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, October 31, 2020

Are You Capable of Living the Golden Rule?

             For my Come, Follow Me studies this week, I have been studying the book of Mormon. After the great ancient American prophet Mormon compiled the Nephite records as he had been commanded, he proceeded to write his own book. He began by telling us that he was chosen as a boy of ten years old to be the caretaker of all the records. However, he was not to take possession of the plates of Nephi until he was 24 years old.

            Meanwhile, Mormon became the leader of the armies before he was 16 years old, and the Nephites and Lamanites were warring against each other for decades. As he started to write his book, the Nephites were fighting a losing war, and the Lamanites were driving them from place to place. Despite their losses, the Nephites were prideful and would not repent.

            Chapter 3 begins with the Lord commanding Mormon to “Cry unto this people – Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared” (Mormon 3:2). Mormon was obedient in crying repentance, “but it was in vain” (Mormon 3:3).

            Mormon wrote that the Nephites “did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God” (Mormon 3:3).

            Years passed, and the Nephites became ever more boastful. They became so wicked that Mormon refused to be their leader. Instead, he stood by as a witness to their destruction. Nevertheless, Mormon loved his people.

Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts (Mormon 3:12).

            Mormon did not agree with the way that most of the Nephites were living, but he still loved them. This is a lesson that Americans need right now because of the loud and angry words of the presidential election. Mormon showed us that we can love people even though we disagree with them. This is the same message that the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been teaching for many years. Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave the following counsel in the October 2014 General Conference (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Ensign, November 2014, p. 27).

We should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs, and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries.

            The presidential election will be over in a few days, and only one of the candidates will emerge as the winner. The supporters of the winner should be humble and gracious in their victory, and the supporters of the loser should be accepting of the vote by the majority. The only way that the great divide in our nation will ever be breached is by individual people extending the hand of kindness and acceptance to each other. The Savior’s Golden Rule will work as well today as it should have worked in the day that He taught it.

Friday, October 30, 2020

What Does the New Declaration Mean Considering the New Justice Barrett?

             Last week families, communities, and nations became stronger because the United States and 32 other nations signed a document declaring that “there is no international right to abortion” and highlighting the family as a foundation unit in society. The document is called the “Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family.” It was co-sponsored by the United States, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda and was signed virtually.

            According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the document was created and signed to achieve four main pillars: (1) better health for women; (2) the preservation of human life; (3) strengthening of family as the foundational unit of society, and (4) protecting every nation’s national sovereignty in global politics. American conservatives note that the document is opposite to the stance taken by the liberal international community.

            According to Chris Field at The Blaze, the document reaffirms “the inherent ‘dignity and worth of the human person,’ that ‘every human being has the inherent right to life,’ and the commitment ‘to enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.’”

            Field wrote that the document continued with “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning” and declared that “any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.”

            Also according to Field, the document reaffirmed that the “‘the child … needs safeguards and care … before as well as after birth’ and ‘special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children,’ based on the principle of the best interest’ of the child.”

            The co-signers of the document wanted to be clear that they meant to “[r]eaffirm that there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.”

            In addition, Field wrote that the agreement said “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” and called the family “foundational to society” and noted that it is a “source of health, support, and care.”

            Secretary of State Michael Pompeo praised President Donald Trump for his leadership in protecting the unborn and the family.

Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has defended the dignity of human life everywhere and always. He’s done it like no other president in history. We’ve also mounted an unprecedented defense of the unborn abroad.

In front of world leaders at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly, President Trump said, “We in America believe that every child – born and unborn – is a sacred gift from God.” […]

Today, we’re taking the next step, as we sign the Geneva Consensus Declaration. At its very core, the declaration protects women’s health, defends the unborn, and reiterates the vital importance of the family as the foundation of society.

            More than 1.6 billion people are represented by the 33 countries listed as signing the declaration: Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini, The Gambia, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Nauru, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Zambia.

            As I typed the above list of nations, I was struck by who they are as well as by the nations that are not on the list. I know no more about this agreement than is in article by The Blaze, and I have many questions. We know that the co-sponsors are United States, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda, but we do not know why other nations were not included. I am struck by the fact that most of the nations listed are in Africa and the Middle East, and many of them are lesser known countries. Does this mean anything?

            I am anxious to know how the liberals will respond to the news of this declaration, particularly when we consider their reaction to the confirmation of Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. I am positive that they will not go quietly into the night! Will this new document have any effect on the presidential election? Will the Supreme Court take a new look at Roe v. Wade? The next few days and weeks should be interesting! Vote Red all the way!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Do You Want the Truth about Climate Change?

             The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the necessity of open and free media to maintain freedom and liberty. Big Tech companies – Facebook, Google, and Twitter – were called to the U.S. Senate yesterday to discuss their business practices. One of the problems that was discussed was the censoring of conservative information or anything that might hurt Democrats. I learned tonight of another group that at the hearing because it was “one of the primary targets of social media censors and left-leaning activists.”

            Gregory Wrightstone published an article titled “Meet the Climate Scientists That Social Media Censors Don’tWant You to Know About” at The Daily Signal. He is a member of the C02 Coalition, a geologist, and the author of “Inconvenient Facts: The Science That Al Gore Doesn’t Want You to Know.” 

            Wrightstone explained that the CO2 Coalition is “a small nonprofit operating out of Arlington, Virginia” and that the group “formed in 2015 to educate policymakers and the public about climate change and the benefits arising from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.” He said that the diverse group is made up of “leading scientists” who study “carbon dioxide and climate change.” They include “atmospheric physicists, climatologists, ecologists, statisticians, and energy experts.”

            The primary mission of CO2 Coalition is “educating thought leaders, policymakers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.” The members of CO2 have a broad agreement that “the 130 part-per-million increase in carbon dioxide over the past 150 years is not in any way harmful.”

            Just reading the primary mission and the broad agreement alerted me – an ordinary citizen that pays little heed to the ranting and raving of Al Gore and his kind – to a likely reason why they are not “warmly received by the mainstream media or the social media giants.” These “giants” apparently believe the “consensus” that “carbon dioxide is dangerous” because they ban any discussion that contradicts it. The “giants” seem to be “committed to defending the view that the modest rise in temperature of one degree Celsius over the past 150 years is mostly man-made and leading to catastrophe.”

            Facebook first started to censor CO2 Coalition when they stopped “an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled ‘The Great Failure of the Climate Models” from appearing on their platform about a year ago. This op-ed “showed that the mathematical computer models used to promote global warming fears have been, for years, systematically predicting an exaggerated rate of warming in the tropical lower atmosphere – typically by a factor of three.” Their opinion piece was labeled “false” by the fact-checkers and blocked from distribution on the platform.

The CO2 Coalition and the Washington Examiner appealed to Facebook, providing a detailed scientific basis for their opinion. Confronted by the overwhelming body of evidence provided by the researchers, Facebook finally removed the label and again allowed the piece to be viewed and advertised.

            The problem was thought to be solved, but it was not. A letter from “groups working to ban fossil fuels” was sent to Facebook demanding that the Facebook page for CO2 Coalition be shut down and that posts by its members be censored. Then four Senators sent an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg demanding that C02 Coalition be censored because “climate change is an existential crisis” and anything contrary to that claim “puts action on climate change at risk.”

            CO2 Chairman Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, created a video for PragerU titled “What They Haven’t Told You About Climate Change.” It had more than 3.6 million views but was labeled by Climate Feedback, the “fact checker,” as misleading and censored. The misleading statement was, “Of course the climate is changing. It always has. It always will.” The misleading label was removed recently after appeals from PragerU and Moore.

Congress discussed the censuring being done by Big Tech yesterday in a hearing titled “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” CO2 Coalition had an opportunity to present testimony, so maybe some changes will be made. However, I agree with the author that Facebook, Google, and Twitter are not qualified to be the “arbiters of truth on complex scientific and societal issues.”

The censoring of such information begs the question: Why do they want to keep this information from Americans? The answer is obvious. They know that Americans would no longer accept their claim that humans are destroying the planet if they knew that the increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide has benefits.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Which Candidate Would Receive the Vote of Jesus Christ?

             In 2012 when Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate for President of the United States, there was talk about the situation being a “Mormon moment in time.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long been known to support the Republican Party, at least most of the members did so. However, the 2016 presidential election saw the Latter-day Saint support for Republicans fall from the steady 80 percent to 61 percent. Now the Latter-day Saint vote is sought by both parties.

            In this imperfect world populated with imperfect humans, Latter-day Saints and all other Christians are faced with a serious conundrum about who deserves their vote. The two main players in this political game are Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, and neither man has lived a spotless life.

There are other candidates, but none of them has the smallest chance of winning the election. A vote for any of them is truly a wasted vote – unless done purely to make a statement. So, the real choice comes down to Trump or Biden.

            Although numerous Christian churches are active in the political contest, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains a neutral stand. In a letter dated October 10, 2020, the First Presidency urged “Latter-day Saints to be active citizens by registering, exercising their right to vote, and engaging in civic affairs.” The letter encouraged “members to seek candidates who embody principles compatible with the gospel.” It also encouraged “members to become educated and informed on current issues and political candidates.” 

            Once members have educated and informed themselves on the issues and candidates, they should study out the situation in their own minds and make the best decision that they can. Then they are commanded in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 to ask God if the decision is correct. If the answer comes back “yes,” they can move forward with confidence. If the answer comes back “no,” they should go through the process again until they receive a positive answer.

            A part of studying out the issues and candidates should be making a list of the principles that is pertinent to that individual. For example, anyone who believes that killing a baby is a sin should vote Republican because the Democrat Party supports abortion for all nine months. Anyone who enjoys law and order in their community and state should vote Republican because the Democrat Party supports defunding police.

            Sometimes people do not take the time to study out the issues, and they vote on other things, such as the color of skin, how a person looks, on their personality, or the number of divorces. Sometimes they judge a candidate on what he/she said or did ten, twenty, or thirty years ago and not on what they are doing at the current time for the good of the country. They simply forget two of the basic teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church – repentance and forgiveness – and refuse to give second chances.  

            As I noted in previous posts, I find it strange that there is so much diversity in the Latter-day Saint vote. Even though the Church and its leaders will not tell us how to vote, we can know for ourselves who the best candidate is. We know the importance of making good decisions and the way to do it. Even little Primary children can tell us that we should study out the issue, make a decision, and ask God for confirmation before we move forward with a decision.

We know that God cannot lie, so whatever He reveals will be the truth. Since God knows the hearts and minds of all candidates, He alone can determine who would be the best person for the job. It makes sense to bring God into the decision and to follow His counsel. If you want to know what Jesus wants you to do, then ask Him!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

What Does the Appointment of Amy Coney Barrett Mean to You?

             Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as an associate justice on the Supreme Court last night. She is the first conservative woman and the first mother of school-age children to serve on the Supreme Court. Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was interviewed by Fox News’ “Hannity” minutes after Barrett was sworn in as an associate justice. He gave her appointment far more importance than the fact that she is a constitutionalist and makes decisions according to the Constitution.

To all conservative women who go through hell for being conservative, who get beat up by the mainstream media for embracing your faith, being pro-life … you’re a winner tonight. There’s a seat at the table for you.

            I looked at the appointment of Barrett as a great achievement for herself, her family, and her mentors and an enormous motivator for girls and young women. I also saw her as a strong defender for the rule of law. However, I did not consider how her appointment would affect conservative women until I heard Graham make this statement. I suppose that my lack of consideration for this importance is my age and my lack of experience in “trying to do it all” as a conservative woman.

            Unlike me, Kelsey Bolar at The Daily Signal did see the magnitude of what Barrett has done for conservative females of all ages. Bolar noted that it was “one of the darkest days for a leftist, establishment guy” and then wrote the following:

… But for the millions of hardworking conservative women seeking an example of what it can look like to balance faith, family, and a fulfilling, successful career, Barrett’s confirmation was one of the brightest days in all of history.

It was especially bright for those of us who are exhausted and demoralized by the ugly rancor and political rhetoric. And it was encouraging for those of us who are told we are traitors to our sex if we don’t vote a certain way. It was also historic for those of us who hear, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women,” but then watch as so-called feminists turn round to destroy women who don’t follow their explicit agenda. Indeed, they didn’t hold back for Barrett.

When a figure like Amy Coney Barrett walks in the door and earns a seat at the table, she establishes a new vision for feminism and reminds conservative women who – and what – we’re fighting for.

The significance of her example cannot be overstated. Whether we’re single, stay-at-home moms, career women, or a mix, Barrett shows what’s possible for us to achieve. Her story rejects the tired notion of traditional feminism and replaces it with a bold version that embraces womanhood for all its glories: marriage, motherhood, faith, and a fulfilling career.

            Bolar named a lot of ways that Barrett’s appointment defended conservative women. My first observation of Barrett’s accomplishments was an exclamation: Women can have it all! Women can have a happy marriage, numerous children, and a successful, fulfilling career. Barrett obviously did not listen to the feminists who claimed that women should give up marriage and motherhood to have careers. I applaud Barrett for standing by her faith in marriage and family life even as she rose to the highest court in the land.

I also applaud her husband for his support for her. Jesse M. Barrett is a fellow Notre Dame Law graduate. He is a former federal prosecutor and assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana. It appears that his job is every bit as demanding as hers and that they have supported each other at home and in their careers. Barrett looks like she has it all, and this should drive every liberal crazy!


Monday, October 26, 2020

What Took You So Long?

             My VIP for this week is Amy Coney Barrett, the newest Justice to join the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate voted along party lines – 52-48 – to confirm her nomination at 8:00 P.M., and less than two hours later at 9:15 P.M. Justice Clarence Thomas officiated as she took the official constitutional oath of office at the White House. She will be administered the judicial oath on Tuesday in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. Then she will take her place as a Justice on the Supreme Court.

Barrett is the 115th Justice to be confirmed to the Supreme Court and the 5th woman. By all accounts, she is highly qualified for the position, and she will bring a different viewpoint to the Court. She is the only conservative woman on the Court and the only mother of school-age children on the Court.

Liberals and Conservatives alike should rejoice at the idea of a constitutionalist being confirmed to the Supreme Court, but Democrats are throwing a temper tantrum at the audacity of President Donald Trump for make the nomination and of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for holding the confirmation vote. However, those who do rejoice at a constitutionalist being joining the court will like her statement.

The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means, at its core, that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences. I love the Constitution and the democratic republic that it establishes, and I will devote myself to preserving it.

            I do not ask more of her, and no one else should either. She is young at only 48 years of age, so she should have 20 to 30 years on the bench – at least. If she lives as long as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 years, Barrett could be there for 40 years. I feel good about her appointment and confident in her ability to make constitutional decisions.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Did You Think to Pray about Your Choice?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is a question that combines a lot of seemingly disconnected ideas that I have pondered over the past week. The question is, did you think to pray and ask God for counsel about which candidate for President of the United States you should trust with your vote?

            As you may know, 55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention with numerous men attending only part of the time. There were many debates about how and what should be included in the Constitution. Twelve of the original thirteen states were represented, with no representatives attending from Rhode Island.

The men came from vastly different areas and backgrounds. Some of them were lawyers, while others were farmers, businessmen, or slave owners. There were vast disagreements in what they considered to be important in the new nation. Yet, they worked together and compromised to write a Constitution that has endured for longer than 233 years. Thirty-nine men signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787. It was ratified on June 21, 1788.

How did these men with such different backgrounds and interests come together to create such a grand document? They understood that they were doing a great thing, and some of them praised God for His help. The following information was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in December 1833.

77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80)

            The men were divinely inspired while writing the Constitution, but they also compromised to form the Union. Many of the men wanted to ban slavery, but the representatives of the southern states threatened to revolt. Therefore, they compromised and put wrote in the Constitution that no new slaves would be imported after 20 years. The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 provided that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. This law took effect on January 1, 1808, which is the earliest date permitted by the Constitution. In other words, the Framers of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers did what they could with the circumstances under which they were working.

            The Constitution was written under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, as shown in the above scripture. I believe that the Lord is just as interested in the men and women who are elected to lead this nation as He was with what was written in the Constitution. Both Democrats and Republicans are contending for the vote of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and there are Latter-day Saints voting for both parties. I find this to be an interesting but unnecessary problem.

            The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral and does not support either party. However, it encourages the members to be active politically. There are two latter-day scriptures that should guide every member of the Church of Jesus Christ in their voting practices. The first scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8: “… you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” This scripture tells us that we must study the issues carefully, compare policies, look past the physical attributes, and make the best decision possible. Then we should pray about our decision and ask God if it is correct. He will cause us to feel that it is right or wrong.

            The second scripture that should be remembered by Latter-day Saints in their political decision-making is found in Moroni 10:5: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” After we have done our research, made a decision, and asked God, the Holy Ghost will testify to us of the truth. This asset is available to everyone who will ask God, but it is particularly available to Latter-day Saints because we received the gift of the Holy Ghost when we were baptized.

            If all Latter-day Saints and good people everywhere followed the counsel in these two scriptures, there would be a powerful voting block for righteousness. Why? The Holy Ghost will give the same answer to every sincere seeker of truth. We know that truth is truth and does not change, and we also know that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth. He will not tell one voter to vote for Candidate A and tell another voter to vote for Candidate B. His message to both voters will be the same because He testifies of truth.

This brings me to the ultimate question: Why is there such diversity in the Latter-day Saint vote? We all have the same resource to ask for truth, and He disperses truth to every sincere seeker. Why are some Latter-day Saints making political decisions without praying for a confirmation that they made the right choice?


Saturday, October 24, 2020

By What Name Shall We Call This Church?

            This week for my Come, Follow Me studies included one of my favorite chapters in the scriptures. It is important to me because it helped me to receive confirmation of the Church of Jesus Christ. In previous weeks I have discussed how Jesus Christ visited the inhabitants of ancient America after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. He appeared to the Nephites, taught the Sermon at the Temple (similar to the Sermon on the Mount), introduced the sacrament to them, and taught them about baptism, faith, repentance, prayer, and many other principles.

            One day the disciples of Jesus Christ were journeying in their travels to preach the gospel that had been taught to them. They were “gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting” (3 Nephi 27:1). While they were praying, Jesus Christ appeared to them and asked them what they wanted to receive from them.

            They wanted the answer to an essential question: what do you want us to call your church? He wanted to know why this was such a problem for them that it would cause them to murmur and dispute among themselves. He asked if they had not “read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:5).

            The Savior further explained that anyone who taketh His name and endureth to the end will be saved at the last day. Then he answered their question plainly.

Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name ten it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel (3 Nephi 27:7-8).

            After Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 and restored the Melchizedek Priesthood, Joseph was instructed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ on earth. The Lord revealed to Joseph the name that He wanted His church to be called: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).

            In recent years President Russell M. Nelson learned that the Lord was not pleased because members of His church had allowed other people to call us Mormons and had even used the name ourselves. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was world famous, and the main website for the Church of Jesus Christ was Over several months, almost every organization and website were renamed to remove the name “Mormon” and/or to insert the name of Jesus Christ. The famous choir is now known as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and “The Church of Jesus Christ” pops up when I enter

            Elder M. Russell Ballard, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the name of the Church.

I have thought a lot about why the Savior gave the nine-word name to His restored Church. It may seem long, but if we think of it as a descriptive overview of what the Church is, it suddenly becomes wonderfully brief, candid, and straightforward. How could any description be more direct and clear and yet expressed in such few words?

Every word is clarifying and indispensable. The word The indicates the unique position of the restored Church among the religions of the world.

The words Church of Jesus Christ declare that it is His Church [see 3 Nephi 27:8] ….

Of Latter-day explains that it is the same Church as the Church of Jesus Christ established during His mortal ministry but restored in these latter days. We know there was a falling away, or an apostasy, necessitating the Restoration of His true and complete Church in our time.

Saints means that its members follow Him and strive to do His will, keep His commandments, and prepare once again to live with Him and our Heavenly Father in the future. Saint simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ” (“The Importance of a Name,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 80).

            Other prophets and apostles have spoken about the name of the Church of Jesus Christ. In his first conference address after becoming the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about the sacred association of the Church, its name, and its accompanying responsibilities.

This church does not belong to its President. Its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name each of us has taken upon ourselves. We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others (Ensign, May 1995, 71).

            The name of the Church is of great importance. It is THE Church of Jesus Christ and should bear His name. We live in the latter days, and we strive to follow Him and do His will. Therefore, we are Latter-day Saints. Thus, the name of the Church defines it: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Is There a Better Way to Avoid and Resolve Conflict?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals know how to avoid and resolve conflicts. There are probably lots of books about this topic, but I am currently reading one that gets to the “heart” of the problem. In fact, it does say a lot about hearts.

            The book is The Anatomy of Peace – resolving the heart of conflict, and its author is The Arbinger Institute. The Arbinger Institute is “the training and consulting company focused on the outward mindset and organizational transformation.” Last week I wrote about Mindset written by Carol S. Dweck, so I am interested in this organization that is working on “mindset.”

            In the Preface to The Anatomy of Peace we are told that “company CEOs feel a greater need to improve their conflict management skills than skills of any other type” (p. vii). If company CEOs deal with a lot of conflict, we should consider how much conflict happens in families and other close relationships.

            The Preface also reminds us about the confusion that comes because “the real action occurs where people are not looking” (p. vii). This is because “parties in conflict all wait on the same solution: they wait for the other party to change” (p. vii).  Most of us think that we are right and refuse to consider that we may be at fault. As it is, “people in conflict value something else more highly than they value solutions” (p. vii).

            We should ponder deeply those few statements. Company CEOs think that they need more help handling conflict than anything else in their company. Conflict brings much confusion because the “action” is happening off-screen. Most of us are not interested in finding solutions because we believe that we are in the right, which means the other person is wrong.

            The book is written as a story about several sets of parents dealing with a wayward son or daughter. As a last result, they took their teenager or young adult to a camp somewhere in a desert where they will spend sixty days learning about life. Meanwhile, the parents are meeting together for several days, and they are basically told that they are a part of the reason why their child is wayward and need to make a fundamental change in their behavior.

One of the first things that they learn is that people with “hearts of war” are full of contention and an unwillingness to compromise. They criticize their spouse, try to fix their children, and correct employees. They drive people away from them because of their warring heart. An Influence Pyramid is introduced to them showing that the tip of the pyramid is labeled “Dealing with things that are going wrong,” and the other ninety percent of the pyramid is labeled “Helping things go right.” The pyramid shows that we should spend the biggest part of our time and effort helping things to go right. By doing so, we will have far fewer things to deal with that are going wrong.

            We are all surrounded by people who do not always – maybe never – behave as we would like them to do. As an example – and as I have previously explained – most of my children do not agree with me politically because I am too conservative for them. Some of them lean conservative, while others lean liberal. We have agreed to disagree on politics because we value our relationship more than we want to argue about politics. This may seem silly, but we all have heard of family relationships and friendships that have been destroyed over differing political ideals.

The point of the book – or at least as far as I have read – is that we can each become an agent for change in our relationships. To do so, we must tweak our mindset to the point that we are willing to live our lives helping things to go right rather than looking for things that are going wrong. As a result of this tweak in our thinking, we will change our hearts of war into hearts of peace. Instead of being insulted or taking offense over something that someone has said or done, we can give them the benefit of the doubt and extend an olive branch of peace.

Everyone is stressed over something. COVID-19 has made life more difficult for some of us than for others, but we are all dealing with this thing called LIFE. Instead of being upset with the crying child in the grocery store and blaming the mother for whatever reason, we can offer a word of comfort and consolation to her. We can give her strength to deal with her child in a positive way because most of us have been in her place at some point in our lives. Instead of referring to the children on the street as juvenile delinquents, we should be grateful that they are friendly towards us. We can even apply this new thinking to other drivers on the highways.

In other words, we can put a positive spin on almost anything that happens in our lives. We can turn fixed mindsets into growth mindsets and hearts of war into hearts of peace. By doing so, we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations and make the world a more pleasant place for many people. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

What Did You Think about the Presidential Debate?

             I watched the presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. I think that this may be the only debate that I have watched in its totality. However, I was not riveted to it. I watered my plants, went through a stack of mail from several days, and did some other small tasks. All in all, I thought that it was a good debate, but I do not think that either of the men said anything tonight that would convince anyone to switch parties.

            I was amazed to see that Biden could speak for two full minutes without becoming confused or slurring his words. It looks like the four days of rest in his basement did some good – or was it drugs or something else. I did notice a time or two that he looked like he was confused or about to panic, but he pulled out of whatever it was.

            As noted in an article written by Virginia Allen and Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal, Trump and Biden clashed repeatedly on several topics as they “traded boasts and criticisms for 90 minutes. I thought that NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker did an okay job of keeping the debate under control. I was a little shocked that Welker did not offer “soft ball” questions to Biden and hard questions to Trump, but I did wonder if she was running interference for Biden a time or two.          Allen and Stepman noted the following eight highlights from the debate. 

1. Trump and Biden differed on reopening schools and businesses.Trump insisted that the United States cannot stay closed even though COVID-19 is still with us, but he wants to do it “under the guidance of health officials.” Biden appeared more willing to use shutdowns to bring the virus under control, but he insisted that he would “shut down the virus, not the country.” They both want the schools to be reopened, but Biden wants to spend money to properly prepare them to be open. Biden slammed Trump for failing to “negotiate a new coronavirus relief package with the Democrat-controlled House. Trump countered by saying Republicans are ready, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi does not “want to make a deal before the election.”

2. COVID-19 Vaccine and China.Biden repeatedly blamed Trump for failure to handle COVID-19 properly. However, the Trump administration has already taken all the actions that Biden said that his administration would do. Trump predicts that a vaccine will be approved before the end of 2020, even though “health officials said it may be well into 2021 before a vaccine is generally available.” Biden said that we are heading “into a dark winter,” and Trump has no clear plan to deal with the virus and does not deserve to be President.

3. Fracking, Climate Change, and the Oil IndustryThere are notable differences between the two candidates on climate change and the energy industry. Biden insists that he will put the United States back into the Paris Accord, but Trump countered by saying that he is not willing to “sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies” for the Paris Accord. Trump insists that he wants clean water and clean air, but noted that China, India, and other countries have much dirtier air and water than the United States, countries on which the Paris Accord went easy.

As for fracking, Biden insisted that he “never said I oppose fracking” and accused Trump of lying. Trump insisted that he is on video making the statement and demanded that Trump show the video. The Trump campaign tweeted the video soon after Biden’s demand. Trump was sure to mention that the United States is energy independent because of fracking. After Biden spoke about the families living around oil refineries and their living conditions, Trump asked Biden if he “close down the oil industry.” Biden’s reply was that he would “transition from the oil industry” and stop giving federal subsidies.

4. Improving Health CareTrump discussed how “his administration ended the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance and is overseeing what remains of Obamacare.” There is a case at the Supreme Court about Obamacare. If the court rules that it must remain, the Trump administration will continue to run “it as well as we can, but it’s no good.” Trump insisted that Biden and the Democrats are trying to move the nation into socialism and have socialized medicine. Biden insists that Bidencare would build on Obamacare. Pre-existing conditions would be protected under both men.

5. Who’s Tougher on RussiaA lengthy dialogue of the Hunter Biden computer scandal came up under a discussion about the relationship between America and Russia. Of course, Biden denied any corruption but tried to connect Rudy Giuliani to Russia. The men discussed the intelligence report from last night stating that both Russia and Iran had voter information and were trying to influence the 2020 election just as they did the 2016 election. [Did Biden forget that the Russians were trying to help Hillary Clinton in 2016?] Biden wanted to know why Trump had not been harder on Putin, and Trump responded that it was the Biden family that received $3.5 million from the former mayor of Moscow. Biden denied taking “a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.” However, Trump linked Biden to Putin by stating that “John Ratcliffe, director of national intelligence, believes the Russian president wants Trump to lose the election because ‘there has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.’”

6. Illegal Immigration and Border EnforcementTrump and Biden sharply disagreed about children being separated on the border and being put in “cages.” Trump said that “his administration actually inherited the Obama policy of putting children in cages.” “We changed the policy. They did it. We changed – they built the cages.” Then he asked Biden, “Who built the cages, Joe?” Joe had to admit that the Obama-Biden administration had done some things wrong, but he would be president instead of vice president and would do better.

7. Black Lives Matter and RacismBiden accused Trump of being one of the most racist presidents in modern history and claimed he had a racist dog whistle the size of a foghorn. Trump countered with, “I am the least racist person in this room.” He referred several times to the record low unemployment for blacks and Hispanics before COVID-19 came from China. He also discussed how he “got criminal justice reform done, and prison reform, and opportunity zones. I took care of black colleges and universities. I don’t know what to say. They can say anything…. It makes me sad.”

8. Increasing the Minimum WageBiden argued that the federal minimum wage should be raised from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. Trump said that he would consider raising the federal minimum wage but not high enough to put businesses out of business. He argued that state governments should decide the minimum wage for their states because America is so large, and states are so different.

            I thought the debate was okay, but I do not like to witness grown men arguing and calling each other liars. As far as I could see, the facts are on Trump’s side, but Biden sounded convincing to people who do not know the details.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Do You Know the Location of Any Black Cemeteries in the Houston Area?

            I must have election fatigue tonight because I have no interest in writing anything about Donald Trump, Joe Biden, or his son Hunter. I am tired of hearing about corruption in high places but not hearing of any indictments. I am saddened to know that if Joe Biden becomes the next President of the United States that all the investigations done by Judge Durham, Attorney General Bill Barr, and others – including the Hunter Biden laptop scandal – will all suddenly disappear, never to be heard of again. So, I decided to write about something else tonight and found an interesting article by Sydney Walker in the Church News of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

            The above referenced article discusses an ongoing service project in Houston, Texas. It seems that several young service missionaries, their families, and leaders met last Saturday, October 17, 2020, at a cemetery to do a project. The project involves cleaning up the cemetery, identifying the people buried there, and compiling their family history.

The cemetery is the Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery, and it contains the remains of about 5,000 people. These are not just ordinary people because they include slaves, Buffalo soldiers, and World War I veterans. More graves are discovered every week, but the total identified is several hundred.

The Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery is one of approximately 4,000 historic Black cemeteries in Texas. Like Evergreen, many of them are overgrown, abandoned, and neglected. Evergreen was a bunch of vines and woods when it was discovered.

Dr. W. W. “Woody” Jones is the man who discovered Evergreen in the 1990s, and Donald Williams is a caretaker for the cemetery and the founder of Project R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

This project is the trustee for Evergreen as well as an organization that is “dedicated to researching, documenting, recovering, restoring, and protecting abandoned cemeteries.” The project was also instrumental in legislation that passed in Texas in 1995 that allows nonprofit organization to take over abandoned cemeteries.

            Jones and Williams invited Latter-day Saints and other organizations to help in the efforts to “restore the cemetery, identify graves, and construct family trees.” Jones recognizes that “The genealogy is important and critical to finding our ancestors.” He hopes that the genealogy work done at Evergreen will extend to the other properties being discovered.

For local Latter-day Saints, what started as a service opportunity for missionaries has evolved into a pilot project with FamilySearch and a community-outreach initiative now nested under the direction of an Area Seventy and stake presidents.

Using Evergreen as a model, the objective is to locate historic Black cemeteries in the Greater Houston area and work with their stewards to help identify the names of those buried and build family trees.

            Elder Sean Douglas, an Area Seventy, knows that the project is “just getting started.” He also knows that involving many people can make the work lighter and faster.

We bring the ability to identify who’s there, and we bring helping hands to help them along the way – should they ask for it, should they want, should they desire…. We’re trying to do it hand in hand with the community. This is not our project. It’s a joint project, wherever we might be welcome.

            There is a “treasure trove” for family history in the area. After President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1865, many of the newly freed slaves moved to the southeast Texas area and found work as indentured servants for plantation owners.

            Jim Crow laws marginalized Black Americans,” and segregation was enforced in every aspect of life and death. Thus, the establishment of Black cemeteries, which were neglected for many years.

            FamilySearch is working with community leaders in a pilot project to identify the people buried in the various Black cemeteries in a seven-county area. The counties include Harris County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Washington County, Galveston County, and Walker County.

            In addition, the Record Linking Lab at Brigham Young University – under the direction of Dr. Joseph Price – will use “automated tools to pull from Texas death records previously digitized and indexed by FamilySearch.” Even though just the name of the person and the death date are on the indexed records, the records help to locate people when the tombstones or gravestones cannot be read. Even though they may not be able to identify the exact place of burial, they will be able to tell families in which cemetery their loved one was buried. According to Price, “FamilySearch will work with the community if they choose to add those names into the family tree” when the names of the people in a specific cemetery are known.

Once they get the family tree, it can be a connected experience with other records that exist, and for the families to search and find. We’ll also be sharing that information back with each of those people that have responsibility for the cemetery.

            John and Denise Allen (Westlake Ward, Houston Texas Bear Creek Stake) were called to coordinate this community-outreach initiative – the Black Heritage Initiative. Their role will be to identify Black cemeteries and work with trustees assigned to oversee them. From there they will help leaders of 22 stakes in Greater Houston to “adopt” a cemetery and mobilize stake resources to “beautify the site and build family trees.” The next step would be to help the members of the African American community “to do their own family history and build their own family trees.”

            The project will not only help people to connect to their ancestors, but it will also help to build “bridges of understanding, appreciation, recognition, and mutual respect.” This is a project that will take time, effort, and cooperation, but it can have lasting effect on many people – both dead and alive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Does the Biden Scandal Qualify for an October Surprise?

            Presidential elections seem to always come with an “October Surprise.” However, this one may be fatal to the political aspirations of the Democrat candidate instead of against Republicans. Last week former NYC Mayor and current attorney for President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, announced that he is in possession of material found on a laptop once owned by Hunter Biden, and the information is a bomb shell against the Biden family.

            This News Max video with Greg Kelly has a discussion with Giuliani about what he found on the hard drive from a computer owned by Hunter Biden. The computer was taken to a repair shop and never claimed. Therefore, it became the property of the repair shop. The computer and one hard drive were given to the FBI about seven months ago, and one hard drive was given to Giuliani’s lawyer. Giuliani commented on the alleged actions of Hunter Biden as a bag man for former Vice President Joe Biden in dealing with foreign nations. Giuliani claims that he has solid evidence regarding the corruption of the Biden crime family.

            Joe Biden, Adam Schiff who is the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and other Democrat claim that the information on the laptop comes from Russian disinformation campaign. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declared yesterday that Hunter Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.” Therefore, Schiff is once again lying about the “intelligence” he sees. 

            Giuliani claims that emails prove a connection between Hunter Biden and several foreign nations, including Ukraine and China, with millions of dollars going to the Biden family, including Joe Biden. It sounds like Joe Biden sold out the United States to China.  It also contains pictures and information about Hunter Biden and underage girls in compromised positions. This information has been passed to the Delaware State Police.

            Giuliani stated that this is the biggest government scandal of which he knows. These are major crimes, which the mainstream media is not covering, and which Twitter and Facebook have censored the material. With silence from the mainstream media and censureship from social media, many Americans are not learning about this scandal. If this information is true, our nation is in a serious situation – particularly if Joe Biden is elected to be the next President of the United States. This is a serious national security problem!

Monday, October 19, 2020

What Would America Be Without Rush Limbaugh?

             My VIP for this week is Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk show host. Since the Rush Limbaugh Show was nationally syndicated in 1988, it has the highest rating of all talk shows. He is known as king of the business. Besides being a radio personality and a conservator political commentator, he is the author of seven books and a former television show host. President Donald Trump awarded him with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at the State of the Union address on February 4, 2020.

            Limbaugh, age 69, stunned the 20 million members of his radio audience in early February 2020 when he announced that he had been diagnosed with “advanced lung cancer.” Today he made another announcement that his stage four lung cancer shows progression despite the treatments that he has received.

I do not listen to his show often, so I did not hear the news from Limbaugh either time. Rush – as he is affectionately known -- has been a leader in the conservative movement for more than 30 years. He has played a major roll in building and sustaining the conservative movement, and his passing will be greatly mourned whenever it occurs.

Rush has expressed gratitude for his blessings numerous times. Now he thanks God for each day that he has and for waking up each morning. He recognizes that he is being blessed. When I ask that God bless him and his family with comfort at this time, I am aware that he has faith in Jesus Christ

I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is of immense value, strength, confidence. And that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to.

There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too. But there is some comfort. It’s helpful to be able to trust and to believe in a higher plan.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Does the Constitution Have a “Pandemic Exemption”?

             The topic of conversation for this Constitution Monday concerns the need for judges who make their decisions according to the Constitution. It is essential for judges to follow the law in all cases. Otherwise, there are two systems of justice in our nation, and the world seems like it has been turned up-side-down.

            When COVID-19 came to our nation, government officials at all levels were forced to respond to the pandemic. Some of them responded in a way that would strengthen the people that they represent, and others not so much. Zack Smith and Hans von Spakovsky posted an article about our up-side-down world at The Daily Signal. They wrote that even people “who mean well need to be reminded that our Constitution contains no ‘pandemic exception’.”

Federal judges need that reminder, too. For example, on Oct. 12, three Trump-appointed judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made this exact point when they dissolved a federal district court’s order that would have allowed Texas counties to place multiple, unmonitored absentee ballot drop boxes in unsecured locations, in violation of state law.

Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan, writing for himself, and Judges Don Willett and Jim Ho – all three of whom have been mentioned as potential Supreme Court nominees – stayed a lower court ruling that claimed that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order, which limited ballot drop boxes to “a single early-voting clerk’s office location [in each county],” was unconstitutional.

The three judges found that the governor’s proclamation “abridges no one’s right to vote.”

            Instead of limiting opportunities for people to vote, the three judges noted that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had “expanded the options available for Texans to vote in-person or to vote by absentee ballot.” Proclamations made by the governor opened the polls a week earlier, expanded the length of time to hand deliver mail-in ballots, and kept the option to mail in the ballots.

The appellate court did not see any burden that the governor’s proclamations were placing on the voters.

As noted, Gov. Abbott has taken unprecedented steps in the wake of COVID-19 to expand voting opportunities generally, and mail-in voting options specifically. In taking these (and other) pandemic-driven actions, the governor has invoked his broad emergency powers under the Texas Disaster Act….

Neither the United States nor Texas constitution includes a pandemic exception…. All public servants, no matter how well-intentioned, must heed federal and state constitutional constraints.

            Texans should be grateful for judges that can read the national and state constitutions and can interpret them as written. We need more judges just like them!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

What Do You Know about the Gathering of Israel?

            My Come, Follow Me studies this week covered some of the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Most of the Isiah chapters “deal with the coming of the Redeemer” according to the Bible Dictionary. However, Isaiah also wrote about two other major themes – the scattering and gathering of Israel.

            It is easy to understand why Isaiah chose to write about the Redeemer and the gathering of Israel because the two themes are closely related. Ancient Israel sinned and rejected God, and God scattered them for doing so. However, the Atonement of Jesus Christ provides the way for all mankind to repent and to be reconciled to God. By doing so, everyone can be gathered to God spiritually and physically.

            Heavenly Father made a covenant with Abraham, and He promised several distinct blessings in that covenant. The Lord promised Abraham that His descendants would have the gospel and the priesthood and that through them all the families on the earth would be blessed (see Abraham 2:9-11). This covenant was renewed with Abraham’s son Isaac (see Genesis 26:3-5), with Isaac’s son Jacob (see Genesis 28:12-15), and with Jacob’s descendants, the children of Israel.

            The children of Israel forfeited the blessings when they sinned against God. When they would not return to God despite His warnings, they were expelled from their promised lands and scattered throughout the world. Even though Heavenly Father was upset with the children of Israel, He never forgot them or the promise that He had made to their forefathers. God promised that the day would come when they would be taught the gospel and gathered home to their promised lands.

            The gathering is taking place today and has been since the Book of Mormon was published. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) explained that we comply with the law of the gathering when we accept the gospel covenant.

Now, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God…. Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 439).

            In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, new converts were encouraged to gather to Zion, meaning the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ. Thousands of converts left their native lands and traveled to the United States to gather with the Saints wherever the headquarters was found.

Today members throughout the world are encouraged to remain in their native lands and to build up the Church of Jesus Christ in every land. By doing so, they are promised that they will receive blessings personally and bring blessings to the Church of Jesus Christ. Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy discussed the gathering in the last days.

Our present gathering is primarily spiritual, not geographic Christ declared that in the latter-days He would “establish [His] church,” “establish [His] people,” and “establish … among them [His] Zion” (3 Nephi 21:22; 3 Nephi 20:21; 3 Nephi 21:1). As He establishes His Church in our day, people can be taught the gospel and be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God” (3 Nephi 20:13) without leaving their homes. In contrast to the pronouncements during the early days of the restored Church, our leaders have decreed that now the gathering should take place within each land and among every tongue. Our need to be physically near large numbers of Saints is less than it was a century ago because Church magazines and satellite transmissions bridge distance and time, creating a sense of oneness through the entire Church. All have access to the same keys, ordinances, doctrine, and spiritual gifts” (“Book of Mormon Principles: The Gathering of the Lord’s Faithful,” Ensign, Octo. 2004, 59).

            Another reason why members of the Church of Jesus Christ are encouraged to remain in their home countries is that temples are being built throughout the world. There is no longer a necessity for members to travel long distances to obtain temple blessings because temples are now dotting the earth and becoming ever more numerous.

            President Russell M. Nelson spoke on the topic of the gathering of Israel in the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ held the first weekend in October 2020. He has “studied the gathering, prayed about it, feasted upon every related scripture, and asked the Lord to increase [his] understanding” for the past 36 years. Here are a few paragraphs from his conference talk.

For centuries, prophets have foretold this gathering, and it is happening right now! As an essential prelude to the Second Coming of the Lord, it is the most important work in the world!

This premillennial gathering is an individual saga of expanding faith and spiritual courage for millions of people. And as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “latter-day covenant Israel,” we have been charged to assist the Lord with this pivotal work.

When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone – on either side of the veil – to make and keep their covenants with God we are helping to gather Israel….

The gospel net to gather scattered Israel is expansive. There is room for each person who will fully embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each convert becomes one of God’s covenant children, whether by birth or by adoption. Each becomes a full heir to all that God has promised the faithful children of Israel!

            As he concluded his address, President Nelson encourage us to add the following tasks to our regular scripture study for the next six months:  “make a list of all that the Lord has promised He will do for covenant Israel.” He promised that we would be “astounded” at the number of promises. He urged us to “ponder” the promises, “talk about them with [our] family and friends,” and then to watch as they are “fulfilled in [our] own lives.”

            I know that we are living in the last days because the signs given by the Lord are all around us. As children of Israel, we have received great promises as well as great responsibilities to help in the gathering that is taking place all around us. We live in the time foretold by all the prophets and have been promised many blessings. May we live to receive all the promised blessings and help to bring them to many others.