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President Obama leaving a meeting with Congressional leaders
after Cantor told the president
“Republicans would not vote for his proposed tax hikes.”
Obama picked up his toys and stormed out of the meeting, kicking the door open!
“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” Proverbs 25:14-16
As part of Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption, all people experience adversity during their lifetime. Trials, disappointments, sadness, sickness, and heartache are a difficult part of life, but with the help of the Lord they can lead to spiritual growth, refinement, and progress.
Each person’s success and happiness, both now and in the eternities, depend largely on his or her responses to the difficulties of life.
Adversity comes from different sources. Trials may come as a consequence of a person’s own pride and disobedience. These trials can be avoided through righteous living. Other trials are simply a natural part of life and may come at times when people are living righteously. For example, people may experience trials in times of sickness or uncertainty or at the deaths of loved ones. Adversity may sometimes come because of others’ poor choices and hurtful words and actions. Suffering may also come through a loving Heavenly Father as a tutoring experience.
When some people face adversity, they complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, people should consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?”
Different kinds of adversity require different responses. For example, people who are stricken with illness may simply need to be patient and faithful. People who suffer because of others’ words or actions should work toward forgiving those who have offended them. Victims of abuse should seek help immediately. If a person’s trials come because of disobedience, he or she should correct the behavior and humbly seek forgiveness.
“Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day…
I would like to speak today to the parents of teenagers. Your bright and energetic youth are the future, and for that reason they are a prime target of the adversary. Many of you faithful mothers and fathers are praying for answers to help you guide your children through these important years. There are no perfect parents and no easy answers, but there are principles of truth that we can rely on.
From the book of Joshua. It begins, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid” (Joshua 1:9). This phrase from the scriptures would be a good theme for parents as well. In these last days, what the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand.
Imagine for a moment that your daughter was sitting on the railroad tracks and you heard the train whistle blowing. Would you warn her to get off the tracks? Or would you hesitate, worried that she might think you were being overprotective? If she ignored your warning, would you quickly move her to a safe place? Of course you would! Your love for your daughter would override all other considerations. You would value her life more than her temporary goodwill.
Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train. As we are reminded in the family proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children. That means spiritually as well as physically.
There was a father named Alma who was counseling his wayward son Corianton. Alma loved him enough to speak very directly to the problem. He expressed his deep disappointment that his son had been immoral and explained to him the serious consequences of sin. Alma said to his son, “And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good … ; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities” (Alma 39:12). This early intervention by his father became a turning point for Corianton. He repented and served faithfully thereafter (see Alma 42:31; 43:1–2).
Another father from the scriptures, Eli in the Old Testament. Eli served as the high priest in Israel during the childhood of Samuel the prophet. The scriptures explain that the Lord rebuked him severely “because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (1 Samuel 3:13). Eli’s sons never did repent, and all of Israel suffered because of their folly. The story of Eli teaches us that parents who love their children cannot afford to be intimidated by them.
Parenting is not a popularity contest. Sometimes we are afraid of our children—afraid to counsel with them for fear of offending them.
Years ago our 17-year-old son wanted to go on a weekend trip with his friends, who were all good boys. He asked for permission to go. I wanted to say yes, but for some reason I felt uncomfortable about the trip. I shared my feelings with my wife, who was very supportive. “We need to listen to that warning voice,” she said.
Of course, our son was disappointed and asked why we didn’t want him to go. I answered honestly that I didn’t know why. “I just don’t feel good about it,” I explained, “and I love you too much to ignore these feelings inside.” I was quite surprised when he said, “That’s OK, Dad. I understand.”
Young people understand more than we realize because they too have the gift of the Holy Ghost and can discern. They are trying to recognize the Spirit when He speaks, and they are watching our example. From us they learn to pay attention to their promptings—that if they “don’t feel good about something,” it’s best not to pursue it.
It’s so important for husbands and wives to be united when making parenting decisions. If either parent doesn’t feel good about something, then permission should not be granted. If either feels uncomfortable about a movie, a television show, a video game, a party, a dress, a swimsuit, or an Internet activity, have the courage to support each other and say no.
I would like to share with you a letter from a heartbroken mother about her teenage son. She explained: “All throughout my son’s teenage years, I worried and tried to stop him from playing violent video games. I talked to my husband and showed him articles in the newspaper that cautioned about these games. But my husband felt it was OK. He said that our son wasn’t out using drugs and that I should stop worrying. There were times that I would hide the controllers, and my husband would give them back. It began to be easier for me to give in … than to fight it. I really feel that gaming is just as addictive as drugs. I would do anything to prevent other parents from going through this experience.”
If your spouse doesn’t feel good about something, show respect for those feelings. When you take the easy way out by saying and doing nothing, you may be enabling destructive behavior.
Parents can prevent a lot of heartache by teaching their children to postpone romantic relationships until the time comes when they are ready for marriage. Prematurely pairing off with a boyfriend or girlfriend is dangerous. Becoming a “couple” creates emotional intimacy, which too often leads to physical intimacy. Satan knows this sequence and uses it to his advantage. He will do whatever he can to keep our youth from being worthy of having a pure and virtuous lives and worthy of sacred marriages.
It is vital that parents have the courage to speak upand intervene before Satan succeeds. President Boyd K. Packer has taught that “when morality is involved, we have both the right and the obligation to raise a warning voice.”
I have always believed that nothing really good happens late at night and that young people need to know what time they are expected to come home.
There is a great deal of wisdom displayed when parents stay up and wait for their children to return home. Young men and women make far better choices when they know their parents are waiting up to hear about their evening and to kiss them good night.
May I express my personal warning about a practice that is common in many cultures. I am referring to sleepovers, or spending the night at the home of a friend. I discovered that too many youth violated the the law of chastity for the first time as part of a sleepover. Too often their first exposure to pornography and even their first encounter with the police occurred when they were spending the night away from home.
Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence and when their defenses are weakened late at night. If you have ever felt uneasy about an overnight activity, don’t be afraid to respond to that warning voice inside. Always be prayerful when it comes to protecting your precious children.
Courageous parenting does not always involve saying no. Parents also need courage to say yes to the counsel of modern-day prophets. Our Church leaders have counseled us to establish righteous patterns in our homes. Consider five fundamental practices that have the power to fortify our youth: family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinner together, and regular one-on-one interviews with each child.
It takes courage to gather children from whatever they’re doing and kneel together as a family. It takes courage to turn off the television and the computer and to guide your family through the pages of the scriptures every day. It takes courage to turn down other invitations so that you can reserve that evening for your family. It takes courage and willpower to avoid overscheduling so that your family can be home for dinner.
One of the most effective ways we can influence our sons and daughters is to counsel with them in private interviews. By listening closely, we can discover the desires of their hearts, help them set righteous goals, and also share with them the spiritual impressions that we have received about them. Counseling requires courage.
Try to imagine what the rising generation could become if these five righteous patterns were practiced consistently in every home. Our young people could be like Helaman’s army: invincible (see Alma 57:25–26).
Parenting teenagers in these latter days is a very humbling assignment. Satan and his followers are striving to bring this generation down; the Lord is counting on valiant parents to bring them up. Parents, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid” (Joshua 1:9). I know that God hears and will answer your prayers. I testify that the Lord supports and blesses courageous parents.
Several scriptures back up the role of being good parents and proclaim that worthy husbands and wives who have been properly sealed in marriage in a temple of God may fulfill their role as parents throughout eternity.
The cursing may be upon the heads of your parents:2 Ne. 4:6;
Teach parents that they must repent and be baptized:Moro. 8:10;
Parents are commanded to teach the gospel to their children:D&C 68:25;
All children have claim upon their parents:D&C 83:4;
The sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children:Moses 6:54;
Olive Davis Osmond
A mother’s influence extends from generation to generation.
We honor our mothers and their ever important responsibility to love and nurture our children. Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Lord has placed upon parents the primary responsibility for the spiritual nurturing of their children. Sometimes this responsibility falls to a single parent. My own mother was relatively young when my father died, leaving her alone with four children. But she faced her adversity with faith and courage, promising us that if we stayed on the road of truth, the end would be better than the beginning.
As a rule the mothers are the very best women that live in the world, the best that can be found anywhere. … The good influence that a good mother exercises over her children is like leaven cast into the measure of meal, that will leaven the whole lump; and as far as her influence extends, not only to her own children, but to the associates of her children, it is felt, and good is the result accomplished by it.
You do not know how far your influence extends. A mother that is successful in raising a good boy, or girl, to imitate her example and to follow her precepts through life, sows the seeds of virtue, honor and integrity and of righteousness in their hearts that will be felt through all their career in life; and wherever that boy or girl goes, as man or woman, in whatever society they mingle, the good effects of the example of that mother upon them will be felt; and it will never die, because it will extend from them to their children from generation to generation. And especially do we hope for this in the Gospel of Jesus Christ he, who is the Son of God was indeed no other than the Only Begotten of God in the flesh, and that, therefore, no other than God the eternal Father is his Father and the author of his existence in the world.
Great responsibility rests upon the mothers.
Motherhood lies at the foundation of happiness in the home, and of prosperity in the nation. God has laid upon men and women very sacred obligations with respect to motherhood.
Women that have the same conception of wifehood and motherhood are not exclusively intended for just this life. … We live for time and for eternity. Our affections and our desires are found fitted and prepared to endure not only throughout the temporal or mortal life, but through all eternity.
We shall prosper and upon the earth; for this is our mission, and the work of your mothers and daughters. Great responsibility rests upon you. Upon you depend the training and the direction of the thoughts and the inspiration of the hearts of your children, for they drink into the spirit of their mothers, and the influence of the mother over the children is the most enduring impression that can be made. There is nothing so imperishable as the influence of the mother; that is when she is good and has the spirit of Christ in her heart, and she has brought up her children in the way they should go.
Our mothers, and the mothers of our children, whose hearts are filled with solicitude for the welfare of their children, having had conferred upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, can go to their secret chambers and bow down before God and commune with Him as no other mothers on earth can do, if they will only observe the principles they have embraced and will live up to their privileges. By the influence that they will thus gain over the hearts of their children they will lead them in the path of righteousness and truth, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, in the love of truth, in obedience to His commands, in such a way as others cannot do who are destitute of these privileges, blessings and endowments, so freely conferred upon our mothers.
There can be no genuine happiness separate and apart from the home, and every effort made to sanctify and preserve its influence is uplifting to those who toil and sacrifice for its establishment. Men and women often seek to substitute some other life for that of the home; they would make themselves believe that the home means restraint; that the highest liberty is the fullest opportunity to move about at will. There is no happiness without service, and there is no service greater than that which converts the home into a divine institution, and which promotes and preserves family life.
… The strongest attachments of childhood are those that cluster about the home, and the dearest memories of old age are those that call up the associations of youth and its happy surroundings.
In the home the mother is the principal disciplinarian in early child life, and her influence and discipline determine in a great measure the ability of her children to assume in manhood and womanhood the larger governments in church and state.
I most sincerely hope that our mothers today will guard very zealously and very carefully the lives of their daughters and of their sons. I would if I had it in my power make it possible for all mothers to have the joy and the unspeakable satisfaction of rearing their sons and their daughters above the reproach of men and above the power of sin.
The love of a true mother comes near to being like the love of God.
No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. … I have felt sometimes, how could even the Father love his children more than my mother loved her children? It was life to me; it was strength; it was encouragement; it was love that begat love or liking in myself. I knew she loved me with all her heart. She loved her children with all her soul. She would toil and labor and sacrifice herself day and night, for the temporal comforts and blessings that she could meagerly give, through the results of her own labors, to her children. There was no sacrifice of self—of her own time, of her leisure or pleasure, or opportunities for rest—that was considered for a moment, when it was compared with her duty and her love to her children.
When I was fifteen years of age, and called to go to a foreign country to preach the gospel—or to learn how, and to learn it for myself—the strongest anchor that was fixed in my life, and that helped to hold my ambition and my desire steady, to bring me upon a level and keep me straight, was that love which I knew she had for me who bore me into the world.
Only a little boy, not matured at all in judgment, without the advantage of education, thrown in the midst of the greatest allurements and temptations that it was possible for any boy or any man to be subjected to—and yet, whenever these temptations became most alluring and most tempting to me, the first thought that arose in my soul was this: Remember the love of your mother. Remember how she strove for your welfare. Remember how willing she was to sacrifice her life for your good. Remember what she taught you in your childhood. … This feeling toward my mother became a defense, a barrier between me and temptation, so that I could turn aside from temptation and sin by the help of the Lord and the love begotten in my soul, toward her whom I knew loved me more than anybody else in all the world, and more than any other living being could love me.
… The true mother, the mother who has the fear of God and the love of truth in her soul, would never hide from danger or evil and leave her child exposed to it. But as natural as it is for the sparks to fly upward, as natural as it is to breathe the breath of life, if there were danger coming to her child, she would step between the child and that danger; she would defend her child to the uttermost. Her life would be nothing in the balance, in comparison with the life of her child. That is the love of true motherhood for children. …
I have learned to place a high estimate upon the love of mother. I have often said, and will repeat it, that the love of a true mother comes nearer being like the love of God than any other kind of love.
Perhaps the most perfect ideal in the art of healing is the mother whose tender and gracious love asserts itself in taking away the sting of a deserved or an undeserved punishment. How her love heals every wound! How quick her caresses bind up and soothe! The example of her life is the wisdom which love teaches.
There is nothing between me and the heavens that would compensate for doing something that would grieve or hurt my mother. Why? Because she loved me, she would have died for me over and over again, if such were possible, only to have saved me. Why should I grieve, why should I disappoint her? Why should I take a course contrary to her own life and her life’s teachings to me, for she taught me honor, and virtue, and truth, and integrity to the kingdom of God, and she taught me not only by precept but by example.
I cannot express the joy I feel at the thought of meeting my father, and my precious mother, who gave me birth in the midst of persecution and poverty, who bore me in her arms and was patient, forbearing, tender and true during all my helpless moments in the world. The thought of meeting her, who can express the joy?
God bless the mothers.
God bless the mothers and the sons and daughters; and keep our children from the ways of the world, from transgression and from temptation that will lead them astray. May the power of God be over all the household of faith.
I believe that with the Holy Spirit, every mother has the right to know what to do in her family and in her sphere, over her children, in their guidance and direction; and that mother and every mother possessing that spirit has the gift of revelation, the gift of inspiration and the gift of knowledge, which is the spirit of prophecy, the spirit of discernment, a gift of God to them, to govern their households and lead their children in the path of righteousness and truth.
I feel in my heart to bless you, mothers and sisters, with all my heart and with all the power and right that I possess in the priesthood which is after the order of the Son of God. … I have the right and the authority in the priesthood to bless Israel, and to bless those who are faithful, especially; and I feel in my heart to say I bless you.
Have you ever done something that seems familiar as if though you have done it before?
With the history of this world, there is such a pattern that keeps reoccurring where certain conditions keep repeating. So it is with the laws and battle of good versus evil in the gospel or church of life. Ever since the creation of this world, the laws of ‘opposites in all things’, has offered us choices in this world.
From ancient records we read it having occurred over and over again and it is now happening with us again in these last days!
“For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness;”
And the converse:
” And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.”
We each have ‘the power to choose’. For this purpose, have we come to this world to be proven in all things and to make known unto ourselves and our God the way of life we desire to live. Of course, those who choose wickedness will seem this to be absurd where as the righteous will acknowledge its validity.
The important fact is that we are living in the last dispensation of the fullness of times when the forces of righteousness and wickedness are both raging in their fulness upon the earth. As recorded in the history books of God’s children on earth, there has been recorded over time the dealings with these choices. There is also being recorded at this time the final choices we each are making in the battle over good and evil. We each will be on record with those choices we make.
Because Jesus Christ paid the price for our mistakes, if we choose to come unto Him and seek repentance, we can be forgiven of our past and be found standing in good stead again.
At the conclusion of this war, Jesus Christ will once again return to the earth to rule and reign in righteousness for a thousand years.
Ask yourself, “With which of the two forces do you stand and choose to live?”
When we return to our God above, how will ‘your song’ be sung?
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JANUARY – 2013
In Whom Do You Trust?
… to operate on your brain?
… to repair your expensive computer?
… to make you well?
… to share your life with?
We have now moved into another year and find ourselves looking deep within our hearts, minds, souls, and mirrors as we set new goals, commit to new promises and make New Year’s Resolutions!
In doing so, we think about what is most needed, most desired and most important to us. We want to improve our lives, our living conditions and experience those things that bring us the most happiness. We also think about certain individuals that we wish to spend more time with and to do fun and exciting things together exeriencing the best of life. So basically, we make a list of to do’s and not to do’s for the coming year. It is that process of making priorities and choices that I wish to discuss with you here.
Scarcely an hour of the day goes by but what we are called uponto make choices of one sort or another. Some are trivial, some more far-reaching. Some will make no difference in the big picture of things, and others will make all the difference in the world. Choices all come with consequences and fall into three categories: the right of choice, the responsbility of choice, and the results of choice.
We should always try to make the right choices and fix any wrong choices we may make. Each of us were born with all the tools necessary to make correct choices and with a concience, education, experiences, wisdom, and a spirit within us to help us decide and choose well.
In our journey through life we will encounter forks and turnings in the road but we cannot afford the luxury of a detour from which we may never return. In today’s world there are forces of good but also forces of evil that may pacify and lull us into carnal security saying there is no wrong . . . which can lead us carefully down to misery! Should we ever find ourselves in that situation, we must decide and ask ourself if it is a promise of momentary pleasure that urges our passions or is it the pressure of your peers? It is then that you need to have the courage to say no, the courage to say yes, knowing that decisions do determine destiny.
The best way to deal with those things is to decide right now what choices you will make and to not deviate from your goals that you choose. If we then make the wrong choices, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We all have made incorrect choices. If we have not already corrected such choices, this is a good time and there is a way to do so. The process is called repentance where you can make your way back to good grace and find the sweet peace and joy that comes with the miracle of forgiveness. A scripture remind us that, “Man is that he might have joy”. (That is for women, also!)
We are living in the best of times when so many options and choices are available to us. We must prepare to meet the challenges of today by becoming good people, educated, and trained in skills that can provide financial income to do what ever your dreams are in life. You must be strong physically and take good care of your body and mind. Talk good talk and think good thoughts! ”You become what you think about!”
We need to enjoy all that is good in life to search and find that someone special that will be your best friend and partner in life with a committment to love, marry, and raise a family together. You can make it by enduring to the end, and being of one heart and mind and of one purpose. In making choices of this nature, it requires a spiritual understanding of who you are, why you are here and where you are going. We are not here by accident! God has a great “plan of life” that He prepared for His children, of which we are! The greatness of this world did not come about because we are so smart and clever. It is because God loves His children and has prepared this world for us so that we can experience and learn to become more like Him.
So go and start today, if you already haven’t. Ponder and pray for inspiration that you may choose the direction you wish and find happiness. It will take work. Nothing good comes easy! An education, a career, a family, they all come with hard work!
Be careful not to be deceived. Today there are so many conspiring men and works of darkness and temptations with offers to get rich quick, to live now and pay later, telling you that there is nothing wrong with living together recklessly and experiencing all there is in life. When you face those things and choices, you must be strong and realize who you are listening to and to whom you trust!
There are opposites in all things! Good and bad, right and wrong, male and female, pleasure and pain! Take the higher way, the proven way, the stronger way because,
“The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh” (D&C 1:19).
To rephrase that warning: even though you may be learned in the ways of the world, don’t forget the power of God. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Please do not misunderstand me. We need to prepare for worthy work to do. Yes, we do need to do our work well, whatever we choose to do in life. We need to be able to render significant service as well as spending time enjoying life.
And before we can achieve that competence, we need an education. With us, education is a religious responsibility. The glory of God really is intelligence (see D&C 93:36). And, the learning of man has its limitations. Sometimes, the combined learning of many experts cannot be applied when we need it most. We have to place our trust in the Lord as we work towards our ultimate priorities and highest destinies as mortal beings.
We know that a doctor’s ultimate destination is not in the hospital.
For a lawyer, it is not in the courtroom.
For a jet pilot, it is not in the cockpit of a Boeing 747.
Each person’s chosen occupation is only a means to an end; it is not an end in itself.
The end for which each of us should strive is to be the person that you can become—the person who God wants you to be. The day will come when your professional career will end. The career that you will have labored so hard to achieve—the work that will have supported you and your family—will one day be behind you. Then you will have learned this great lesson:
Much more important than what you do for a living…
is what kind of person you have become.
When you leave this frail existence, what you have become will matter most. Attributes such as “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence” (D&C 4:6) will all be weighed in the Lord’s balance.
From time to time, ask yourself these questions:
“Am I ready to meet my Maker?”
“Am I worthy of all the blessings He has in store for His faithful children?”
“Have I remained faithful to my promises and covenants?”
“Have I qualified for the greatest of all God’s blessings—the blessing of eternal life?” (see
Those who cherish their faith in God—those who trust in Him—have been given this scriptural promise: “Let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God. … These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christforever and ever” (D&C 76:61–62).
May that be the ultimate resolution and destiny for each of us in 2013 and beyond!
“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.”2 Nephi 4:34
“Because they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever”. 2 Nephi 2:26
Without the Atonement, there could be no freedom: “We proclaim the atonement wrought by Jesus Christ . . . is to all people; it is the message of deliverance from sin and its sorrow, the decree of liberty, the charter of freedom.” James E. Talmage
As with each of the other blessings of the Atonement, this one does not stand alone. It complements, supplements, and overlaps others.
In truth, the freest of all beings is God himself. “God could not make men like himself without making them free,” said David O. McKay.
It is a greater manifestation of divine power to make beings that can make themselves than to make beings that cannot, for the former are men and the latter are puppets, and puppets after all are only things.” Dr. Iverach, a Scottish philosopher.
GOD MAKES MEN FREE
Freedom is described as the power or agency to act for oneself. “The Lord god gave unto man that he should act for himself” (2 Nephi 2:16) (D&C 29:35) (Moses 4:3)
Man could never enjoy the full powers of agency without the intervention of God. Samuel told the people of Zarahemla, “Ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves,” and then he added, “He [God] hath made your free” (Helaman 14:30). Under Christ ye are made free. “And there is no other head whereby ye can be made free” (Mosiah 5:8) The Savior taught that true freedom comes “if the Son . . . shall make your free” (John 8:36). Paul urged the saints of Galatia to retain their “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Galatians 5:1).
THE FOUR COMPONENTS OF FREEDOM
How does God endow us with agency, and what part does the Atonement play in making us free? This is best understood by dissecting freedom into its four principal components, namely the need for an intelligent being, a knowledge of good and evil, the availability of choices, and the power to execute or carry out such choices.
The need for an intelligent being. Simply stated, there can be no freedom without a decision maker, an intelligent being. Man is a conscious, thinking entity, thus fulfilling the first requirement for freedom.
The need for a knowledge of good and evil. Man’s initial knowledge of good and evil was triggered at the time of the Fall. The Lord said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22) Eve said, “Were it not for our transgression we … never should have known good and evil” (Moses 5:11) Absent that grant of knowledge, Adam and Eve would have been confined to a state of innocence. It was a vital link, but it was the beginning – the gateway to knowledge. The scriptures reveal that “the eyes of them both were opened” (Genesis 3:7). This was essential, but it was only the commencement, not the end of the road. With increased knowledge comes the opportunity for increased freedom. The Savior’s testimony to the scribes and Pharisees: “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). They retorted, “We . . . were never in bondage to any man” (John 8:33). How wrong they were. They had secular knowledge, but not the spiritual truth that makes man free. The essence of freedom is to know the Savior and obey his truths. As we do so, we become free from prejudice, falsehood, sin, contention, and every other injurious practice or evil nature known to man. The Fall opened the gate to the road of knowledge, but it was the Atonement that provided the vehicle to proceed through the Atonement where we are cleansed in the waters of baptism, making us eligible for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is such a gift that “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). As we come to know the Savior and his truths we enlarge our capacity for freedom. This is so because knowledge is power; and power, in its consummate expression is godhood; and godhood is the quintessence of freedom.
The third element of freedom is the availability of choices. Only to the human being did the Creator say, “…thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee . . .(Moses 3:17) Were it not for the Atonement, there would have been no choice between eternal life and eternal damnation. The Fall would have opened the gate to one road and one road only. The Atonement is the means of deliverance, the means of freeing our bodies from the grave and our spirits from hell, of offering another road, another choice, another option. The message is clear. We can accept the Atonement, a choice that leads to eternal life (the ultimate in freedom); or we can choose the way of the Evil One, a choice that leads to destruction, chains, and captivity (the ultimate in bondage). As we choose the Lord, he gives us more rope; as we choose Satan, he tightens the noose until we are in his grasp. “Ye are free to act for yourselves – - to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life” (2 Nephi 10:23). That freedom of choice comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The one element yet lacking for a fullness of freedom is the power to execute or carry out the choices before us. We may have knowledge of good and evil; we may even have choices placed before us; but unless we have power to execute, the power to fulfill, then our freedom is but a façade. The issue is not choice. The issue is simply power – the power to see and hear and do without restraint. While God is certainly a proponent of earthly knowledge, he also wants us to know that powers of a higher source flow from the acquisition of spiritual truths. It is this spiritual power that parted the Red Sea. That caused the sun to “stand still,” rivers to change their course, and mountains to flee (Exodus 14:21-29; Joshua 10:12-14; Moses 7:13) This power is of such magnitude that it has penetrated and softened even the hearts of those who were known to be “a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people” (Alma 17:14) Both earthly and spiritual power (which ultimately are but one power) constitute the power of godhood, for gods “have all power” (D&C 132:20) With each new power acquired, we develop greater control not only of the elements but of our destiny. In this way, we become the driver, not the driven – - the cause rather than the effect. We act for ourselves rather than being “acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26) ; and in this manner we become free. While knowledge is essential to the acquisition of power, there is yet another ingredient, often ignored, and sometimes even ridiculed, that is a prerequisite to receiving the “higher” powers – - those powers necessary to enjoy a fullness of freedom. It is obedience.
OBEDIENCE – A KEY TO FREEDOM
Some might contend that freedom comes when there are no laws or restraints. They contend that freedom in its purest form is the right to do anything, anytime, anywhere, without consequence. About twenty-five hundred years ago it was prophesied of those misguided souls who would teach, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us” (2 Nephi 28:7) Does it not seem ironic that such a philosophy is authored by the master slave himself? It was he who was cast out of heaven, who was deprived of a body, who will be bound a thousand years, and who will ultimately be banished to outer darkness. The freedom he promises is illusory; it is a mirage on the desert; it is the very condition that has always eluded his grasp. It was the same lie promulgated by Cain after he slew his brother Abel: “I am free” he said (Moses 5:33) In truth, he was never in more bondage. He was the servant, even the slave of sin.
How then does the Lord propose to make us free? The answer is obedience. Contrary to the belief of many, obedience is not the antithesis of freedom, but the foundation of it. There are two freedoms; the false where one is free to do what he likes, and the true where he is free to do what he ought. Commandments are no more restrictive to the spiritual man than street signs are to the motorist. Neither prohibits our progress; to the contrary, they enhance it by serving as guideposts or directional signs to help us find and reach our destination. “We are too inclined to think of law as something merely restrictive; the opposite of liberty. But that is a false conception. God does not contradict himself. He did not create man and then, as an afterthought, impose upon him a set of arbitrary, irritation, restrictive rules. He made man free – and then gave him the commandments to keep him free. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them – or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God.” Cecil B. De Mille.
Freedom requires a knowledge of good and evil, the availability of choices, and the power to execute or carry them out. Each of these is enhanced by obedience to God’s will. As we obey God’s laws we receive increased knowledge of God’s plan, and with increased knowledge comes increased capacity for freedom. Obedience broadens the lost of our choices. It generates power; power comes by obedience. We gain power over the elements as we obey the laws of God. Obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel brings increased knowledge, a multiplicity of choices and an enhanced power to execute, all of which results in added freedom.
The difference between the righteous and the sinner, eternal life or death, happiness or misery, is to those who are exalted where there are no bounds or limits to their privileges.
“I’d rather SEE a sermon than hear one any day! I’d rather one would WALK with me than merely point the way. The Eye’s a better pupil, more willing than the ear. Fine council is confusing but EXAMPLE always clear. The BEST of all the preachers is the one who LIVES his creed. For to see good put in action is what everybody needs!
Considering the attributes of Jesus Christ should quash the pride of the self-satisfied person who thinks he or she has no need to improve. Even the most humble person can take hope in the invitation to become like the Savior.
A song written for children captures how this can happen:
“I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways.
I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”
The Savior has prepared the way through His Atonement and His example. And even the children who sang that song knew how.
Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others. There is no surprise in that, since the Lord proclaimed those as the first and great commandments. It is love of God that will lead us to keep His commandments. And love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey Him.
Just as Jesus used a child in His mortal ministry as an example for the people of the pure love they must and could have to be like Him, He has offered us the family as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to love as He loves.
That is because the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships. The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is. And the sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love. The ideal God holds for us is to form families in the way most likely to lead to happiness and away from sorrow. A man and a woman are to make sacred covenants that they will put the welfare and happiness of the other at the center of their lives. Children are to be born into a family where the parents hold the needs of children equal to their own in importance. And children are to love parents and each other.
My hope today is to suggest some choices which may seem difficult but that would assure you that you have qualified for there to be no empty chairs in your family in the world to come.
First, I give counsel to husbands and wives. Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion. Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make your companion’s joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion.
I saw this in my parents’ marriage. In my mother’s final illness, the more uncomfortable she became, the more giving her comfort became the dominant intent of my father’s life. He asked that the hospital set up a bed in her room. He was determined to be there to be sure that she wanted for nothing. He walked the miles to work each morning and back to her side at night through those difficult times for her. I believe it was a gift from God to him that his power to love grew when it mattered so much to her. I think he was doing what Jesus would have done out of love.
Now I give counsel to the parents of a wandering child. The Savior is the perfect example of persisting in love. You remember His words of comfort to the people among the Nephites who had rejected His earlier invitation to come to Him. He spoke to the survivors of the destruction which came after His Crucifixion: “O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.”
The story of the prodigal son gives us all hope. The prodigal remembered home, as will your children. They will feel your love drawing them back to you.
Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God. You can pray for your children, love them, and reach out to them with confidence that Jesus reaches for them with you. When you keep trying, you are doing what Jesus does.
Now, here is my counsel to children. The Lord gave you a commandment with a promise: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”It is the only one of the Ten Commandments with a promise. You may not have parents that are living. In some cases, you may not feel that your parents are worthy of the honor and respect of their children. You may not even have ever known them. But you owe them life. And in every case, even if your life is not lengthened, its quality will be improved simply by remembering your parents with honor.
For all of us it may be hard to see in our lives an increasing power to love and to see ourselves becoming more like the Savior, our perfect example. I wish to encourage you. You have had evidences that you are moving along the road to becoming more like Jesus. It will help to remember how you have felt, at times, like a little child, even in the midst of cares and trials. Think of those children singing the song. Think of the times you felt, perhaps recently, as those little children did singing, “I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways.” You will remember that Jesus asked His disciples to bring the children to Him and said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, … for of such is the kingdom of God.”You have felt the peace of a pure little child at times when you have tried to be like Jesus.
You have felt it in your family when you asked the pardon of your spouse or forgave a child for some mistake or disobedience. These moments will come more often as you try to do the things you know Jesus would do. Because of His Atonement for you, your childlike obedience will bring a feeling of love of the Savior for you and your love for Him. That is one of the gifts that is promised to His faithful disciples. And this gift can come not only to you alone but also to the loving members of your family.
I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did and to love as He loves. I can promise you the peace that you felt as a child will come to you often and it will linger with you. The promise is true that He made to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”
None of us is perfect yet. But we can have frequent assurance that we are following along the way. He leads us, and He beckons for us to follow Him.
As a potter molds clay to form a beautiful creation, so does the strong bond of family and good values. Family bonds are a link to our beginning and a guide to our future. Early influences are fundamental to our individual development.
We all want to “belong” and feel accepted. A sense of belonging is derived from the strong bond of family. Family is where our roots take hold and from there we grow. We are molded within a unit, which prepares us for what we will experience in the world and how we react to those experiences. Values are taught at an early age and are carried with us throughout our life.
A close family bond is like a safe harbor where we find refuge. From trusting that someone will pick us up when we fall, as a toddler, to someone being there for us as we experience the storms in life – family bonds help to instill trust and hope in the world around us and belief in ourselves. Rituals of bedtime stories, hugs, holidays and daily meals shared together, provide a sense of warmth, structure and safety. These rituals and traditions, not only create memories and leave a family legacy, but create our first path in life – one that is positive.
Our very spirit can either blossom or wither within the family unit. When we don’t have the security and influence of strong family bonds early in life, the ground work is laid for an emptiness, that is often sought to be filled, through destructive venues. If one isn’t loved as a child, they may later seek love and acceptance in a way that brings them harm. There is a deep yearning to fill that hollowness, residing in the heart and soul, from never knowing what it’s like to be loved, accepted and appreciated for “being”.
There can be long-term effects from living in a detached or dysfunctional family. The cycle is often repeated through generations. Children often grow up believing this dysfunctional unit is normal and they may gravitate toward people and situations that mimic the dysfunction they were accustomed to.
A healthy relationship won’t be easily recognized because it’s foreign to someone who hasn’t lived within a close and loving family. Often drug and alcohol abuse or domestic violence is repeated, whether by a learned behavior or an escape from behavior that was poured upon an innocent child.
A child may have poor self-image, isolating themselves from peers at school or holding anger and pain inside. This not only affects the emotional well-being, but also physical well-being. The poor self-image may be with them throughout life, causing an inability to make positive choices or be close to others. It’s hard to succeed in life when the core of your being has never been nurtured. Healthy development begins before we are born by the choice parents make for the path their children will follow.
Strong family bonds help us to thrive in all aspects of life. Lack of these bonds can lead to forever seeking that something which is missing. Don’t take the value of family bonds for granted. You can mold a beautiful creation for today and the generations that follow!
It is with joy and thanksgiving that I express the feelings of my heart this day after having pondered the scriptures of Isaiah during the early hours of the morning and in giving thanks to our Creator above for all of the things that surround me; for our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ with all His goodness that fills the desires within me to become as He would want me to become and who prompts my heart with warm feelings of courage after reading His words. With thankfulness and the desire to serve others, which I know I must do, and in order to fulfilling my purposes and to give back for this life and this world in which I live today, I share these things.
The early morning hour awakened my mind with impressions of gratitude for life with a most wonderful family that loves me unconditionally and partnered by the most sensitive and tenderly beautiful giving woman, Suzanne, my eternal companion. She causes the man within me to fulfill the best I can become for her and our family and the desire to provide her with the comforts, blessings and true relationship she is most deserving of and should have from me. She is the one who stands by me daily, takes me in and comforts me and justifies my efforts each day with loving arms and reasoning while mending my wounds and renewing my strength after facing this world’s battles and tests. What a wonderful wife!
It makes me think about my place and position in this world of God’s great plan of life as I challenge myself to try to become a better person in mind, body, spirit and heart and in reminding myself of the many blessings I have received and oh so many areas and ways of how I can still improve. As I review the past with the many rivers that I have forged and crossed and the tests of life that have been fought and won only after battling for those choices in which I truly believed, in picking myself up and brushing off the dust when I would fall and bruise my body and ego while trying to make those correct choices, I have peace. In tasting of the sweet success and achievements and licking the wounds of battles won while standing for truth and those values and principles that my parents taught me which had been instilled within me during my youth, I will never forget that for which I stand. With courage I covenant to myself and to my Lord to become what God would want me to become and to bless His work and His glory of which I am a part, by my actions and those choices I make.
It is then that my mind remembers the faces of oh so many friends and relationships with experiences I have had with them over time which I cannot forget who have a special place in my heart and who deserve that responsibility that I feel, to give back to so many of them who played such an important role in making me what I have now become.
To those who are reading this, I want to thank you for choosing to be here, for trusting me and my friends, and in looking and searching for the good and the best things of life and for making commitments to be a part of a better way of living by putting God and family first. We honestly have the desire to do well and make right choices and we will do it together.
Thank you for your faith in Jesus Christ and for being and remaining strong through this troublesome world of wickedness and for standing up for those values and principles of goodness that are offset and even destroyed by evil and conspiring men of our day and the wicked one they follow; for putting off the ‘natural man’ which is an enemy to God and in maintaining a spirit of hope, with our freedoms and faith knowing that just around the corner will be the grandest and greatest days of all when all of the evils of this world will be cast out with Satan, and Jesus shall return once again to dwell with us for a thousand years of peace and happiness. We will then become a Zion people; the happiest people that ever lived!
It will have been worth the fight in working our hardest and standing up for good, in raising a family in a loving and orderly home with a true and faithful marriage, and in remaining strong and enduring to the end when the going got tough while the trendy world laughs and point their fingers and scoffing at us for our values and righteous desires; for living during the most challenging times ever with the fullness of good and evil while trying to provide for our loved one’s needs. All who do this will be blessed for setting their lives as good examples and in recognizing their mistakes and repenting of them quickly. Truly, we will surely be rewarded for the fruits of our labors. We will have fulfilled prophecy and have become those who receive from the Lord His bounteous blessings with eternal rewards as promised. The hard times will then seem blurred as battled victories worth celebrating. Eye hath not seen nor ear heard how great will be the blessings that the Lord will provide! May we be the recipients.
We at thefamily.com hope that we can help provide for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, wisdom and many truths, helps, warnings of danger and words of caution and prevention during these troubled times ahead as well as the good times with scripture support so that you and your families can be prepared and make your appropriate choices that are in line with the Lord’s will.
We sanctify our Lord and God with all our hearts and always try to be ready always to give an answer to every man that ask us for a reason of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear. May we always remember who we are, why we are here, and where we are going during this short time we are away from our Heavenly parents and here on earth as their spiritual children having now attained a physical body as well and having human experiences.
May the Good Lord bless us all and our families with the best this world has to offer is my prayer and wish for you this day!
If someone asked you why it is important to have agency, what would you say?
“Thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17).
God has told us through His prophets that we are free to choose between good and evil. We may choose liberty and eternal life by following Jesus Christ. We are also free to choose captivity and death by following Satan. (See 2 Nephi 2:27.) The right to choose between good and evil and to act for ourselves is called agency.
In our premortal life we had moral agency. One purpose of earth life is to show what choices we will make (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16). If we were forced to choose the right, we would not be able to show what we would choose for ourselves. Also, we are happier doing things when we have made our own choices.
Agency was one of the principal issues to arise in the premortal Council in Heaven. It was one of the main causes of the conflict between the followers of Christ and the followers of Satan. Satan said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). In saying this, he “rebelled against [God] and sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). His offer was rejected, and he was cast out of heaven with his followers (see D&C 29:36–37).
Agency Is a Necessary Part of the Plan of Salvation
Agency makes our life on earth a period of testing. When planning the mortal creation of His children, God said, “We will prove [test] them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25). Without the gift of agency, we would have been unable to show our Heavenly Father whether we would do all that He commanded us. Because we are able to choose, we are responsible for our actions (see Helaman 14:30–31).
When we choose to live according to God’s plan for us, our agency is strengthened. Right choices increase our power to make more right choices.
As we obey each of our Father’s commandments, we grow in wisdom and strength of character. Our faith increases. We find it easier to make right choices.
We began to make choices as spirit children in our Heavenly Father’s presence. Our choices there made us worthy to come to earth. Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow in faith, power, knowledge, wisdom, and all other good things. If we keep His commandments and make right choices, we will learn and understand. We will become like Him. (See D&C 93:28.)
How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
Agency Requires That There Be a Choice
Why is opposition necessary?
We cannot choose righteousness unless the opposites of good and evil are placed before us. Lehi, a great Book of Mormon prophet, told his son Jacob that in order to bring about the eternal purposes of God, there must be “an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11).
God allows Satan to oppose the good. God said of Satan:
“I caused that he should be cast down;
“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:3–4).
Satan does all he can to destroy God’s work. He seeks “the misery of all mankind. … He seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:18, 27). He does not love us. He does not want any good thing for us (see Moroni 7:17). He does not want us to be happy. He wants to make us his slaves. He uses many disguises to enslave us.
When we follow the temptations of Satan, we limit our choices. The following example suggests how this works. Imagine seeing a sign on the seashore that reads:
“Danger—whirlpool. No swimming allowed here.” We might think that is a restriction. But is it? We still have many choices. We are free to swim somewhere else. We are free to walk along the beach and pick up seashells. We are free to watch the sunset. We are free to go home. We are also free to ignore the sign and swim in the dangerous place. But once the whirlpool has us in its grasp and we are pulled under, we have very few choices. We can try to escape, or we can call for help, but we may drown.
Even though we are free to choose our course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. The consequences, whether good or bad, follow as a natural result of any choice we make (see Galatians 6:7; Revelation 22:12).
Heavenly Father has told us how to escape the captivity of Satan. We must watch and pray always, asking God to help us withstand the temptations of Satan (see 3 Nephi 18:15). Our Heavenly Father will not allow us to be tempted beyond our power to resist (see 1 Corinthians 10:13; Alma 13:28).
God’s commandments direct us away from danger and toward eternal life. By choosing wisely, we will gain exaltation, progress eternally, and enjoy perfect happiness (see 2 Nephi 2:27–28).
“Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed oppositeto the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.”Alma 42: 16