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.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

He Is Risen!

            Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, the day that Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most sacred holiday in the Christian world. The fact that Jesus Christ overcame death and rose from His tomb means that every mortal will one day be resurrected also. At that time, we will stand before Jesus Christ to be judged.

            Most people and many Christians celebrate Easter without a thought about Jesus Christ. Fewer still have considered what our world would be like if Jesus Christ had not completed His atoning sacrifice. Tad R. Callister is one person who has considered life without the Atonement of Christ. He says that life would be “radically different if Christ never made His Atonement.”

            Callister tells of a sacrament meeting where no one thought to bring bread for the sacrament. When the bishop was alerted to the fact, he told the congregation what had happened. He then asked this question: “How would it be if the sacrament table [was] empty today because there [was] no atonement?” If there had been no Atonement made in our behalf, there would be no need for the sacrament table, the cloths, the water, or the bread. Callister thought of this situation and wondered what other consequences there would be. He settled on the following five ways that our lives would be different.

First, there would be no resurrection, or as suggested in the explicit language of Jacob: “This flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” (2 Nephi 9:7).

Second, our spirits would become subject to the devil. He would have “all power over you” and “seal you his” (Alma 34:35). In fact we would become like him, even “angels to a devil” (2 Nephi 9:9).

Third, we would be “shut out from the presence of our God” (2 Nephi 9:9), to remain forever with the father of lies.

Fourth, we would “endure a never-ending torment” (Mosiah 2:39).

Fifth, we would be without hope, for “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain…. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 19).

            Callister paints a dismal but true picture of life without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There would be no hope for a better life. Our physical bodies would rot in the grave, and our spirits would be subject to Satan. We would be permanently shut out of the presence of God. Instead of life everlasting, we would have “never-ending pain.”

            Even with this bleak picture, there are many people who have no idea why they should invite Jesus Christ into their lives. They have no use for Christ or for His teachings. President Ezra Taft Benson was surely speaking of these people when he made the following statement.

Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning [1988], 33. Quoted in Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual.)

            President Benson says that no one understands their need for Christ until they understand the Fall of Adam. While Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, they lived in an ideal environment. There was no death, illness, or pain. Their food was provided for them, and there were no weeds in their garden. They had no challenges and no growth. They had no children or the possibility of having any offspring.

            When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a change was wrought in their bodies. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden and out of the presence of God. They became mortal with all the problems of mortality – death, pain, illness, work, and many other trials. They became subject to physical death and spiritual death. They could have children with all their challenges as well as joys of parenthood.

            As the posterity of Adam and Eve, we have inherited the same fallen condition. We are separated from the presence of God, and we are subject to physical death. We have difficulties of life and have to endure the temptations of Satan. We would be subject to Satan forever if there had been no Jesus Christ and no atoning sacrifice.

            I thank Heavenly Father that Jesus Christ overcame physical death when He arose on the third day. Because He lives again, we can all be resurrected and live forever. Because He ransomed Himself for the sins of all mankind, He made it possible for all of us to live with Him forever IF we will repent of our sins and follow Him. He gives us hope, and He helps us to overcome our difficulties. I thank God that Jesus Christ is risen! He lives! He is risen!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Teach the True Meaning of Easter

            Our families, communities, and nations will be strengthened when we teach the real meaning of Easter to children. These instructions must take place in our homes and churches because the surrounding society has a worldly view of Easter.

            I believe that it is possible to teach the true meaning of Easter as well as have fun with the season. Just as the spirit of Santa and the Nativity story can both be enjoyed and taught at Christmas, we can teach of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and still enjoy Easter baskets and new clothes. The important thing is to teach the real story without letting the festivities overshadow it!

            Our family enjoys all the fun of both Easter and Christmas, while at the same time teaching the true meaning of the holidays. We simply separate them in such a way that children understand the sacredness of the holiday without feeling that they are missing out on any excitement. We celebrate the Nativity on Christmas Eve and the Santa Claus stuff on Christmas Day. We reverse the process for Easter by doing the fun stuff on Saturday and celebrating the sacred meaning on Sunday. In order to do this, we had to decide what was important, where we would put our focus, and what we would minimize.

            Early in my motherhood I discovered that Easter baskets on Easter morning did not sit well with the true meaning of Easter. I contacted the Easter Bunny and asked if he would mind bringing baskets to my children on the previous day. He had no problem with my request, and my children received their Easter baskets on Saturday morning from that time forward. They could find their baskets, play with their toys, and eat all the candy that they wanted on Saturday. By Saturday night the excitement and sugar had worn off.

            Then we celebrated Easter by going to our Sunday meetings without children being hyped up on sugar and with the excitement of baskets behind them. Our Sunday activities were in keeping the Sabbath Day holy and focusing on the Savior. Our children apparently liked this approach because they continue the same traditions in their homes.

            There are probably people who think that I have one foot in Zion and one foot in Babylon in my approach to these sacred holidays. I believe that there is moderation in all things. Children often rebel when parents are too strict or try to force their beliefs on them.

            I took a survey of the four children in my Primary class on Sunday. We had our Easter lesson that day because General Conference will be held on Easter and we will not be meeting that day. All four children said that they receive their Easter baskets on Sunday morning. All four children were more excited about their Easter baskets than the sacred meaning of Easter. I did not share my family’s traditions, but I felt confirmation that my way was best for my family.      

            Every family must decide where they will place their focus and how they will teach the sacred meaning of Easter. I urge you to at least consider separating the celebration in order to concentrate on the Savior on Easter. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by teaching the true meaning of Easter.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Freedom from Communism

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the great need to teach the younger generations about Communism and the horrible actions that are taken by its supporters. It seems that a good share of Americans (11% in a 2011 Rasmussen poll) think that communism is better than a free market system to “provide a better system of politics and economics.” 

            The percentage of young Americans who have a favorable opinion of socialism – the stepping stone to communism – continues to grow: “53% under 30 years of age have a favorable view of socialism (Reason-Rupe, 2/12/15) – 69% of Millennials would vote for a socialist candidate (Gallup, 6/22/15).

            These numbers make it obvious that the younger generations do not know of the atrocities that have been done in the name of communism. Glenn Beck has been discussing these horrors for years. His company prepared a video that gives six facts about communism that are never discussed in our world today. Beck says that “Communism is looked at as something we can borrow from liberally…. The truth is that [communism] is among history’s most proficient killers.” Here are Beck’s six facts about communism.

1. Nearly 100 million people died under communist regimes.

2. Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, aka “Chairman Mao,” was responsible for executions, imprisonments, forced famines and labor camps that killed an estimated 65 million of his own countrymen.

3. Cuban Revolutionist and pop-culture icon, Che Guevara, ordered hundreds of executions by firing squad without trials. He famously said, “We executed many people by firing squad without knowing if they were fully guilty. At times, the Revolution cannot stop to conduct much investigation.” He also famously hated America, free speech, and rock n’ roll music.

4. An estimated 7,000,000 people perished under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Many died from famine after the government’s forced collectivization of farmland.

5. 33-42 percent of American millennials say they are unfamiliar with Mao, Guevara and Lenin.

6. Among the millennials who are familiar, at least a quarter have a favorable impression of Guevara, Marx, and Lenin.

            I was born towards the end of World War II and lived during the time of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War. I lived my childhood, youth, and even young adulthood under the threat of communism. I heard about its horrors but could not comprehend how truly terrible it is. However, I understood enough to know that my life in the United States was much happier and healthier than the lives of those living in communist countries. If we are to keep the United States free from communism, we must teach the younger generations about its atrocities. One good way to start this instruction is by watching Beck’s video. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Democrats and the 2020 Census

            The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that 2020 Census will include a question that has been on the Census for many years but was deleted from the 2010 Census. That question is: Are you a U.S. citizen? This simple question is driving Democrats into a frenzy!

            Only a few hours after making the announcement, California, the leader of a group of 14 states, filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the government to leave the citizenship question off the census. The Democrats are going ballistic even though the census will not go out to American households for two more years.

            The government has some legitimate reasons for asking the question. One reason is to have more information about who is actually living in the United States. Another reason is to know how many legitimate voters are living in each state. A very important reason is to have an accurate count of people in order to know where the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives should be.

            Rush Limbaugh says that there are two reasons why the Democrats are going ballistic about having this question on the census. One reason is that it will show the number of illegal aliens actually in the United States. The usual number that comes up is 12 million. Are there really that many here, or are there 20 or 30 million here? There is no way to know the correct number unless they are counted. The other reason that Limbaugh gives is that Democrats may lose some representatives in the House because the question will scare too many illegal aliens away.

            There is still another reason that Democrats could be fighting this question. They do not want people to know that they are simply looking for votes and do not really care about the actual people. If they actually cared about them, the Democrats would want to know where the illegals were in order to help them better.

            The Democrats will fight this battle with everything that they have. If the case goes to a rogue judge, it might be declared unconstitutional and the case held up until after the census is printed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

School Safety

            The safety of children and youth in their schools has been much in the news over the past six weeks since the last school massacre. Leftists quickly used the tragedy to push for gun control. They seem to believe that more gun control laws will stop the very people who ignore the current laws. They sing only one refrain – gun control.

            Other people are wiser and realize that evil is to blame for school massacres – not guns. They are the ones who are seeking other ways to bring safety to the schools. John G. Malcolm and Amy Swearer from The Heritage Foundation think that looking for common traits in the killers would be a good place to start. They remind us that twenty years have passed since the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado. Since basically nothing has been done during those years to stop murders at school, it is “time to get serious about school safety.”

            The fact that nothing has been done to stop the violence is one of the problems that is triggering anger in the rising generation. Anger is driving the students, but it is also allowing them to be used as pawns in the hands of the gun control movement. Students should not only be safe in their schools, but they should also be safe from being used by adults to further their evil and unconstitutional agendas.

            Malcolm and Swearer say that “we need to focus on a range of pressing issues – including mental health, family breakdown, culture, media, and more” because our “children and grandchildren deserve to be safe at school.” However, we must be “ready to get serious about school safety” before we can accomplish it. As long as leftists are driving the national discussion and focusing on gun control, the conversation will continue to be about gun control and never include anything else.

            The authors say that the school killers “are significantly more likely than the average population to suffer from undiagnosed or untreated mental illness; they often come from broken homes; and their shootings may be related to economic insecurity.” The rest of the article discusses these three factors. The article concludes with these paragraphs.

Real solutions to problems start with facts, and the fact is that school shooters often share the same traits – traits that are not connected to or related to guns.

If we are going to get serious about school safety, we must soberly acknowledge the fact that mental illness, broken families, and economic insecurity all play a role in many, if not most, school shootings.

Addressing those societal ills, with proven strategies will help reduce not only school shootings, but other violent acts by at-risk youth.

            If we are serious about school safety, we must eliminate the talk about gun control and start discussing the real issues in the lives of young people who choose to kill their peers. We should be searching for reasons why there are so many mentally disturbed young people.

            Is this instability caused by the breakdown in families, or is it a result of drugs, violent video games, etc. If it is the breakdown in the family, what are we personally willing to do about strengthening families? If it is the result of violent video games or violent media in other forms, what are we personally willing to do to eliminate that media from our lives? If the rising generation felt more secure in their home lives and were not under the influence of violent media, maybe there would not be so much mental illness among the group!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Kyle Kashuv

            My VIP for this week is Kyle Kashuv, a conservative student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The media does not give Kashuv the same amount of coverage as it does David Hogg, a far-left student. Hogg is getting all the “glory” – his fifteen minutes of fame, but Kashuv has the knowledge and ideas that will help to prevent future school massacres.

            Kashuv on Saturday challenged Hogg to a debate over the subject of gun control. He tweeted: “Hey @davidhogg111 you seem really fired up about gun control. Lets debate, one Parkland student to another. I’m in DC right now.” He also sent a direct message to Hogg to make that he received the challenge. 

            Dave Rubin, host of “The Rubin Report,” offered to host the civil debate about gun control and to donate all proceeds to charity. “Happy to do that. I’ll donate all proceeds and see how else I can raise funds. Kyle Kashuv has agreed, hope you will too, David Hogg.”

            The ball is now in Hogg’s court, but he does not seem to want to pick it up. Kashuv knows gun facts, so he should be an excellent debater on gun control.

            Meanwhile, Kashuv is going forward with his charges that adults need to take the blame for the massacre at his school. The FBI, the country sheriff, and school officials all knew that there was a problem with the killer, but they did nothing. NRA had nothing to do with the situation but still receive the blame.

            Kashuv created an app called “ReachOut” that would allow students to be more supportive emotionally to others and to help them recognize and report any signs of warning.
He also had the opportunity visit with the President and First Lady as well as to visit with members of Congress. He may not have received the media coverage of Hogg, but he is certainly making himself known among those who can make a difference. He will do much more to help our nation than the fiery words and Hitler salutes given by Hogg.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Constitutional Battle

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the battle concerning the Constitution. There was a massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, where 17 students and teachers were killed and many others wounded. The killer was a mad man who had been on the FBI and the local law enforcement radar for months because people “saw something” and “said something.” Neither the FBI nor the local police did anything to stop the mad man prior to the attack, and the four law enforcement officers at the school did nothing to protect the children. Yet the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its members are being blamed for the deaths and injuries.

            David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and their anti-gun friends quickly became pawns in the hands of the anti-gun movement. They put the full blame for the murders on the NRA, and they are demanding that the NRA disband and not create another like organization. When they call the NRA “child murderers,” they are basically saying that the members of the NRA kill children. They are not even aware of the fact that the NRA has killed zero innocent people, and they give no credit to the members of the NRA who have stopped crimes and murders, such as at the church in Texas. A former NRA instructor used his AR-15 to stop a mad man from his killing spree at a church in Texas, but the killer was no “innocent.” This is not the first time that a good man with a gun stopped a bad man with a gun, and it is not the only time that an AR-15 was used for a good purpose. However, no one knows of the other times because the media will not report them!

            I feel certain that the students at the high school were traumatized by the shooting. There is no way that they could escape being frightened and even angry at what took place. However, they are acting on emotions and demanding that adults do what they say. They do not seem to be aware that the anti-gun movement is using them. Hitler would term them as “useful idiots.” There is no way that a group of high school students could plan a nation-wide school walkout and have it ready for publication within a week. There is no way that high school students have the money to travel to Washington, D.C. to protest. Someone is planning and supporting these protests. Some of the support is coming from crazy left wing politicians, such as the mayor of Baltimore who furnished buses to take students to Washington, D.C. but cannot afford to heat all the city schools. Who is providing the money and planning? Someone is paying the money and working behind the scenes, and the left-wing media is providing an outlet.

            It is easy to look at the “March for Our Lives” and think that it is a group of students with lots of courage who want to make a change. They have had enough of the gun violence, and they want to do something about it. Who can deny their First Amendment right to voice their thoughts and feelings? However, wise Americans will follow the money and look behind the curtains.

            These students – actually children – are not old enough to legally purchase a firearm or to vote. Yet they are causing major upheaval in our nation as they use their First Amendment rights to urge the government to take away the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. They want more government control in the lives of their fellow Americans, but they cry “unconstitutional” when the “government” (their school superintendent) decides that the only backpacks allowed on campus will be clear ones provided by the school district

            The loudest protesters are not even aware of history. Someone convinced students to wear armbands to show unity in the cause without any awareness that the Nazis wore armbands as they killed millions of Jews. To their credit, they did away with that idea when they were made aware of the comparison. However, Hogg did not learn. He was photographed over the weekend in a raised-arm action that is nearly identical to that made by Hitler! 

            Who is behind the training and indoctrination of these young people? This is a matter of constitutional importance. They must be exposed for who and what they are!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Achieving the Divine Nature

            I am enjoying my study of the New Testament. I appreciate the individual writing style of each of the apostles, and I am quite fond of the Apostle Peter. I found the principle that I would like to discuss today in his writings (2 Peter 1:4-7).

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

            Peter tells us in these verses that we must gain these Christlike attributes in order to become like Christ or to partake of the “divine nature.” As I read the above characteristics, I wondered if Peter wrote them in a specific order. I know that faith, the first principle that Peter lists, is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I also know that charity, the last principle written by Peter, is the true love of Christ and what we must possess in order to return to His presence. However, I do not know the order of the remaining attributes, so I decided to learn a little more about them and went to the Bible Dictionary.

            The first principle of the gospel is faith  in Jesus Christ. It is defined in the scriptures as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). If we have faith, we “have hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). We do not receive any witness of our faith “until after the trial of [our] faith” (Ether 12:6). So faith is to hope for things that are true but not seen, and the witness of faith does not come until after the trial of faith is over.

            I was surprised when I did not find virtue in the Bible Dictionary, but I found this idea online. A person who has virtue “displays wisdom, courage, kindness, good manners, courtesy, modesty, generosity, and self-control in their life.” He also “perform[s] good acts” and gives “the best of himself.” So the principle of virtue covers a lot of different behaviors and must come after faith in order.

            I did find knowledge in the Bible Dictionary and learned that knowledge is “one of the attributes of God. I also learned that “Knowledge of divine and spiritual things is absolutely essential for one’s salvation.... Knowledge is not obtained all at once, even by revelation, but line upon line, precept upon precept.” We know that knowledge is essential for salvation and that we cannot gain it all at once. This means that the pursuit of knowledge must be a lifelong effort.

            I did not find temperance in the Bible Dictionary, but I found this understanding online. Temperance means to be the master of our own desires and passions and to be in control of our own behavior, including how much we eat or drink. I once asked a stake president why obedience to the Word of Wisdom was so important. He answered that we cannot listen to and be obedient to the Holy Spirit if we are addicted to harmful substances. So we need to have the knowledge of what is right and wrong and then we must be obedient to that knowledge in our words and actions.

            The next principle is patience, for which I again went online for this definition. Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Its synonyms are: “forbearance, tolerance, restraint, self-restraint, stoicism.” So as we gain knowledge and practice temperance, we must also practice patience.

            This brings us to godliness. Again I went online to find this definition: “the quality or state of being spiritually pure or virtuous.” Synonyms are: “blessedness, devoutness, holiness, piety, piousness, sainthood, saintliness, sainthood, sanctity.” It makes sense that godliness follows temperance and patience because it seems to be the next step to take towards charity.

            The next principle is brotherly kindness. I again checked the Bible Dictionary before going online. I actually had a difficult time finding a simple definition of brotherly kindness because it appears to be the same as brotherly love. “Brotherly love in the biblical sense is an extension of the natural affection associated with near kin, toward the greater community of fellow believers, that goes beyond the mere duty … to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” It appears that it is brotherly kindness that helps us accept everyone into the family of God as spiritual brothers and sisters.

            This brings us to charity, the last of the attributes listed by Peter. I found this definition in the Bible Dictionary: “The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ. It is never used to denote alms or deeds or benevolence, although it may be a prompting motive.” This is the highest Christlike characteristic that is known.

            From the above definitions, it appears that Peter listed the attributes of faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity in a specific order and on purpose. He starts with faith, the first principle of the gospel, and takes us up the steps of development until we reach charity.

            In addition to giving us the Christlike characteristics that are required to achieve the divine nature, Peter also mentions “great and precious promises” that come from developing these attributes. Elder Spencer J. Condie, then of the Council of the Seventy, explains how God’s promises help us to become more like Him.

The Lord’s countless exceeding great and precious promises include forgiveness of our sins when we “confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43; see also D&C 1:32). Opening the windows of heaven is a promise claimed by those who pay a faithful tithe (see Malachi 3:10), and finding “great treasures of knowledge” accrues to those who observe the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89:19).

Becoming unspotted from the world is a promise to those who keep the Sabbath holy (see D&C 59:9: Exodus 31:13). Divine guidance and inspiration are promised to those who “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3) and who “liken all scriptures” unto themselves (1 Nephi 19:23).

The Lord also promised that “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20). We are promised that the Holy Ghost will be our constant companion when we “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly” (see D&C 121:45-46). We can claim the spiritually liberating promise of fasting, which will “loose the bands of wickedness,” unto our “heavy burdens,” and “break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).

Those who are sealed in holy temples and who faithfully keep their covenants will receive God’s glory, which “shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19)” (“Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” Ensign, Nov. 2007 16-17). 

            Elder Condie lists some spectacular blessings that come from obedience to the laws of God. These blessings are the result of what Peter calls, “exceeding great and precious promises.” The greatest and most precious promise of all is the promise that we can become like the Savior. President Ezra Taft Benson references Peter when he says the following.

The virtues outlined by Peter [in 2 Peter 1:5-7] are part of the divine nature, or the Savior’s character. These are the virtues we are to emulate if we would be more like Him (“Godly Characteristics of the Master,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 45). 

            President Benson said that these virtues are “part of the divine nature.” To me, this means that these are the first divine characteristics for us to obtain, but they apparently are not all of them. However, by working to attain these attributes, we can grow to be more like the Savior.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gives this warning about procrastinating our quest to achieve the divine nature.

We easily can be overcome by the routine and mundane matters of mortality. Sleeping, eating, dressing, working, playing, exercising, and many other customary activities are necessary and important. But ultimately, what we become is the result of our knowledge of and willingness to learn from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; it is not merely the sum total of our daily pursuits over the course of a lifetime.

The gospel is so much more than a routine checklist of discrete tasks to be performed; rather, it is a magnificent tapestry of truth “fitly framed” and woven together, designed to help us become like our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, even partakers of the divine nature. Truly, we are blinded “by looking beyond the mark” when this overarching spiritual reality is overshadowed by the cares, concerns, and casualness of the world (“Exceeding Great and Precious Promises, Ensign, Nov. 2017).

            We must not put off the development of Christlike attributes if we desire to become like Him because change takes time. This is one reason why I appreciate the Becoming Projects in my religion classes. We are assigned to choose a Christlike attribute and to make a list of the actions we will take each week to achieve that characteristic. A different action is chosen for each week of the semester, so the growth comes slowly.

            The weekly action item can be small, but it often leads to other achievements. For example, I chose to stop murmuring. The first thing that I noticed was that I was murmuring much more than I thought. The next thing that I recognized was that I could control my negative feelings by noticing when I started to murmur and stopping it before the feelings developed. It is little steps like this that helps us to achieve these attributes.

             I always choose my attribute by inspiration from God, and I am often surprised by the characteristic that He says that I need to develop. However, I understand the inspiration as I work on developing the characteristic. I see little changes in myself, and I gain more understanding of myself as I strive to develop that particular attribute. I am a long way from becoming like the Savior, but I am closer than I was! I highly recommend that all my readers start their own Becoming Project by choosing a divine attribute to work toward over a period of three months. You will be surprised at what you can achieve by the small actions that you take.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Steps to Building Strong Families

            Families, communities, and nations can be strengthened by doing the things that strengthen families. As the basic unit of society the family can be compared to the foundation of a building. When the foundation is solid, the building can stand straight and firm. When the foundation is missing or weak, the building starts to lean and eventually falls. Families, as the foundation of society, can be strengthened by taking the correct steps.

   says that “everyday challenges and trials” are easier to handle when the relationships within the family are strong. These strong relationships give “support and guidance” while building “true friendship.” The site lists three steps that families can take in order to be a stronger unit.

Step 1: Build your family’s foundation upon the teachings of Christ. [The site discusses the following principles: faith in Jesus Christ, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.]

Step 2: Communicate with love. … Communication is key to making a relationship work. Strong family relationships are developed as good communication skills are developed….

Step 3: Spend quality time together. In order to form and maintain strong, loving relationships, time together is essential. [Some of the most important activities to do together are as follow:] Eating a meal together at least once a day, attending church and church activities, playing outdoor sports, visiting a local library or museum, and taking an evening walk. [I would add studying the scriptures and reading books together to this list of activities.]

            The three steps listed above are essential to building families that are strong enough to withstand all the problems in society. Of course, doing one or two of the steps will be helpful in strengthening families, but families who desire to stay together in this life and throughout eternity must follow all three steps. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nation by basing the foundation of our family on the teachings of Jesus Christ, communicating with love, and spending quality time together.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Freedom of Speech

            The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday concerns Freedom of Speech. In particular, it is to discuss whether or not a state can force crisis pregnancy centers to advertise the state’s free abortion program. This is exactly what California is trying to do, and the centers fought back in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The state is demanding that the pregnancy centers advertise for free abortion AND to include a long disclaimer in up to 13 languages. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court for resolution.

            The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Elizabeth Slattery at The Daily Signal reports that three attorneys appeared before the Justices, one representing the pregnancy centers, one representing the State of California, and one representing the Federal Government but supporting neither side. She writes that the “justices peppered all three advocates with questions.” She shares what she calls “seven key exchanges” that took place in the court room. She closes with these paragraphs.

After an hour of argument, some justices appeared to be concerned about the burden the California law places on free speech, and the fact that it clearly targets pro-life pregnancy centers. Even liberal justices seemed troubled by the arduous requirements of this law.

Now the justices will consider how to rule, and issue an opinion by the end of June. Hopefully, the court will rule in favor of the challengers and recognize that states may not impose their views on highly controversial political issues, such as abortion, on private entities.

            It is anyone’s guess as to how the justices will rule on this case. It seems to me that California has a lot of gumption. Why should centers that are in the business to help pregnant mothers have healthy babies be forced to advertise the killing of babies? It does not make sense, but most of the news out of California these days does not make sense. Hopefully, the justices will in favor of the pregnancy centers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Need for Moral Values

            My long-time readers know that I have a lot of respect for Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University. I first heard him express his ideas when he served as a guest host for Rush Limbaugh many years ago. His statements were simple statements of common sense, and he was not afraid to speak to the people of his race as a grandfather or uncle would speak to young relatives. Today I refer to a recent article by Williams and hope that you will follow the link to his article.

            Williams titled his article, “The Real Reason We Have Mass Shootings.” In an effort to help his readers understand that mass murders at schools are a fairly new happening, Williams reminds his readers there was more availability to guns in earlier years without mass murders. He shares the FBI statistic for “2016 that rifles accounted for 368 of the 17,250 homicides in the U.S. in that year.” This means that restrictions on the AR-15 would do little to lower the homicide rate. He also calls out the gun control movement for knowing this statistic to be true even while they call “for more restrictive gun laws [which] are part of a larger strategy to outlaw gun ownership.” He then states his claim.

Gun ownership is not our problem. Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns. That decline includes disrespect for those in authority, disrespect for oneself, little accountability for anti-social behavior, and a scuttling of religious teachings that reinforced moral values….

During my primary and secondary schooling, from 1942 to 1954, the only time one saw a policeman in school was during an assembly period where we had to listen to a boring lecture on safety. Our ancestors also wouldn’t believe that we’re now debating whether teachers should be armed.

            Williams and I enjoyed childhood and youth in about the same time period. He can remember seeing cops in his school for assemblies, but I do not remember any cops in our schools. There was no need for cops in the schools because we respected the authority of the principle and teachers. We knew that if we got in trouble at school, we would be in bigger trouble at home. We were taught right from wrong, and we were expected to show good behavior at all times.

            The family, school, and church worked together to teach us correct principles, and they expected us to live by those principles. The mass murders in our schools are a direct result of the loss of moral values in our society. The solution is to bring back the teaching of respect for authority figures and obedience to rules and laws. This means teaching the rising generation the basic moral values of yesteryear.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Army of Islam

            A semi-official newspaper in Turkey recently called for an “Army of Islam.” This army would be formed from 57 Muslim nations to “besiege and attack Israel.” If such an army was created, it would be as large as the total population of Israel as well as the largest army on earth.

The report came just ahead of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and was published under the headline “What if an Army of Islam was formed against Israel?” It was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

But it wasn’t a rhetorical question. It was actually a suggestion to combine the military forces of all Islamic countries to overwhelm the Israeli army in manpower, budget and equipment – even boasting with statistics….

It also advocates establishing joint bases for the army’s ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel, while noting that Pakistan, as the only nuclear country, has “a special status” among the OIC countries….

            I do not know what happened in my readers’ minds when they read the above information. I can tell you that my mind went “Whoa! This sounds serious!” Then my mind went immediately to the scriptures and the battle of Gog and Magog. I stopped at the Bible Dictionary and found the following information under “Gog.”

King of Magog, whose invasion of Israel was prophesied by Ezekiel (Ezek. 38; 39). The prophecy points to a time when the heathen nations of the north would set themselves against the people of God and would be defeated, and led to recognize Jehovah as King. All this appears to be at the second coming of the Lord. Another battle, called the battle of Gog and Magog, will occur at the end of the 1,000 years. This is described by John in Rev. 20:7-9; see also D&C 88:111-116.

            So Gog is the name of the king of land of Magog, and he will lead an attack on Israel. The attacking army will be defeated, and the attackers will be forced to recognize Jesus Christ as King. The last two references have to do with the battle that will take place at the end of the Millennium, so I went to Ezekiel to find the prophecy. The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel telling him to tell Gog, of the land of Magog:

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee …. 
And I will turn thee back and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords….

… In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:

And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes….

And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face….

Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 38:3, 4, 14-16, 18, 23).

            I do not know of any nations today that fight with horses, shields, and swords, but I recognize that Ezekiel would not have known what to call tanks, trucks, jets, and armored vehicles. Those words were probably not in his vocabulary. However, we can believe that there will be “a great company” and “a mighty army” that will be so large that it will cover the land like a cloud. We can also believe that it will happen in the “latter days” – our day.

            Ezekiel 39 tells of the cleanup work to be done. There will be so many weapons of war that it will take seven years to burn all the equipment. It will also take seven months to bury all the dead.

            I would warn those who are calling for an Army of Islam to attack Israel that they probably should reconsider their call. They should look at history and understand that God fights on the side of His people. Those who fight against Israel seldom prosper, and the results of this great battle have already been foretold. The time is coming when all the earth will recognize that Jesus Christ is King!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Louis Farrakhan Sr.

            Louis Farrakhan Sr. was born as Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933. He is a religious leader in the United States and was formerly known as Louis X. He is the leader of a religious group known as the Nation of Islam (NOI). He is an African-American activist and a social commentator. He has served as a minister in major mosques that are located in Boston and Harlem.

            Farrakhan must also be an anti-Semite because his Nation of Islam is anti-Semitic. He operates on the fringes of politics in the United States. He is friends with Barack Obama and the members of the Black Caucus in Congress. He is somehow involved in the annual Women’s March and the recent school walkout.

            Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN) recently introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that condemned Farrakhan for “promoting ideas that create animosity and anger” aimed at Jewish Americans and Judaism, and condemning “all manifestations of expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, and ethnic or religious intolerance.”

            Nate Jackson at The Patriot Post says that the resolution is a “politically shrewd move, because so many Democrats just can’t bring themselves to denounce Farrakhan.” Jackson continues by sharing information on the people who support Farrakhan – “the entire Democrat Party Democrats is slouching towards anti-Semitism.”

That became even more clear Monday when Black Lives Matter, the New Black Panther Party and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network led a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill not about denouncing Farrakhan’s racism but to block Rokita’s resolution condemning it. Instead, these rabble rousers want a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for his perceived racism.

            Jackson continues to give more information in his article that you can find here. I decided to make Farrakhan the VIP for this week, not to honor him but to bring notice to stay clear of him. There is no room in America for racism of any kind – not even anti-Semitism!