  He was speaking to the twelve disciples on one occasion and told them “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people…. this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you” (3 Nephi 15:12-13).

                The Savior continued, “And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem.
                “Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land.
                “This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:
                “That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd….
                “But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; …
                “And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; …
                “And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said:  other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; ...” (3 Nephi 15:14-21).

                Jesus Christ continued His instructions to his priesthood leaders:  “And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.
                “For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.
                “But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them” (3 Nephi 16:1-3).

                I have read those words many times and have wondered about those “other sheep” that Jesus spoke about.  Who were they?  Did they keep any records?  When can we know of His visit with them?  Then I discovered an article titled “Did Jesus Visit Russia after His Resurrection?” that was written by Mark J. Stoddard and published by Meridian Magazine on January 6, 2016.  I found this article very interesting.

                Assuming the author is being truthful, there is “an ancient Russian folk tale about how Jesus came to visit the Russian people after his resurrection.”  A “great painter” named Mikhail Nestorov painted a picture about 1900 that is known as the “Holy Rus” and hangs in the Russian Gallery in Leningrad.  The author saw a copy of the painting, began to ask questions, and learned about the folk tale.

                In 1992 the author had the opportunity to visit with “the highest authority of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.  “I asked him if he knew of a painting where Christ seemed to be appearing to the ancient Slavic people.  He said that he did….  I asked him where the artist got the idea of such a scene.
                “He replied solemnly that it was `inspired by an ancient folk tale that said after Christ’s death he visited the Slavic people, ancestors of the Russians, to bring his gospel.  The people who listened to Christ were the humble and lowly in the farms and countryside.  They took upon themselves his name which when written phonetically in our characters rather than Cyrilllic is Kristiany.  The word for peasant in Russian is Kristiany.  Those who believed in Him took upon themselves His name.’
                “I asked [him] if he believed that Christ actually came to the lands of present day Russia and Ukraine.  He nodded, stroking his beard.
                “It could very well have been…. It could have been exactly as the painting shows.’”

                I first read this story when it was published and have shared it with several people.  I am fascinated at the possibility of one or more witnesses to another appearance of Jesus Christ after His resurrection.