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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

CPAC and Conservatives

            The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives, took place last weekend. Katrina Trinko at The Daily Signal discusses some of the highlights that came out of the conference in her article titled “Where Conservatives Are in the Trump Era: 15 Takeaways from Their Biggest Conference.” Here are three highlights from the fifteen listed.

            The first highlight is being able to hear the President of the United States (POTUS) discuss “a variety of issues that conservatives care about.” Those highlights are building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, upgrading the military, and getting rid of regulations.

            Another important highlight is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker urged “GOP lawmakers to keep their promises.” He shared his discovery that “conservatives and Republicans,” “independents,” and “even some discerning Democrats” appreciate politicians who do what they say they will do. “Commonsense conservative reforms work, they actually work, and people respond to them.”

            A third highlight is Jim DeMint, former U.S. Senator and current President of The Heritage Foundation, encouraging conservatives to “achieve the impossible.” “Our job as conservatives, and as the national conservative movement, is to make possible what the establishment says is impossible.” He listed several areas where “they” are saying something cannot be done: “You can’t build a wall and control our borders. You have to give amnesty and citizenship to the people who are here illegally. They’re saying you can’t repeal Obamacare. Tax reform is just too controversial. You can’t ever balance the budget….”

            So, are conservatives going to just talk about the things they should accomplish? Republicans now control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives; they may soon control the Supreme Court. Voters eliminated all their excuses. They said they needed the House of Representatives. Voters gave it to them. They said they needed the Senate. Voters gave it to them. They said they needed the White House. Voters gave it to them. Now they need the Supreme Court, and Trump is trying to give it to them. What are they going to do now that they control all the branches of government?

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Son of the Living God

            Jesus the Christ is the person that I chose for my VIP for this week. I am studying His life and ministry in my religion class and ponder His teachings often. I am also in the midst of mourning the death of a wonderful young man whose memorial service was today. I am immensely grateful for Jesus Christ, for His atoning sacrifice, and for His resurrection.

            One day while Jesus was visiting with His twelve Apostles at Caesarea Philippi, He asked them, “Whom say ye that I am?” It is possible that Jesus was speaking to all the Apostles, but Simon Peter, the chief Apostle, answered the question and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16).

            As the Son of the Living God, Jesus Christ came to earth to live as a mortal man and to die as a God. He gave His life that all mankind might live again and enjoy eternal life. Because I believe strongly that Jesus Christ overcame death, I believe that my young friend will live again with his family for eternity.

            President Boyd K. Packer, then Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described the Atonement of Jesus Christ in these words. 

   Before the Crucifixion and afterward, many men have willingly given their lives in selfless acts of heroism. But none faced what Christ endured. Upon Him was the burden of all human transgression, all human guilt. And hanging in the balance was the Atonement. Through His willing act, mercy and justice could be reconciled, eternal law sustained, and that mediation achieved without which mortal man could not be redeemed.

   He by choice accepted the penalty in behalf of all mankind for the sum total of all wickedness and depravity; for brutality, immorality, perversion, and corruption; for addiction; for the killings and torture and terror – for all of it that ever had been or all that ever would be enacted upon this earth. In so choosing He faced the awesome power of the evil one, who was not confined to flesh nor subject to mortal pain. That was Gethsemane!

   How the Atonement was wrought we do not know. No mortal watched as evil turned away and hid in shame before the Light of that pure being. All wickedness could not quench that Light. When what was done was done, the ransom had been paid. Both death and hell forsook their claim on all who would repent. Men at last were free. Then every soul who ever lived could choose to tough that Light and be redeemed.

   By this infinite sacrifice, “through [this] Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).

            After His experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ was arrested and tried for blasphemy and sedition. He was hung on a cross on Golgotha and gave His life that all mankind might live. He was buried in a borrowed tomb but rose from the grave on the third day. Because of His resurrection, all mankind will be resurrected with each spirit joined to its body in such a way that they can never be separated again. This is the meaning of eternal life – never to die again. Because Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of all mankind, every person can receive forgiveness for all sins by believing in Jesus Christ and following His teachings.

            I am grateful for my knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ and of His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. I am grateful for the comfort and strength this testimony gives to me in such a time as this. I hope that my testimony brings comfort and strength to all who read this post. He is real, and He lives. He is the Son of the Living God!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Term Limits for Congress

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns term limits for members of Congress. This topic has been making the rounds for several years; however, it has just talk to this point. Donald Trump campaigned on the promise that he would “drain the swamp” of elites in Washington, D.C. He has been doing well on keeping his promises, but lawmakers need to keep their campaign promises too. 

            Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Representative Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) introduced an amendment to the Constitution in January 2017. Their amendment would put term limits on members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, neither of which have any limits right now. The introduced amendment would limit Senators to “two six-year terms” and Representatives to “three two-year terms.” This means that Senators would serve a total of twelve years and Representatives would serve a total of six years. The longer time in the Senate would, supposedly, give more stability to the federal government.

            Last Thursday, February 23, 2017, Senator Cruz addressed the crowd at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He said that lawmakers should be held to their campaign promises. “This election was the American people saying, `Enough already with the corruption in both parties, Democrats and Republicans who have been here too long.”       Senator Cruz suggested that the CPAC attendees should put some pressure on their representatives to “drain the swamp” by “paving the way for term limits for Congress.” He said, “Hold us accountable. There is an incredible power of the men and women in this room, the men and women of CPAC. The grassroots have the ability to get people’s attention to hold our elected officials accountable. … The message that I am conveying is `Let’s do what we promised.’ He continued, “Let’s deliver on the promises and if we do that, we’ll win at the ballot box and if we don’t, the people will hold us accountable for that, too.” You can listen to Senator Cruz here. 

            I believe that Senator Cruz and Representative DeSantis are very courageous but absolutely right. Their amendment, if it is passed by Congress and ratified by the States, could end the political careers of both men. I hate to lose men and women of the caliber of Senator Cruz, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), Representative Trey Gowdy (R. South Carolina), and others like them from Congress. However, I believe that the best way to drain the swamp is term limits. There are too many members of Congress who have been there for thirty and forty years and no longer put the interests of America and Americans above their own corrupt desires. I believe that any Senator or Representatives who does not vote for term limits should be voted out of office at their next election. I would love to end the political career of our senior senator, Senator Liza Murkowski, one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Importance of Scripture Study

            I am studying the first part of the New Testament about Jesus Christ, His teachings, and the acts of His apostles. Scripture study is important for many reasons, one of which is that this study is critical to learning about the Savior and coming to know Him. We must do this study in a manner that will help us learn the doctrines of eternity and how to apply those doctrines in our own lives. I find it interesting as I study the scriptures over and over again that I see different things in the scriptures that I never saw previously. I am positive that my ability to see the new information comes from current circumstances or better preparation to do so.

            In my scripture study this week I studied the story of the rich, young ruler who had kept all the commandments since he was a child and wanted to know what more he should do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:23-27; Luke 18:24). The Savior told him to sell all his belongings and come follow Him, but the rich young ruler had too great of riches. He was unable or unwilling to dispose of his riches even to gain eternal life.

            I pondered this story often during the week. I have written previously about how we often become slaves to our “stuff.” Sometimes we purchase items simply because someone else has something similar. Someone else purchases a new car, so I have to buy a new car. Sometimes we purchase objects for a specific need, such as a wedding. Other times we purchase objects because we cannot tell the difference between wants and needs.

            In discussing this story with my good friend Chris, we came to the conclusion that it is okay to have stuff, but we must be careful about what we get and why we get it. We all need a warm, comfortable home to protect us from the elements of nature, but very few of us need mansions. Most of us need some sort of a vehicle, but few of us need a flashy sports car or a limousine. Some of us need warm coats, but few of us need expensive furs. Also, there is a limit as to how many shirts, skirts, dresses, or pairs of shoes or pants that a person can actually wear. If we keep our “stuff” to necessities with a few luxuries, we are probably okay. However, if we get stuff just to appear better than other people or to draw attention to ourselves, we are doing it with the wrong attitude.

            The principle that I gain from this story is that I can put my trust in the Savior because “all things are possible” with Him. There are many areas of our lives where we must learn to trust the Savior, with finances being a challenging one. It is fairly easy to pay tithing (or donate to other causes) when the amount is small, but one must be truly converted to the law of tithing when paying large chunks of money. I have a testimony of tithing because I know that living this law brings blessings into my life.

            Tithing is an easy law for me to live, but I would have a difficult time giving up all that I have. I came to the conclusion this week that I like my stuff. I enjoy having a piano in my house that I can play whenever I choose. I like having a warm, comfortable home where I am protected from the storms of life and nature. I prefer a car that starts when I turn the key and stops when I press on the brake. I like my computer and the ease with which I can write my thoughts, connect with other people, and search for information. I do not have a lot of fancy stuff, but I like what I have. I am not yet ready to walk away from all that I have, just as the rich, young ruler could not walk away from his great riches.

            This brings me back to the principle: I can put my trust in the Savior because “all things are possible” with Him. I exercise my ability to put my trust in the Lord in numerous areas. One of my first experiences was when I put our family planning issues in the hands of God. I found that He was able to space our children much better than I could. Other times happened with ill or injured children. Placing them in the hands of God had good outcomes for me, but what would I have done if the results had been different? Each day I practice putting my trust in the Savior as I plan my day and as circumstances change during the day. I am often surprised as He reminds me of the more important things that I should be doing. This daily activity strengthens my ability to put my trust in the Lord.

            As I learn to trust the Lord in all things, I suppose that one day I will be prepared to leave all my stuff behind and give my heart to the Savior completely. In the meantime, I will strive to remember that it is only stuff and that it does not hold much importance in the grand scheme of life or eternity.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Divine Nature

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened as individuals exercise faith in Jesus Christ. This is the third in a series on the Young Women values. The first post in the series can be found here. It discusses the Young Women values and the Personal Progress program that assists women of all ages to develop these attributes. Each value is represented by a specific color.

            The second Young Women value is Divine Nature, and it is represented by the color blue, which is the color of the sky and reminds us that we are children of Heavenly Parents. This site has a wonderful family home evening outlined. It shares the following story that is titled “Be Loyal to the Royal within You,” and it was shared by President Harold B. Lee at a BYU devotional in 1973.

    One of our Latter-day Saint men during World War II was over in England. He had gone to an officer's club where they were holding a riotous kind of celebration. He noticed off to the side a young British officer who didn't seem to be enjoying himself at all. So he walked over to him and said, ‘You don't seem to be enjoying this kind of a party.’ And this young British officer straightened himself a few inches taller than he was before and replied, ‘No, sir, I can't engage in this kind of a party, because, you see, I belong to the royal household of England.’
    As our Latter-day Saint boy walked away he said to himself, ‘Neither can I, because I belong to the royal household of the kingdom of God.’ Do you realize that, you young people? There are things that you cannot and must not do if you remember your heritage.

            Do you dress and act differently because you know that you are a child of royal birth? Do you feel like the son or daughter of a King? Do you treat others with more love and kindness because you are a child of God? I encourage you to consider how a son or daughter of Heavenly Parents should act. What can you do to strengthen your family, community and nation because you know that you have Divine Worth?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Religious Freedom

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns religious freedom or the freedom to worship according to one’s conscience. Religious freedom is so important that all people across the world should recognize its value and come together to preserve and promote it. Several of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have addressed this topic recently. The following quotes can be found here. 

            President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke in Los Angeles, California, in April 2015 and said, “Church members seek to create goodwill among people of all religious beliefs, political persuasions, and of every race.”
            Continuing, President Uchtdorf said, “the effort to throw off traditions of distrust and pettiness and truly see one another with new eyes – see each other not as aliens or adversaries but as fellow travelers, brothers and sisters, and children of God – is one of the most challenging while at the same tie most rewarding and ennobling experiences of our human existence.”

            Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke in Argentina in October 2015 and said, “There should be no belligerence between religion and government. We all lose when an atmosphere of anger or hostility or contention prevails.”
            Continuing, Elder Oaks said, “Governments and their laws can provide the essential protections for believers and religious organizations and their activities.” He noted that religious principles, teachings, and organizations “can help create the conditions in which public laws and government institutions and their citizens can flourish” and “live together in happiness, harmony, and peace.

            Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke in London, England, in June 2015 and said, “By appealing to one’s deepest values, religions and religious organizations have a unique capacity to motivate people and, at the same time, cultivate attitudes of forgiveness, reconciliation, and a willingness to strive yet again for the ideal in their personal lives and in society.”

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April 2015 in Portuguese. His audience included Muslims, Catholics, Adventists, Jews, Evangelicals, Latter-day Saints, native spiritualists, people of no particular faith, and others in a conference celebrating religious liberty. Elder Christofferson said, “Religious freedom is the cornerstone of peace in a world with many competing philosophies…. May we pursue peace by working together to preserve and protect the freedom of all people to hold and manifest a religion or belief of their choice, whether individually or in community with others, at home or abroad, in public or private, and in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”

            These are just a few of the comments made by Apostles about religious freedom in a short period of time. Why do you think that Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ are so concerned about freedom to worship? I believe it is because they are seers and can see what is coming. They are warning the worship of the need to protect freedom of religion because the world will be in dire trouble if the people lose the right to worship as they desire. What can you do today to preserve and protect freedom of religion?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why Do Americans Feel Guilty?

            Why do Americans feel guilty about the enforcement of immigration laws? Most Americans understand that the United States has the sovereign right to decide who comes into the nation and who remains. Yet, many of those same people are torn about the efforts led by President Donald Trump to deport many people who enter or remain in the U.S. illegally. Why do people feel guilty about enforcing the laws of the land in which they live?

            With the enforcement procedures in recent Department of Homeland Security memos, most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants are eligible to be deported. ICE officials make the final decisions as to who will be deported and who will be allowed to remain in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are being deported, even those who are going to court. They will not be allowed in the U.S. until the law says they can come legally.

            I do not understand why non-citizens think that they have a right to live in our country simply because they want to live here. I do not understand why they are so upset with the U.S. enforcing immigration laws. They know that they are not here legally. They know that they broke the law. They should know that there are consequences to having broken the laws of the United States. Yet, many of them seem unwilling to accept those consequences.

            I believe the United States has the sovereign right to establish laws about immigration and to enforce those laws. At the same time, I have compassion on the good people who came here illegally but have been law-abiding residents since their arrival. I have compassion on children who were brought here by illegal parents seeking a better place to rear their family.

            Yet, the compassion I feel for the good people who are being deported cannot rob the justice required for breaking the law. There are immigrants who take the time to immigrate legally. They sometimes wait years and pay thousands of dollars for this blessing. Why should people who come illegally receive the same blessings as those who immigrate the right way? Americans should not feel guilty for enforcing the laws of the land, even though everyone should feel some compassion for the people in the desperate circumstances.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Everything Has a Reason

            I read a post on Facebook today that I have been pondering for several hours. Its title was something like “Everything that Happens Does Not Have a Reason.” My first thought was to refute what was said, but I did not follow through on the thought. You see, the poster and many people that I know are recoiling from a terrible tragedy in our community yesterday. I knew there was already enough pain in our midst, and I did not desire to cause any more. The post was not about the misfortune, but apparently it was supposed to give comfort about it.

            Tonight I decided to share some of my thoughts with the little knowledge I have about the calamity. I believe that there are no coincidences in life. I also believe there is a reason for all things even though we may not understand it.  I believe that God is in charge of the universe and individual lives and that He allows things to happen as they do. I may not understand why things happen, but I trust that God has His reasons.

            The tragedy happened to dear friends, who are members of our local church group. They are almost kin to my family because my daughter married into that clan. There was a carbon monoxide leak caused by a faulty furnace repair two weeks ago, and the family was exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning. They had been experiencing flu-like symptoms, but they thought it was just the flu. Yesterday morning the parents found one of their eighteen-year-old sons dead and a second one very ill. The entire family of two parents and five remaining teenagers were sent to the hospital for treatment. All but one went home last night (to a different house), and the last one will most likely be released tomorrow. They are apparently all okay.

            People are questioning why things like this happen to good people – and all members of the family are good people. Friends and loved ones are having difficulty coming to terms with the results. Yet, I asked a few questions, and I believe the answers are reasons why things happened the way they did. The two young men were sleeping in separate bedrooms in the mother-in-law apartment over the garage, just above where the furnace is located. The carbon monoxide went through the garage ceiling and into the bedrooms. One son was sleeping with his window open, and the other was not.

            Three reasons explain why one fine young man is dead and another one is a very ill survivor. The first reason is that the furnace was not put back together correctly. The second reason is that the family did not recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning (would you?). The third reason is the fresh air coming into one room and not the other.

            These reasons are fairly obvious ones, but they are not satisfactory to mourning parents, siblings, other loved ones, and friends. The only answer that brings peace to our souls is to put our trust in God, which is often a difficult thing to do.  I suppose that only God really knows the answer to why things happened the way they did. I know that He is in control of all things, but I do not claim to understand why God allowed this experience to play out as it did. I do not know why He saves one person and not another. I do, however, know that He has His own reasons, and I believe that He will show us the big picture at some time in the future. In the meantime, I join my family and friends in mourning the loss of a wonderful young man.       

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents Day

            The United States commemorates Presidents Day today as a day to honor all Presidents of the United States. This is a fairly new federal holiday that supposedly replaced Washington’s Birthday, which is February 22. This change does not set well with many people because some of our Presidents have been much greater than others. Why should George Washington share this honor with the likes of Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and others too numerous to mention?

            In his article titled “Why We Should Celebrate Washington’s Birthday, Not Presidents Day,” Arthur Milikh at The Heritage Foundation argues the federal holiday should still be known as Washington’s Birthday because “America’s greatest statesmen did not think that national holidays were merely about family dinners, watching fireworks, or getting a three-day weekend.”

            Milikh uses the holidays of Thanksgiving and Independence Day to show why he believes the Founders would never have accepted the change to Presidents Day. He explains that George Washington wrote his Thanksgiving Day proclamation about how the day should be about gratitude for the blessings of God and particularly for those of this great nation. He suggested that Americans should offer up their thanksgiving to God. Milikh contrasts the day of gratitude with a day of rejoicing by explaining that Independence Day is a day to celebrate the “courage and manliness” that went into defeating Great Britain and establishing the United States. His explanation put my feelings about the day into words.

            Continuing his article, Milikh writes, “What we today call `Presidents Day’ is in fact Washington’s birthday. Just like a republican people must on occasion be reminded of the need for manly assertiveness and modest gratitude, so too must they be reminded of examples of human greatness.” He states that “presidents” is just “an abstraction” with “no real content, being viewed as merely another day off work.” He continues.

   During Washington’s life, he deservedly became one of the most famous men in the world. His remarkable courage and prudence had, despite great odds and at great peril, carried to victory our 13 colonies against the most powerful empire on earth. The weight of this task fell upon his shoulders.           
   In times of peace, moreover, Washington’s self-possession and equanimity – by contrast to the brilliant but somewhat impulsive advisers surrounding him – meant that the country’s fate could be responsibly entrusted to him. The example of his control over his passions, his judgement, and devotion to the common good made him the new model of republican greatness, which until recently filled the American imagination for generations.
   Indeed, so clear were his virtues that both Federalists and Anti-Federalists reached unanimous agreement about Washington’s worthiness to be president, despite their immense disagreements on almost everything else.

            George Washington was raised up by God to lead this nation. He was aware of his
great calling and responsibility, and he lived worthy of the Lord’s blessings upon him. He is worthy to be honored by his own special day.

            The Patriot Post today was also about Washington’s Birthday vs. President’s Day. The author of the post quoted Matthew Spalding, a Heritage Foundation scholar. Spalding noted that Washington’s Birthday was celebrated as early as 1778 and “was second only to the Fourth of July as a patriotic holiday” by earth in the next century. He also noted that Congress recognized the day as Washington’s Birthday in 1870. He explained the connection between Washington’s Birthday and Presidents Day.

   The Monday Holiday Law in 1968 – applied to executive branch departments and agencies by Richard Nixon’s Executive Order 11582 in 1971 – moved the holiday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. Section 6103 of Title 5, United States Code, currently designates that legal federal holiday as `Washington’s Birthday.’ Contrary to popular opinion, no action by Congress or order by any President has changed `Washington’s Birthday’ to `Presidents’ Day.’
   Furthermore, to call the day “Presidents’ Day” not only diminishes George Washington but elevates presidents like Barack Obama. Whereas Washington sought to keep his oath to “support and defend” the Constitution, Obama undermined it at every turn.

            I learned something today as I wrote about this topic. I did not know that the holiday had not been officially changed from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day. The knowledge that Congress has not changed the name of the holiday makes me feel much better. Maybe someday a President will use an executive order to again honor President George Washington.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Constitutional Rights

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the “rights” that are not in the Constitution. Liberals tried to convince everyone in their fight against President Trump that people who had never been in America had a Constitutional “right” to come here. There is no such right listed in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

            Nate Madden at Conservative Review explains another right that is not a real “right.” In a 2001 case before the Supreme Court – Zadvydas v. Davis – concerned how long an illegal alien can be detained. The Court ruled 5-4 that undocumented immigrants could not be held more than 90 days. This sort of created a “right” for the alien to be released back into the general population. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissent the vote, and Scalia wrote the following dissent.

    Insofar as a claimed legal right to release into this country is concerned.
    An alien under final order of removal stands on an equal footing with an inadmissible alien at the threshold of entry: He has no such right.
    We are offered no justification why an alien under a valid and final order of removal – which has totally extinguished whatever right to presence in this country he possessed – has any greater due process right to be released into the country than an alien at the border seeking entry.
   [A]n inadmissible alien at the border has no right to be in the United States.

            Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Frankfurter, used a dissent from Justice Robert Jackson in Shaughnessy v. United States in 1953: “Due process does not invest any alien with a right to enter the United States nor confer on those admitted the right to remain against the national will.
Nothing in the Constitution requires admission or sufferance of aliens hostile to our scheme of government.”

            All people have the right to be treated with respect as human beings, but they have no fundamental or Constitutional right to enter America or to stay here without permission.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Records on Metal Plates

            Many people have heard of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Most of those people have heard that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith from a record kept on metal plates.

            Joseph Smith writes in his history about his experience of obtaining the record and translating it. A heavenly messenger by the name of Moroni visited the young man and told him about some gold plates with a message on them. He showed the plates to Smith and explained the importance of them, but he did not deliver the plates. These are Smith’s words about his experience.

He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source form whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.

            Smith continues with his explanation that Moroni visited him every year for four years, and then he delivered the plates to him. Smith translated the record using an Urim and Thummin that was found with the records. He had a third-grade education, yet he was able to translate the record in a period of approximately two months. The only way he could have accomplished this task was with the help of God. When he finished the translation, he returned the plates to Moroni. The resulting translation is known as the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

            In 2015 a team of archaeologists from Brigham Young University reported that they found some plates buried in the Hill Cumorah, which is located in the western part of the state of New York. They noticed a small cave-like cavity while they were searching the area with “advanced metal detectors, lasers and other ground-penetrating imaging technology. They dug through about twelve feet of rocks and dirt. The scientists found signs of ancient use of the cave, a flat stone that looked like an altar, and “a book made of metal plates” made from a copper-gold alloy. There were twelve pages in the book.

            This is not the only “book” found on metal plates in recent years. “This ancient collection of 70 tiny books, their lead pages bound with wire, could unlock some of the secrets of the earliest days of Christianity. Academics are divided as to their authenticity but say that if verified, they could prove as pivotal as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.”

            Another set of plates was reportedly found in 2008. This “ancient set of lead tablets showing the earliest portrait of Jesus Christ have proved to be around 2,000 years old, according to experts. The metal `pages,’ held together like a ring binder … [and] make reference to Christ and his disciples.

            There are other reports of metal plates being found, but these three sets prove that ancient people made records on metal plates. Even though the plates translated by Joseph Smith are no longer available to see and handle, there is still a way to determine if they contain the word of God. The last chapter of the record, chapter 10, contains Moroni’s instructions on how to know if the Book of Mormon is true.

4. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

            Anyone who desires to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God can learn for themselves if they will only read the book and pray sincerely about it. I have studied the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ many times. In fact, I read from the book every day. I put the promise of Moroni to the test, and I learned for myself that Moroni’s promise works. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I also know that it supports the Bible in its witness of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Faith in Jesus Christ

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened as individuals exercise faith in Jesus Christ. This is the second in a series on the Young Women values. The first post in the series can be found here. It discusses the Young Women values and the Personal Progress program that assists women of all ages to develop these attributes. Each value is represented by a specific color.

            The first Young Women value is faith in Jesus Christ, and it is represented by the color white, which symbolizes purity or pure faith. An ancient American prophet by the name of Alma taught that faith is “not to have a perfect knowledge” but to have a “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 32:21).

            We read of many miracles performed by Jesus Christ as He walked the roads of Palestine. One of those miracles was the healing of the daughter of Jairus as well as the story of a woman who was healed. These stories are found in Mark 5:22-43. Jesus was approached by “one of the rulers of the synagogue” by the name of Jairus. He fell at the feet of Jesus and begged Him to return to his home to heal his “little daughter” who was near death.

            Jesus went with Jairus, but His travel was hindered by the many people who thronged around Him. One of those people was a woman who was healed of a long-time health issue because she believed she would be healed if she only touched His robe. She accomplished her goal of touching Him and was immediately healed. He felt the virtue go out of Him and demanded to know who had touched Him. She came to Him and told Him the truth. He said, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague” (v. 34).

            While Christ was thus delayed, a servant of Jairus arrived with the news that the daughter had died. Jesus told Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe” (v. 36). Jesus took Peter, James, and John and went to the home of Jairus, which was surrounded by people weeping and wailing. Jesus asked them, “Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth” (v. 39). The people laughed with scorn at His words.

            Jesus took the father, mother, and His apostles and went into the room where the damsel was lying. He took her by the hand and told her to “arise” (v. 41). The twelve-year-old girl immediately “arose and walked” (v. 42); she was given some food and ate it (v. 43).

            The woman with the health issue was healed because she had faith that Christ could heal her with only a touch. The young maiden was healed because her father had faith in Jesus Christ and His power to heal. There are many other examples in the scriptures and in life where people are healed because they have enough faith to be healed or others exercise their faith in behalf of the ill person. There are other times when people exercise faith in Jesus Christ, but it is not the Lord’s will for them to be healed. Faith in Jesus Christ means faith in His ability to know what is right in each circumstance and a willingness to accept His will. Just as Christ has the power to heal people physically, He also has the power to heal spiritually. He has the power to heal individuals, families, communities, and nations.

            Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Faith is not so much something we believe; faith is something we live.” In other words, more is required that simply belief. Faith is an action word. The woman with the health issue did more than simply believe in Christ; she reached out to touch His robe. The ruler Jairus did not simply believe in Christ. He found Jesus and asked Him to come to his home to heal his daughter.

            Faith can be exercised in many different areas of life. It takes faith for a young couple to start their family while still obtaining their education. It takes more faith than money to pay tithing. It takes faith to establish and continue a pattern of prayer and scripture study. It takes faith to move to a new area simply because one feels it is the right thing to do.

            A wonderful family home evening lesson about faith in Jesus Christ can be found at this site. I encourage you to consider your own faith in Jesus Christ. What can you do to strengthen your faith and, in return, strengthen your family, community and nation?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Economic Freedom

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that the economic freedom of the United States.   The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom was recently released, and it did not have good news for the United States. It ranks the United States in 17th place and says the U.S. is among the “mostly free” nations. This ranking is the lowest for the nation in the 20 year history.

            The Index has been measuring economic freedom for the past twenty years and giving clear and concise analysis. The information is available on their web site for both research and education. The Index covers 10 freedoms in 186 countries. This site describes economic freedom as follows. 

Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.

            Anthony B. Kim at The Heritage Foundation is the research manager of the Index of Economic Freedom, which is produced by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Kim’s article titled “US Economic Freedom Has Hit a Historic Low.What Happened?” explains the why this new ranking is a problem. He says that the Index “compares countries’ entrepreneurial environments” and “highlights the urgent need for the U.S. to change course. For the ninth time since 2008, America has lost ground.”

            Kim writes that the U.S. is now in “the second-tier economic freedom status” and has been there since 2010. The U.S. ranks behind Switzerland (fourth), Australia (fifth), Canada (seventh, and the United Kingdom (twelfth). He says that the Index measures the commitment of a nation to “limited government and free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100.” It evaluates “four critical policy pillars, including rule of law and regulatory efficiency.”

These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity, and social progress. Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment, and deteriorating social conditions.

            Kim indicates that the ranking of the United States steadily declined during the eight years of the Obama administration because of “increased government spending, regulations, and a failed stimulus program.” There is much more in his article to explain this dismal ranking, but Americans should be relieved that Donald Trump became the President of the United States instead of Hillary Clinton. He has been in office for less than a month, and the American economy is already improving. In fact, it began to improve soon after the election was over.     

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sanctuary Cities

            Sanctuary cities have been much in the news lately, particularly after President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order to defund them. Local law enforcement in sanctuary cities decline to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests and claim that their resistance makes their communities safer. Some cities have seen the light and agreed to cooperate with ICE. Other cities as well as states continue to protect illegal immigrants who are, by way of definition, in the United States illegally and have committed crimes.

            The Executive Order is titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” and is posted on the official White House website. 

Section 9. Sanctuary Jurisdictions. It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a State, or a political subdivision of a State, shall comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.
            (a) In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.

            Scott G. Erickson, president of Americans in Support of  Law Enforcement, recently published an article at The Daily Signal titled “The Truth about Sanctuary Cities and Crime Rates.” Erickson gave some results from a 2014 draft study about the impact of sanctuary cities have on crime that was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

            The study found that during the observation time frame (January 2014 to August 2014), 8,145 individuals were released from jail after arrest due to their respective jurisdictions declining an immigration detainer request from ICE.
            Of the 8,145 individuals released, 1,867 were subsequently re-arrested a total of 4,298 times and accumulated a staggering 7,491 charges.
            So much for the argument that sanctuary cities have no impact on crime.

            Representative Lou Barletta (R-Pa) has taken the fight against sanctuary cities a step further than the President did. According to James Rogers at The Daily Signal, Barletta introduced a bill known as the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act in the House of Representatives in early January a few weeks before the Executive Order was issued. Rogers explains that Barletta claimed in his press release that his bill is tougher than the Executive Order and would block federal funding to any designated sanctuary jurisdiction for a minimum of one year. He says that it “directs the attorney general to compile an annual list of such cities and issue a report on any particular state or locality upon request from a member of Congress.” Barletta made the following statement in his press release.

I view the president’s executive action as just a starting point, however, as I will be pushing my own legislation that would remove all federal funding – not just certain grants – from sanctuary cities who refuse to obey the law.

            Why is it important to do away with sanctuary cities? The quick answer is that sanctuary cities make the work of ICE officials more difficult in that they will not cooperate with the federal officers. Instead of holding criminal illegal immigrants until ICE can pick them up and deport them, the cities are releasing them into the general public to commit more crimes against Americans. It is obvious that the officials in sanctuary jurisdictions believe that the rights of people who come to the United States illegally have precedence over the rights, freedoms, and even lives of American citizens.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What Happened to Michael Flynn?

            Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor, resigned his office yesterday. The reasons and comments given for his resignation are questionable. Is it a problem of his not telling the whole truth to Vice President Mike Pence, or did he actually do something wrong? In any event it appears that he was just assassinated politically.

            Are minions of Barack Obama in the CIA working behind the scenes to destroy the Trump Administration? Where are the leaks coming out of the White House coming from?

            Rush Limbaugh seems to think that the leaks have something to do with Obama supporters. He asks, “What did Obama know, and when did he know it?” He also said that the “drive-by media smells blood.” 

            The liberal progressive supporters of Barack Obama forced Flynn to resign. Their attacks on Donald Trump and his administration will now increase. They will not be satisfied until Trump is out of the White House. Yet, they do not seem to understand that Trump is a fighter. He likes to win, and he fights until he does win. He has been in office less than a month, and he will learn how to deal with all sorts of problems.

            What do you think? Do you trust President Trump more than the lame stream media? Are you a secret supporter for the shadow government being set up by Barack Obama? I personally trust Trump much more than Obama or the media. I hope he comes out swinging and hits hard!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Who Is Betsy DeVos?

            Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, took a beating in the approval process in the Senate. The Senators tied at 50-50, and Vice President Mike Pence made the deciding vote in favor of Devos. She is the only cabinet nominee in U.S. history to need the Vice President’s participation. Why was there such a problem?

            Elisabeth Dee “Betsy” Prince DeVos was born January 8, 1958, to Edgar Prince and Elsa Zwiep Prince (later, Broekhuizen), both of Dutch ancestry. DeVos was reared in Holland, Michigan. Her father was a billionaire industrialist and founder of an automobile parts supplier known as Prince Corporation.

            DeVos attended a private school in Holland, Michigan, and she received a degree in business management and political science from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was reared in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. She married Richard Marvin “Dick” DeVos Jr. who is a multi-billionaire heir to the Amway fortune. The couple has four grown children, two sons and two daughters: Rick, Alissa, Andrea, and Ryan.

            Dick DeVos is a big donor to conservative political campaigns and social causes. His father, Richard Marvin DeVos Sr. co-founded Amway and owns the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. A brother of Betsy DeVos, Erick Prince, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer and the founder of Blackwater USA, a private military services contractor.

            As far as I can determine from the debate about her, those against DeVos becoming Secretary of Education are public school teachers, teachers’ unions, and their minions. Apparently, they were fighting to preserve their hold on the education system because DeVos is open about her desire to improve the educational opportunities for all children and youth. She believes that the decision about education should be up to the parents and their children, not the government.

            I know that most parents want their children to receive the best education that they can possibly receive. I believe that families have the right to seek education outside the public education system, especially when the public school system is failing them and/or indoctrinating them with anti-American ideas. I wish Secretary DeVos good luck in her endeavors. It appears that she has many enemies.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ginsburg and the Electoral College

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Electoral College – again. Donald Trump won the election in November, and he was confirmed to be the president-elect on December 19. Yet, some liberals continue throwing temper tantrums in an attempt to stop Trump from doing his job as President of the United States.  Others are still trying to change the Electoral College.

            One of those liberals calling for change in the Electoral College is none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Some students at Stanford University asked Ginsburg what she would like to change in the American way of life. Ginsburg answered that she would like to change the Electoral College, but she allowed that this task would be “powerfully hard to do.” She was not clear about how she would like to fix the Electoral College; she just wants it fixed.

            Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal writes that the most common fix wanted by liberals “has been to move toward a national popular vote selection process.” He says that this “proposal would completely undermine the carefully constructed electoral process the Founding Fathers created at the Constitutional Convention and would further erode the essential concept of federalism that lies at the heart of the republic.”

            Stepman continues his explanation by reminding his readers that the “Founders had a deep understanding of history. They knew that an unclear process of succession from one leader to another has often destroyed countries – it most certainly contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire.”

            The Framers of the Constitution were intelligent men who had studied various nations and governments. They set about their task of establishing the United States of America knowing full well the dangers the new nation would face. They discussed and debated many different ideas before they arrived with the finished U.S. Constitution. When they finished their task, they had established a completely new kind of government – a democratic republic.

            Stepman writes that the Constitution “constructed a system that produced over two centuries of peaceful transfers of power from one administration to the next – a near miraculous feat in human history littered with civil strife and broken political systems.
            “It would be foolish to abandon this remarkably stable process without first understanding why it was created.

            The Framers did not want the presidential elections to turn into a mere popularity context. They established a democratic republic and not a mere democracy. They had good reasons to do so. I encourage you to read the rest of Stepman’s article. Then you will be prepared to defend the Constitution.