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.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Are You Teaching Your Children to Set Smart Goals?

             Parents can help their children to have a successful 2022 by helping them to make resolutions. By teaching their children to set and reach goals, parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation.

            Most adults make resolutions or set goals for the New Year, but they may not understand the importance of teaching the process to their children. Lois M. Collins wrote that the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions “provides parents an important opportunity to work with their kids on setting goals. Making resolutions can teach children lessons that will serve them well their whole lives.” According to experts, “making and working on resolutions helps kids to do the following. 

·         Decide what they’d like to change.

·         Feel more control over their future.

·         Talk to parents about goals and what they’d like more or less of in their lives.

·         Organize both thoughts and actions.

·         Learn to break tasks down to achieve big goals.

Since children imitate their parents, the New Year presents “a great opportunity for parents to sit down with their kids and discuss goal setting and planning.” As children pick a goal and decides how to achieve it, parents can “learn what’s important to their children, and bond with them.” It also gives parents an opportunity to show their children that they are “invested in their future” and discuss “how to gain opportunities and overcome challenges.”           

             In addition, setting goals helps children to learn how to make choices. However, parents must help children to set realistic goals and teach them “the power of follow-through and accountability.” Parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation by instructing their children in making smart goals.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Are You Setting Goals for the New Year?

            We are at the end of another year as well as the beginning of a new year. It is a time when many people set goals – once known as “New Year’s Resolutions.” In search for information on goal setting, I came across this site that encourages its readers to set “achievable goals” or goals that are smart. To make a smart goal: 

1. Be Specific: Making goals specific means you need to give values to the X of the equation. Make the goals clear, easy to understand. In addition, include all the elements of a proper definition. Focus on everything that defines the goal, and nothing extra. Merely state what is necessary and sufficient to precisely describe the goal… use the 5 magic W’s:

§  WHO [will be] involved?

§  What [will be] the end result. What should be achieved?

§  Why [is the goal] a focus point? Why [is it] a goal in the first place?

§  Which resources are necessary?

§  Where is it? What is the location of the goal?

2. Measure your goals: A journey of one thousand steps starts with the first step….

Achievable goals are measurable, precisely because humans separate work in chunks…. Being able to measure goals means you know what you need, and how and when to deliver it. How many weeks until completion?

To determine measurability, consider quantifiers….

3. Make your goals attainable: Make your goals attainable. It should be possible to reach that goal. And you should set goals so that it is realistic to reach them….

To make goals attainable, you need to be aware of your limitations. And of how you can stretch past those limitations and beyond. Making goals attainable encourages resilience.

4. Make them relevant: Goals matter. There is no point to setting goals that do not matter. Yet, making goals relevant is a different challenge….

Relevant goals are easier to control. Why? Because all through reaching set goals, you can maintain that relevant goals are worthwhile. That they fit well with the schedule….

To make goals relevant, ask yourself what is most appropriate. Firstly, consider internal and external elements. Secondly, weigh potential outcomes and consider where you stand. Setting relevant goals is, above all, strategic thinking….

Lastly, you should also consider aligning goals to other objectives. Or to broader objectives in larger-scale projects. After all, everything should fit just right.

5. Set a time-frame: Goals are a lot like deadlines in this respect. Deadlines are set times at which projects must be finalized. Achievable goals have target dates….

            Another site discussed the importance of goal setting – “a process that identifies a goal you want to accomplish in the future and establishes measurable objectives and criteria for achieving your goals.” Setting goals is a process that connects “a long-term vision” with “short-term direction and motivation” to act. It is a process of developing an action plan. 

            This site listed most of the steps listed above, but it included the importance of writing down the goal. “Describing your goals in written form gives you a greater chance of achieving your goal. Writing down your goals is a crucial first step in choosing your goals.” Another suggestion from the site is to break down the goals “into actionable steps.”

Before breaking your goals down into actionable steps, you need to choose the right goals and measurable objectives. Defining your goals, and putting measurements and deadlines in place makes it easier to break your goals down.

Breaking down your goals into short-term, measurable tasks and objectives helps you manage your time better, be more productive, and plan your day effectively.

Making progress on your goals builds confidence and motivation. When you break bigger goals down into smaller goals, your goals feel more manageable and achievable.

Setting a big goal can feel overwhelming and cause procrastination. Having smaller goals to work towards enables you to plan out your day more effectively and stay focused.

Breaking your goal down also helps you identify the obstacles that stop you from reaching your goals. Overcoming obstacles can accelerate your path to goal achievement.

            A third suggestion from this site is to set goals for all areas of your life. “Life goals give your life purpose and meaning and define who you want to be in the future. Goals help align your focus and promote self-improvement and personal growth.” We should consider setting “big life goals, health goals, financial goals, and fitness goals [as well as] relationship goals, personal growth goals, and business goals.”

            My last semester included a class where the semester project was setting a series of goals, writing steps to achieve those goals, and measuring success in meeting the goals. We were required to set specific goals in spirituality, in physical health, and in a relationship, list the steps we would take to meet those goals, and make weekly progress reports. An important part of goal setting is holding oneself accountable.

I am a firm believer in the importance of setting goals. About ten to fifteen years ago, I struggled with flossing my teeth every night, so I set a goal to make flossing a part of my life. The thing that kept me flossing nightly in the beginning was the fact that I had set a goal to do it. After a few weeks, it became a habit. I have not missed flossing since I made it a goal. Now I need to make some specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant goals to work towards in 2022!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Should We Be Concerned about the Population of the United States?

            Liberal environmentalists have long stated that there are too many people living in America. In an article posted at The Daily Signal, Dennis Prager shared statements from liberals about the American population. 

Back in 1973, John P. Holdren authored an essay published by the California Institute of Technology’s Population Program. At the time, Holdren, who has a doctorate in physics from Stanford, was a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He would later become the director of former President Barack Obama’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In his 1973 essay, Holdren argued that America was already overpopulated.

“Is even the present U.S. population of 210 million too large?” Holdren asked rhetorically.

“I will argue here,” he said, “that 210 million now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many; that, accordingly, a continued decline in fertility to well below replacement should be encouraged, with the aim of achieving ZPG (zero population growth) before the year 2000 and a gradually declining population for some time thereafter; and that redirecting economic growth and technological change not stopping either is an essential concomitant to but not a substitute for these demographic goals.”

            Prager quoted Holdren as saying that 210 million people in America were too many. Holdren wanted zero population growth (ZPG) by the year 2000. America did not meet his goal by 2000, but we did meet it in 2021. According to Prager, the Census Bureau estimated that there were 331,501,080 people living in the United States as of July 1, 2020. One year later, their estimate was 331, 893,745. “That was an increase of only 392,665 – or 0.1% - “the lowest annual rate of population growth ‘since the nation’s founding.’”

            Prager put this information in perspective by stating that “the 392,665 increase in the number of people living in the United States between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021 was less than half the 862,320 unborn babies the Guttmacher Institute stated in its own latest estimate were aborted in 2017.”

            Liberal environmentalists should be “happy” because America has nearly reached their goal of zero population growth. However, they are not happy yet. Holdren and others believe that “Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries.” Their statement continued, “Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.”

            Prager quoted a Census Bureau statement explaining that the population growth has been declining for years “because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population.” The press release continued by explaining that the slower population growth between July 2020 and July 2021 “can be attributed to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.” In other words, fewer people immigrated, fewer babies were born, and more old people died.

            This explanation draws questions: How did the “net international migration” decrease when more than one million people came into our nation illegally from January to July 2021? If liberals are so concerned about the population of the United States, why are they inviting millions of people to come to our nation illegally? Prager asked an important question about conditions in America:

Did the quality of life in America generally decline between 1973 and 2021, while, according to Census Bureau estimates, the population was rising by 56.6% from 211,908,788 to 331,893,745?

The median household income in 1973 was $54,893 in constant 2020 dollars, according to the Bureau. By 2020, even as the pandemic was raging, it had risen to $67,521, a 23% increase.

What if, in order to keep the population in check, the Americans who invented COVID-19 vaccines had never been born?

Human beings are not a liability for this planet that God gave us. They are the reason it exists. And when they are allowed to live in freedom, they make life better, not worse, for the generations that follow them.

            Since God should be the ultimate judge about all things, we should know what He has to say about America and the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness sought for by its Founders. First, we should look to see what God says about life: “Thou shalt not kill” – meaning that we should not commit murder (Exodus 20:13).

            Next, what did God say about America? There are multiple sources saying that America is a land that “is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 13:30; 2 Nephi 1:5) or “is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42) or “choice above all lands” (Ether 10:28) or “a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord” (Ether 13:2).

            Last, what did God say about the Constitution that guarantees “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as outlined in the Declaration of Independence? This is what Jesus Christ told the Prophet Joseph Smith about the Constitution.

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).

            We have established that murder is wrong; therefore, we know that abortion is not an acceptable way to control the population. We know that America is founded on “choice” land and that the Constitution was written by “wise men … raised up” by God for that purpose.

The bit of information still needed to understand the population problem is found in Doctrine and Covenants 104:17: “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.” This scripture should reassure all people who are concerned about the earth’s population exceeding its resources. The Lord has “prepared all things” needed by mankind to succeed.

The problem is not limited resources. The problem is selfishness and mankind’s unwillingness to share the abundance provided by the earth with the poor and needy living among us. The Lord taught this principle in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (see Luke 16:19-31). He indicated that rich people who will not share their abundance with the poor will suffer the pains of hell in the world to come. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave further counsel on this topic.

We control the disposition of our means and resources, but we account to God for this stewardship over earthly things. It is gratifying to witness your generosity as you contribute to fast offerings and humanitarian projects. Over the years, the suffering of millions has been alleviated, and countless others have been enabled to help themselves through the generosity of the Saints. Nevertheless, as we pursue the cause of Zion, each of us should prayerfully consider whether we are doing what we should and all that we should in the Lord’s eyes with respect to the poor and the needy.

We might ask ourselves, living as many of us do in societies that worship possessions and pleasures, whether we are remaining aloof from covetousness and the lust to acquire more and more of this world’s goods. Materialism is just one more manifestation of the idolatry and pride that characterize Babylon. Perhaps we can learn to be content with what is sufficient for our needs (“Come to Zion,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 39).

            According to the Lord’s counsel, given through His prophets, we have no need to worry about the population of the United States. This means that we should not be killing our unborn babies to control the population. It also means that America was established in a land that is “choice above all other lands” with enough resources to care for all Americans – rich and poor.

            Since each of us can control only ourselves, our only concern should be the condition of our individual hearts. Are we sufficiently unselfish to give of our surplus to help the poor and needy around us? We should not need government to take resources from the rich to distribute to the poor. We can take this action by ourselves. If we genuinely care for the poor and needy among us, we will share of our surplus voluntarily – as many people already do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

What Is the Secretary of Defense Doing to Our Military?

            On his twelfth day in office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued orders to hunt down “extremists” in the military forces. According to Brent Sadler, Austin took this action before he directed a review of the Pentagon’s policies with China – a “more pressing issue for national defense.” Sadler reported that the Defense Secretary recently released a report about “extremist activities in the U.S. military and actions to be taken to counter them.” 

Despite the Chinese’s massed air formations near Taiwan or Russia’s 100,000 troops poised for war near the Ukraine border, there’s a bigger threat seemingly on the defense secretary’s mind; namely, extremism in the ranks.

The numbers, however, don’t support his concern, and it’s likely there’s another agenda in play.

First, the numbers. You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a pandemic of extremism among our military members after watching our military leaders testify on the issue or listening to the mainstream media.

When all the smoke clears, an objective assessment doesn’t support that conclusion, and no report to date has delivered any data to indicate otherwise.

Indeed, the secretary’s own spokesperson reported that prohibited extremist activity amounted to “fewer than 100 incidents” over the past year. That’s in a force of more than 2 million men and women.

Moreover, responding to a request in 2018 from then-Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the Department of Defense reported only 27 incidents of extremist activity over the previous five years.

The Pentagon’s vigorous response to these underwhelming numbers includes actions to consider changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, better information sharing with law enforcement, screening of service members, and increased training and education. Those seem reasonable, if applied with equal jurisprudence, but there’s reason or concern.

            So, why did Austin act so quickly to start his “hunt for extremists”? According to Sadler, the “only plausible explanation is political – particularly given that Austin started hunting extremists before he reviewed China policies.

The event that brought the hunt for extremists was the riot at the Capitol Building on January 6th. There were ex-military members among the rioters. The assault was “a national embarrassment,” and it demonstrated “inexcusable incompetence in planning and policing.” Sadler pointed out that “no one in the government” has been held accountable for the incompetence. Law enforcement did track down and arrest many people who were at the Capitol – some who did not enter the building and some with no “prior record of violence.”

Hundreds of people have been imprisoned and held in solitary confinement for months. This is far different treatment that was given for months of riots and violence in cities across the nations. “Those rioters were often released and never charged, and some benefited from bail provided for them by organizations such as the Minnesota Freedom Fund” – supported by Vice President Kamala Harris. There are several differences between the Capitol rioters and the “social justice rioters.” One difference is the political party to which each group was aligned. Sadler sees a “danger to our military and to our Constitution”:

The defense secretary’s anti-extremism efforts don’t appear to be occurring in a political vacuum, given the focus on the Jan. 6 riot and not on the wider domestic danger from al-Qaeda or from Antifa. Failure to guard against a lopsided application of the law undermines the rule of law and the bedrock of our free society, the Constitution.

            Sadler called for the Defense Secretary to “include facts and numbers validating his actions” in future reports. This would “instill confidence that he’s not just building a straw man.”

Monday, December 27, 2021

Who Is Desmond Tutu?

            My VIP for this week is South African Desmond Tutu who was a man of many talents. He won a Nobel Peace Prize. He opposed the racist policy of apartheid of his country’s past. He was an advocate for racial justice and LBGT rights. He was known as the moral conscience for his nation. He passed away on Sunday at age 90, and his death was mourned by leaders and people around the world. 

The buoyant, blunt-spoken clergyman used his pulpit as the first Black bishop of Johannesburg and later the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town as well as frequent public demonstrations to galvanize public opinion against racial inequity, both at home and globally.

Nicknamed “the Arch,” Tutu was diminutive, with an impish sense of humor, but became a towering figure in his nation’s history, comparable to fellow Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, a prisoner during white rule who became South Africa’s first Black president. Tutu and Mandela shared a commitment to building a better, more equal South Africa….

Tutu died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Trust said Sunday. He had been hospitalized several times since 2015 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997….

A seven-day mourning period is planned in Cape Town before Tutu’s burial, including a two-day lying in state, an ecumenical service and an Anglican requiem mass at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, according to church officials. Cape Town’s landmark Table Mountain will be lit in purple, the color of the robes Tutu wore as archbishop….

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Are Vaccine Mandates Constitutional?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns two of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates made by the Biden administration. The U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments on the two cases for January 7 due to the fast-approaching compliance deadlines. The “mandates would apply to more than 100 million Americans who work at private-sector businesses and health care facilities.”

            Because The Heritage Foundation is one of the private employers with more than one hundred employees, they petitioned the Court to challenge the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The justices did not issue a stay against the mandate, which could apply before they reach a decision.

            Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation noted on Newsmax that this is the first lawsuit filed by the organization in its 48-year history. “We stand to lose a lot … if the federal government is able to pierce that sacrosanct relationship between employer and employee. Scholars at Heritage “have written extensively on COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” and they argue that “OSHA lacks the authority to impose such a rule on private businesses.” Roberts added the following comment: 

It is unprecedented for us to file a lawsuit on our own behalf. The reason we’ve done so – and this should be telling for Americans – is that we believe the threat from this administration is that severe and is that unprecedented. And if we don’t stand up for our employees and their private data, and all Americans, then we believe this administration is going to get away with a lot more. They have revealed in less than one year what they are capable and willing to do. The Heritage Foundation, being the beachhead for Americans behind enemy lines, is going to be on offense every single day. We are your watchdog and we’re also going to be a bulldog when it comes to putting government back in its box.

            The Constitution outlines what the federal government can do, and it leaves all other powers to the States and the People. The Biden administration is overstepping its boundaries and must be stopped. The fact that Americans should be vaccinated does not give government the authority to force them to do so. Hopefully, the Supreme Court steps in quickly to shut down the power grab being made by the Biden administration.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

What Is “The Living Christ”?

            My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to “The Living Christ.” The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published “The Living Christ” on January 1, 2000. 

            In 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith made a statement that inspired “The Living Christ” many years later. The Prophet declared:

The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 49).

            Many years later in 2017, President Russell M. Nelson explained the motivation to today’s leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

… it was this very statement of the Prophet that provided the incentive for 15 prophets, seers, and revelators to issue and sign their testimony to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the Lord’s birth. That historic testimony is titled “The Living Christ.” Many members have memorized its truths. Others barely know of its existence. As you seek to learn more about Jesus Christ, I urge you to study “The Living Christ” (“Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 40).

            Latter-day Saints believe in continuing revelation and are grateful for the inspired counsel and warnings and for reassurance. We are blessed by the powerful testimonies of Prophets and Apostles, the chosen witnesses for Jesus Christ for all people. The words of “The Living Christ” are as follow:

As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

            Fifteen Prophets and Apostles signed their names to this document that testifies of Jesus Christ. They proclaimed that there has been no other person ever to live upon the earth who had such “profound influence” upon all people who ever has lived upon the earth or will live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth…. Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, heling the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept”

(1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure anow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:3-4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father –

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored – “built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 46:5. He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles – that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

            The document was signed by the First Presidency (Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Boyd K. Packer L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert B. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, and Henry B. Eyring). Ten of those fifteen Apostles have since passed away, but the fifteen members of today’s First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles sustain and defend the Living Christ as though they had signed it themselves. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

How Do You Celebrate Christmas?

            My family celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve in a religious way. This is the night that we have our big Christmas dinner with our fanciest dishes. After the dishes are cleared, we act out the Nativity story. Then we a dessert made with angel food cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Our celebration continues on Christmas Day with the opening of presents and doing fun things. However, our annual celebration always starts with Christ. The Nativity story can be found in Luke 2: 1-20 as follows:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

            Another annual event is the Christmas message from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks, and President Henry B Eyring released the following message on Friday, November 26, 2021. 

When we sing “Silent Night,” we know the life of that Babe of Bethlehem did not begin there, nor did it end on Calvary. In a premortal realm, Jesus was foreordained by His Father to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all humankind. He was foreordained to atone for us. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). He came to make immortality a reality and eternal life a possibility for all who would ever live (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–223 Nephi 27:13–14).

At this sacred Christmas season, we testify that our loving Heavenly Father “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

            My family has completed its religious celebrations, and all members are ready for bed. We wish you and yours a wonderful Christ-filled Christmas. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

How Long Does Christmas Last?

            I searched for a strong Christmas message to share with some friends. Then I opened a Christmas card from my sister and found the following message shared on “Music and the Spoken Word" on November 28, 2021. This is a powerful message that deserves to go worldwide, so I will my part to pass it along. 

            An Invitation to Hope

Christmas lasts much longer than one day. Weeks in advance, decorations are hung, and stores and streetlights are lit up in happy anticipation. Music sounds merrier, more joyful. People start planning parties and preparing special food. Advent calendars count down the days. Children grow increasingly impatient. The very feeling in the air reminds us that something magical is coming — Christmas will soon be here.


All of this eager looking forward is much of the fun—and a good part of the meaning—of Christmas. During this special season, in some small and symbolic way, we reenact the hopeful anticipation of that first Christmas night. For what happened on that night had been anticipated not for weeks or months but for centuries — even since the beginning. “The hopes and fears of all the years” were met in Bethlehem that night.1


It has been called the greatest story ever told. It’s not a story of hardworking elves, flying reindeer, and sacks of presents, although those stories are fun and exciting. The best thing about the real Christmas story is that it is both miraculous and true.


This story is about a baby, a mother, shepherds, angels, and a star. But more than that, it’s a story about a promise fulfilled. It’s about light shining in the darkness and hope dispelling fear. It’s about good tidings, great joy, peace on earth, and goodwill toward all.2 When Jesus was born, so were hope and light and life — not just for an oppressed nation in the ancient world but for us today.


This old world can seem dark and lonely, and the way forward can seem impossible at times. But Christmas is an invitation to hope—to look forward, to think of the joy and possibility before us, to ponder the miraculous birth of the Christ child and its significance in our lives. This is why we look forward to Christmas. It’s more than a holiday; it’s the “reason [for] the hope that is in [us].”3 This season and always, we anticipate, we celebrate, and we always remember the advent of the Light and Life of the World. Because of Him, we can hope for good things to come.


1O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Hymns, no. 208; emphasis added.

2See Luke 2:10, 14.

31 Peter 3:15.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

How Does Hope Dispel the Darkness of Grief?

            We are two days away from Christmas Eve, so I thought that it might be a promising idea to share some Christmas stories. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is “a powerful song of hope” according to Philip Reynolds. This song was written at a dark time in our nation and in the life of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

            America was two years into the Civil War. Union forces had “won significant victories” at Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Vicksburg, Mississippi. However, the war continued despite being winter. The year “1863 saw the bloodiest battles of the Civil War – Gettysburg as well as the Battle of Chickamuga. They alone cost a cumulative total of over 85,000 casualties.”

            Thousands of families were grieving over the loss of loved ones to the war. Longfellow was one of them, except his initial loss was his wife. The death of Longfellow’s second wife Frances in 1861 was unrelated to the war. She was sealing “envelopes with hot wax and an open flame” when her dress caught fire. He gave his best efforts in trying to save her, but she died from her burns. He “collapsed into a depression. His journal entry for Christmas 1862 shows the depth of his suffering: “A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

            The war continued in 1863, and Longfellow’s son Charley defied his father’s wishes to join the Union army. Charley became sick with fever in June 1863. Longfellow traveled to a hospital in Washington to take Charley home to Massachusetts. When Charlie recovered, he “returned to the fighting.” In November 1863, Charley was shot “in the back while fighting at New Hope, Virginia,” and Longfellow traveled to Washington once again to retrieve him. In the midst of his grief at Christmas 1863, Longfellow wrote the Christmas hymn titled “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Here are a few stanzas from the hymn.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.

            Americans and people worldwide are grieving this Christmas season. However, Longfellow’s words contain the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is not dead, and He does not sleep. In the end, Right will prevail. This truth is the foundation for faith in Jesus Christ, which brings hope. This is the Christmas message. The Babe of Bethlehem would be just another baby if He had not completed His mission to atone for the sins of mankind.