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My semester has ended, and this will be my final blog post for a time. I am grateful for the foundation our country has of forefathers who believed in what our country was capable of, and leaders who followed that helped to fulfill their dream.

Our nation often seems to fragile, and doubt is very prevalent. However, there is so much our nation offers us; such a difference we as a country can and will make in the world. So much we are capable of with all our current advances in technology, and never a time in the history of man that was more in need of good examples everywhere, and the word of God to bring them the gospel of peace. Let us be what we wish we saw in the world, and be giving both of our time, and of the knowledge we so cherish; the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

President Lincoln

Recently in class we spent time studying and discussing Lincolns 2nd Presidential address, and I was amazed by his vision regarding our nation, and his desire to befriend his neighbors and quickly get back to building a nation that had suffered through out the civil war.

It would have been very easy for him to be extremely hard on the south since he had defeated them, but he took a more neutral stance with "malice towards none." I believe that this act more than any other showed his commitment to his country, and his desire for our nations best interest.

This concept reminds me of how truly lucky we are to have leaders that love the nation they serve. In our current cercumstance as a nation, let us try harder not to be soquick to find wrong with those that serve us in our government, and give each individual his opportunity to prove his abilities to us as a country.

We All Need a Friend

Last week I was talking with some ladies in my ward who had recently started coming back to church after being inactive.  I asked both of them what made them decide to come back to church.  It was interesting to hear their stories.  The one lady told me that the first few times she came back to church, the ladies in Relief Society would move away from her because she smelled like smoke.  After 3 weeks of everyone moving away from her, she decided she would not be going back to church.  A very sad story.  She has since moved into my ward and said that it was so nice to walk into Relief Society and be loved and accepted.

The other lady told me why she had decided to come back to church and she said that she was scared to go to Relief Society the first time not knowing how she'd be accepted.  She said she was so relieved when the sister at the door greeted her so warmly and everyone was so nice and friendly.

I have another friend that is very active in the church.  She was very sick when she was pregnant with her first child.  She wasn't able to attend church for several months.  During the time she was sick, she did not have one person from the ward contact her to see why she wasn't coming to church or what was wrong.  Her visiting teachers never stopped by.  She figured because she had a strong testimony that no one was really concerned about her.  She said it really made her feel bad.

The thing I've come to realize in the church is that we all need a friend.  Whether we're headed straight to the celestial kingdom or we're stuggling with our testimony, we all need a friend in the church.  We need someone to care whether we're at church or we're not.  We need someone to sit by.  Someone to give us a smile.  Someone who cares.  We can't make it by ourselves.

So if you notice someone who isn't at church for a few weeks, give them a call and let them know that you've missed seeing them.  Let them know that you care.

Freedom: A process

I was recently reading about the articles of the confederation and how our forefathers soon realized that, in order to make our nation all that it believed it had the potential to become, a more secure government would hafto be established.

I'm so impressed when I consider what the world would be like if we didn't have individuals with vision. Image where we'd be if we didn't have people around us that believed we had more potential than we were utilizing? Our progression as a nation would be forfeit.

I'm greatful for men around me with vision, and challenge you and I to try more to BE those people in the world! ITs not hard to find weaknesses in our society. Many people do that. LEts be builders; people that beleive and have a vision of our nations capability.

The Balance of Freedom

It is amazing for me to witness the changes that occurred after the American Revolution, and the impact that it had on world wide society. It is admirational to see Gods hand in the changes that occurred as man quickly realized what Liberty meant to each citizen.

Upon the completion of the war, many slaves quickly stated "we live among liberty, but do not have it ourselves." Women also called for changes due to the oppression they were experiencing and the limitations that being a woman during that time entailed.

How wonderful it is to see the Lords hand softening the hearts of western thought and enabling our forefathers to realized that EVERY person deserved the right to be free, and then to see our history slowly evolve toward creating that liberty to theses others who were not yet equally enjoying the fruits of being totally free.

I believe God loves his children and desires each of us to enjoy the freedom to make our own choices so that, as we choose righteously, we become more free, and ultimately more like he is.

John Adams

John Adams played such a significant role in preparing early Americans for the Declaration of Independance. I believe he was led by the spirit as he courageously impowered these young, early politicians with the inner strength to act and declare independance.

During this weeks history class, we watched a movie titled "John Adams". It was a show done on TV a little while back, and portrayed the first several meetings of the first congress of the colonies as they depated the pivital decision of whether or not to declare ndependance, or to simply fight to have their british rights they felt they had lost restored to them.

The video showed how deeply the feelings and emotions of these men were on the matter and gave me suh deep respect and admiration for the hnor that these men had, even those that originally opposed independace from great britain.

Even though it was simply a movie I could somewhat feel and see how guided they were, and how envolved the Lord was in guiding the minds of these men to do something so bold as to declre themselves free from one of the strongest empires in the world during that time. Truly they were led by God, and John Adams was a man meant to be present during that monumetal time to be guided by our father in heaven in leading these men to accomplish Gods will.

My name is Burke Manning; I am currently enrolled in an honors class titled "American Government and Society." I begin this blog with two purposes in mind. First, to record my thoughts about Gods hand in the early development of our nation for my benefit, and for a record to read at a later time. Second, to have my thoughts available to others in case, by some chance, they are beneficial to someone else as well.

Today, I read one of the pamphlets written by Thomas Paine in the 1700's. As I read, I was so impressed by the powerful language he used to describe the need for liberty in the American colonies. As he talked about every man's inherent right to be free from oppression, I couldn't help thinking about where that idea came from. It is so interesting to see the correlation with my beliefs as a latter-day saint.

We believe that each of us was granted free agency by our Father in Heaven when we came to earth so that we could prove our love for him and live obediently by faith. Isn't it interesting that we each now inherently desire to be free to make choices. I can help wondering if internally we know that it is our Heavenly Father's desire that we each be free choose, and therefore we naturally desire it while here on earth.

I am grateful for the ability to use my freedom each day to make correct choices, thereby communicating to my Heavenly Father my committment to him and his commandments.

New year!

I have not decided yet what I will do for the New Year party! I will try to find a fun company to spend my time with. My life is not as bad as it might seem at first. I have been talking to some people about the church and visitation of spirits and understand that life is very interesting and exciting. Things happen which you cannot even think of. Read the D & C 129 and you will understand me right away. I hope nothing like this will never happen to me. Seriously... There are certain things in life I have never thought of before. Cool, ha!

I would appreciate a soft cholate cake falling from Heaven on me. However I am afraid that the Lord takes care of my good healthy diet so it won't happen.

Just had a lot of American pumpking pie. It is great, but (sorry Americans) nothing can compare with a warm soft mousse-like chocolate cake. It is so delicious!!!

Christmas

I had a very nice Christmas despite all the difficulties which go on in my life.  I had a wonderful time with the members of the church.  It was so exciting to see that I have so many friends and people who love me.  I received a lot of nice gifts. One sister gave me a really nice red dress. It is very beautiful. I am very happy that everything goes this way. I am  loved, cared about  and almost free. I don't know what else to add. This new year will be fabulous!!!

Reading the newspaper over the past few weeks, I have been struck by the descriptions of TV listings for Christmas specials.  Here are just a few:

"A money-minded modern day Scrooge with no time for family is given twelve days to discover the true meaning of Christmas." 

"[They] discover the true meaning of Christmas at the mall, where they get jobs."

"... a convoluted tale about family values and the true meaning of Christmas, which [he] sums up as 'Every child deserves a toy.'"

"... upset because of a legal injunction against lighting [his] Christmas tree, [he] tries to discover the true meaning of Christmas." 

"Filled with forced yuletide cheer and mixed messages about the true meaning of Christmas, this loud and obnoxious holiday comedy boasts a fine cast ..."  

"The true meaning of Christmas is discovered by a spoiled rich girl ... after she switches places with a needy orphan."

Each of these programs promises to reveal the "true" meaning of Christmas. Some are just obnoxious trash. Others promote the idea that the true meaning of Christmas is a spirit of giving, being kind, thinking about others, and so on -- all of which are certainly part of the message of Christmas. Many of these programs have "feel good" messages which are quite good, certainly better than the usual fare on television. Yet, none of these programs -- not one -- even mentions Christ. 

This is not surprising, of course, because we live in a world where trappings and trimmings are often more important than substance -- where violence and perversions of every kind are tolerated, even celebrated, while religious faith is to be expressed only in private, or silenced all together. However, I am a little unnerved at the audacity of the producers of these program as they assert over and over that the "true meaning" of Christmas has nothing to do with Christ. Their message is that peace on earth, and goodwill toward men can be achieved without God. We need to beware of this message, because it is a half-truth. I am reminded of Mormon's advice on how to tell good from evil:

"Wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil;" (Moroni 7:14-17)
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we testify to the world that Christmas is not just about about being kind and giving, nor is it only about the birth of the baby Jesus.  The true meaning of Christmas is that God himself descended below all things to be born in a humble manger.  He lived a perfect life, organized His church, and taught us the way to heaven.  He freely gave his live -- for you and for me -- and rose the third day. He offers his power and glory to us through his atonement: his wonderful gift of grace.  May we accept the gift.  I testify that He lives today, that His influence is felt around the world, and that only through Him can we truly have "peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come." (D&C 59:23)

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