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Families Are Forever

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6 Ways to Strengthen Family Love

“Feeling the security and constancy of love from a spouse, a parent, or a child is a rich blessing. Such love nurtures and sustains faith in God. Such love is a source of strength and casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). Such love is the desire of every human soul.” – Elder David A. Bednar – More Diligent and Concerned at Home

“Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf – The Love of God


Happy Families: Meet the Kennys


A Recipe For a Happy Family – Happy Families


A Family Culture of Love – Happy Families

For Such A Time As This

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To Everything There Is A Season. . . . .
“To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Webster’s dictionary defines the word pioneer as “a person who plays a leading part in the early development of something.” Therefore, in the truest sense of the definition, as the only person in my immediate family who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am a pioneer. And so, I would like to take just a few moments to share some of my thoughts about being a pioneer member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we are taught, “To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I strongly believe that I am the person that has been chosen, and given the responsibility by my Heavenly Father for such a time as this to lead the rest of my family to the saving knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a responsibility that I dare not take lightly.

I am reminded of the words of President Lorenzo Snow:

You exert a certain degree of influence, and be it ever so small, it affects some person or persons, and for the results of the influence you exert you are held accountable. You, therefore, whether you acknowledge it or not, have assumed an importance before God and man that cannot be overlooked.” (JD, 18:299).

And so, I have a responsibility to be a positive influence on my family. Along those same lines, I must also set the example that I wish my family to follow. I am reminded of the words of President Harold B. Lee:

You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure if you would rescue the man that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.” (CR, April 1973, p.178.)

One of the ways that I can be a positive influence and set the example that I should before my family, is by having and maintaining a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel. I must always be ready to give an answer for not only what I believe, but why I believe it. This principle is taught to us in 1 Peter 3:15-17:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience that whereas they speak evil of you as evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

On 10 March 2014 I celebrated my 16th year as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Never would I ever have imagined that one day I would be a member of the Lord’s true Church.

I was raised in a good Christian Baptist home with a dear mother who made sure that her four children were nurtured in the good Word of God. I grew up in a home where it was understood that if mom was going to church on Sunday, than so were you. There was no argument, discussion, or debate. From a very early age as I grew to love and appreciate the blessed Scriptures, my focus was set on one day fulfilling my grandmother’s dream and what later became my own personal goal of becoming a Baptist minister. But the Lord had other plans.

Through all of my years of being taught righteous principles as a youth and later teaching Sunday school classes and training in Bible College to become a Baptist minister, the Lord was preparing me for a greater work that He had for me to do. I am so grateful that I yielded to His will for my life instead of pursuing the path that I had chosen. I am a living testimony that if we will but “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart; and lean not unto [our] understanding and in all [our] ways acknowledge Him . . . He shall direct [our] paths” (see Proverbs 3:5). In the words of one of my favorite hymns:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified. That for me a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me. Enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I am thankful for the callings that I have received over the past 17 years – Activities Chairman, Single Adults Representative, Youth Sunday School Teacher, First Counselor in the Young Men Presidency (Ward level), member of the Stake High Council, a counselor in two Bishoprics (as Second and then First) Counselor, High Priest Group Leader, Ward Mission Leader, Ward Missionary, Teacher for High Priest Group, Gospel Doctrine Teacher –  and for the lessons that I have learned from each of them. Each of those lessons has helped to strengthen my testimony and have given me a stronger desire to do those things which the Lord would have me to do. Even more so, I am grateful that a loving Heavenly Father would call me to serve in these capacities and it is my humble prayer that I will always be willing to serve wherever the Master would need me to serve. May I always be willing to serve with the attitude of Nephi:” I will go and do the things which the Lord have commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7, Book of Mormon).

Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taught me that living the True Gospel is not in thinking about myself all the time, but rather it is about  serving others. Being a member has also given me a greater understanding of the importance of, and appreciation for, family history work. The work that I have begun on my family history has sparked a great deal of interest in my family. It has also opened many doors of opportunity to share my faith and my testimony with family members, prayerfully planting seeds that will one day soon, yield a rich harvest.

As I look back through the pages of my family history, I can see the hand of God at work. I come from a heritage that is rich with people who dedicated their lives to being community leaders, educators, defenders of this great nation in several wars, and ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it is no coincidence that I would grow up to also have a thirst for education, to honorably serve my country, and most importantly to have a sincere love for the Gospel. It was all part of the Lord’s plan. I believe that every stepping stone along the way was setting the pathway to bringing me to where I am today. As I prepare family names to take to the Temple, I know that the Spirit of Elijah is present and that the Lord, as well as my ancestors, is pleased with the work that I am doing.

I will close with the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are a favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory, “the dispensation of the fullness of times,” when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth, . . . when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. (HC, 4:609-610.)

I testify to you of the hope that is in me and that hope is Jesus Christ and the knowledge that I know that His Church is the True Church and that His Gospel is truth. I further testify that I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that President Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet in these the latter days. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that as the pioneer member of the Church for my family, as I continue to share my testimony of this Gospel, others will want to follow in my footsteps to learn of that blessed hope. The windows of opportunity are open and I am willing to do the work which the Father has for me to do. That I may do so humbly and by His perfect will is my prayer. In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Mother: Her Price Is Far Above Rubies

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Frances Mae Harmon Brown

If someone were to ask me the question, “Who is the one person who has had the most influence on your life?” I would answer with two words, “My mother!” It was she who was my first school teacher, preparing me for the higher institution of learning called life. She never attended a class in a college or university classroom or earned any online degrees, yet she was deserving of the highest degree and honors that could be bestowed upon any person when it came to wisdom, discernment, and the knowledge that she had about how to raise four children whom she loved dearly in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

My mother and I were blessed to spend 39 and a half years together on this earth before she lost her battle with breast cancer at 59 years of age. During those precious years we laughed together, we played together, we shared our hopes and dreams for better tomorrows, and there were even times when we cried together. I can honestly say that she was not only my mother but a true and faithful confidant and an endearing friend.

The writer of Proverbs posed the question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Proverbs 31:10). I was blessed to know such a woman in the person of my dear mother. I echo the words of President Abraham Lincoln who is quoted as having said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

The Humble Life That She Lived

My mother was a very humble person. She never owned a lot of worldly possessions. She did not own or drive an expensive car, have a large bank account, or even own an expensive wardrobe or expensive jewelry as some seem to find to be a necessity to have these days. In fact, she would buy cloth and material and make most of her own clothing. As far as I can remember, the first real expensive items of jewelry that she ever possessed were the gifts of a pearl necklace, and a necklace made of different gemstones that her son, then serving in the Navy, presented to her as a Christmas gift. I can almost see her face as she opened those gifts, and although she appreciated the gift, I can still hear her say, “Thank you, but you didn’t have to spend your money on me.” She cherished those gifts and would only take them from her jewelry box to wear on special occasions. True, I didn’t have to spend the money, but I sincerely ask you, “What cost is too great when it comes to showing your love for your mother?” As the writer of Proverbs exhorted, “For her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).

When There’s Love At Home

My family never lived in a big fancy house, but what made the houses that we lived in so special is that my mother knew how to make a house a home. She spent many hours in the home taking care of her family. There were many nights that she would be the last to lay down and rest, only after she was sure that her family were all in, at rest, and the home was secure. The writer of Proverbs adequately paints a picture of my mother with his words, “She [looked] well to the ways of her household, and [ate] not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).

I can honestly say that my mother set the tone and atmosphere in our home. Everyone who entered our home was a welcomed guest, whether they were a family member, a long-time friend, or a total stranger. That is why I often say, if you want to know the true heartbeat of any home, spend some time getting to know the matriarch of the home.

Our home was a virtual classroom with my mother being both school teacher and principal. In our formative years she helped us to learn basic skills, and after we started school, our school work always took priority over anything else. She helped us as best she could to make sure that our assignments were complete. That is not to say that we didn’t have time for going outside to play after school or to watch television, but my mother would not allow those things to be a deterrent for us not completing our homework. She also made sure that we got the proper rest that we needed, and wanting to stay up late to finish a homework assignment because of our own procrastination in getting the assignment done was not acceptable.

Even after her four children had left home and were on their own, she maintained constant contact with each one, and at times offered wise counsel and direction when and where needed. However, she always allowed each of us to have our free agency, all the while praying that we would always make the right decisions. Quoting again from Proverbs, “She [opened] her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [was] the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26).

I still have and cherish letters that my mother wrote to me while I was serving in the Navy – many times thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. Those letters often brought me great peace and comfort.

An Unfailing, Undying Love

Not only did my mother offer her counsel, but she always made sure that her children would always have a home to come home to, and she delighted in each visit.

The last time that I visited her was a few short months before she passed away. I was at that time transferring from duty in Bahrain, UAE to the country of Iceland and had gone home on 30 days leave. Without fail, each morning at about 8:00 am she would knock on my bedroom door wanting to know what we, that is she and I, were going to do that day. I couldn’t very well send her away and tell her that I just wanted to rest, especially when she had gotten up early to prepare a nice hot breakfast for me. The aroma alone was enough to get me up and moving.

On the last evening of my visit, I was in my room when I smelt something very familiar coming from the kitchen. I thought that my mother had laid down to rest as it was obvious that day that she was exhausted and not feeling well. To my surprise, when I went into the kitchen, there she was preparing a special meal for me of homemade chicken and dumplings. Those were perhaps the best chicken and dumplings that I had ever had, not because she had added any special ingredients to make them taste better, but because they were made by the loving hands of a mother who wanted to do something extra special for her son. Little did I realize at that moment, but it would be the last home cooked meal that my dear mother would ever prepare for me.

She Who Feared the Lord

The scriptures tell us, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). My mother loved the Savior and spent time each day reading His Word. When she was too sick to read the scriptures, my younger sister would read to her or she would listen to the scriptures on cassette tape or CD. One of the last gifts that I bought for her was a study Bible that she wanted. She read from that Bible every day, and carried it with her to church when she was able to go. I am blessed to have that Bible as well as other Bibles that she studied from, complete with her personal markings and handwritten notes, in my library at home.

Her favorite Bible verses were Psalm 37:1-9. These verses could very well have been her counsel to her family. We read these words:

Mom and Dad final picture
1 FRET not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Growing up in our home, there was always a copy of the Bible available. My mother introduced her children to the scriptures at a young age, and taught them to love the Savior by keeping His commandments and following His will for their lives. She took us to church every Sunday without fail unless there were some reason that she was unable to go. The standing rule in our home was if mom is going to church than so are you. I cannot recall one time when my mom ever called for a family meeting to discuss the matter, or call for a vote to see who wanted to go to church and who didn’t. We were also taught from a very early age how to be reverent in church. We were not allowed to talk, laugh, or whisper to each other during services or even in Sunday school. I can also tell you that had electronic gadgets such as iPods, iPads, or iPhones been around at that time, we would not have been allowed to play with them during church time either. We were there to sit quietly, listen, take part if called on, and learn. My mother was a firm believer that there is a time and place for everything.

Because of the life that she lived as she strove to emulate the Savior, she gained the respect and admiration of many people, who even at the time of her passing, lovingly referred to her as “Mom.” She never complained about things, and she greeted everyone with a kind word and a smile. If she could offer someone a cool drink, or something to eat, she did so gladly. Many a time I saw her go into her purse and give someone the last bit of money that she had. I remember asking her on a few occasions why she would do these things especially when she had needs of her own. She would always reply, “Don’t worry about me. I will be alright.” And she was always taken care of and somehow all of her needs were always met. She understood that because she had been given much, she too must give.”

Maybe I am a bit bias and partial because she was my mother, but as a loving tribute to her on Mother’s Day and every day I humbly say, “ Many daughters have done virtuously, but [you] [dear mother] excellest them all” (Proverbs 31:29).

Thank God for mothers! Those special daughters of our Heavenly Father who are rare, precious, priceless, jewels. There is no love in all the world like the love of a dear mother. For those of you who still have your mothers to spend time with, may I counsel you to honor her, cherish her, treat her with the utmost respect, but most of all – LOVE her. For those of you, like myself, whose beloved mothers have passed on, let us never forget their unfailing love for us, and may we always cherish the sweet memories of them. And to all who are now mothers, and will be mothers in the future, may your children, and your husband, always arise to call you blessed.

In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

 

 

The Legacy of the Scriptures

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Young man reading the scriptures

“Ancient and modern prophets and disciples sacrificed much to preserve and provide the scriptures. These scriptures now help us measure correctness and truth, strengthen our faith, and light our path.” [1]


King James Version of the Bible

John 5:39-47

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?


Book of Mormon

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

If the Foundations Be Destroyed

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Mormon Family
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

The central core of the foundation of any society is the home. President Thomas S. Monson has taught us,

Actually, a home is much more than a house. A house is built of lumber, brick, and stone. A home is made of love, sacrifice, and respect. A house can be a home, and a home can be a heaven when it shelters a family. When true values and basic virtues under gird the families of society, hope will conquer despair, and faith will triumph over doubt (Thomas S. Monson, “Dedication Day,” Ensign, November 2000, 64-66).

The home is the first institute of learning in which children are automatically enrolled as pupils. Therefore, the home becomes a virtual classroom, and fathers and mothers, the patriarchs and matriarchs of the home, become the first school teachers that their children meet. They teach their children their first life lessons, imparting to them the basic knowledge that they will need to survive in society, thus preparing them to enter that larger institute of higher learning called life.

Mormon family

There are many lessons that are taught in the home and the learning process for a child is begun the moment that they as a baby are brought home from the hospital and become part of a family. It is in the home where children learn to live together, work together, laugh and play together. It is there where they learn that the key word is togetherness . The home is where they learn how to peacefully resolve conflicts among one another and to never let the sun go down while being angry or upset with either their parents or one of their siblings. The home is the place where children learn the true meaning of unity and gain an understanding and appreciation of knowing that together they stand, but divided they fall. It is in the home where children are nurtured in the Word of God and have their feet planted on the path that they should follow.

President Monson has further taught us,

The home is the basis of a righteous life and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfil its essential functions. . . . Such values, when learned and lived in our families, will be as welcome rain to parched soil. Love will be engendered ; loyalty to one’s best self will be enhanced; and those virtues of character, integrity, and goodness will be fostered. The family must hold its preeminent place in our way of life because it’s the only possible base upon which a society of responsible human beings has ever found it practicable to build for the future and maintain the values they cherish in the present.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Dedication Day,” Ensign, November 2000, 64-66)

Mormon family praying together

The home is the place where the word love is not a noun, but a verb. True love is not only demonstrated through spoken word, but is shown in the day­ to-day relationship of the parents with one another, as well as, the relationship that the parents have with each of their children, and the children in turn have with their parents and each other. Hanging above the threshold as one enters the portals of the home hangs a proverbial sign that reads “Love Is Spoken Here.”

President Monson also admonishes us that,

Happy homes come in a variety of appearances. Some feature families with father, mother, brothers, and sisters living together in a spirit of love. Others consist of a single parent with one or two children, while other homes have but one occupant. There are, however, identifying features which are to be found in a happy home, whatever the number or description of its family members. These identifying features are: A pattern of prayer. A library of learning. A legacy of love (Thomas S. Monson, “Dedication Day,” Ensign, November 2000, 64-66).

Show me a child who has been properly raised in a home about how to relate to others, and I will in return show you a child that will adjust well in dealing with people in society. If a child does not adopt well to living in peace with his own family, he will not adjust well to being in society with total strangers. It all begins in the home. “There is beauty all around when there’s love at home” (Hymn 294, “Love at Home).

The home is the central core of the foundation of any society and the family
is society’s hope for the future. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Gospel Discussion: Faith Without Works Is Dead

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The Atonement

In my last treatise I addressed the subject of how we can be saved. In the course of that discussion I made mention of the fact that there are some who teach and believe that a person has to perform a certain number of works in order to merit receiving salvation. Then, in the summation of the subject, I stated that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works, for there is nothing that any of us could ever do on our own to merit salvation. We needed a Savior who would and did willingly give His life as the sacrificial lamb for the slaughter to atone for all of our sins – past, present, and future. He is our Advocate with the Father, and it is through Him alone that we are freely justified.

However, that still leaves a question for some concerning “works”. Are “works” a necessary part of our faith? Consider the words of James as recorded in James 2:14-26:

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

I believe that James is teaching us that it is good to have faith, but faith as it stands alone profits nothing. We develop and maintain our faith through our works.

For example in the Old Testament book of Genesis, in Genesis 22:1-12 we read of the account of Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac:

Abraham and Isaac

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

In order to fully understand this account we must first realize what God was not doing. God was not tempting Abraham. God was not enticing Abraham to do wrong, but was testing him to see if his faith was strong enough to be obedient to His will and do what was required, and giving him, thereby, the opportunity to understand the Love of his Heavenly Father and the glory of obedience. God was not instituting or condoning child sacrifice. As seen in Deuteronomy 12:31 God abhors child sacrifice: “Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods” (see also Leviticus 20:2-5, Jeremiah 32:35, Ezekiel 20:26, Isaiah 57:4-5).

It is important to remember that God prevented the sacrifice from actually occurring. He did not desire the sacrifice as an act of worship or for any other reason beyond testing and developing Abraham’s faith. God has the right to take human life and therefore could have authorized Abraham to take the life of his son Isaac in this particular case, but He did not. However, had Abraham decided of his own accord to sacrifice Isaac, he would have been wrong and his act would have been condemned by God.

Why then would God give this command? The point was for Abraham to come to understand that he trusted God completely and placed Him above all else, even his own son. Though God already knew that Abraham had faith in Him, it was necessary for Abraham to expand his faith through his “works”. Because of his “works”, not only God, but Abraham, his family and future generations knew that Abraham trusted God. This trust was important because it indicated that Abraham had the proper relationship with God, and thus he could benefit from God’s plans for his life.

James records that “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

And so we “see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

Listen to the Music

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Music Invigorates the Soul

Power of Music

“Music is life itself” ~ Louis Armstrong, Jazz Trumpeter (1901 – 1971)
“Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening” ~ The late, great singer Aretha Louise Franklin

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Where spoken words may not be able to convey a message, the sounds of music can.

Music has played a part in the events of man’s everyday life since his earliest days. For example, in the Old Testament of the Bible in Exodus 15, we learn of the musical festivals after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. At times music has also accompanied men into battle and has been used to celebrate victories in war. Songs and dance were used to honor kings at their coronation. Throughout history, music has been used to soothe troubled minds, accompany prophesying, and to express personal sorrow. In the Psalms, David used music to describe personal emotions as well as praise to God.

We each have different tastes in music. Some people like classical or jazz, where others may prefer country or contemporary. Some people like nice quiet, soothing music, where others may prefer their music as loud as possible. Regardless of our individual tastes, music plays an important part in each of our lives and can influence us in many ways.

When we are feeling melancholy, certain types of music can have a positive influence on us by lifting us up and making us feel rejuvenated. However, music can also have negative impacts on us. Some songs and types of music can actually make us feel depressed, lonely, unwanted, and unloved. Therefore, we must learn to be discerning about the kinds of music that we listen to as music can invite the Spirit into our homes, or it can drive it away.

In December 1970, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated:

Through music, man’s ability to express himself extends beyond the limits of the spoken language in both subtlety and power. Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves. (Priesthood Bulletin, December 1970, p.10.)

Perhaps it would be a good idea for us to ask ourselves a few important questions when selecting what music to listen to. Such questions might include the following:

  1. How much time do I spend listening to music?
  2. Why do I listen to music?
  3. What type of music do I enjoy listening to?
  4. Does the type of music that I listen to invite the Spirit into my home?
  5. Have I felt a change in my spirit while listening to this music?
  6. Are the words of the lyrics something that I would comfortably speak to my family and friends?
  7. Does the performing group promote standards that are similar to my own?
  8. Does the music cause me to think, act, or feel contrary to the teachings of Christ?

In an article in the November 1990 Ensign, Ardeth G. Kapp made this statement about music:

Music has a very powerful and wonderful influence in establishing feelings and moods that can lift and elevate your thoughts and your actions. But because it is so powerful, it is clearly used by the adversary to stimulate your thoughts, feelings, and moods, to pollute and poison your mind and cause you to do things you would not otherwise consider doing.

In an address to Brigham Young University on 26 September 1967, Elder Boyd K. Packer stated, “music is one of the most forceful instruments for governing the mind and the spirit of man.

The Scriptures explicitly warn us of guarding our hearts and minds of evil influences. In Deuteronomy 4:9 we read, “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thou soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” In Proverbs 4:23 we are taught to, “Keep [our] heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” And in 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are taught to, “[Cast] down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and [bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “It is obvious to remain clean and worthy, one must stay positively and conclusively away from the devil’s territory” (Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, page 232). As Christians, we represent Christ at all times – wherever we go, whatever we say. The music that we listen to, like every other area of our lives, should honor God. We should focus on what our Heavenly Father has done for us and express praises to Him out of gratitude.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave us this wise counsel about music:

Let there be music in the home. If you have teenagers who have their own recordings, you will be prone to describe the sound as something other than music. Let them occasionally hear something better. Expose them to it. It will speak for itself. More of appreciation will come than you may think. It may not be spoken, but it will be felt, and its influence will become increasingly manifest as the years pass. (Be Thou An Example [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981] , p.56).

In conclusion, here are a few standards to follow when choosing what type of music to listen to:

  1. Does this music honor God and His ways? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  2. Does this music help me to think about what is right and genuine? (Philippians 4:8)
  3. Does this music reinforce my faith? (Romans 14:22,23)
  4. Does this music approve what God condemns? (Proverbs 19:27)
  5. Do the words of the songs displease God? (Ephesians 4:29)
  6. Can I listen to this music in the name of the Lord Jesus? (Colossians 3:17)
  7. Do my parents approve of this type of music? (Colossians 3:20)
  8. Will listening to this type of music offend the Holy Spirit Who lives within me? (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)

As we carefully and prayerfully select the music that we listen to, may we “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever [we] do in word or deed, [may we] do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:16, 17). This is my humble prayer in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

General Quarters! General Quarters!

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General Quarters! General Quarters!During my tour of active duty in the United States Navy I was afforded the opportunity to serve aboard two ships – the USS Jouett CG-29 and the USS Lake Champlain CG-57. As a crew member I became familiar with the sounds of the different bells, whistles, and alarms and gained knowledge of the purpose of each. One alarm in particular that I became very familiar with was the alarm for general quarters.

Sometimes the alarm would be sounded as a drill to test the crew’s response time and to make sure that they were always on the alert in the event that a real battle situation were to occur. However, without the foresight of whether it was a drill or a real battle situation, when the alarm for general quarters was sounded, crew members knew that they literally had minutes to batten down all the hatches and report to their assigned battle stations.

Upon arriving at their assigned battle stations each crew member had to don their protective battle gear, communications with the bridge and Damage Control Central had to be established, a full and complete muster report of the crew had to be taken and reported to the Officer in Charge, and every crew member stood at the ready at their assigned posts. Staying alert for all crew members, from the highest ranking officer to the lowest ranking enlisted member, was paramount. All it would take to cause a disaster and utter chaos would be for one person to be inattentive at a critical moment.

USS Lake Champlain CG-57

I can still recall one such critical moment while I was serving aboard the USS Lake Champlain. The ship was scheduled to do missile testing and as was the normal procedure, the alarm for general quarters was sounded and everyone was at their assigned battle stations. During the course of the testing, the tracking device in one of the missiles malfunctioned, and instead of heading for its designated target it turned about and started heading back towards the ship. If it had not been for the crewmen monitoring the radars to report what was happening, and the crewmen who were standing by on the guns to shoot the missile down, there could have been a complete disaster that day, and it is quite possible that this author would not be writing this article.

Ready for the Battle

The alarm for general quarters is sounded on many occasions in the world today. The missiles that are being fired at us are not the conventional type, but they are the fiery darts of the adversary. As a crew member aboard ship must always stand a vigilant watch and be on the alert for any possible danger, we too must “be sober, be vigilant; because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As we prepare to go into battle we must remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians6:12). Therefore, we dare not go to battle unprotected. As a crew member aboard ship must don his protective battle gear at general quarters, we also must don our battle gear by putting on “the whole armour of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

In order to be fully dressed for the battles that we face in this life, we must have “[our] loins girt about with truth, and [have] on the breastplate of righteousness”. Our feet need to be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. We also need to take “the shield of faith, wherewith [we] shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”. And we need to take “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (see Ephesians 6:14-17).  In addition, we need to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

We are reminded in Scripture that “whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24). When the alarm for general quarters is sounded, may we always be found faithful and standing a vigilant watch that He may extend His arm and support us against all the fiery darts of the adversary, and be with us in every time of trouble (see Doctrine and Covenants 3:8) is my humble prayer.

I leave these thoughts with you humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.