Monday, June 27, 2016

What Makes Your Country Great?

This post is really long, but it is something that I am very passionate about.  I was recently asked to give a lesson in my church and this is the lesson that I shared that day.  I know that some of my readers are not from America, but I hope that you can take this post and apply it to your feelings about what makes your country great.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that all people are great in their own way.  I also feel that no matter where you reside, you have the same challenges of standing up for what is right and good at all times.  I also feel that we all need a reminder of who gave us the freedom to make those choices.  With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this post and the video that I have included at the end of this post.

When we were in Heaven, we were given a choice.  A choice to follow our Heavenly Father's plan to come to earth and gain knowledge and experience or the choice to follow Satan and be guaranteed a return trip to heaven but where we would forfeit our freedom of choice.  Since we are here today, you can guess what choice we made.  We all made the choice to come here to earth and have an earthly experience.  I for one am extremely grateful for the chance to make my own choices, weather they be good or bad.  That is the only way that we can truly learn.  One of the best gifts that Heavenly Father gave us was the gift of agency.

President David O. McKay stated:  "Next to life, we express gratitude for the gift of free agency. When thou didst create man, thou placed within him part of thine Omnipotence and bade him choose for himself. Liberty and conscience thus became a sacred part of human nature. Freedom not only to think, but to speak and act, is a God-given privilege. "

When America was in its infancy, they faced many trials.  The people who fled to America were seeking freedom to choose.  In this case it was the freedom to have their own religion.  In their homeland, England, the king didn't want to let go of the people and he most definitely didn't want them to have their own religion.  (This sounds very reminiscent of what Satan wanted - control over others).

As the Colonists grew they were determined to keep this newfound freedom that they had worked so hard to find.  They were inspired by Heavenly Father to write a Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that shaped this wonderful land that we call home.

President J. Reuben Clark said:  "the Constitution is an inspired document drawn by the hands of men whom God raised up for that very purpose; that God has given His approval of the Government set up under the Constitution “for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles”: that the constitutional “principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before” the Lord. (D&C 101:77, 98:5.) . . .

President Wilford Woodruff stated:  "Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits . . . inspired of the Lord."

Image result for founding fathersWriting and signing these documents was a very bold act for these men to do.  They could have been found guilty of treason and killed for such acts.  But as Pres. Clark pointed out, "the constitutional “principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before” the Lord."  If the Constitution had not been drawn up we would not be allowed the privileges that we enjoy today.

As with anything, with great privilege comes great responsibility.  We live in a time when we, as a people, are more concerned over how many "likes" we get on Facebook, how many texts we can send or receive in a minute, or who is winning the battle on the online game we are involved in.  We are also absorbed in the latest trend on Pintrest, Twitter, or Snapchat.  We become devastated if someone doesn't "like" us or text us back in a timely fashion.  We tend to think that because we exist we "deserve" the things that we have.

In this way of thinking, WE ARE WRONG!  We need to remember those who toiled to grant us what we have today.  We need to ask ourselves if we are truly worthy to have these freedoms if we ourselves are not willing to pay the price.

James Russell Lowell stated: "Our American republic will endure only as long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant”.

I am not saying that we need to go into battle on the battlefield, but we do need to be willing to enter the battlefield we call daily life.  We need to teach our children and grandchildren what it means to fight for our freedom and to stand for what is right at all times.  We don't have to go looking for a fight, but we need to be ready to face the fight when it comes to us. In the words which Captain Parker gave to his minutemen on April 19, 1775,

"Stand your ground, don’t fire unless fired upon,
But if they mean to have a war
Let it begin here."

People, the battle is here, now.  What are you doing to protect your family and prepare your children?

Image result for John AdamsJohn Adams stated: "If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready. . . . But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.  All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it."

May we too feel so determined to make our future better than it is now.  We have forgotten that those who fought so hard for our freedom had a grim determination, they opposed every attempt to rob them of any liberty they had gained.  We too need to be this determined to keep our freedoms and to teach our offspring the importance of protecting these freedoms.

Nephi too recognized the importance of teaching these principles to his people.  He understood that if we turn to God seeking help we will be strengthened so we can win the battles that come to us day after day.

Image result for Nephi image“And I beheld, that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Nephi 13:18–19).

We are bombarded every day with choices.  Some are good and others not so good.  One thing that I have noticed is the lack of respect for ones-self.  Another thing that I have noticed is the lack of courage to stand up for what is right at all times.

This is especially difficult when dealing with children.  Most parents are not willing to stand up to their children when faced with a serious situation.  The parent is more concerned if their child will like them over if the choice that child is making is a good one or not.

Let me remind you parents, and grandparents - you are not here to gain popularity points with your children.  You are not here to be their best friend, they have enough friends their own age.  You are here to lead them to greatness.  "NO" is a very difficult word to master, but as a guardian of the future you must learn to use it well.  We cannot overindulge our children into thinking that they are entitled to anything.  We must teach them the hard lessons that greatness comes to those who work for it.  We must teach them to have self-government and self-control.

Elder Albert E. Bowen put it: “Self-government involves self-control, self-discipline, an acceptance of and the most unremitting obedience to correct principles. . . . No other form of government requires so high a degree of individual morality”.

The task we have been given as guardians is difficult at best, but with the help of Heavenly Father we will make it through.

I come from a very strong patriotic background.  My father served over 20 years in the Air Force.  He had the distinct opportunity to repatriate to POWs of the Vietnam War.  He saw the difficult situations the military faced on a daily basis in order to protect our freedoms.  He taught his family how to love both God and country.  He taught us to stand for what is right at all times no matter the cost.

I am so grateful to a father who gave me his example.  I know that I have truly been blessed to live in this beautiful free land we call America.  I also realize that that freedom did not come by accident.  God is an amazing being and can do miracles to achieve his purposes.

Pres. Benson stated  "it is not just another nation, not just a member of the family of nations. It is a great and glorious nation with a divine mission, brought into being under the inspiration of heaven. It is truly a land choice above all heart fills with gratitude that I am privileged to live here, and that I have the honor and pleasure not only of serving in the Church but also of serving in the government of this great land. I consider it an honor and a privilege.

"the Founding Fathers…recognized…our freedom is God-given…that this glorious principle, this great boon of freedom and respect for the dignity of man, came as a gift from the Creator.  That the freedom which we enjoy did not originate with the Founding Fathers."

D&C 101:80:  “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood”

Pres Benson continues by reminding us that "we have a rich heritage,"…and warns us "that nations ofttimes sow the seeds of their own destruction even while enjoying unprecedented prosperity, even before reaching the zenith or the peak of their power. I think history clearly indicates that this is often the case. When it appears that all is well, ofttimes the very seeds of destruction are sown, sometimes unwittingly. Most of the great civilizations of the world have not been conquered from without until they have destroyed themselves from within by sowing these seeds of destruction.

If we will keep the commandments of God—live as he has directed, and does now direct, through his prophets—we will continue to have his protecting hand over us.

In these challenging days, when there are so many influences which would divert us, there is a need to rededicate ourselves to the lofty principles and practices of our Founding Fathers."

I too add my testimony to Pres. Benson.  I know that we need to teach the rising generation to remember who gave them their freedom.  We need to teach them to stand for truth at all times, no matter what.  Standing up for what is true is lonely at times, but it will make you strong and you will never stand alone as long as you stand with God.

It is my hope and prayer that we may remember that our freedoms aren't free.  They came at an incredible price.  Let us not forget that price that has been paid.  Let us remember who is the founder of the freedoms we enjoy and thank Him each and every day.  It is my plead to you as guardians to teach your young charges about these principles that they may too gain a strong testimony for these things.

I love my country and the freedoms that I enjoy on a daily basis.  I love my family and the joy they bring to my heart each day.  Most of all I love my God who has given me all.

I pray that as you watch the following video that you will reflect on the price that was paid for our freedom and how we can instill respect in our children for these freedoms and those who won them for us.  But most of all I hope that you too will thank God each day for the freedom that you too enjoy.
Click here to view video

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