Month: Feb 2014

Living With Resentments

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Holding On to Anger

I was a person who had a ton of resentments and used drugs to cover up those resentments. However, when I got sober, I learned slowly but surely that the resentments that riddled my life were going to lead me back down the path of relying upon powdered substances if I continued to dwell on the past.

I used to really dislike Baptist pastors such as my father, but the thought came to me that if I wanted to live a peaceful, successful, and sane life then the resentments that I had needed an end date, and it was up to me to set that date. I couldn’t go on trying to live a sober lifestyle and yet have a ton of resentments riddling my heart and conscience.

Being a drug addict, I realized that I’m mentally and physically different from other people, and living with resentments in my life was not a “luxury.” It took a lot of actions that I didn’t want to take to overcome the resentments in my life, but FAITH without action is dead.

I now understand that resentments are the number one killer of someone’s spiritual life. If I were to have any kind of relationship with God, I had to let my resentments and bitterness expire. Do you think that this is something that you can’t overcome in your own life? I am a living witness that you can!

Harboring Anger and Resentment

Karylin Stebbins’ Biography:

Karlyn Kay Stebbins is a guest writer for Morsels Of Bread. She is an addictions counselor and works in a drug rehabilitation center. She has a double major in Sociology and Psychology, and a minor in Communications. She is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been baptized on 26 March 2011. Her hobbies are reading and writing. She also enjoys spending time with her son and his friends. She is also the Founder of The Conqueror Foundation and has a blog called “Reflection Pays” where she shares her insights.

No More Strangers Among Us

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Fellow Citizens with the Saints

This message was delivered to the congregation of the Annapolis Maryland Ward of the Annapolis Maryland Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sabbath Day morning, 23 February 2014.

The word “stranger” is basically defined as a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar. The word “stranger” comes from the Latin word extraneus, which means “exterior” or “from the outside.” Therefore, generally speaking, a stranger is someone who may be considered an outsider because of religion, culture, race, or whatever the reason.

If we look around the room this morning we may find at least one or two people who are strangers to us. Each of us, have been strangers ourselves on different occasions.

Athens Greece

For example, for 20 years of my life I served on active duty in the United States Navy. During those 20 years, I was blessed with opportunities to travel all over the world on different assignments. I was even blessed to live in a few different countries for a time. In each of those situations, I was considered the stranger or the outsider. However, one of the amazing things that I discovered was that once I made the effort to show that I was friendly and genuinely interested in learning a little about the people living in those countries, I no longer felt like a stranger. In fact, I began to make friends with different people, and even though neither of us could speak the language of the other perfectly, we were still able to communicate with one another.

Diverse Cultures in the Church

In the same way, as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we strive to live our lives according to His laws and His commandments, the world may consider us to be the strangers or the outsiders. But, the good news is that as members of the Church we have been given this promise, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). As members of the Church, we are not strangers or outsiders, but rather we become brothers and sisters. The Apostle Paul expounds on this in his teaching in Romans 8:16-18,

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

A promise was also made of old when God promised Abraham,

And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father (Abraham 2:10).

As Bishop Gérald Caussé pointed out in his October 2013 General Conference address, “Though the membership of the Church is increasing in its diversity, our sacred heritage transcends our differences.”

LDS ChapelI would also like to point out that although a person may be a member of the Church, it is still quite possible that he or she may at times feel that they really don’t belong, or that they are a stranger or an outsider. That is the reason it becomes the responsibility of each of us to heed the words of the Savior when He taught, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). And so, we must learn to take the focus off of ourselves, and learn to place that focus on serving others. We must be willing to “lift up the hands which hang down, and [steady] the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12).

Bishop Gérald Caussé also pointed out in his address,

Throughout time the people of God have been commanded to care for all individuals who are strangers or who may be seen as different. In ancient times a stranger benefited from the same obligation of hospitality as a widow or an orphan. Like them, the stranger was in a situation of great vulnerability, and his survival depended on the protection he received from the local population. The people of Israel received precise instructions on this subject: “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).

Christ and the Woman at the Well

Christ is our Great Exemplar in showing compassion and mercy to those who were considered to be strangers or outcasts in society. Throughout His earthly ministry none were excluded, all were equal recipients of His teachings and ministry. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He cleansed the lepers. He sat and ate with publicans and tax collectors. He caused the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, and the blind to see. And He even crossed cultural boundaries by asking a Samaritan woman at the well for a drink of water.

As His followers, we are asked to observe the law of perfect love. The Savior taught,

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:46-48).

If we are faithful and obedient to the Lord’s commands, and live His teachings, there should be no strangers or outcasts among us, only brotherhood and sisterhood. We who are considered strangers and outsiders to the world, should be the very ones who set the example before the world of what true brotherhood and sisterhood is all about. Our daily lives should be guided by the knowledge that,

[We] are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your alight so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

I mentioned that at times we will all find ourselves in situations where we will be considered the stranger or the outsider, but this is something that we can work together to avoid happening in the Church. When someone new comes to join us here in the sanctuary or in one of our classes, we should make every effort to make them feel comfortable, welcome, and a part of our Ward family. We must make the effort to be the first ones to offer the outstretched hand of friendship. A person may not be known by name at first, but yet, they are known to us as brother and sister.

Brothers and sisters let us resolve from this day forward to have no more strangers among us. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Ancestral Roots – In the Spirit of Humility and Love

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ancestral-rootsThe Foundation of My Premise

This post was written in response to comments that were made regarding thoughts I posted some time ago as a summary of a fireside that I conducted a few years ago under the direction of my Stake Presidency on the 1978 Revelation of the Priesthood. I have titled this entry “In the Spirit of Humility and Love” because truly it is in that spirit that I humbly submit this reply and subsequent follow-up.

From the positive feedback that I received from those in attendance that evening, the fireside could be counted as a success. My only regret, if I may use that word, is that there were no Black members of the Stake who attended this fireside which was open to all members – young and old, Young Single Adults (YSA) and Single Adults (SA) alike.

Presenting the fireside was a totally different experience for me, but I truly believe that it was an experience that I needed to help me grow and to prepare me for the next part of this incredible  journey that I am on. For that, I am truly thankful.

We Cannot Judge a Book by Its Cover

During the course of discussion I made the following statement that may have caused some misunderstanding as to the point that I was endeavoring to make. Therefore, I will now humbly defend the statement and add further clarification to the matter.

The statement that I made was: “. . . not all people with brown skin are African-Americans.” I realize that there are those who will disagree with the statement that I made and will want to call me a bigot or a racist. I only submit that before using such terms so freely as water flowing from a fountain, a person needs to research the true meaning of such words in a dictionary. I think that some may be surprised to find what those words truly mean. The Lord knows my heart and the statement was not intended to cause any type of hurt feelings, dissension, or confusion of any kind among my brothers and sisters. What I meant by the statement is this:

We cannot and we should not “judge a book by its cover.” We should not place people into a certain group or place a label upon them simply based on certain features and or characteristics such as skin color.

The recent advent of DNA testing will show and prove that all people with brown skin (i.e. Blacks) are not direct descendants of Africa. Studies have emphatically shown and proven that there are some Blacks who are of European descent, some are of Native American descent, and yes, some Blacks have also discovered through DNA testing that they are of English (or British) and even Irish descent.

The LDS Church’s Priesthood Restriction

With the first two points being established, we must admit that during the time of the Priesthood restriction in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  any Black male member of the Church was denied the Priesthood automatically because he was believed to be of African descent – no questions asked. However, we must also emphasize the point that denial of the Priesthood was not based on skin color alone. Church leaders at that time went beyond that in so much that anyone of African descent, regardless of skin color, was denied the Priesthood. The example that I used was that if a White male member had a Black grandfather and a White grandmother, he too would have been denied the Priesthood because of his “African” heritage and lineage.

There were, no doubt, Bishops who may not have agreed with the practice of denying worthy Black male members the Priesthood, but speaking as a former Bishopric member, when direction is given from the General Authorities of the Church, that direction is to be followed and not ignored or stuffed away in a drawer to be forgotten. Having to deny faithful, deserving members the Priesthood based on their heritage, lineage, or skin color alone with no real explanation as to why had to be heart-wrenching at best.

A Living Testimony of the Truth

I also wanted to emphasize the point that there are many Blacks today who will not join the LDS Church based on their limited knowledge of the Priesthood restriction. They still feel that the Church was wrong in its actions against Blacks, therefore they feel that the Church is prejudiced, and Blacks would not be welcomed into their congregations. I am a living testimony and witness that nothing could be further from the truth.

I can further testify that I have personally been in some areas of this country where I would definitely feel unwelcome if I were to step through the doors of some churches and sit among their congregations. That simply is not the feelings that I have experienced these almost 19 years as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am humbled to be counted a member and to be able to enjoy all of the blessings of that membership without any regard to my race, heritage, or the color of my skin, including the full blessings and privileges of the Priesthood.

The Terms “Mulatto” and “African-American”

Now, I want to turn the tables and attempt to clear up my feelings about the use of the term “African American.” Personally, I think that the term has been overused and abused in a lot of cases. Any person who migrates to this country from the nation of Africa and decides to claim United States citizenship is entitled to refer to themselves as African-Americans. I do not have an issue with that. I also have no issue with the fact that our former President, Barack Obama, refers to himself as an African-American. After all, his father was Kenyan and his mother was a White American. He himself has stated that if he were to trace his family roots, those roots would be well grounded in Africa. Therefore, since the bloodline is traced through the father, the term Kenyan-American or even African-American certainly does apply to him.

On the other hand, I was born on 17 October 1958, in the United States of America to two wonderful parents who are now deceased, but both of them were natural born Black Americans. Therefore, if I must accept a label as to who I am, I am a Black American, not an African-American. I am a true blood American. In order for me to find any ties with Africa, if there be any, and the possibility exists that there may not be, would require a great deal of time and research on my part. With that being said, as I do my genealogy research and trace my family roots I find that many of my ancestors were identified in the census records as Mulatto (or members of a mixed raced of people). In my bloodline, there is Black blood, White blood, Native American blood, and even some European blood.

The question has arisen whether or not Mulatto was ever considered a race. The answer to the question is that society may not have used that term for people of color, as the term that was commonly used was Black, but in the earlier census records, under the race column, Mulatto was indeed considered a race.

I find it truly amazing that during my short 58-year lifespan I have been labeled as the infamous “N” word, a colored man, a Negro, a Black man, a person of color, and an African-American. It leads me to wonder why society has felt a need to place so many labels upon one race of people. It also leads me to wonder what the next label will be. Returning to the original question, I am left to ask yet another question: If Mulatto was never considered a race, when did African-American become a race?

Allow me to cite a couple of interesting facts that I recently came across concerning the use of the term African-American:

In the 20th century, many Black Americans shifted from colored to Negro to Black and, most recently, to African-American, sometimes within one generation. The term African-American has crept steadily into the nation’s vocabulary since 1988 when the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a news conference to urge Americans to use it to refer to Blacks. “It puts us in our proper historical context,” Jackson said then, adding in a recent interview that he still favored the term. He went on to say, “Every ethnic group in this country has a reference to some land base, some historical cultural base. African-Americans have hit that level of cultural maturity.”In a survey held in 1988 conducted by ABC and The Washington Post, 66 percent said they preferred the term Black, 22 percent preferred African-American, 10 percent liked both terms and 2 percent had no opinion. In 2000, the Census Bureau for the first time allowed respondents to check a box that carried the heading African-American next to the term Black.

Family – The Ties That Bind

I want to bring this discussion to a close by citing two examples from my own personal family history to drive my point home.

Amanda Frances BellMy paternal great-grandmother, Amanda Frances Bell was born to a Black mother and a White father who was believed to be a slave trader. Her picture can be seen on the left. Her complexion is extremely light skinned. What label should be placed upon her to classify her among a “race” of people? Was she Black? Was she White? Was she Mulatto? Or, should we just be satisfied and say that she was African-American?

I cite one final example. I have a young cousin (second cousin actually as he is the son of my first cousin) whose father is Black and his mother is White. If you were to see him you might think that he is a young white boy. However, in reality, he is not White, nor is he Black. What is he then? Where does he fit in? What label should be placed upon him? Should he also be classified as an African-American? After all, he was born in the United States of America and his father is Black.

The Heart of the Matter

The Lord knows my true heart. I do not mean to come across as being a racist or any such thing. That is not the intent of this treatise. The point that I return to once again is that we cannot and should not “judge a book by its cover.”

I sincerely believe that society, in many ways, has done a great injustice by placing labels on people, especially people of color, who have had many labels placed upon them. I have no ill feelings against anyone who wants to refer to themselves as African- American or any other type of American. That is their choice. God bless them. They are all still my brothers and sisters. We are all members of the same Heavenly family and God, our Eternal Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us unconditionally. He is no respecter of persons and therefore, He does not care what label we choose to use to identify ourselves or that society places upon us.

To some, as I mentioned, like in the case of former President Obama, being referred to as an African-American truly applies. But for those of us who are natural born Blacks, it may not necessarily apply. We will have to agree to disagree on that point.

As for me, I have always been and will continue to maintain till my dying day that I am an American. I am an American with a diverse background and a very rich heritage for which I am thankful. If my roots tie me back to Africa in some way that is good if not, that is good also. I am satisfied that my Heavenly Father placed me in the bloodline that He needed me to be a part of. If it is absolutely necessary that a label must be used to distinguish me from other people in the world, then I shall be satisfied to be referred to as a Black American and not an African-American. Better still, I am happy and satisfied to know that I am a child of God.

I submit these thoughts in the spirit of humility and love. May God speed the day when the use of labels to distinguish one race of people from another will no longer be necessary. What a blessed day that will be! God bless you all.

The Deadly Poison of Hearsay

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Deadly Poison of HearsayAll of us are probably guilty at one time or another of participating in idle gossip and hearsay. How many times have we been a part of a conversation that begins something like the following: “I don’t know if it is true or not, but I heard that ____”? And we can each fill in the blank. How many times have we been found guilty of being the starters of such conversations?

Hearsay is like loose cannon fodder that strikes whatever happens to be in its path. It is like a rattle snake lurking in the weeds and bushes waiting to inject its deadly venom into its next innocent victim. It is the cog that turns the perpetual wheel of contention and strife. It is of no intrinsic value or worth unless there can be found a meager thread of evidence that substantiates that what is being said bears any resemblance to the real truth.

Oftentimes when the person that started the proverbial ball of confusion rolling is questioned about where they got their information, the response is usually that they heard it from ____, who heard it from ____, and it could go on ad infinitum.

Perhaps it all started with the victim of the hearsay sharing a matter in confidence with a “friend”, and that “friend” in turn told a “friend” who told a “friend”, and so forth and so on. What started out as a private conversation between two confidants ends up becoming the headline story on the front page of the local town gossip newspaper or, nowadays going viral on Facebook, or on Twitter or the Worldwide Web. Even the news media thrives on such material, typically with disclaimers such as, “It was reported in the ____ Times that ____”, or “Reliable government sources indicate that ____”. When all is said and done what may even have started as an absolute truth becomes a distorted web and hodgepodge of fabrications and lies with maybe a miniscule of truth mixed in for flavor.

Instead of continuing to drink from the dregs of a bottle of deadly poison, would it not prove to be of greater worth to go to the subject of the hearsay (or some nominally independent source like, “Snopes”) and get the facts and ultimately the truth? The least we can do is not pass it on unverified. This is just some food for thought.

Additional Resource:

Beware the Talebearer

Shall I Call Him My Friend?

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FriendshipPerhaps we should begin our discussion by defining what a friend is. A basic dictionary definition states that a friend is a person you know well and regard with affection and trust. Arthur Ashe, the famous tennis player, once said, “We must reach out our hand in friendship and dignity both to those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy.” And Oprah Winfrey, the famous television celebrity, once said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

If someone asked us the question, “What is a friend?” we would each have our own personalized definition. Some people base their friendships on certain criteria, but there are others who find it easy to befriend anyone they meet along life’s pathways.

FriendshipPersonally, my friendships are not based on religious beliefs, cultures, backgrounds, national origins, race, or any other such thing. They never have been, and I humbly pray that they never will be. For example, because a person does not practice the same religious beliefs as I do, have the same political views as I do, or view the world in general the same way that I do, is not a valid reason to exclude that person from being my friend. I humbly believe that we all have our free agency and how someone chooses to live their life, or what they choose to believe, is strictly their choice. Who am I to judge or condemn my brother? For he too is a child of God and is deserving of love and friendship.

Jesus is Our FriendI am also reminded of the example that the Savior set before us. During His earthly ministry He did not spend all of His time with only those who believed on Him and what He was teaching. Instead, He spent a large part of His time among the sinners and publicans, and as you will recall, was often criticized and ridiculed for doing so. I believe that He was teaching us all the valuable lesson that regardless of a person’s lot in life, or what they believe, they are all children of God, and we are to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). “By this shall all men know that [we] are [His] disciples, if [we] have love one to another” (John 13:35).

There are some friends whom we consider truly special. They are one of a kind friends. Friends that we cherish forever. As someone has wisely stated:

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being a part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can’t stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship. When you’re down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end.

Masks of the hypocriteNow, with that being said, there should still be a certain amount of wisdom and discernment used in choosing who we call our friends. Sadly, not everyone who says that they are our friend, is our friend. There are some people who will claim they are our friends to our face, but the moment we turn our backs, they drive the daggers in as far and as deep as they can. They smile in our faces, but when they around others, they belittle, berate, ridicule and scorn us to shame. These people are actors on their own stage and wear false masks of friendship. And just as the actors in the ancient Greek theatrical world wore their false masks and were referred to as hypocrites, these people are referred to likewise.

If it is true that one whom you call a friend is behaving in such a way, then I would counsel to distance yourself from that person. Notice that I said distance yourself – not hate. There is a vast difference in distancing oneself from someone because of a lack of trust and confidence, and hating someone for those same reasons. Just because we may no longer directly associate with someone, we still have a duty and responsibility as Christians (followers of Jesus Christ) to love that person. Hear the words of the Savior as recorded in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” And in Romans 12:10 we are taught to be “kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” And so beloved, “let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. . . . if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:7, 11).

I close this treatise with the words of Solomon as recorded in Proverbs 18:24 when he said, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” I share these thoughts and leave them with you humbly in the name of that Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

These Are They Who Bear Witness

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I. Introduction

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, lists for us some of the witnesses of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These are the words that the Apostle wrote:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

All of this happened as it had been foretold in the Scriptures. The Old Testament was the first to bear witness of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 53:5-12 we learn of His vicarious death. Here in these passages of Scripture we read these words:

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 ¶ Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

In Psalm 16:9-10, His glorious resurrection was foretold. These are the words that we read:

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

The Apostle Paul also speaks of the testimony given by the Old Testament to the resurrection of our Lord. His words are recorded for us in Acts 13:27-39:

27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

30 But God raised him from the dead:

31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

38 ¶ Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

II. Witnesses to the Death of Christ

John was a witness to the death of Christ. He records the account in the words that we read in John 19:31-37:

31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

32 Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they break not his legs:

34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Verse 37 is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy recorded in Zechariah 12:10:

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Mark also witnessed the death of Christ and his account is recorded in Mark 15:37-47:

37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

39 ¶ And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;

41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

42 ¶ And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.

45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.

47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

Luke was another witness to the death of Christ and his account is recorded in Luke 23:46-49:

46 ¶ And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

III. Witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ

The Good News is that the crucifixion and the grave did not signify finality. Three days later our Lord and Savior triumphantly arose victorious over death, proving that the grave could not hold Him. Matthew records that there were several witnesses of the glorious resurrection of Jesus in Matthew 27:62 through 28:15:

62 ¶ Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 ¶ And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

11 ¶ Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

The first witnesses of the resurrection were the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb. We read in Matthew 28:4, “And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Roman guards were held responsible for their charge with their lives. The penalty for allowing a prisoner to escape was death. This is the reason that the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:27 was about to take his own life when he thought his prisoners had escaped. Even though they had escaped because of an earthquake, he would have still been executed because the prisoners were under his charge.

We further read in Matthew 28:11 that “some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.” So, not only were the guards at the tomb aware that Jesus had risen from the dead, but the chief priests had full knowledge of the event as well.

The honest thing would have been for them to admit that they had been wrong about Jesus, but they were politicians, and their opposition to Jesus had nothing to do with truth. They were only concerned with preserving their own power and position so they called a meeting to decide what to do about this new disturbing turn of events. In Matthew 28:12-14 we learn that “when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.”

Even though this false testimony did not hold water for several reasons, what the chief priests and soldiers did not realize is that this testimony actually confirmed what really occurred. Let us examine a few facts surrounding this testimony:

  1. Roman soldiers were not going to let it be known that they were asleep on watch and had allowed a prisoner to escape. They knew full well that the penalty for falling asleep while standing guard was death. They would only be willing to bear such a false testimony if they were paid to do so and if they were assured without a doubt that their lives would be spared. Furthermore, no self-respecting soldier would openly admit that he had allowed a dead man to escape. And, if this all happened while they were supposedly asleep, how could they possibly have known what happened?
  2. The stone that was placed at the mouth of the tomb was a very large, heavy stone that was sealed. Are we to believe that several Roman soldiers fell asleep and kept on sleeping while some of Christ’s disciples came, broke the seal, rolled back the stone, robbed the grave of the body that was inside, and carried it away? If the soldiers had awaken just as the supposed intruders were making their get away, it would have been extremely easy for them to capture someone who was having to carry a heavy body.

Next, in Matthew 28:5-6, we have the recorded testimony of an angel. We read:

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Mark also bears record in his gospel account of some of those who were a witness to the glorious resurrection of our Savior to include: (1) an angel (16:6), Mary Magdalene (16:9), two disciples as they traveled on the road to Emmaus (16:12, see Luke 24:13-35 for details), and the eleven (16:14). We read in Mark 16:1-14:

1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

9 ¶ Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

12 ¶ After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

14 ¶ Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

John also bears record of those who were a witness to the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior. In John 20:24-29 we read:

24 ¶ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 ¶ And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Yes, these are they who bear witness of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To their witness and testimony I shall now add my own personal testimony.

I testify of the infinite love that our Savior has for each and every one of us. He loves each of us so much that 2000 years ago He willingly became the sacrificial Passover lamb. He who knew no sin became sin for us. With His very life He paid a tremendous debt that He did not owe – a debt that we could not pay on our own.

Even in the midst of all of His pain and agony we hear Him cry, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As He hung upon that cruel Roman cross on Golgotha’s lonely hill, at any time He could have called a legion of angels to come and take Him down, but He willing chose not to do so. For Him to have done so would have nullified the eternal plan of redemption.

When He cried, “It is finished!” the gulf that existed between a loving Heavenly Father and sinful man was finally bridged providing a way for each of us to one day return home. No greater love than this hath any man.

He did not pick and choose who He would die for. He died for all humanity – those born and those yet to be born. He became sin’s final sacrifice, dying for all the sins of all humanity, past, present, and future. He is our Lord. He is our Redeemer. He is our Savior. He is our King. It is of these things that I do so testify and bear solemn witness in the sacred name of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Notes:

1. Corinthians 15:5 “he was seen of Cephas” (Peter). Cf. Luke 24:34

2. 1 Corinthians 15:5 “then of the twelve” Cf. Matthew 28:16, 17; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36; John 20:19

3. 1 Corinthians 15:6 “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”

4. 1 Corinthians 15:7 “After that, he was seen of James”

5. 1 Corinthian 15:7 “then of all the apostles”1 Corinthians 15:8 “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” Cf. Acts 9:3-6

6. John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” Medical officials will tell us that this is the sign of a person who has died from a true broken heart.

7. Mark 15:39 – The centurion [a Roman officer over 100 men] witnessed the death of Jesus.

8. Mark 15:40 – Many women who were followers of Jesus including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses and Salome also witnessed His death.

9. Mark 15:42,46 – Joseph of Arimathea (a member of the Jewish council over the whole nation) took His dead body from the cross and buried it. According to John 19:39 we know that Nicodemus, another member of the council, was also with Joseph of Arimathea.

10. Mark 15:44-45 – Pilate accepted the testimony of the centurion who was present when Jesus died, that Jesus had already been dead for some time.

11. Mark 15:47 – Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses witnessed the burial of Jesus.

12. In John 20:1 through 21:14 a detailed account is given of various ones who saw Jesus after His resurrection.

Nathan Osmond – “Leadership”

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Young Nathan Osmond Osmond 2nd Generation
Nathan George Osmond Nathan Osmond and Wife

Nathan George Osmond, world-class country singing sensation, has been selected as one of the Top Ten Nominees for the first-ever John C. Maxwell Leadership Award; winning in his category of Arts & Entertainment. Nathan is the son of Alan Osmond of the world-famous Osmond Brothers. He has seven other brothers – Michael, Douglas, David, Scott, Jon, Alex, and Tyler. He is known world-wide as a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and all-around entertainer. He is an accomplished singer, musician, and songwriter and loves producing music and live events. He is a loving husband and father. He is a man of faith – a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Congratulations to him on receiving this prestigious award.

– Nathan Osmond Fireside – 22 April 2012 – Syracuse, Utah

The Futility of Retaliation

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Love Your Enemies

We need to use extreme caution in wanting to immediately retaliate against someone whom we feel has committed a wrong against us. Although we may feel that we are punishing or hurting that person in some way through our retaliation, we must take a step back and realize that most of the time we also cause hurt to ourselves.

We must realize that retaliation does not necessarily bring about resolution, but rather, oftentimes it affords the one whom we are retaliating against the opportunity to counter attack. We must also realize that there are people in this world who do not care if they have hurt us, and so planning our attack against them for what they have done, or what we perceive they have done, can prove at best a futile effort.

Let us remember that battles have never been won by continuing to bombard the shores of the “enemy”, but at some point in a time, a ceasefire order is given, and a peace resolution agreed upon.

The Moral of the Story

At times in this life each of us will come in contact with people who will commit wrongs against us. Although the experience is painful for us, it becomes even more painful if we never let the wound heal, but allow it to continue to fester by continually bringing to the forefront the wrong committed against us.

A major part of the healing process is learning to forgive those who trespass against us. It eventually proves futile to want to belabor discussions about how or why the wrong occurred , for in the end, people grow weary of hearing our tales of woe and will become indifferent about the matter. If we continue to focus on the wrong against us, and never learn to forgive and let go, we become self incarcerated prisoners locked in a prison cell built by our own devices.

~ Keith Lionel Brown © 2016

Continue in His LOve

Justifying Our Actions and Behaviors

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Your Beliefs Don't Make You A Better Person Your Behavior DoesThere is a verse of scripture in the Bible, in Matthew 7:1, which reads, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” The verses in Matthew 7:2-3 expound upon this warning. We read,

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

In my daily walk, I have come across people who love to quote Matthew 7:1 in particular, but it seems that they only use that verse as a means of camouflaging their sometimes scandalous actions and behaviors. Yes, that verse is talking about not judging another, but there is a fine line between judging another, and making a careful observation and assessment of things.

It irritates me to no end when people take verses out of context to justify and rationalize their behavior. We need to pause for a moment and ask ourselves the million dollar question, “Are we taking scriptures out of context to try to hide behind the gospel to justify and rationalize our actions?” It has been my experience that he who knows much will be accountable for much. A person who takes scriptures out of context to justify behaving the way that he wants to behave instead of doing what he knows is right, doesn’t set real well with me. I have a saying that I govern my life by, “There’s no right way to do wrong.”

The simple truth of the matter is that no matter how much we think we know, continuing to do wrong after having the knowledge of what is the right thing to do, is not a ready defense in our case. The only verdict that can be rendered is “Guilty as charged!”  If we profess to know what the fulness of the gospel teaches, but yet we willingly continue to decide to do things that are contrary to those things taught, we will be held accountable for our actions and behaviors on the day of judgment.

We can have all the knowledge of gospel, but the million dollar question that we all need to ask ourselves is, “Am I doing the best that I can, to the best of my ability, to take responsibility for my actions and behaviors, and to apply what I know is the right thing to do?”

Being A Good Person Depends On How Well You Treat Others

Karylin Stebbins’ Biography:

Karlyn Kay Stebbins is a guest writer for Morsels Of Bread. She is an addictions counselor and works in a drug rehabilitation center. She has a double major in Sociology and Psychology, and a minor in Communications. She is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been baptized on 26 March 2011. Her hobbies are reading and writing. She also enjoys spending time with her son and his friends. She is also the Founder of The Conqueror Foundation and has a blog called “Reflection Pays” where she shares her insights.

Journey through life…

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Journey Called LifeI have thought a lot lately about my journey in life thus far, and how when I was young and very beautiful, I did not have peace or serenity in my life, or live in harmony with other people. I lived a rather jaded lifestyle, and a careless one if that.

I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the power of my mom’s prayers. I didn’t have any concept of danger, and I had the attitude, “Well I am a pastor’s daughter so no one can mess with the anointed.” I used that attitude as a crutch to continue to live recklessly. Then 6 years ago I hit rock bottom and was dead in every way possible – except physically, but if I would have continued on the path that I was on, very soon I would have been in the grave.

Now that I’m older and less attractive, I have more inner peace, serenity, and self-respect I look older because of the careless lifestyle that I once lived. I have come to the realization that beauty on the outside really doesn’t get anyone anywhere, it’s the beauty on the inside that really matters.

Things aren’t always how they seem to be. Someone can be very attractive, but have quite turbulent waters underneath of them. As people in society, we think because someone looks good, or something looks glamorous, then everything is alright. People can put on facades. The question is whether people and things are as glamorous as they seem to be.

I will tell you from my experience that things aren’t always what they seem to be. I was absolutely gorgeous, but my lifestyle was a lot less to be desired.

Karylin Stebbins’ Biography:

Karlyn Kay Stebbins is a guest writer for Morsels Of Bread. She is an addictions counselor and works in a drug rehabilitation center. She has a double major in Sociology and Psychology, and a minor in Communications. She is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been baptized on 26 March 2011. Her hobbies are reading and writing. She also enjoys spending time with her son and his friends. She is also the Founder of The Conqueror Foundation and has a blog called “Reflection Pays” where she shares her insights.