Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

As part of the university's required course work, all students must take FDREL 200- Family Foundations. We have spent the entire semester studying a document that was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995. It is titled, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I believe these words to be prophetic, and the counsel found therein to be critical to be able to raise a family in an increasingly amoral world. We had the opportunity to memorize and recite this proclamation as part of our final exam, 9 paragraphs total. I passed this off in November and have thought about making a video recording myself reciting the proclamation in its entirety, but I really hate hearing myself on video, so I decided to just type it out from memory instead. The more places this document can be found on the world-wide internets the better! So, here we go:

Started typing at 12:02 p.m. with freezing cold fingers.

WE the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

ALL human beings- male and female, are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents and as such, each has a divine destiny and nature. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

IN the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred covenants and ordinances available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God, and for families to be united eternally.

THE first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

WE declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives- mothers and fathers- will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

THE family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, father and mothers are obligated to help one other as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

WE warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities, will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations that calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

WE call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Finished typing at 12:13 p.m. with still frozen fingers. Why is it so cold in this classroom????
There might be a few errors or punctuation differences, but the bulk of it is up there. I was kind of intimidated at the beginning of the semester upon seeing in the syllabus that we had to memorize all of that. But I took it a paragraph at a time- carrying around note cards all semester and working on it whenever I had a few minutes. Breaking it up in small chunks made it seem less daunting and in a matter of two short months I had the whole memorized without being overwhelmed or staying up late reciting it over and over.

I think my family is really cool. Each of my parent's awesome children have turned out to be responsible, independent, hard-working, contributing members of society. I attribute the success and happiness of our family to my parents and their adherence to the teachings found in this document.

It's been a litte dry 'round here. Time for a CC review.

*** tried to post this several days ago but Blogger and/or Firefox was having issues and I didn't even try to fight it.***
I've been meaning to do a CC review for a while, alas time is not on my side. Naturally, a perfect time to finally do this is after staying up a wee late to write a paper (that's not even due until Wednesday- go Me!!!).
I captioned this address mid-Novemberish and I frequently find myself still thinking about it. There is a great power that comes with knowing that you can and will make it through whatever currently ails or troubles you. That knowledge is found through the Savior, Jesus Christ, and his atoning sacrifice for all. Because He lives we too shall live, and we too can endure and overcome any obstacle before us. Hopefully you can understand the relevance of that, my thoughts, and the following from the address. Without further ado, here we go:

(main points only; not every sentence; copy and pasted from the time stamp captions = why they are spaced so and I don't want to take the time to fix it right now)
Elder Ronald J. Hammond,
an Area Seventy, October 2, 2007.

In courts of law, a first-person witness

is always preferred.

The testimony of one who was there,

saw it, heard it, and remembers

is a powerful witness.

So too in matters of faith.

Second-person faith is good.

For instance, "You know God will help you."

Third-person faith is also good.

For example, "They know the Lord will bless them."

But, however good they may be,

second and third-person faith are not enough.

Faith in God, on the first-person level

is essential now and will be

increasingly so in days to come.

You may know.

He, she, or it may be sure.

But, unless I know and until I am sure,

I remain vulnerable to doubt and despair.

To the Master, one of the multitude

brought his son, his only child, who was

afflicted with a dumb spirit.

The father explained to Jesus that this

evil spirit had often cast his boy into the fire

and into the waters to destroy him.

Then, with all the tenderness of

an emotionally wrung out parent, the father pleaded,

"If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us,

and help us."

Note that he said, "us."

This was not simply an issue with the lad.

No, this was en entire family in distress.

Can you even begin to imagine the stigma

levied against this boy and his parents?

Neighbors warning their children not to go

near that house because that is where

"you know who" lives.

Ostracism and exclusion everywhere they went

and biting remarks on every hand.

We don't know where the mother was

on this occasion; maybe she had

had all she could take.

Perhaps she simply could not bring herself

to face one more glare of scorn

or one more word of derision.

We don't know those details but we do know

that the father was not seeking help

for the boy alone but for "us,"

the whole little family of three.

Jesus said, "If thou canst believe,

all things are possible to him that believeth."

And, "Straightway the father of the child

cried out, and said with tears,

'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.'"

I have pondered much on this

father's cry of the soul.

It is a paradox.

"I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

What does it mean?

While I am sure there are other ways

of explaining it, it has been helpful to me

to think of the father's reply in terms of

"generalized" versus "personal" faith.

"Jesus, I believe thou art all-powerful.

Thou canst make the blind to see,

the deaf to hear and the lame to walk

and thou hast done so.

Thou canst calm tempests, command the elements,

and raise the dead to life

and thou hast done so.

Thou art the sovereign God of the universe

and canst do all things for other people

in other circumstances.

But Jesus, I know my boy.

Can you really pull this one off for us?"

Like so many then and so many now,

the father of the boy had generalized faith

in Jesus' love and unlimited power.

He knew that the

"Master of ocean and earth and skies"

could, generally speaking, command and calm

in order to bless the general masses;

but could he really, might he actually,

deliver this seemingly insignificant

little threesome from a life of perpetual despair?

Progression from "I believe-"

generally speaking to, "Help thou mine unbelief-"

personally speaking, is the substance

of our devotional walk together this afternoon.

A walk on the path called,

"First-person faith in God."

It is a worthy and timely subject for our discussion.

Our faith must grow steadily

and it must be personalized- my faith in my God.

May I share with you four principles

regarding the development of

first-person faith in Christ?

Principle Number One: Developing First-Person

Faith in God Refers to a Process.

The oil of first-person faith is added

to our lamps drop by drop.

It is a process not an event,

and if you understand and really believe this,

then you will move with surprising serenity

through life's experiences that do not turn out

as you had planned.

What happens, for instance, when you desperately

want to be delivered from a trial,

and you pray and fast and ratchet up your worthiness-

but nothing?

At such times, brothers and sisters,

knowing that faith development is a process,

will let you let the process take its course.

Otherwise, impatience might persuade you

to make some well meaning but very foolish

demands of God.

Consider, for example, the

"Parable of the Impatient Expectant."

The woman learned she was going

to have her first baby.

She and her husband were overjoyed

with the prospect of becoming parents.

With each passing day, the young wife became

more anxious for the baby's arrival.

During the day she would imagine

and during the night she would dream

of how it would be to hold and love

and nurture her little one.

Two months into the pregnancy she went

to see her doctor.

She explained that she simply could not stand

the waiting any longer, and insisted that

he deliver the baby that very day.

The doctor kindly refused explaining that

were he to do so, it would be abortion,

not delivery.

The woman understood, continued to wait,

to learn, to grow, and in due time

her baby was born.

Your delivery from trial is important

to Heavenly Father but so too is the growth

you make while awaiting that relief.

If all deliveries came immediately upon demand,

the process of developing first-person faith

would be aborted.

To the impatient mother-to-be

and to all of us who want God to deliever

according to our terms and timing,

Paul wisely counsels, "For ye have need

of patience, that, after ye have done

the will of God, ye might receive the promise."

Understanding that faith development

is a process gives staying power

in times of adversity.

The natural man is an enemy to God

as well as to God's plans for our development.

God is working to develop the man's faith-
here a trial, there an adversity-

but all the natural man sees is God

repeatedly picking on him.

True disciples on the other hand

know that "charging God foolishly"

will abort the faith development process

and so meekly allow the process to continue.

They understand that as long as they obediently

seek the Lord's will, seeming setbacks can

actually be steps forward in their faith development.

Like the man who is asked to move back one seat

in a bus that is speeding forward on the freeway.

Inside the bus, it looks like a move backwards,

but observing the bus from a distance,

the man's forward progress is clearly evident.

Naaman, the leprous captain of the Syrian host

was insulted when the Lord's prophet told him

to dip seven times in the River Jordan to be healed.

Persuaded by his servants, however,

Naaman relented and obeyed.

Healing did not occur with the first dip,

but Naaman did not let the disappointment

of the moment abort possibilities for the future.

And so, he continued the process.

Naaman's objective was to heal his skin.

The Lord's objective was to grow his faith.

And, for Naaman, both objectives were met.

The now healed Syrian became also

the now converted Syrian exclaiming,

"Behold, now I know that there is no God

in all the earth, but in Israel."

As he did with Naaman, the Lord will invite you

to experience life's challenges in order

to grow your faith.

Your objective is to get through the trial.
The Lord's objective is to grow your faith.

Principle Number Two: Developing First-Person

Faith in God Requires Personal Involvement.

Faith without works is dead-

and the works cannot be vicarious.

Even for Nephi of old, whose very name

many of us equate with faith in God,

first-person faith could only be developed

through first-hand works.

With heaven expecting him to build a ship,

Nephi's faith in God could not have grown

with him in a hammock and Sam and Jacob

doing all the work.

Nephi, himself, had to be personally involed

in building the ship-

sunburn, wood splinters, and all.

Surely the Lord could have had a fine

ocean-worthy ship waiting for Lehi's family

when they came to the ocean shore.

But He did not.

Then, as always, personal faith needs

personal involvement to grow.

Note in the following verses,

Nephi's generous use of first-person pronouns:

"Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers

after the manner which was learned by men,

neither did I build the ship

after the manner of men;

but I did build it after the manner

which the Lord had shown unto me.

And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft,

and I did pray oft unto the Lord;

wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things."

Nephi's faith grew with each construction problem

that was solved and with every step

of progress that was made.

That is the essence, the very essence,

of the Lord's drop by drop,

line upon line pattern.

The end result was not just

a sea-worthy ship of inspired design,

but a disciple of Christ with faith equal

to escalating stewardship demands.

Brothers and sisters, you will hear

faith-promoting stories about others.

That will inspire you.

You will see the Lord's hand working wonders

in the lives of others.

That will encourage you.

But, I witness that the saving kind of faith

in Christ is a very personal, sweetly private,

first-person kind of faith developed only

"in the process" of personal involvement

in life's challenges.

To those who went before us,

we owe so very much.

What strength is ours today

because of the faith of our fathers

and our mothers too, for we do not doubt

that our mothers knew it.

Now, may your individual demonstrations of faith

be such that when your relatives in yet to come

generations sing, "Faith of our fathers,

living still," they will be referring to you

and your steadfast "first-person"

faith in the Savior.

Principle Number Three: Developing First-Person

Faith in God Involves Remembering Jesus Always.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day Saints are under covenant

with the Father to always remember His son,

Jesus Christ.

One of the many compelling reasons for doing so

is that it is essential to an ever-growing

first-person faith in the Lord.

Again, we turn to the Book of Mormon for examples.

Who can forget Nephi's extraordinary demonstration

of faith when his murderous brothers

tried to throw him into the ocean?

Unflinching, Nephi stood his ground and said,

in so many words, "Touch me, you die."

And then this unparalleled expression

of first-person faith literally saturated

with first-person pronouns:

"And I said unto them; If God had commanded me

to do all things I could do them.

If he should command me that I should say

unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth;

and if I should say it, it would be done."

How did Nephi do that?

Where did he get such great faith?

Brothers and sisters, he did it in the very same way

that you have and will yet do it.

He remembered Jesus.

When Nephi's brothers refused to help him

build the ship, he began to speak to them.

Now, he did not know that Laman and Lemuel

would try to kill him just 25 verses later,

but the Lord did and he bolstered Nephi's faith

so it would be sufficient when the crisis came.

One after another, the Holy Ghost brought

to Nephi's mind a virtual cascade

of past experiences wherein the Lord

saved and strengthened those in need.

Israel delivered out of bondage,

the Red Sea parted, Israel saved,

Pharaoh's armies drowned, manna from heaven,

water from a rock, day cloud, night pillar,

cure for fiery serpent venom, and on and on,

one faith-building memory of Jesus after another.

Then, when the moment of need came,

Nephi and his bolstered faith were ready.

Please note however, that something happened,

had to happen, in Nephi's mind to connect

God's involvement in ancient Israel's lives

to Nephi's, then, present circumstances.

This was the connection,

"And now, if the Lord has such great power,

and has wrought so many mighty miracles

among the children of men, how is it that

he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?"

Nephi went from remembering what God

did for others, all the way to trusting

He'll do the same for me.

When life's challenges bear down upon you,

it is not enough to know that Jesus

saved ancient Israel and Nephi

or that He helped your classmate or roommate.

I know that you know that your Redeemer lives

must progress to, "I know that my Redeemer lives!"

Then, when you hear Jesus say, "Peace, be still,"

you will know He is talking to your own

personal storms and not just in generalities.

But there is another very compelling reason

to remember Jesus always, and it has everything

to do with the inner peace for which

every one of us, whether we know it or not,

is yearning.

Principle Number Four: Developing First-Person

Faith in God Matures Into Doubt Not,

Fear Not, Only Believe.

Alma counseled his son Helaman,

"Look to God and live."

"In essence son, on a first-person level,

look to God in every thing, every thought.

Turn your life and everything about it over to Father.

Look to Him, doubt not, fear not, only believe."

I have pondered much about why Alma

would say to Helaman, and not his other two sons,

"Look to God and live."

It seems significant that this is

the same Helaman who, just eight years or so later,

would lead a little rag-tag band

of 2000 believing boys to war.

Each boy would survive because of first-person faith.

Each had to know that God would preserve him

if he looked to God and did not doubt.

Each had to know he must obey with exactness.

And when he, scarcely knowing one end

of a sword from another, lunged into battle,

each boy had to yield his fears to God.

It was just that literal- "Look to God and live,"

or look elsewhere and die.

And who was their leader?

Who helped them develop first-person faith in God?

It was Helaman who was looking to God

in every thought, doubting not and fearing not,

because the prophet had told him to.

When we look to God, we yield to Him everything-

our fears, our doubts, and our own stern preferences,

with the meek entreaty, "Thy will, not mine be done."

And brothers and sisters, it really should be

a cheerful yielding of the heart.

Our submission should not be a grumpy

"giving up" to the universal superpower

who is going to win the arm wrestle anyway.

But rather a joyful yielding because we know

that what God wants is truly the best thing

that could ever happen to us.

Therefore, when grappling with life's

heavyweight trials, don't yell, "Uncle"-

just pray, "Father!"

This comes easily, even naturally, when the steps

ahead are well lit and clearly marked.

But, for faith to grow, some things must,

for now, remain unseen.

What then, do you do when the next step

of the trial as well as the duration

and outcome of the trial are hidden?

You obey God, doubt not, fear not, only believe.

The scriptures are filled with experiences

wherein prophets and disciples struggled

to develop first-person faith in God

in the face of stifling unknowns.

How much easier it would have been

had they known, while in the furnace,

how things would eventually turn out.

For example, look with me down

the long corridor of time.

We see Father Abraham preparing,

as God had commanded, to sacrifice his only

begotten son, Isaac- hot tears matching

the heat of the fiery trial.

Then, as he raises the sacrificial dagger,

you and I call to him down through the millennia,

"Abraham, O Abraham, don't worry.

It's all going to be just fine!

See, I have the book!

I know how this story ends!

Abraham, hang in there, don't give up!"

But Abraham, in the thick of developing

first-person faith cannot, must not, hear us.

It must be just Abraham and God.

Then, after the fiery trial of his faith,

the miracle occurs, we sigh with relief,

and Abraham becomes not only the father of millions,

but the father of the faithful as well.

And what about those 2000 Lamanite youth

under Helaman's command?

The most powerful army of the Lamanites

pursues them for a couple of days, then silence.

And then the terrible questions must be answered.

Questions like: "Do we turn back to help Antipus?

And, is it an ambush?

And, could you show me again

how to hold a cimeter?"

Back they go, this little band that

had never before fought an enemy.

And we call down the corridor of time,

"Hello! You are going to win

and not one of you will be killed!

Here, read Alma Chapters 56 through 58.

We love you! Thank you for your examples.

Remember, your team wins!"

But again, they cannot, must not, hear us.

It must be each youth and his God.

Only after the trial of their first-person faith

was it written, "And now, their preservation

was astonishing to our whole army,

yea, that they should be spared while there was

a thousand of our brethren who were slain.

And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous

power of God, because of their exceeding faith

in that which they had been taught to believe."

This is a marvelous but simple faith,

an unquestioning conviction that the God of Heaven

in his power will make all things right

and bring to pass his eternal purposes

in the lives of his children.

We need so very, very much

a strong burning of that faith

in the living God and in his living,

resurrected Son, for this was the great

moving faith of our gospel forebears.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress."

As it was with Abraham,

with Helaman's 2000, and with so many, many others

of whom we read in scriptures and journals,

so it will and must be with you.

In your own wine press encounters,

you must do as Elder Henry B. Eyring

counseled missionaries in Reynosa, Mexico:

"Trust the Lord, get some sleep,

and wake up happy."

Sooner or later, and better sooner than later,

you will learn to "trust in the Lord

with all thine heart and lean not unto thine

own understanding" and to let him direct your paths.

And when life's trials become

particularly challenging for you, then listen.

Can you hear you- talking to you?

From a point years in the future,

you call back down the corridor of time

to you here in October 2007. (or 2013)

"Hey me, that's right- you.

Pretty tough right now is it?

Oh, don't give up.

Hang in there.

Trust the Lord, get some sleep and wake up happy.

It will all work out.

See! I've got the book!

I know what happens next.

My past is still your future and I know

everything will be just fine.

Believe you me!"

Here and now in the thick

of first-person faith things,

you are not allowed to know how or when

things will turn out, just that they will.

For now, it is enough to submit eagerly

to Him whose ways, ideas, and power

are higher, brighter, and mightier than your own.

"Where can I turn for peace? Who can understand?"

The Lord is very concerned about how

we answer these hymnal questions

and so should we.

Our first-person faith depends on

our answering them correctly.

"He only" is the only right answer.

Developing first-person faith in God then:

one, refers to a process;

two, requires personal involvement;

three, involves remembering Jesus always;

and four, matures into doubt not,

fear not, only believe.

"In a world where sorrow ever will be known,

look up my soul," is very good advice.

Look up to God and live.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the

first principle of the Gospel.

And it is the first, "first-person" principle as well.

First-person faith in God will move you past

His generalized interest in humanity

to an assurance of His first-person involvement

in all of the first-person ups and downs of your life.

Wasn't that great??? You can watch it at